RALEIGH, N.C. — A 4-year-old boy died and a 6-year-old boy was revived and taken to a North Carolina hospital after both were pulled from a cruise ship swimming pool off the state’s coast Monday, according to officials who offered few additional details today.
Norwegian said on its Facebook page that the ship’s emergency medical team responded to a report that the children were unresponsive on its pool deck and quickly administered CPR.
“After extensive efforts, the younger child could not be revived,” the Facebook post said. “We extend our deepest sympathies to the family during this extremely difficult time and are providing full assistance and support.”
It was unclear whether the boys were related. The survivor was flown to CarolinaEast Medical Center in New Bern with his grandmother and a nurse from the Norwegian Breakaway. The boy was later transferred to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. Hospital spokeswoman Chris Mackey said today that the boy’s parents did not want the boy’s condition shared with the public.
Norwegian Breakaway, an 18-deck ship with a capacity of 4,000 passengers, is one of the cruise line’s newest ships and has a New York City theme with a colorful mural on the exterior hull designed by pop artist Peter Max featuring images of the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty. The vessel’s year-round home port is Manhattan.
It has several pool areas, including an aqua park with a play area for young children. There’s also a supervised program for children ages 3 to 17 called Splash Academy.
Norwegian Cruise Line spokeswoman AnneMarie Mathews declined to specify at which pool the children were found. She also declined to say whether the children signed into care at Splash Academy or were supervised by their family.
Except for Disney Cruise Line, pools aboard cruise ships usually are not watched by lifeguards and swimming is at the patron’s own risk, though Norwegian ships have specific pools for children, said Andrew Coggins, a management professor at Pace University in New York City who studies the cruise industry.
“In any event, children are not supposed to be in the pool unattended,” Coggins wrote in an email.
The death must be reported to the Coast Guard and the state where the vessel is registered, said Carol Finklehoffe, a Miami personal injury lawyer who represents cruise ship passengers and crew members. The family’s legal rights are based in a provision of maritime law that limits damages resulting from an accidental death on the high seas primarily to the money the victim could earn, Finklehoffe said. For a 4-year-old, that’s virtually nil, she said.If the 6-year-old survives, that child can seek compensation for pain and suffering, she said.
The ship is based in New York and was headed to Florida on an itinerary that then had it headed to the Bahamas, according to Norwegian’s website. The ship was docked in Port Canaveral this morning, port spokeswoman Rosalind Harvey confirmed.
When the ship launched in the spring of 2013, it was praised by industry experts such as Cruise Week editor Mike Driscoll, who called it “the best ship in the company’s 47-year history.”
Last October, a 6-year-old boy drowned in one of the pools aboard a Carnival Cruise Lines ship while at sea. The child was at the mid-ship pool area of the Carnival Victory with other family members on the last leg of a four-day Caribbean cruise, the company said at the time.
The Miami-Dade Police Department investigated the drowning and identified the boy as Qwentyn Hunter of Winter Garden, Fla. The drowning appeared to be accidental and foul play was not suspected, police said.
“There have been multiple drownings on cruise ships in the recent past,” said Finklehoff, who believes cruise ships should assign lifeguards to their pools. “They know that the pool deck is a very distracting area. They’re selling drinks, there’s activities going on, and people can be distracted. That includes parents watching children.”