Crew Member Dies During Fire Drill Onboard Margaritaville at Sea

Oct 24, 2023

This is a report from a crew member who witnessed the terrible tragedy on October 11, 2023, aboard the cruise ship Margaritaville at Sea during a general drill for the crew. 

The first announcement was made into the crew areas around 09:45, catching many of us by surprise when we were desperately seeking an extra hour of sleep. As I climbed through my emergency stairway guide duty on Deck 6, I heard another announcement over the PA system. The Fire Team Patrol was summoned to extinguish a simulated fire on Deck 3 near the medical center. Within minutes, seven or eight members of the Fire Patrol raced down the stairs to Deck 3 as part of their training, and everything seemed normal. Shortly after, the atmosphere took an unsettling turn when the Safety Officer and Staff Captain began shouting at the Fire Patrol team members.

For reasons unknown, the Fire Team Patrol started running up the stairs, from Deck 3 all the way to Deck 8, carrying heavy equipment. I couldn't understand why they made them sprint up and down the stairs, especially since the fire announcement for the drill was located on Deck 3, next to the medical center. 

I found myself questioning, "Why would they force the exhausted crew members to run up and down stairs for 7-8 minutes with heavy fire protection equipment? Were they perhaps being penalized for not arriving promptly after the initial announcement? Or was it simply something else? 

Around 10 a.m. while I awaited the drill to be completed on Deck 6, the Fire Patrol team continued to run upstairs.  They passed by next to us, everyone except one crew member. He went alone, in a different direction in the corridor next to the passengers’ cabins. I could see his exhausted face and sweat dripping from his chin, while he was trying to remove the heavy fire protective equipment. He was panting and struggling to breathe, yet he kept walking towards the guest corridor. We were all confused why he left by himself in that direction, while all the other Fire Patrol team members went upstairs. A few moments after, at the end of that corridor, maybe 20 meters further he collapsed. A few of the of the housekeeping members who were the closest to him at that moment, immediately called the emergency phone to alert the medical team. Shortly after, the real medical emergency was called on the PA system, the code "Blue". The doctors, nurses and members of the stretcher team all came, and they brought the fellow crew member to the medical centre, but it was too late... He died in the medical centre, far from his family and friends... May his soul rest in peace...

It was shocking for all of us on the ship. I had a bitter feeling in my chest all day long, I was struggling to push myself to go to work. As many other crew members, my heart was broken. I had many questions in my mind. Why they made the Fire Patrol run upstairs with the heavy fire extinguishing equipment? Would that make a difference for the destiny of our fellow crew members? Maybe it would make a difference. It was a sad day, and I could not focus on my work for many upcoming days... 

The other disappointing things about this tragic event followed in the upcoming hours and days... The HR manager did not even bother to make some announcement for the crew, written statement on the crew mess doors, or maybe to organize some even where crew would collect the money for the family of our colleague who died... I thought that the behavior of the senior management on board the ship after this tragic event was more than unacceptable. Instead of trying to organize some charity event where crew members could donate small amounts and help to the family of our fellow crew member, nothing was done at all. 

Instead, on the same evening, I saw all the senior management on board the ship taking pictures in front of Euphoria Bar on Deck 8, they were smiling and did not seem to care at all. That made me so upset! What was even more ridiculous was that the next day, the scheduled crew party in the crew bar went on as if nothing happened! They did not even have that much respect to cancel that crew party, in the respect to our fellow crew member who died while trying to provide better future for his family back home.