Symphony Of The Seas accidents and incidents

Symphony Of The Seas cruise ship


Length (LOA)
361 m / 1184 ft

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CruiseMapper's Symphony Of The Seas cruise ship accidents, incidents and law news reports relate to a 6780-passenger vessel owned by Royal Caribbean. Our Symphony Of The Seas accidents page contains reports made by using official data from renown online news media sources, US Coast Guard and Wikipedia.

Here are also reported latest updates on cruise law news related to ashore and shipboard crimes still investigated by the police. Among those could be arrests, filed lawsuits against the shipowner / cruise line company, charges and fines, grievances, settled / withdrawn legal actions, lost cases, virus outbreaks, etc.

  • technical - 2018 (delayed sea trials / 27 days)
  • deaths - overboard (2019), 2022 (drowning in Trunk Bay, St John Island USVI)
  • injuries/crimes - 2019 (overboard jump in Nassau), 2023 (overboard/rescued)
  • medevacs - 2023
  • Coronavirus - 2020 (32 crew, including 1 death), 2021 (48)
  • boat rescue - 2022 (22 Cubans)

29 October 2023Crew / Passenger Injuries and Overboards

On October 29, 2023, a male passenger fell overboard while the ship was en route from Barcelona to Valencia. Luckily, the man was found and retrieved alive from the sea.

At ~11:30 PM Spain (~10:30 PM UTC) over the PA system was announced code "Oscar Oscar Oscar" ("man overboard") and the vessel turned around to start a search and rescue operation by deploying rescue boats.

Approximately an hour later, the ship's Master (Captain Rob Hempstead) announced that the man (reportedly in his 60s) had been successfully rescued and was receiving medical attention on board. The voyage continued as scheduled.

The incident occurred at the beginning of the 14-day Transatlantic repositioning crossing from Europe to the USA (Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale, Florida/itinerary October 29-November 12) with call ports in Spain Valencia/Oct 30, Cadiz-Sevilla/Nov 1) and the Bahamas (Nassau/Nov 11).

Note: Officially, Royal Caribbean confirmed the overboard but didn't release information regarding whether the individual involved was a crew member or passenger, nor details like the person's gender, age, or the circumstances surrounding the overboard.

March 2023Other Incidents

In March 2023, RCI-Royal Caribbean International registered a world record for the most people ever carried on a single Transatlantic crossing.

During the 12-day relocation voyage from the USA to Europe (itinerary March 9-21, from Miami Florida to Barcelona Spain) Symphony OTS transported a total of 7604 people (5350 passengers plus 2224 staff/crew) as the liner was at nearly 100% occupancy. The itinerary's call ports were two, and both were in Spain - Malaga (Mar 19) and Valencia (Mar 20).

The relocation voyage ( was for routine drydocking at Navantia shipyard in Cadiz (Spain) followed by a Western Mediterranean season of 7-night roundtrips from Barcelona and Civitavecchia-Rome.

06 February 2023Coast Guard Medevacs

On February 6, 2023, an 18-year-old male passenger (US citizen experiencing abdominal pains) was medevaced from the ship navigating ~140 NM/~160 mi/~260 km northwest of Aguadilla (Puerto Rico).

For the medical evacuation, USCG Sector San Juan contacted CG Air Station Borinquen from where was dispatched a Sikorsky MH-60 Jayhawk (rescue helicopter) to rendezvous with the liner. The young man, his mother, and a ship nurse were hoisted onto the helicopter and flown to San Juan's Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci/Isla Grande Airport, from where they were ambulanced to Centro Medico de Puerto Rico (hospital).

The incident occurred during the 7-day "Eastern Caribbean with Perfect Day Cruise" (itinerary Feb 4-11, roundtrip from Miami, Florida USA) visiting St Maarten (Philipsburg/Feb 7), St Thomas USVI (Charlotte Amalie/Feb 8), and The Bahamas (CocoCay/Feb 10).

15 December 2022Boat Rescue

On December 15, 2022, while en route from Mexico (Cozumel) to The Bahamas (CocoCay), Symphony OTS rescued 22 Cuban refugees drifting on a raft and signaling for distress. The ship was navigating in international waters between Florida (USA) and Cuba.

The Captain received clearance from the USCG to approach the small vessel and start removing the people. The raft was taking on water after its engine had broken down. Reportedly, the Cubans were at sea for around 6 days.

After being onboard for an hour, an US Coast Guard boat arrived to pick up the refugees.

The incident occurred during a 7-day "Western Caribbean and Perfect Day Cruise" (itinerary Dec 10-17, roundtrip from Miami) with call ports in Honduras (Roatan Island's Mahogany Bay), Mexico (Costa Maya, and Cozumel) and The Bahamas (Coco Cay).

19 October 2022Crew / Passenger Deaths

On October 19, 2022, while the ship was docked at call port Charlotte Amalie (St Thomas Island USVI), a 72-year-old male passenger died in Trunk Bay (St John Island USVI).

The man (Alfred Fahlstedt) was pulled unresponsive from the water. Crew and passengers from Symphony OTS tried CPR and called 911. The EMS team from the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center responded to the call but the paramedics also failed to resuscitate him and the elderly man was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to his family, he had an ongoing medical condition.

The incident occurred during a 7-day "Eastern Caribbean & Perfect Day Cruise (itinerary Oct 15-22, roundtrip from PortMiami) visiting Puerto Rico (San Juan), St Maarten (Philipsburg), St Thomas USVI (Charlotte Amalie/Oct 19, port stay 7 am - 4 pm) and Bahamas (Coco Cay).

December 2021Cruise Illness / Virus Outbreaks

(Coronavirus) On December 18, 2021, Fort Lauderdale Florida's main daily newspaper Sun-Sentinel reported that Symphony OTS has a total of 48 passengers with positive COVID tests (out of 6091 total). The incident occurred during a 7-day Eastern Caribbean voyage (Dec 11-18) roundtrip from Miami, with call ports Philipsburg (St Maarten /Dec 14), Charlotte Amalie (St Thomas USVI /Dec 15), CocoCay (Bahamas /Dec 17).

All infected were disembarked in PortMiami and some were accommodated in a Holiday Inn Miami (IHG Hotel).

The liner's next scheduled itineraries were not impacted.

According to the Royal Caribbean's statement, all crew were fully vaccinated and weekly tested, and all COVID cases during the voyage were asymptomatic. Of all the 6091 passengers, ~95% were fully vaccinated and tested negative prior to boarding the ship in Miami. All unvaccinated kids (children under 12) provided a negative PCR test prior to embarkation.

March 2020Cruise Illness / Virus Outbreaks

(Coronavirus) On March 30, 2020, while laid up (anchored near Port Everglades), the ship reported one Coronavirus-positive crew after testing all the staff-crew for COVID-19. The infected man was medevaced from the liner and hospitalized in Fort Lauderdale FL. The Captain immediately initiated a shipwide lockdown, isolating all (except on-duty) crew to separate passenger staterooms.

Unofficially, on April 7 an anonymous crew reported that Symphony OTS currently has a total of 31x Coronavirus-positive employees onboard, including 2x nurses. On April 12, the medevaced male crew died in a Broward Hospital. The 27-year-old Indonesian man worked on the ship as a Loft Suite attendant.

14 August 2019Crew / Passenger Deaths

(overboard) On August 14, 2019, at ~3 am, an Australian male passenger was reported overboard from the liner en-route from St Kitts (aka Saint Christopher Island) to St Thomas (USVI). The ship immediately changed course and conducted a search and rescue operation with one of its rescue boats. The operation was joined by other vessels in the area. The rescue boat's crew soon found the body and retrieved it from the sea. On the ship, the man (Jonathan Pfahl) was pronounced dead. The man was the founder and Managing Director of Rockstar Group of Companies (UK private investment firm).

The incident occurred during 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise (itinerary Aug 10-17) roundtrip from homeport Miami to St Kitts Island (Basseterre), St Thomas Island (Charlotte Amalie) and Bahamas (Coco Cay Island).

11 January 2019Crew / Passenger Crimes

(overboard jump) On January 11, 2019, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL / shipowner) banned for life a 27-year-old male passenger after jumping from its cabin's balcony (Deck 11) into the sea while the liner was berthed in Nassau (Bahamas). The man (Nick Naydev, from Washington DC) was travelling together with friends and decided to show off by jumping overboard.

In an Instagram-posted video, he climbed up the balcony's railing, stood on it for a few seconds (grinning at the camera) and jumped. Despite his miraculous survival, the man sustained some injuries resulting in pains in the neck and tailbone. He later commented that during the stunt was still feeling drunk from the previous night. He was soon picked up by a small boat and transported ashore.

Upon boarding, ship's security officers told him to pack his luggage and leave the ship, together with all other men in the group (who also were life-banned by Royal Caribbean). In a statement to FOX 13 News, the man commented "I am truly astonished at how this video has spread throughout the Internet. I didn't think this through before I jumped. My idea was this would be a good laugh for my friends and I would just swim back to shore and continue my vacation and never thought this would be this serious. Local police were called in to pick us up from the ship, but fortunately, the police thought the whole situation was amusing and didn't proceed to file any legal actions".

The incident occurred during 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise (itinerary Jan 5-12) roundtrip from homeport Miami to Basseterre (St Kitts), Charlotte Amalie (Saint Thomas) and Nassau (port stay 10 am - 4 pm).

08 April 2018Other Incidents

On March 31, 2018, was announced a planned for April 8 anti-tourism protest in call port Palma de Mallorca (Majorca Island, Spain). The demonstration was on the quay and organised by the environmental group GOB (Balearic Group of Ornithology and Defence of Nature). They claimed that big-sized cruise vessels create pollution and overcrowding in the Balearic Islands.

World's largest passenger ship had scheduled a visit in Palma as part of a 7-day Western Mediterranean cruise (itinerary April 7-14) roundtrip from homeport Barcelona. According to GOB, the liner represented everything they dislike - "pollution, mass tourism and labour exploitation".

(update) The protest really happened on April 8 (Sunday), with hundreds of angry campaigners carrying banners (with messages like "Stop Cruises Palma" and "Horror of the Seas") and shouting "City for those who live in it, not for those who visit it". The organizers claimed that in 3 days the vessel consumes the energy equivalent to Palma de Mallorca Airport's annual power consumption. The protesters also claimed that mega liners are "monsters" contributing to "environmental damage and mass tourism".

The protest in Palma followed a similar event in port Barcelona (also on April 8) under the banner #StopCreuers.

February 2018Structural and Technical Issues

The vessel's sea trials were planned for January 19, 2018. Due to harsh weather conditions (strong winds in Bay of Biscay / Atlantic Ocean), sea trials were re-scheduled for Jan 20.

However, due to unfavourable/ low tide levels, sea trials had to be postponed ~1 month. The 3-day trials were scheduled for February 15, on the route between Belle Isle and St Nazaire. The vessel left from St Nazaire during high tide (Feb 15 at  4:30 pm) and returned on Feb 18 (at ~4:30 pm).

During the 80 hours of trials, the liner covered 1000 nm (1151 mi / 1852 km). All of its systems were activated and tested at sea, and each and every designed performance was reached. The ship's delivery to Royal Caribbean was scheduled for March 2018.

For March 3-4, 2018, STX France scheduled a second (24-hour) sea trials set, the purpose of which was to test again the vessel's propulsion system.

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