Family blames P&O Australia's cruise ship casino policies for a fatal passenger overboard incident

   May 18, 2024 ,   Accidents

A passenger on the P&O Australia's ship Pacific Adventure, Shane Dixon, 45, tragically fell overboard on May 6th, just after 4 AM as the ship approached Sydney Harbour

. The incident occurred during a 3-day Elvis-themed cruise to nowhere (portless itinerary) which Dixon attended with his mother, Sue Dixon, 66, who had saved for the trip as a holiday for the pair.

According to his family, Dixon had accumulated a $4,000 casino debt influenced by P&O's 'high roller' incentives. They claim he was enticed to spend large sums due to practices permitted under 'international waters' guidelines, which would be illegal under Australia's strict gambling advertising laws. These laws prohibit gaming providers from offering promotions like free alcohol, gambling vouchers, and prizes to encourage spending. However, casinos on cruise ships in international waters are not bound by these regulations, creating a loophole.

Passengers can charge their casino spending to their room bill, which can obscure the total amount spent. Before the cruise, Shane was experiencing financial difficulties and dealing with personal tragedies, including the breakdown of his marriage and the deaths of his brother and father.

Shane's brother, Scott Dixon, reported that Shane initially spent $5,000 in the cruise's casino, receiving free drinks, a $750 play voucher, and a ticket for a future cruise. He borrowed $5,000 from his mother to repay this debt but returned to the casino the following night, accumulating an additional $4,000 bill. Scott believes Shane realized the severity of his financial situation as the ship approached Australian waters, where casino operations would cease.

Shane's fall occurred just 10 nautical miles from Sydney Harbour. While Scott praised the P&O staff for their compassionate treatment of their mother, the family criticized the cruise line's casino policies as irresponsible.

For more Pacific Adventure incidents and accidents see the ship's CruiseMinus page.