Carnival cruise ship accused of refusing to aid Panamanian fishing boat in distress

MIAMI — US cruise company Carnival has expressed deep regret over the failure of one of its ships to aid two Panamanians who later died at sea, blaming it on a “breakdown in communication.”

The operator, which also owns the Costa Concordia which crashed off the coast of Italy in January killing an estimated 32 people, maintains that the ship’s captain did not receive a message from passengers who had spotted a small fishing boat in distress.

The Miami Herald reported Thursday that two passengers spotted the boat with three men in open waters off the Pacific Coast of Panama on March 10. It said two of the men were dead when the boat was recovered two weeks later near the Galapagos Islands.

“Princess Cruises deeply regrets that two Panamanian men perished at sea after their boat became disabled in early March,” the company, which is owned by the Carnival Corporation, said in a statement Thursday.

The statement said a crew member of the Star Princess was alerted by a passenger but that the message never made it to the captain.

“The preliminary results of our investigation have shown that there appeared to be a breakdown in communication in relaying the passenger’s concern,” the statement said.

The cruise ship operator said it understands “that it is our responsibility and also the law of the sea to provide assistance to any vessel in distress.”

It added, “we have done so more than 30 times in the last 10 years.”

The Herald quoted passenger Judy Meredith as recounting her effort to warn the crew.

“This has already been weeks now, and we’re just sick about it,” Meredith told the newspaper.

The newspaper said Meredith and her fellow birdwatchers saw someone waving their arms and red material on the distressed boat through powerful binoculars.

Don Winner, a Panamanian blogger, said the sole survivor of the fishing boat, which was called Fifty Cent, told him the men had seen the cruise liner but that the ship changed course.

“For a minute it looked like they were going to turn to come for us, but then they just went on their way,” the survivor, Adrian Vasquez, told the blogger for

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