World's Biggest Cruise Ship Loses Passenger Near Cuba

Search is on for Sigmund Ropich, 19, who went overboard Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2023 10:45 AM CDT
World's Biggest Cruise Ship Loses Passenger Near Cuba
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/NAPA74)

A college student vacationing with friends who went overboard the largest cruise ship in the world earlier this week is still missing, though the search for him continues—for now. Per Insider, 19-year-old Sigmund Ropich vanished from Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas on Tuesday night when the ship was off the coast of Cuba. It's not clear how Ropich fell off the ship, which had departed from Port Canaveral, Florida, two days earlier, or exactly how long he was in the water before a search effort was launched, per CNN. The cruise line said in a statement that it's cooperating with local authorities in the search.

There's been some confusion on who's actually leading the search. A Royal Caribbean rep said the company had been working with the US Coast Guard to try and find Ropich, but that agency says the Cuban Border Guard is in charge of search operations, as Ropich fell in Cuban waters. The Cuban Board Guard hasn't verified as much, but Ropich's family, Savannah Ropich, says Cuban officials told her family that the search for her brother in the ocean has ended.

"They are continuing only on the coast and land," Savannah Ropich tells Insider. "I have a strong feeling they're going to end this search." She also notes that her family has been "praying hourly day and night," and that she doesn't think Royal Caribbean is taking the matter as seriously as it should. She also says Cuban officials are keeping her family in the dark. "We just want our brother home," she tells CNN. "They're taking too long and barely telling us anything." On Thursday night, Savannah Ropich posted a message to her missing brother. "[I'm] not giving up on you Sig," she wrote on Facebook. (More Royal Caribbean stories.)

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