This file photo shows the Holland America Westerdam in Southeast Alaska. (National Park Service | Courtesy Photo)

This file photo shows the Holland America Westerdam in Southeast Alaska. (National Park Service | Courtesy Photo)

Park Service suspends search for overboard cruise ship passenger

Man went overboard in Glacier Bay on Friday

After a day-long search that spread across the waters and shores of Glacier Bay, the National Park Service suspended its efforts Saturday for a man who went overboard from a cruise ship Friday.

The man 69, was aboard the Holland America Westerdam as it embarked from Vancouver, B.C. on July 8 and passed through Juneau on July 11, according to a statement from Holland America. At 3:50 p.m. Friday, the man’s wife reported him missing, according to the statement, and the ship’s crew began searching the vessel.

After coming to the conclusion that the man was not on board, the ship’s staff contacted NPS at around 7:30 p.m. Friday, according to a release from NPS. NPS Public Information Officer Matthew Cahill said 15 NPS staff members were involved in the search and rescue effort that lasted about 24 hours. Cahill said NPS also used three boats and a fixed-wing aircraft to search.

NPS boats weren’t the only ones in the water, Cahill said.

“There were a lot of private vessels in the bay that were participating, and then there were the charters and the day tour boat as well,” Cahill said. “We had a minimum of two Park Service vessels at any given time during the search inside and right outside the mouth of Glacier Bay.”

There was no sign of the missing man, according to the NPS release. Coast Guard Public Affairs Officer LTJG Nicholas Capuzzi said Monday that the area is NPS authority, and the Coast Guard has not assisted with the search since NPS suspended its search at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Cahill said the search spanned from the south end of Drake Island out into Icy Strait, and that searchers also scanned the Pleasant Island and Lemesurier Island (both in Icy Strait) shorelines. Cahill said the U.S. Coast Guard assisted NPS with determining drift patterns, estimating where the man might have drifted in the water from the place where he was believed to have entered the water.

According to the Holland America statement, CCTV security camera footage showed that the man went overboard early that morning. Cahill said it was around 6:45 a.m. Holland America Vice President Sally Andrews did not comment on whether there was any indication that the man went overboard intentionally. The man is a U.S. citizen, according to the Holland America statement, but his name has not been released.

Cahill said there are fairly frequent incidents of people being in distress in Glacier Bay — for example, two hikers and four kayakers all needed the Coast Guard to rescue them just this weekend — but this specific scenario is not common.

“As far as overboard from cruise ships, it’s fairly rare,” Cahill said. “I would say really a matter of many years in between each one in Glacier Bay.”


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 19

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, addresses a joint session of the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sullivan touts new ocean cleanup headquarters in Juneau, attacks Biden in annual speech to legislators

Senator calls Trump “the best president ever” for Alaska, has harsh words for Iran and migrants

The Norwegian Bliss arrives in Juneau on April 17, 2023, the first cruise ship of the 2023 season. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Free public downtown Wi-Fi, park upgrades, more buses among proposals for marine passenger fees

Public comments being accepted until March 25 for more than $19 million in recommended projects.

Andy Mills (left), legislative liaison for the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and Commissioner Ryan Anderson testify before the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday about an executive order that would give the governor full control of the Alaska Marine Highway System’s operations board. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Governor says he wants control of ferry board so it’s not ‘at odds’ with him; senators express skepticism

Resolution to reject Dunleavy’s executive order among many being considered by legislators.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Monday, Feb. 19, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Paul Peterson, author of the Harvard study on national charter school performance. (KTOO 360TV screenshot)
Alaska lawmakers grapple with test-score performance gap between charters and other public schools

Charter study does not show how their testing success can be replicated in regular public schools.

An underwater image captured in 2016 shows sockeye salmon swimming up the Brooks River in Alaska’s Katmai National Park to spawn. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is buying about 50 million pounds of Alaska fish — pollock, pink salmon and sockeye salmon — to use in its food and nutrition-assistance programs. (Photo provided by the National Park Service)
Agriculture Department commits to big purchase of Alaska salmon and pollock for food programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will purchase about 50 million pounds of… Continue reading

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé students hold up signs during a rally along Egan Drive on Tuesday afternoon protesting a proposal to consolidate all local students in grades 10-12 at Thunder Mountain High School to help deal with the Juneau School District’s financial crisis. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
JDHS students, teachers rally to keep grades 9-12 at downtown school if consolidation occurs

District’s proposed move to TMHS would result in loss of vocational facilities, ninth-grade students.

Deven Mitchell, executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., gives a tour of the corporation’s investment floor to Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, and other attendees of an open house on Friday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. leaders approve proposal to borrow up to $4 billion for investments

Plan must be OK’d by legislators and Gov. Mike Dunleavy because it requires changes to state law.

Most Read