Drowning in swimming pool on the passenger cruise ship Sapphire Princess with loss of 1 life

Location: East China Sea

Accident Investigation Report 19/2015

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened, safety lessons and recommendations made:

MAIB investigation report 19-2015: Sapphire Princess

Sapphire Princess


This is the report of MAIB’s investigation into the drowning of a passenger on board the cruise ship Sapphire Princess in the East China Sea on 7 August 2014. At approximately 1245 local time on 7 August 2014, a passenger was noticed floating face down in a swimming pool on board Sapphire Princess. Despite rescue and resuscitation attempts by passengers and crew, the victim was pronounced deceased at 1255.

In the absence of a dedicated pool attendant, the initial alert was raised by passengers using the swimming pool. Nearby passengers and crew responded, and the onboard emergency services were summoned by telephone. However, there was a short delay in the emergency team response due to language difficulties between crew members and, until the emergency team arrived, limited attempts to perform CPR2 were carried out by passengers.

Risks relating to the use of swimming pools by unsupervised passengers had not been formally assessed.

Safety Issues

  • With no dedicated pool attendants it was left to pool users and bystanders to recognise an emergency and raise an alarm

  • The crew members (catering staff) in the vicinity of Neptune Pool had not received instruction from the company in medical first aid.

  • There was no documented formal risk assessment available for ship’s staff reference when assessing swimming pool operational safety.


Princess Cruise Lines Ltd has been recommended (2015/147) to: complete a formal documented risk assessment on the use of ships’ swimming pools throughout its fleet and; ensure its hotel staff (including stewards, shop staff, hairdressers and entertainers) receive sufficient training and information to take immediate action upon encountering an accident or other medical emergency before seeking further medical assistance on board.

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