Family say strangers laughed, cruise staff did nothing while father drowned

A teenage girl out sunbathing during an idyllic family cruise around the Bahamas has recalled the heart-stopping moment she heard strangers openly laugh about a man they saw drowning.

Venezia Hebecker was soaking in the sun on the last day of her holiday voyage when she heard the group joke about what had transpired during a snorkelling excursion as part of the Norwegian Escape cruise.

The 19-year-old Canadian resident was compelled to check on her father, Marino Hebecker, but when a woman holding his snorkel came running in the other direction, she broke down.

“I started bawling my eyes out because I totally thought he was gone,” Venezia told told News Corp.

Venezia Hebecker was on the luxury cruise with her parents. Source: Facebook/Venezia Hebecker
Marino Hebecker had been on a snorkelling excursion when he became trapped in a strong current. Source: Facebook/Venezia Hebecker

“She had reassured me that he was okay but I needed to go to medical as soon as possible because my dad ... was not breathing.”

Her 69-year-old father is considered a strong swimmer but when he found himself stuck in a strong current 60 metres out in the water, his desperate pleas for help went unacknowledged.

“He remembers waving at the lifeguard, who ignored him, then screaming for the lifeguard, who ignored him again. He was screaming for his life and everyone thought it was a joke.

She said it was two children who found him and two men who dragged her father from the water – not lifeguards or other crew members.

"Through it all, no crew member had came to the stateroom or even called to see how he was doing," she wrote in a GoFundMe page for her father.

The Onatario teenager said she feared the worst when she heard people laughing about watching someone struggling in the water. Source: Facebook/Venezia Hebecker
Marino Hebecker now faces a gruelling road to recovery. Source: Facebook/Venezia Hebecker

"Absolutely nothing was done for him through it all even considering this all happened on their island under their 'lifeguards* supervision."

Rushed to the hospital in a critical condition, Mr Hebecker now faces a gruelling battle just to get back on his feet.

His devastated daughter said no one from Norwegian Escape offered any kind of sympathy or assistance when their dream holiday turned into a nightmare.

“I definitely think that they should be ashamed of themselves. I could have lost my father if it weren’t for the help of those kids as well as the man, not the lifeguard," she said.

A GoFundMe page has been created to help cover Mr Hebecker's medical costs.

Yahoo7 News has contacted Norweigan Cruise Line for comment.

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