Man found alive 15 hours after falling off Carnival cruise ship

Incredible vision has captured the moment a Carnival Cruise passenger was rescued after spending more than 15 hours treading water in the middle of the ocean.

The 28-year-old man was last seen on Wednesday night at a bar onboard the Carnival Valor cruise liner as it sailed from the US state of Louisiana to Mexico.

Carnival officials said the passenger was with his sister and left – probably to use the bathroom – before 11pm and wasn’t seen again. When she still hadn’t seen her brother by the next day, she alerted Carnival staff who called over the PA system for the missing man to report to guest services.

The Carnival Valor cruise ship sets sail from the Port of New Orleans.
The man fell from the Carnival Valor cruise ship after it departed from New Orleans. Source: Getty/File

Staff were also seen searching the boat with a photo of the missing passenger, CNN reported.

When the man failed to make himself known, the US Coast Guard was called at around 2.30pm on Thursday and a search commenced. Carnival Valor also turned around to retrace their steps and assist in the search.

After a six-hour air and sea search, crew members onboard a bulk carrier spotted something in the water that miraculously turned out to be the missing passenger.

Grainy vision shows a man in the ocean, waving his arm for help
The man could be seen waving at the ship and struggling to keep his head above water. Source: USCG

A coast guard helicopter rushed to the scene and hoisted the man on board in a rescue described by USCG search and rescue coordinator Lt Seth Gross as a “miracle”.

“He was able to identify his name, confirmed that he was the individual that fell overboard,” Lt Gross told CNN. “He was showing signs of hypothermia, shock, dehydration” but could still walk and communicate.

He was unable to tell rescuers what time he fell overboard or what happened to cause him to fall. It’s unclear exactly how long he had been in the water, but rescuers believe it could have been more than 15 hours.

“The fact that he was able to keep himself afloat and above the surface of the water for such an extended period of time, it’s just something you can’t take for granted and certainly something that’ll stick with me forever,” Lt Gross said.

“The will to live is something you have to account for in every search and rescue case. This is the absolute longest [time in the water] that I've heard about – and just one of those Thanksgiving miracles.”

The passenger was reported to be in a stable condition on Friday morning by the Coast Guard, while the cruise ship has continued its journey to Mexico.

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