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I’ve been speaking on radio stations, today and last night, about the two young people who have gone missing from Carnival Spirit off Australia’s east coast. My blog about deaths at sea has led to some interesting research.

So, how closely are you being monitored while on cruising? A big ship has hundreds of cameras watching your every move (the Spirit has more than 600) – everywhere except inside your cabin. They can also see inside your balcony (so any couple who’s been swept away by the romance of sea, yep, there’s a good chance the officers were watching you from the bridge).

Problem is, there are not 600 security staff to watch every camera, and infrared vision isn’t 100% clear at night. It only takes a couple of seconds to fall from the 10th deck into the ocean – like leaping from a skyscraper. I believe they need motion detection technology that activates an alarm if anything falls off the side of the ship.

But overboard cases are relatively rare – 200 people since 2000 (the fewest was four in one year, the most was 25, and so far this year there’s been two – until yesterday). Tragic, yes, but more than 20 million people go cruising every year, so it’s not something that happens easily. You have to make an effort to get up on a railing – either you’ve climbed up and you’re sitting on a balcony dangerously (often drunk) and you slip – or you have chosen to jump, for whatever reason.

There are cases of suicide, murder and accidents. People argue, they threaten to jump (“go ahead” may be the angry response) or they can be thrown over by a partner/friend/enemy. These things happen off balconies on land much more often that at sea – but it can happen.

It’s almost unheard of for a couple to go overboard together. Maybe one person slips and the other tries to save them? Maybe they were messing around, having fun, and it all went horribly wrong. I’ve just returned from a river cruise that had a day trip to Verona, Italy, the city of Romeo and Juliet, so the thought of romantic suicide pacts is on my mind. But nobody knows what happened in this latest case. Only the couple: a 30-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman, lost at sea.

Fingers crossed for a miraculous ending, but that’s a big, cold, dark ocean out there and you have to be careful.

Louise Goldsbury

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In 2013 I was named Best Travel Writer at the National Travel Industry Awards. And until someone corrects me, I'm claiming to be the youngest cruise editor in the Southern Hemisphere. Editor of Cruise Weekly since 2009, I also contribute to Sydney's Sun Herald newspaper and various travel magazines and websites.

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