Cruise ship takes threats of self-harm ‘very seriously’, says captain

Cruise ship takes threats of self-harm ‘very seriously’, says captain

A Royal Caribbean cruise ship captain who decided an Irish passenger should be disembarked has said the company takes threats of self-harm “very seriously”.

Cptn Trym Selvag, who was the captain of the ‘Oasis of the Seas’, told a High Court jury on Thursday that he decided, upon the recommendation of the company’s “global security” team, that solicitor Caroline Fanning (49), and her 13-year-old daughter, would be disembarked in the Bahamas on August 9th, 2015.

Cptn Selvag said he was informed in the early hours of August 9th that a guest had threatened suicide if she couldn’t get another cabin.

The ship’s suicide prevention protocol was triggered and a psychiatrist later that morning found Ms Fanning was fit to travel. Global security recommended her disembarkation and Cptn Selvag made a decision that she would leave that afternoon, he said.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy for any claims of self-harm or violence… When these things happen, it will always end up with the person being taken off the ship,” he said in response to questioning from David Conlan Smyth SC, instructed by Noble Shipping Law, for defendant booking agent Trailfinders Ireland Limited and third-party RCL Cruises Limited.

Cptn Selvag said it wouldn’t have mattered if Ms Fanning was being sarcastic, as she claims.

“We are out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. We have had people who have taken their own life, that have jumped overboard. It has happened, so I know what that feels like. It is something that we will always, always prevent.”

“We don’t listen to cry wolf. We take no risks,” Cptn Selvag said, adding that he believed the swift intervention of staff saved Ms Fanning’s life.

Cross-examining, Robert Fitzpatrick SC, instructed by Conways Solicitors, asked how Cptn Selvag could believe Ms Fanning’s life was saved that night when the psychiatrist later found there was nothing wrong with her.

“That is what she threatened us with at the time,” he said.

Cptn Selvag said the decision to disembark Ms Fanning was taken for her safety and the safety of other passengers.

Ms Fanning, of Foxrock Avenue, Co Dublin, previously told the court she was being sarcastic when she referenced suicide to the ship’s receptionist when complaining about the motion of her room and its effect on her sea sickness.

She said the receptionist mentioned a medical emergency and, understanding the receptionist to be speaking sarcastically, Ms Fanning responded sarcastically by saying “there may be one tomorrow” and “there may be a suicide”.

Ms Fanning denies the receptionist’s claim that she repeated the comment for a third time during the phone call. She also denies an allegation from the ship’s deputy security officer that she told him a short while later: “I will commit suicide if not given a new balcony state room”.

Ms Fanning and her daughter were brought to an interior cabin that had been cleared of cutlery, hangers and other sharp objects.

After a psychiatrist found Ms Fanning fit to travel at about 9am, Ms Fanning and her daughter were given an opportunity to book alternative accommodation before disembarking in Nassau. She was not refunded the €3,700 cost of the holiday.

RCL Cruises is a third party in Ms Fanning’s action against Trailfinders Ireland, the travel agent through whom she booked the package holiday. They both deny her claims, including that she was falsely imprisoned for several hours on August 9th.

Last week the High Court jury was informed Ms Fanning’s claims for assault and battery and defamation are no longer issues in the case.

The case before a jury and Mr Justice Alexander Owens continues.

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