Gone Without a Trace: A Tragic End to a “Dream Cruise”

A 35-year-old man who fell overboard from a Carnival cruise ship has been declared missing after a massive search operation failed to locate him.

Ronnie Peale was on his first cruise with his fiancée, Jennilyn Michelle Blosser, aboard the Carnival Magic. Intending to sail from Norfolk, Virginia, to the Bahamas, Bermuda, and Caribbean, their dream vacation suddenly turned into a nightmare when Peale went over the side of the ship early Monday morning. According to Carnival, security footage showed that Peale “leaned over the railing of his stateroom balcony and dropped into the water” just after 4 AM. His companion reported him missing in the early afternoon, and the crew then searched the ship.

The U.S. Coast Guard was not notified of the incident until 6:30 PM on Monday (some 14 hours after he fell!), following which a massive search and rescue effort was launched. Three fixed-wing aircraft were dispatched, as well as the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba to comb the area about 175 nautical miles east of Jacksonville, Florida. Other U.S. Navy ships and aircraft in the region also joined in the search. The Carnival Magic later was released from the search operation and continued her commercial voyage.

The Coast Guard crews searched for over 60 hours and covered more than 5,000 square miles before calling off the effort on Wednesday evening.

“The Seventh Coast Guard District dispatched multiple search and rescue assets as soon as we were notified of the missing person. Our command center watchstanders provided search patterns to cutter crews and air crews who actively searched from Monday through Wednesday evening,” said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Hooper, search coordinator for Seventh District. “The decision to suspend the active search efforts pending further development is never one we take lightly. We offer our most sincere condolences to Mr. Peale’s family and friends.”

Ms. Blosser told local media that Peale was “the life of the party” and that he loved cruising. “It just hurts too much to even type, let alone talk about it,” she said. “He loved the cruise life, being able to drink, gamble, and socialize put him in his happy place.”

Carnival expressed its sympathy for Peale’s loved ones and said it was providing support and assistance to them. The cruise line also thanked the Coast Guard and Navy for their efforts.

However, this is not the first time that a passenger has gone overboard from a Carnival ship. In January 2019, a 26-year-old woman fell from the Carnival Ecstasy near Freeport, Bahamas, and was never found. In December 2018, a 22-year-old man fell from the Carnival Fantasy near Progreso, Mexico, and fortunately was rescued by a nearby fishing boat.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), an industry trade group, says that overboard incidents are rare and that cruise ships have various safety measures, such as railings, surveillance cameras, sensors, alarms, and crew safety training, in order to prevent them. However, some critics argue that cruise lines should do more to prevent such tragedies and to improve their reporting and response procedures, and call for more transparency and accountability from the industry.

The case of Ronnie Peale remains tragic and mysterious for his family and friends. His fiancée said she hopes he is at peace somewhere. “I love you so much Ronnie,” she wrote on Facebook. “You will always be my soulmate.”

We at the Herd Law Firm are proud to fight for maritime workers and passengers in all types of personal injury claims, and never waver in our commitment to help these maritime workers and their families when they are injured.

Charles Herd is a Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife-certified Boater Safety Instructor as well!





Image Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Southeast, FaceBook, Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife


  1. https://www.carnival.com/cruise-ships/carnival-magic
  2. https://www.carnival.com/awaywego/cruising-fun/what-to-expect/ultimate-guide-to-carnival-magic
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnival_Magic
  4. https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/search-called-off-for-missing-passenger-from-carnival-cruise-ship
  5. https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/profile/656052562/
  6. https://www.13newsnow.com/article/news/local/mycity/norfolk/fbi-investigating-search-continues-missing-cruise-ship-passenger/291-4cad3e84-9a00-451c-9818-b625c9e32deb
  7. https://www.wtkr.com/news/in-the-community/norfolk/wife-says-husband-went-overboard-carnival-magic-ship-returning-to-norfolk
  8. https://nypost.com/2023/05/27/search-suspended-for-louisiana-teen-cameron-robbins-who-went-overboard-in-bahamas/

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