A young man from Texas was reported missing while on a vacation aboard the world’s largest cruise ship earlier this week. The teenager, identified as Sigmund Ropich, reportedly fell overboard from Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas ship near the coast of Cuba around 9 p.m. on Tuesday. The search for Ropich is still ongoing, but his family has expressed frustration over the lack of updates from officials regarding the missing passenger.
Jenna Izzo, a fellow passenger from Rhode Island, shared with media outlets that the ship’s captain had announced the incident on Tuesday night. According to Izzo, the captain had planned to turn the ship around to initiate a search and rescue operation. However, after an unsuccessful three-hour search, the ship resumed its course towards its next stop, Grand Cayman.
The Cuban Border Guard took over the search and rescue mission following the incident. However, on Friday, Savannah Ropich, Sigmund’s sister, revealed that the U.S. Consulate had informed the family that the Cuban Border Guard would cease the ocean search and focus solely on coastal and land areas. Savannah expressed her family’s distress over the situation, stating, “We just want our brother home. They’re taking too long and barely telling us anything.”
In a heartfelt Facebook post, Savannah described her brother as a son, brother, cousin, uncle, nephew, friend, classmate, co-worker, and neighbor, emphasizing the family’s desperate need for his safe return.
Royal Caribbean released a statement on Wednesday, confirming that the ship’s crew had promptly initiated a search and rescue operation and was working closely with local authorities. The company did not provide any details on how Ropich ended up overboard from the 230,000-ton vessel.
The Wonder of the Seas, which first launched in March 2022, embarked on a 7-day cruise from Port Canaveral, Florida, on August 27. Ropich, a 19-year-old college student, went overboard on the second day of the cruise. The ship, which is 1,188 feet long and has 18 decks, is scheduled to return to Port Canaveral on Sunday. It has a capacity of 7,084 passengers and 2,204 crew members.
Upon the ship’s return to the U.S., the U.S. Coast Guard will conduct an investigation into the incident, according to a spokesperson.