MIAMI, United States, Monday November 9, 2015 – The United States Coast Guard has called off its search for a man who fell off a Royal Caribbean cruise ship near the Turks and Caicos Islands on Friday night.
Bernardo Elbaz, who was on vacation with his husband Eric, went over the balcony of the couple’s cabin aboard the Oasis of the Seas and clung to a lifeboat before losing his grip and plunging into the sea.
The accounts of what preceded the 31-year-old Brazilian filmmaker going overboard differ depending on who’s asked.
In a statement issued Friday, Royal Caribbean said that crew members spotted Elbaz “intentionally going over the side of the ship.”
They later added that the ship’s onboard security team responded to the guest’s stateroom after a neighbouring guest complained about a domestic dispute on the guest’s balcony.
But the man’s family have told a different story, and have hired attorney-at-law Michael Winkleman. He said the couple had been subjected to gay slurs from crew members during the cruise.
According to the Sun Sentinel, following a late dinner, Eric Elbaz went to the couple’s cabin while Bernardo stayed at the bar where there was an altercation, a fight and anti-gay remarks.
When Bernardo returned to the cabin after midnight he was “definitely inebriated, crying, swearing at crew members who may have followed him . . . He was so angry he threw a lamp, a chair,” Winkleman said.
After a second visit to the room by security staff, the lawyer added, there was another long altercation, with maybe as many as five or six crew members. He said the door to the balcony was open and Bernardo fell over into the life boat.
“Our staff did not have a physical altercation with the guest and were unable to prevent his jumping from the stateroom balcony,” Royal Caribbean insisted.