A former corporate lawyer died after falling from a luxury liner, reports say. One expert says cruise safety is outdated.

A former corporate lawyer died after falling from a luxury liner, reports say. One expert says cruise safety is outdated.
  • Nigel Blythe-Tinker, a top UK lawyer, died after falling to his death from a luxury cruise balcony, reports say.

  • The 72-year-old died in 2023, the London High Court determined.

  • A cruise industry expert told BI that updates to maritime safety requirements are infrequent and inadequate.

A top UK lawyer who vanished after falling from a cruise has been declared dead by London's High Court of Justice, The Telegraph reported.

Nigel Blythe-Tinker, 72, was on board the Seven Seas Mariner when he fell to his death in July 2023.

Blythe-Tinker, the former head of legal at gambling firm William Hill, was vacationing on a Mediterranean cruise while planning to return to England after a stint in Australia.

Blythe-Tinker died after falling from his balcony while the cruise liner was en route from Marseille to Barcelona on 21 July, CCTV footage revealed, per the Telegraph.

While the chances of falling overboard on a cruise ship are extremely low, a cruise ship expert told Business Insider that the industry's safety protocols needed updating.

The late lawyer's daughter, Sophie Elizabeth Blythe-Tinker, filed a claim for a declaration of presumed death in October. The directions hearing took place on March 25.

Sophie Elizabeth Blythe-Tinker told the court her father "wasn't himself" and had become "increasingly abnormal" during his time on board, per the Telegraph.

"I have viewed the video evidence," she said. "Something descends from the ship at 4:28 a.m. I'm prepared to accept that that was a body, and the direction is consistent with it coming from the suite Mr Blythe-Tinker was in."

Judge Chief Master Karen Shuman concluded, per The Telegraph, "I'm satisfied on the evidence before me that Mr Blythe-Tinker died at 4:28 central European time by falling to his death from the ship that he was on."

The reason for the fall remains unclear.

A Regent Seven Seas Cruises spokesperson told BI, "We are very sorry to the family of Mr. Blythe-Tinker for their loss, and hope that they find some comfort and closure in the High Court's findings."

Cruise ship safety

Ross Klein, an international authority on the cruise ship industry, told BI he believes cruise ship safety rules are outdated. He said no substantial changes have been made to cruise ship safety since the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010.

"There have been no improvements. Absolutely none, zero," he said.

Klein said the majority of cases of passengers falling or jumping overboard could be traced to intoxication.

"That's something that's entirely within the control of the cruise line. But they'd rather sell their all-you-can-drink packages than take some responsibility for people's overconsumption of alcohol," he said.

"Ninety percent of people who are going overboard go overboard between midnight and 7 a.m.," said Klein, adding that "those are the hours that people would be the most intoxicated."

It comes amid after a 20-year-old Royal Caribbean passenger has been missing since April 4 after jumping overboard at 3:30 a.m., reports say. Witnesses told the New York Post that the man appeared to be "pretty drunk."

The father of Levion Parker who went missing questioned why his son was able to consume so much alcohol while on the ship, in an interview with a local Florida news outlet, the Sun North Port.

"We don't drink. I'd like to know how my son was served so much alcohol," said Francel Parker.

Ross Klein said that suicides make up only a small fraction of cruise deaths but that "there's really no intervention available" for any passengers struggling with suicidal ideation.

Klein is "not very hopeful" about actionable change regarding cruise safety in the near future "because nobody's pushing for changes."

"I think legislation has been dreadfully inadequate," he said.

"Going on a ship today would be like going on a ship in 1990. There have been no improvements. Railing heights are the same," Klein said.

Read the original article on Business Insider