It was the holiday of a lifetime for the Wiegand family – kids, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers were on what they thought was a relaxing family trip.
But before the ship even departed from Puerto Rico, 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand, the baby of the family, plunged 11 stories to her death when she fell out of the window of Freedom of the Seas.
Whose heart wouldn’t go out to the family. Especially after so many gorgeous pictures of this “little angel” were posted on Facebook.
Earlier this week, the parents of Chloe appeared on NBC’s Today show – their first interview since the accident.
The family said they will be suing Royal Caribbean for “not having a safer situation on the 11th floor of that cruise ship.”
The family’s attorney Michael Winkleman has disputed the original report that was filed by the Puerto Rican police and said that Chloe asked her grandfather, Salvatore Anello to lift her up to bang on the glass window.
Mr Winkleman said: “The grandfather didn’t drop the child, the child fell due to an open glass pane that should have been closed securely.”
“Her grandfather thought there was glass just like everywhere else, but there was not, and she was gone in an instant.”
But while fingers have been pointed at the cruise line and its safety measures, when do cruisers take responsibility for their own well-being?
Do we really want to lock every window on a cruise ship in case someone holds their child in a position where it can fall out? Do we want to turn these vessels into play pens or cells where no-one can do themselves any harm, however they behave?
In the family’s interview, there was no questioning their decision or the actions of Chloe’s grandfather.
Original reports from the Puerto Rican police say that Chloe had been playing a game with her grandfather, when she slipped out his arms and fell out of the window.
The reports also indicate that he had put Chloe on the railing of the H20 Zone, an area which is a popular hangout spot for guests, when she fell out of the window.
But the family have changed their account and are saying that it was RCL’s responsibility to close the window.
As many cruisers would know, cruise lines do leave the windows on the upper deck open for fresh air. These windows, which are above hip height, are tinted to show whether a window is closed or open, as shown in the photo above.
Do we really want to ruin the cruise experience by locking every doors and window from the fresh sea air just in case?
Many Cruise Passenger readers share a similar view – why was she even near the railing of the window in the first place?
One reader posted a comment saying, “Just came off a cruise in the Mediterranean from the same cruise line and I know when the windows are open you get a lovely breeze so I can’t see how you would not know the window was open.
“There is something called supervision so if you’re not prepared to do it then don’t take toddlers on cruises. I feel for the family and the little one, but I can’t see where the cruise line is at fault.”
Another reader said, “I’ve been on many RCCL cruises and the pool desks are all similar and guests can open and close windows as they wish to let breeze in etc. I am 170cm tall and the railing is just under my armpits. The windows are tinted and there is usually salt spray all over them so easy to see if they are open or closed.
“The Grandfather may have poor vision but there is no way possible the little girl would have fallen if she wasn’t lifted up. So sad for the family, nothing can bring her back and it’s a tragedy but please don’t blame the cruise line.”
So, while the accident is tragic, as some other readers pointed out, money is not the answer to solving an issue like this.
“To lose a child would be devastating, but please, look at the circumstances. Why must we blame/sue those with money “for compensation”, rather than look at the real tragedy? A child has been lost and those left behind must live with the guilt forever. Money will not help that.”
Vote in this year’s special Readers’ Choice Awards
No doubt 2020 will go down in cruise history as the year of the pandemic – a once in a generation event. And this year’s Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards will reflect it.