Cruise line denies ignoring boat in distress

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Princess Cruises released recently discovered video footage of a rescue at sea of a small boat adrift for nearly a month in the Pacific Ocean that the company says conclusively confirms the adrift boat, the Fifty Cent, was not the small boat spotted and photographed by three Princess passengers several weeks earlier.

The story, which broke last spring, received extensive press coverage with Princess and the ship's captain widely criticized for not coming to the rescue of the men on board, two of whom subsequently died.

Princess was sued six times by the survivor and relatives of fishermen on the adrift boat. The lawsuits claim the cruise ship Star Princess passed within several miles of the Fifty Cent, but failed to rescue them despite three cruise ship passengers spotting them and reporting they saw a boat that might be in distress. The ship's bridge staff did not see signs of distress and therefore did not stop or notify the ship's captain.

The Princess passengers, a group of bird watchers with sophisticated telescopic camera equipment, photographed the small boat they had spotted. Their photos depict a small white boat similar to Panga boats used by local fishermen in Central America. In contrast, the video footage of the Fifty Cent's rescue shows a markedly different boat, the cruise line contends.

Princess had the newly discovered video and the original bird watchers' photos analyzed by Michael Snyder, a retired photo analyst and photogrammetry expert from NASA's Johnson Space Center. Snyder concluded that "the small boat photographed by the passengers onboard Star Princess is clearly not the small boat called Fifty Cent that Adrian Vasquez was found adrift on." 

Click here for a graphic created by the cruise line to show how the boats are not the same.

Video footage of Adrian Vasquez aboard the fishing boat that rescued him and his boat Fifty Cent can be found here.