MELBOURNE, Fla. — A passenger fell overboard from the Norwegian Epic cruise ship Tuesday night near the Bahamas, and crew members boarded rescue boats and saved her in the darkness.
Kareen Kennedy, a Lake Mary insurance claims adjuster, was eating dinner at roughly 9 p.m. in the fifth-deck Taste main dining room when an announcement came over the intercom three times: "Code Oscar portside."
"My server looked out my window, and just the way he looked out ... I was about to order dessert, and I said, 'What happened?' He said, 'Someone jumped off the ship,'" Kennedy said.
She returned to her 14th-deck portside cabin balcony in time to watch two rescue boats descend from the cruise ship, then patrol the waves using searchlights. Soon afterward, the captain announced that the passenger, an unidentified woman, had been rescued, eliciting cheers.
Kennedy recorded the captain's announcement using her iPhone:
"They found the person in the water, and she was picked up and she's now in the hospital. So everything is good there," the captain said.
"Just to let you know that we will soon be on our way up to Port Canaveral. We have to retrieve our tender boat that did the rescue operation, and then we will be on our way shortly," he said.
The rescued passenger was evaluated at the Epic's onboard medical facility in stable condition, Norwegian Cruise Line officials said in a statement.
After the ship reached Port Canaveral on Wednesday morning, Brevard County Fire Rescue personnel transported the patient to a local hospital, Fire Chief Mark Schollmeyer said.
"I really was impressed. My first thought was, 'What are they going to do?' because we were moving at top speed when this happened. We were moving at a pretty quick speed because we were trying to make up time to get back," Kennedy said.
"They got in the water quickly. It was only an hour's delay from the time they announced it and stopped to when we started going back to Port Canaveral," she said.
Epic's Port Canaveral four-day Bahamas cruises include stops at Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay. Kennedy said the ship left Saturday, but was unable to stop at either destination Sunday or Monday because of unusually high seas.
Instead, Kennedy said the Epic reached Nassau Tuesday morning, then left in late afternoon to return to Port Canaveral.
"We are thankful that our team reacted quickly and was able to rescue the guest," the Norwegian Cruise Line statement read.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the guest and their family, as they embark on the recovery process and our CARE team is providing support and assistance during this time."
Follow Rick Neale on Twitter: @RickNeale1