Yesterday the cruise community learned that a passenger on an Alaska cruise died while on an excursion. Michael Ray Fullerton, a 62 year old man from Texas, was on a kayaking excursion with his family.
While kayaking on Mendenhall Lake, which lies at the foot of Mendenhall Glacier, Fullerton started to complain of exhaustion. Due to the exhaustion he had to stop paddling. In an effort to help him out, the family tied their kayaks together to form a cluster. Sometime after this cluster of kayaks was formed, the kayaks overturned spilling everyone into the water.
Eventually the family was able to flag down someone in a canoe, but not before they had already been in the 37 degree water for quite some time. The canoeist was able to get the family to shore but by that time Fullerton had already been in the water for nearly 30 minutes. A fireman from Juneau’s Capital City Fire and Rescue did perform CPR on Fullerton who had stopped breathing, to no avail. Fullerton was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
The three surviving members of the family were treated for mild hypothermia and released from the hospital. The family then disembarked in Juneau.
Now, Royal Caribbean will point out that the excursion was booked independently and not through the cruise ship, which I can understand. Uninformed cruisers will use this as a vehicle to pontificate that one should only book excursions through the cruise line, which is despicable. However, the truth is this was an unfortunate accident that had nothing to do with who the excursion provider happened to be. In fact, it’s a pretty common practice for the cruise lines to use the same exact providers many independent excursion takers use.
What this happens to be, is an extremely unfortunate occurrence, that will likely be turned into something else due to its newsworthiness. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and everyone else who has been touched by this tragedy.