The body of man who worked on a Holland America cruise ship washed up on a Florida beach Friday morning, five days after the ship pulled into a Tampa port without him. Authorities believe the cruise ship worker may have jumped off the ship in the early morning of December 21, just a few hours before it docked after a two-week trip to the Caribbean islands.
The body was identified as a Thane, India, native named Cliford B. Minej, who was 27-years-old. He was last seen aboard the Holland America ship Ryndam at around 3 a.m. last Sunday. The cruise ship line released no further information about Mijej, so it is not publicly known exactly what job he performed on the Ryndam.
Despite speculation that Minej may have deliberately jumped to his death, the possibility that he fell also remains open. In fact, the Pinellas County Medical Examiner ruled his death to be an accident.
Whatever the circumstances, authorities say that Minej fell from the ship an entered the waters of the Gulf of Mexico somewhere near Ergmont Key, an island operated by the Florida State Park Service just southwest of the Tampa Bay.
But the ship’s captain waited until after 8 a.m., when the Ryndam had already pulled into port, to notify police that Minej was unaccounted for, leaving investigators confused as to whether the employee had simply walked off the ship in port, or fell earlier.
But that question, at least, received an answer, when the body of Minej floated to shore at about 7:15 am on Clearwater Beach, behind the Ultimar Condos in the 1500 block of Gulf Boulevard in Clearwater, Florida, about 22 miles across the bay from Tampa.
The body of Minej was clad in shorts and a t-shirt, when it as spotted by a passer-by who was taking a walk along the beach Friday morning.
Sadly, deaths by falling or jumping overboard from cruise ships are not uncommon. Since the year 2000, about 200 people have died by falling off of cruise ships into the water below. Most recently, an 84-year-old man plunged from a cruise ship between Australia and New Zealand.
The Holland America Cruise Line had only the following statement about the death of Minej.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our crew members and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time,” the cruise line said in the statement.
Police had called off their search for the body of the cruise ship worker by 5:45 p.m. last Sunday, only to have his body wash up on Friday.