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Tourists fall to sea, live to tell about it

Couple survives cruise ship scare

GALVESTON, Texas -- A man and woman fell overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico early yesterday, but both were rescued after a four-hour search and appeared to be in good condition, a cruise line spokeswoman said.

The 22-year-old man and 20-year-old woman fell 50 to 60 feet from a cabin balcony, said Julie Benson, a spokeswoman for Princess Cruises.

She said the cruise line did not know how they fell overboard, although it appears to have been an accident. The ship, the Grand Princess, was about 150 miles off the coast of Galveston, at the time.

The captain turned the ship around after friends of the man and woman notified the crew at about 1:30 a.m. that they had gone overboard, Benson said. The ship's crew used spotlights and rescue boats in the search.

One passenger was rescued by the ship's boats at 5:30 a.m. and the other at 6 a.m., according to a statement by the cruise line.

The Coast Guard aided the search , said Lieutenant Jillian Lamb at the District 8 Command Center.

A nearby cruise ship also offered assistance, she said.

The ship's medical staff examined the man and woman, whom the cruise line declined to name. They had minor injuries and are not expected to need further medical attention, Benson said.

The couple has the option of continuing on the trip or returning home when the ship reaches port. The ship was on its way to Costa Maya on Mexico's coastline, Benson said.

The Grand Princess was carrying 2,783 passengers on a seven-day tour of the western Caribbean.

Earlier this month, a 35-year-old passenger from Orlando, Fla., survived eight hours in the waters off Fort Lauderdale after he jumped 60 feet off a Carnival cruise ship balcony, officials said.

The man drifted 20 miles from where he fell and the Coast Guard found him the next morning. He was treated for hypothermia and a collapsed lung.