Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Teen Hero Honored by Norwegian Spirirt & The Port of New Orleans

Norwegian Spirit’s Captain Evans Hoyt
presents Alex Giffel with the life ring that
saved a fellow passenger’s life.
Last month Cruise Diva reported on a man overboard incident in the Mississippi River that concluded in a happy ending due to the quick thinking of a teenage passenger aboard Norwegian Spirit. At the time we received some criticism for not having more details to share, but were pleasantly surprised to subsequently find this comment on the Cruise Diva Blog, “My family was on the NCL Spirit when the man jumped from the top deck. We were on deck 7 and my 16 year old son tossed a life ring back. It took 40 minutes to get him out of the water and to the medical center. The NCL Spirit’s crew did a GREAT job for such a rare event.”

We could feel the pride in that father’s words, knowing that his son had helped to save the passenger’s life. However, beyond the young man’s age, we didn’t know much else because his father’s comment was posted anonymously. Thanks to Norwegian Cruise Line and the Port of New Orleans, now we know more and are happy to report it. Last Sunday the cruise line and the port recognized the quick actions of 16-year-old Alex Giffel of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Norwegian Spirit’s rescue team in a ceremony aboard the ship in New Orleans.

And so, here is the rest of the story. Giffel had just started a cruise vacation with his family on Sunday, June 12, 2011, onboard Norwegian Spirit when he witnessed a fellow passenger go overboard into the Mississippi River. Giffel reacted immediately by throwing a nearby life ring to the person in the water while his 21-year-old cousin, Tyler Giffel, alerted the crew. Norwegian Spirit’s rescue team quickly dispatched a rescue boat into the river and rescued the passenger, bringing him back on board to safety.

In Sunday’s ceremony, Captain Evans Hoyt thanked Giffel and as a token of appreciation presented him with the same life ring that he threw to the man in the water. Both the line and the Port of New Orleans also gave him plaques of appreciation.

“Some of us train all our whole lives to respond in an emergency and others are thrust into the situation. In either case, it comes down to the individual having a moment to respond and make the right call,” said Captain Hoyt. “The Giffel family can be proud of the quick response by Alex and Tyler, just as the Spirit team is proud of all the responders onboard whose professionalism and quick response resulted in a life being saved.”

The ceremony, which was attended by the Giffel family, representatives from the Port of New Orleans, and the ship’s senior officers, also honored Norwegian Spirit’s rescue team (pictured here with Alex and Captain Hoyt) for their successful life-saving effort. The group concluded the day with a lunch in Cagney’s Steakhouse.

We’d certainly be proud—and feel safer—to sail on any cruise with Alex Giffel and we extend our best wishes to him and our sincere appreciation for his quick thinking and heroic actions.

Images Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

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