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Mad Decent Boat Party Passenger Shares Tragic Details of Cruise: "I Felt Unsafe"

November 18, 2015 - by Molly Sinclair

By now you have probably heard of the unfortunate news circling around about the tragedy at Mad Decent Boat Party, Diplo's EDM cruise that set sail from Miami last weekend. Although all was well the first night of the cruise, on Day 2 a female passenger fell overboard - later deemed an intentional jump - and was never found.

Shannon, a passenger who was onboard the fateful cruise, approached me with her first-hand account of the safety conditions, reactions, and turn of events over the weekend. Shannon had positive things to say about much of the entertainment, but described an unnerving lack of communication and safety procedures that turned this epic party into an epic disaster.

Shannon's Story

It was my first time on the Mad Decent Boat Party. I went in with open eyes, ready to party and ready to have a good time.

Wednesday at noon we got to the dock and waited in line for about 4 hours. After we finally got on the boat, we heard over the intercom that there was a mandatory safety drill. Although we were an hour late for the drill, we went up to the dock. Everyone was excited, chatting it up, ready to drink and ready to eat after waiting for hours. The organizers were trying to get us all to quiet down, and said over the loudspeaker, "Look, if you guys don't be quiet then we will be here all night." So we all shut up, and literally 10 seconds later we hear over the intercom, "You have now concluded the safety drill." We all cheered and got out of there.

In other words, practically no one went through the actual drill. I talked to other people later who didn't even know about it. It was probably supposed to consist of regular cruise stuff like what to do in an emergency, how to use a life vest, where to pull a fire alarm. I didn't know what number to call in case someone went overboard. None of that was given to us, which was scary. And later, after [the woman] fell, I was like, Huh, that would have been really useful.

On Day 2, we got a message over the intercom that there was a security procedure going on. We saw the boat turning around, and it took about a half hour for the boat to turn around completely. Then we were stationary, but it took another 20 minutes for them to even drop any safety boats. So by now it has been about an hour and they dropped 2 boats, and it was already pretty dark out. About 30 minutes later they dropped a third boat, which made us think, why didn't you just drop all 3 at once?

At that point we had heard so many rumors from neighbors that we didn't even know what to think. We heard that she was walking around the outside balconies and tripped and fell, we heard someone pushed her, we heard that she was on so much special K that she jumped out the window herself, we even heard that there was actually no one that fell. So all of these rumors were so toxic, we didn't know what to think because we had no communication whatsoever. Nobody on the boat knew what happened until we got home and read news reports later on.

What we did hear later was that she had actually gotten married on the boat party the year prior. So it was her and her husband's one year anniversary. We heard that she told her husband, I love you, and then he went and took a shower. And that's when she jumped.

Back to the search, there were spotlights scanning the side of the boat everywhere in the water. Everyone was on their balconies watching. We were all part of the search party. We were all involved. Even if you didn't want to be involved, you were involved. It was like a trainwreck - you couldn't stop looking. And also, you wanted to see if you could see a head pop up. Because if you saw, then maybe you can save this person's life. So everyone was outside, freaked out, but also wanting to help.

About an hour later, a fourth boat appeared. They told us on the intercom the Coast Guard was coming, and that didn't come for another hour. They kept giving us updates on the intercom, but at that point it seemed too late.

Meanwhile, the music had been completely off the entire night. Eventually at 2AM, A-Trak played a set. He briefly acknowledged it, saying, "We went through some messed up stuff tonight, but let's have the music bring us together and unite us". Other than that, the only other DJs that I heard show any sort of acknowledgement were Martin Solveig and Skrillex on the last night of the cruise.

Waking up the next morning, it all seemed like a bad dream, but unfortunately reality sunk in. We were informed that the cruise would not be heading to Mexico as planned, and instead was headed back to Miami. I guess cruise law says that if someone dies overseas, you have to go back to the port where the boat left.

We were told that we would be getting a refund, which felt better - but soon found out that the refund was only $57.17. We were pretty stunned, since the cruise ticket was about $1200 and the full trip came to about 2 grand per person.

I went to the event organizers and asked what that measly $57 covered. Bear, of Sixthman, told me that the refund was equal to entrance to the waterpark and port fees. I asked him about the open bar that was promised, and he said that it would have been rude to have open bar that evening after someone died. After all the stress that had happened, it was certainly hard to turn up, but it would have been nice to have something to take our minds off of the tragedy.

The rest of the trip was pretty twisted as far as music went. Since we didn't go to Mexico, all the schedules were mixed up, some artists like Thomas Jack didn't play because we never picked them up. After being bummed that we didn't arrive in Mexico, everyone was just trying to pull through and enjoy the rest of the weekend, to celebrate life and make the most of it, in order to cope with the situation.

The entire weekend, we all thought, well at least Jack U will finish the cruise on the last night. When that moment came, a few minutes into Jack U's set, it started pouring. Diplo announced, "We're not going to let a little rain stop us," but then the lightning appeared and the set was cut. It was disheartening because they certainly knew a storm was coming. They could've planned it a lot better and set up in one of the rooms inside.

It was kind of like the cherry on top of the whole weekend. Like, what's the last thing that could possibly go wrong for us? The light in the distance for everyone was like, at least Jack U would play.

After they stopped performing, we heard an announcement telling everyone to go our TVs to watch a live stream of Jack U playing from the bridge. Diplo and Skrillex were playing at a desk. We were happy they attempted to bring it back - but the sound quality was absolutely horrible. It was sad. They definitely looked sad, too. Skrillex and Diplo seemed like they were really upset. I thought they should've at least played it over the intercom so we could all party in the halls together. Yes, they tried, but it really wasn't enough. At least Diplo could've said something positive, but he didn't say a word about any of the events that weekend. Not a damn thing.

We heard that there were private parties going on at that point, people DJing in their rooms, but after everything that happened, I just didn't even care anymore. I was just so turned down by the entire thing that I just didn't have it in me anymore. It was also just hard to keep forcing a smile, you know?

Overall throughout the whole weekend, I thought they could've done a bit more to address the issue of what happened, because we all know it happened. But they didn't. They left it silent, almost like it didn't happen. They could've brought the rest of the people together, doing something like, "Here's an open bar," or "Here's a fun game," or "we're doing a movie". Something! I feel like they kind of forgot about the rest of us.

Quite honestly, I just felt like the cruise line could've done more to prepare us for this. I didn't even know there were life vests in my room until the day after it happened! I felt super unsafe. I mean, it was my first cruise! I didn't even know what questions to ask. All in all, I felt very unprepared.


This article is a direct account from an individual who was on board the Mad Decent Boat Party. These views are solely those of that single passenger who approached us and not those of or Molly Reports.

--Molly Reports

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