Irish Man Who Went Overboard on Atlantis Gay Cruise Identified: Family Seeks Answers

Last Friday I posted about a man who went overboard on the 'Allure of the Seas' Atlantis gay cruise off of Cozumel, Mexico in the Caribbean. That man has now been identified as 30-year-old Kenneth John Gemmell, a native of Bailieborough, Co Cavan, Ireland. Gemmell was a flight attendant with UAE airlines stationed in Dubai.

GemmellIn a statement, Royal Caribbean indicated that Gemmell was seen going overboard at 7:10 am local time and that fact was confirmed by surveillance cameras aboard the ship.

Edward Owen at The Examiner reports that the family is seeking information to bring some closure to their situation:

They are issuing an appeal to anyone on board the ship who might have met Kenneth during the cruise, to touch base with them.  And they particularly would like to hear from the person who witnessed him going overboard.  The family has said they want nothing more than to understand what drove their son, who had just turned 30 last Tuesday, to this.

The family says that some information has already come their way.  One party told them that Kenneth may have been arguing with a ship's crew member (perhaps a bartender) in one of the bars late Thursday night or early Friday morning.  They were also told that the crew member, a man they understood was sharing a room with a Canadian citizen, left the ship in Cozumel.

Because of the lack of information, a family spokesman told that some members of the family are finding it hard to accept that Kenneth actually went overboard.

Anyone who has information on this tragedy is asked to email Michael at  The family says they just want to know what happened to their son.

Ireland's Daily Celt has also confirmed the man's identity.

Just a suggestion, but perhaps Royal Caribbean could share their CCTV footage with the family if, as they say, they have it.


  1. Calvin says

    I smell murder. Where is this “guest on-board the ship saw the man fall overboard at 12.10pm (7.10am local time)” and the report of the closed-circuit tapes says that a man was seen going overboard, but the report doesn’t say if he fell or was pushed.

  2. endo says

    Give me a break. The guy jumped. He was obviously suffering from some inner demons.

    It’s not an Agatha Christie novel.

  3. redball says

    In Dec 2010, I went on a Bahamas Celebration cruise with my sisters and parents. I’m sorry but THAT SHIP WAS NOT SAFE. One night we were traveling at high speed over the horrifyingly dark and expansive ocean and DRUNK people were out carousing on a lower deck while the ship rocked to and fro (as ships do) and a stiff wind whipped against us. Most horrifying of all: the rail separating us from the water below only reached up to my HIPS and I am not super tall (5’10.5″). To recap: way-too-short rail, hard winds, rocking ship, plus inebriated passengers, to boot. I felt unsafe out there as a completely *sober* individual. I left the deck area after realizing that staying out there was a recipe for disaster.

    If anyone falls off those ships–especially in the middle of the night with no lights shining out onto the water to aid in quick spotting of overboard people–they are good as dead.

    Cruise ships–at least that one–scare the shyt out of me.

  4. Edd says

    The family has said they want nothing more than to understand what drove their son, who had just turned 30 last Tuesday, to this.

    Did him jump or fall?

  5. Angela Channing says

    Redball, comparing the Allure to the Bahamas Celebration is like comparing a 2012 Mercedes 550 to a 1985 Yugo. Yes, there are always risks when one cruises. Sadly, this situation is either an intentional suicide, or an alcohol related accident (meaning he did not intend to go overboard).

    Arguing with a bartender usually involves being cut off. I doubt he had a relationship with the bartender. It happens but most crew members are not willing to take the risk.

    I agree with Endo, we don’t need Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher to figure this out.

  6. redball says

    Angela, I wasn’t comparing the two. Just saying that if all cruise ships are as “safe” as the BC one I went on, thank you but I’ll pass and try to live me a good long life!!

  7. JP says

    The railings on the Allure went up to my chest and I am 5’10”. I read that the camera clearly saw him jump and they found a table moved up to his balcony railing.

  8. Chris_ says

    If the CCTV recordings will be released from them, it make it easier to confirm whether it was an argument or was he doing speed or LSD that led him to up. Sad all around

  9. Mike C. says

    Unfortunately, I don’t really understand how this is news. There are dozens of people who die every year on cruises, many going overboard, the exact circumstances of which are never known. It happens so often, the stories are rarely considered news

  10. Joey Y says

    According to most of the stories I’m reading, the video shows him jumping, not being pushed. @EDD, if you need a source, try clicking the links conveniently located in the article.

  11. Frederick says

    Dear Towleroad commenters,

    I was onboard this Atlantis cruise. Until this happened, the cruise had been totally fun and totally uneventful. Everyone was having a great time, and the cruise was going without a hitch – no foul ups, no medical emergencies, nothing. Then this happened. A witness out on his balcony saw the man in the water and immediately called 911. All of us on the ship were “mustered” at 730 AM – awakened and summoned to our lifeboat stations – to take roll call to find out who was missing. After we were dismissed, we went back to bed. Later in the day we found out that the Coast Guard and other services had called off the search after hours of looking. The Captain made a somber announcement.

    I spoke with many crew members. The upshot is this: No One Knows What Happened. All that is definitely known is that cameras saw the man going overboard, evidently jumping on his own. That’s all anyone knows. Anything else is pure rumor and speculation. But I do know this: everyone onboard was shocked and saddened by this. It wasn’t the greatest way to end an otherwise great vacation.

    I respectfully urge the commenters here to respect the man, tp pray that he rests in peace, and refrain from posting speculative comments. We will probably never know what really happened.

  12. Michaelandfred says

    I too was on the allure. I can only echo was was already stated, and that there is probably not a single one of us who didn’t stand at our rail on the balcony, one that came to chest height and I’m 6’1″, and not wonder how one could “fall” overboard. He would have had to be incredibly drunk or high AND totally out of control, or he went on purpose.

    I heard from a few people that the reason it took do long to identify him and contact his family is because the information, emergency contacts and ID he gave was all false. Which would point towards a premeditated suicide. People falling overboard is a farely “common” occurance so there’s no need for a “cover up” or secret agenda on the part of the ship and crew.

    People are always confused and stunned when people take their own lives, especially when no body is recovered. But nobody on board staged everything that happened to create some mysterious diversion or cover up. This was real life, not Hollywood.

  13. Rob says

    There were lots of disturbing rumors, one of people doping drinks with hallucinogens. Not out of the realm of possibility, especially if he didn’t leave a note.

  14. Jeff says

    I, too, was on the cruise. Frederick is right.

    I had an outside balcony room. The rails are plenty high to prevent an accidental “slip” overboard.

    It was tragic and unfortunate and no one took the situation lightly.

    My muster station easily had 500 people. There were some boys who had obviously not yet gone to bed… and yet NO ONE took the situation lightly. There was no joking or horseplay.

    There are only rumors about him jumping/falling while goofing around/suicide, etc… we do not know. RCCL says they’re cctv camera shows it was not accidental – they will probably release to family.

    It seems the plea from his family is: If any guests on the cruise had spent time with him that might explain why he may have went overboard, please share with them. They’re probably struggling with what could make this happen… Their anguish is unthinkable…

  15. Michael says

    So happy that you are NOT making fun of this. Glitter in the water is what was reported before. It’s a human life. Get over yourself.

  16. D2B2 says

    I was also on the ship and my husband and I were heading up to the 16th floor to enjoy coffee and sunrise when the alert was called. I echo what most of the other passengers and the reports are saying and would only add that I believe the incident occurred on the public deck at the end of the ship on deck 11 and not from his stateroom balcony as reported. That public deck was taped off with crime scene barrier tape after the incident and remained closed for the rest of the cruise. The identical deck on the 11th floor on the other side of the ship remained open and had a CCTV camera watching that entire public area, while stateroom decks did not. I don’t know what this information adds but I wanted to set the record straight.

  17. KMC says

    Thank you Jeff, as a suicide survivor, it gives comfort to the family and friends to get some knowledge of why he committed suicide (if that was the case). I was on the Allure last year and agree with other passengers those railings are higher than usual (because its a ship geared towards families). So if anybody has any information for John’s family, please contact them.

  18. jack says

    I was just on the Oasis 2 weeks ago (sister to Allure). If he jumped off the aft open balcony area on deck 11, it is definitely on tape. There was not a single place that you could stand on the balcony and not be on camera. Yes, I actually looked because I wondering if they would put extra cameras after the George Smith incident, and it looks like the newer ships are well covered by surveillance.
    And the railings are very high, at least 48″-54″ high.

  19. Jeff says

    AJ, to date a body has not been reported as discovered. I believe the active search has, at this point, ceased.

  20. Jim Hopkins says

    Contrary to what an earlier commenter said, this particular situation was very unusual. The captain told us this was the first such case he’d ever experienced in his 20 years sailing.

  21. FunMe says

    This is just horrible and sad news. I went on the Allure last year. It is a big ship. I was reading the alumni web site of Atlantis and there is a story of gentleman who actually was with Kenneth dancing at Blaze, which is one of the night clubs. The last time he saw Kenneth was 5AM. Apparently, they had gone to Kenneth’s room so he could change and according to the guy, Kenneth was very drunk and loud, but the roommate did not mind. They went back to the club and he hung around with him. Kenneth wanted him to stay longer and hang with him at the dance club, but he couldn’t as he was very tired. Earlier, Kenneth had told him he was not enjoying the cruise and didn’t want to be alone as he was celebrating his birthday all week.

    Makes me wonder if this might have been more of an accident under a “black out” as the guy wrote that Kenneth seemed very drunk.

    I hope that guy who was with him at Blaze night club contacts Kenneth’s family (their information is also on the Atlantis alumni web site.)

    It really is so sad to hear this, no matter how or why he died. Tragic indeed, especially for his family. My prayers are with them in their loss.

  22. Rob says

    As a parent of three I choke up imagining that family hearing this. The only way people seem to be able to stay up partying til five is some party drug- not unheard of on these ships. When I get up at 7 to get coffee, I see them stumbling out of the clubs and they are totally incoherent. Every. Single. One. To the point where it’s an obvious safety hazard. I wonder how they survive, and the fact is that several don’t. Every year.

    I peek in to Blaze and see the RCCI staff posted all around like guards. It’s easy to see why- some struggle with their balance, and the ship can lurch. They dehydrate, and most years some die. There’s an alpha, alpha, alpha triple page which means someone has collapsed or died, so we can all count them. Tempting to report it to the CDC, because the mortality from these parties is gallingly high.

    I like these cruises because of the festival atmosphere, the great entertainment, the hot guys, there’s great sex, I can relax. What I don’t like is the environmental impact of the ship, I get diarrhea each and every year, and I have to see people dying. Net-net I still go, but the glow is fading.

  23. Angela Channing says

    Not to spread speculation, but if the cruise line footage shows him climbing on a table before going overboard, it could have been an accident, in the sense that he misjudged the risk of falling overboard.

    In the cruise critic board, someone posted a photo of the event by the Aqua Theatre on the stern. If you look on the upper left decks, it appears two men are standing on tables there. Of course, it is unrelated to the tragedy but it illustrates that people stand on tables and underestimate the risks.

  24. JP says

    @Rob… You are overstating the deaths on these cruises… In fact, they are very rare. I do agree that there have been a few deaths from risky behavior over the years and hopefully that serves as a wake up call to others who wish to take chances with drugs. There is no evidence that this particular death was caused by drugs or alcohol.

  25. endo says

    Rob, you clearly have keyboard diarrhea. People rarely die at circuit parties, not since GHB went out of fashion in the late 90s. And Ecstasy and Meth, the drugs rampant at these parties, don’t have the effects you described. Try again.

  26. michael hynes says

    I am an Irishman and a family connection with this missing young man kenneth Gemmell, From the Bailieboro area of County cavan in Ireland. i act on behalf of the family who are completely devestated. We would like to make contact with the man believed to be canadian with him. Anyone you may have seen Kenny late on thurs night in the bar, he may have had a dispute with this bartender who was said to have been selling drugs. Do the bar tenders work for Atlantis or for the Royal Carribean. Is there anyone else out there who met Kenny during his holiday. Was he happy and in good form. Does anyone know the idenity of the person who reported seeing the fall and where did they see it from.Some one said that there is footage of two men seen standing on a table.kenny was last seen by him mother and sisters in Dublin on 15th january when he stopped off on a flight from UAE airlines whom he worked for and he gave his xmas presents to his family that day. Thats their last pic of him and its the one that is posted here. If you know anything of help or assistance please contact me, its michael Hynes and my emailis; I’m also on facebook ;

  27. Michaelandfred says

    In the past decade 176 people have gone overboard on cruise ships. What the captain said in his announcement that in “his” 20+ years it had not happened to him that they hadn’t recovered the body or rescued the passenger, which is normally the case. On a ship the size of the Allure, whether he fell or jumped, we’ll probably never know, if the fall itself from deck 11 didn’t kill him, he would have been puled under the boat from the engines. Someone told us that wake created by the Allure extends back a few thousand feet and most small vessels will not cross it.

    I had heard it was from a stateroom and that they had found the balcony table pressed to the rail. Again, we’ll probably never know. Hopefully his family will get some closure. To echo Endo, deaths at circuit parties and few and far, FAR between. I’ve been attending them around the world for the better part of two decades and have yet to hear of one, or one that wasn’t an accident, (a fall or the like) but NOT an overdose. That’s just a lack of understanding of the affects of the kinds of drugs taken.

    Binge drinking overdoses? By the thousands per year. Party drugs? Not so much.

  28. SFshawn says

    I was also on this cruise and having done 20 with Atlantis this was one of the most amazing cruises ever!
    Those who were there know the truth of the Atlantis experience versus the mass generalizations and false assumptions of our jaded and obviously bitter gay bretren. Just as in life-every experience is what you make it. Give me 4,500 gay/bi men from all over the world in every shape and size(in skimpy speedos) sailing the blue caribbean waters with spectacular entertainment and dance parties daily over listening to ignorant politicans,hateful religious leaders,sports figures and actors blathering on about denying us our humanity.
    If you don’t know what your talking about then it’s best to STFU already.
    I hope Kenneth’s family and friends find peace with their loss.

  29. Jeff R. says

    I feel bad for the family.

    @ REDBALL… I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU. I worked on cruise ships for two years AND produced production shows for 4… and I’ve seen it all, including passengers that have ‘gone missing.’ So, the question is WHY is a passenger ABLE to jump/fall from their cabin balcony? The answer is money. It’s all about MONEY. The cruise line industry builds these HUGE ships, BIGGER and BIGGER each year, so huge you don’t even feel like your moving on the ocean, with hotel lobbies that look like the inside of NORDSTROMS, and the LAST thing these ship designers/builders think about is PASSENGER SAFETY. Fill ’em up and we’ll deal with the bad stuff when it happens. Sure, they’ll give you your own life jacket, but when the ship goes down, and they go down FAST, I’m afraid you won’t have enough time to run back to your cabin and grab your life jacket, because your cabin is UNDER WATER! @ Redball… I’m with you… FLYING is MUCH safer and will get you to your destination MUCH quicker.

  30. Martin Post Uiterweer says

    We were also at this cruise. The incident shocked us and we want to express our symphaties to the family.

  31. Tom says

    People die, often multiple people, on every Atlantis cruise, I’ve heard. It’s what happens when you add staggering amounts of alcohol to thousands of gay men binging on an equally staggering amount of drugs. I’m sire his wasn’t the only death on that cruise.

  32. Rob says

    Gotta answer back- what I didn’t add is that I’m a physician and I have directly observed these people, so I feel very comfortable saying it’s very dangerous. I send people to the ER for half that level of impairment and even they can be on thin ice.

    There is simply no way to say that these party drugs are safe. It’s been worked out. You don’t know who makes them, what the dose is, the people supplying them tend not to be scholarly and they have your life in their hands. The fact is we don’t know the true mortality figures because they are not gathered, but they should be. I’m not sure at-sea deaths are reported to any county coroner. Yes one takes risks to have fun, myself included, and I’m not saying these cruises should be abolished. I think it’s reasonable to reassess risk and manage it when young, previously healthy people die. Sound fair?

  33. Brian says

    I was on the cruise too. Not long after the incident, someone said that a suicide note had been found saying that he “couldn’t find love” or words to that effect. Later I heard he had a fight with his boyfriend. Both of these may be true, only one, or neither. Just posting since no one else has mentioned this.

  34. Corey says

    I don’t know what is more tragic. The loss of a human life or the loss of humanity. Shame on all of you here who are using this somber event to project your hatred of certain aspects of gay culture and showcase your self loathing. Leave the gay cruise out of it. Suicide can happen anywhere. A dancer from XL jumped to his death from the George Washington bridge here in NYC just this past Saturday. While we will never know what causes someone to go through with such a drastic step, is important to bless the life lost and remember to talk and pull each other up.

    Lets pay attention and look after each other. If you or someone you know is in crisis and contemplating suicide, call the TREVOR PROJECT 1-866-488-7386