Memorial University of Newfoundland professor Ross Klein, who maintains data on such incidents, said the figures on 2009 maritime incidents include the case of an Alabama woman who fell from a Carnival Cruise Lines vessel Monday night in the Gulf of Mexico, The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reported Wednesday.
Klein said such overboard incidents do little to improve society's view of the maritime tourism industry.
"They're trying to sell a vacation product and this isn't good news," Klein told the Times. "They tout cruising as the safest mode of transportation anywhere in the world. People go on them expecting to be safe, and these incidents contradict that perception."
Yet Cruise industry officials, as well as industry critics, insist most overboard incidents typically do not involve a simple accident, but range from suicides to drunken mistakes.
"It is virtually impossible for a guest to simply fall off a cruise ship," Carnival Cruise Lines spokesman Vance Gulliksen told the Times in an e-mail.