Florida man believes 'master diver' son is still alive after jumping off cruise ship: report

The father of a 20-year-old Florida man who leaped from the 11th floor of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship 57 miles from shore last week believes his "master diver" son is still alive, according to a report. 

Francel Parker told the Daily Sun that his son, Levion Parker, works on a commercial fishing boat and said that he had multiple flotation devices thrown down to him on April 4.

"As soon as he went off the side, I prayed over him," the dad told the outlet. "I was confident the prayers I said over my son were heard. I stand on the word of God. I believe he is alive." 

The U.S. Coast Guard called off their search in Cuban waters for the missing 20-year-old on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the U.S. Coast Guard 7th District Public Affairs Team confirmed. The 18-level ship was just hours away from port in Fort Lauderdale after four days sailing between Cuba and the Bahamas’ Grand Inagua Island when Levion jumped around 4 a.m.

There were reports of an argument before Levion jumped, according to the Sun, but his father told the outlet that he had not been arguing with his son beforehand. Levion's father said his son had alcohol on the ship but that it was not a suicide, the Sun reported.

"We don't drink. I'd like to know how my son was served so much alcohol," the elder Parker told the outlet. 

The minimum age for drinking on a Royal Caribbean cruise departing from the U.S. or Caribbean is 21. The company could not immediately be reached for comment on how Parker was served. 

Another passenger on the Liberty of the Seas cruise told the New York Post that Parker's dad confronted the 20-year-old and his 18-year-old brother, Seth, after they'd gotten out of the ship's hot tub.

"His dad was fussing at him for being drunk, I guess," Bryan Sims told the outlet. "When we got to them, he said to his dad, 'I'll fix this right now.' And he jumped out the window in front of us all." 

Sims told the Post he had been chatting with the Parker brothers before Levion jumped overboard, remarking that the older brother was "pretty drunk." He said that Levion spoke of his jobs on yachts and fishing vessels.

Deborah Morrison, another passenger, told the Post that "there was a lot of yelling, and the crew was alerted immediately" after Levion jumped. 

"His family was horrified, just beside themselves," she told the outlet. "I can't even begin to imagine what they're going through." 

"The ship was moving pretty fast because it was during the night, and we were traveling a long distance," Sims recalled to the Post. "We were screaming and his dad was calling everyone to stop the ship… Lots of crew were up top and they started launching the smaller boats to search after we got turned around and back to the area I'm assuming."

Royal Caribbean told the Post in a statement that the ship's crew "immediately launched a search and rescue effort alongside the U.S. Coast Guard, who has taken over the search." 

The next morning was "somber," passenger Amy Phelps Fouse told the Post.

"So many people came out of their cabins to stare at the sea, hoping to be able to aid in finding the person," she said.

Parker's father owns an air conditioning business, and the family was on the cruise as guests of Florida-based air conditioning wholesaler Tropic Supply, the Daily Mail reported. Dozens of their contractors had been invited onto the cruise for the company's 50th anniversary. 

About 386 people were reported to have gone overboard on major cruise lines between 2000 and 2020, according to The Washington Post. A study by Cruise Lines International Association found that only 28% of those who fell overboard between 2009 and 2019 survived.