Cruise Rescues Boat of People Lost at Sea for 8 Days

Cruise Rescues Boat of People Lost at Sea for 8 Days

A woman from New York says that her cruise ship rescued 14 individuals stranded at sea during a recent voyage.

The woman, Alessandra Amodio, told Newsweek via Instagram that she and others in her group departed out of Miami, Florida, as part of an eight-day excursion to Honduras, Mexico and the cruise line’s private Bahamas island, CocoCay.

They were aboard Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas ship when on Sunday they saw boats rescue the individuals, whose native country remains unknown. Amodio, who has been on cruises in the past, shared videos of the rescue with Newsweek.

“On March 3, 2024, Icon of the Seas encountered a small vessel adrift and in need of assistance,” a Royal Caribbean spokesperson told Newsweek via email on Monday. “The ship’s crew immediately launched a rescue operation, safely bringing 14 people onboard.

“The crew provided them with medical attention, and is working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard.”

They provided no additional information.

A U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson told Newsweek that since the rescue occurred in Mexico’s search-and-rescue area of responsibility, there was no Coast Guard involvement in this particular instance.

Cruise Rescue
In an aerial view, Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, billed as the world’s largest cruise ship, heads out to sea for its second voyage from PortMiami on February 03, 2024, in Miami, Florida. A…

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“We were on our first full day of sailing, heading down to Honduras,” Amodio said. “We were sailing through—what we looked up on our maps—was Mexico, near Cozumel and western Cuba.”

The cruise ship, advertised as the world’s largest of its kind, is 1,197 feet long, cost $1.79 billion to build, has 20 decks, and can hold a maximum of 7,600 people.

At some point between 3 p.m. and 3:15 p.m., passengers are claimed to have heard a coded alert over the ship’s loudspeaker. Shortly thereafter, the captain’s voice was heard on the loudspeaker informing passengers of the spotting of a distressed vessel that required further investigation.

“From the window of the lunch buffet, we could clearly see a small boat with people, waving a large white flag or sheet,” Amodio said. “The boat turned around and we pulled up as close as we could to them and stopped, [Royal Caribbean] deployed a small zodiac-type rescue boat to investigate.”

In one video of the rescue, voices can be heard off-camera discussing the situation while music plays in the background.

“That’s so scary for the people still on the boat,” said one cruise passenger.

“It looks like a raft,” said a younger child watching the scene unfold in a separate video.

Amodio said that multiple trips were necessary to bring all the stranded people on board. There was no mention, by the captain or otherwise, of who the people were, where they came from, or where they were initially headed.

“We don’t know who they were, but the captain came back on the speaker and announced that they rescued 14 people and that they were stranded at sea for eight days,” she said.

“We were really surprised and honestly a little freaked out. We’ve been on a handful of cruises and never seen something like this happen. It was crazy to think that these people were stuck at sea for so long and we were all onboard excited and relieved that the ship was able to rescue them.”

On February 26, a similar situation occurred involving a Carnival Cruise ship.

Video shared with local NBC affiliate 6 South Florida showed a group of 20 Cuban migrants rescued some 20 miles outside of Havana, Cuba. That cruise ship reportedly veered off its intended course, helping the migrants to safety.

None of the individuals were injured and all were repatriated back to Cuba, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Update 03/05/24, 7:47 a.m. ET: This story was updated with comment from the U.S. Coast Guard.

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