Royal Caribbean rescues Cuban refugees

Usually not many passengers are awake on board a cruise ship headed for home port on the last night of a sailing. Today was different though. This morning it was Royal Caribbean to the rescue when a raft was spotted floating aimlessly in the Atlantic with 6 people believed to be Cuban refugees by a passenger on Monarch of the Seas.

“A Coast Guard cutter will rendezvous with the cruise ship and pick up the six people. They will remain aboard a cutter. Whether or not they are migrants, we can’t confirm,” said Sabrina Elgammal, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Coast Guard earlier today.

Maritime law requires that ships stop and offer aid to vessels in distress.

“We rely on other ships, other merchant vessels as well as cruise ships to provide humanitarian assistance when needed,” said Coast Guard Spokesman Christopher Evanson. “Their quick actions probably saved the lives of all six people, and we just want to commend the cruise ship for that.”

Back at Port Canaveral, Florida today, several of the refugees were taken to a local hospital for medical attention while others remained on a U.S. Coast Guard cutter. Coast Guard officials said the six Cubans would be taken to Key West, Florida for processing.

Television station WESH in Orlando reports Nick and Marcy Miyar, of Orlando, captured video of the rescue as it happened.

Royal Caribbean is no stranger to rescue both at sea and on land. After the massive earthquake that devastated Haiti in January, the line sent tons of supplies to their private destination of Labadee in spite of criticism that it was inappropriate to visit so soon after the disaster.