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.

Disney Dream Cruise ship nears completion

Disney DreamSailing from Florida this January, new 4000-passenger Disney Dream is just about ready to go. The new ship sailed out to sea last month for testing and to complete adding final details. Joining sister-ships Disney Wonder and Disney Magic, the new ship will have all the features of her two sisters plus some new attractions.

  • The ship will feature a first-of-its-kind water coaster, called the “Aqua-Duck” that will send guests racing above and around the upper decks of the ship.
  • Animator’s Palate restaurant will magically transform into an undersea wonderland with live, impromptu interactions with Crush, the animated sea turtle from Disney-Pixar’s “Finding Nemo.”
  • Themed children’s spaces will immerse children in their favorite Disney stories and feature some of today’s most innovative technology.
  • A nighttime entertainment district just for adults will be filled with sophisticated, trendy, fanciful and fun-filled venues.
  • Inside staterooms will have a “special” view thanks to a cruise industry first virtual porthole concept.

The Disney Dream will sail alternating three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. During summer 2011, the ship will sail four- and five-night itineraries with two stops at Castaway Cay.

Disney Dream starts sailing from Port Canaveral on January 26, 2011. Due to popularity, the maiden voyage is nearly full. However, there is still limited availability on the second Disney Dream voyage, January 30.