Monday, July 04, 2011
FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (CMC) — A Royal Caribbean cruise ship rescued seven Cuban migrants on its way to South Florida on Friday, the cruise line and the US coast guard said here.
The Oasis of the Seas was on its way back to Port Everglades when passengers on board spotted the Cubans floating in a small blue raft, the Coast Guard said.
This is the second cruise ship to conduct a rescue in the last two months. Another Royal Caribbean ship, Allure of the Seas, rescued nine Cuban rafters in May.
A group of six men and one woman were rescued on Friday, Royal Caribbean International said in a statement.
Passengers spotted a tiny blue raft in the ocean at around 3:00 pm Friday, and the captain turned around the 220,000-tonne ship to rescue the rafters, who were taken aboard and given food, water and medical treatment, said Royal Caribbean spokeswoman, Cynthia Martinez.
The ship notified US Coast Guard officials and the seven rafters later were transferred to their custody, she added.
Passengers snapped pictures and captured video of the group of migrants as the cruise ship came to their aid.
“They announced on speaker, ‘There are some refugees, and we’re about to pick them up’,” passenger Monica Abreu told reporters here.
“They had power to their little raft,” said Mike Hope, another cruise ship passenger. “They were able to move with the raft, and they actually came to the ship.”
The ship’s captain turned around the massive vessel to rescue the rafters, who raised their hands in victory before they boarded the ship, Hope said.
The Cubans’ fate is to be determined by the US-Cuba Immigration Accord, more commonly known as the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy, under which Cubans who reach American shores are allowed to stay here while those found at sea are sent back to Cuba or a third country.