Ship boat

Carnival Cruise Ship assists a boat adrift in the Caribbean

Horizon Carnival rescued a small boat adrift north of Cuba, supplying the occupants and allowing the craft to continue on its way, as was the choice of the occupants.

The meeting took place on Monday, September 12, 2022, with five refugees affected by the actions of the cruise ship.

Meeting of refugees near Cuba

Tracking data shows that Horizon Carnival was cruising slowly east along the northern coast of Cuba when the small craft was sighted.

Reports from passengers aboard the cruise ship indicated that there were five people in the boat, who appeared to be drifting. Horizon Carnival brought aid, providing food and water to the refugees before they continued on their way.

Boat adrift off Cuba

The cruise ship could have brought the individuals on board, and they would have been transferred to the proper authorities, likely the United States Coast Guard. Instead, the individuals chose to stay with their craft and continue with their planned journey.

The captain of the cruise ship reported to the guests that the rescue had been a success, as help had been offered appropriately and the small boat was deemed safe for the refugees to continue.

The encounter occurred around 8 a.m. on September 12, when Horizon Carnival was enjoying a day at sea on her current 6-night Western Caribbean itinerary. After a brief delay to provide assistance, the cruise ship continued on its way.

There has been no change to Horizon Carnivaland the ship passes Wednesday, September 13 at Ocho Rios, Jamaica as expected. The ship left Miami on Sunday September 11 and will travel to Grand Cayman and Cozumel later this week before returning to Miami on Saturday September 17.

Horizon Carnival is a Vista-class vessel, weighing 133,500 gross tons and accommodating 3,960 guests in double occupancy, and up to 4,977 passengers when full with all berths occupied.

Rescues on the rise

Carnival cruise ships have been involved in a number of refugee rescues near Cuba in recent weeks.

Carnival Paradise rescued six Cuban migrants from a makeshift raft in late Augustjust three weeks after the same ship rescued 20 refugees from an overloaded craft on July 31.

Carnival Sunrise performed a similar rescue on July 29while the cruise line’s flagship, Mardi Grashas carried out three such rescues this year – two in June and one in January – helping a total of more than 30 refugees.

Other cruise ships have also been involved in similar encounters with refugees in 2022, including Celebrity Summit and Norwegian breakaway.

Rescue of the Carnival cruise ship
Courtesy of Vici Sheffield

By law and maritime tradition, cruise ships are required to assist anyone in distress at sea, regardless of the circumstances of the persons to be assisted. The Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) agreements and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea state:

“Every State shall require the master of a ship flying its flag, so far as he can do so without causing serious harm to the ship, to the crew or to the passengers … to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of getting lost. [and] proceed with all possible speed to the rescue of persons in distress, if informed of the need for assistance, insofar as such action can reasonably be expected of him.

During these encounters, the captain and officers of the cruise ship will determine if a drifting small craft is in distress and offer assistance. This assistance may consist of providing food, water, or other supplies, or may include refueling a small vessel.

Mardi Gras Carnival Rescue
Photo credit: Carnival Cruise Line

If a drifting craft is deemed unseaworthy or if the water conditions are too rough or otherwise dangerous, refugees may be taken aboard the cruise ship. At that time, they were offered food, water, shelter and medical care if needed.

At each meeting, the competent authorities are notified. If the refugees were brought on board the cruise ship, they will be turned over to authorities at the first available opportunity, which may mean meeting a Coast Guard vessel, or authorities will meet the refugees when the ship docks. .

With political and economic unrest mounting in many regions, it is sadly no surprise that encounters with refugees have become more frequent in recent months.

Carnival Horizon cruise ship