scarlet ladythe first ship of the young Virgin Voyages Cruiserescued a small group of refugees from a makeshift raft north of Cuba, according to reports from passengers on board.
The cruise ship spotted the vessel in distress, boarded its occupants and reported the incident to the appropriate authorities.
Scarlet Lady Rescue
The ship, which was enjoying a day at sea, spotted the unstable small craft north of Cuba. The refugees appeared to be on board a makeshift raft constructed from barrels of water and inner tubes, with a blue plastic tarp or similar plastic sheet for a sail.
Eight people were on board the raft, and while their condition is not known, the raft was clearly not seaworthy for the Florida Straits, the sometimes choppy waters between Cuba and the Florida Keys.
You can watch a video of the rescue below and listen to the ship’s captain’s announcement:
The refugees were brought aboard the cruise ship with what they could carry, although photos and videos show some materials remained on the raft. The small craft was left adrift after being abandoned.
The incident happened shortly before 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 14, 2022.
After the rescue, follow-up data showed scarlet lady turning north towards Key West, where it is likely that the refugees will be handed over to the US Coast Guard, with authorities overseeing these rescues.
A coast guard is most likely sent to transfer the refugees, although the cruise ship will adjust its route slightly to meet the authorities more efficiently.
The 110,000 gross ton cruise ship is currently sailing on a 5-night Riviera Maya itinerary, having left Miami on Sunday, September 11. Monday was a day at sea and the ship visited Cozumel, Mexico tuesday. Today was another day at sea.
After handing over the refugees to the competent authorities, scarlet lady will resume its journey, with a planned visit to Bimini in the Bahamas Thursday before returning to Miami on Friday, September 16.
Since cruise ships normally use slower, more fuel-efficient speeds on days at sea, there is unlikely to be any delay in scarlet ladythe remaining itinerary for this cruise. The vessel will simply adjust its speed to compensate for the diversion in order to arrive in Bimini as scheduled at 8:00 a.m.
scarlet lady can accommodate up to 2,770 guests, with 1,160 crew members to provide superior service aboard the luxury vessel. The ship currently offers 4-5 night round-trip itineraries from Miami, exploring a variety of Caribbean ports of call.
Not the first rescue for Virgin Voyages
While refugee rescues, particularly near Cuba, have increased dramatically in recent months – Horizon Carnival carried out a similar rescue in the same area just two days ago – this incident is not the first rescue at sea of the Scarlet Lady cruise ship.
In October 2021, the ship came to the rescue of eight migrants 75 miles southwest of Key West, Florida. The ship’s crew helped the migrants on board after they were stranded at sea for six days.
The fledgling cruise line has just two ships currently sailing – scarlet lady launched in October 2021 after several delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the industry-wide shutdown of cruise travel.
Despite the long delays, however, the ship has been widely praised for its luxury experiences and adults-only atmosphere, which sets it apart in the cruise industry.
scarlet lady has been joined by her sister ship, valiant ladyin February 2022and a third ship for the fleet, named resilient ladyis expected to start in May 2023later than originally planned due to supply chain shortages which impacted its construction schedule.
The fourth ship of the fleet, shining ladyis also expected to debut later in 2023. There has been no announcement as to whether this ship will also be delayed like her sister ships have been.