Carnival Cruise Ship Rescues Dozens Stranded at Sea

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Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Radiance rescued 25 people from a small, stranded boat off the Pacific coast of Mexico on Saturday, May 25, 2024. The ship was initially contacted by the US Coast Guard (USCG) about the small vessel’s distress call, and immediately responded to divert to the boat’s location.

A total of 25 people were on the small boat, including three children. The overloaded boat did have an outboard motor, but it appeared to be non-functioning or out of fuel. There was also inadequate room for supplies onboard the small craft. Some, though not all, of the individuals were wearing life jackets.

Once the refugees were brought aboard the cruise ship, they were provided with food, water, and medical assistance as needed. A rendezvous was arranged with USCG officials so they could be turned over to the proper authorities, as is standard procedure for these types of rescue operations.

Carnival Radiance Docked in Ensenada, Mexico
Carnival Radiance Docked in Ensenada, Mexico (Photo Credit: Felipe Sanchez)

There are no reports of injuries among those rescued, and the ship’s daily operation was not significantly affected by this essential diversion.

The 102,232-gross-ton, Sunshine-class Carnival Radiance – formerly Carnival Victory prior to a refit in 2021 – was enjoying a day at sea as part of her current 3-night Baja Mexico sailing. The short delay for the rescue has not had an impact on the ship’s itinerary, and she is visiting Ensenada on Sunday, May 26 as planned.

Carnival Radiance is homeported year-round from Long Beach, California. She offers cruises from 3-6 nights visiting Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas, and Catalina, as well as occasional 14-night Carnival Journeys cruises to Hawaii.

Various other Carnival ships have rescued refugees in recent months. On April 21, Carnival Paradise rescued 27 individuals near Cuba, and on February 24, Carnival Celebration rescued 20 people in a small boat in the Florida Straits north of Cuba.

Carnival Celebration Cruise Ship
Carnival Celebration Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Jouni Niskakoski)

All cruise lines will respond to rescue needs, whether the individuals at risk are refugees, fishermen, pleasure boats, or any other person who requires assistance.

Read Also: Former Carnival Cruise Ships, Where Are They Now?

What Happens to Rescued Refugees?

Carnival Cruise Line recently helped clarify what happens during these types of rescue operations, and corrected misconceptions about how refugees may or may not be treated once onboard the cruise ship.

“They do not get a free cruise. They do not get to walk around the Ship in any guest areas or even crew area,” explained John Heald, Carnival Cruise Line’s Brand Ambassador. “They are confined to one area, under the watch of our security team. They are given food, water, and medical assistance. They are transferred to a United States Coast Guard Ship.”

It should be noted that rescued refugees are not “allowed into [the US]” for free, but are turned over to the appropriate authorities. In the vast majority of rescue cases, the individuals will be repatriated back to their home countries.

“We do have to rescue them because it is the law. Yes, we rescue them because it is the right thing to do,” Heald said of this Carnival Radiance rescue. “Bravo Captain and crew. This is another shining example that we will always be there for those in peril on the sea.”

Carnival Celebration Cruise Rescue
Photo Credit: Leslie Andradi

Yes, at times rescue operations may interfere with a cruise ship’s itinerary, causing a minor delay and possibly shortening time in the next port of call. It is rare, however, that a port of call would be completely cancelled due to a rescue, though it can happen.

Ultimately, the protection of life and rescuing individuals who are so desperate for a better life that they would flee their homes in ill-equipped, shoddy watercraft under dubious conditions is always worth a very slight interruption to a vacation.

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