Carnival Team Honored for Life-Saving Rough Weather Rescue

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Carnival Cruise Line Captain Niccolo De Ranieri and his team on Mardi Gras received well-deserved recognition for a daring rescue the team performed in June 2022, saving 16 lives in strenuous weather conditions that would eventually become Tropical Storm Alex.

The honor was presented to Ranieri on behalf of his team as part of the Association for Rescue at Sea annual awards ceremony in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, April 9, 2024.

Mardi Gras Team Honored for Extraordinary Rescue

Carnival Cruise Line Captain Niccolo De Ranieri accepted the Cruise Ship Humanitarian Assistance Award during the Association for Rescue at Sea (AFRAS) annual awards ceremony on Tuesday evening. The award was presented in recognition of the ship’s outstanding rescue of 16 migrants in distress early on the morning of June 3, 2022.

At the time of the rescue, the 181,808-gross-ton cruise ship – then the newest and largest vessel in the Carnival fleet – was sailing north of Cuba in the Florida Strait as part of a 7-night Western Caribbean itinerary, returning to Port Canaveral. The ship was also working to keep ahead of severe weather that would eventually develop into the first named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season.

Those challenging weather conditions made the rescue effort exceptionally hazardous, but Captain De Ranieri and his team did not hesitate to take all necessary steps to bring the 16 refugees to safety, using the cruise ship itself as a windbreak to shelter the rescue operation.

Captain Niccolo De Ranieri
Captain Niccolo De Ranieri

Once aboard the cruise ship, the refugees were all provided with food, water, and medical care as needed, as well as fresh clothing.

“Receiving this award is a humbling reminder of the responsibility we have as mariners. I’m proud of my team’s brave and coordinated efforts during this rescue,” said Captain De Ranieri. “It’s an honor to be recognized, and I’m thankful those 16 people were brought to safety.”

As is customary with such rescues, the refugees – 11 men and 5 women – were then turned over to authorities as soon as possible.

A Noble Maritime Duty

All cruise ships, as well as other vessels, are bound by the Safety Of Life At Sea agreements (SOLAS) and the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea, which requires that assistance be offered to anyone in danger at sea, so long as it can be done without serious harm to the assisting ship, crew, or passengers.

While the June 2022 incident was not the first time Mardi Gras participated in such a rescue, the exceptional nature of the weather conditions and the efficiency with which the large cruise ship offered aid speaks well of the skill and dedication of her master and her crew.

Carnival Mardi Gras Rescue
Carnival Mardi Gras Rescue (Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line)

Mardi Gras is not the first Carnival cruise ship team to be honored for lifesaving efforts. AFRAS has been awarding this type of recognition since approximately 2004, with the more formalized Cruise Ship Humanitarian Assistance Award beginning in 2017.

In August 2004, the Carnival ship Holiday was recognized for the rescue of five Mexican fishermen.

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

Carnival Ecstasy was honored in 2021 for a rescue of an injured yacht crewmember during the industry shutdown in November 2020 near Great Stirrup Cay, while maintaining COVID-19 safety protocols throughout. Carnival Elation was similarly honored for a rough seas rescue during Hurricane Irma in September 2017, after the cruise ship was rushed out of dry dock ahead of the impending storm.

In addition to Carnival ships, vessels from Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, TUI Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, and Holland America Line have also received awards from AFRAS.

A variety of lifesaving awards and other recognition are also presented to United States Coast Guard members and vessels as well as other maritime ships and associated teams for their dedication to safety and preserving life.

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