Celebrity Cruise Ship Rescues 35 Refugees From Drifting Boat

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Another cruise ship has been involved in a rescue operation in the Caribbean. In this case, it was the Celebrity Millennium vessel during a week-long voyage out of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

This news comes as refugees continue to find better lives in the United States, but at significant risk via small, often makeshift boats. Thankfully, the large cruise ship was in the region to help this time.

Celebrity Millennium Cruise Rescue

The Celebrity Millennium cruise ship rescued 35 refugees from an adrift small boat that needed urgent help. Two of those refugees were reported to be children. According to passengers onboard, the US Coast Guard alerted the cruise ship about the small boat, resulting in the ship’s captain changing course.

Once the boat was spotted, the ship’s crew launched one of its rescue boats, and all 35 refugees were safely transferred to the large Celebrity cruise ship. Usually, in these cases, once the refugees were brought aboard, they were likely provided with any medical attention needed, a blanket, food, and water.

At the time of the rescue, the Celebrity cruise ship was sailing between Tortola and St. Maarten. The ship departed Tortola, in the UK Virgin Islands, at approximately 5:00 PM on March 12. Once the refugees were onboard, the cruise ship continued en route to its next scheduled port of call, St. Maarten, in the eastern Caribbean.

Celebrity Millennium cruise ship
Celebrity Millennium Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock)

The Celebrity cruise ship arrived as expected, and the 35 refugees were transferred to the authorities on land. Guests only had a minor delay after the ship’s arrival at the island to wait for the refugees to disembark.

Celebrity Millennium is currently on a seven-night Caribbean voyage, which departed San Juan on March 11. Following the calls at Tortaol and St. Maarten, there are still three more to go, including Roseau, Dominica; Bridgetown, Barbados; and St. Georges, Grenada. The vessel will return as normal in Puerto Rico on March 18, 2023.

Not the First Celebrity Rescue This Year

Celebrity Millennium is not the first ship in the fleet to be involved in a rescue in the Caribbean. In January 2023, there was a considerable increase in refugee rescues in the Florida straights, with several cruise lines needing to alter course to help through the early months.

One of those ships involved in two rescues was the new Celebrity Beyond, the current Celebrity flagship captained by one of the most famous captains in the industry, Kate McCue.

Celebrity Beyond Rescue
Credit: Captain Kate McCue

On January 2, Celebrity Beyond rescued 19 refugees who were adrift in a small styrofoam makeshift boat. They attempted to get from Cuba to South Florida but were spotted by the cruise ship and brought onboard.

Just days later, on January 7, the same Celebrity cruise ship was in another rescue in the Caribbean while heading back home to Fort Lauderdale. Captain Kate McCue and her crew helped four refugees in coordination with the US Coast Guard.

The cruise ship rescues have slowed since the new year, but that does not mean fewer refugees have been trying to head to the US. There are many types of vessels that can offer assistance at sea, and in fact, it’s maritime law. Cruise ships have well-trained crews who can deal with these situations, and many of the larger cruise ships have specific smaller boats that can be good assets for a rescue.

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