While sailing back to her homeport of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Celebrity Apex managed to perform a rescue operation saving three refugees that had been stuck on a raft off the coast of Cuba.
Guests on the open decks spotted the raft, which prompted the vessel to change direction to be able to head towards the small raft. Due to windy conditions, the sea had been rough, as seen on multiple eyewitness reports online. Despite those conditions, the crew and officers managed to bring the three lucky survivors onboard.
Celebrity Apex Picks Up Three People From Raft
While cruising towards her homeport in Florida, Celebrity Apex guests spotted a small dingy on Friday evening. The small boat carried three Cuban refugees onboard. As is customary for all ships, the celebrity cruise ship quickly changed course to offer help.
Celebrity Apex’s Captain turned and positioned the small raft on its leeward side. At that point, the three refugees could be picked up safely. On videos posted to social media, the small size of the raft puts in perspective how much danger the three were in, while the dingy was seen to be taking on significant amounts of water.
It is also surprising and fortunate that guests had been able to spot the raft in the first place. In one video posted online, the small raft can hardly be distinguished amongst the waves. The raft did not have the highly visible orange or yellow color that lifeboats and rafts are equipped with but was white.
After the rescue operation, the three refugees were taken on board and received the necessary water, food, and medical treatment. What will happen next with the three remains to be seen. Often, refugees or those involved in shipwrecks that are picked up in international waters will be sent back to their country of origin.
Ship was returning to homeport
The events that transpired onboard Celebrity Apex happened while the vessel made her way back to her homeport, Port Everglades. Guests enjoyed a 7-day Western Caribean cruise, which departed from Fort Lauderdale on February 19.
After visits to Nassau, Belize City, Cozumel, and Costa Maya, the rescue occurred when the vessel was sailing in the area between Cuba and Florida at 5:35 PM.
This is not the first time a similar event has taken place. Each year many people try to make their way across the Straits of Florida or across the Mediterranean to reach Europe from Africa.
The dangers are significant, and many lose their lives each year. Under the Safety Of Life At Sea agreements (SOLAS), mariners are required to assist any vessel in distress, including small dinghies in the open ocean:
The master of a ship at sea which is in a position to be able to provide assistance on receiving information from any source that persons are in distress at sea, is bound to proceed with all speed to their assistance if possible, informing them or the search and rescue service that the ship is doing so.
In the last months and years, we’ve seen multiple rescues take place that involved cruise ships, including when Carnival Paradise rescued a sailor from a sinking boat near Cozumel. Also, Carnival Fantasy saved a total of 23 people who were adrift at sea on a damaged boat in the Caribbean.