Celebrity Cruises Ship Rescues Stranded Boat in the Caribbean

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While sailing near Cuba en route to Belize on Monday, April 1, Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Apex rescued seven migrants from a small boat signaling distress.

All seven individuals were brought safely onboard the cruise ship and have been given appropriate care, and they will be turned over to the authorities at the earliest opportunity.

Celebrity Apex Rescues Migrants

Celebrity Apex was in the right place at the right time to safely rescue seven migrants – four men and three women – from a small boat adrift near Cuba on Monday, April 1.

The rescue happened in the morning during the ship’s day at sea, and according to information provided by the rescued individuals, they had been at sea for five days. They departed from Cuba, and were attempting to reach Mexico.

“They were lost at sea, we were able to find them,” the ship’s cruise director, Lewis, confirmed with videos posted to TikTok. “Most importantly, we were able to save them. Seven lives at sea were saved today.”

The migrants appeared to be in a small rowboat equipped with a makeshift sail, but one video does show water being bailed out of the boat as the cruise ship approached. Furthermore, few supplies are visible in the boat, and it is unlikely they would have been able to safely continue for much longer without assistance.

The migrants were taken aboard Celebrity Apex and given medical care as needed, as well as food and water. Onboard the cruise ship, they are provided with cabins “allocated specifically for them” and watched by ship’s security. To be clear, they are not being held in the ship’s brig, but nor do they have full access to the ship and guest areas.

Read Also: Do Cruise Ships Have Jails? Here’s the Truth

Celebrity Apex Cruise Ship
Celebrity Apex Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: fitzcrittle)

At the next possible opportunity, they will be turned over to authorities. According to Lewis, this will happen at whichever port will accept the migrants, as different ports have different restrictions.

“If they don’t accept them, then we’ll take them back to Fort Lauderdale and we’ll hand them over to the CBP [US Customs and Border Protection] officers there,” Lewis said.

The 130,818-gross-ton, Edge-class Celebrity Apex is currently sailing a 7-night Western Caribbean Easter cruise that departed Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, March 30. The itinerary includes stops in Key West, Belize City, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman before the ship returns to Florida on April 6.

Other Recent Rescues

Rescues either north or west of Cuba are not uncommon, especially in the late winter and spring after the worst of winter storms have ended and before the Atlantic and Caribbean hurricane season begins on June 1.

The world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean International’s Icon of the Seas, rescued 14 Cuban refugees near Honduras on March 3, and Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Celebration rescued 20 refugees in the Florida Straits on February 24.

Carnival Jubilee Rescue
Carnival Jubilee Rescue (Photo Credit: Lance Roche)

This is not the first rescue Celebrity Apex has performed, as the ship rescued three people from a small craft in February 2022. That incident also took place off the coast of Cuba.

Celebrity Apex may yet perform additional rescues in the next few weeks, as the ship remains homeported from Fort Lauderdale through the end of April. On May 2, the vessel will depart for a 13-night, one-way transatlantic cruise to Southampton, where she will remain for the summer sailing season, offering diverse itineraries to Iceland, Scandinavia, Scotland, the Canary Islands, Portugal, and Spain.

In late October 2024, Celebrity Apex will return to Fort Lauderdale for the winter Caribbean season, followed by another summer sailing from Southampton in 2025 before the ship relocates to Port Canaveral in November 2025.

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