Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas helped rescue six fishermen and their dog on Tuesday, January 16, 2024 while the cruise ship was en route to its first port of call on the current 7-night Western Caribbean sailing. The stunning rescue comes nearly two days after the fishing boat had been reported lost.
Harmony of the Seas Rescues Stranded Fishermen
The small fishing vessel Aris experienced an engine failure over the weekend, with six people reported onboard. Communication with the vessel was initially lost on Sunday, January 14, 20 miles from Cape Catoche, the northernmost tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
According to Cambio 22, local officials and community members immediately launched search efforts, but without success. Word was also spread through social media to help locate the fishermen.
“With all your heart if you go fishing tomorrow don’t forget to look up to the horizon, in case you see a boat drifting or floating in the sea,” CZM Noticias posted on Tuesday morning, January 16, alerting various local fishing fleets to the ongoing situation.
It was with great surprise and celebration, then, when Aris was spotted by Harmony of the Seas just hours later. The cruise ship had left Galveston, Texas on Sunday for a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise, and both Monday and Tuesday are days at sea on the itinerary.
Harmony of the Seas immediately sent out a rescue craft to check on the smaller boat, and found seven castaways in reasonably good health – six fishermen and their dog, Canelo.
All the individuals – including Canelo – were safely rescued and soon transferred to the Mexican Navy. The fishermen will be returned home to Cozumel, where their families will be very happy for the miraculous reunion.
There has been no reported impact on Harmony of the Seas‘ itinerary. The 226,963-gross-ton ship, third of the Oasis-class vessels, will be visiting Roatan, Honduras and both Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico before returning to Galveston on Sunday, January 21.
The ship can welcome 5,479 guests aboard at double occupancy or up to 6,687 passengers when fully booked with all berths filled, though there is always room for rescued individuals if the need arises.
Safety at Sea
The rescue so long after the fishing vessel initially lost contact with authorities is nothing short of amazing. This also emphasizes the need for all oceangoing craft – of any size or purpose – to have appropriate emergency beacons, communication equipment, and safety gear aboard in case of difficult situations or mechanical malfunctions.
International maritime law requires all vessels to render assistance whenever necessary, regardless of the location, nationalities involved, reason for the emergency, or any other circumstances.
Cruise ships regularly offer such assistance to refugee craft, fishing vessels, pleasure boats, or anyone else needing the help anywhere in the world after engines fail, equipment malfunctions, leaks develop, or bad weather causes navigational problems.
At times, more than one vessel may need assistance at the same time, as happened when two cargo vessels collided in the North Sea in October 2023 and P&O Cruises’ Iona was called to assist the search and rescue efforts.
At times, cruise ships will perform the complete rescue operation themselves, while at other times they respond to calls for assistance from local navy officials or other craft and offer support, such as additional eyes to search, lifeboat availability, medical care, or supplies. Large cruise ships may even be used as windbreaks in bad weather so smaller official vessels can complete rescues more safely.
Cruise Hive commends those aboard Harmony of the Seas who were instrumental in this fantastic rescue, as well as all cruise ship crew members everywhere who help ensure the seas are safe for everyone.