Idling at sea over the weekend while waiting for passenger cruises to restart, the Carnival Sensation came across a distressed boat and rescued its 24 occupants, the cruise line reported.
The rescue happened early Saturday as the minimally staffed Sensation was hanging out in international waters about 37 miles off the coast of Palm Beach, said cruise line spokesman Vance Gulliksen.
Upon seeing the boat, the 70,000-ton cruise ship maneuvered alongside it and provided blankets, life jackets, food and water to the occupants, who included “individuals from various nationalities and two children,” Gulliksen said.
Sensation crew members notified the U.S. Coast Guard and were awaiting its arrival when the small boat started taking on water. That’s when the crew decided to rescue the 24 occupants and bring them aboard, Gulliksen.
“They were evaluated by [the Sensation’s] medical team and were quarantined away from crew members” while awaiting the Coast Guard’s arrival, he said.
Finally, a Coast Guard cutter arrived and retrieved the rescued seafarers.
Gulliksen said he had no further details on why the boat was stranded or whether it was trying to enter the United States with refugees on board.
Rescues by Carnival’s ships don’t happen often, he said, “but we have assisted distressed crafts over the years. It’s part of a longtime tradition of mariners assisting others in distress.”
Asked for details about the occupants and where they were taken, a U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman in Miami said she was working on getting answers Monday, “but no promises.”
The Sensation, like Carnival’s other ships, is operating with limited crew members and no guests on board as the cruise industry prepares to restart voyages from North American ports after a prolonged shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
After announcing in early October that it hoped to begin its phased-in resumption with cruises scheduled to depart in November from Port Miami and Port Canaveral, the cruise line on Oct. 12 said it canceled those November trips but still hoped to launch from those ports in December.
The Sensation, which has been based at Port Canaveral and Port Miami, is currently scheduled to move to Mobile, Alabama, and begin running four- and five-night cruises to Progresso, Mexico, and Cozumel, Mexico, in January.
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