A cruise ship bound for Florida rescued 24 migrants from a boat in distress – on the same day another vacation vessel plucked 17 Cubans who had been adrift for weeks.
The MSC Meraviglia, one of the largest cruise ships in the world, was returning from Cozumel, Mexico, to the Space Coast on Saturday when it came across the small boat, Florida Today reported.
“Our crew notified the United States Coast Guard and started a rescue operation immediately,” the Italian MSC Cruises said in a statement.
“All 24 of the boat’s occupants (were brought) on board MSC Meraviglia, where they were checked by medical personnel and provided accommodations until the ship reaches Port Canaveral,” it said.
“The 24 who were rescued disembarked once the ship docked on Sunday morning,” the statement added.
US Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class Nicole Groll did not provide details about the incident but said cruise ships that rescue migrants transfer them to the Customs and Border Protection officials for processing.
The rescue came on the same day that Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas cruise ship bound for CocoCay in the Bahamas rescued 17 Cuban migrants who were spotted aboard a makeshift boat.
“While en route to The Bahamas, Liberty of the Seas encountered a small vessel adrift and in need of assistance,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement.
Between Jan. 6 and Friday, Coast Guard vessels repatriated 824 Cubans and 83 Haitians while patrolling the Florida Straits, Windward and Mona Passes, Florida Today reported.
The Coast Guard also said it interdicted 13 illegal ventures preventing 239 migrants from landing in the US.
“We urge anyone considering attempting the always dangerous and very often deadly illegal maritime migration routes to not risk their lives by taking to the sea,” said Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson, commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District.