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Carnival cruise ship rescues 24 stranded Cubans

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Cruise ship rescues 24 stranded CubansMatthew Sudders has been on plenty of cruises, but he’d never seen anything like this.

The civil servant from Paris was aboard the Carnival Paradise on Tuesday when he noticed the ship had started to slow down in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. Then an announcement came over the public address system: The captain had spotted a small boat in the water, and it appeared to be in distress. The Paradise would try to help.

It appeared to Sudders that the cruise ship’s captain was trying to shelter the small boat from the waves. Once they were close enough, ship staff lowered a platform down to the water and threw a rope and life jackets to the stranded craft.

Eventually, the 24 passengers from the boat, all of Cuban nationality, were able to board the Paradise. They had been stranded for five days, according to an announcement on the ship’s PA system, said Sudders, one of two passengers who posted accounts of the rescue on CNN iReport.

“There was a huge cheer for the people as they came aboard,” Sudders said from Grand Cayman Island on Wednesday. But he noticed a few of the cruise passengers were hesitant. Some of the people he stood next to on deck referenced Capt. Richard Phillips — the American freighter captain whose 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates inspired an Oscar-nominated film — hoping that the new passengers were not a risk.

He says cruise officials later informed him that the new passengers would have been subjected to security screening as they were brought on board.

The ship was en route to Grand Cayman from Tampa, Florida, when it stopped to aid the stranded boat on the first day of the cruise.

“The ship turned slowly and approached the boat,” said Sudders, who was still aboard the five-day Caribbean cruise Wednesday. “The people in it were yelling in Spanish. One of them appeared to be unwell in the bottom of the boat. We could see that there was water in the bottom of the boat and although it had an engine, it was not running. As we approached the boat, one of the passengers was flagging us down with his jacket.”

In a statement, Carnival officials said the ship’s itinerary was unaffected by the rescue.

Ship staff provided the new passengers with food, water, fresh clothing and accommodations, and they were evaluated by the ship’s medical team, the statement said. The Paradise also reported the rescue to the U.S. Coast Guard.

This isn’t the first time a cruise ship has provided rescue services while at sea. Last year, another Carnival ship and a Disney ship picked up 21 people of uncertain nationality who were stranded on a raft off the coast of Key West. And in 2012, a Royal Caribbean ship rescued 23 Cubans, also near the Cayman Islands.

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  • its my business

    I hope they had some Extra Suite Cabins available. Food catered right to your room, with a balcony to eat on and watch the waters ans sunset. I am happy that the human beings were rescued, but if it were me, I gladly would give up my small outside cabin and would ask for an upgrade so some of the Cubans could have my Cabin. (sleeps 4) Again, I am glad they were rescued and I hope everyone is well. Just sayin…..

  • Thomas

    So, if “socialism” (or in this case, Marxism) and “free health care” are so great, why are Cubans still risking their lives and fleeing the island paradise by the dozens to a nation that still practices the evils of capitalism (or remnants of it, at least)?

  • Yvonne

    I was on this ship. They were turned over to the authorities in Grand Cayman. They were not brought to the United States. Grand Cayman made a deal to have them returned to Cuba.

  • disgusted

    I found this story inspiring, although after reading comments I cant help but say I am a little ashamed of Americans. I am first generation American, my family came to the United States from Cuba in the 60’s, and are naturalized citizens. They do not live off of the government. A cousin of mine immigrated to America by raft a few years ago and has never filed for foodstamps or medicaid. America was founded by immigrants who stole land from the natives. No wonder other countries look at Americans with disgust. People come here because we lable ourselves “the land of the free”, but we are barely free and live at the expense of others. I guarantee there are more able bodied Americans on welfare that immigrants who come here in search of a better life. A cousin of mine recently starred alongside Will Farrel in a box office film, my uncle is an immigrant who has become a well known musician. Another cousin has become a successful entrepreneur, business owner and stylist to the stars. Although my ganparents do not share the same success stories they are just as credible by the fact they came and worked for their “freedom”. There is a group of Mexicans in my hometown who built a home and church from the ground, it took them years to complete each project because they worked to earn thousands to complete the task. They come here in search of the “American dream” and most of them obtain it. Its the Americans born on this soil that dont see the full value of the American dream. A boy in my class has parents who immigrated from Africa to Italy, then America when he was born, to give him the chance at what they thought is a better life. Ironically begore I came home and read this he discussed with the class how people from his country marvel when they hear someone is traveling to America. They talk of school and work and bettering their lives. Not welfare and the wish of afree ride. Other countries may even be oblivious to the extent of our welfare system. Read “The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin. God bless America, we are lucky. But may God also humble our people, the world is only ugly because that is the way we have made it

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