The ship doctor on Carnival's Tropicale unexpectedly found himself in the midst of last Tuesday's crash of a small plane carrying refugees from Cuba. Tropicale, which was sailing a Western Caribbean itinerary, was on its way to the Cayman Islands when the ship was asked for help by the U.S. Coast Guard. Tropicale was about 15 miles away from the Panamanian freighter that had picked up the Cubans and immediately changed course. En route, Tropicale's Dr. Binns got on the radio with the freighter captain and offered emergency first aid consultation. On meeting up with the freighter, Dr. Binns, a nurse, and crew members speaking Spanish and Greek (the freighter's captain was Greek) were loaded into a tender and transported to the freighter.
Tropicale, as a result of its good Samaritan effort, was delayed and missed its call at the Cayman Islands, but spokeswoman Jennifer De La Cruz says that rough weather in the Gulf of Mexico probably would have nixed a visit anyway to that all-tender port. She reports that there have been no complaints from passengers about the itinerary change; Tropicale went instead to Playa del Carmen before resuming her regular course.