According to an official statement from the cruise line, Holiday was on its way back to New Orleans when employees heard someone yelling from the water. Captain Orazio D'Aita turned the ship around and began a search using some of its lifeboats as rescue boats. A rescue boat located two adults, and brought them back to Holiday's infirmary for treatment. The ordeal wasn't over yet, though -- the rescued individuals alerted crew that three other fishermen were still unaccounted for, including a 10-year-old boy.
An hour and a half into the search, a guest noticed another person in the water and called the purser's desk. Soon after, the three missing persons were pulled to safety and given medical treatment, including the young boy. After an emotional reunion, all five were transferred to a vessel sent by the Mexican Coast Guard.
Cruise Critic staff received an e-mail about the rescue from Clayton Nary, a passenger who just returned from the sailing. "All service, dinner, bars were stopped," Nary wrote us. "When we arrived [for a headcount at our muster stations] lifeboats were being launched for search purposes. This was at night, so [the survivors were] very lucky ... I've been on 28 cruises and have never had this happen."
While cruise ship rescue missions do occur from time to time (Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas towed a small, leaking boat carrying eight men to Coast Guard custody earlier this year), a Carnival spokeswoman tells us they are usually not quite this dramatic.