April 5, 2012
Royal Caribbean's 225,282-ton, 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas was sailing from Falmouth, Jamaica, to Cozumel, Mexico, when it spotted a small boat, said the line in a statement. Oasis approached the boat and picked up 23 refugees, including 19 men and four women. (Thanks to Cruise Critic member bajathree, who's onboard, for the tip.) The green arrow on the image right marks the spot of the event (ship is not to scale), per coordinates provided by Royal Caribbean.
Once onboard, the refugees received food, water and medical treatment, said the line. Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez told Cruise Critic that the new passengers were housed in Oasis' conference room with a few crewmembers until the ship arrived in Cozumel this morning (April 5).
According to Royal Caribbean, the U.S. Coast Guard was notified, as is the line's standard practice when dealing with distressed mariners. At the direction of the U.S.C.G, the 23 Cuban citizens were disembarked in Cozumel, where they were handed over to the Mexican authorities.
Passenger and youtuber Spensaf1 posted a video of the refugees being handed life jackets and then transferred from their makeshift craft to a yellow boat. One of the onlookers can be heard saying, "it's lobster night tonight. Going to be eating pretty well tonight."
Oasis of the Seas is in the midst of a seven-night Western Caribbean cruise that began in Port Everglades, Florida, on Saturday, March 31. The itinerary includes calls in Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico.
--by Dan Askin, News Editor