Royal Caribbean Undertakes Two Sea Rescues

January 13, 2004

Last weekend was a busy one for officers and crew on two Royal Caribbean ships which both performed successful rescue operations. Passengers on Brilliance of the Seas spotted a group of eight men in a small boat 30 miles off of Key West and notified the ship. The captain turned Brilliance around and went back to rescue the eight men, all Cuban migrants, who had been screaming for help. Once the ship's spotlights lit on the men, they were able to maneuver their leaky boat alongside Brilliance of the Seas.

However, because the Coast Guard asked crew not to let the men board the vessel, they remained in their boat -- though in essence tied up to the cruise ship and towed alongside -– and staffers tossed them blankets. The men were safely delivered to Coast Guard custody and there's no word at this point about their fate. Brilliance, which had been sailing a 10-night itinerary, had been on its way back to Miami and returned as scheduled. 

In an equally bizarre incident, a passenger onboard this week's Serenade of the Seas Caribbean cruise apparently fell off his Deck 10 balcony into the sea while the ship was sailing from San Juan to St. Thomas. Passengers (again) initially spotted the man -- in this case at 12:13 a.m. Sunday morning -- and notified the bridge that he was in the water. The captain, according to a Royal Caribbean spokesman, immediately ordered the ship to turn around and the bridge team calculated the most likely position for the sighting based on course and speed. The ship employed searchlights and look-outs on the helicopter deck and the passenger was found fairly quickly.

Rescue boats set out in seven foot swells and safely picked him up at 1:09 a.m.

Amazingly, the passenger was not seriously injured though he was dropped off, once the ship arrived at St. Thomas, to the hospital there, for observation and further examination. His condition is reported as stable. The spokesman had no explanation for precisely how he fell off the balcony.