Photos: Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Rescue of Six Cubans in a Sinking Raft

December 12, 2010
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Update, December 12, 1:30 p.m. EST: According to the Miami Herald, 17 Cuban migrants, including the six picked up by Monarch of the Seas, are to return to Cuba.

(December 7, 2:30 p.m.) -- Two days after six stranded sailors in a sinking raft were picked up by 73,941-ton, 2,390-passenger Monarch of the Seas, Cruise Critic member wayniac has sent us startling photos from the rescue.

According to a statement from Royal Caribbean, the raft was spotted at approximately 5:30 p.m. Sunday, as Monarch of the Seas was sailing from Royal Caribbean's private island of CocoCay, Bahamas, back to its Port Canaveral homeport. The five men and one woman were brought aboard Monarch, where they were given food, water and medical treatment.

Per Royal Caribbean's policy, the U.S. Coast Guard was immediately notified, and at 6 a.m. Monday, the six Cubans disembarked Monarch of the Seas onto a Coast Guard vessel. According to Coast Guard Petty Officer Barry Vena, the migrants remain in custody. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials will determine their fate. Sabrina Elgammal, a Coast Guard spokeswoman, told Florida Today that "If it's determined that they are migrants, then they will undergo repatriation to the country they hailed from. It is an ongoing investigation."

It's not altogether uncommon to see cruise ships coming to the aid of distressed sailors. In the past two years, Carnival Glory and Crown Princess have been involved in rescues of Cuban migrants.

--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor