Fishing Boat to Luxury Yacht: Cruise Ship Rescues 3 Men Adrift in the Pacific for 3 Weeks

February 23, 2012

(12:45 p.m. EST) -- Seabourn Odyssey embarked some unexpected passengers this weekend in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The 450-passenger luxury vessel rescued three Samoans adrift in a fishing boat, considered lost at sea after disappearing three weeks earlier.

According to Seabourn's corporate blog, the portside bridge watch spotted something in the distance Sunday evening as Odyssey plied the Pacific 150 miles from Pago Pago, American Samoa. Odyssey Captain Mark Dexter found no missing vessel reports, but diverted the ship to investigate. Dexter and company discovered a small craft on which "three men [were] jumping and frantically waving their clothing," said the line.

After determining that they were no threat, the men were brought aboard Odyssey, where they were examined by the ship's doctor. They were dehydrated, hungry and had a few sun-caused skin sores, but were in surprisingly good health considering the circumstances, said the line.

Radio New Zealand International (RNZI), ad online and on-air Pacific news service, identified the men as 25-year-old Oli Faavae of Falefa, 34-year-old Sailigi Simi of Sataua, and Tuitea Talavou from Vailele. The trio had left Western Samoa in an alia, a double-hulled Samoan fishing boat, on February 6; they had plans to return the following day "with a chest full of seafood," reported Seabourn.

Faave, Simi and Talavou ran out of fuel and commenced drifting, surviving on their catch and rain water. According to Seabourn, they had no distress flares or means of radio communication.

Searches involving the New Zealand Air Force and the United States Coast Guard had been called off on February 14, reported The line added that the men's families had given up hope and were preparing funerals for them, believing them lost at sea.

Odyssey arrived in Pago Pago Monday morning, and the men were turned over to authorities, who assisted in transferring them home to Western Samoa on Tuesday. When the fishermen disembarked in Pago Pago, they each received $800, collected from Odyssey's passengers (it's "money that they can use to purchase a new boat," said Seabourn).

Odyssey is in the midst of a 76-night Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale cruise covering great swaths of the Pacific.

Tip of the hat to USA Today for passing on the story.

--by Dan Askin, News Editor

--All photos appear courtesy of Seabourn except the left picture in the collage, which appears courtesy of Cruise Critic member Roxburgh.