While sailing in open waters not far from Cuba Friday morning, June 3, the crew of the CCL-Carnival Cruise Line's ship Mardi Gras spotted a small vessel in rough seas stirred up by the tropical weather system.
The crew members saw the distressed boat just before 8:00 a.m., Carnival said in a news blog. Mardi Gras stopped her voyage to assist, taking on 16 stranded people.
The distressed ship was ~60 nautical miles west/northwest of Key West (Florida) with 16 adults aboard -11 men and 5 women. Those with identification were of Cuban nationality. All were seen by medical staff on Mardi Gras, and were given food and clothes.
A rendezvous with the US Coast Guard (USCG) was coordinated Friday afternoon at sea. All 16 occupants were transferred onto a CG cutter at ~2:45 p.m.
At the time of the incident, the Carnival cruise ship was on a 7-day trip in the Caribbean. Mardi Gras is returning Saturday to Port Canaveral (Orlando, Florida), as scheduled after a day at sea. She made a number of Western Caribbean calls on her journey, including Mexico's Cozumel and Costa Maya and Honduras' Roatan Island (Mahogany Bay).
The distressed boat was in a precarious position Friday morning. A broad swath of showers/thunderstorms over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula could turn into Tropical Storm Alex/tropical depression, the USA's Hurricane Center announced on Friday. The system is due to hit Florida on Saturday, June 4.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect Friday for 10+ million people in the southern half of Florida, the Bahamas, and Cuba.
For more Carnival Mardi Gras incidents and accidents see the ship's CruiseMinus page.