18 Cubans, including women and kids, were rescued by a crew between Key West (Florida USA) and Cuba.
At ~05:30 pm, a crew member dived into the water and swam to the makeshift boat with a rope. The people were scooping buckets of water out of their boat. As Scarlet Lady approached, they started waving their arms and yelling for help.
The Cuban immigrants were brought on the cruise ship through Deck 4. The captain made an announcement saying, per maritime law, they were taken onboard as refugees, and Scarlet Lady would change course, heading to Key West in order to allow the Coast Guard to pick up the refugees.
The remains of the boat, made from scrap wood and a car engine, were left to float away.
The Coast Guard was called and immediately arrived at 09:00 p.m. to pick up the refugees. Their belongings were loaded in Virgin-branded bags onto the CG’s boat. As the refugees were escorted off the cruise ship and onto the boat, they were in white robes from the spa and the crew’s life jackets. Some people were also given red Virgin Voyages' crew uniforms. It took ~15 minutes to load everyone onto the boat. Passengers from the line cheered as the Coast Guard vessel took off.
For more Scarlet Lady incidents and accidents see the ship's CruiseMinus page.