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Carnival Ecstasy: Cruise Ship Rescues 41 Cuban Migrants from Troubled Boat Near Florida

Travelers Today       By    Katie McFadden

Updated: Mar 26, 2014 11:48 PM EDT

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A Carnival Cruise ship saved the day by rescuing 41 Cuban migrants that were in distress on a small, overcrowded boat between Florida and Cuba.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, no one was injured and the migrants that were picked up by Carnival were later transferred to a nearby U.S. Coast Guard ship on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

"This could've been a real tragedy. There was no lifesaving or navigation equipment and the boat was taking on water," Coast Guard spokesman Gabe Somma said.

"These 41 individuals are very lucky to be alive," Captain Todd Lutes, Coast Guard Seventh District Chief of Incident Management said according to the Maritime Executive. "Taking to the sea in an unseaworthy vessel without proper life saving equipment can be a deadly decision. Had it not been for the cruise ship Ecstasy this voyage could have ended in tragedy."

Somma added that the migrants will be brought back to Cuba in a few days.
Carnival Ecstasy spotted the small, overcrowded boat taking on water. The small vessel lacked any safety tools.

According to Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz, Carnival Ecstasy was traveling from  Key West, Florida, to Cozumel, Mexico, and had 2,650 passengers onboard.

It is common for Cubans to try to escape the country by boat. Thousands have tried to leave and head to Florida, Central America and other islands for several decades. The biggest spike was in the mid-1990's, when tens of thousands of Cubans left the country and headed toward Florida while hundreds more took to nearby Caribbean islands.

It is also common for cruise ships to perform at sea rescues. Just earlier this month, 24 migrants were rescued from a wooden boat near the Cayman Islands.

 

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