The Miami Herald reports that Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas "rescued" twenty-three Cuban rafters as the cruise ship sailed from Falmouth Jamaica to Cozumel Mexico.
The story was also reported by the online cruise community Cruise Critic which uploaded a YouTube video about what it is also calling a "rescue." Cruise Critic says that one of the onlooking cruise passengers can be heard saying, "it’s lobster night tonight. Going to be eating pretty well tonight" and laughing.
Unlike the happy images projected by these cruise friendly publications, the Cuban rafters were hardly "rescued." It is Royal Caribbean’s policy to always report rafters to the U.S. Coast Guard with the result that the rafters are sent back to Cuba. Here the Coast Guard instructed Royal Caribbean to turn the rafters over to the Mexican authorities who, in turn,will deport them to Cuba.
Eating lobster on the luxurious Oasis and then entering the U.S. through Mexico? I don’t think so.
Eating swill in a Cuban jail? More likely.
It must be a frustrating process for desperate Cuban families who find themselves sent right back to Cuba after risking their lives to come to the U.S. for freedom and better lives for their children.
It is a very weird proposition that a cruise line registered in Liberia, Africa, operating a cruise ship registered in the Bahamas, would intercept a boat full of people in international waters on behalf of the U.S. Coast Guard and turn them over to Mexico to be deported back to Cuba. Some news accounts suggest that the rafters were not even trying to get to the U.S., but were trying to go to Honduras.
In the last two years, Royal Caribbean cruise ships, the Oasis of the Seas (twice), Allure of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas, have intercepted Cuban rafters five times:
Video credit: Spensafi / YouTube