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:

Royal Caribbean Intercepts Cuban Immigrants

Allure of the Seas "Rescues" Migrants Fleeing Cuba

Happy Fourth of July – Enjoy Your Freedom

Christmas Dreams in Miami of Cuban Rafters Crushed By Cruise Ship "Rescues"   


Video credit:  Spensafi / YouTube

  • Lori

    Makes you want to go huh?!? Why is this law the one RCCL choses to get involved with the ones dealing with passenger safety seem to go unreported to the authorities?

  • jay dee

    I was on that cruise and was definately not someone who was laughing nor were others around me. The irony of 23 people crammed into a little boat out of food and water trying to find a better life while we were on one of the largest cruise ships in the world with more food than could be imagined,did not escape me.

  • Teresa Hall

    I was on this cruise ship and observed the entire event from my balcony. I have some amazing pictures of the incident. My heart breaks for the Cubans. I am very disappointed to learn that they will be forced to return to Cuba. Is there any way we can help?
    Teresa Hall

  • Ms. Hall:

    Thanks for your message.

    Not sure what can be done to help people in this situation. Our current U.S. law is that if immigrants can get to U.S. soil in a raft, they can stay. But if they are picked up on the high seas by the U.S., they are sent back to Cuba.

    If you send a photo or two, I will post them here with credit to you.

    Thank you.

    Jim Walker

  • Gloriajean Falcone

    I also was on the cruise with my mother. We observed the entire event from our balcony. We have many photos as well. It was very difficult to watch and hear that some passengers thought it was funny. Some actually thought that their life may have been in danger and that the group lost at sea should not have been brought on board. Where’s the empathy? We are very sad to hear that those in search of a better life had to return to Cuba.
    God Bless the Captain and his Crew!
    Thank you,

  • Gloriajean:

    Thanks for the comments. I will be happy to post a photo or two of the rafters if you sent them to us.


    Jim Walker

  • American abroad

    Hey, enough of the politics! Some of us are happy at having fewer migrants come to the US. You have Republican fans too!