A Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) cruise ship on Sunday, September 2, 2018 stopped its cruise to the Caribbean and Mexico and deployed a lifeboat to pick up four Cuban nationals spotted “in the middle of the ocean,” according to a report by Fox News.

NCL issued a public statement stating that the Norwegian Getaway rescued “four distressed individuals,” who were taken aboard the NCL cruise ship. NCL stated: “The individuals, who are Cuban nationals, were safely brought on board, immediately taken to the ship’s medical facility for evaluation and provided with clothing and food. The Bahamas Maritime Authority and the U.S. Coast Guard were notified by the ship’s Captain, who was advised to disembark the rescued individuals at the next port of call in Costa Maya, Mexico on September 4.”

A passenger on Twitter, by the name of Pico, stated that the men were spotted by others on board by a “flash in the middle of the ocean.”

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The “rescue” of the Cuban men has a strange twist. The NCL passenger who took the videos, which were posted on Twitter, stated that he observed NCL allegedly dressing the men “up as workers so that they would not be noticed by the passengers.” The Twitter videos allegedly show the Cuban men wearing white crew member overalls and walking down a deck in front of passengers.

Video credit: “Pico

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CNN is reporting that a Disney cruise ship stopped yesterday during a cruise to the Cayman Islands to pick up 12 Cubans who took to sea to leave their homeland.

The Disney Wonder was cruising from Miami to Grand Cayman when the cruise ship saw the make-shift boat full of Cubans around 8 p.m. yesterday.

The Cuban nationals, referred to as “migrants’ by most news outlets, were brought aboard the cruise ship with Disney’s intention of following Coast Guard protocols and taking them to the next port of call in the Cayman Islands.

CNN said that there has been an increase in Cubans trying to get to the United States by sea, although the Cayman Islands has recieved a significant  number of Cubans via rafts and derelict boats.  The boat in question was south-east of Cuba when the Cubans were picked by by the Wonder.

Often cruise ship passengers are the first to report when cruise ships stop to aid Cuban rafters, posting videos and photos on Twitter and Facebook.

We have commented on lots of situations where cruise ships respond to refugees at sea. 

Cubans "rescued" on the high seas are hardly rescued. They are brought aboard cruise ships only long enough to be transferred onto Coast Guard cutters to be taken back to Cuba.

According to WPTV:  

"Some were saying they should be sent back. Other people were sad. Some women were crying because they realized how sad it must be," Almashy said.

Almashy says a photo she snapped of the empty boat will stay with her forever.

"When I looked at that, it was a haunting image of people trying for the American Dream. It was very symbolic of the hopes and the risks."

 

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Earlier this week the Disney Wonder was involved in another incident where it picked up Cuban rafters at sea trying to sail to South Florida.  This was the third such incident where a cruise ship stopped rafters at sea in the last ten days.

You can read about the prior case involving the the Disney Wonder here, and a prior incident involving the Carnival Conquest here.   

Some people call these type of incidents "rescues" but the fact is that unless Cuban migrants reach dry land, they are transported back to Cuba and often end up in one of Castro’s jails. I call them "interceptions." Watch the video below where it appears that the rafters were not in distress and do not appear to have been wanted to be "rescued" by the Disney cruise ship. You can watch the video here.

This evening my twitter feed came alive with a number of fascinating tweets by passengers sailing aboard the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas as it sailed between Florida and Cuba.

The passengers, Jason Cochran, whose Twitter name is @Bastable and has a cool website, and "Nomadic Matt" (I could not figure out his real name) who Twitter name is @nomadicmatt and who has a neat travel website, tweeted about their cruise ship sailing across something strange – 18 refugees in a raft.

Actually encountering rafters on the high seas is not particularly strange at all.

I have blogged a lot about cruise ships "rescuing" Cuban refugees. (Just click on the "Rescue" Oasis of the Seas - Bastable - Cuban Refugeescategory to the left to read a couple of articles.) For some strange reason, Royal Caribbean cruise ships are most likely to sail upon rafters trying to escape the oppressive regime in Cuba. Why Royal Caribbean?  I have no idea.  Most of the clueless cruisers think that the rafters are "saved" and about to be invited into the U.S. 

The problem is that the Cubans are never "rescued." The cruise line usually takes them on the ship, calls the U.S. Coast Guard who sails out to the scene, and the Coast Guard processes the refugees and sails them back to Cuba where they end up in Castro’s jails.

But today was different.  The tweeters explained that the crew of the Oasis brought food and water to the refugees, but the refugees didn’t want to be "rescued."  They knew the U.S. Coast Guard would arrive and they wanted to leave.

There are some people who understand this perfectly well – ‏@shaneyhudson – a travel writer from Australia, tweeted "Coast guard would rather them drown than let them touch US shore. Will tow them back." He’s right. Its rare to hear someone more bitter than me about these type of things.  

Bastable tweeted: "The Oasis‬ is now leaving the raft behind, slowly turning east. No Coast Guard cutter yet. Goodbye. We hope things turn out for you."   

I agree Bastable,  A tragic tale, indeed.    

Let’s hope the winds and currents and the grace of God bring the refugees ashore tonight and they plant their feet on U.S. soil and can begin free lives here in America.

 

Photo credit:  Bastable

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"        

 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=VarD_B3vGI8%3Frel%3D0

 

Video credit:  Spensafi / YouTube

NBC Miami reports today that twelve Cuban migrants on a raft trying to sail to the U.S. were intercepted after Royal Caribbean alerted the U.S. Coast Guard.

Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas cruise ship spotted the Cubans today and radioed the location of the raft to the Coast Guard in Miami. 

The NBC affiliate reports that one of the Cuban migrants, a 40-year-old man, had a foot injury and was allowed to go aboard the cruise ship for treatment.  The U.S. Coast Guard sent a vessel to the scene and took all 12 of the Cuban rafters. 

Under current U.S. immigration laws, the U.S. Coast Guard will take the Cubans back to Cuban where they will likely be imprisoned.

This is the second so-called rescue of Cubans trying to flee Cuban by a cruise ship in the last few days.

On December 21st, a Princess cruise ship "rescued" 20 Cubans, including 9 children.  CBS affiliate KPHO Channel 5 in Scottsdale Arizona reports that three families from ages 3 to 80 were picked up by the Princess cruise ship on its way back from the Panama Canal.  A Scottsdale man vacationing on the cruise ship captured the event on camera.

The Cuban escapees tried to make it to American land.  Cruise passenger Nestor Guzman, himself an immigrant, explained that being rescued doesn’t  mean they were freed, because the Cuban refugees never made it to American soil and were found at sea, they were returned to Cuba.  "It was good that they didn’t perish in the middle of the ocean," Guzman said.

"What is going to happen now that they go back to Cuba?  All the dream lost . . .  To me especially, being from Latin America it was very emotional because I see the desire to go to the U.S. to be free after all these years, I’m sure all their partners were thinking about their children, we want the kids to be in America."

 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=9rHAI6Bfr4s%3Frel%3D0

 

These two "rescues" this week end a frustrating year 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.  In the last year, four Royal Caribbean cruise ships, The Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas, have intercepted Cuban rafters:  

Royal Caribbean Intercepts Cuban Immigrants

Allure of the Seas "Rescues" Migrants Fleeing Cuba 

Happy Fourth of July – Enjoy Your Freedom

 

Video credit: CBS affiliate KPHO Channel 5