A cruise ship belonging to Carnival Cruises rescued 41 Cuban migrants from their small overladen boat in the Florida Straits.
This news was reported by Reuters, and confirmed by a U.S. Coast Guard official on Wednesday.
The migrants appeared to be uninjured and were transferred from the cruise ship to a U.S. Coastguard vessel shortly after being plucked from the sea.
Coast Guard spokesman Gabe Somma, said “This could’ve been a real tragedy. There was no lifesaving or navigation equipment and the boat was taking on water.”
He added that the migrants would be returned to Cuba “in a couple of days.”
A spokeswoman for Carnival Cruises, Jennifer de la Cruz, confirmed that the ship had been traveling from Key West, Florida, to Cozumel, Mexico. It was carrying 2,650 passengers.
The phenomenon of Cuban migrants risking their lives in rickety, un-seaworthy boats to seek a better life in America goes back decades. From the moment that Fidel Castro and his communists took over Cuba, people sought to escape.
The trickle grew into a torrent as tens of thousand of migrants voted with their feet – and their boat – on what it was like to live under Castro’s regime.
Some of them sought refuge in Central America or on nearby islands, but the vast majority headed for Florida.
In spite of the fact that Cuba of today under Raul Castro, is not the same Cuba as that of his brother, and many living conditions have eased and improved, the migrants are still leaving.
Earlier this month, another Carnival cruise ship rescued 24 migrants from a wooden boat near the Cayman Islands.
A further 21 Cuban migrants were saved in the Florida straits last April by two other Carnival cruise ships, the Carnival Conquest and the Disney Wonder.
To place the problem in perspective, as of 2012, the Cuban population of Greater Miami was 1.3 million, some 400,000 having arrived since 1980.
The issue of family re-unification is what motivates many migrants to attempt to settle in Florida, apart from the obvious financial incentives.
Consequently, the issue of migrants being picked up by cruise ships is not likely to cease any time soon.
And Carnival Cruises have a great reputation for quality and comfort, which can be enjoyed for a few hours at least until the migrants are returned to their real world.