Cruise Ships Rescue Rafters

Two cruise ships rescued rafters this week, and the US Coast Guard is now interviewing the 21 people found offshore Florida to see where they came from and if they should be returned. While the Coast Guard hasn’t given many details, Carnival Cruise lines has already acknowledged that their Conquest picked up 13 Cubans drifting on a raft.

The other eight people were rescued by the Disney Wonder offshore Key West. Disney didn’t comment on their nationalities, saying only that the rescued were given food, water, and medical services.

The Carnival Cruise line in particular has been positively bedeviled lately. The Carnival Triumph burst into infamy during a February cruise when a fire caused the ship to be stranded in the high seas for five days. Without power, air-conditioning, or even basic water and sewer services, the passengers were at one point reportedly asked to eliminate solid waste into red biohazard bags.

While the 900-foot-long Triumph was in a repair dock in Mobile Bay earlier this month, a spring windstorm knocked the ship loose and flung two men in a nearby guard shack into Mobile River. A 35-year-old man was rescued and treated for hypothermia, but the body of 62-year-old John Johnson wasn’t recovered for nine long days.

And just this week came the unappetizing revelation that Carnival Fascination had failed a Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Feb. 21 health inspection. Live flies, dried food waste, and a baby cockroach were part of the reasons offered for the failing grade.

Consumers have been understandably outraged. In addition to the Triumph, three other Carnival cruise ships experienced mechanical issues during the month of the Triumph fire disaster.

In the wake of the anger, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) asked if the Coast Guard could seek compensation for the Triumph rescue. Of course, the answer is no. Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen noted that,”The duty to render assistance at sea to those in need is a universal obligation of the entire maritime community.”

Whether you love Carnival or just love to hate ’em, you have to admit that he’s right about that.

On Saturday, Gulliksen specifically referred to the incident where the Carnival Conquestcruise ship rescued 13 rafters fleeing Cuba — without expecting any compensation from the Coast Guard, the Cubans, or anyone else.

[photo Carnival Triumph by Scott L. via Wikipedia Commons]