Two Cruise Ship Rescues After Happening Upon People Adrift in Small Boats

cruise ship rescue
Norwegian Prima came upon a makeshift boat drifting in the Gulf of Mexico (TikTok Audrey)

Published Jan 30, 2024 5:17 PM by The Maritime Executive


Two groups of people are thankful for miraculous rescues that happened purely by chance over the past few days by passing cruise ships. In both cases, it was simply luck that the cruise ships spotted the people in distress and were able to rescue them and provide needed medical attention and food.

A TikTok user by the name of Audrey details the first rescue over the weekend while she was on a cruise aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Prima. The 143,500 gross ton cruise ship which accommodates more than 3,000 passengers departed Galveston, Texas on Friday, January 26. According to the video, they were at sea the following day in the Gulf of Mexico when the captain announced to the passengers, that they were turning the ship around.

The crew of the Norwegian Prima had spotted a small boat in the ocean with people “desperately trying to get our attention,” the passenger recounts. As the giant cruise ship approaches, it becomes clear they have come upon a makeshift boat with reports of five to nine people aboard. It appears to be homemade of plywood and a makeshift sail with plastic bottles hung off the side likely to catch rainwater.

Norwegian Prima sends over one of its tenders and retrieves the people who are brought aboard and given medical attention and food. According to the passenger recounting the tale, the captain told them the people had been at sea for six weeks since December 19, having run out of food and water.  They were disembarked in the cruise ship’s first port the following afternoon in Costa Maya, Mexico with images of them being transferred to a waiting ambulance to receive further medical attention on shore.


@agrandquest ???? ????? ???? #cruisenorwegian #norwegianprima #gulfofmexico #refugeerescue #oceanshenanigans ? original sound - Audrey


Another cruise ship also departing from Galveston, Carnival Cruise Line’s new Carnival Jubilee (180,000 GT with accommodations for over 5,200 passengers) added two more to its passenger list during the day on Monday, January 29. Carnival Jubilee departed Galveston on Saturday and was sailing to Mahogany Bay, Roatan in Honduras when the ship’s team members spotted the two men off the coast of Isla Mujeres, Mexico.



(Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line)


Carnival reports the ship stopped and discovered that the two men were in a kayak who paddled over to the cruise ship. They told the crew on the cruise ship they had jumped into the kayak to stay afloat after their sailboat sank. The cruise ship rescued the two men and provided food and water while Carnival’s Fleet Operation Center staff in Miami coordinated their transfer to the Mexican Navy.

With more than 300 cruise ships crisscrossing the oceans, these types of rescues are becoming more common but remain miraculous.