Norwegian Cruise Ship Rescues Refugees in Makeshift Sailboat

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Marseille, France – November 18, 2023: Norwegian Star Cruise Ship docked in Marseille, France
  • The Norwegian cruise ship Prima rescued 12 refugees from a makeshift sailboat in the Gulf of Mexico on January 27, 2024.
  • The refugees, who showed signs of emaciation and dehydration, had been adrift since December 18, 2023, and were provided medical care by the cruise ship.
  • This rescue is part of a series of recent maritime rescues in the region, underscoring the ongoing humanitarian challenges at sea.

In a remarkable act of humanitarian aid, the Norwegian Prima cruise ship rescued twelve refugees stranded at sea. The refugees were discovered adrift in a makeshift sailboat in the Gulf of Mexico on January 27, 2024, during the cruise ship’s voyage from Galveston, Texas.

The rescue operation unfolded in the Yucatan Peninsula, 200 nautical miles from Cancun, Mexico, on the first day of Norwegian Prima’s voyage. The Prima-class cruise ship identified the precarious craft, which was cobbled together from materials such as plastic jugs, foam, wood, and sheet metal.

12 refugees in a makeshift boat before being rescued by the cruise ship norwegian primaPin
(Photo Credit Audrey via TikTok)

Twelve individuals were aboard the distressed craft with limited water and no food. The nine men and three women managed to catch the attention of the ship’s crew using a mirror to signal for help.

Upon discovery, the cruise ship dispatched a lifeboat to assist the refugees, who were found in a state of emaciation and dehydration. Reports suggest that the refugees’ craft had been adrift since December 18, 2023, which implies that they had been at sea for over a month without adequate food or water.

@agrandquest 🆘 🛳️ 🛟 #cruisenorwegian #norwegianprima #gulfofmexico #refugeerescue #oceanshenanigans ♬ original sound – Audrey

It’s not known where the refugees began their journey.

Norwegian Prima crew members promptly provided the refugees with medical care and essential supplies before transferring them to the Mexican authorities in Costa Maya.

This rescue operation did not significantly alter the Norwegian Prima’s itinerary, which included stops at Harvest Caye, Belize; Roatan Island, Honduras; and Cozumel, Mexico, before returning to Galveston, Texas.

This incident is part of a series of recent rescues in the region, highlighting the increasing instances of refugees and distressed individuals at sea. Just two days after the Norwegian Prima’s rescue, another cruise ship, the Carnival Jubilee, performed a similar operation in the same area. Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas also rescued six fishermen and their dog earlier in January.

The occurrence of these rescues, especially during the calmer weather of the winter months, underscores the ongoing humanitarian challenges faced by individuals attempting perilous sea journeys. The proactive and compassionate response of the cruise ships’ crews in these situations is commendable and aligns with the maritime tradition of aiding those in distress at sea.

Article by

Marcello De Lio