Cruise Ship Saves Over a Dozen People Stranded at Sea

Cruise Ship Saves Over a Dozen People Stranded at Sea

( — Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, the largest cruise ship on the planet at nearly 1,200 feet long, normally focuses on shuttling passengers between ports and tropical destinations. On March 3, the crew of this relatively new maritime giant abandoned their usual mission for a drastically different one: rescuing 14 people lost at sea.

The Icon was reportedly sailing between Cozumel, Mexico, and western Cuba when its crew suddenly spotted a vessel floating adrift. Moments later, an automated message repetitively stating “Code Oscar” began playing throughout the cruise ship’s loudspeaker—Royal Caribbean’s usual method of signaling “man overboard.”

According to a statement from the company, its crew quickly jumped into action to begin planning out a rescue operation. Footage captured from a balcony by a passenger named Alessandra Asmodio shows cruise line employees sailing back and forth between the two vessels on a blue and yellow zodiac. They appear to make multiple runs, bringing only a few individuals back each time while deftly dodging the dangerous waves in its wake.

Royal Caribbean said medical staff immediately began assessing and treating the 14 rescued individuals once they boarded the Icon. Eventually, a message from the captain rang out over the loudspeaker, letting everyone know that each soul had been safely recovered.

Amodio, who also spoke to the media about her experience, said she was told the people rescued had been lost in the ocean for at least eight days. Exactly where they hailed from, how they ended up adrift, or what ship they were sailing on when they first encountered trouble isn’t clear at this time. All 14 disembarked when the boat arrived in port at Roatan, Honduras, the next day.

That the Icon’s crew even managed to spot such a small vessel on the open ocean from the viewport and windows of another ship is almost as remarkable as the rescue itself. A tiny boat adrift is easy to miss while floating on the open ocean. Glare and ocean swells significantly impede line of sight, limiting visibility to 100 meters or less in some cases.

That’s just one of the reasons why the US Coast Guard and most other maritime rescue organizations typically deploy helicopters and airplanes when searching the seas. Viewing the open ocean from above reduces the impact of glare and alleviates line-of-sight issues.

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