Cruise Ship Rescues 14 People Stranded at Sea for 8 Days

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A cruise ship’s voyage to Mexico and the Bahamas turned into a rescue mission when the boat spotted a small vessel in the waves.

On Sunday, Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, the new world’s largest cruise ship that launched in January, rescued 14 people who had been stranded at sea for over a week.

Icon passenger Alessandra Amodio told PEOPLE that the cruise ship was in the midst of an eight-day Caribbean itinerary when they spotted the individuals.

“I was in the lunch buffet with my family when we heard a coded announcement over the loud speakers,” Amodio told PEOPLE, adding that the announcement came at around 3 p.m. local time. “A few minutes later people started gathering at the windows and then the captain came on and announced that they had found a distressed vessel and we would be turning around to investigate. We all rushed to the windows and in the nearish distance we could see in the waves a tiny boat waving either a large white flag or sheet.”

Shortly after, the ship turned around and pulled up next to the boat and “deployed a small zodiac-type rescue boat,” she recalls.

“Eventually we saw Royal Caribbean crew helping about two people from the distressed boat onto the rescue boat before returning to the vessel. They then made a few more trips to safely bring everyone on board.”

According to Amodio, they later found out that the passengers on the small boat had been “lost at sea for eight days.”

“We got a final announcement once they were all on board safely telling us there was 14 people on board,” she said, adding that passengers clapped and cheered upon hearing everyone had been rescued safely.

“Our first reaction was shock, I’ve been on six or so cruises and I’ve never experienced anything even close to this,” Amodio continued. “During the rescue everyone was more shocked and the general consensus was that this wasn’t something anyone ever thought would be happening. It was crazy to see, even knowing where they were in the water, once they dropped the flag, they were hard to spot. Just seeing this small boat you knew was filled with people surrounded by the vastness of the water was enough to freak you out. “

The ship was on its first full day of sailing and it was between Cozumel, Mexico and western Cuba when the incident happened.

“We weren’t told by the captain or crew what happened to them,” Amodio added of the rescued individuals. 

The cruise liner, which departed from Miami, Florida, was headed to Roatán, Honduras, and Royal Caribbean’s private Bahamian island, CocoCay, during its voyage.

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Royal Caribbean told PEOPLE in a statement, “On March 3, 2024, Icon of the Seas encountered a small vessel adrift and in need of assistance. The ship’s crew immediately launched a rescue operation, safely bringing 14 people onboard. The crew provided them with medical attention, and is working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard.”

A U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson told Newsweek that the rescue occurred in Mexico’s search-and-rescue area of responsibility.

The Icon of the Seas made its maiden voyage out of South Florida in late January. The ship departed from Port Miami and docked at ports including Puerto Costa Maya in Mexico, Basseterre in St. Kitts & Nevis and Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas.

Along with the world’s largest pool and water park at sea, Icon also boasts eight “neighborhoods” to explore and an open-air “Central Park.”

The record-breaking vessel overtook Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, which formerly held the title of largest cruise ship in the world.

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