TAMPA, Florida (WFLA) — A Carnival cruise ship returned to Tampa, Florida on Thursday, carrying more passengers than when it departed.
During a trip to Honduras and Mexico, the Carnival Paradise came to the rescue of two dozen refugees from Cuba, images shared with Nexstar’s WFLA shows.
Herman Bips, a passenger on the Carnival Paradise, told WFLA’s Jeff Patterson that he noticed a speed change during the trip, which was his first indication that something was wrong.
“It was around 4 o’clock on Sunday afternoon and it felt like the ship had stopped,” said Bips.
On the horizon he saw a small dot that looked like a boat. As the cruise ship approached, Bips spotted an overloaded ship in poor condition.
“Very poor [shape]Bips said. “Someone said it was actually leaking and they were bailing.”
The captain of the Paradise announced to his passengers that he would provide assistance and assistance to the ship in difficulty under maritime law.
“At that point I think he knew he had to take the people on board,” Bips said. “I understand they have given them clothing, medical aid, water and food, but they have isolated them in a specific area.”
A Carnival spokesperson confirmed that Paradise rescued 24 people on a small boat adrift southwest of Cuba. The ship’s crew provided food, water and medical aid.
When the Paradise returned to port in Tampa this week, 21 men and three women from Cuba were handed over to US Coast Guard custody. The WFLA has been informed that they will all likely be returned to Cuba.
“I was very sad, I mean, I almost got tears in my eyes that people were so desperate to leave a country and put themselves on the shelf.” [at risk]Bips said. “You know, if we hadn’t seen them, they probably would have drowned.”
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