VIDEO: Local family witnesses Cuban migrant rescue

Published: Updated:

NORTH PORT, Fla. – A local family was cruising on a Royal Caribbean Ship when a boat of Cuban migrants were rescued 130 miles off the coast of Marco Island on Friday.

The cruise ship rescued 18 people from the boat but 22 others died after 22 days at sea. The Cuban migrants were screaming for help, North Port resident Jared Bowman said.

“At first it was very scary. It’s like what’s going on?” he said. “It turned out they were screaming ‘Agua! Agua!’ — other screams and it sounded like they were banging on pots.”

The migrants boarded the ship and received food, water and medical attention, the Royal Caribbean said. Many of them suffered from severe dehydration, according to the United States Coast Guard. The migrants were turned over to Mexican authorities Saturday morning at the cruise ship’s stop in Cozumel.

Bowman, who was on a cruise with his family, said he was initially concerned then relieved.

“I questioned ‘Are they going to come on board? Because we have no clue why they’re here.’ You know? But then again you got to think they’re crying for help, also,” he said. “It was very cool to see the ship get them on board.”

Cruise ships have been involved with the rescue of migrants before. A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean said the company has protocol to help any boaters who may be in distress.

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.