In what’s being described as a “Christmas Miracle,” Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas has rescued two fishermen from Costa Rica who had been adrift at sea since December 1.
According to a statement posted to Twitter by the cruise line’s chief meteorologist, James Van Fleet, the ship picked the two fishermen up on December 23 between Jamaica and Cuba. The two had sailed out of Porto Limon, Costa Rica, and had been blown off course while sleeping after they had set their nets to soak. (Sleeping during this time is a normal practice for fisherman, Van Fleet said.)
The winds blew their fishing vessel a great distance away from where their gear had been, and the two fisherman ran out of gas while trying to get back. After that, they were adrift for 20 days.
The fishermen told the crew of the Empress of the Seas that they only had enough food and water for seven days. While they tried to fish for food after that, water remained a serious issue. By the time they were rescued, one of the fishermen could no longer walk and had to be carried by the crew to the ship’s tender and onboard.
Once onboard the Empress of the Seas, the ship’s doctor and nurse staff hydrated, fed and clothed the fishermen, who were able to get off in Ocho Rios to go to the hospital. By that time, the fisherman was able to walk on his own again.
The Empress of the Seas crew also donated approximately $300 in cash to the two fishermen to help them buy clothes and food after leaving the hospital.
One lucky detail: the ship was not even supposed to be in the area of the rescue. The ship had been scheduled to be in Cienfuegos, Cuba, at the time. Last week’s storm had meant that the ship could not operate its tenders there due to the strong wind, so the ship opted to go to a port with a pier.
“I don’t know about you, but I’ve already seen a Christmas Miracle,” Van Fleet said. “20 days at sea should tell you everything about the odds of them being found alive.”