A Disney cruise ship stopped en route to the Cayman Islands so it could rescue 12 men suspected of being Cuban migrants, who were stranded on a rickety makeshift vessel near Cuba.
The Disney Wonder boat had set off from Miami and was headed for Grand Cayman, when it came across the men on Saturday evening.
They were struggling to stay afloat in the water on their ‘rustic’ vessel and were taken aboard the Disney liner, which has 11 decks boasting restaurants, pools and other activities.
The Disney Wonder cruise liner, which picked up 12 Cuban migrants who were stranded in a makeshift vessel off the coast of the Cayman Islands
When the ship reached Grand Cayman, the 12 men were then handed over to the authorities there.
U.S. Coast Guard 7th District spokesman Jon-Paul Rios told CNN that the migrants were all Cuban and were using a ‘rustic’ vessel.
However, he added it is unclear whether the migrants were trying to make their way to the United States.
The incident comes as cruise ships have agreed to contact the U.S. Coast Guard if they come into contact with migrants.
Often the cruise liners will pick up the migrants and take them to the ship’s next port of call and hand them over to authorities.
However, it is not the first time a Disney cruise has rescued migrants as in 2013, a group of eight were picked up off the coast of Key West.
The 12 men were struggling to stay afloat in the water on their ‘rustic’ vessel and were taken aboard the Disney liner, which has 11 decks boasting restaurants, pools and other activities (file picture)
Immigration from Cuba to the U.S. has spike dramatically in the past year since Havana and Washington announced they would restore diplomatic relations.
Many Cuban migrants say they are keen to make the journey now for fear if the relations do not continue, it could bring an end to the U.S. policies that given them privileged treatment.
Backers of the United States’ Cuban Adjustment Act say it offers refuge to islanders fleeing Cuba’s communist system.
However, Havana argues that the policy encourages Cubans to risk dangerous migratory voyages and causes a brain drain of many the country’s youngest and brightest.