(CNN) — While cruising in open waters not far from Cuba on Friday morning, crew members of the Mardi Gras cruise ship spotted what must have been a chilling sight: a small vessel in rough seas stirred by a tropical weather system.
The crew saw the ship in distress just before 8 a.m., Carnival Cruise Line said in a news blog. Mardi Gras halted its leisure trip to help, picking up 16 stranded people.
The stricken ship was about 60 nautical miles west/northwest of Key West, Fla., according to Matt Lupoli, senior public relations manager for Carnival.
All occupants were adults; 11 men and five women, Lupoli told CNN Travel.
Those who had identification were of Cuban nationality, he said. All 16 were seen by medical personnel aboard Mardi Gras, and they were given food and clothing.
A rendezvous with the U.S. Coast Guard was coordinated this afternoon at sea, Lupoli said. The 16 occupants were safely transferred to a Coast Guard cutter around 2:45 p.m. Friday.
CNN Travel has contacted the US Coast Guard for comment.
This is a photo of the stricken vessel rescued by crew members from Mardi Gras, a ship operated by Carnival Cruise Lines.
Carnival Cruise Line
A maritime custom to help
The Carnival ship was on a seven-day Caribbean cruise. The ship returns to Port Canaveral, Florida on Saturday as scheduled after a day at sea, Lupoli said. He made several stops in the Western Caribbean during his trip, including Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico, and the island of Roatan, Honduras.
Mardi Gras kicked off in July 2021. Normal occupancy is 5,282, and the total number of officers and crew is 1,745, according to Lupoli.
It is not uncommon for cruise ships to participate in maritime rescues.
Lupoli said crew members are always scanning the waters and, as the Mardi Gras captain pointed out to guests on board, it’s a maritime custom to help anyone in distress at sea.
Tropical Storm Alex expected
The stricken vessel was in a precarious position Friday morning with regards to location and weather.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect Friday for more than 10 million people in the southern half of Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas.