18 Cuban migrants were picked up by the Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship west of Marco Island, Florida. The migrants were reportedly suffering from severe dehydration and claimed they left Cuba 22 days ago where nine of the migrants perished at sea during the journey, according to the USCG.
“Our deepest condolences to the families of the nine people who recently did lose their lives,” said Capt. Mark Gordon, chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard 7th District. “Unfortunately, tragedy is all too common when taking to the sea in homemade vessels with no safety or navigation equipment. The dangerous waters of the Florida Straits can be unforgiving for the unprepared on ill advised and illegal voyages. Immigration policies have not changed and we urge people not to take to the ocean in unseaworthy vessels. It is illegal and extremely dangerous.”
The 18 migrants are scheduled to be taken to the cruise ship’s next port of call in Cozumel, Mexico. Brilliance of the Seas is homeported seasonally in Tampa, Florida.
Since Oct. 1, the Coast Guard 7th District estimates that 2,420 Cubans have attempted to illegally migrate via the sea.