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Carnival ship that rescued refugees comes to port in Tampa

9:23 PM, Mar 8, 2014   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- A carnival cruise ship that rescued two dozen refugees earlier this week has come to port Saturday morning.

Witnesses on the Carnival Paradise say the captain spotted the small boat drifting in the water on Wednesday. The group of 24 cuban nationals had reportedly been stranded for five days.

"There was a huge cheer for the people as they came aboard," says cruise passenger Matthew Sudders. But he noticed a few of the cruise passengers were hesitant. Some of the people he stood next to on deck referenced Capt. Richard Phillips -- the American freighter captain whose 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates inspired an Oscar-nominated film -- hoping that the new passengers were not a risk.

The ship was en route to Grand Cayman from Tampa, Florida, when it stopped to aid the stranded boat on the first day of the cruise.

In a statement, Carnival officials said the ship's itinerary was unaffected by the rescue.

Ship staff provided the new passengers with food, water, fresh clothing and accommodations, and they were evaluated by the ship's medical team, the statement said. The Paradise also reported the rescue to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The refugees disembarked in the Grand Caymans.

This isn't the first time a cruise ship has provided rescue services while at sea. Last year, another Carnival ship and a Disney shippicked up 21 people of uncertain nationality who were stranded on a raft off the coast of Key West. And in 2012, a Royal Caribbean shiprescued 23 Cubans, also near the Cayman Islands.

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