A Carnival cruise ship returning to port made a change of course to help rescue 23 people from a stranded boat Sunday morning. (Photo: Coast Guard)

Cruise ship answers small boat distress call, rescues 23 people

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The captain of the Carnival Fantasy told passengers around 7 a.m. the ship was answering a distress call, WKRG reported.

The Coast Guard had received a call about a sport fishing vessel that was adrift about 130 miles from the Yucatan Peninsula.

A wooden boat loaded with 22 Cuban nationals bound for Mexico stopped working and floated for three days before a fisherman came upon them. They boarded his vessel. The boat later malfunctioned and had been drifting for three days, as well. 

Watchstanders alerted the cruise ship and initiated a search around 12:50 a.m. Sunday. The boat and the 23 people were found around 8:50 a.m. The Carnival Fantasy arrived around 10:50 a.m.

Two people had minor medical issues and were treated by cruise ship medical staff.

The 23 people will be transferred to the custody of Customs and Border Protection and Coast Guard Investigative Services in Mobile.

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