When Carnival Elation was taking shelter from Hurricane Irma last year, Captain Gaetano Gigliotti received a relayed distress call from the U.S. Coast Guard. A fishing vessel, the Captain Eddie, was taking on water some 60 nautical miles to the east of Carnival Elation's position.
Sailing through 15- to 20-foot seas and battling winds that gusted up to 60 knots, Captain Gigliotti took Carnival Elation to the reported position of the Captain Eddie. With the conditions too prohibitive to drop one of the cruise ship's rescue boats, Captain Gigliotti managed to bring the 70,000-ton ship alongside to rescue the fisherman, who jumped into the warmth of the cruise ship through an open shell door.
While the conditions during Carnival Elation's rescue were exceptional, cruise ships rescuing stranded sailors isn't all that uncommon. Passengers might find that a rescue simply adds a bit of excitement to an otherwise ordinary sea day or that their itinerary is somewhat impacted. But often, cruisers have questions about how a cruise ship becomes involved in a rescue, how the feat is accomplished and what happens to the rescued sailors. Here's what you need to know about cruise ship rescues.