While sailing in the Ionian Sea on an Italy, Turkey, and Greek Islands cruise, Celebrity Beyond was called to assist the Italian Coast Guard with the rescue of more than 200 migrants from a drifting vessel.
The cruise ship was able to successfully render all aid necessary and continue on its itinerary with only a slight delay.
Celebrity Cruises’ newest Edge-class ship, Celebrity Beyond, received a call for assistance from the Italian Coast Guard while sailing between Sicily and Greece in the Ionian Sea, requesting that the cruise ship provide wind protection for a rescue operation in progress. The call came in at 9:13 a.m. on Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
The ship immediately responded and changed course as requested to rendezvous 6 nautical miles (7 miles / 11 kilometers) southeast of Celebrity Beyond‘s route. The cruise ship was on scene within 20 minutes.
The 21-deck cruise ship was asked to position itself to provide shelter from winds and rough seas while two Italian Coast Guard vessels completed rescuing the stranded individuals from a fishing boat, which had more than 200 individuals without life jackets.
Guests onboard Celebrity Beyond were kept informed with updates from the ship’s cruise director as the operation progressed. By 10:50 a.m., all individuals in danger had been evacuated from the stranded fishing vessel.
“When it comes to rescuing life at sea, the operation might be complex but the idea behind it is very simple,” said Kate McCue, Celebrity Beyond’s captain. “Maritime law, particularly the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea states that the master of a ship at sea is bound to proceed with all speed to the assistance of persons in distress upon receiving a signal from any source.”
“We are required to render assistance to those in danger,” she explained, “as long as we are able to do so without endangering the vessel, or the people on board.”
In total, Celebrity Beyond‘s participation in the rescue was approximately 90 minutes, after which the ship was released to resume its voyage without any lasting impact to the itinerary.
While rescues in the Caribbean are often noted between Cuba and the United States (where Celebrity Beyond performed two refugee rescues in one week earlier this year), Mediterranean rescues are less frequently recognized.
These incidents are happening with increasing frequency, however, and while the nationalities and individual circumstances are not detailed, often they are refugees seeking better lives in different countries.
FrontEx, the border guard for the European Union, notes that the Eastern Mediterranean is one of the main migratory routes for refugees into Europe, with more than 17,000 illegal border crossings in the region from January through July in 2023.
The Central Mediterranean route, which can lead to Sicily, has already seen more than 89,000 illegal border crossings this year.
As with migrant refugee rescues in the Caribbean and the Straits of Florida separating the US from Cuba, refugees are typically repatriated to their home countries.
The 141,420-gross ton Celebrity Beyond is currently sailing throughout those regions with a series of cruises to Croatia, Montenegro, Turkey, Italy, and Greece, homeporting from Rome (Civitavecchia).
In October, the ship will reposition via a 14-night transatlantic sailing from Rome to Fort Lauderdale, visiting Italy, France, Spain, Bermuda, and the Bahamas along the way. From Port Everglades, Celebrity Beyond will begin offering a variety of Caribbean, Panama, and Bahamas sailings.
Celebrity Beyond joined the Celebrity Cruises fleet in November 2022 and can welcome 3,260 guests at double occupancy, or as many as 3,937 passengers when fully booked with all berths filled. Onboard are 1,400 crew members to deliver truly star-struck service for all guests.
While the ship is the third in the innovative Edge class and currently the newest in the Celebrity Cruises fleet, she will soon be joined by her sister ship, Celebrity Ascent, when the new vessel debuts in December 2023.
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