Cruise ship Mardi Gras rescues 16 people stranded at sea, Carnival Cruise Line says

PORT CANAVERAL, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - JULY 31: People gather on the fishing pier to watch the new Carnival Cruise Line ship Mardi Gras as it departs on its maiden voyage, a seven-day cruise to the Caribbean from Port Canaveral, Florida on July 31, 2021. This is the first cruise from Port Canaveral with paying passengers since March of 2020 when the cruise industry shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

 (CNN) — While cruising in waters off the coast on Cuba on Friday morning, crew members of the cruise ship Mardi Gras spotted what had to be a chilling sight: a small vessel in rough seas stirred up by a tropical weather system.

The crew saw the distressed vessel just before 8 a.m., Carnival Cruise Line said in a news blog. The Mardi Gras stopped its leisure trip to assist, taking on 16 stranded people.

The Mardi Gras is on its final day of a seven-day voyage, Carnival said, and is scheduled to return to its home port of Port Canaveral, Florida, on Saturday morning.

Carnival said the US Coast Guard and “all other appropriate authorities” have been notified.

It’s not that unusual for cruise ships to assist in maritime rescues. In 2020, the Carnival ship Elation rescued 24 people from a sinking boat off the coast of Florida.

Tropical Storm Alex expected

The distressed vessel was in a precarious position in regards to location and weather.

A broad swath of showers and thunderstorms over the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico could turn into Tropical Storm Alex or a tropical depression, the National Hurricane Center said on Friday. The system is expected to hit Florida on Saturday.

Tropical storm warnings are in effect Friday for more than 10 million people in the southern half of Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas.

CNN Travel has contacted Carnival Cruise Lines and the US Coast Guard for more details on the rescue and will update this story as they become available.