Two fishermen rescued by cruise ship after 20 days adrift at sea

They had enough food and water for only seven days but somehow managed to survive.
The Royal Caribbean cruise ship Empress of the Seas is guided out of port by a pilot boat in Miami Beach, Florida, in 2016.
The Royal Caribbean cruise ship Empress of the Seas is guided out of port by a pilot boat in Miami Beach, Florida, in 2016.Lynne Sladky / AP file

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By Tim Stelloh

Two Costa Rican fishermen were rescued in the Caribbean after spending 20 days adrift at sea, Royal Caribbean International’s chief meteorologist said Sunday.

The meteorologist, James Van Fleet, said in a statement that strong winds blew the unidentified fishermen away from their gear after they set their nets and fell asleep.

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They had left from Porto Limon, east of San José, and ran out of gas trying to return, Van Fleet said.

The pair had enough food and water for seven days, he said.

“After that, water was the primary issue, and they tried to fish for food,” Van Fleet said.

It wasn’t clear how they survived without water, and Van Fleet didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship Empress of the Seas heads out of Port Miami in Miami Beach, Florida, in 2016.Lynne Sladky / AP file

Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship Empress of the Seas, which had been scheduled to sail to Cienfuegos, Cuba, changed course after a powerful storm swept across the area last week and found the fishermen en route to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Van Fleet said.

“Pure luck, lining of the stars, God, whatever you choose to believe, the facts are we would NOT have been in that area at the time had we not switched to go to Ocho Rios,” he said.

After being rescued Friday, one of the fishermen couldn’t walk, Van Fleet said. But by the time Empress of the Seas arrived in Jamaica for medical treatment, Van Fleet said, the fisherman had recovered enough that he could walk on his own.