MIAMI — Seventeen Cuban migrants who were discovered at sea in homemade boats over the previous seven days were returned to Cuba Saturday, among them up to a half-dozen who were saved from a sinking raft and got to spend a night aboard the luxury cruise ship Monarch of the Seas.
An 18th would-be migrant was being sent to the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to decide whether he or she is entitled to asylum.
Someone aboard the 880-foot Royal Caribbean cruise ship spotted six Cubans' "rustic vessel'' 18 miles west of Freeport, Bahamas, last Sunday, according to a Coast Guard statement.
The ship radioed the Coast Guard and took them aboard "safely,'' it said.
In the course of the week they were moved first on Monday to a 45-foot response boat, the 87-foot patrol boat Cutter Shrike, and then to the 110-footer Ocracoke out of St. Petersburg.
There were five men and a woman aboard the raft, and it was sinking, according to a statement issued by Royal Caribbean. The cruise ship had departed CocoCay, the cruise lines private island in the Bahamas, and was heading back to Port Canaveral, Fla.
"We gave them medical treatment. They were dehydrated,'' said Royal Caribbean's Cynthia Martinez, adding they were turned over to the Coast Guard before the ship reached Port Canaveral.
"They were on the ship for less than 24 hours,'' she said, adding, "they weren't mingling with the guests.''
The other Cubans repatriated Saturday at Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, were up to a dozen who had been spotted by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma on Dec. 4 some 12 miles north of Punta Maisi, Cuba.
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