Just when you think you’ve seen all there is to see on cruises, you realize just how much you haven’t seen. Friday night, on the way from Palma de Mallorca to Tunisia, between the first and second course of dinner on the ms Westerdam, the ship pulled hard to one side, as if it were making a sharp turn. Soon, the captain came on the speaker to announce that the ship had abruptly altered course because it had spotted a small boat with two people waving their life jackets at us.
Actually, make that eight Algerians in a tiny rowboat. The ship pulled alongside them, and sent a rescue boat to bring them food, water, and blankets. The men were exhausted and dehydrated after spending several days at sea. The captain contacted the Tunisian Coast Guard to see if a craft could be sent out to rescue the men, but in the end the eight were brought on board and were given medical treatment in the ship’s infirmary.
It’s unclear what will happen to these refugees when we arrive in Tunisia (on time no less after a few hours at a standstill). But I find it gratifying that our floating playground for wealthy North Americans can do some good in this world and save these people from sure death in the middle of the Mediterranean. It’s the least we can do.