Two fishermen are rescued by the crew of the Empress Of The Seas. Pic: Jared L. Eberle

Two fishermen have been rescued by a cruise ship in what has been described as a Christmas miracle.

The Costa Ricans had been adrift at sea for about three weeks when they were spotted by the crew of the Empress Of The Seas.

According to James Van Fleet, chief meteorologist at the cruise ship’s owner Royal Caribbean, the fishermen were rescued between Grand Cayman and Jamaica on Friday night.

He said the men had left Porto Limon, Costa Rica, and had fallen asleep while their were soaking their nets – a normal action for fishermen, as the soaking process takes many hours.

He said: “Winds picked up and when they woke up, they were blown way off where their gear had been.

“They ran out of gas trying to get back and were adrift for those 20 days.”

The cruise ship MS Empress Of The Seas seen last year in Cuba

The fishermen told the cruise ship’s crew they only had enough food and water for seven days and, after that, they had tried to fish for food.

Mr Van Fleet said: “One of the fishermen could no longer walk and our crew literally carried him to the tender and carried him on board.”

The two men were checked over by the ship’s medical team before being fed, clothed and taken to hospital, where they were given $300 raised by cruise ship staff in a collection for them to buy clothes and food.

Mr Van Fleet said the rescue had been an “absolute miracle”, as the cruise ship had been scheduled to be many miles away in Cuba at the time.

However, a storm had forced the to change their plans.

“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, Jamaica, and you can’t help but think there was a greater plan in all of this.”

He added: “I’ve already seen a Christmas miracle – 20 days at sea should tell you everything about the odds of them being found alive.”

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