US Coast Guard rescues Carnival Cruise ship passenger reported missing in Gulf of Mexico

(CNN) — In a remarkable stroke of luck, a man who was reported missing from the Carnival Valor cruise in the Gulf of Mexico was found in the water and rescued Thursday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The missing passenger was found responsive at the time of the rescue and was transferred to waiting emergency medical personnel at New Orleans Lakefront Airport, USCG Petty Officer Ryan Graves told CNN Thursday.

The man was last seen by his sister at a bar aboard the Carnival Cruise Line ship Wednesday night, according to a statement obtained by CNN from Carnival spokesman Matt Lupoli. The sister said the man left the bar around 23 to use the toilet and never returned to his cabin.

She reported him missing at noon Thursday, the affidavit said.

“Carnival Valor retraced her route to support the search and rescue,” Lupoli said, and the ship has since been released by the Coast Guard and is sailing again toward Cozumel, Mexico. The Carnival Valor had left the Port of New Orleans on Wednesday.

After receiving a call from the cruise ship around 2:30 p.m. Thursday, the Coast Guard launched a multi-crew air and sea search effort, Coast Guard Lt. Phillip VanderWeit said in a statement.

After the man was spotted by a crew on another vessel, “an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter airman hoisted the man onto the helicopter,” VanderWeit said.

Mike Anderson, a passenger on the Carnival Valor, told CNN he saw staff members searching for the passenger Thursday.

Anderson said he began hearing announcements for the missing passenger to check in with guest services and “noticed security began to search the boat with a photo of the missing (passenger) on their phones.”

No official announcement was made at the time informing people on the boat of what had happened, he said.

About 2 p.m., the boat turned around to go back, Anderson said. Passengers were told their arrival time at their port of call, Cozumel, would be delayed, he said. Later Thursday evening, an announcement over the PA system informed guests that there had been a man overboard incident, but the ship had been released from the search and resumed its voyage to Cozumel.

CNN’s Dave Alsup, Amanda Jackson and Jose Lesh contributed to this report.

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