Taking a cruise should be an endlessly joyful and unforgettable experience, but for one passenger the dream holiday was anything but. While it might have been remembered forever, sadly brief moments of misery significantly marred their adventure.

James Grimes, a 28-year-old passenger, was thrown into the Gulf of Mexico off a Carnival cruise ship—with no intentions to give up. After spending an exhaustive 15 hours treading water, he had all but given up hope until a US Coast Guard member found him and saved his life. His miraculous rescue took hours before it could be completed; however, James’s determination to survive never wavered even in this perilous situation.

“He had no energy. He had nothing left to give,” Richard Hoefle, an aviation survival technician, said.

He was perilously close to not making it out alive. “My best guess is that he had between a minute and 30 seconds left before we lost him completely,” Hoefle stated.

After nearly depleting his strength and will to stay afloat, Grimes was sighted by a cargo ship crew 20 miles south of Louisiana’s Southwest Pass. With unwavering heroism, the Guardsman threw him a rescue sling ensuring an escape from the turbulent waters back onto their vessel.

“Once I handed that to him, he just collapsed into it. He didn’t have … he couldn’t talk to me. I was able to get his name and the cruise ship he had fallen off of,” Hoefle stated.

Grimes was not only exhausted from being in the water for so long, but he also developed hypothermia both mentally and physically.

“It’s hard to keep your mind in the right place, and then to throw that Hail Mary last couple of minutes of waving, swinging a sock around, anything to make himself more visible to us, that’s survival,” Hoefle stated.

Fascinating video footage captures the moment when the Coast Guard heroically saves a man who had been thrown off of a cruise ship “He just had an incredible will to survive. And he did whatever he had to do,” he continued.

This rescue mission posed a unique set of circumstances unlike any other before it, and Hoefle remarked that he hadn’t experienced anything like it. Everyone reacts to emergency situations differently, yet this one was particularly exceptional.

“Some people break down and cry, some people are in shock, and they don’t know what’s going on, some people are ecstatic and they act a little crazy because they are so happy to be out of the situation that they are in,” he said. “That was a one in a million and we got it done.”

Have a look at the video below to take an exclusive peek into Grimes’ life, where he shares his experience of winding up in the water and what was going through his head during this time. Don’t miss out on this eye-opening interview!

How would you have handled the situation if you were in Grimes’ shoes?