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The Carnival Fantasy is now based on the Gulf Coast in Alabama. File/Provided

A group of Cuban refugees began their journey to America on a rickety wooden boat with a sputtering motor that, it turns out, wasn't up to the roughly 90-mile trip.

They arrived on U.S. soil a week later thanks to a onetime  locally based pleasure ship known more for its hut tubs and rum drinks than humanitarian rescue missions.

The Carnival Fantasy, which once called Charleston's Union Pier home and is now based on the Gulf Coast, rescued 23 people in the Caribbean on April 14 after its crew received a request from the U.S. Coast Guard, according to the maritime agency.

"We can confirm that our crew was involved in a rescue at sea involving more than 20 people and we are now working closely with federal authorities," Miami-based Carnival said in a statement last week.

According to the Coast Guard, a small boat carrying 22 Cuban nationals lost power and drifted at sea for three days. A Cuban-Mexican man took them aboard his sport-fishing boat, but then its engines malfunctioned and the group drifted for three more days.

One of the refugees was eventually able to contact a relative using the fishing boat's satellite phone and that person notified authorities. The Coast Guard finally spotted the boat about 130 nautical miles off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and asked the nearby Fantasy for help.

The Carnival ship rescued the passengers and carried them back to its home base in Mobile, Ala., where they were turned over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Carnival spokesman John Heald said in a Facebook post that the refugees were confined to the crew's quarters and that two of them were treated by the ship's medical staff for minor issues. Heald took down the post after commenters criticized Carnival for conducting the rescue.

"I just deleted the post about the rescue of 23 people by one of our ships," Heald said in a followup post. "Within seconds it had turned into a political debate and also I got absolutely bollocked by someone saying we should never have brought them on board."

The Safety of Life at Sea international treaty requires ships to provide assistance to persons in distress at sea.

Greystar headquarters

Greystar, the nation's largest apartment managing firm, recently moved into its new headquarters building on Meeting Street in Charleston. Matthew Fortner/Staff

Managing to grow

A Charleston real estate giant appears to be deeply entrenched — at the top of its industry. 

The National Multifamily Housing Council named Greystar Real Estate Partners as the top-ranked apartment manager in the nation for the ninth year in a row. It also ranked seventh — up nine notches from 2018 — in the rating of the largest apartment owners.

The Washington, D.C.-based trade group, working with consultant Kingsley Associates, also recognized Greystar as the No. 3 apartment developer for the past five years and No. 10 among the nation's apartment builders.

“Greystar’s achievements are made possible by our team members’ dedication to providing excellent service to our residents, clients and partners while establishing Greystar as an industry leader in markets across the globe,” said Bob Faith, founder and CEO of Greystar and a former head of the S.C. Commerce Department. “We are ... grateful for the continued recognition from NMHC and look forward to continuing to evolve and advance our strategic priorities in the coming year.”

Greystar, which recently moved from the Peoples Building on Broad Street to its new corporate headquarters at Courier Square on Meeting Street, manages about 500,000 units or beds and oversees about $115 billion of real estate assets in more than 180 markets worldwide. It has offices in the U.S., United Kingdom, continental Europe, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region.

Greystar's institutional investment platform includes $32 billion in assets under management and $12 billion under development.

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Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg helped kick off the 2017 version of the Dig South technology conference. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

At the summit

Some area high school students will be able to mingle with and perhaps get inspired by some top technology investors, entrepreneurs and executives this week under a partnership between Dig South and the Charleston Promise Neighborhood.

The former is a media company that puts on an annual tech-focused summit in Charleston. Students from Military Magnet Academy and North Charleston High School are invited to sit in for free at this week's event.

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The goal of the partnership with the nonprofit is to improve the number of minority entrepreneurs, who are underrepresented in the tech industry.

The lineup of speakers at Dig South 2019 features representatives from local startups to international tech titans that have raised billions of dollars, including enterprise software giant Oracle, rideshare company Lime and digital marketing company Ceros.

Other speakers include the CEOs of Charleston's Call Experts and Atlatl as well as the founder of Seacoast ChurchNew York Times best-selling author Greg McKeown, who penned "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less," is headlining.

“This is the South’s tech summit, the pinnacle moment for leading global brands and the most promising young companies in the South to connect and do business,” Dig South CEO Stanfield Gray said in a statement.

The event runs from Wednesday to Friday at the Charleston Gaillard Center.

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A carriage tour makes the rounds on East Bay Street. Lauren Petracca/Staff

Beauty, eh?

The jet-set publication Condé Nast Traveler recently published its rankings of the "50 Most Beautiful Cities in the World." The destinations span the globe, from Havana to Paris to Hong Kong

Only two U.S. cities made the cut: New York City and Charleston.

Ranked among major hubs like RomeLondon and Singapore, the Holy City is notably one of the smallest destinations to make the limited cut. But with a recent history of other Condé Nast accolades, it's not unusual for the magazine to highlight Charleston among a pool of larger tourist haunts. 

Charleston has received No. 1 rankings from the publication for eight years and counting. The magazine's most recent Readers' Choice Awards, which were announced last October, put Charleston first on its list of small U.S. destinations. Santa Fe and Savannah rounded out the top three.