Carnival Paradise cruise ship has received a distress call, and rescued a sailor who claims his boat was sinking in the middle of the ocean.

The Carnival Cruise Line ship came to the aid of the man, launching a lifeboat to retrieve the sailor, who was picked up 21km north of Cozumel, Mexico, where the Carnival Paradise had just departed.

The sailor, who was not injured, was retrieved from the boat safely using one of the ship's lifeboats.

"Carnival Paradise reversed course and lowered a rescue boat, brought the mariner on-board and provided food, water and medical treatment," a spokesman for Carnival said to Fox News in a statement.

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"Carnival Paradise personnel co-ordinated with Mexican authorities to transfer the mariner, a Mexican national, to a ferry boat and take him ashore," the statement continued.

The Carnival Paradise was en route to its homeport of Tampa after a four-day cruise when it received the distress alert from the small craft.

Last month, another Carnival cruise ship on a leisurely voyage was required to perform a dramatic rescue of 23 men who had been stuck at sea for at least three days.

The Carnival Fantasy crew, along with the US Coast Guard, worked tirelessly to rescue the group after the ship picked up a distress call on its way back to Alabama.

A Coast Guard statement issued on Sunday said 22 Cubans set off on a wooden boat from Cuba to Mexico before losing power and drifting for three days. A Cuban-Mexican man took them aboard his sports fishing boat, but its engines malfunctioned and the group drifted for three more days.

The cruise ship took the 23 people aboard within hours, about 130 nautical miles (240 kilometres) off Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.