Edmond couple returns home after ordeal on cruise ship

Their cruise on the Carnival ship Triumph wasn't what they thought it would be, but Chris and Robin Carpenter, of Edmond, are happy it wasn't any worse.
BY VALLERY BROWN vbrown@opubco.com Published: February 17, 2013

After five days of drifting, listing and being slowly tugged ashore, an Edmond couple stuck on the now-infamous cruise ship Triumph said they're happy to be home.

By the time their feet hit the gangplank Thursday evening, Chris and Robin Carpenter were relieved to be on dry land. The nearly 10-hour bus trip from Mobile, Ala., to Galveston, Texas, was restful. During the car ride from Texas to Edmond they stopped for leisurely restroom breaks, hot food and ice-filled tea.

“It's those little things I realized we take for granted,” said Robin Carpenter, a kindergarten teacher at Cross Timbers Elementary School in Edmond.

Now, they're trying to put the five-day ordeal behind them. After a fire that crippled the ship Feb. 10, the more than 4,000 passengers and crew on board were at the mercy of the sea, without power to get to shore, keep toilets running or the luxuries usually found aboard a cruise liner.

Chris Carpenter, who does advertising for a telecommunications company, said it all started when they were awakened about 5:30 a.m. Feb. 10. They were sleeping soundly after a day in Cozumel, Mexico, when they heard orders to the crew being broadcast over the intercom.

Then, the couple started to smell smoke and burning plastic. They walked into the hallway to investigate.

“My wife saw a man in mechanic overalls carrying a life jacket,” Chris Carpenter said. “So we grabbed our life jackets, and then the power goes out ... that was probably the scariest moment of all.”

After that, the Carpenters said, the ship was mostly dark for the rest of the trip, except for some emergency lights.

Also distressing was when the ship started listing to one side. Then, the smell of sewage started to fill the lower-level rooms and the rest of the ship.

Because it was too hot, too dark and too smelly to stay in their cabins, Robin Carpenter secured a place on the deck where their friends and family could sit together, rest and pass the time. They played cards, talked and tried to have fun, listening to updates from the cruise director.

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