The crew did their best to keep everyone apprised and happy, Chris Carpenter said.
“Our steward was amazing,” he said. “I felt bad for him ... he stayed down there with the rooms he was responsible for and did everything he could.”
But it stank.
The hot tubs and pools were empty. The ship ran out of ice. And there were only cold showers — if you wanted to stand in space that was also doubling as a toilet. There was food, but passengers had to wait in long lines to get things such as sandwiches, cereal, hot dogs and hamburgers.
At one point during their five days on deck, the Carpenters saw some women reading a book by LifeChurch.tv pastor Craig Groeschel. They found out the women were from the Oklahoma City area.
“We all go to LifeChurch, so we took a group picture together,” Chris Carpenter said.
Nights on the deck were uncomfortable, Robin Carpenter said. Among their friends and family, one person usually was awake at night keeping watch.
“With 3,000 strangers around you it wasn't comfortable,” Robin Carpenter said. “I didn't want to go to sleep and have something happen. And it was so dark.”
All 3,143 passengers on board the ship have been offered $500, a refund on their trip, and future cruise credits along with other accommodations.
The Carpenters said they cruise often, and the first three days of the trip were perfect. But they'll think twice before boarding a Carnival ship again.
Robin Carpenter said the family had planned to take a cruise this summer with their three sons, ages 16, 14 and 10.
“It might be too soon,” she said.
Chris Carpenter said he'd joked with fellow passengers that the trip could have been worse. When they were leaving the ship, he started a conversation with an engineer who explained how hot the fire on board must have gotten.
“We might have come pretty close to disaster,” Chris Carpenter said.
That, he said, puts everything in perspective.