What started as a carefree five days of cruising for an Edmond woman and a few of her girlfriends in the sun-dappled Caribbean waters off Mexico has turned into anything but fun.
It’s a vacation they won’t soon forget, waiting hours in line for a hot dog and relieving themselves into bags on a foul-smelling ship being towed into an unscheduled final stop in Mobile, Ala.
Minor consolations: reimbursement for the cruise, free alcohol and an offer of $500 off a future vacation — should they ever want to cruise again.
“You hate hearing that a loved one is going through this,” said Edmond resident Robert Giordano, whose wife, Shannon, was marooned on the ship. “My hands are tied. There’s nothing I can do.”
Robert Giordano talked to his wife Thursday morning, five days after a fire on board the Carnival Cruise Line ship Triumph crippled the vessel and stranded the more than 4,000 people on board in the Gulf of Mexico.
Shannon Giordano was able to briefly talk to her husband Monday when another cruise ship rendezvoused with Triumph. He wasn’t sure how she was able to call him from the boat Thursday as the ship was slowly pulled by tugboats off the Alabama coast.
“She said the conditions are horrible,” Robert Giordano said. She described waiting in line for food, and limited access to bathrooms.
Pictures of passengers sprawled out on the ship’s decks in tent cities began peppering social media sites Thursday as the boat got closer to land.
Robert Giordano said his wife described a weather change from a stifling 80 degrees and humid to much cooler as they neared land. Passengers began pulling their bedding and belongings back inside to escape the chilly air, only to be in quarters where some have described poorly functioning plumbing and the smell of sewage.
Robert Giordano said he’s received all of the information he has from national news sites and was able to inform his wife that Carnival had chartered planes for passengers and reserved some hotel rooms.
His wife didn’t know anything about those accommodations.
“She’s confused about what’s happening,” he said. “All we’re hearing on the national news isn’t what they’re hearing on the boat.”
Shannon Giordano is expected to make it back to Oklahoma City to her husband and three children Friday afternoon if the ship debarks in time for her to make her flight. She’s missed several days from work at a hospital where she works in radiology.
“We know it has been a longer journey back than we anticipated at the beginning of the week under very challenging circumstances,” said Gerry Cahill, president of Carnival Cruise Lines in a statement on Wednesday. “We are very sorry for what our guests have had to endure.”
Cahill said all 3,143 guests on board would get a refund, along with transportation expenses and reimbursement for most purchases during the voyage. All passengers will also receive a future cruise credit.
“I haven’t really processed it all, but I probably wouldn’t dare getting onto a boat now,” Robert Giordano said.