Monday, February 16, 2015

A Blessing in Disguise - Quality Time with Family

In the last blog, we were just realizing that a fire had broken out on our Carnival Cruise Ship.  This particular cruise was supposed to go out on February 7, 2013 and return on the morning of the 11th.  The big wedding was on the 8th.  The fire broke out on the 10th, which would have been a day at sea heading back to our port in Galveston.  When you are in the middle of a crisis, it is sometimes hard to see any good in it.  But as I look back on this cruise retrospectively, there were many good things about it to go along with the not so good.

My granddaughter was born on Valentine's Day and on the original itinerary we would have not been together for her birthday.  Because of the fire, we got to spend that day with her.  With all the down time, no phones, iPads, computers, etc. we spent a lot of time with family playing cards, reminiscing, and just spending quality time together.  We had four generations on the boat, together, for nine days.  We haven't ever been able to do that with everyone's busy schedules.  So there were some good times on board, which we are all thankful for.

Here are a couple more days of the "Log",  after the fire, to give you an idea of what went on.

Sunday, February 10th

0520 – Carnival Triumph’s Alpha Team summoned via ship-wide announcement; passenger awakened amid much concern and observe large amounts of gray smoke billowing from smokestack; smoke infiltrates Decks 2 and 3 as well
0600 - Power shut down throughout ship
0610 – Pax (passengers) advised a "situation" exists; staff working to resolve
0640 - Pax advised situation under control; smoke subsides
0705 - Pax advised there was a small engine room fire; staff awaiting cool down to enter engine room and assess damage; will be advised of status when additional info available
0725 - Pax advised of meal procedures; service will be on Lido Deck only; mad dash ensues and pax begin hoarding items due to situational uncertainty
1015 - Pax advised of bathroom procedures due to non-working toilets throughout ship; #1 in shower, #2 in red bag; cabin steward delivers red bags and instructs us to return to him when full (yuck!)
1015 - 1430 - Pax advised still too hot in engine room in a series of announcements; every 30 minutes or so Cruise Director Jen provides "brilliant news" that temp in engine room has dropped a degree
1440 - Pax advised engine room finally becomes accessible; apparently fire was not so small but actually a raging inferno; damage assessment underway
1530 - Pax advised SOL for power restoration; will remain adrift indefinitely but Miami office on the case calling emergency contacts and working arrangements for tugboats
1620 - Passengers advised tugs arranged for, one to arrive from Progresso, Mexico Monday noon and one from Mobile, Alabama Monday evening; will be adrift at sea until then
1730 - Pax advised Carnival Elation would arrive with supplies at 2000; dinner now being served; pax scurry to Lido Deck and long lines quickly form; wait time exceeds one hour, seating exceeds capacity; incredibly, there is no emergency lighting in any of the cabins so a flashlight is a necessity; fortunately, Terri and I each brought a small one with us
1845 - Rumor mill begins churning; one report says the Pope has resigned which puts Catholics in panic mode; another says a toilet is working on Deck 3 forward which sends scores of pax to location only to find that rumor is false
2000 - Elation arrives on schedule with her pax massed in all viewing locations to cheer us on and take photos; she delivers the goods; our pax rush to gather as close to Elation as possible to try and link cell phones to her communications (comms) signals; some successfully send text messages and/or make calls; most remain unable to contact family and friends to advise of plight and rearrange lives for the week
2030 - Pax who have inside cabins have no ventilation and are in total darkness, and those on Deck 2 and some on Deck 3 cannot use cabins due to smoke from fire; guidance is to find a comfortable spot to sleep wherever you can and take it; sheets and blankets provided; pax set up "tent city" on Lido Deck, turn showroom into massive bedroom, and place their mattresses and bedding materials in hallways and common areas to avoid dark and very hot cabins; most of our party benefited from door to balcony which affords cooling breeze when opened thereby allowing more comfortable sleeping conditions;
2100 - Pax advised US Coast Guard is enroute and scheduled to arrive at 0200 to provide security escort service

Day Four Status - All not so good: no power, no water, no toilet system, no comms, no lighting in cabins, emergency lighting in common areas, only cold food, no a/c, but soft drinks being served at no cost, pax with inside cabins sleeping all over ship, ship listing approximately 5 degrees starboard (or so the Captain says but it feels like more), don't know if Pope actually resigned or who won PGA Tour event at Pebble Beach

Two of the tug boats that helped us get back to Mobile.

Monday, February 11th, 2013

0800 - Pax advised tugs will tow ship to Progresso with ETA Wednesday evening; Carnival will arrange transportation home and provide full refund for cruise; Carnival Legend will arrive in the afternoon to offload supplies; US Coast Guard Cutter on site and pax cheer wildly when fast rescue boat circles ship to check security
1030 - Pax advised first tug running late; new ETA 1500; Jen adds more "brilliant news" that fresh water is restored and some toilets now operating; pax begin search for a functioning toilet but few succeed in finding one; Miami office announces all shipboard purchases waived except gift shop and casino and all pax to receive credit for another cruise in addition to refund
1400 - Pax advised toilets not operating as expected and fresh water availability limited; Cruise Director Jen declared a master of the obvious
1700 - Legend arrives and provides supplies as planned as her pax cheer us on; remains with us on station until 2000; we again rush to link to ship's comms to gain phone and text access but limited success; first tug seen on horizon; water problems resolved but toilet issues persist; wait three hours in line for hamburgers and hot dogs for family - last of the decent food; while in line pax advised bar is open for beer and wine at no cost with limit of two per customer; collaborate with line mates to make bar runs after announcement is made; three beers to front of line
2000 - Carnival Conquest arrives on site to offload additional supplies; second tug arrives as well but departure delayed until supplies are offloaded
2200 - Tugs connected to ship and towing procedure begins; pax advised we will now go to Mobile, Alabama as ship has drifted northeast some 90 miles; we all get a little more sleep with cabin and balcony doors left open in hopes of cool breeze; all have joined the "Red Bag of Courage Brigade"

Day Five Status - All in decline: no power, no comms, no lighting in cabins, no hot water, no toilet system, no a/c, ice all gone so all drinks warm, food deteriorating (however, many continue to hoard large quantities of what is available) with wait times averaging 45-75 minutes, more pax finding makeshift sleeping accommodations, foul odors beginning to appear throughout ship, crew doing good job under tough circumstances and pax holding up very well, ship listing 5-10 degrees starboard, still don't know if Pope resigned or who won at Pebble

Many people's lives were put on hold for days.  The Customer Service desk was inundated and with no way to communicate with the outside world, it made for some very frustrated individuals. We had our pet sitter scheduled to leave the morning of the 11th.  Thank goodness, our friends figured out what was happening and took over their care from that point on.  But, needless to say, lots of things were missed or had to be rescheduled.  But everything seemed to work itself out in the end.  I will share the final part of the "Log" with you next time.

Today's Terri's Tidbit:  There are so many good websites now where you can download and print coupons.  I found several on Facebook and "Liked" them.   One is "Penny Pinchin' Mom".  She shares lots of different ways to save money and places where you can get some good deals.  Another is "".  They always have at least one or two coupons that I can use.  Check them out! Until next time.... 

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