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Woman recalls "nightmare" on Carnival cruise ship

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 23 2013 04:33:17 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 25 2013 05:13:36 AM CST

Woman describes ordeal on Carnival cruise ship

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

An Allentown woman spoke exclusively to 69 News about the Carnival "nightmare cruise" that left her and thousands of others stranded at sea for four days.

LaTonya Anderson called it a "nightmare."  Her story mirrors others':  no power, toilets, or running water -- and very little contact with the outside world.

"I was so excited, because I'd never been on a cruise," Anderson said about her vacation.

The ship sailed from Galveston, Tex., on Feb. 7.  One day from home, the nightmare began.  A fire broke out in one of Carnival Triumph's engine rooms.

"[At]4:30 in the morning, we heard 'Alpha, alpha, alpha.  We need you in the engine room,'" she remembered.  "Immediately we smelled smoke -- thick black smoke, in two separate places."

At first, Anderson said she thought the ship was sinking.  She said it was tipped to one side for several days.

"When the boat stopped and the power went off, I felt we we were done," she said.

After two days of no contact with the outside world, Anderson claimed Carnival crew members still had few answers.

"'We're trying to assess the problem, but no worries,'" she said they told passengers.  "'Everything is going to be okay.'"

Meantime, conditions on the ship went downhill fast.  One camera phone video Anderson took shows a brown substance dripping from the side of the ship.  She claimed it was human feces.

"They told us to urinate in the showers and to defecate in bags -- in plastic bags -- and put them in the little bins, and then put them out in the hallway," she said.

Another video shows Anderson stamping a soaking wet floor in her room.  She said the liquid smelled of urine.

"Because they had to urinate in the showers, that ended up being on everyone's carpet," she said.

Tugboats eventually pulled the Carnival Triumph back to port in Mobile, Ala., four days later.  After that, Anderson boarded a nine hour bus for her flight home.  In spite of the ordeal, she said she hasn't given up on cruises.

"It won't be Carnival, but I'll go," she said.

In spite of the fiasco, travel agents report cruise ship booking have remained high.  Carnival offered passengers $500, plus refunded the cost of the ticket, and flew them home.

As for Anderson, she said she's had a respiratory infection since she got home.  She thinks it's from all the smoke she breathed in after the engine fire.