Stranded cruise passengers arrive in Houston

HOUSTON - Hundreds of Carnival cruise passengers who were stranded at sea for five days finally arrived home Friday. Some traveled all night long on chartered buses while others spent the night in Mobile, Ala., before boarding chartered Delta flights to Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Chartered buses started arriving in Galveston at 7 a.m. The passengers were ecstatic to have their "disaster" cruise ordeal finally end.

"We like to call it a maritime disaster. We are survivors," Katie Green said. She was shocked at the conditions she had to endure on the Carnival Triumph.

"You mean to tell me I'm going to be sleeping outside on the deck?" she said.

Green said it was scary when a fire broke out Sunday in the engine room.

"We heard banging on our doors to get up, get up, and we couldn't see anything because there was no power," she said.

After the fire was tapped out, the worst was yet to come.

"They provided us with red bags to go to the bathroom in. The picture can't really tell you the smells. It was unsanitary after a while," Green said.

There was little power and at times, no running water.

"That was probably the hardest part -- not having flushing toilets," Martha Vielhaber said. "One night we stood in line for two hours and 53 minutes to get a cheeseburger."

"We were drifting for 36 hours. We were fighting the wind and the current," Keith Hartwig said.

"It was really rough. It was like post-natural disaster, but stuck on a boat with 3,200 other people and those poor workers had to clean up after everyone and deal with everyone freaking out," Brandie Slonaker said.

"It was the most challenging thing that I have ever done. it was like being on a floating port-a-potty -- just human waste everywhere. The crew was great though. They did a great job at keeping our spirits up, but it was tough," Brittany Furgeson said.

At Bush Intercontinental Airport, cruise passengers on board chartered Delta flights started arriving home Friday at 9 a.m.

Some were furious at the long process to get home.

"The nightmare started when we got off the boat," said a passenger who did not want to be identified. "These last four hours have been hideous compared to the last seven days -- hideous."

They said it was a logistical nightmare.

"You can take that free trip and you can put it where the sun don't shine. These people don't know what the hell they are doing. I am so sorry. I am done," the passenger said.

Some arrived in Houston only to catch a connecting flight to other cities.

Others were desperate to get their luggage for the drive home.

"Having us sit there watching the wheels go around to find out what one is going to come out. Then I hear a rumor. It's outside and I see my luggage there on the concrete with someone about to run my luggage over," Steve Abrams said.

"I haven't had a bath since Saturday because we had no water, no toilet, no make-up. Hardly had any way to brush our teeth, change clothes. I had to throw my brand new shoes away because they are ruined. I've called my doctors to let them know where I was and they have already said, 'Yes, you are going to have a full blood panel work-up,'" Joan Koon said. "The first two days were wonderful. After that, we woke up and our balcony suite was floating in feces water. So it was a cruise from hell."

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