Carnival Splendor arrives in San Diego after 3 day 'nightmare' c - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Carnival Splendor arrives in San Diego after 3 day 'nightmare' cruise

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Spectators wave as the disabled Carnival Splendor cruise ship approaches the dock in San Diego on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Spectators wave as the disabled Carnival Splendor cruise ship approaches the dock in San Diego on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Spectators look on from shore as tugboats bring the disabled cruise ship Carnival Splendor into San Diego Bay on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010. Spectators look on from shore as tugboats bring the disabled cruise ship Carnival Splendor into San Diego Bay on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Karen Blocker's dream cruise began disintegrating at dawn when her cabin started rattling "like an earthquake."

"I told my daughter: 'This boat is not moving anymore. We've got to get out,'" Blocker said.

She opened the door to find a hallway filled with smoke and crew members telling passengers to head for the lifeboats.

The boats turned out to be unnecessary, but the scare was just the start of a three-day ordeal for the 50-year-old Blocker and nearly 4,500 other passengers and crew aboard the stricken Carnival Splendor.

It wasn't until tugboats hauled the 952-foot cruise liner into a San Diego dock Thursday that weary passengers were able to tell their stories to the world.

Their ship lost power after an engine fire Monday and was adrift about 200 miles outside San Diego and 44 miles off the coast of Mexico.

At that distance from land, it was out of cell phone range for much of the ordeal. The fire left the ship without air conditioning, hot water or hot food. The casino was closed and, for a time, so were the bars. The swimming pool was off-limits because the pumps wouldn't work.

Mark and Ginger Kalin and their 9-year-old daughter Parker were on the cruise as part of a magicians' convention.

"The worst part was not knowing ... what was going to happen and how many days we were going to be like this," Ginger Kalin said Friday on the CBS "Early Show."

"Considering the situation, everyone was pretty well behaved. I think we all made lemonade out of lemons. What are you going to do?" she said.

For Edward Warschauer, of Reno, Nev., the worst part of the incident was the backed-up toilets. He said he had to bail out the family's toilet in their cabin several times using a cup.

"Let's put it this way: For me, this was my worst nightmare, my phobia, to be on the sea in a ship and get stuck," Warschauer said.

Newlywed Stacy Noreiga told ABC's "Good Morning America" the situation was particularly concerning for her because she's pregnant.

"It was very difficult, especially because the smells were unbelievable," she said. "It seemed almost like every floor we went up there was a different odor."

Navy helicopters flew in Spam, Pop Tarts and canned crab meat and other goods.

Karyn and Ed van Latum, both 61, flew from Holland to take the cruise and spend time with their son. They booked the cruise with their daughter-in-law's parents after arriving from Alphen aan den Reijn, their hometown.

They were on the first bus to arrive in Long Beach after leaving San Diego and were head to West Covina with their in-laws before returning to Holland on Tuesday.

The van Latums had a first-floor interior cabin and when the fire began, the area filled with smoke and the lights went off, making their room pitch-black. They were afraid the situation was much worse.

"We had to go to the upper deck and we took our life jackets and some people were in pajamas or bathrobes," Ed van Latum said. "But the crew was very, very, very good."

After the initial danger passed, they said, they struggled with the darkness in their cabin, even in the daytime.

"Some people said it was like a coffin, it's so dark," Karyn van Latum said. "We left our front door open, so that we had some little light, but it looked like a coffin. We stayed on the deck."

Many passengers passed the time by staying on deck, looking up at the starry sky or out at the USS Ronald Reagan, the Navy aircraft carrier that was assisting in the delivery of supplies to the ship.

Others chatted in their dark, stuffy cabins. Others simply went to bed early. Very early.

"We slept all day, the first day," Geoffrey Klinge, who was honeymooning with his new wife, Sabrina Klinge, said Friday on NBC's "Today" show.

Passengers on lower decks had to climb as many as nine flights of stairs to get to the cafeteria only to meet long lines that stretched on for hours. By the time those at the end got to the food, they were left with tomatoes and lettuce, Haslerud said.

Some passengers carried food to those who used walkers and canes and couldn't climb stairs to reach the food lines.

"We have not had a hot cup of coffee in four days," said passenger Fahizah Alim, 26, of Sacramento, who ate at night by flashlight. "This was my first cruise and it was no luxury, no fun."

On Thursday morning, people clutched those cold cups of coffee and cheered when the San Diego horizon came into view.

But Klinge complimented both the crew and Cruise Director John Heald, saying they maintained their professionalism despite trying circumstances.

"The best was John ... he kept everyone calm and even kept us laughing," Klinge said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the probe into the fire's cause would be conducted by Panama. Panama agreed to let the U.S. Coast Guard join the investigation because most of the passengers were U.S. citizens and two NTSB experts would assist, the NTSB said.

The incident will be costly for Carnival, but it won't have to repay the Navy for delivering food from the carrier. The Reagan was nearby on a training mission, and responding to the ship was nothing more than a "minor distraction," said Chief Petty Officer Terry Feeney.

Passengers will get a refund, including airfare, and a free cruise. Those holding reservations on the next Splendor cruise, which was scheduled to depart Sunday but was canceled, will be offered full refunds and a 25 percent discount on a future cruise.

After arriving on terra firma, Blocker stood in the sun outside the cruise ship terminal waiting for her ride home and said, "I just want warm food. Mexican food."

But even with the offer of a free cruise, Noriega and her husband, Joe, say it may be a while before they take another.

"Probably not anytime soon," Joe Noriega told "Good Morning America." ''It'll probably be a couple years at least before we get on a boat again."


Associated Press writer Gillian Flaccus in Long Beach contributed to this story.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.


SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Carnival cruise line says all passengers have disembarked from the crippled vessel Splendor.

The nearly 3,300 passengers began disembarking after tugboats brought the ship to a dock in San Diego Thursday morning. The last left the ship in the early afternoon.

Some are returning to Splendor's home port in Long Beach by bus while others are making their own arrangements.

An engine room fire cut power to the ship on Monday during a cruise from California to the Mexican Riviera.

The 1,100-plus crew members will be put up in a San Diego hotel and given spending money.

Carnival hopes to have the ship repaired in San Diego and returned to Long Beach by Monday.

This is the latest update. The previous story is below.


SAN DIEGO (AP) — A disabled cruise liner inched into San Diego Bay on Thursday after three nightmarish days adrift on the Pacific, sparking cheers from passengers who disembarked and described limited food, backed-up toilets and dark cabins.

The evacuation of 4,500 passengers and crew was slowed by disabled elevators, out of order like much of the ship after an engine room fire on Monday cut short the seven-day cruise and left the ship adrift in the Pacific off Mexico.

Pulled by six tugboats and escorted by Coast Guard cutters, the nearly 1,000-foot Carnival Splendor reached the dock at about 8:30 a.m. PST, unable to steer or propel itself.

The first group of passengers walked down a ramp about an hour later, dragging suitcases behind them and entering a tent on the dock. By midday, about 2,500 had disembarked, which a Carnival official said was better than expected.

"I love being back on land," said passenger Ken King of Los Angeles, who turned 42 on Thursday.

King said he and his traveling companion were celebrating their birthdays on the cruise, so Carnival chose them to be in the first group off the ship.

"The staff was excellent. Only a few people on board were rude. The food was horrible. Starting at 5 a.m. on Monday, we didn't have toilets for 13 hours," King said.

Peg Fisher of Las Vegas, on her first cruise with husband Tom, said she was one of the first to try the toilets after many hours and prayed as she flushed.

"I ran out in the halls, 'The toilets flush!' People were like, 'Are you kidding?' They went running into their cabins," she said.

The Fishers described impromptu food fare that included cheese-and-beet sandwiches and other sandwiches filled with something that looked like corned-beef hash.

"If you could see the things they put on sandwiches, seriously, this could be the only cruise ever where people lost weight instead of gaining weight," Peg Fisher said.

Chris Harlen, a dental technician from Buena Park, offered a quick description of his experience after disembarking with his wife and two children, ages 10 and 8.

"It was gross when the toilets weren't working. What can you do?" Harlan said. "There were a lot of people getting smashed off warm beer."

People on the decks and about 100 onshore cheered loudly as the ship reached the dock, while all along the harbor, tourists, joggers and fishermen stopped to snap photos. Lissa Letts of Overland, Kan., said she drove to San Diego to meet the returning ship to sell passengers T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase: "I survived the 2010 Carnival cruise Spamcation." Passengers snapped up the shirts at $20 apiece.

High up on a ship railing, someone had stuck a sign thanking the Coast Guard and a hand-drawn U.S. flag.

"We're so happy to be getting off. Everybody's been cheering and clapping," passenger Fahizah Alim, 26, of Sacramento, said by cell phone.

"It's been like a nightmare," she said. "There's been no food, no power, no electricity, no flushing toilets. I spent the night tossing and turning in my cabin in the dark."

The ship left Long Beach on Sunday for a seven-day trip to the Mexican Riviera, only to return days early without ever reaching the beaches vacationers had hoped for. A fire in the engine room knocked out power Monday morning, leaving passengers with no air conditioning, no hot food, no hot water, no casino. The swimming pool was off-limits because there was no way to pump chlorine.

Amy Watts, 25, of Seattle, Wash., said she smelled smoke when the fire broke out but the captain immediately announced that there would be no need to abandon ship.

"You think about the Titanic ... but we were all right," she said.

Tom Fisher said there was smoke in the rear of the ship but only the smell of smoke in forward areas. He said there was no alarm and no panic.

Seventy-five buses were arriving in San Diego to drive passengers north to Long Beach, where the Splendor is based. Passengers also were given the option of staying overnight at San Diego hotels.

Gary Grabel of Los Angeles said he was packing his bags.

"We're looking forward to spending a couple of days in San Diego to kind of catch up on my vacation," he said by cell phone.

He was among 250 magicians on board for a conference who performed for the guests after the power failed.

"I did magic for hours," he said.

Aboard the ship, lines for cold food stretched for hours during the days after the power went out. Navy helicopters flew in Spam, Pop Tarts and canned crab meat and other goods for the passengers and crew, passengers said.

Some passengers carried food to others who used walkers and canes and couldn't climb up nine decks of stairs to reach the food lines, Alim said.

"We have not had a hot cup of coffee in four days," she said. "This was my first cruise and it was no luxury, no fun."

However, passengers spent their last night drinking free wine and beer at the bar and singing old songs.

Paul Patrick Sr., 50, of Riverside, said his daughter, Sabrina Klinge of Laguna Hills, was married on Saturday and was on her honeymoon cruise. The 27-year-old texted her father on Wednesday saying it was dark and she was living on Pop-Tarts.

"It was supposed to be this beautiful cruise and it turned into a nightmare," he said. "Nothing like it was advertised in the brochure."

After the Splendor docked, Gerry Cahill, chief executive of Carnival Corp.'s Carnival Cruise Lines told passengers via ship's intercom: "I'm very sorry" and added: "I would like to thank you for all your patience and understanding that you showed throughout the situation."

The National Transportation Safety Board announced Thursday that it had begun an investigation.

Cahill earlier said the crankcase on one of six diesel generators "split," causing the fire. He said he doubted other ships in the Miami-based company's fleet were at risk.

The ship was 200 miles south of San Diego and about 44 miles off shore when the fire killed its power.

Carnival first planned to haul the ship to the Mexican port of Ensenada, not far from a movie studio complex used to film "Titanic," and bus passengers to the U.S.

But the cruise line decided it would be better to go a little farther to San Diego, sparing passengers the 50-mile bus ride to the border. San Diego also offers more transportation and hotel options.

Carnival Senior Vice President Jim Berra said it was hoped that the ship could repaired in San Diego and return to Long Beach by Monday.

Carnival canceled Splendor's next cruise, which was scheduled to depart Sunday. The cruise line said it will give refunds to everyone who holds reservations for that trip and offer them a 25 percent discount on a future cruise.


Associated Press writers Julie Watson in San Diego and Raquel Maria Dillon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.


This is the latest update. The previous story is below.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The 952-foot Carnival Splendor cruise ship, which has been dead in the water since about daybreak Monday, has finally been towed into dock at its San Diego Bay home port Thursday morning.

The Carnival cruise ship became disabled after a fire erupted in an aft engine room. None of the nearly 4,500 vacationers and crew members aboard was injured, though several people reportedly suffered panic attacks.

Passengers stranded aboard the cruise liner off the coast of Baja

California began enjoying intermittent cell phone service Thursday while the giant ship slowly made its way toward San Diego under tugboat power.

"The tug boats began maneuvering the ship into the South Terminal shortly after 8 a.m.," said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Allyson Conroy.

"We expect to have mooring process completed by around 9 a.m."

Conroy said the Splendor was towed in by six tugboats and it will be those same tugs that will shift the liner into position at the port.

"We also have three Coast Guard cutters, two additional Sector San

Diego Coast Guard ships and four San Diego Harbor police boats on site to help with the docking process if they are needed," said Conroy.

Once the cruise liner is docked at the Cruise Ship Terminal, Conroy said it will still take at least two to three hours for the passengers to disembark with their baggage.

"Remember, they have no power on the ship and that means no elevators," Conroy said. "So they will have to move all the passengers and their baggage out on foot, up and down the stairs."

Carnival's decision to tow the luxury liner into San Diego instead of the initial emergency destination of Ensenada, Mexico, came Tuesday afternoon, according to the company.

Several U.S. military vessels, including the Coronado-based aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, aided the occupants of the disabled liner, delivering emergency supplies, providing security and helping coordinate the return to safe harbor.

The Panamanian-flagged cruise ship partially was powered by auxiliary generators after the fire, but the ship's engineers were unable to restore its propulsion systems.

The mishap also forced the cancellation of the Splendor's next voyage, which had been slated to begin in Long Beach on Sunday.

Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of the Florida-based cruise line, offered his regrets for the ordeal suffered by the passengers on the ill-fated voyage.

"They signed up for a great cruise vacation, and obviously that is not what they received," Cahill told reporters. "I would like to thank our guests for the patience and understanding they have shown in this very difficult situation, and we offer our very sincere apologies."

Many of the customers had to endure hot, stuffy staterooms, and some elected to seek relief by sleeping in open-air deck areas set aside by the crew for that purpose, Cahill said.

This morning, passengers had access to a limited "schedule of activities," according to Carnival officials. Toilets were functional in most staterooms and all public restrooms.

At the time of the fire, the luxury liner was about 150 nautical miles south of San Diego and about 55 miles west of Punta San Jacinto on the first leg of a seven-day Mexican Riviera tour. It departed Long Beach on Sunday.

As the crew worked to extinguish the blaze, passengers were directed out of their cabins and onto the ship's open upper decks.

Several hours later, after the fire had been fully extinguished, travelers were let back into their rooms and were offered bottled water and cold food.

The Coast Guard initially sent three cutters and a helicopter to monitor the situation and provide any needed assistance.

On Monday night, the crew was able to restore restroom service to most cabins and all public lavatories, as well as cold running water, but several basic services, including air conditioning, hot meals and telephones, remained unavailable.

On Tuesday morning, dozens of pallets of supplies were transferred from Naval Air Station North Island to the Ronald Reagan, which had been at sea in the Pacific on maneuvers before being diverted to the Splendor's coordinates.

The 4,500 pounds of canned food and other essentials - paid for by the cruise line - were then flown by helicopter to the disabled cruise ship, according to U.S. Third Fleet public affairs.

In addition to the nuclear-powered supercarrier, vessels aiding the

113,000-ton cruise ship were the U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Aspen and Morgenthau; a 140-foot Mexican government patrol boat; and several tugboats.

During the operation, the USCG Rescue Coordination Center in Alameda kept in contact with all response craft as well as Carnival Cruise Line's operations center.

The 3,299 stranded vacationers will get full refunds along with reimbursement for transportation costs, according to the company. Additionally, each will receive a complimentary future cruise equal to the amount paid for the aborted voyage.

Those who had been scheduled to sail on the ship's next voyage also will receive a refund of their fare and any air-transportation costs, along with a 25 percent discount on a future cruise.

The normal itinerary of the Splendor, which entered service in July 2008, includes stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

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