- Posted February 21, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Carnival Triumph’s nightmare
What do you think of when you hear the word, adventure? The definition, simply put, is: an exciting or unusual experience. But, what does it mean to you? Some people might feel the need to travel halfway across the world to find themselves on a mountain top or diving to the depths of the sea before they would cry, “Adventure!” Others, like my Mom for instance, would consider trying a new restaurant an adventure. For those of us who walked the decks of the Carnival Triumph, adventure took on a whole new meaning.
On Thursday, February 7, 2013, over 3,000 passengers walked onto a Carnival cruise liner that was to set sail for Cozumel and return to Galveston a few days later. On board were first time cruisers, who fearfully walked onto the decks at the coercion of their more adventurous partners, and Diamond Club members, who spend more time at see than Davey Jones. People were there to celebrate birthdays, bachelorette parties, anniversaries, romantic getaways and even a warm welcome home for a weary soldier. Little did we know that on the morning of February 10, these celebrations would turn into an adventure that two Baylor students from Texas would never forget.
“Alpha Team! Alpha Team! Alpha Team!” Shouted a woman over the intercom, “Report to the engine room!” This call echoed through the rooms and down the hallways like an alarm clock from hell. During these first few announcements, Clark and I, along with many others, were in a state of disbelief about the danger of the distress calls. That is until, “SLAM!” The fire doors shut and smoke began to fill the halls. We quickly grabbed our shoes, passports and life jackets and headed for the stairways. On the way out, we worked together with my brother and another friend to carry a handicapped woman up the stairs – we were not the only ones who lent a hand when it was needed, but I was proud to stand alongside my brothers that day.
Over the next few hours we learned that an engine fire had disabled all power of propulsion, which meant we were free floating in the Gulf of Mexico, 400 nautical miles south of American soil. In addition, the fire knocked out all power to the toilets, showers, sinks, lights, refrigerators, grills, and the stabilizers that keep the ship from listing (tilting in one direction because of wind). This was the point at which people either chose to panic or to survive. Those who panicked began hoarding food, fighting with passengers and crew, and defecating in common restrooms – in the sinks, on the floors, and in already overflowing toilets. Those who were able to calmly assess the situation made a plan of survival that included: only taking what was necessary to eat at the time, cleaning and disinfecting their area to protect from disease, and containing their waste in bags.
As the sun set on February 10, the Carnival Triumph had become a floating shantytown. Thousands of passengers evacuated their rooms due to smoke, heat, smell, and a host of other problems. Each group staked their claim on certain areas of the ship. Some made tents out of rope, bed sheets, robe belts, pillowcases, and blankets. Others had dragged mattresses to the muster stations and hallways. Those that chose to stay in their rooms propped the doors open to gain relief from the smell and heat. Still, others slept on the common area couches and booths in the restaurants. The choices made on this day determined so much of the experience that each person had on this tragic ship.
Those who chose the decks for their home awoke to the heat of the opean ocean sun and the power of the sea air. Persons who stayed inside suffered the smells of leaking pipes and overflowing toilets. Yet, amidst it all, moments of pure light sprang up and sparked joy in the hearts of those who would allow it. People began to smile and laugh again – after all, what’s not funny about thousands of humans in an enclosed space pooping in red bags? Clark sat down and played the piano for passersby. We wandered the ship looking for people who might need help repairing their tents. A friend of ours started a mothers group that pooled baby food, formula, and diapers to be shared in common for any who had need. The crew worked tirelessly, day and night, to provide guests with some sort of normalcy (I was thankful for them every single day).
Did chaos exist? Yes. Food lines were over an hour long and maybe the only thing left that day was a cucumber sandwich. Toilets worked sporadically and the red bags leaked on the floor from time to time. Overflowing pipes flooded the carpets and the smell of mildew, urine, and feces was nearly unbearable. Seeing only ocean through the metal cage of Carnival’s triumphant failure for five days straight was enough to drive a person insane. Watching people fight over the smallest of issues and hearing stories of theft and unbridled disrespect was disheartening to say the least. Yet! There was beauty amidst the beasts trapped in this carnival.
The smallest flame can illuminate a dark path and remind the sojourner that a way does exist. In that moment there is a choice to focus on the darkness or be thankful for the light. There is beauty in the broken things of this world. All it takes is a willingness to see beyond the fleeting pains of momentary discomfort, in order to appreciate the character that is shaped in the fires of life. The Carnival Triumph was a fire for so many, literally! There were those who chose to see only darkness and they are none the better, but for those who saw the light it was an adventure of a lifetime.
If you liked this story or this video please click this link and watch it on YouTube: http://youtu.be/q5AKYWj4Ogg
NOTE: The attached video is a Parody of Avett Brother's popular song, "I and Love and You," performed by O, Loveland. It was inspired by the experiences of Clark Jones and Jacob Combs aboard the Carnival Triumph.
Music & Melody: Avett Brothers
Lyrics: Clark Jones
Performed by: Clark Jones & Amy Boykin (O, Loveland)
Cinematography: Jacob Robinson & Ben Palich
Audio: Jacob Robinson & Emily Capshaw
Editing: Ben Palich, Brent Kennedy, & Jacob Combs
Director: Jacob Combs