Utah residents return from nightmare cruise

Posted at 5:31 PM, Feb 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-16 19:31:17-05

EAGLE MOUNTAIN, Utah -- More than four thousand people are returning home after they spent five days stranded at sea aboard the Carnival Triumph cruise ship, and one Utah couple shared their experience on what some have called a ‘floating purgatory.’

Tyler and Summer Endsley of Eagle Mountain, Utah, joined seven of their family members on a trip they had hoped would be a time for family bonding, but instead it was a smelly, uncomfortable ordeal.

The family had cabins on deck one, which was close to the engine room that caught fire. They awoke to the smell of smoke one night, and opened their door as their vacation took a sharp turn.

“I opened the door and looked in the hall, and right when I opened the door there was a fireman right there, full gear,” Summer Endsley said.

The fire was put out quickly, but Summer Endsley said the boat was still “dead in the water” as the engines had been paralyzed.

“The lights, the power completely went out, so it was really dark and people were getting panicky,” she said. “There were people on the floor that were crying. I mean, it was a scary situation.”

Summer Endsley said the ship was tilting sideways at one point, which scared many of the passengers.

“People were panicking because we were really tipped for a while, and you'd be walking up the stairs, and you’d be walking, like, sideways up the stairs,” she said. “And people were concerned, and the cruise director had to come on several times and say: ‘Do not panic, we're not going down.’ But there was a man at guest services that was yelling 'I know we're going down. You're not telling us the truth. I know the ship is taking on water, just tell me.’”

Summer Endsley said the trip was uncomfortable, but they still had their basic needs met.

“They always had food, and they always had water, or pop for us, they never ran out,” she said. “But the food was just, you know, it wasn't always the best choice.”

The ship did not take on water or sink, but the Endsleys said they encountered a lot of sewage that became backed up after the plumbing system failed.

“I saw urine and liquids coming out of the drains on the floor,” Summer Endsley said.

Showers and toilets were the source of the mess, but the Endsleys said the stuff that came out went everywhere.

“I think stuff would come up, and then as the ship would turn back and forth it would run… There were floors that the carpet when you stepped on it, was so flooded with urine, you stepped and it squooshed, and you saw the urine,” she said.

The Endsleys said they took shelter in a lounge on the upper deck with about 20 to 30 other people, but they said the lounge didn’t stay pretty for long. Soon there was urine dripping from the ceiling.

“They brought in all these pails and buckets to catch the dripping urine,” she said.

The boat was eventually towed into a harbor in Alabama, where passengers could catch flights home. The Endsley’s said the money spent on the cruise has been refunded and each passenger is supposed get $500 and a free cruise for their trouble.

The Endsleys said they aren’t interested in pursuing a lawsuit, even if other passengers do. They said they saw a lot of the good side of humanity during their ordeal as people helped each other out in difficult situations.