AUSTIN -- They went for the bonding experience, but what these Austin vacationers didn’t sign up for was an additional five days floating at sea.
“We didn't know when we'd be getting back," said Howard Sellars, who was on the fated Carnival cruise to celebrate a friend’s graduation.
“We had to hand wash our clothes," Jenny Abraham told KVUE.
Abraham and her daughter Jade were taking a mother-daughter vacation. They were not even supposed to board the cruise ship Triumph.
“We actually missed our Disney cruise, so we were on call for the next cruise, which happened to be the Carnival two days later."
At the last minute, however, another passenger canceled and they were allowed to join. Everything was going well, Abraham said, until early Sunday morning when a fire cut off the engines, power and plumbing.
“All the electricity went out, which is when people started to go in to freak out mode,” she said describing the incident.
As for the toilets, “we thought OK, this is going to get backed up and running, and then they start passing out biohazard bags," Abraham said.
Sellars was staying on the first floor of the ship, he said after the engines cut out, “we started feeling the ship tilt the following day.”
By day three, the sewage in his bathroom started coming back up the drains.
“I got a metal trashcan that I turned upside down, and I used it as a stool so I wouldn't be stepping in any type of sewage water,” Howard told KVUE.
On the eighth floor, Abraham said conditions were a lot better, but still not ideal.
“You're starting to smell some people that were refusing to use the biohazard bags, and they were using their toilets," he said.
No electricity also meant no light.
“We ended up using this little tiny LED light to shower and to keep clean,” Jade Abraham said.
During the week stranded at sea, Jade said someone discovered a power source for cell phones. “They figured out that the ATMs were still working, so they unplugged them and they plugged in a power strip.”
As for food, Abraham said there was a 24-hour buffet so “no one went hungry.”
However, Sellars said they did have to wait in line, sometimes for several hours.
While they resume their life back on land, Abraham said this trip has taught her one very important lesson.
“I think it really taught us to appreciate the small things in life that as Americans, we tend to take for granted."