Omar Villafranca, NBC 5 News
The tired North Texas passengers aboard Carnival's Triumph cruise ship finally reached land Friday and gave a glimpse into the intensely uncomfortable journey they had endured.
A ticket to paradise turned into a cruise from hell.
About a dozen of North Texans who were on board the Carnival Triumph finally made it home on Friday.
The ship, which was adrift in the Gulf of Mexico for five days after an engine fire, was finally pushed to Alabama on Thursday night.
Friday morning, some North Texas passengers were flown home to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
Gloria Hoagland, of Plano, was part of a Jazzercise group on the cruise. When the ships engines caught fire, the crew didn't know how bad the damage was until nine hours later, she said. That's when that the crew confirmed they were stuck at sea.
"Every day, we kept getting a report -- it was one more day, one more day, so we weren't convinced that we would even arrive on Thursday night," Hoagland said.
Conditions on the ship quickly deteriorated after the ship lost power. Hoagland said the ship started listing some, causing problems on the lower decks.
"The sewage -- when the boat lists back and forth, the sewage did spill out of the toilets onto the floors, came out of the walls, drainage, you know. That's why we stopped showering three or four days ago, because the sewage was coming up from the drain and, with no electricity, you couldn't see what was going on in the bathroom," she said.
Sheila Ruble, of Frisco, was staying on one of the lower floor rooms with some of her friends. When the power went out, trouble poured out into her room.
"There was sewage that came up from the shower drainage," she said. "We did not stay in the room. The stench, the hot, the heat, was so bad down there, we moved up to the fourth floor outside."
The stench forced hundreds of passengers to look for higher ground and fresh air. Passengers dragged bed sheets, mattresses and towels to the deck to set up tents and places to sleep.
Hoagland said the crew members did a great job helping passengers any way they could, from fresh clothes to food. Passengers even helped out other passengers.
"I was very fortunate, because I was in a cabin. I actually met two older women who were down in two and, with the sewage and stuff, their cabin got ruined. And we invited them up and they slept with us for the next four nights. We just sort of made it work," Hoagland said. "People were sharing cabins, people were sleeping in the hallways. My room was clean, so we were inviting people over to use our balcony, get some fresh air, because without the balcony, you smelled sewer and diesel and bad things. I'm thankful for some fresh air."
Because most electricity was out, passengers were fed sandwiches and melons, Hoagland said. She said the lines were long, but people waited in them in order to eat.
Ruble said Carnival offered passengers a reimbursement for the trip, as well as an additional $500. The company also paid for the return trip home and even offered passengers a free cruise in the future.
Ruble loves cruises and had plans to go again with her girlfriends. But after this ordeal, she plans to wait a little while before hopping on an ocean liner.
"The first couple of days -- 'Hey, this is cool. Let's do this again next year.' And then when we were with each other for days and nights, we were like, 'You know, I think we're good catching up for another five years,' so I don't know if we're going to be doing it anytime soon," Ruble joked.