An Indiana native is among more than 3,100 people stranded aboard a Carnival cruise ship that is now slowly making its way back to land.
The ship left Galveston, Texas, last Thursday for a four day cruise, but a fire on board Sunday signaled the start of several problems that now have passengers struggling with deplorable conditions.
Jennifer Stanfield said her sister, Jet Hilton, boarded the ship to take part in a special occasion.
“This was a girlfriends getaway for the weekend to celebrate one of her friend’s birthday,” Stanfield said.
Hilton, who grew up in Crawfordsville and graduated from Purdue is now struggling to simply communicate with her own family due to a lack of electricity and sporadic Wi-Fi provided by Coast Guard ships.
“She and her friends are each taking turns sending out news to their husbands,” Stanfield said.
The husbands have been updating family members like Jennifer through email.
“(She) and the other girls are uncomfortable because they have no electricity and no running water,” Stanfield said.
That has led to some gross conditions on board.
“They aren’t allowed in their rooms below deck so I guess they are sleeping out in the public areas,” Stanfield said. “They’ve all been given plastic bags for bathroom facilities and they aren’t allowed to flush, so that’s kind of rough.”
Though the smell of raw sewage has reportedly made some on board sick, Jennifer said she understands her sister is in good health.
“I’ve been told she is on deck playing cards with friends trying to pass the time away,” Stanfield said.
On Monday, she also reportedly spent three hours waiting for food.
“By the time she got there all that was left was a hamburger and a bottle of water,” Stanfield said.
Still, she believes her sister is making the best of the unusual occasion.
“She is probably trying to encourage her friends and saying, ‘Hey this is a great adventure and now we have a story to tell,’” Stanfield said. “I think she is trying to see the silver lining.”
Stanfield said her sister told her family that the tugboats are expected to get the ship to the Alabama shore by Thursday. She hopes to rejoin her family by Friday.