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Utah couple aboard stranded cruise ship

By Nicole Gonzales | Posted - Nov. 9, 2010 at 10:05 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Thousands of passengers are stranded on a cruise ship off Mexico's coast. Among them, a Utah man and his wife.

At this point, everyone is safe on the Carnival Splendor. Tugboats began pulling the ship back to shore Tuesday night.

The problems, though: no power, no hot water or food and no air conditioning. Communication is also a struggle, which has families of the passengers most concerned.

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A Sandy couple thought they were going on a lovely 15-year wedding anniversary trip. Instead, they're two of the 3,000 guests -- plus 1,000 crew members -- stuck for on the ship.

The circumstances came as a complete surprise to the female passenger's mother back in Utah. She spoke with KSL News, but did not want to be identified.

"What are the chances of it being their ship? And we said none," the mother said. "We found the name of the travel agent, and I called him, and [he] said they're on it."

The Splendor left Long Beach, Calif., Sunday night. Early Monday morning, an engine room fire cut power to the 952-foot vessel.

The ship broke down 200 miles from San Diego and drifted 55 miles off the shore of Ensenada, Mexico.

With no power, it's certainly not the Mexican Riviera dream cruise our Utah couple had planned. What's worse, the wife doesn't really enjoy boats.

"She wasn't one that wanted to go cruising. She had to have her arm twisted to go," the mother said.

Now the cruise line is running low on food. U.S. Navy helicopters carried in 70,000 pounds of supplies to the ship, including crab meat, croissants, Pop Tarts and Spam.

Luckily, most of the cabin restrooms are working.

Carnival say it's going to take two days for tugboats to pull the ship to San Diego. The company says if that takes too long, they'll go to Ensenada.

Travel agents here in Utah with clients on board say an incident like this is extremely rare.

"It just never happens," said Holly Janney, with Cruise and Travel Masters. "Carnival has 22 ships, and each ship sails about once a week, and we just never hear it happening. It's totally unusual.

Agents say you must pack your patience when you travel. That goes for family waiting at home too.

"They'll be fine," the mother said. "It's just getting them back home."

All of the passengers aboard the ship will receive a full refund, along with reimbursement for transportation costs. They'll also get a voucher for a free cruise.

For updates on the Carnival Spendor, CLICK HERE.

E-mail: ngonzales@ksl.com

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Nicole Gonzales

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