Crowley students stranded on ship
By Steve Bandy
Seven or eight Notre Dame students are among the more than 3,000 passengers aboard a Carnival cruise ship stranded in the Gulf of Mexico after a weekend engine fire.
Among those students is Hunter LeBlanc, 15-year-old daughter of Garrett and Michelle LeBlanc of Crowley.
In a phone interview Tuesday morning, Garrett LeBlanc said the only word they had received from their daughter was a phone call that lasted “about 10 seconds.”
“She was crying and asking, ‘Can you hear me?’,” LeBlanc said. “She sounded really upset.”
LeBlanc explained that, with no power aboard the ship, there is no way to recharge the batteries in his daughter’s cell phone. Besides which, cell phone reception is scarce, coming only when another Carnival ship pulls alongside to drop off supplies
The Carnival Triumph has been floating aimlessly about 150 miles off the Yucatan Peninsula since a fire erupted in the aft engine room early Sunday, knocking out the ship’s propulsion system.
No one was injured and the fire was extinguished. The ship has been operating on backup generator power since the incident, according to a statement Monday from Carnival Cruise Lines President and CEO Gerry Cahill.
The ship, which left Galveston, Texas, on Thursday and was scheduled to return there Monday. However, after drifting about 90 miles north due to strong currents, the ship will instead be towed to Mobile, Ala., with its 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members.
They are scheduled to arrive in Mobile on Thursday.
Another Carnival cruise ship, the Legend, rendezvoused with the stranded Truimph on Monday and was supplying passengers with food and supplies.
“I understand they’re still having a lot of trouble with food and sanitary conditions,” LeBlanc said.
Only a few of the restrooms aboard the Triumph are working and “passengers are getting sick and throwing up,” according to published reports.
“You’d think they could find a way to get the passengers onto the other ship and bring them home,” LeBlanc said.
The Triumph is scheduled to arrive in Mobile on Thursday and LeBlanc said the cruise line has offered to fly Hunter and others to Lafayette.
“But, heck, that might not get them home until Friday or Saturday,” he said. “I’m going to Mobile to pick her up myself. When she steps off that ship we’re gonna jump in the Suburban and come home.”
LeBlanc added that he’s heard that Carnival also is offering passengers aboard the Triumph refunds and/or a free cruise.
“After this, I doubt too many of them will be thinking about another cruise,” he said.