Cruise passengers return to Chicago area

November 12, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Those passengers flew back to Chicago Friday.

Carnival offered to pay for passengers to stay in California through the weekend since it was supposed to be a seven night vacation. Some passengers returning to Midway Airport Friday night said they just wanted to get home.

"Thank God. I'm glad to be back. I'm glad to see my family," said passenger Bianca Clay.

"It makes you more appreciative and more loving to know that you have family to come back home to," said passenger Cheryl Jackson.

Jackson and Clay were among the thousands of Carnival Splendor passengers who endured four days with no power, no hot water and no working toilets.

Instead of souvenirs, Clay brought back the sniffles.

"I got a cold because taking a cold shower and then you're in the air, but it's okay," said Clay.

Home video captured water dripping into buckets from overhead and food rotting in hallways on the ship.

Clay snapped photos of a less-than-appetizing food selection provided to people stuck on the ship.

"I felt they really went out of their way, I want to applaud them, because they really did do a fantastic job considering what we was going through," said Jackson.

Passenger Valery Wright says she couldn't wait to get back to Chicago after spending days adrift on the disabled Carnival Splendor cruise ship.

"I was devastated. I thought this was my on earth. I thought I was on the Titanic," she said.

Wright smelled smoke Monday and heard a big boom in the middle of the night while the ship was at sea sailing for the Mexican Riviera.

"I mean, the boat was just jolted and came to a screeching halt. It sounded like something was grinding," said Wright.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating what went wrong on board the ship. A small fire in the engine room left the ship without power. It was towed back to shore Thursday.

More than 60 Chicago Transit Authority employees were on the cruise, including Troy Logan. Logan said they're still preparing for another cruise next year. The CTA doesn't sponsor the group vacation.

Logan was not discouraged by his experience on the Splendor. He said Friday that now that he is back in Chicago, he will be "preparing for the next cruise."

Many, including Katherine Smith, are just happy to be home. "I was pretty aggravated every day," said Smith. "I was pretty much snapping at people, and my friends were saying: 'That's not you. You don't snap at people.'"

People have until 2012 to take the free cruise that Carnival has offered and many said they would. Some said this is the first cruise they have been on that they didn't gain weight.

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