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Burnet County couple recounts days adrift on troubled Carnival Triumph

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — While it wasn’t the trip of their dreams, Daniel and Amy Miller aren’t jumping ship when it comes to sailing with the Carnival Cruise line.

The Millers were among the 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members aboard the Carnival Triumph, which went adrift Feb. 10 in the Gulf of Mexico due to an engine fire. The ship left Galveston on Feb. 8 with a return date of Feb. 12 to the same port. The fire caused the ship to lose power. Eventually, tugboats pulled the craft into Mobile Bay, Ala., on Feb. 14.

“It wasn’t as bad as many of the reports you heard or saw,” said Amy Miller, a Marble Falls Middle School art teacher. “I think a lot of how you handled it really depended on your attitude.”

Her husband, Daniel Miller, agreed.

“In some ways, it was like a camping trip,” he said. “We were up on one of the upper decks, and we didn’t have any sewage running down the (passageways or in our room).”

Amy Miller said, when the fire broke out early Feb. 10, there were some disconcerting moments initially as crews responded at about 5 a.m.

“You heard (ship officials) calling for all these teams, including Alpha team,” she said. “Then you had people wearing their lifejackets. So, we definitely were wondering what was happening.”

But ship officials quickly came over the loud speakers telling passengers the fire was out and there was no need to panic or don lifejackets, the couple said.

Soon, it became evident the scheduled five-day cruise was going to stretch out for a few more days. The Millers, who were traveling with relatives, simply accepted the fact.

“My father-in-law said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to be out here until (Feb. 17),'” Daniel Miller said. “So, that’s what we went with.”

Instead of sleeping in their cabin, the Millers and many other passengers grabbed sheets and mattresses and headed for the deck.

“We slept under the stars,” Amy Miller said.

The longer trip also gave the Millers time to connect with other passengers.

“We played cards and shared life stories,” Amy Miller said. “We just tried to make the best of it.”

With no power, the ship still served food but unheated items such as sandwiches. The couple said, at times, people did have to wait in line for food, sometimes 30 or 40 minutes, but the long waits of up to four hours reported by the media only came after the ship began to serve hot foods.

“I guess the tugboats brought some generators because (the ship’s crew) did start serving hot foods, and, then, if you wanted that, you may have had to stand in line for several hours,” Amy Miller said. “But, if you were happy with sandwiches or things like that, then you only had to wait 30 or 40 minutes.”

The Carnival crew, Daniel said, did everything in their power to help passengers.

“It’s not like they planned for this to happen,” he said. “It just did. I think the crew did a great job considering the situation.”

While the Millers missed additional days of work, they both looked at the time adrift more as an adventure than a crisis.

“We saw all the Coast Guard ships, the tugs and the helicopters,” Amy Miller said. “We made the news. I think (how you reacted) depended on how you looked at it.”

“And, we did get a day in Cozumel, which was great,” Daniel Miller added.

Even after the ship made port in Alabama, the Carnival crew and officials took care of them, the Millers said. The company transported them to a hotel in New Orleans and then chartered flights to return passengers home.

Carnival Cruise Lines also refunded passengers’ money, provided credits for another cruise and compensated them an additional $500.

As for future cruises — this was their third — the Millers are ready to go.

“Oh, no, this isn’t going to keep us from going again,” Amy Miller said.

Her husband nodded his agreement.

“It hasn’t stopped us from cruising,” he said.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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