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Local women on board Carnival 'Triumph' are finally home

Friday, February 15, 2013

Two women, one from Chicago and one from Evanston, say they are thankful to be home after a harrowing ordeal aboard the Carnival Triumph cruise ship.

The ship docked Thursday night in Mobile, Alabama.

One passenger could be seen kissing the ground after exiting the cruise.

Others, like Sandeep Berry from Chicago, boarded flights to their hometowns.

Berry, 30, recounted the floating nightmare after she arrived at Chicago's O'Hare airport.

"I'm so happy... I'm so happy. I'm excited to get into a car and go home and sleep in my own bed without sewage water, and actually have warm food," she said.

Berry wore a Carnival Cruise t-shirt-- which she had to purchase on board after running out of clean clothes.

Her sandals were also purchased on board the ship, after discovering that her socks and shoes were soaked with sewage.

"People were hoarding food into their bags, into their backpacks, running away with food... Then there were food shortages... You'd go up and there was no food," Berry said.

Berry, who was celebrating her birthday with her mother on the ship, shared photos of the filthy conditions.

She said many were forced to sleep on the upper deck of the ship to escape the sewage. More passengers were forced on the deck after their room key cards expired on the date that the cruise was supposed to end.

After the experience, Berry says she refuses to use the voucher Carnival gave her, or take another Carnival cruise.

Still, Berry commends the crew for their tireless efforts.

"They were amazing. Some of them would sleep for only three hours, then their managers would come and wake them up and tell them to get back to work. Some of them wouldn't eat. One of the women who was cleaning the toilers, three days, no food. They just gave her Vitamin Water. On top of that, when we got off, the crew didn't get to get off. They were waving at us," she said.

Berry has harsh words for the administration.

"For the crew that was on the ship, they did an amazing job. But the higher ups, it was pretty ridiculous. They had no plan in place, it didn't seem like," she said.

With sources of power scarce, passengers said it was challenge keeping cell phones charged. Some resorted to makeshift signs to communicate through television.

Back in Evanston, robocalls from Carnival had been the only source of direct information for Berry's husband until he finally spoke with his wife Thursday.

"Up until the last, I'd say, eight or so hours it's been pretty much 72 hours, roughly, of radio silence. There's been nothing," husband Thomas Berry said.

Also on board was Rian Tipton of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood who sent us a photo of the virtual tent city where she's been sleeping.

"I think there's a lot of questions to be answered from everybody," Tipton said via a phone interview. "I know that, in speaking with other passengers, they've got a bunch of questions too."

One area couple who were on board the ship were back home in Bourbonnais Friday night.

Scott and Mary Beth Mathis said they actually would take another cruise after the Triumph experience.

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