By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun
Editor’s note: Calvin and Kristi Rasco of Blooming Grove, along with their children Bailey and Shawn, were aboard the ill-fated Carnival Triumph cruise ship. They got back to Navarro County this past weekend after a harrowing week at sea. This is the rest of their story. Part I of this two-part series is available at www.corsicanadailysun.com.
The Rascos weren’t taking a Valentine’s Day cruise, it was a family trip. Kristy is a dispatcher with the sheriff’s office, Calvin’s a construction supervisor. It was their first cruise.
“It was an impromptu thing,” Kristy said.
Yes, the kids, 8-year-old Bailey, and 10-year-old Shawn were going to miss a couple of days of school, but for two working parents it was a matter of practicality and off-season rates. They didn’t anticipate the extra week it would take them to get back, hauled by slow-moving tug boats from the middle of the Gulf of Mexico where the ship had drifted off-course.
Generators had been offloaded onto the ship, which made it possible to run a projector and show a movie, and run a microphone system for entertainment. The Rascos had to work out their own entertainment prior to that, keeping their son’s Kindle charged so he could play video games, and keeping at least one phone available as a backup. Their daughter spent her first day stacking cups in one of the lounges, but subsequent days were spent with board games or cards, or watching the chaos around them.
The boredom, the insurmountable problems around them, those were the majority of what their days consisted of. But it was the small moments, when they realized how far the ship was listing or that they were being lied to, when they began to feel real fear.
“We had tears a few times, from being scared and hungry and tired,” Kristy said.
But then they’d look around them, at the people who had retained their senses of humor and made jokes, who put up a bed sheet for everyone to sign, at a crew that, despite a shortage of food, water, air conditioning, a place to sleep and any hope of fat tips, smiled through it all, as if it were a marvelous adventure.
“The crew was amazing,” Kristy said. “They did everything they could to make people comfortable.”
Morale was good on the ship, Kristy said. The cruise director allowed herself to become the butt of jokes just to boost spirits and the passengers took it upon themselves to paint amusing graffiti on the walls everywhere. Most of the people they met were positive about it all, Calvin said.
“I think they did an amazing job for what they had,” Calvin said. “I give everybody the benefit of the doubt. It could have been a lot worse. We were more worried about our kids and the sanitation — trying to keep them from touching things and putting their hands in their mouths.”
Sanitation was an issue all over the ship.
“Probably by Wednesday they were breaking down beer boxes so we had a dry place to walk,” Calvin said. “It was a cardboard sidewalk.”
The water that dripped from the ceilings, that welled up through the tiles in the floors and oozed in the carpet was black.
“They never told you what it was but you knew,” Kristy said. “It was sewage. You knew it was something bad.”
For Shawn, who spent much of the time playing on his Kindle or one of his parents’ cell phones, it wasn’t that awful.
“This was the best vacation ever,” he said cheerfully.
“It was not the best vacation ever, it was probably the worst,” Bailey disagreed.
On Friday, the day after the ship docked in Mobile, the first lawsuit had already been filed against Carnival.
The Rascos aren’t angry, though. They have friends who have been on dozens of cruises and love it for the inclusive luxury in that mode of travel. Both adult Rascos said they would be willing to take another cruise. Bailey said she didn’t want to take anymore, but that wasn’t something her parents wanted to try to talk her out of anyway. They said they knew even before the fire that taking the kids on a cruise hadn’t been the best idea. The Triumph was a party boat, meant for young people who wanted to drink and dance the night away, not families with small children with short attention spans.
Still, just a few days after getting off the ship, the family is still in disbelief that it happened at all. They’re already starting to joke about it, in fact.
“We’re going to suffer Post Cruise Syndrome, where red bags make us go off,” Calvin said.
Editor’s note: Part 1 of this story indicated that the Rascos were traveling without passports. Kristy Rasco notifed the Daily Sun Thursday that the family did have passports.
Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com