By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
A Palmetto couple’s cruise-ship stranded daughter wasn’t likely to walk into their arms until early this morning.
“This has been awful,” Nellie Betts said.
Aboard the disabled cruise ship, Triumph, Nellie and Lee Betts’ 34-year-old daughter, Nicole Enjoufor, spoke with the Daily Journal by cellphone late Thursday, saying it didn’t feel much like Valentine’s Day after eating just a ham sandwich and dealing with disgusting conditions.
“If you survive this, you can survive anything,” she said. “I feel like a prisoner with no bathroom.”
Operated by Carnival Cruise Lines, the ship left Galveston, Texas, a week ago carrying 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew. It was supposed to return there Monday.
Carnival said the ship was expected to arrive in port about midnight, and it could take up to five hours to remove all the passengers from the ship, which has only one functioning elevator.
Nellie and Lee Betts’ hopes for a quick reunion were dashed mid-day Thursday with a cable break between one of four tugboats guiding the cruiseliner into Mobile Bay.
“I still don’t understand why Carnival didn’t just send another ship out to get them,” Nellie Betts said. “It’s been terrible.”
The Bettses arrived in Mobile about 5 a.m. Thursday with hopes that Enjoufor would soon arrive aboard the crippled ship.
A registered nurse in Dallas, Texas, their daughter was on the Mexico-bound cruise for a business conference Sunday when power failed.
Her phone calls to her mother spoke of nasty smells, cold food and ugly brown drinking water.
“She said there are only three or four toilets for everybody, otherwise people are using bags,” Betts noted.
Enjoufor said it is her first and last cruise.
“I am terrified – I have been crying so much,” she said.
Carnival reportedly will offer the stranded passengers full refunds, cruise credit and $500.
Betts said her daughter is “devastated” by the experience.
Earlier Thursday, she wasn’t sure whether Enjoufor would go straight back to Texas when she disembarks or choose a hot shower and a free night in a Mobile hotel.
“She’s very anxious to get home to her 13-year-old daughter and husband,” Betts added.
Nellie Betts, a rehab technologist at North Mississippi Medical Center, said the only nice thing that’s happened to them in days was that upon arrival in Mobile, they stopped at a hotel for some coffee and were offered a free night’s stay.
Carnival officials said they will provide buses, hotels and charter flights to get passengers back home.