Oakland couple recalls stranded Carnival cruise

January 23, 2011 6:05:03 PM PST
An Oakland couple is back at home after going on a vacation they would rather forget.

They were among the 3,000 passengers stranded at sea last week when the Carnival cruise ship "Splendor" lost power off the coast of Mexico.

"The ship was shuddering violently really," Janet Welter passenger recalls

For Janet and Larry Welter, the first full day on the cruise ship "Carnival Splendor" was anything but splendid, especially after thick smoke began to bellow from the engine room.

"It was acrid, electrical insulation smoke," Larry saysd.

"The smoke was billowing out of our balcony cabin, so we knew there may be a problem in the hall and sure enough, I opened the door and looked down, and I grabbed a towel and ran through the hall forward," Janet says.

The Welters and 3,300 other passengers ran to the top deck. It was the start of four days adrift without power and working plumbing.

"This was an adventure," Larry says.

Food was sparse until a helicopter airlifted supplies from the Navy ship USS Ronald Reagan, including Spam and Pop Tarts. The ship also had a good supply of water and fresh fruit and vegetables.

"And some hamburger buns once, with a piece of lettuce and a half a tomato, and that looked pretty good to me," Janet says.

While the Mexican tugboat "Chihuahua" and others slowly pulled the Splendor toward San Diego, the Welters were entertained by 150 magicians onboard for for a special event, although they could not magically restore the power.

"They're a bunch of phonies we found out. That's not real magic we found out," Larry says laughingly.

Despite their adventure on the Splendor, the Welters say they will cruise again, at least one more time. Besides a full-refund for the Splendor trip, Carnival gave the Welters a free voucher for a future cruise.