Dentoning….THE Cruise

Although under the strictest of definitions, Dentoning happens IN DENTON, there are exceptions. When we do leave our city, we should absorb all we see and do with the thought of how what we experience can make Denton a better place to live. Now I’m not saying we mimic another town, country or area. Denton is developing it’s own personality. I am saying that ideas come from somewhere and if we see something cool, why not incorporate in into the fabric of Denton if appropriate? One of my best friends just returned from a trip……. a cruise, not just any cruise, THE cruise which included the added excitement of a fire in the engine room, being dead in the water for two and a half days, a planned tow back to Mexico nixed due to Gulf currents, a subsequent tow to ALABAMA and then a flight home. From news reports, the conditions on the ship were atrocious. From eye witness reports, not so much. My friend didn’t bring home many ideas on how to improve our fair city, but at least she made the effort. I’m thinking the worst part of this cruise for many people will be the embarrassment of having to tell people that they took a cruise to ALABAMA!!

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My dear friend, Karen Yount, her sister Linda Jenkins Shibata, and a cousin or two had the trip planned for months. The Carnival cruise ship, Triumph, left Galveston and headed south for Cozumel. Karen reports that the first 3 days or so where a lot of fun. They had a great time on the ship and on the beach at Cozumel………then, the fire. Karen heard the “alpha, alpha, alpha” message in her cabin and thought it was just routine, but then Linda came to her door with a life preserver on and Karen got a blast of smoke as she opened the door. The group was on the lower deck, so they were very close to the fire. No one was panicking or thinking that the problem would last long……..yet. Karen and her group donned their life preservers and worked their way through the dense smoke to their “muster” area.

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Once everyone was at the rally point, they were told that there had been a fire, (which I’m pretty sure the more intelligent of the crowd already knew), and that it was under control. The smoke still pouring out of the fluke-like smoke stack didn’t reassure anyone that it was under control. The crowd dispersed back to their cabins (or to the bar) and waited for whatever was coming next. The fire had knocked out the electricity on the ship, so most people grabbed books, cell phones, sleeping relatives and their copies of the terms of their cruise, and quickly tried to find the choicest of places on the deck…….to wait. Before long, the ship began to list due to the fact that it was not under power and was pushed by the wind and currents. Karen says it wasn’t that bad, but that the whinier of the passengers began to complain. Now Karen is a smart woman and she knew that the situation was what it was, but the drama queens went into freak mode. After a few hours, the passengers were told that the ship’s propulsion system was kaput and that tug boats were on the way to tow them back to Mexico. Everyone settled down to hurry up and wait.

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The bars closed that first night adrift and of course, there was no way to cook. Karen won’t admit it, but I think this is about the time she started thinking about cannibalism, but I could be wrong. I’m pretty sure she and the other passengers started taking notes about this time also, in case starvation became a problem and a book needed to be written. There were lots of rumors flying around the ship and there would have been more had I been on the boat, but for the most part, everything was calm during their time adrift. As the seconds turned to minutes, minutes to hours and hours to days, the happy (?) vacationers turned the deck of the Triumph into what looked like a third-world country. Sheets were hung over the decks to block the sun, mattresses were taken from cabins into the halls and onto the deck, intricate phone charging webs were created around the few wall sockets with power and the infamous red bags were put to use. There wasn’t much information distributed, but that which was, was given by an overly cheery British woman who used the word “brilliant” a lot. It didn’t take the legions of bored people long to start a drinking game which revolved around “brilliant!!”, though Karen did not partake in this past time. Eventually, the tug boats arrived and the castaways were told they’d be cruising to Mobile, Alabama instead of Mexico. You can imagine how excited this made everyone.

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The tug boats tethered to the ship and added to the confidence of the passengers by constantly snapping their lines. Many have said that they made friends for life during this time, but that was mostly the very elderly. Karen and her group made do with the situation, eating onion sandwiches, drinking bottled water, reading, playing cards and wondering when they’d run out of onions. The two day tug to Mobile was brutally slow and tempers flared at times, but Karen says that it wasn’t nearly as bad as the media portrayed. The crippled ship finally arrived back to the US to media coverage which made it seem like a REALLY slow return of the space shuttle. Once Karen’s group was off the boat, they were whisked four hours to New Orleans where they spent the night and were flown home the next day. Karen says she’d go on another cruise but wants to wait several years before doing so. She returned with a slight case of cruise crud, never wants to eat onion again and wonders if things had gotten really bad if it would have tasted like chicken…….

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Historic souvenir (unused) from my thoughtful friend Karen

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