San Antonio cruise ship passenger recounts ordeal

Mike Westwood says he led chant 'Let us off' on board Carnival Cruise

Author: Matt Rivers, Video Journalist, mrivers@ksat.com
Published On: Feb 15 2013 12:43:31 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 15 2013 12:40:59 PM CST
15mikewestwood
MOBILE, Ala. -

Passengers on board the Carnival cruise ship Triumph are making their way home Friday.

The damaged ship finally docked in Mobile, Ala., just before 9:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Mike Westwood, a San Antonio native and Triumph passenger, said he is glad to finally be off the ship and on land.

The retired Air Force officer was echoing the sentiment of more than 4,000 people who had to wait a long time just to get off the boat once it docked.

"We heard people screaming at one another. so finally I started a chant of 'Let us off! Let us off!'"

Westwood spoke with KSAT's Matt Rivers, who was in Mobile, Ala., waiting for the ship to arrive earlier on Thursday and he said he'd been trying to stay positive.

"It had been OK up to this point of coming off," he said on Friday. "There seems to be a lack of standard operating procedures for these folks in situations like this."

From the time a fire in the engine room stopped the ship dead in the water, he said it never really felt like there was a coherent plan.

Westwood said his saving grace was having a room with a balcony.

"It ... changed my whole demeanor, because we were able to keep the door open, have the breeze come in, the odor go out and actually sleep," he said.

Westwood said he has seen his share of chaos, having worked in New Orleans with others from the Alamo City dying Hurricane Katrina.

"I tell you what, if San Antonio folks were here helping, this would have been a lot better organized," he said. "I'm telling you, we had it together compared to what they did here."

But Westwood was quick to point out that there were a few positive things he will take away from the whole experience, like watching passengers helping out one another, sharing any extra supplies they'd brought on board.

He also called the crew of the Carnival unsung heroes.

"They worked long hours, some of them were getting one or two hours sleep," he said. "They were getting nothing but bread to eat initially. We were taking food up to them while other people were coming back with stacks of hamburgers. One person had 15 hamburgers on a stack!"

As for the disabled ship, it's been moved from the dock in Mobile back down a waterway in the direction of a shipyard, where city officials said it will be repaired.