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Lincoln Park woman describes ‘cruise from hell’

Rian TiptChicagoan who was Carnival Cruise Line ship Triumph says this is another Carnival bodropping off supplies middle Gulf Mexico.

Rian Tipton, a Chicagoan who was on the Carnival Cruise Line ship Triumph, says this is another Carnival boat dropping off supplies in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. | Courtesy Rian Tipton

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Updated: February 15, 2013 12:39PM

With no ventilation and the reek of “horrible sewage,” Rian Tipton of Lincoln Park knew she couldn’t sleep in her cabin any longer on “the cruise from hell.”

She and her nine girlfriends headed to the open deck of the Carnival Triumph for a breath of fresh air and a more tolerable place to slumber. They gathered up bedsheets and hung them above the pool chairs where they slept to shield themselves from the scorching sun.

One of the group kept watch over their new space at all times; lawn chairs, pillows, blankets and a fresher-smelling place to camp out were at a premium.

“The whole entire floor plan of the boat - even the inside and dining room - was full of people,” Tipton said.

Their cruise ship destined for Mexico lost power for days after a fire in its engine room. Crew members ordered passengers to urinate in sinks and showers and dispose of their waste in biohazard plastic bags they tossed in garbage cans. The smell in the stuffy cabin rooms was unbearable, Tipton said.

She stood in two-hour lines for food, watched fellow passengers hoard provisions and had no way to let her family know she was OK. But Tipton said the severity of the situation was just hitting her once she safely returned to shore.

“It really was bad, but we were living in it. It kind of became routine to us,” she said. “It’s kind of one of those things that we’re like, we had to do it. But now that we’re listening to [news reports of] it, it’s like, ‘oh my god.’ It’s really depressing.”

The 29-year-old was on vacation to celebrate a friend’s bachelorette party and catch up with her college girlfriends.

Tipton said she appreciated that shipgoers were regularly updated over the public-address system, but she questions why the timeline of when they’d be rescued was continually changing.

“We were told over and over the tugboat will be here in 10 hours,” she said. “Then, ‘We’ve drifted, the tugboat will be here in 20 hours.’ Now it’s going to take until Wednesday night, then until Thursday morning. The timing was just really off. Nobody toward the end of the trip really relied on the timeframe they told us anymore.”

Despite the problems, Tipton praised the ship’s crew.

“They were working 24/7, doing jobs they probably didn’t think they’d have to do,” such as picking up the waste-laden biohazard bags, she said.“I saw a casino dealer serving up food in the line. The comedians put shows on for us on top of the boat. They were trying to keep activities and things going.”

It wasn’t Tipton’s first cruise, and it probably won’t be her last, she said. But it’ll be some time before she takes a trip on the high seas again.

“I’m just ready to get home and get back to a normal lifestyle.”

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