When a cruise ship breaks down in the middle of the ocean, passengers basically have two choices: Unravel as chaos ensues or band together and pull through as a team. And from the accounts we’ve been hearing from many passengers, it sounds like most went with the latter.
"It was the people on the boat that saved Carnival," says the Rev. Wendell Gill of First Baptist Church in Laporte, Texas. He spoke with the Los Angeles Times about his experience onboard. "In an adverse situation, most people will rise to help -- that’s just the human spirit," he said.
On Monday, Gill started a prayer group and by Wednesday, they had gathered about 200 people who shared their fears about jobs, kids and getting sick while still stranded.
Parisa Safarzadeh was traveling with eight friends who were celebrating college graduation. In an article she wrote for CNN, she describes the camaraderie among passengers who pitched in to make conditions better for everyone.
“Strangers lent cell phones, moms held other moms' babies so they could have a break, passengers gave a hand to the elderly to ensure they got up and down the stairs safely, and guys were ready and willing to lift wheelchairs of sick children up and down the stairs, as my friend Nick Burge did,” she wrote.
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Passenger Rob Kenny, who described the ordeal as a “a good three-day cruise” and a “bad four-day camping trip,” told CNN how amazed he was by the power of the human spirit. He would gather with other passengers at charging stations, which were set up around pockets of power. They would drink club soda and play music to try and keep their spirits up. If a ship came close, and someone was able to get a cell signal, they would make their call and then offer their phone to someone else who couldn’t get through.
And it wasn’t just passengers who helped others through the ordeal; it was the crew, too. So many passengers have offered their thanks to the Carnival staff members who tried to maintain normalcy, all while keeping smiles on their faces.
"They're still folding the toilet paper to make it look nice," Eric Robles told HLN affiliate WSFA. "They're taking care of the elderly. If there's anybody that needs to get extra money out of this, without a doubt it is that amazing, incredible, excellent crew."
Safarzadeh echoed the sentiment: “If it wasn't for the crew on board, all of us would be severely injured, starved or crazy,” she wrote. “Crew members always had a smile on their face and a concern in their voice. Honestly, these people deserve more than compensation. They deserve a huge thank you for their enduring support, service and compassion.”