MOBILE, Ala. - A military family from San Antonio, who was trying to celebrate their daughter's 8th birthday, is now hoping to get off the crippled Carnival Triumph cruise ship in time to buy her a cake Friday, her actual birth date.
"We're okay. We improvised and made the best out of a bad situation," Norman Gadson said by phone from the ship Thursday afternoon, as the ship was still being towed back to shore.Click HERE for a slideshow of pictures on board
He and his wife are both military, with Shariya active duty in the Air Force, so they are toughing it out. He said daughter Shienne and the other children around their area are "doing great."
The family was sleeping on mattresses in the hallway because the power was out in their rooms and sewage was overflowing. Gadson said the ship is "filthy" and it smells.
"They're passing out red bags," he said, about the bathroom situation. "The nickname on this ship is we are the 'Red Bag Refugees.'"
Gadson said as the boat got closer to shore, their situation seemed to improve slightly.
"They're giving everyone bottles of liquor now and things of that nature," he said. "Now, miraculously, they're able to push power through and they're serving us lobster today, but they've been giving us cheese sandwiches the last couple of days. I question if that's because we're going to port and they want to make everyone happy as they get off the boat."
The family would be taking a charter bus to New Orleans, though Gadson said he was considering renting a car and driving. Gadson said he wanted to thank his family and friends for their thoughts and prayers and messages of support and for "taking care of everything" while the family is on the ship.