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Triumph Ordeal Comes to an End

Aired February 14, 2013 - 23:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. It is a moment we have been waiting for for days. Carnival ship Triumph has finally docked here in Mobile, Alabama, the five-day nightmare that more than 4,000 thousand people have lived through is almost over. We're going to talk to the passengers and learn more about the horrific ordeal they have lived there. You've listened them or heard on the phone, now you're going to meet them.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And a good evening to everyone, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, in Mobile, Alabama, breaking news. The Carnival cruise ship Triumph has just returned to port, and right now the 3,141 passengers and 1,086 crew members on the ship behind me are starting to disembark.

And now -- just to give you a sense of what it's been like here, when the ship first pulled up, I did not know what to expect, but it really was just incredibly dark. You could see lights down where the lifeboats were, but where all of the passengers were, just completely dark in the rooms behind them, but when it pulled up, they were cheering -- I mean it was -- it was really amazing to see.

Cheering, they had all sorts of signs. They were even in some cases hanging those biohazard red bags that you now have seen everywhere outside of the ship.

Now after engine room fire on Sunday, the ship lost power. It spent five days stuck at sea in conditions that passengers describe as horrific. There wasn't hot water, there was limited food, people talk about waiting in line 3 1/2 hours for food. There were few working toilets.

Now even though the ship is here, passengers still have to wait to get off and that's the process we're seeing now. Carnival says it could four to five hours to get everybody off of the ship. Now the cruise line has about 100 buses ready to go in the garage next to where I'm standing. And they've rented 1500 hotel rooms in New Orleans. They have a lot of charter flights reserved to fly people back to Houston Friday. Some people will be staying here in Mobile.

A short time ago the president and CEO of Carnival crew lines -- cruise lines, Gerry Cahill, made a point of apologizing to the passengers on the Triumph. He's on board right now but here he is a moment ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GERRY CAHILL, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES: I like to reiterate the apology I made earlier. I know the conditions on board were very poor. I know this is very difficult and I want to apologize again for subjecting our guests to that. We pride ourselves in providing our guests with a great vacation experience, and clearly, we failed in this particular case.

Now there's one other thing. I know we have been making media updates as we have gone throughout the course of the day providing the status of what is going on with the ship and all. It's our plan to continue those. We will continue those paths as the last guests getting them off the ship and starting on their way home.

We know that we have gotten our guests back to land, and now we need to get them home. And we have -- the full resources of Carnival are working from here to get them home as quickly as we possibly can.

Now the most important thing for me at this point in time is to go on board and to apologize to our guests. Once I finish that, I'm going to work around and I'm going to try and help to expedite the process of getting them off and getting them underway as quickly as I can. So right now that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to go on board and I'm going to apologize to the guests. Thank you very much.


BURNETT: All right. He is on board right now. We're going to how the guests, as he calls them, feels about Carnival cruise lines and that apologies.

Robin Burgess is one of those passengers getting that apology right now. She's on board the ship behind me. Her husband Joe and son Blake are with me, and she's on board with her daughter, Brooklyn.

Robin, you just heard the CEO apologize. He did that out here to the video. I know he's now on board.

Does it make you feel good? Does it -- is it enough?

ROBIN BURGESS, CARNIVAL CRUISE PASSENGER: -- he did not count this to happen, and really things beyond really their control, and so, you know, I accept the apology, and they did the best they could under the circumstances, and we do appreciate that.

BURNETT: And I know it is a little bit difficult to hear as she's still on the ship, but Joe and Blake, you -- this was a first cruise for someone in your family, right?


BURNETT: Well, you talked to Robin several times over the past few days. What did she tell you was happening?

J. BURGESS: Well, I didn't talk talk to her several times until today.


J. BURGESS: Actually I talked to her Monday about the time that the tugboats were arriving. She was telling some pretty bad.

BURNETT: It was getting pretty bad?

J. BURGESS: Yes. That, and -- so that was the last news I heard for a few days was that how bad it was getting. So I didn't really have any idea how it was except for the news. Until today.

BURNETT: Yes. Yes. I mean, and Robin, I don't know -- we'll try this, try to hear you, because I know it's a little difficult for us to hear you where you are, and we've got all of those people cheering and we have a train going by, so many things are happening. But have they told you how long it's going to take for you and Brooklyn to get off the ship or do you not know?

R. BURGESS: I don't know. They haven't told us, they haven't told something. They said they'd be calling by deck, obviously we're on the seventh deck, and they haven't called for that floor yet. In fact, I think that they've only called for the VIP passengers so far.

BURNETT: On the seventh deck? It could be -- it could be a long wait.

R. BURGESS: Yes, ma'am.

BURNETT: And you've been deciding whether you're going on another cruise and I know what you feel right now, might be -- what not what you feel in a little while. But you're debating as a family whether you would take a cruise, right? Are you -- are you going to do it? Are you really going to rethink that?

J. BURGESS: Well, we'll definitely have to think about it. But I want to find out how good it was before the --


J. BURGESS: Before Sunday morning, and then we'll consider it. But right now, it'd be a little difficult to choose to take a cruise, of course.

BURNETT: Robin, what was the worst thing that happened over the past few days to you and Brooklyn and I know you were on this cruise with some other friends.

R. BURGESS: Yes. Well, I was on here with my sister-in-law and my niece Juliana, and my sister-in-law's niece Brianna, and the worst thing that we had to deal with was the toilet issue. The smell was unbelievable. And the sewer water in the hallways and having to wear your shoes and, you know, just where you weren't to step in anything like that. So this -- that situation was probably the most trying.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Robin, thank you very much, and I hope it doesn't take long. As Robin said, she's up on the seventh deck. So we'll hopefully get to see Robin and Brooklyn, and you all, when she's here safe and sound.

J. BURGESS: Yes, ma'am.

BURNETT: Hopefully it won't take long. So we'll see you all in a few minutes, thank you again for taking the time. And we'll be with the Burgess family when they finally reunite.

One thing I wanted to just tell everybody about what's happening here. A couple of updates. First of all, the wheelchairs have been -- being brought on up the gangway. They were bringing a few on. There was an ambulance that was here, we don't know whether that was for someone specifically or if that was just safety, but that's one thing that we notice as we were standing here, and right now people have gotten, a lot fewer people out on those balconies than there were. It seems like everybody was at the ship hold-up, but now there are fewer people.

They're obviously getting ready to disembark. So as we get ready for that, one of the big questions, of course, is going to be whether there's going to be big changes for Carnival and also whether there are going to be big changes for the cruise industry as a result of this.

I'm here with Martin Savidge. He's been covering these for days here.

And that is the big question. Is this just going to be a quick flip and it's a big story now or is this going to be something to cause this real change?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, you know, especially the cruise industry has got to look at this because we already talked about, could there be some serious design flaws for the way these ships are powered and the way the fact that all the generators seemed to be at one place that one fire took them all out of the --


BURNETT: Could take them all out. Yes.

SAVIDGE: And also, the other questions, you know, how serious was this fire? I mean, the passengers only knew there was a fire. They don't know how -- you know, how bad was it, was it spread, was there fuel nearby. Any number of things that could have turned what was an unfortunate incident to a disaster at sea. And when you're that far out, who really can come in a hurry to come get you?

BURNETT: Well, I mean, that was one thing. I think that surprised a lot of people. I mean, certainly everyone understands it's dangerous to put everyone on lifeboats and put them on to another ship, but -- and it looks like people are starting to run off right now. But not quite on the gangway. But we'll keep an eye on that. But everybody -- it does seem to be a big issue, you know, when you think about that because another ship comes up and people said well, you can't -- first of all, all the ships are at service somewhere else. There's not one nearby. And even if there were and all these passengers got on it, there wouldn't be enough lifeboats for everybody on that ship, so what if there was something catastrophic?

SAVIDGE: And it's -- you know, this is a question that's going to come out.

BURNETT: I mean, this would -- this would -- yes.

SAVIDGE: And you can't -- you know, a mid-sea transfer in a circumstance like this, you wouldn't risk, because the ship is not sinking, it's not on fire where people are jumping into the water, so the safest thing, obviously, was keep them on board. They might be uncomfortable but they're going to be safe. If you start putting people on life boats, if you start transferring people, say, to another ship out in the middle of the ocean, very dangerous.

BURNETT: You run the risk --

SAVIDGE: And potentially life threatening there. So --


SAVIDGE: They probably didn't like the fact that they kept so many people miserable, but they also know they kept them alive, and that's first and foremost, in many industry, that's what they have to do. But moving forward, why did this happen in the first place.

BURNETT: Yes, it's a question a lot of people have to ask. I mean, just looking at some of the statistics that we have. There were -- there was a Carnival cruise ship just a couple of years ago the Splendor, that had a fire, lost power for a few days here in the Caribbean, and there have been 10 reports of other cruise line fires in the time between then and now. And --

SAVIDGE: And if you looking beyond, just because, you know, we are are obviously wanting to make sure we see when the first passengers get off --

BURNETT: We're waiting, yes.

SAVIDGE: We see wheelchairs that of course made it on to the decks up there.


SAVIDGE: They're being wheeled. So those of you -- to those passengers that have any difficult moving. And that's been a real problem. You know, when the elevators were out, when people had to take only the stairs with the tripod going over my head, you have to be aware that for many of these passengers it was difficult to get around. There were a lot of them who couldn't get around at all because -- BURNETT: Right.

SAVIDGE: -- without an elevator, if you are elderly or disabled in any way, the ship becomes a much different terrain than what you're used to.

BURNETT: Well, it becomes a prison and as the ship docked here, you know, we were talking about it, there were -- there were some lights up on the top deck, people had flashlights.


There in the balconies that's just pitch dark in those rooms. And that, you know --

SAVIDGE: It is. If you -- and that's something that is striking here. I mean, the outside illuminated looks like a beautiful cruise ship, but look at those cabins up there. Every one of them appears to be dark, which mean the interior -- obviously the hallways hopefully have emergency lighting, but beyond that, that is one very dark ship. And for people who have been sitting in it -- now we could see -- OK, they're organizing the wheelchairs right there, and that's clearly the main exit point that's going to be used. That's on the same level that the gangway has been brought up there.


SAVIDGE: So, you know, we can begin to see this is the process.

BURNETT: And you can image inside, I mean, obviously, we assume at this point, because we've heard nothing to contradict that but it's very orderly, but that there are lines.

SAVIDGE: There's a lot of very --

BURNETT: People are -- people are --

SAVIDGE: Yes. They want to get off.

BURNETT: Very eager to get off. And they cleared customs and at least, you know, a couple of people I spoke to. I don't know if everyone did, but they said they were able to already go down and get their luggage.

SAVIDGE: All right. Again, we're trying to watch here as people move. It's been hours that they've been inside of land, it's been hours that family members have watched it on television, on CNN.


SAVIDGE: What they really want to see is that person walk off that gangway and into their (INAUDIBLE).

BURNETT: And we should say the people that you may be seeing coming up and down this gangway right now, now it looks like we could be seeing people come off. Yes, these are actually people coming off. Before it was --

SAVIDGE: Right. You see a lot of --

BURNETT: Cruise line employees running back and forth.

SAVIDGE: Exactly.

BURNETT: But now this looks like the first people are -- and look at them, they're -- they're running.


SAVIDGE: No. No. I mean --

BURNETT: They're walking very orderly. And --

SAVIDGE: But it's a pretty good clip. And --


SAVIDGE: You know, they look almost like passengers getting off an airplane.


SAVIDGE: They got the little roll-ons and they're now making their way. And it's orderly, of course. And you can only guess what's going through their mind, but it's probably hot shower, hot shower, hot shower. And then something to eat.



BURNETT: I mean, and that's something to emphasize is, you know, we've been talking about not only were there no showers, which of course to me, brushing your teeth, everything, just becomes incredibly difficult. But the food was -- other ships have dropped off food, but there were lines of 3, 3 1/2 hours to get food, and if you were at the back of the line, you ended up with a bun.


BURNETT: Not a hamburger.

SAVIDGE: And most of it, people were saying, were pretty soggy sandwiches if you got that at all, so they were tired of whatever was being handed up. But then today suddenly the menu changed, and it was steak.


SAVIDGE: And it was surf and turf. It was like you're back on board a cruise ship again. So once more, we see that the closer they got to shore the better things got. BURNETT: Yes. And we did hear that from a lot of people and obviously we can speculate as to whether that was helicopter coverage and the wall-to-wall media coverage including here on CNN, but passengers, multiple passengers told me today everything was incredibly different in terms of real, real effort to clean and to make it look better.

But even as I say that, I want to emphasize something I know you have heard as well which is every single person on there has had incredible things to say about the crew.

SAVIDGE: They have. They have indeed. They were all -- every person that I've heard on telephone, every person that I've talked to, family members who talked to their loved ones said the crew were amazing. They lived through what we lived through and yet they were there, they helped us, most of them going on only two to three hours sleep at night.


SAVIDGE: They can't say enough about them. Management, different.

BURNETT: Yes, management, very different, but you know, I mean, as we talk about what's going to happen here in the cruise industry, for those of you who cruise, maybe it's a moment to think about these crews, because they are not Americans. These cruise companies are located outside of the United States. They don't employ Americans and they're not subject to American labor laws.

That means they don't earn minimum wage or anything close to it. Maybe in their home countries it turns out to be a lot of money and significant for their families, but these people work 12 to 18-hour days. They don't get a day off for months. They work incredibly hard and it's something to think about.

SAVIDGE: There's somebody waving there. I can clearly -- they clearly know they're just a few footsteps away from anyone. It has been a horrific journey. I am surprised how many people are actually carrying luggage off.

BURNETT: I was wondering if you were going to say that. Marty has been saying that perhaps you might not want to take your bag off --

SAVIDGE: I would have left it all behind. I would have said, I'm sorry, I'll take only memories with me at this particular point. But no, a lot of people are clearly -- there's someone carrying a child. So we know that it's both the elderly and those with children and special needs that were given priority.

And, Jay Herring, we're going to bring you in. You worked on Triumph. Tell us, as you see this now, what you're thinking.

JAY HERRING, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT CRUISE SHIPS": Yes, this is -- I tell you, this is a great feeling these passengers getting off the ship. And, you know, it's funny because, you know, normally the luggage is put out the night before, and the cabin stewards will collect it all and take it down to what's called the marshaling area, and then they put them in these giant cages that then they later use forklifts to offload them.

And so it just makes it easier logistically to disembark and it looks like what's going on here is the passengers are taking off the luggage themselves. And so that's why instead of only, you know, taking two hours to get everybody off the ship, Carnival is saying it's probably going to take four to five hours.

BURNETT: Well, interesting. All right. I didn't understand that when they were saying that exactly why it could take so long.

Jay, we've been hearing a lot about how amazing the crew is. Can you just tell us a little bit about what it's like to be a crew member on these ships. You're working for a very low wage, with very, very long hours, and from many days, without a day off.

HERRING: Yes, I mean, it's -- you know, a typical contract is anywhere from six to eight months, depending upon your position. You could work as few as two hours per cruise like the production singers or you could work as many as 12 to 14 hours a day every day during the cruise.

And you guys talked about -- earlier about the wages that this crew are paid. So, you know, the cruise line itself will typically pay these crewmembers, say a waiter or a housekeeping steward, an average of about 17 cents an hour when you do the math. And so 95 percent of the income that this crew received is from tips. And then, you know, it's beyond that --


Yes. Yes. And then beyond that, the -- you know, you talk about the crew from third world countries, but if you take, you know, it looks, say, a cabin steward or a bartender, a bar waitress, you know, they might on a Triumph, for example, I knew -- I knew a girl that was bringing in about $3,000 to $4,000 a month as a cocktail waitress, and, you know, you take that back to a country like India or Indonesia, you know, these third world countries, and that becomes worth a small fortune.

I mean you have crewmembers working on these vessels that are supporting entire extended families at home. You know they could work on a cruise ship for five, 10 years and actually retire as wealthy citizens in their country of origin.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Jay, don't go anywhere because we want to -- we want to keep you with us. There's a lot more questions to ask you, but I want to bring in Dee Tucker, she's on the ship. I spoke to her earlier tonight. She's joining me on the phone. She's on the ship with her sister Audra and a group of friends and going home to her fiancee, to see him.

So, Dee, where are you right now? People are coming off the ship. I can tell you, if you can't see it. But where are you? DEE TUCKER, PASSENGER ON CARNIVAL TRIUMPH: I'm actually on the opposite side of the boat but I'm still on the balcony of my suite. They're going to let us off by floors from the top down. And I'm on the sixth floor. So the people they called -- they have been calling particular people for the last hour to head down there.

I don't know why these people are getting off first, maybe they have a medical reason or, I don't know, maybe they're taking the bus to Galveston, I'm not really sure, but they have not even started to announce what floors. So we just wait for --


BURNETT: Well, Dee -- as you're talking, an ambulance is going by here, and there is someone I can actually see in that ambulance, an elderly woman.


BURNETT: That I can see here that just went by and I can tell you, yes, some of the people who came off looked to have young children and people in wheelchairs, but there is an older woman who's on the ambulance that just went by right now, where Martin Savidge and I are.

TUCKER: Right. They -- they had a medical call yesterday on one of the floors.

BURNETT: Dee -- yes. Right.

TUCKER: Somebody with congestive heart failure was short of breath so that might be her. She was like --

BURNETT: Now, Dee, do you have any idea how long --


TUCKER: Like 911 call.

BURNETT: -- it's going to take? Have they -- yes, OK, I'm sorry, have they told you how long it's going to take and are you -- are you frustrated or are you feeling at this point calm and zen about the whole situation?

TUCKER: No, I'm definitely not calm and zen. I'm just -- I'm just agitated, because we hear things after everybody else does. After I talked to you the last time it was maybe 45 minutes later when they finally told us that we would be coming in at 10:00 p.m. At that point I had already known from you and from Joe that we were going to be getting in at 10:00 and as I said, we kind of hear things afterwards, after everybody else has heard it, so we don't know. We don't know how long it's going to take. But I'm just very tired.

SAVIDGE: Hey, Dee, it's Martin Savidge here with Erin.

TUCKER: Yes. SAVIDGE: I didn't want to interrupt you, but I wanted to find out, the CEO of Carnival says he's come on board to apologize. Are you aware of that? Have you heard anything if they made any announcement or -- I'm just curious, how is he going to do that? Greet everybody at the gangway there?

TUCKER: Who is coming on to apologize?

SAVIDGE: The CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines.

TUCKER: Oh. No, we didn't hear that either. We got a letter they sent us, you know, a generic form letter. They said that he just apologized overhead. So that's the first I heard of it.


SAVIDGE: If you had the chance, anything you would tell him?

TUCKER: I would first commend the crew. I think that they have done an amazing job and I would make sure that they were paid well for what they did. I -- they did above and beyond, you know, what a person would do in a normal job. And they smiled the whole way. I mean, they were gracious to us. So I would let them know that, you know, no matter what happened, they were always there and helping and that's the first and the foremost.

And secondly, I would just let them know that I was frustrated when I heard that this boat had repairs needed in the last two or three months has broken down, and that's very disappointing to hear that this is the third or fourth incident. So now it's going to be docked to be repaired, but this is way overdue. And I'm sure this cost them quite a bit. You know, so an ounce of prevention, you know, would have made a big difference.


TUCKER: That's about it.

BURNETT: It certainly did cost them. Well, Dee, thank you -- thank you very much. And I hope that we'll see you sooner rather than later. I know you're on the back side and high up, so it could take a while, but we are rooting for you.

All right. Breaking -- what I find interesting in one of the things she said was that this ship had problems before and at least we can tell you that we know about one other time the prior voyage to this one when the ship was set to depart from Galveston it was late. It was actually delayed from the morning until the afternoon because of a problem with the propulsion system.



BURNETT: And the company says --

SAVIDGE: The problem is the alternator.


SAVIDGE: And what's interesting about that is that it's located in the area.


SAVIDGE: Where we've been talking about, which is the engine room. Now does that mean it's suspect? We don't know. Way too early to be guessing, but it has to be noted that they did have problems before. The passengers were aware of that problem and now they're beginning to wonder why did this vessel go to sea if there could have continued to be a problem.

BURNETT: That's right. And of course the company says well, there's no relationship between the prior incident and this incident. But --

SAVIDGE: I'd expect that.

BURNETT: Right. But there's going to be an investigation, and I think the good thing about this is because the ship is going to be here in Mobile at the repair center for a while, they are going to have to do a full and far investigation and it certainly seems like that is merited, as we hear, Marty, about the fires on ships and oftentimes the cruise companies say well, it's just a small fire, it's not a big deal.

SAVIDGE: This was a big deal.

BURNETT: But as one maritime lawyer says, you know, a fire with a cruise ship with thousands of people on it on the open seas is a big deal.

SAVIDGE: OK, we're going to -- we're going to move out of the way.

BURNETT: We can see -- there we go. That is a family coming off of the ship.

SAVIDGE: And they're quickly being directed --


SAVIDGE: -- away from us. We're actually in a position that is very hard to get to anybody. And you can't help but wonder if that's intentional.

BURNETT: Yes. Well, we have been told by some people that we were able to speak here in Mobile, families who were waiting for their families, they at least told us, and that's all that we can tell you is what they told us that Carnival had told them not to speak to the press, but of course, as you know, many people on board that ship have been willing and many families here have been willing to speak to us.

SAVIDGE: And one of the issues that's been brought up and Carnival denies it, but there have been people on board ship that say that they're being asked to sign some kind of waiver before they can get the transportation they need to get back home.

BURNETT: Ha. Well, you know, when we -- we went today online to buy a ticket, so that we could look at the form. You know, when you buy a cruise ticket, you buy -- there's -- with that comes a contract, and in it, it seemed from the way we read it that it would pretty much preclude you from suing them. So that is going to be something that we're going to be following as well.

Well, Natalie Demilla is on board with her 3-year-old son and who's waiting to disembark so she's right behind us. She joins me on the phone.

Natalie, I understand you were not given a priority de-boarding even though you have a young child. When did the crew tell you you're going to get off?

NATALIE DEMILLA, PASSENGER ON BOARD WITH 3-YEAR-OLD SON: Well, as far as I know they're going to be starting with the lower deck and moving up to the higher deck. And we're on deck nine so we'll be one of the last ones to debark.

BURNETT: And are you -- are you frustrated that you didn't get priority? I mean, you have a -- you have a very young child.

DEMILLA: Well, I have been on this ship for a week, and there is not a whole lot that could frustrate me at this point. I mean, it's just -- it's part of what it is.

BURNETT: And how is your little boy doing?

DEMILLA: He is doing OK. He -- I don't think he completely understands the entire situation, what's going on with it. You know, he's had a series of being frustrated. He's more upset about his iPod being dead than anything else. So but -- it's been stressful having a 3-year-old. He's actually freshly potty trained and the whole situation of not having any sewage has been really stressful on him. I don't think he understands that you have to potty in the shower, and we can't use the toilets, and he doesn't understand toilets right here.

BURNETT: Yes, yes. So how are you getting home? Are you getting on a bus? Are you staying here in Mobile, do you know?

DEMILLA: Actually, my mom was here in Mobile, and my friend who I came with, her parents came to pick us up. And we actually live in New Orleans, so we'll just -- I'll be spending the night in my bed tonight. We'll -- they'll be picking us up and driving us back to New Orleans tonight.

BURNETT: And I know that over the overhead at least another passenger told us. It happened over the overhead, the CEO, his name is Gerry Cahill, he came on board the ship here in Mobile, and he apologized on the overhead. Did you -- did you hear him and do you feel that Carnival has handled this well or not?

DEMILLA: I actually do. I feel like that Carnival probably -- there's not a whole lot else that they could have done. They couldn't help the situation. I thought that Carnival have handled it very well. I thought the crew was fantastic. They did a wonderful job with everything. Always smiling faces.

Carnival has done everything they could to compensate us. To make our stay here as pleasant as possible, and it's a frustrating situation that we're in, but they've done everything they could to make it as well as it could be.

BURNETT: Well, thank you. And bless you and your little boy. I hope that -- I hope that you get off soon.

And I'm here now with Janie Esperanza and Norma Reyes who just got off.



BURNETT: All right. How do you feel? You look great. I can't believe I'm saying that. I didn't think you would, and you do.


BURNETT: You look great.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. We are glad to be on dry land. Our -- it's just been a horrible experience for us. It was a great cruise to start off with, but it just, you know, the morning of --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sunday morning at 5:30.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a fire alarm and oh.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we've been kept in the dark a lot. We haven't been told everything that we probably should have known. And it was -- you know the -- the things that just kept getting worse and worse and we could never ever really get a straight answer. The bathroom facilities were horrible. We couldn't flush toilets.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our rooms were in total darkness. We had no air.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Horrible. Horrible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we had -- it was just been a really, really taxing experience for us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're - there are a lot of --

BURNETT: I mean, we heard --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of stressed people on this ship right now.

BURNETT: I'm sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Things started to break down about three days ago and people are just -- you know, everybody on edge. Their nerves are on edge.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it's just a very -- pretty difficult situation for us. Never expected anything like this.

BURNETT: No. I'm sure. And I'm sure it was so hard. I mean, we've all heard some of these -- and seen some of the pictures of the buckets and the bags where you had to go to the bathroom and just can imagine how hard it was just from a dignity perspective for you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Well, you know, you -- we take a lot of things for granted, that's for sure, back home, and when we had to succumb to, you know, these situations in the way and the conditions the way they were, it was really bad. And I'm sorry, you know, I don't honestly -- I don't think this ship should have ever sailed out. I think there's, you know, issues with it and I think it should have probably stayed in dock. It's an old ship. It's been around for a long time.

BURNETT: Since 1999. I believe.


BURNETT: Now the CEO, Gerry Cahill appeared. I don't know if you know that.


BURNETT: He came on and he apologized. Is that -- is that enough for you?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. There are a lot of unhappy people on the ship. A lot of unhappy people. Because of the conditions and the way things just went downhill from the first day and then, you know, we couldn't -- we floated for over -- somewhere around 100 miles.

BURNETT: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For a whole day, they were assessing the situation from Sunday morning at 5:30 to probably I guess midnight that night.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They still did not know because they could not open the fire --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The engine room where the fire took place.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And so we were just floating. And they said we floated out to sea about 100 miles. We didn't get -- the first tugboat that came from Progreso didn't really reach us until a little over 24 hours later, and then we weren't -- they kept telling us we were going to Progreso, and then --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then they changed it on us, because I think the logistics was just not feasible for that ship to make it back there. I mean --


I guess to transport 3,000, you know, passengers.

BURNETT: Did they get anything right? I'm noticing you both have -- these are the robes from the room?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The room was so cold. They'd gotten so cold.

BURNETT: Because it got so cold.


BURNETT: You didn't have a coat?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, no. We were in --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were in Cozumel. You know, it got to cold and then our rooms got -- were so uncomfortable as we kept getting closer and closer to the, I guess Alabama, we got -- just got colder. We couldn't leave our door open for fresh air, the hallways were toxic, full of urine.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our bathrooms were full of urine, our showers were. Horrible. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the worst part of this whole thing to me was that I don't think they had a backup plan of any kind for this type of situation, and that's what a lot of people started realizing. They -- it looked like they were just trying to figure it out as they were going, and then they figured something out and then they changed their mind and then they try to figure something else out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sending a lot of mixed messages.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. It was never like this is the plan. I -- honestly, I don't think there was a backup plan for this type of -- of a fire or whatever.

BURNETT: Are you ever going to go on a Carnival cruise again?




BURNETT: Even though they're giving you a discount on a future one, that doesn't mean anything to you? No?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No. No, no, no. If that ship had caught on fire and they had not contained it, where would we all be? Either floating in the ocean or dead. And because of their lack of safety measures, I think that we are just very, very fortunate it wasn't our time to go.

BURNETT: Where are you headed tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to a hotel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want a warm shower.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want a bathroom that with flushing toilet. We're going to rest. We're going to head back home tomorrow.

BURNETT: We will appreciate all the small and simple things in life we take for granted.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we do. You're right.

BURNETT: Well, ladies, thank you very much. Because I know to get to a shower and take a break to talk to us is --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. BURNETT: Time you didn't have. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you all for being out here. We felt like we're being forgotten, you know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for making sure --

BURNETT: You were not forgotten, trust us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We thought no one knew we were out there. It was really pretty scary.

BURNETT: No. No. Thank you very much.

All right. Well, as you can see, people are very emotional and there are more people coming off behind me, and the other thing you'll see behind me, and I -- you can see it so I'm going to talk about it.

There are just -- there are a lot of media and camera crews here, so as people come off, people are running over and surrounding them. I almost got pushed over actually during that interview by a camera that was not CNN's while I was talking to those two ladies that you just saw there who are now heading to their hotel rooms.

Let me bring Martin Savidge back in. He was there --


BURNETT: Trying to hold the microphone. This is how we're --


For our two guests there. But I mean, this is a --

SAVIDGE: You could see the relief.

BURNETT: It's what we call a media scrum in terms of the media side.


BURNETT: But these people are relieved and they really did go through something horrible.

SAVIDGE: I mean, we were -- I hate to say dragging them over, but we did.


SAVIDGE: You could see the emotion. I mean, they were -- they were truly something pent up inside of them, they're now here on shore. It's over, and you could sense that it was just -- the way they spoke. It was almost like it was cathartic. They've got to tell you.

BURNETT: Yes. SAVIDGE: Because they have been through something --


SAVIDGE: -- fortunately not life-threatening, but they've been through something severe.

BURNETT: Well, and I know a lot of people, you know, some people on Twitter and people out there saying, look, why are you guys all talking about this, it was just a few days, it wasn't life threatening, and look, let's understand a little bit about what they're saying, but when you see these people, where there's a fire on your ship and you feel so vulnerable and to her point, what if it had been worse? What would have happen? And then days go by without power.

SAVIDGE: And we talk about that.

BURNETT: It's -- it doesn't just make you appreciate the small things in life, it makes you appreciate life.

SAVIDGE: It does, indeed. We've got another person who's got an appreciation of life.

BURNETT: Yes, please. Please come on in.

SAVIDGE: Rob Kent?



KENNY: K-E-N-N-Y. Irish.

SAVIDGE: All right. So you've just made it on the terra firma. How does it feel?

KENNY: It's great. I mean, obviously, it's good to be back on solid ground, and, you know, I mean, just when you think about a good three- day cruise that we had and then it was a bad four-day camping trip so --


What are you going to do? You know, it's --


SAVIDGE: You say that with a laugh.


SAVIDGE: But there are a lot of people who've been in a very dire circumstance, they made it sound really awful. And we're wondering from your perspective. What did you went through? KENNY: You know, I think it's all to the individual how they -- how they perceive the cruise that we were on. For me, you know, you just try to make the best of the situation we were in. What I thought was interesting is you had groups of people just coming together, the power of the human spirit, just to -- you know, we had charging stations like the daily activity.

We would all gather around certain areas that would have power and literally put charging areas that looked like a spaghetti bowl of people just hanging around. We played music and, you know, it was -- you know, we drank club soda and Sprite and Coke, you know, so it was -- that's what we did.

BURNETT: Well, I heard they were giving away free alcohol, too. Was that --

KENNY: I think they did one of the nights, so yes, I am sure that was, you know, a good welcomed relief for many.

BURNETT: Help for some.

KENNY: So absolutely.

SAVIDGE: This is, you know, really one of those classic experiments where you take a population, you isolate them, you take away just about every modern convenience, and then you (INAUDIBLE) to see whether they, you know, a good human nature rises to the top or fails.

In that experiment that you just went through, what would say happened?

KENNY: You know, I think you hit it on the head. It's like, you know, you've taken -- it's not being connected with the outside world, because we felt, you know, really when the first day of the -- you know, the day of the fire it was, you know, we had later in the day, there was, like, OK, there's going to be a sister ship coming, going to drop provisions, and we were like, oh, they are going to have Wi-Fi on there so we can get out because our communications pretty much were cut off that, you know, we could get on the boat.


KENNY: So, you know, the ship came closer, and we're like, OK, we're getting a signal. If you're getting out, you're getting out so people were giving each other cell phones. Hey, I can't get out but I have whatever carrier and able to get through to loved ones, and so that was awesome. And then obviously the next day we would get two more provisions dropped from other ships, and I think that kind of really kept people's spirits up, but, you know, there was the three days where we had zero communications so I think people were getting a little antsy.


KENNY: Because they wanted to just -- hey, want to talk to your loved ones and let you know how we're doing and -- so. BURNETT: Were you ever -- worried or afraid? I mean, there's a fire on the ship. Just --

KENNY: Well --

BURNETT: I mean, we've heard about it was listing. I mean, there had to be moments where you said, I'm vulnerable out there? Did you never feel that way?

KENNY: Yes, I mean, a little bit. You know, like I said I -- my personality is I have to take things in stride. I don't -- you know, I don't want to worry too much, but I don't want to get overexcited, but you know what I do remember is when you're on going through the, you know, the muster station drills and the safety procedures and they're talking about the worst thing that could happen on a ship is a fire, and you're like, yes, well, that's not going to happen.


KENNY: And then, of course, you know, you're woken up at 5:30 a.m. by the captain saying Alpha team and you're putting two and two together, and then you smell smoke, and so, yes, that was a little unnerving so I think at that point you're like, we are out here in the Gulf and, you know, there's nothing out here. You know? And that was -- that was a little -- a little scary. We were dead in the water, I mean, for the -- you know, no other way to put it so.

SAVIDGE: And the isolation factor you described, this is the same sort of thing many people have gone through Katrina in New Orleans, those that were left behind, they never heard anything either. And it's -- your mind begins to race, you wonder if anybody knows the circumstance you're in. You think you're all alone and of course any rumor becomes solid fact and it spreads in a very closed environment so I imagined it's something very similar.

KENNY: Yes. But, you know, let's put that perspective. I mean Katrina was a major devastation.


KENNY: We're on a freaking cruise ship and we were just all having a good time. So, you know, from that angle, and I get it because it is an isolation of communication, but two different things, you know, two different things. And it's just --

SAVIDGE: What was it like when you first were able to talk to someone?


KENNY: That was great. Getting through to my wife, you know, being able to talk to my kids just for a little bit, just to say, hey, I'm out here, I'm all right, you know, was awesome to be able to do that. And you know, I mean, it's -- you know, you speak to them a couple of days, you're on a cruise, you know, and -- so that was good just to be able to have that, knowing that hey, I'm OK, you know, the ships were still here, we're not sinking or anything like that.

BURNETT: So would you -- will you go on a cruise again?

KENNY: I would.


KENNY: Yes, I mean, you know, it's going to take a while. It's not going to be like next week or anything so --


And, you know, I'd hate to have this happen in Alaska, that would be kind of brutal, you know? But at least it was good weather and you know, people were out, made the best of it and --

BURNETT: So you had a coat. We just were talking to two ladies who have their robes on from the bathroom because there wasn't a coat.

KENNY: Yes, I think -- I think there's a -- complimentary robes that were given out, not given out, but, you know, that came off the ship. So, you know, I didn't get one of those.

BURNETT: The least they could do.

KENNY: Yes. Absolutely. So --


SAVIDGE: Where are you headed next? And can we get there?

KENNY: I'm going to Dallas so we'll head to Dallas probably tomorrow and, you know, go see my family, see my wife and kids, and be ready to go. So.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you, Kenny.


BURNETT: We appreciate your taking the time.

KENNY: No problem. I appreciate it.

BURNETT: Like I said everybody who stops and talk to us, you put off taking a shower to talk to us. So it's nice --

KENNY: That's right. Three days.


SAVIDGE: He looks pretty great actually considering what you went through.

BURNETT: But they -- he looks great. Yes.

SAVIDGE: But again that ordeal, you know that -- and what's interesting what he describes there, this is what many passengers have talked about, the isolation, but they knew when another cruise ship came by, because their ship was dead, there's no power, you couldn't send any signals, but when another ship with Wi-Fi that came within range, it's like they all see their phones light up or they see the indicator.


SAVIDGE: Because now we can tell someone and look, which is why these families were getting these messages at, like, 5:30 in the morning, 6:00 in the morning, because that's the only time they could communicate.

BURNETT: And you know, one thing I think -- to your point about the -- is this -- an experience like this makes you realize the things we now take for granted. You know, the fact that you can talk to your wife and kids all the time and you can text them and send them pictures, and videos, all of the sudden you can't talk to them for two days.


SAVIDGE: Right. And for the families --

BURNETT: Then you really appreciate when you can.

SAVIDGE: The family on shore is probably worst of all, because those that are on the ship know they're OK.


SAVIDGE: But the family has heard one thing. There was a fire and nothing else. And they're caught in this turmoil of wondering and fearing and probably imagining the very worst.


SAVIDGE: And it was only until that follow-up text that said we're on our way back. It would have been very -- it really would.

BURNETT: And we talked a lot about the fire situation. There was a fire obviously and the question was, was it severe, was it not severe, and there are real questions about that. You know, I have seen a lot of documentaries about the cruises, and they always emphasize the fire drill and they say that everybody -- the crew is so ready, so ready, and so ready. But if it's something like this that makes you think, are they? What are the backup plans? Are they -- is that -- that I think is a really crucial question.

Brian Brunz is with us now. He's a former Carnival Cruise Lines crewmember and author of "The Cruise Confidential."

Brian, let me ask you that question. When -- are cruises really ready for fires?

BRIAN BRUNZ, AUTHOR, "THE CRUISE CONFIDENTIAL": Absolutely cruise lines are ready for fire. Just because they're floating hotels, it doesn't mean that the crew are just room stewards like in a regular land-based hotel. These people are sailors. They do have to take training and have to learn how to manage crowds. It doesn't matter if English is the second, third, fourth language. They're on top of it.

They have to do that before they can even get their job on board. So when it comes to a fire, we know exactly what to do. If it's a bad fire they know exactly how to get everybody to the muster stations. It's -- the problem with this is that it was a contained fire and this was not something that anybody expected, because it was just kind of hanging around. So the crew can only do what they're told to do, and the higher-ups didn't really know what to tell them to do. In the case of a big fire, they'd know exactly what to do.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you, and please, please stay with us. I want to bring in Britney Ferguson here.

And, Britney, I'm so thrilled to see you and I'm sorry that we just lost power, so that our viewers -- our viewers if we take the shot, it's a little dark here. You're here in your robe. Tell us -- tell us what it was like getting off the ship.

BRITNEY FERGUSON, PASSENGER ON CARNIVAL TRIUMPH: Oh, getting off the ship was the best part. It was -- we were towards the front of the line so that was good. It was -- I mean, everyone was just chaotic, just trying to get off the ship as fast as they can. It was just at least, you know, it's like fresh air finally. It was just -- smelled like sewage and human waste, and so it's good to finally see some land and buildings and fresh air.


FERGUSON: So yes. This is -- she kept me sane the whole time so.


SAVIDGE: That's all right.

BURNETT: Sorry about that. I know you are all being -

SAVIDGE: Who have we got here? Who's joined us?


BURNETT: Kendall.

FERGUSON: Jenkins, yes.

BURNETT: Are you all -- you're 24, you're also --

JENKINS: Yes, we are twins and she copied me. I had this outfit picked out first.


(CROSSTALK) FERGUSON: We won this cruise at a Houston Rockets game, and so lucky us.


BURNETT: You have something to talk about.

JENKINS: Go Rockets.

FERGUSON: Yes. Maybe we will get some tickets out of that or something.


SAVIDGE: So what you got planned? Where do you go next? Though I'm sure it's not Disney World, but what's next on the agenda?

JENKINS: Well, she's got a big trip coming up, going on a mission trip.

FERGUSON: Yes, I'll be in India next week so I get a week of comfort and then I'm off again so yes.

JENKINS: Spreading the good news to India.

FERGUSON: Yes, trying to.

SAVIDGE: So is it emotional for you to be back on shore, to be safe and have it over?

FERGUSON: Yes, I think it was -- it was more emotional just when I talked to my parents. Just hearing their voices on the phone, because we had like two days of no cell phone service and had no idea when we were going to be back, so just to hear their voices. This is like tears and --


FERGUSON: -- everything, but land like this just feels awesome. I just --


JENKINS: I thought we'd kiss the ground.


JENKINS: We were like, oh, my gosh, yes.

BURNETT: And were you guy -- were you at all scared that morning when it happened or any time --

FERGUSON: I thought -- I thought that was it.

JENKINS: We were -- yes, we were ready to -- I mean, we woke up at the first alarm, they were like, put on your running shoes, we had a feeling something was off and we jetted. There was a rogue passenger we called him because he was banging on the doors, fire, fire, so we were right behind him running with our life vests on.



FERGUSON: They were like get to the lifeboat, so I was like, this is it. So that was the scariest part, for sure.

SAVIDGE: So you really thought your lives were ending right there?

JENKINS: Right there. That was, like the "Titanic."


JENKINS: Status, because they said at the briefing. The worst thing that can happen is a fire, and we smelled smoke.

FERGUSON: Yes, the halls filled up with smoke, smoke was pouring out of the pipes --

BURNETT: So you really noticed it?

FERGUSON: Absolutely. Yes. Smoke was everywhere.

JENKINS: One of the -- one of the coolest thing on the ship is that there was bible studies held, and through the unknown like we knew our eyes were on the Lord and we knew that even though things were out of control, he was in complete control and somehow this would be used for his glory and I'm excited to see what that is.

BURNETT: And what's your mission for? A Mormon mission or --

FERGUSON: No, Christian. This was my church's Second Baptist. We're partnering with a ministry in India so -- to help in sex trafficking (ph). It's really (INAUDIBLE) for her.

SAVIDGE: Let me just -- we're seeing the first buses that are leaving here. These were glass tinted of course so very hard to see inside of it. We can't -- they are leaving.

BURNETT: They are leaving. I can see through this tinted glass. Yes.


SAVIDGE: Pretty happy they're all -- all trying to signal.


SAVIDGE: They give you some indication that hey, we're here. We're --


We're on the way. So this is the first step of a journey and the logistics issue.

BURNETT: Sure. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: As you leave -- as you leave, so I just -- I'm at the "Houston Chronicle," I just want to get something --

BURNETT: Thanks very much, guys. We really appreciate your taking the time.

SAVIDGE: Yes. Welcome back.

BURNETT: And good luck.


SAVIDGE: There are reunions literally taking place all around us here so.

BURNETT: There are. And just behind us I actually could see a family with a young little baby that I think is going to come over to talk to us in just a couple of moments. See if we can -- we can -- we can get her.

Martin is going to step out of the shot and just try to -- try to bring her in. And we'll see --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. You know, I have to go.

SAVIDGE: Sure, you've got to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am heading off. I need to go.

BURNETT: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I do, because my husband just left me. They told me not to --


BURNETT: All right, Patti, you're on CNN.

SAVIDGE: Here we go.



BURNETT: All right. How do you feel? I know your husband -- I don't want to --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm really -- my husband just left me, and he was off getting a cab and they told us not to stop for this press, but I just wanted to say we are are so happy to be back on land and I just want to give God the glory, because we -- we got a prayer group together and we met every night at 7:00 and we prayed over the ship and the people that were working. And I really believe it was by the grace of God that we all got home, because it was very scary. And the crew was wonderful, but I do think that Carnival was very negligent in what happened. So I give God the glory and I thank you, CNN, for covering it.

SAVIDGE: Welcome back. You look --

BURNETT: Well, thank you. Welcome back. You look fantastic.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Now I've got to find my husband.

BURNETT: All righty. Thank you, Patti.

SAVIDGE: There's a lot of that going on around here.

BURNETT: There is a lot of that and there she goes so.


SAVIDGE: Well, there is again --

BURNETT: People are -- I mean I know have all sorts of different feelings. You know, Kenny was -- look, it's a cruise, don't worry about, although he did talk about being afraid at moments, but there are many people who really did feel afraid and I can imagine --


When you smell that smoke and think that, you know, your life flashes before your eyes.

SAVIDGE: And it's interesting --

BURNETT: People think about the "Titanic" which sank in two hours. I mean, things can happen.

SAVIDGE: It does. Yes, history has shown that and I think people have -- well, clearly they had been told fire is the worst thing, the next morning what do you wake up and see? Fire. And that's why I think that they were so absolutely frightened, because well, they had just been told that that's not something you want to have happened.

But, again, if you take a look behind us here, there is this massive crowd that's now become the mix of where you've got people with their bags, people with their things and loved ones hopefully in tow trying to come out here and make their way.

Some are going to go to hotels, others are getting on buses and others are eventually going to board flights, because they've got to get back to where they got on.

BURNETT: And I have to admit you can smell it.

SAVIDGE: Yes. BURNETT: You can smell it. I know a lot of you are wondering if we can. And yes. And it's not overwhelming but you can smell it. I mean people talk about how -- you know, you can only imagine how horrible it was to actually be in those hallways or those rooms where there had been no sewage. Now an interesting thing, too, is the generators usually run. These big crew ships don't just dump raw human sewage into the --

SAVIDGE: No. They're very careful on that.

BURNETT: Into the water. They have to have sewage treatment, and we still are unsure, I don't know if you know but I'm not aware as to whether the generator was able to operate the sewage treatment or not. At all.

SAVIDGE: I think -- I think that's part of the problem, you know, that they ran into.


SAVIDGE: This is why you have people having to go and use plastic bags and things like that.


SAVIDGE: They had to maintain that they couldn't become a pollution problem on top of what they already had, so I think they were very careful in trying to acknowledge there's an environment they've got to worry about outside in the ocean.

We'll see how that all plays out with the investigation, but in the meantime, we continue to watch all of this.


SAVIDGE: I'm sorry? Jim Walker.

BURNETT: Yes. Hi, Jim, how are you?


BURNETT: You're Lee.

LEE: Doing great. We're doing good.

BURNETT: All right. How do you feel?

LEE: Feeling really good. We're very happy to be back. I feel like the crew did a great job of taking care of us. And it wasn't as bad for us as it was for some people.

SAVIDGE: Why do you say that?

LEE: We had our cabin. It was an interior cabin, mostly it just got hot. We had intermittent water and toilet so for us we could stay inside. We weren't on the decks so we didn't have small children -- BURNETT: Because you didn't have to sleep outside or anything? You were --

LEE: We didn't. We did not.

SAVIDGE: How does it feel?

LEE: It feels great to be home and one thing I would say is Happy Valentine's Day to my wife, who let me go on a buddy trip that went awry here so.

BURNETT: No, you --

LEE: Will be looking forward to getting back to her.

BURNETT: And where is she tonight?

LEE: She is back in Kansas.

BURNETT: In Kansas.

LEE: Yes.

BURNETT: And are you -- where are you headed tonight? Are you going to be here or going to --

LEE: I will be here tonight and then we'll fly out in the morning from here.

BURNETT: All right.

SAVIDGE: Now you've got a chance to talk to her, communicated to her?

LEE: I have. Yes, cell phones worked intermittently as we came up alongside other boats, and so that was good. Had brief periods of time so I don't know if you guys saw any of the pictures of the MacGyver-like wiring that people had to get at the charging stations, but --



SAVIDGE: Quite clever actually.

LEE: Yes.

BURNETT: Yes. We heard it was a little bit --

LEE: Interesting. But that was great.

SAVIDGE: What was that first phone call like?

LEE: First phone call was really good. You know, actually, the first phone call with her was wonderful, but it was still kind of a little surreal. I think it really sunk in for her after I hadn't talked to her for a couple of days and we got a little closer but -- so it's great to hear my family is doing wonderfully and she did a great job on the home front so.

BURNETT: You know, we hear these things as we've been talking about bring out the best and the worst, and we've heard anecdotes on both ends of that.

LEE: Sure. Sure.

BURNETT: You know, from waiting in line three hours for food and people trying to hoard all the food to people being incredibly generous with things like the cell phone. Was there a really good or a really bad moment that stands out to you?

LEE: You know, I think I saw a lot more of the good behavior and a lot less of the bad behavior so that the tempers would flare occasionally, I think, but nothing too dramatic, and most, you know, the great experience of this is I got to meet people in the hallway and on the ship that I never would have come into contact with on a regular cruise and they were very gracious and very much like a family.

SAVIDGE: Just so folks at home know that noise, that is drowning us out, is a bus kind of making its way through. And they are waving. They are clearing a path.

BURNETT: And the way I would describe what's happening with this bus is that the bus driver is very frustrated with all the people out here. But the people on the bus are waving and happy to see the people, so different motivations there for the people but I mean --


BURNETT: This is a sign there by one young woman on that bus. Need wine.


SAVIDGE: I'm surprised. They just got off a cruise. But --

BURNETT: Maybe that is something. You need a drink.

LEE: That would be great. No, they did cut off the bars pretty early, I think, that was probably a good move once we started having trouble with the electricity, but we did have a nice beer night thanks to Carnival and really just can't say enough about the staff there, because they really -- they were in the bows of the ship, it was really hot, really uncomfortable. Really not great conditions for anybody, and for them in particular.

And we really saw a lot of kindness from them and a little of the American behavior that you see occasionally with travelers, but you know, really, the travelers were great, too.


BURNETT: What is the American behavior?

LEE: Well, just the kind of --

BURNETT: Of wanting it yesterday?

LEE: Yes. Kind of. Why isn't my coffee hot? A little bit of that. But not much of it at all. And so --

SAVIDGE: What was the lowest point for you?

LEE: I mean, you know, there wasn't really. For us, I have to say, you know, traveling with two other guys, being in a situation where I didn't have friends, family or anyone like that was great so.

SAVIDGE: Welcome back.

LEE: Yes. So.

BURNETT: We thank you very much.

LEE: Thank you.

BURNETT: We appreciate it.

SAVIDGE: Thanks so much.


BURNETT: Come on in, hon. What's your name?


BURNETT: Your name is Brooklyn.

B. BURGESS: Yes, ma'am.

BURNETT: Are you Brooklyn Burgess?

B. BURGESS: Yes, ma'am.

BURNETT: I have met your dad and your brother.

SAVIDGE: They're in there.

B. BURGESS: They're right there.

BURNETT: This must be Robin.


BURNETT: Hi, Robin. I'm Erin.

R. BURGESS: Hey. How are you?

BURNETT: I talked to you on the phone while you were on --



BURNETT: There you are. We got Joe. Yes, they are altogether. All right. How does it feel, guys?

R. BURGESS: Wonderful.

B. BURGESS: It does. It feels wonderful.

R. BURGESS: I am just so happy to be back. I mean, because, I don't know, you just take little things for granted, so it's just wonderful to be here.

BURNETT: What was it like to see your husband and see your dad after all that you went through?

B. BURGESS: Well, he -- he picked me up and hold me, and I started crying. It was just -- it was so good to see him. After being on that boat for that long and not knowing when or how we were getting back and it was just so good to finally be back.

BURNETT: You appreciate your dad maybe in a way -- you always loved him, but you didn't know how much maybe until now, right?

B. BURGESS: Yes, ma'am.


SAVIDGE: Do you have any idea what you were coming back to as far as the greetings --


BURNETT: As far as this?

B. BURGESS: Not this. No, no idea. No idea. I said, I don't have a boyfriend or anything, but I sure hope somebody that missed me is there waiting for me when I get back.


I wasn't expecting this.

SAVIDGE: Little did you know.



R. BURGESS: Wonderful Valentine's Day present. This is the best.

B. BURGESS: It is. This was the best.


BURNETT: Family Valentine. And your brother is here as well. I know he was -- he was here earlier but --

B. BURGESS: He was, yes.

BURNETT: Yes. Well, well, good for all of you and you're going to spend the night here and then go home tomorrow?

R. BURGESS: Yes, we are.

BURNETT: All right. Well --

SAVIDGE: Well, welcome back. You're all -- I've got to say you all look very good for just getting off a cruise ship.

B. BURGESS: Thank you.

BURNETT: You really do. And you look like you got a little sun.

B. BURGESS: Yes, I did. I'm probably peeling and stuff.

BURNETT: No, you look -- you look healthy.

B. BURGESS: Thank you.

BURNETT: And rosy cheeked and wonderful.

B. BURGESS: Thank you.

SAVIDGE: I guess people did spend a lot of time outdoors?


B. BURGESS: We had to, yes, sir.

R. BURGESS: Yes, but -- except for the last day, you know, it got so cold that, you know, everybody was out. You really couldn't tell from the ship, or the helicopters or whatever that were coming over today, but before that, I mean, it was just tent city, I don't know if y'all remember what the Superdome looked like in Katrina. Well, that's what the deck looked like, the open deck, it was just unbelievable. But they had asked us to take them all down when the helicopters started making deliveries.

And so we did that and they straightened everything up, and so it looks kind of tidy right now, but that was not the way it was. And it was so unfortunate for those that had their beds and everything out there, because we ran into rains, and they had no warning and they all got soaked so it was really sad.

BURNETT: All right. Well, welcome back and thank you so much. Have a wonderful time together with your family.

And thanks so much to all of you for watching. Martin Savidge and I are going to continue here. We're going to be meeting a lot more families, watching a lot more reunions. Thanks so much for watching. We'll be here, and "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" is next.