The Vacation Diaries: The Boat's on Fi-Yuh!

You see that storm cloud hovering over those cruise ships?  Yeah, I didn't know it at the time, but I think they were a sign of things to come.  This was taken the day we docked in Cozumel, Mexico.  (Our Carnival ship is actually parked behind the Norwegian one, so you can't see it.)  Our vacation had been going pretty good even though the hubby was fighting a bad cold.  I was missing my son, but when I had talked to my mom on Tuesday, she had said he was doing well--so that made me feel good.

The ship was a little slim in the way of activities compared to the other cruises I've been on and the majority of the passengers were above eighty snowbirds, but my husband's company was paying for it, so I wasn't going to complain about free.  Plus, we were having fun hanging out with his co-workers and their spouses. Then, Wednesday night, things took a bit of a turn.

The ship left Cozumel around ten that night.  We had dinner and a few drinks, then hung out with friends in the karaoke lounge.  After listening to someone sing Titanic's "My Heart Will Go On", which seriously should be banned on all cruise ships, we went to our room.  I fell asleep probably around a quarter to one.  I remember thinking that it was nice to have a quiet room since I'm so used to sleeping with a baby monitor in my ear.  

Well, around one, my husband shook me awake and said people were screaming in the hallway.  In a half daze, I realized there was an older lady banging on our door yelling, "The boats on Fi-yuh!  Boat's on fi-yuh!"  (She apparently was from New Jersey.)  So I ran to the door, still not really registering what the heck was going on, and swung it open.  One half of the hallway had black smoke pouring from the ceiling, and people were running toward the exit.  I had a moment like, really?  Is this actually happening?  Then panic kicked in.  I yelled at my husband, who was frantically searching for his glasses, that we needed to get out NOW.  I tried to remember where our passports were, but couldn't think.  So we grabbed robes and his wallet and glasses, and ran out barefoot.

When we got to the main decks, other guests who were still partying and drinking upstairs had no idea what was going on, so they were looking at the people streaming in half-dressed like they were idiots.  And when we asked cruise staff where to go, they just kept saying "Everything's okay."  You could tell they were trained to give that rote response because everyone said the same thing.  And it was like, "No, really, all is not okay.  My hallway is on freaking fire, people."

So my husband and I ended up in our robes on the pool deck until 4 in the morning waiting to find out what was going on and if we could go back to our rooms.  Super fun.  All we got from the staff was them asking us if we wanted a drink on the house.  Um, no.  A Mai Tai is not really what I'm looking for right now.  Some information, on the other hand, that would be nice.

Turns out an elderly man who was in a wheelchair and on oxygen was sneaking a cigarette in his room.  His oxygen tank leaked and the gas caught fire.  Somehow, the tank didn't explode, so thank God for that.  It could have been a much worse situation.  In the end, one room was burned and the man suffered injuries (although I'm not sure to what extent) and he was going to have to answer to the FBI when we got back to shore.  Some people's rooms were flooded from the sprinklers, others had smoke and soot damage from the fire.  Luckily, even though the fire turned out to be five doors down from us, our room was okay.

I have to say I was impressed with Carnival's quick response of firefighters.  However, I was less impressed with their communication system.  There were no alarms, no signal things were on fire.  Guests knocking on doors was the only indication we needed to get out.  And then afterwards, there was no communication to the guests on where to go or what to do.

So needless to say, I was ready for the trip to be done after that.  But the adventure wasn't over.  When we got to New Orleans to pick up my son, he was sick as a dog.  My mom had told me he was getting a cold, but by Friday he was in a bad way.  Fever, coughing, refusing to eat or drink, lethargic.  We literally were in my parents' house for three minutes before we swept him up and hauled him to urgent care.  Apparently, he has some kind of virus plus an ear infection.  What does that mean?  No airplane.  So we had to rent a car and drive back to Dallas (over two days) with a very sick kiddo.

We finally got home yesterday (thank the Lord) and can close the chapter on this trip.  The kiddo is still not doing so well, so I'm taking him to his regular doctor today, but he's improved a bit.  So I'm hoping he's on the way to recovery.

So things I learned on this trip...

1.  Never sleep naked when on vacation (thankfully I wasn't) and keep your shoes by the door.
2.  No matter how scary the situation, people will still get a laugh out of seeing their co-worker/boss in his boxers and robe.  (Of course, my hubby's co-workers were the ones still upstairs drinking, so the alcohol may have had something to do with that.)
3.  Oxygen tanks and smoking don't mix.
4.  When people smile and say everything's okay, don't trust them.
5.  My son is not ready to be left without me.  Mom said he lasted two days before he started getting upset.  This means no National RWA meeting for me this year.
6.  Guacamole in Mexico just taste better.
7.  People freaking love Sinatra for karaoke *groan*
8.  That whole drill on a cruise where they tell you about your life jackets doesn't work.  I totally forgot to grab ours when an actual emergency happened.
9.  It's impossible not to gain weight on a cruise.
10. Things could always be worse, so be thankful no matter what.

Alright, sorry for the long post, but I felt the need to share.  Thanks to all of you who commented on my questions last week.  I really enjoyed reading your answers.

So anyone else have nightmare vacation stories?  How was your weekend?  Get any writing done?  (I got ZERO writing done on the trip.)

**Today's Theme Song**
"Smoke on the Water" - Deep Purple
(player in sidebar, take a listen)