“My son had brought two flashlights, so I think we were the envy of the ship.”
–Passenger Jeanne Ralston
Above: Passengers make their way down everyman’s catwalk as clicks, firing questions, flashes and cheers welcome them home.
Carnival Splendor docks in San Diego Harbor; Thursday, November 11, 2010 (Veteran’s Day), 9:30-11:15 a.m. The morning is warm and breezy and the mood depends on one’s stage role.
North Harbor Drive: 4,500 passengers and crew disembark in small groups as hundreds of family, friends and onlookers wait. On the adjacent artery, Pacific Highway, local residents prepare and gather for the Veteran’s Day parade. Reasons to celebrate abound. The warm breeze
Above: Jeanne Ralston of Ventura, CA, embraces her daughter, Cindi Wolfe. Wolfe’s parents and brother were on the ship.
My son had brought two flashlights, so I think we were the envy of the ship,” Jeanne Ralston, age 85, tells the slew of media with an exaggerated eye roll and flash of smile. Ralston and her husband were sporting dog tags in memory of their son in-law, Navy Commander Duane G. Wolfe, 54, who was killed during duty in Iraq on May 25, 2007. Ralston said that crew members commemorated Veteran’s Day with a gathering that included a large American flag.
Above: Cindi Wolfe welcomes her family home.
Above: Retha Hoeffken of Cypress, CA, waits for her daughter, 29-year-old Heather Hoeffken, who is on the ship with her fiance.
Passengers praised the crew, however, some sensed indecisiveness and a lack of communication from upper management.
Retha Hoeffken said she spoke with her daughter yesterday morning for the first time since the ordeal started for her on Monday morning, when she learned about the fire while browsing the web. Heather told her mother that passengers were not informed that there was, in-fact, a fire on the ship, despite smelling smoke. “When she called me she was crying. She said, ‘I’ve never been this scared.’ They didn’t get any information,” Retha Hoeffken said.
“I’ve been making phone calls to Carnival, and they said everything was great. They said they were being well taken care of, and they had flushing toilets and cold water and cold food… They never asked me her name,” Retha Hoeffken adds. She said that the first thing her daughter wants to do is take a hot shower, upon getting home.
Above: People continue standing along the balconies several hours into the disembarking process. (It was difficult to see if they were passengers or part of the ship’s crew.) Every now then, instructions would blare from the ship’s loudspeakers.
Above: A front and center view attracts an on-going crowd, despite the lack of parking. Plenty of hotels line the other side of North Harbor Dr. San Diego International airport sits a few miles down the same artery and downtown’s Little Italy is a stone’s throw away.
Above: A family is taxied off the cruise ship docks. Bystanders wave and cheer.
“Come back to San Diego!”