Some Carnival Splendor passengers return home

LONG BEACH, Calif. For the Rocha family, who live in Fontana, the phrase "home sweet home" has never been more true.

"I need a coffee so bad, going four days without it, and a hot shower," said Carrie Rocha.

"I wanted to go play with my toys. I was so bored on the boat," said Ryan Rocha.

It all seemed fun at first, but early Monday there was the sight of smoke and the sounding of an alarm.

"We just opened the door just like in the movies and there was smoke going down the hallways," said passenger Jason Hammond.

"We have a smoke situation in that engine control area. You are all smelling that smoke," a crewmember was heard saying over a speaker.

"They told us it was a flameless fire," said passenger Jackie Harlan.

But it was a real fire that shut down power and led to darkness. With no refrigeration, food started to rot.

"After you get mayo sandwiches for the tenth time and you start smelling this rotting milk and everything like that, you can't eat anymore," said Marquis Horace.

"People were hoarding and we'd grab a bunch of fruit or a box of cereal and that would last us the day. We didn't want to go stand in two- to three-hour lines for lunch," said Harlan.

Toilets stopped flushing and started to leak. The smell got so bad that many slept on the decks to avoid it.

"Cold showers and no toilets for 14 hours, that was not fun," said one passenger.

Some relief came when the Navy dropped off thousands of pounds of food.

But the real relief was getting off the ship Thursday morning.

It ended the long journey from /*Long Beach*/ to /*Mexico*/, where an engine room fire left the ship stranded Monday morning. The ship had to be pulled by tugboats more than 200 miles to San Diego.

Carnival gave passengers a full refund and a free trip for the future. But one passenger didn't get that offer. Wendy Singleton was wanted on felony grand theft charges in Nevada. That was discovered after she got off the ship and went through customs. Instead of getting on the bus to Long Beach, she was brought to a San Diego jail.

Panama will be leading the investigation of the fire, because it is a Panama-flagged ship. On Thursday, the /*National Transportation Safety Board*/ said it was going to be leading the investigation, but now it will only be assisting.

The Nov. 14 voyage of the Carnival Splendor has been canceled.

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