East Texan sails Triumph's return to sea

Published on Sunday, 21 July 2013 23:17 - Written by By Vanessa Pearson vpearson@tylerpaper.com

Wendy Parker’s first cruise was an exercise in delayed gratification.

She was to set sail from Galveston on May 2.

But it wasn’t to be. Her scheduled ship, the Carnival Triumph, experienced an engine room fire on Feb. 10, knocking the ship into the realm of a vacationer’s nightmare.

The fire caused a loss of power and left the 102,000-ton behemoth and its passengers adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. Reports filled media outlets of food shortages, unsanitary conditions and all number of situations to ruin a vacation.

Ms. Parker’s cruise date was rescheduled.

Despite friends’ questions and pestering about whether she was worried about the ship’s last disastrous sailing, she was undeterred.

Ms. Parker, a Brownsboro Elemen­tary librarian’s assistant, sailed with her mother and two friends on a four-day cruise from Galveston to Cozumel, Mexico, and back.

“When we went on, they had redone it. We were the inaugural cruise,” she said, adding that the staff was attentive.

In fact, Carnival spent $115 million to repair and upgrade the ship. In April, it announced a $300 million program for the 24-ship fleet to upgrade fire suppression systems, backup generators and main power supplies, according to Carnival’s website.

It was “awesome,” she said. “Out there, you don’t cook, you don’t clean, just relax and have men do all the work.”

The ship’s size surprised her.

“I didn’t know how big the ship actually was, but to actually see the ship and how big it was,” she said, “it was definitely huge.”

The June 13 voyage may have been her first, but she traveled with a cruise veteran.

“Mom’s been on nine,” Ms. Parker said.

The weather was perfect for her voyage.

It was “sunny and hot, the whole time was sunny,” she said.

On board, she spent some of her time enjoying miniature golf.

It was “four grown women trying to outdo each other,” she said.

And during shore excursions, she had no shortage of adventure. She saw Mayan ruins, went on a dune buggy tour, saw a saltwater crocodile and snorkeled in the ocean. The guide picked up a starfish to show it off, she said.

In all, it was a successful vacation for Ms. Parker.

Her only regret?

Not taking her own hairdryer.

But there’s always next time.

She’s already planning to book her next voyage to Cozumel after Christmas.