TULSA - With her mother and her sister alongside, Kandi Cravens returned to Tulsa after a week stranded at sea aboard the cruise ship Carnival Triumph.
As Kandi walked through Gate A to greet her husband, step-daughter and step-son-in-law, she began to cry as she was met with hugs, flowers and balloons that read, "I love you."
When asked what the reunion meant to her, she pointed to her eye and said, "Tears. I love these people. They're my world."
Kandi's world was something completely different over the last week, a world turned upside down aboard what she described as an unsanitary ship.
"There's nothing like using a bag and a can when you're ready. I don't know how to put it. And then having to take it and put it out in the hallway where everyone walks," she explained.
Neither her husband, Tom, nor her step-daughter, Chelsey, heard from Kandi until Thursday.
Chesley said it weighed on her mind heavily after reports surfaced that a fire broke out in the ship's engine room.
"Stressful because we wanted to hear everything and the calls were short. We didn't get to spend much time with her. Cell phone reception was bad," Chelsey said.
"I was merely relying on what Carnival was telling me on their hotline and then what I was reading on the social networking sites and the media and the two were completely different," said Tom.
Kandi said she was impressed by most passengers' ability to ban together to make the best of a situation that had some losing hope. She also said her experience with the crew, who she described as more than helpful and empathetic, would be the key for getting back on a cruise ship.
"They were there with us. They were working so hard. I mean, I have so much respect for them and they really stood up with us and everything, so yeah, I would take one again."
Kandi's next cruise is scheduled for May.