Woman from Saline back home after cruise aboard Carnival Triumph - KMSP-TV

Woman from Saline back home after cruise aboard Carnival Triumph

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Gina Howe returned home Friday after her cruise aboard the Carnival Triumph.  (Credit: Fox 2 News) Gina Howe returned home Friday after her cruise aboard the Carnival Triumph. (Credit: Fox 2 News)
ROMULUS, Mich. (WJBK) -

Cheers erupted as Gina Howe and her family spotted one another at Detroit Metro Airport Friday night.  It was a homecoming that was four days overdue.

"It feels so good.  I just wanted to get home," she said.

Gina and her friend, Carrie Mason Burgess, set sail on the Carnival Triumph a week ago Thursday on a five day cruise to honor their dear friend, Laura Babala, who passed away last year of cancer.

They sprinkled her ashes at sea.  Then their vacation of a lifetime turned into a nightmare when a fire aboard the ship caused the 893 foot vessel to lose power.  With more than 4,000 people on board and few working toilets, the boat became a floating, filthy bathroom.

"That boat was a junk place.  It was horrible.  It was disgusting.  There were piles and piles and piles of poop in buckets," Gina explained.

A diabetic, she ran out of insulin and discovered a rash on her feet and ankles.  Back in Saline, her family was worried about her well being.

"It was very hard not to be able to talk to her, for one, and knowing that she was out of insulin, that was breaking my heart," said brother Brent Richardson.

No lights and no bathroom, Gina and other passengers slept on the deck of the boat.  Food was scarce, but Gina says she and her friend were determined to make the best of things.

"Carrie and I just decided we were going to stay strong, stay positive, laugh, laugh as much as we could, make people happy," she said.

"She's the life of the party, so I'm sure that she could make a good time out of bad as much as possible, and we missed her, I know that," said her husband, Larry.

Carnival's CEO is offering an apology, but his words can't undo the worst vacation experience Gina and the others had to endure.

"I know that the CEO or whoever made the decisions apologized, but he needs to go to into room 7331, shut that door in the darkness and try to live in there for three minutes and breathe," she said.  "It was deplorable.  I felt so sick."

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