Indiana native stuck on stranded cruise ship

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Three thousand people are stranded on a cruise ship adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. Among them is an Indiana native.

Jet Hilton is one of the 3,143 passengers are coping with no electricity aboard the crippled Carnival cruise ship Triumph. That means no air conditioning or lights in the cabins and no working toilets. That's probably not the vacation anyone had in mind, and the passengers will have to deal with those conditions as the ship is towed to Mobile, Alabama by tugboats.

"Jet is playing cards on the cruise deck with one of her friends, which reminds me when we went through the Blizzard of '78 in junior high school," said her sister, Jennifer Stanfield.

The nightmare will be over on Thursday, which is when the disabled cruise ship is expected to arrive in Mobile.

Stanfield says she hasn't heard from Jet directly but the family has been getting reports from Jet's husband. Stanfield says her sister had to stand in line for three hours for food Monday, and by the time she got to the front of the line, only hamburgers and water were left. Heating food has been a problem, too, since the ship has no power. Other ships have been bringing in supplies.

"She [Jet] stood in line for three hours. There were a lot of people ahead of her that were basically hoarding food. By the time she got up, she just got a hamburger and water," said Stanfield.

An engine fire on the massive boat Sunday brought what was supposed to be a four-day excursion to a halt in the Gulf of Mexico. Passengers on board report horrendous conditions, flooding and terrible smells.

Jet is on the boat with 20 other friends on a girlfriends' getaway. Her husband is at home with the kids.

"Jet sent a text to her husband that was comical. There are 4,000 people on this ship, and we can't flush. Imagine the smell!" said Stanfield.

The trauma on the Carnival Triumph reminds Michelle Jacobi of her ordeal in November 2010 on the cruise line's ship Splendor. It was crippled by a fire below decks off the coast of southern California.

"Oh the days were so long and there wasn't much to do but wander around the ship," Jacobi said.

The ship's food stores were nearly depleted. The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan had to lower food to Splendor's deck.

Bottled water was rationed, too. But Michelle didn't hear of many cases of people raiding the ship's restaurants to horde food as reported this week on the Triumph.

"If you're in a situation like that, the way that you treat other people is of the utmost importance. I don't know what kind of person thinks of himself at a time like that," Jacobi said.

She can relate to those aboard the Triumph now.

"To them, I'm sure right now all they want to do is take a shower, have a hot meal and get off that ship. I completely understand," she said.

But she says passengers should see themselves as lucky. A fire at sea could have gone much worse.

"After our cruise," Jacobi says, "I learned my lesson. I always have snacks and a flashlight wherever I go, because you don't know what's going to happen."

The operators of the Triumph originally intended to sail to Progreso, Mexico, but the craft drifted so far north of its original position that they are now getting towed to Mobile.

Carnival Cruise Lines President and CEO Gerry Cahill says in a statement Monday evening that strong currents led the Triumph to drift about 90 miles north of its original position off the Yucatan Peninsula, where it was located when the fire erupted Sunday in the engine room. No one was injured and the fire was extinguished.