40s wedding anniversary made a dramatic turn, leaving the British couple on an island in the Caribbean.
Pam and Martin Mulan of Derry County on Monday boarded the luxury cruise liner Carnival Freedom in Port Canaveral, Orlando along with about 2,500 other passengers.
They were looking forward to the five-day cruise. But when the 110,000-ton ship was preparing to make its first stop at the Grand Terk in the Dominican Republic around 7 a.m. Thursday, fire erupted in one of her funnels.
The couple recalled that when they first raised the alarm, they woke up briefly, and then – assuming it was just a practice – they rolled over and fell asleep again.
Only after some time, when the sounds of panic from the outside intensified, did they realize that this was not a teaching.
Martin told a local newspaper Derry now that while the crew tried to keep the passengers calm, “you saw they were nervous.”
He described a chaotic scene when the elderly and children needed a lot of help and they were upset.
Extinguish the fire helped the crew of another ship, which was also docked in the Grand Turk.
“It’s a miracle that it happened when we went into port,” Martin said. “They said that if it happened, even 15, 20 miles to the sea, it could be a completely different situation.”
He said the crew of another ship was concerned that the fire could spill over to their ship.
By 8.40am 2,500 passengers and 1,100 crew members had been safely evacuated, but Carnival Freedom was declared unfit for navigation and the passengers and crew remained on the island.
Pam said: “We tried our best to enjoy the island, the first day was completely busy with the evacuation, but we did our best the next day to cool down and take everything.
After two days of disembarkation the passengers were assembled by another ship. “When another ship came to pick us all up, it was extremely exciting,” Pam said. “The captain and the entire crew, the chefs and all, stood with massive“ Welcome ”signs aboard the ship. It was a very emotional scene. “
The cause of the fire remains unknown.