Cruise ship passengers ashore, finally!

September 18, 2008 6:37:30 PM PDT
The long ordeal is over for passengers on a cruise ship stuck at sea because of Hurricane Ike. HURRICANE IKE: Breaking news on Ike | POD locations | Person locator | Local gas station report | Hurricane guide | Viewer photos of Ike

Carnival's cruise ship, "Conquest" spent several more days out at sea than planned, and had to find a new place to return home to because of storm damage on Galveston island. And while the passengers all returned safe and sound, the same can't be said for their vehicles left sitting in a parking lot on the island.

Eyewitness News anchor Melanie Lawson has more. The passengers on Carnival Cruise line's "Conquest" finally set foot on land today.

But their vacation, which began in Galveston back on September 7 was extended four extra days because of Hurricane Ike. And while they were stuck at sea, their cars were being swallowed up under several feet of water in the cruise port's parking lot on the island. We brought a monitor and showed folks some of the damage.

"Oh my goodness," was one person's reaction. "There's the van.. that's the van. It's just like our white van."

But just about everyone we talked to took the news in stride.

"That can be replaced," said passenger Sonny Martin. "My house, I got a tree in it. I got a window, water damage, black mold. That can be replaced. That's why you pay insurance."

"My retirement car" is how Maudine Sherber described her Cadillac. "But now I gotta go searching for another one. But I'm a lot more fortunate than a lot of people were, that's for sure."

But not everyone was smiling. A couple from Arkansas showed us the letter they received this morning informing them that their vehicle was likely underwater in Galveston. They wish their parking fee would have been used for something else.

"That seventy dollars," said Scott O'Hara, "should have went to towing everyone's vehicles off the island."

The storm and its impact on Galveston forced the ship to dock at the brand new $85-million Bayport Cruise Terminal near Pasadena. But Port of Houston officials were ready to lend a helping hand for travel-weary passengers.

"Worked on having taxi cabs available to get them to their respective residences and also shuttles to take them to their respective airports," says Argentina James, a Port of Houston spokesman. "And also allowing for free passenger parking to pick up and wait for their passengers."

Another cruise ship is scheduled to arrive tomorrow at the new Bayport terminal around midday.

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