Couple with Hawaii ties endures grueling nights aboard disabled ship

Passengers aboard the "Carnival Splendor"
Passengers aboard the "Carnival Splendor"
Video of smoke from the engine room
Video of smoke from the engine room

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

SAN DIEGO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Spam and beer. Those were among the limited offerings on a cruise ship that was disabled by fire Monday. Thousands of passengers, including a couple with Hawaii ties, are finally back on dry land, after tug boats pulled the Carnival Splendor into San Diego Harbor Thursday.

Paul Abear, 48, is originally from Mililani, but now lives in Las Vegas with his wife, Ann. This was the couple's first ever cruise.

Paul and Ann Abear were among the more than 3,000 weary passengers who walked off the Carnival Splendor in San Diego, after a three-night ordeal at sea.

"We were just beginning our seven-day cruise when it ended pretty abruptly," Paul Abear said.

The two decided to go on a cruise to the Mexican Riviera for their 25th wedding anniversary. Just 12 hours after the ship left Long Beach, California, fire broke out in the engine room.

"There was a mean, mean vibration. I mean, the whole ship just shook," Paul Abear said. "They had to shut everything down because there was a lot of smoke and stuff coming out the back end of the ship."

He says passengers and crew were left without electricity and running water, and had limited food.

"We basically were in survivor mode. Lunch and dinner consisted of just basically bread and luncheon meat or salad," Paul Abear said. "You could have a few beers and stuff like that, (but) no hard liquor whatsoever."

The experience was especially difficult for Ann.

"At night, it was pretty bad because it was pitch dark," Paul Abear said. "She's never been on a cruise, never been on a boat and it kind of freaked her out a little bit. She was thinking it's the Titanic and all that kind of stuff."

The couple passed the time by simply talking.

"You go into worrying about your family first," Paul Abear said. "Then we started reflecting about all the good stuff we did in life."

Abear says the ship's crew did a great job under the circumstances. Carnival offered passengers a refund and another free cruise.

"I think it'll take a little while before she wants to do a cruise all over again," Paul Abear said.

Abear was looking forward to a hot dinner and a hot shower. He joked that this was probably the first cruise in which passengers lost weight.

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