As a massive disabled Carnival cruise ship is towed back to land from the Pacific Ocean, guests onboard are without electricity, hot water or warm food. But thanks to a former Tokay High School trumpet player, at least they have a lot of onboard entertainment.
The Carnival Splendor's music crew has been playing from noon to 10 p.m. daily since the ship's ordeal began, according to musical director Jimmy Boore. The 1997 Tokay High graduate and sometime resident of Valley Springs communicated with the News-Sentinel via e-mail Wednesday from onboard, and his primary message was clear: Things really aren't that bad.
"Everything is comfortable, the only drawback is there are no lights or hot water/food," Boore wrote.
A fire broke out in the Splendor's engine room on Monday, cutting off power to the entire 952-foot ship. Boore said while there was smoke in all the hallways, it wasn't very thick.
Tugboats have since been dispatched to tow the vessel to San Diego, and the USS Ronald Reagan has been airlifting 70,000 pounds of supplies to the 4,466 stranded aboard with Seahawk helicopters.
Despite the limitations those onboard face, it is actually the military provisions the Reagan is providing, such as Pop Tarts, crab meat and Spam, that are the worst part, Boore said.
"I feel more for the soldiers that have to eat the food that they sent us in the helicopters, it is AWFUL!" Boore wrote.
The musicians have been a bit more fortunate with regard to food, as Boore said they have a small stockpile of salami, prosciutto, brie and even some wine from local Ripken Vineyards.
The ship is expected to reach San Diego sometime today, and Carnival has promised to pay for guests to get to Long Beach, the ship's original destination point. Additionally, guests will receive full refunds and a complimentary future cruise.
In the meantime, Boore said guests are in fairly good spirits and have been very grateful to the crew.
"I have not had one negative comment personally (from guests), only thanks and people know we are doing our best given the situation," Boore said.
Most onboard aren't even aware their ordeal has become such a big story back home, Boore said.
"I didn't know it was that big of a story," Boore said. "It's not like there is a famine going on."
Cellular communication from the ship has been very limited, and Boore was only able to speak to his parents for about 30 seconds Tuesday, according to his father Tim.
The onboard musical performances have been very popular, Boore said, and some guests have even been singing along with the ship's piano players.
"We musicians have had nothing but great audiences and feedback," he said.