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Still cruising: Passengers at Tampa port eagerly board ship

TAMPA — Even as Carnival Cruise Lines continues to experience failures with its ships, families, friends and couples gathered Thursday to board a Carnival cruise in Tampa.

As the Carnival Paradise prepared to depart from the Tampa Port Authority for a four-day cruise to Cozumel, passengers were a little apprehensive but largely unafraid.

Hundreds of miles away, the cruise line began preparing to fly passengers from the Carnival Dream home after the ship lost power and got stuck in St. Maarten. It's the latest stumble by Carnival. Last month, a power failure left the Carnival Triumph stranded in the Gulf of Mexico for several days.

In Tampa, Carnival Paradise passengers Jenna White and Liza Howard said the cruise line's past missteps did not concern them partly because they've been stuck on a cruise ship before.

White, a 27-year-old social worker, and Howard, a 24-year-old elementary school teacher, were on a Carnival cruise in 2010 when they got delayed on their return to Tampa because of choppy weather and sea conditions.

Howard said they were stuck at sea from early morning until about 6 p.m. Yet the conditions were far less serious than no power or unusable toilets. The cruise staff battled boredom and offered bingo or music to try and keep passengers entertained.

"At the time, I was like, 'I just want to go home and see my dogs,'" Howard said.

Despite her experience and recent problems with Carnival cruises, White said she's not worried about troubles on this trip.

"Since something like that happened, I'm feeling like they'll be extra careful," she said.

Ruthie Soroka, 69, said she also wasn't afraid of anything happening on the cruise. Soroka, who is retired, imagines more fun in the sun with her son, grandchild and other family.

"I don't worry," Soroka said.

Russell Chernugel, a 26-year-old insurance agent, said he's heard the stories about Carnival cruises but isn't letting them deter his trip. "I have an escape route off," he said, joking.

Chernugel knows he "could get stranded at sea," but thinks "there's zero chance" that will happen.

"I'm trying not to think about it," he said.

Still cruising: Passengers at Tampa port eagerly board ship 03/14/13 [Last modified: Thursday, March 14, 2013 3:52pm]
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