North Texan Triumph passengers praise crew, staff, and fellow guests

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on February 15, 2013 at 8:27 PM

D/FW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT -- After more than a week at sea on a ship in less-than-luxurious conditions, scores of North Texans are home.

Many arrived at D/FW Airport Friday after the unforgettable voyage on the disabled Carnival Triumph.

Heather Lawley is back at her Garland home for the first time in more than a week. She was one of many couples who had a joyous and emotional reunion at D/FW Airport. Her husband, Steve Lawley, came to baggage Claim C-31 an anxious man, with a dozen roses in hand, nervously waiting to see Heather.

When she came through the door, she was wearing a bathrobe from the Carnival Triumph. She called it her "badge of honor" for making it home from the troubled cruise. The Lawleys left the airport and headed for home in Garland, where Heather got another warm welcome from her two dogs.

The travel agent and Jazzercise instructor told us the voyage had many heroes.

"The staff and crew were extremely well trained," Lawley said. "You couldn't ask for a better crew anywhere."

Yvette Wesley was traveling with Lawley. She couldn't hold back the tears when she saw her husband, Melvin.

"Words can't express how I feel," Wesley said. "I'm just so happy to see my husband and to see Dallas. It feels really, really good. I know I'm blessed."

Wesley, who calls herself the "Lysol Queen," said the conditions on the ship became unbearable.

"I was out of my realm," she said. "And anybody who knows me knows I'm a clean freak. I'm OCD with clean. And that there - walking in the urine and those feces - just didn't work for me."

Gloria Hoagland showed us photos she took on the ill-fated cruise. She said not all her memories are bad ones.

"We actually met some older ladies that were down on deck two," Hoagland said. "Decks one and two were the really bad floors with sewage everywhere. We invited them up that first night. They actually stayed in our cabin for the duration of the trip."

Passengers told us Carnival's compensation package just isn't enough. As for taking another cruise, no one wanted to even think about it.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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