Updated: 11/11/10 5:23 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Among the thousands of passengers on the stricken Carnival cruise ship Splendor is a group of about 60 current and retired Chicago transit employees.READ MORE: Person Of Interest In Custody In Murder Of Anat Kimchi Downtown; He Is Suspected In 2 Other Attacks
A CTA spokeswoman says the 60 are friends who annually go on vacation together and that their trip was unrelated to the transit agency.
The ship finally docked in San Diego on Thursday morning.
The passengers were forced to survive at sea on the 13-story floating hotel without electricity when the cruise ship lost electricity on Monday because of a fire on board. While there were no reported injuries, conditions rapidly deteriorated once the lights went out.A line of about 20 passengers of the Carnival Splendor wheeled suitcases down a ramp Thursday morning as a crowd waited at the dock. It is expected to take several hours to get all passengers off without the aid of electric conveyors and elevators, according to The Associated Press.
CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone reported on CBS The Early Show that passengers were forced to deal with circumstances far worse than the luxury they signed up for initially.
The pool and casino closed when the electricity went down; hot food and hot water became memories; air conditioning became nothing more than an open window or a nap on the open deck; and, perhaps worst of all, waste disposal had become a problem.READ MORE: University Of Chicago Student Among Those Missing In South Florida Condo Building Collapse
The passengers told stories of how they bonded during their captive time at sea.
CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole spoke by phone to Gary and Sue Staponkus from St. Charles.
“The worst part was not being able to flush toilets because the toilets weren’t working,” said Gary Staponkus. “I was more concerned about that actually than a lot of people who were worried about food.”
In spite of the inconveniences, many give Kudos to the staff who had to constantly clean up bathroom messes.
“Carnival did a great job. They still tried to have entertainment where they could, just without electricity. They had piano bars. They did a great job with everything,” said Gary.
Once the power went out, supplies were airlifted to the passengers.
Their diet included Spam and Pop Tarts.MORE NEWS: Frank Pietrangelo, Hero Of 1991 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Says He Was Among Those Sexually Abused By Hockey Coach Tom 'Chico' Adrahtas
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused the fire. Carnival plans to repair the ship in San Diego but it’s next cruise has already been canceled.