Rector Couple Not Bothered With Being Stranded in Paradise

Thursday, March 21, 2013
Mona and Kenny Faulkner with the beautiful St. Maarten coast in the background

Kenny and Mona Faulkner of Rector were among the more than 4,000 passengers aboard the cruise ship Carnival Dream as part of a beautiful vacation trip which included visits to idyllic Caribbean ports and some of the most beautiful settings remaining in the modern world.

"It was a wonderful cruise," Mona said. "Everything is so beautiful and you're waited on for everything on the cruise. This was our eighth cruise and we just love it."

The Faulkners were aboard the Carnival Dream, which departed from Port Canaveral, Fla. March 9 before making stops in Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten as part of a week-long cruise. The ship was scheduled to leave Philipsburg, St. Maarten Thursday, March 14, in order to return to Port Canaveral, but the ship's captain informed the passengers otherwise.

"We were sitting on the balcony outside our cabin at about 6:15 p.m.," Mona said. "We hadn't left yet, which was a little unusual, but nothing we were concerned about. On these cruises, they usually wait a little while in case someone hasn't made it back to the ship in time for departure. They came over the intercom and made an announcement about having some technical difficulties. They were going to shut the elevators and restrooms down for about 30 minutes."

A routine check of the ship showed problems with the back-up emergency generator. As technicians attempted to correct the problem, the aforementioned elevators and facilities were offline for a half hour. However, unlike initial reports in the national media, the problems never worsened beyond a very mild inconvenience.

"In all honesty, we never noticed it outside of the announcement," Mona said. "There was no panic, there were no smells or anything like that. Everything was just like it had been. We talked to several people and they all said the very same thing."

Instead of departing St. Maarten, the ship remained docked at the location. As opposed to two days at sea traveling back to Port Canaveral, cruise-goers enjoyed the scenes and sites of beautiful St. Maarten, with many using the opportunity to visit the beautiful beaches or just relax in their cabins.

"We were stranded in paradise," Mona laughed. "We enjoyed being at St. Maarten more than we would have being at sea those two days. It's beautiful there. We went back to the beaches and had a wonderful view from our cabin. We were not put out at all."

In fact, early reports of the conditions on the ship led to the Faulkners receiving text messages and online questions about their well-being.

"I saw the news and the things they were reporting on CNN were so much worse than anything that actually happened," Mona said. "I got in contact with some of our family and let them know that everything was fine and it had all been exaggerated. It was like we were staying a very, very nice hotel. We had power and restrooms throughout, with the only exception being that 30 minutes they announced over the intercom."

Carnival, which received negative publicity last month when the Triumph cruise ship was left without power and working restrooms due to an engine fire, went all out to accommodate its customers. The cruise continued its regular schedule of events and also brought in award-winning performer Jon Secada for two special concerts Thursday night. In addition, Carnival also refunded the passengers for three days of the cruise and offered a future discount of 50 percent for those who wish to return and enjoy another cruise.

The Faulkners may take advantage of the opportunity to return to sea sooner rather than later. If the schedules of Kenny and the couple's daughter, Lauren, work out right, the group may join other family members for a reunion in May aboard the luxurious cruise ships.

"You can see how much it bothered us--we're already discussing going on another cruise," Mona laughed.

Mona said Carnival spared no expense in returning its passengers to Florida. Groups traveled by chartered bus to a nearby St. Maarten airport, complete with police escort, where they boarded a chartered Delta plane Friday.

"It was the nicest flight we've been on," Mona said. "They even paid for our hotel."

The company also paid for hotel accommodations Friday night.

"Carnival went out of their way to make sure everything was taken care of for all the passengers," Mona said.

The Faulkners drove home from Florida Saturday.

"Carnival was very good to us and we had a great time on the cruise," Mona said. "We've always had good experiences with them and recommend a cruise to anyone considering it. Like I said, we're already looking to go on another in May."

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