By Andrea Lucia

PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – Catching sight of her father, 7-year-old Isabelle Raade broke into a run, landing in his arms.

After a week away from her parents, she’s happy to have them back.  “I missed them,” she said.

Rich and Stephanie Raade booked a cruise on the Carnival Triumph to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary and a friend’s birthday.

They wound up sleeping on deck chairs, waiting in long lines for food, and dealing with difficult bathroom situations.

“It was definitely a challenge, definitely,” said Stephanie Raade.

“There were a couple times where you just lost hope a little bit.  You’re like what’s gonna happen to me next,” said her husband.

Emails the Raades shared with CBS 11 showed their desperation:

Yesterday morning at 5:30 am an announcement came over the loud speaker for “team alpha” to report to engine room 6.  Followed by other announcements for staging areas for staff.   We went outside the room and portions of the hall were filled with smoke.  We changed our clothes and headed to the top deck where there was thick black smoke billowing out of the smoke stack. More announcements stated there was a fire but things were under control.  Several of the deck passengers were walking around concerned with their life jackets on.  Between 5:45-6 am the boat lost power.  I’m writing this at 11:30 am.  They are having to carry food and drink up the stairs.   They asked us to pee in the showers and us a red poop bag as the toilets do not flush and the bathroom situation is out of control.   We have been just drifting for almost 6 hours now.  There is no real danger however there is no doubt we will be delayed.  They are stating the engine room is too hot to get into to inspect damage.  Once they get in there they will be able to figure out what to so next. My guess is that they will turn an engine on partially to restore power throughout the boat and possibly slowly make our way home at 1/2 – 1/4 normal cruising speed.  I think it is likely that a tug boat type vessel will meet us and tow us in.  The buffet line is very long. They are serving sandwiches and fruit and boxes cereals.   some people are very concerned.  I just saw someone walk thru with a back pack and stuff it full of food. Some people are hoarding food.  The boat is actually leaning to one side.  They say it is nothing to be concerned about as wind is blowing us to one side.  Not sure I’m buying that. Its now 5:15.  They can not restart the engine so we need to get towed.  Another cruise ship is coming to drop off food and water.   The tow will not be here until 2 tomorrow and it will probably take a couple days to tow in.   Hopefully I can pick up the other boats signal to send this.  We are safe and sound.  The reality it is Wednesday or Thursday and we will probably not be able to send another message unless other boats come.

Another cruise ship is coming for more supplies so I may get to send out this message.  We are literally drifting in the Gulf of Mexico.  We can now take showers.  A few of the public restrooms are now working as well.  There is nothing to do but fortunately we found a power strip bank to charge phones so I can take more Picts and listen to music.  Things are much better with the water running.  Sounds like when the tugs arrive  we are being towed to progreso Mexico.  Then bused to cancun then flown to Galveston.   No estimate in what day. They are not serving alcohol.  And the food is like bread and cereal boxes and cut up.

Their friend and traveling partner, Becky Thacker, was also eager to get back to her two children.

“I was just so glad to be back home. And, having them walk around the corner.  It was great,” she said.

In the end, they found they could endure most hardships at sea, just not the distance from the ones they love most.

So helicopters have been dropping supplies.  A coast guard airplane has been circling much of the day.  The helicopters hoist food down it’s pretty Interesting to watch.  There have been a bunch of medical calls for the elderly I believe.  It’s very slippery all over the boat.  It smells really bad as there are only a few working restrooms for 3100+ passengers + all the staff.  I have a bunch of pictures and a few videos. We are supposed to arrive late Thursday in Mobile Alabama.  I’m catching a bus to Galveston 6-10 hours I guess.  I will pick up the car and head  home to Isa late Friday.  Stephanie is staying the night in Alabama and catching a flight home hopefully Friday.  Our plan is to try to get one of us to her as quickly as possible.  A couple nights ago I had to talk 2 strangers down off panic attacks.  They served free alcohol and it was not the best idea as people started thinking.  Not sure what they are saying on the news but we have working water in the rooms but no power for lights or anything.   Food is limited options but enough so no one will starve.  We are moving basically at walking speed through the Gulf of Mexico.

“I think that was probably the hardest part, wondering what they were thinking and what they were hearing and things like that.”

“We were thinking about you,” her son, Ben, 10, told her.

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