You know, folks once came to this country on small wooden sailing ships. Think the Mayflower, the Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock.
Those souls were, I venture, a tad bit more, uh, hardy than most of us today.
As evidence, I give you the epic tale of the crippled Carnival cruise ship Triumph, whose passengers -- like Gilligan, the Skipper, the professor and, oh, you know the rest -- went out for a four-day tour and barely got back.
There were about 150 passengers and crew on the 110-foot-long ship. It also had farm animals and supplies the settlers would need in the New World. You don’t really want to know about the food, or the sleeping arrangements or the bathroom situation. They were at sea for about six weeks. Two people died on the voyage; about half the others died in the first year of the colony.
Now, fast forward to 2013: The 900-foot-long Triumph carried 3,143 passengers and a crew of 1,086. No farm animals. No farm implements either. It did have a lot of food, much of it of the steak, lobster and everything-in-between, all-you-can-eat variety. Nice cabins and bathrooms too. The ship was supposed to be at sea four days. But, kinda like the Minnow, the engines conked out, and things started getting rough.
After the ship docked Thursday in Alabama, the media swarmed, eager to chronicle the horror. As the passengers walked the plank, er, gangway, the grim truth emerged: Many had had to go to the bathroom in bags. Also, some had found it difficult to charge their cellphones. Food supplies dwindled; passenger and freelance sportswriter Jayme Lamm (and thus, a member of the moocher journalism fraternity) told of having to force down “jelly and bread and zucchini and red onion sandwiches.” (Though perhaps Lamm simply got on someone’s bad side, because other passenger reported having lobster and chocolate cake.)
And in an echo of our Pilgrim tradition, some passengers clung to their faith. Although Kendall Jenkins, 24, of Houston, has perhaps seen the movie “Titanic” a tad too many times, as my colleague Molly Hennessy-Fiske reported:
She said she and her friends had dragged their mattresses into a hallway to sleep. “We wore our life preservers a little longer than was socially acceptable,” she said. “And we camped out by our lifeboat -- we had nightmares about 'Titanic.' ”
They also held Bible study outside, she said, where they read Joshua 1:9: “Do not be discouraged, the Lord your God will carry you through this.”
As they say, any port in a storm.
Happily, once ashore, our brave survivors had to fend off only journalists, not angry natives. And instead of having to build crude shelters to endure a New England winter, 100 buses were waiting to take them to Galveston, Houston or New Orleans. (Wait, Galveston and Houston are better than Mobile? And New Orleans is OK, but haven’t these folks seen enough public urination?)
Say what you will, though, these plucky souls at least now get their 15 minutes of fame.
Oh, and the full refund, cruise credit and $500 that Carnival is handing out.
So, Godspeed, Carnivalians. And let’s hope the bathrooms were working on those buses.