Local Priest Returns to Work After Return from Carnival Triumph

Monday was the first day back at work for lots of folks who were on that ill-fated Carnival cruise ship that was stranded last week in the Gulf of Mexico.

That includes Father Reynaldo Yrlas, Jr., a parish priest from Rockport who said the whole experience has made him appreciate the things we tend to take for granted.

Heading back to work never seemed so good for Father Yrlas, after what was supposed to be his dream vacation, his first cruise, turned into a real nightmare.

"I had an open weekend," Yrlas said. "I thought, yeah, why not? It will be fun."

Yrlas, along with some of his parishioners from Sacred Heart Church in Rockport, were onboard the Carnival Triumph when the ship's engines caught on fire, knocking out power and killing the plumbing system onboard.

"The boat was leaning this way, and the drain here, water was going to the bathroom floor and the cabin," Yrlas said.

Toilets did not flush, and passengers had to use biohazard red bags for bathrooms. There was potable water on hand, but it was scarce.
Yrlas said they would feed them what they could. Tuesday night was their first hot meal in days.

"There was only one grill," Yrlas said. "We did have to stay in line for three hours."

As far as electricity, they had very little, and no one had air conditioning. In order to charge their cell phones and computer, passengers had to share electrical dockets; but despite everything, Father Yrlas said his experience was not as bad as others had it. He described it like camping out in the water, and said that the crew members went above and beyond to make the situation better.

"They just made sure that our morale and our spirits were up," Yrlas said. "What you probably haven't heard, on Fat Tuesday, they came out and gave us a Mardi Gras party on the lido deck."

Believe it or not, Father Yrlas said he plans to go on another cruise. He is hopeful that it will be smooth sailing.


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