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Feb 16, 2013 1:24 AM by Nathan O'Neal

Tucsonans trapped on "nightmare" cruise ship return to the Old Pueblo

TUCSON- Residents of Tucson who were aboard the Carnival cruise ship that left them drifting in the Gulf of Mexico this week finally made their way home.

Cathy Liljekvist has been worried sick all week. Having already lost a daughter to cancer, she couldn't bear the thought of having her other daughter Dawn Mawhinney in danger too. When she heard about the fire aboard the Carnival "Triumph", she quickly went into panic mode.

Dawn and her friend Robyn Sanchez went on the cruise together and returned to Tucson today.

"The worst part of the entire situation was probably not being able to shower and going three days without eating or getting enough fluid," Mawhinney said.

The homecoming was an emotional one, as they were relieved of the long journey they had endured and happy to be reunited with family.

We also told you about the Tucson firefighter, David Champe, and his girlfriend, Cari Vasquez, who were also aboard that ship. They returned on a flight from Houston, Texas, greeted by family and firefighters from Champe's station.

"For the most part it wasn't bad... I mean anybody could have done it. It was fun," Champe said as they got off the plane in Tucson.

Vasquez said the experiences of passengers onboard varied.

"We had it a lot better than a lot of people though, our room didn't have any smoke in it ... We had a room with a window so we had light in the day," Vasquez said.

As for the young couple, they look forward to taking Carnival up on their offer for a free cruise.

"Yeah we're going back ... It was incredible we actually became really good friends out of the crew not to mention everybody on the ship... So there was a pretty tight bond with everybody on that ship," Champe said.

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