Lakeway couple among those on disabled Norwegian cruise ship

Hill Country

LAKEWAY (KXAN) — A Central Texas couple is back home tonight after a harrowing trip that left them stuck at sea on a disabled cruise ship.

Lakeway’s Pat and John Maniscalco were among the 1,373 people onboard the Viking Sky when all four engines lost power in stormy weather off the coast of Norway.

The couple was in their room on the eighth floor of the ship around 2 p.m. Saturday when they felt the ship’s first big roll. 

You roll one way where you’re looking down and all you see is water, then the boat rolls up and all you see is sky, that’s not what you want to see on a boat, John said. 

Items sitting on top of the furniture, including glassware and a lamp, shattered below on the floor. 

The Maniscalcos soon determined it wasn’t safe to stay in their room and headed out to a communal lounge area. 

Once there, they discovered broken furniture and the ceiling caving in. 

The chairs are rolling back and forth, Pat said. You’re trying to figure out where it’s safe to sit because you don’t want to fall, and there was no place safe.

Shortly after arriving there, the couple heard seven short blasts from the ship’s horn, followed by a longer one. Before they set sail, they learned the horns meant an emergency was underway.

While many raced to get in line to be evacuated by helicopters, the Maniscalcos chose instead to stay behind. 

I don’t think I knew how bad things were, and I just went into help mode, Pat said. 

Earlier in the day a window broke and sent water into part of the ship, soaking people in the area. The Maniscalcos offered up some of their own clothes to those drenched. 

You want to help people, you see a lot of people in distress, so, that’s what we do, it makes the time go instead of sitting there, John said.

They ended up spending the night dozing in a ship movie theater, and later in a hallway, though the two never got more than a few minutes of sleep at a time. 

Norwegian investigators are now looking into why the ship set sail despite storm warnings.

The Maniscalcos said it put a damper on what had been an otherwise enjoyable vacation. It was an unfortunate happening, but it was still great, Pat said. 

The couple never left the ship, which eventually regained its engines and made it to a nearby port Sunday afternoon. They spent about $20,000 on the trip. 

Viking Cruises told them they’ll get a full refund.

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