When her cellphone rang on Sunday afternoon, she was in Home Depot, with her two girls, ages 9 and 12.
“This is Carnival Cruise Lines,” the stranger’s voice said. “There’s been a fire and you’re the emergency contact.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
Erica Perkin’s heart froze. Her husband, Joe Perkin of Overland Park, was cruising on the Triumph with some buddies. The voice quickly told her there were no injuries, but the ship had lost power.
A few hours later, her husband called too. The ship was dead in the water, he said. But don’t worry.
She tried not to.
He has traveled on church missions to Africa and India, living in uncomfortable conditions before. He would be fine, as long as the ship kept floating.
Still, she didn’t tell their daughters just yet. She watched the news. Shuddered when the ship listed. Cringed over the stories of squishy and smelly bathroom issues, a lack of food and all those interviews with moms whose kids were on the ship crying because they were scared.
Perkin waited to tell the girls until Daddy called. And he did Thursday, around 4 p.m. He also sent a text message, telling them about meeting a woman with a granddaughter around 12 years old. His family liked that.
“My husband went on a cruise for a good time. Instead, he had a very meaningful trip. Something about when you share your last Dorito with a stranger, you really bond.”
Perkin said her husband also raved about the crew, awed by their kindnesses.
“They were the ones constantly trying to clean the stench,” she said.
She knows her husband will have other stories to tell. He squeezed in one more Thursday night: an avid Chiefs fan, he decided to drape one of his Chiefs jerseys over the Triumph’s guardrails.
“He hoped it might help the Chiefs a little with some publicity.”
Perkin is flying home today. He’ll be met with hugs and kisses, not to mention the finest luxuries of running water for a hot shower, and a clean toilet that really flushes.
Things he won’t take for granted again.