BUFFALO, N.Y. - A group of friends and family from Buffalo and Atlanta, Georgia set out for a cruise on Sunday, September 3 with plans of returning on Saturday, September 9. Two days later, they are still at sea on the Carnival Vista ship.
Alethea Benefield, a Buffalo native now living in Atlanta, organized the cruise for 29 people. "You can't predict a hurricane, they have mind of their own," she said in a phone interview from the ship. She's among the thousands on the ship trapped on vacation by the storm's fury.
"She (Hurricane Irma) wasn't suppose to come until Saturday night, and we were supposed to originally dock Saturday morning, but then it would have been safer for them to hold us back instead of going forward because we would have been in the front of Irma had we kept our current course," said Benefield.
She's joined by her family, including her mother Barbara Burton, who was eager to say she got to play volleyball, but admitted she's been "doing a lot of praying and reading."
All spoke highly of Carnival for keeping everyone well fed and busy with activities.
"We've been at sea for a long time, we would like to see some land," said Venita Cranford.
Topaz Thompson works for Student Transportation in Buffalo. She's eager to return to work after her first cruise. "I was a little anxious initially because this is my first cruise."
"We're safe, Carnival is doing the best job they can do as far as taking care of us, we have plenty of food," said Benefield.
The ship is expected to dock on Tuesday morning in Miami. The new concern will be trying to get a flight home. "Probably 10,000 plus people trying to get home and we don't know the status of our flights and if they're going to reschedule."
Not even a hurricane is going to stop this group. "In the future maybe I'll consider traveling not at hurricane time, but this is the third cruise I had cruised around the same time and we were always OK. So I'm going to keep cruising," said Cranford.
One family drove to Miami from Atlanta and parked in a hotel parking lot. They fear their car is underwater.