Hurricane Irma cuts Caribbean cruise short, N.L. couple home safely

It was quite an ordeal for a Torbay couple last week, as their scheduled four-night cruise in the Caribbean came to an abrupt halt.

Erin Bonnell and Chris Blackwood drove 19 hours from Miami to catch flight in Atlanta

Chris Blackwood and Erin Bonnell were on a four-night cruise on the Norwegian Sky.

It was a stressful ordeal for a Newfoundland couple last week, after the Caribbean cruise they were on was redirected back to Miami.

Erin Bonnell told CBC on Sunday that once word came about Hurricane Irma's pending arrival, guests were told the cruise was ending.

Bonnell said passengers became quite worried about making travel arrangements to get home safely. 

With more than 2,000 passengers on the ship, Bonnell said only five phones were designated for guests to use, which caused some very tense moments.

"On the cruise ship, people were very stressed, because we didn't have good contact with the rest of the world, because there was no service. There was no cellphone service," said Bonnell.

"Our cruise line gave everyone 15 minutes of free internet, and after that you had to purchase an internet package. So a lot of people that lived in the States were very stressed about how they were going to get home and what they were going to do."

Bumper-to-bumper drive

Luckily, Bonnell and Blackwood secured a rental vehicle, and were part of a convoy of thousands who were leaving Florida and heading north.

Apart from waiting in extremely long lineups, Bonnell said it was also difficult to fill their car's gas tank. 

On the cruise ship, people were very stressed- Erin Bonnell

"The first gas station we went to had no gas, the second one only had one pump opened, and the third one had one or two pumps opened," said Bonnell.

"But we saw a lot of people with jerrycans strapped to the back of their vehicles and in their trunks, so I think a lot of people when they found working gas stations were just filling up." 

When the couple finally found a gas station, Bonnell said it took them 19 hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic to drive from Miami to the Atlanta airport, where they caught their flight.

Bonnell and Blackwood arrived home in Newfoundland at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday.