Mariposa newlywed's nightmare cruise is finally over

FRESNO, Calif.

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North valley newlyweds, Stacey and Joe Noriega -- were on board the cruise liner that was supposed to take them on a seven day trip to Mexico.

The Noriegas say they're happy to be back on land after three days at sea with cold showers and no flushing toilets.

Many of the passengers are now being bused back to the Long Beach port where they departed. But the Noreigas are not heading home quite yet.

The uncomfortable journey aboard the Carnival Splendor finally came to an end Thursday, after tug boats pulled the crippled cruise ship to port in San Diego.

Even getting off the massive ship was a hassle because no power meant no elevators, so passengers had to haul their luggage all the way down the deck. They were greeted by a horde of photographers and worried loved ones.

Newlyweds Joey and Stacey Noriega, who grew up in Mariposa and now live in Merced, had just a few minutes to share hugs with Joey's father at the San Diego airport before heading to New York to appear on Good Morning America … an exciting end to a disappointing honeymoon.

"It was supposed to be really cool," said Joey Noriega. "When I went on a cruise as a kid it was amazing. It just didn't turn out the way we wanted it."

The NTSB is still investigating what caused a fire in the engine room Monday morning. Stacey, who is pregnant, says she knew something was wrong when she felt a jolt and smelled smoke.

"Then the whole hallway filled up with smoke, and we had to be evacuated up on the deck and we waited all day for them to tell us what was going on," said Stacey.

For the next three days the 33 hundred passengers endured cold showers and limited food. The U.S. Military airdropped Spam and Pop Tarts.

But the Noriegas say they mostly ate strange sandwiches, "Pastrami and butter. Or just lettuce and tomato. It was like being a college student. But I would have loved some top ramen!"

Michael Noriega brought his son and daughter and law a gift basket filled with snacks that they left behind after their wedding, assuming they wouldn't need it. He says he was relieved to see the couple safe and smiling as they head to New York.

Michael said, "I'm really excited for them because they have until Tuesday off and they were just going to try to scrap together a few days of fun for their honeymoon and now this will be a great story for them to start their marriage."

The Noriegas say they will consider cruising again, but probably not on Carnival, despite being offered a free trip.

Meanwhile, the company has canceled Splendor's next cruise, which was supposed to leave Sunday.

Carnival says it will give refunds to everyone who has reservations for that trip and offer them a 25 percent discount on a future cruise.

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