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February 16, 2013

Broken ship, strong couple

NORMAN — It was Keith and Carmella Morren’s first cruise.

The Norman couple chose an ocean voyage to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. Carmella is a special education teacher at Norman North High School and Keith is a technology specialist for Hitachi Computer Products America Inc.

What was supposed to be a four-night odyssey began on Feb. 7 aboard the Carnival Cruise line’s vessel Triumph. After the one and only scheduled stop in Cozumel, Mexico, is when the trouble began. When they were back out to sea a fire knocked out the ship’s propulsion and also made the sewage, heating and air conditioning systems inoperable. The Triumph was adrift and the Morren couple wouldn’t touch terra firma again until Feb. 14 at Mobile, Ala. They made it to a New Orleans hotel room at 5 a.m. Friday.

The Transcript was able to contact them later that morning before their flight back to Oklahoma.

“It was pretty crazy,” Keith Morren said. “But we made the best of it and tried to stay positive.”

The couple resolved that after misfortune struck, having a negative attitude would achieve nothing. Getting through the ordeal with an upbeat attitude was their goal.

“We decided to focus on the positives as the best way to get through it,” he said. “We were amazed that the crew was so good.”

Most of the ship’s hands were European, representing dozens of countries. Most passengers were American. Morren called it an experience of a lifetime.

“It was difficult but you know what, we’re Christians,” Morren said. “There were so many negative attitudes around and we were just determined not to be like that. We heard so much negativism from others and certainly didn’t want to contribute to it.”

Each night they did an exercise of listing at least 10 positives and realized that things could be a whole lot worse. They prayed and got a group of fellow passengers together to draw inspiration from each other. The first night’s gathering was around 25 and grew to 200 by subsequent meetings.

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