MIAMI (CBS4) – A South Florida couple arrived home to hugs and tears days after escaping a sinking cruise ship.

There were emotional and tender moments at Miami International Airport Monday afternoon as family members greeted Jay Garcia and Connie Barron. The couple was vacationing on board the Costa Concordia when it sank off the coast of an Italian island.

Six grandchildren of Connie Barron of Pembroke Pines chanted, “Abuela come home.” They hugged Barron and her boyfriend Jay Garcia after their arrived on an Alitalia flight from Rome.

Barron described a harrowing ordeal after the electricity went out Friday night and the ship started tilting.

She said she¬†feared the worst, “that we were going to be dying.” She and Garcia grabbed life vests and got in a life boat. But she said she was alarmed that only half the life boats for more than 4,000 passengers were usable and she was upset that crew members seemed disorganized and did not have an effective rescue plan.

“It was terrible,” said Barron. “It was chaotic. I will never forget seeing a mother with her little kids. It was terrible. I thought about my four children. They are the most important people in my life. I also don’t think they did a very good job at all. They kept saying the electricity was out. And then they kept closing the doors to the cabins.”

“It was awful,” said Barron. “I remember people crying and screaming. Now I just love the fact that I am here. I am so glad to be home.”

“We were getting conflicting orders from the crew to stay in our room,” said Garcia. “It was really confusing. We never heard from the crews or the captain for that matter. If anyone takes a cruise, they know that ships have a mandatory evacuation plan. They never had one. And now I am so glad I am home.”

“I’m really blessed that my Mom is back home,” said Arlene Sanchez, who is one of four daughters. “I know there are other families out here who don’t know where their family members are.

Barron and Garcia said cooks and entertainment staff struggled to operate life boats. “They had no idea how to lower the boats,” said Garcia, adding, “so it was one end was coming down then the other end was coming down then you had other boats that were basically on top of you.”


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