Eden Davis hadn't heard from her sister stuck aboard the Carnival Triumph since Monday, until she got a call Thursday afternoon.
"All's I heard was, Eden? And I go, Gina? And she goes 'I love you,' and just my heart stopped," said Davis of her conversation with sister Gina Howe.
The Michigan native had last contacted Davis Monday, the day after a fire aboard the Triumph knocked out power and plumbing.
"They have stayed on the top of the ship and I asked them why and they said for fresh air," recalled Davis. "They said they just want to remove themselves from any potential, you know, breathing anything that might be unhealthy. And I said, what do you mean? And she said there's feces everywhere."
Davis says Howe told her she and her childhood friend, Carrie Burgess, hadn't been down to their room for several days due to the deplorable conditions.
Howe and Burgess took the cruise in honor of their best friend, Laura, who died last August after losing her battle with cancer.
"They took this cruise to memorialize Laura's life and honestly they believe-- and my sister said today again-- that they believe Laura's spirits have actually helped get them through this," Davis said.
Howe has diabetes and told Davis she had asked the crew daily for insulin, but was told they didn't have any. Davis says Howe assured her she was alright.
Davis says Howe and Burgess are sticking together and doing their best to stay strong, despite a vacation that's turned into a nightmare.
"She said we've just created teams with other passengers and create activities and we've made up games," said Davis. She added that Howe and Burgess are trying to "stay positive."
For her part, Davis says the lack of communication between she and her sister has been the hardest part of the ordeal. She wants Carnival to change its procedures.
"They do not have an emergency plan," Davis said. "They do not have anything in place for anything of this magnitude and that's unacceptable. In this day in age, with technology, there is no excuse to not have a means for people to communicate."