Pat Steigman of Tyler is back home now, along with his mother Margaret. Last Thursday, they were preparing for a visit to a picturesque Greek island.
In minutes, they were given life- jackets and told to abandon ship. Two people are believed dead as the Sea Diamond sank, but more than 1,000 made it.
Pat shared his story and video with KLTV.
The view from the top of the Sea Diamond was perfect. The island of Santorini in the distance. But a reef lay just under the surface of the sea. The ship was off-course, and collided.
"The ship started listing, and there was some movement," says Pat Steigman.
There was curiosity among the passengers, then Steigman heard what anyone on a boat never wants to hear.
"Is this really something, or are these just kids going off. And then the come over the intercom, 'Abandon ship!' Okay, I guess that's real," he says.
The boat was taking on water. In a room high above the water, Pat, his mother Margaret and their tour group were told to wait.
"It was a beautiful day. We were in a harbor, but not rough water, but at the seventh deck. You didn't have access to the outside, and being on the seventh deck you didn't have a way to get off the boat. And we needed to get off the boat.
"[The crew] were telling us 'women and children first,' and we're standing back and waiting, And the door opens up and this great big Greek chef with this white jacket on comes out, and this big tray of cookies, and with this big grin and he said, 'Cookies, cookies!'
"At first I'm thinking nobody's going to want a cookie! We just want to get off the boat. Nobody wants a cookie. I get done handing [cookies and water] around and I look around, and every other person has a cookie and a glass of water and they're looking around and taking it all in at this point," he says.
They got off the liner by ferry, headed on to Athens, and counted their blessings.
"I'm very sorry that there are two people still missing, but as many as were there [on board], there could have been many people still missing," he says.
Several crew members have been charged with negligence, including the captain who blames the collision on strong currents. Meanwhile, the Steigmans' luggage sank with the boat, and they're waiting on word about compensation. As far as taking another cruise, Pat Steigman says maybe, but not for a while.