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'We did survive': KCMO family made it off sinking ferry in the Bahamas

Ferry sinks in the Bahamas
Posted at 10:10 PM, Nov 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-18 09:46:47-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo — It was the last day of the Nicholson and Watson family's vacation.

They were headed to the Blue Lagoon Tuesday morning in the Bahamas and had no idea what was ahead.

"We went from looking forward to being at the beach and spending a lovely day there to oh my gosh this is happening. It's over," said Valerie Nicholson-Watson, a passenger on the ferry.

Nicholson-Watson family vacation
The Nicholsons and Watsons decided to take a 5-day cruise but didn't realize they'd be swimming for their lives on the last day.

"You could see the waves hitting the boat real heavy at that point and the windows busted out and water started to flood," said David Nicholson, another passenger.

The family was on the lower level of the ferry.

More than 100 passengers scrambled to escape. One passenger, a tourist from Colorado, died in the water.

"It went 0 to 60 and just so quickly because then suddenly, really hard waves started coming in so much so that it blew the door open," Nicholson-Watson said.

It quickly became every passenger for themselves. People started jumping off the ferry.

"I was like Lord, I know you don't mean for me to go to the bottom of the Atlantic," Nicholson-Watson said.

There was another life-threatening problem for people on the ferry.

"The people who don't swim," Watson said "That was probably their worst nightmare. The boat sinking and you can't swim."

The family prayed for a rescue as the minutes went by.

"The only way back to the ship was another boat, another ferry. It was so traumatic," Nicholson-Watson said.

They were also praying they would see one another again when it was all over.

"When they said they were safe, just the world opens up. It's like OK, we're good," said Mark Watson, a passenger on the ferry.

After what they experienced, thankfulness is all they can think about heading into the holiday.

"A big loud celebration of love and thanksgiving and prayer this year," Nicholson-Watson said.