Cruise ship family: "Pandemonium" on board

Alaska family Nate and Cary Lukes and their daughters - Molly, 16; Hannah, 13; Isabel, 9; and Lucy, 6 - described their ordeal on board the wrecked Costa Concordia, on "CBS This Morning" Monday, Jan. 17. 2012.

An American family traveling on the Costa Concordia described scenes of panic as passengers tried to evacuate the stricken ship when it ran aground off the island of Giglio late Friday.

On "CBS This Morning" Nate and Cary Lukes of Girdwood, Alaska talked about their family's ordeal and how they kept their heads, even as grown men - who pushed past the couple and their four girls to get to the front of the life raft lines - were losing theirs.

The family had turned in early while many on ship were still eating their dinner when the accident occurred. "We didn't hear a lot of the noise that many of the other passengers had heard," Cary Lukes said. "However, something did wake me up. I got out of bed and noticed that some of the items in our bathroom had shifted to the floor."

Nate Lukes noticed the boat was not even. Concerned, he woke their four daughters - Molly, 16; Hannah, 13; Isabel, 9; and Lucy, 6 - to get their things together and head out on deck to see what was happening.

Cary said the ship's staff was reporting that everything was under control - that a generator problem was behind the lights going out. But the tipping of the ship suggested otherwise.

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Nate Lukes said they encountered scenes of "pandemonium" in the hallways: "People running around, you realized, hey, maybe this is serious. We need to get to the surface. We didn't know what level the lifeboats were on. We went up the stairs and down the stairs. I think Cary finally noticed cold air blowing in from some doorway, so we made our way to the deck there. There were a lot of people out there.

"Being in the corridors in the dark was, you felt really vulnerable. This was the worst place you would want to be, you know - disoriented in the dark and the boat starting to tip."

Cary said there were a few hysterical people - "I was one of them" - as they tried to get in line for the lifeboats. "There were crew members that were telling us, 'Five people in a line, five people in a line,' and trying to be organized. That didn't last very long. People were pushing and shoving and of course, everyone wanted to be first. "

They missed the first lifeboat. Even among the crowds, the family managed to stay together throughout the ordeal.

"The biggest fear we had was losing one of the kids or one of us not getting off the ship. I can't even imagine how awful that would have been," said Cary.

To watch the complete interview click on the video player above.

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