LOUISVILLE — It's Sunday night at Louisville International Airport, and Sarah Moore of Bowling Green is waiting as patiently as she can. She's standing still, occasionally rising on her toes to peek through a security checkpoint.
Behind her are friends and family holding signs and flowers and waiting patiently, too.
Finally, Sarah Moore sees her daughter, and Lauren Moore walks straight to her mother. She carries only a small Nike bag from a retail store. Hugs are exchanged. The relief is evident on the face of the concerned mother — Lauren Moore, 28, of Bowling Green is home.
"I'm elated," Sarah Moore said. "I'm elated that she's here."
Only about 53 hours before Lauren Moore's arrival in Louisville, she was on a cruise ship off the coast of Italy. Then, crisis and tragedy struck — the liner, the Costa Concordia, ran aground and tipped over Friday. The accident resulted in the deaths of at least six people. Lauren Moore was stranded with only the clothes on her back, a cellphone and a wallet. She was half a world away from home without a passport.
Sarah Moore said her daughter arrived in Louisville wearing the same clothes she wore when she was rescued. Lauren Moore and four friends were booked on a 10-day Mediterranean cruise aboard the ship. The trip had been planned for more than a year.
"We are all very excited to be home and very thankful for everyone at home and in Italy who helped get us home," Lauren Moore said at the airport. "It took a lot of people to get us here, and we appreciate it."
Lauren Moore, a Bowling Green High School graduate who is pursuing a teaching degree at Western Kentucky University, hugged her sister, her father and friends who made the trip to Louisville to greet her as she got off her Delta Airlines flight late Sunday.
But she wasn't quite ready to share the details of the night the ship capsized or about how she got back to the United States in such a short time.
"We had a lot of help getting home," Moore said. The scene on the boat as it went down was "scary and it was chaotic."
Her mother brought items to comfort her, including a blanket, a pillow, pajamas and house slippers.
Sarah Moore has been keeping abreast of Lauren Moore's whereabouts via occasional calls and text messages. She's not surprised by the strength her daughter displayed throughout the ordeal.
"She is a strong young woman," she said. "She knows what to do."
Lauren Moore began her journey home early Sunday, flying from Rome to Paris to Atlanta and finally to Louisville.
"She does like to travel, and she's smart, but no one is prepared for this type of thing," her mother said. "So she's savvy in many ways — this is nothing that's been experienced before and, hopefully, never again."
It wasn't until late Friday and early Saturday that Sarah Moore realized the magnitude of what her daughter went through.
By midday Saturday, Sarah Moore got a text message that Lauren was at the U.S. Embassy working to get a passport so she could get home.
Sarah Moore also alerted Sarah's sister, Leslie Moore, who lives in Lexington.
"At first, I didn't realize the gravity of it," Leslie Moore said. "I didn't picture that the boat sunk and people were scrambling to find land."
Lauren Moore said the cruise line hasn't told her anything about her luggage and personal items or about any compensation for her experience. Some media reports have indicated the cruise line's response has been slow.
"I'm trying not to be too critical, because I can only imagine how overwhelming it is," Sarah Moore said. "I can say there has been no assistance from the cruise company right now."