VICTORIA, Seychelles – The worst moments for Gordon and Eleanor Bradwell came immediately after the alarm sounded. Eleanor rushed to their cabin to get a life vest. Gordon was pushed in another direction. The smell of smoke grew stronger aboard the disabled cruise ship. Then the lifeboats dropped.

The Athens, Ga., couple — married 50 years last June — couldn’t find one another.

“Those were the worst moments,” said Bradwell, a former alumni director at the University of Georgia.

The Costa Allegra docked in the Seychelles on Thursday, three days after a fire broke out in the ship’s generator room, leaving passengers without working toilets, running water or air conditioning in a region of the Indian Ocean where pirates are known to prowl.

Cabin temperatures reached 100 to 110 degrees, forcing passengers to sleep on deck chairs.

“Things became very primitive,” Bradwell said, a far cry from what the couple had expected when they embarked on the $8,000 multi-week cruise.

The blaze came just six weeks after another luxury liner, the Costa Concordia, capsized off Italy, leaving 32 people dead, a fact that was on many passengers’ minds. Both ships were operated by Costa Crociere SpA, which is owned by Florida-based Carnival Corp.

When the ship’s alarm sounded around 1 p.m. Monday, passengers knew it wasn’t a drill. They had already had one, and knew that the short-short-long wail meant to prepare to disembark.

Passengers couldn’t see the fire, but they could smell and see smoke. Crew members extinguished the blaze within an hour, but the alarm continued to wail for two more hours.

Some passengers panicked, shouting out family members’ names. It was two hours before the Bradwells were reunited.

Capt. Niccolo Alba told a news conference Thursday the emergency response went relatively smoothly.

The average age of the 627 passengers on board was 55, said Guillaume Albert, head of Creole Travel Service. Many of the older passengers in particular had trouble with the sweltering heat.

Back in Georgia, the Bradwell’s daughter, Karen Bradwell Cobb, received two calls Monday from the cruise operator to update her on the ship’s situation.

“Initially when I got the call it was very stressful and I teared up,” she said. “But because my parents are such seasoned travelers I felt like they would be OK. The main concern for me and my brothers was the piracy issue.”

The waters off East Africa are Somali pirate territory. The attacks crippled the Seychelles tourism industry after wary cruise companies stopped coming to the island paradise in 2009.

Cruises have since returned, and Costa Vice President Norbert Stiekema said Thursday that anti-piracy measures were in place on the Allegra, though he wouldn’t detail what they were. A Seychelles official said earlier that armed guards were traveling on board.

Cobb said the cruise company called her with an update again Tuesday. Around 2 a.m. Thursday, she received a fourth call.

“Hey!” her father joyfully shouted into an Associated Press reporter’s phone. “We wanted to let you know that everything is OK.”

The Allegra left northern Madagascar, off Africa’s southeast coast, on Saturday, carrying 413 crew members and 627 passengers, including 212 Italians, 31 Britons and eight Americans.