Nightly News   |  May 02, 2013

Discovering ship life aboard the Navy’s Tiger cruise

After an eight-month deployment in the Persian Gulf, the USS John Stennis picked up the sailors’ family and friends for a six-day cruise from Hawaii to San Diego. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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>>> finally tonight one of the most difficult things about military service is the long separation for families, but today off the west coast the aircraft carrier headed back for an eight month tour with a family reunion already on the way. miguel almaguer reports.

>> reporter: on this fin leg home the mission has taken on new meaning.

>> it means a lot because i get to see my dad again.

>> reporter: it's called the tiger cruise . for six days and five nights more than 1100 family members and friends joined the crew returning from the persian gulf .

>> they haven't seen me in eight months. it's a great experience to have them here.

>> reporter: tigers live alongside their loved ones experiencing life and duties at sea.

>> this is the ultimate take your kid to work day .

>> reporter: lieutenant michael lemons is the ship's gunner. he invited his cousin michael .

>> holy cow .

>> reporter: 9-year-old daughter samantha and 11-yr-old son michael , jr.

>> red deck!

>> reporter: it's their first chance to see what dad does.

>> it's awesome just staying here. he gets to work here. he gets paid to do this stuff.

>> reporter: for lieutenant lemons who is yet to meet his newborn child it's the quality time with his children they have been missing.

>> of course they took my rack and i took a cot on the ground. putting them to bed every night, i haven't got to to it in eight months.

>> reporter: it cost tigers $165 to cover the basics. there are no spouses, girlfriends or boyfriends but grandparents are welcome.

>> granddad is a world war ii vet. it's awesome to have him on board the ship.

>> fabulous. it's making me want to reenlist in the service.

>> reporter: there is also entertainment from concerts in the hangar bay to rescue drills off the bow. tigers see what the navy does.

>> he's going to break the sound barrier . boom!

>> they feel the life of the ship, the roar of the jets.

>> awesome!

>> all of the sights and sounds that make the carrier work.

>> reporter: manning the rails as they reach port, homecomings are sweet. families together again after the cruise of a lifetime in the open sea.

>> daddy!

>> reporter: miguel almaguer, nbc news, san diego .