Crippled Carnival cruise ship hours away from dry land

    8:22 AM, Feb 14, 2013   |    comments
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    UNDATED (CNN) -- Horror stories are trickling in from sea as tugs slowly bring the ill-fated Triumph cruise ship into port. The Carnival boat will make its way back to land this afternoon and not a moment too soon for the more than 3,000 passengers whose four day vacation turned into a nightmare, lasting more than a week.

    The passengers left Galveston, Texas and were supposed to go on a Caribbean tour. Instead they've been stranded at sea for days.

    And now, they're just hours from docking at a terminal in Mobile, Alabama.

    The trouble on the carnival triumph started Sunday when a fire broke out in the engine room. That caused the ship's electrical power to go out. That meant no engine power and no air conditioning.

    Right now aboard the ship there are more than 3,000 passengers, a thousand crew members, and a handful of working restrooms.

    Kim McKerreghan's daughter and ex-husband are on board. She says, "He told me that they had just eaten onion sandwiches and they were asking to use the red plastic bags to use the restroom in, and they had some fruit. They did have some water, but it was warm bottled water."

    Some passengers on board have reported raw sewage, foul smells and long lines for little food. Carnival's president and CEO offered an apology saying, "At Carnival, our promise to our guest is to provide a great vacation experience and we try very hard to do that all the time. Obviously in this particular case, we did not deliver on that promise."

    The company is offering a full refund and other concessions, but some say that's not good enough. Brent Nut, whose wife is on board, says, "I promise you, none of my family members that are on there will probably ever, ever take another cruise."

    Three tugboats are pulling the massive ship through the Gulf of Mexico. It's expected to dock in Mobile late this afternoon. The latest estimate for an arrival is about 4-5 p.m. Eastern.

    U.S. customs and border protection deployed two small boats overnight with personnel to help expedite the processing of the passengers. Clearly they want to get these folks off the ship as fast as possible.


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