Cruise ship still gross, passengers say, but it's finally moving

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 11:00am


That about sums up how people are describing conditions aboard the Carnival Triumph Tuesday as tug boats slowly dragged the stricken cruise ship toward Alabama -- and freedom for its 3,143 passengers.

Some passengers report sewage sloshing around in hallways, flooded rooms and trouble getting enough to eat. Passengers have dragged their mattresses onto the ship's open deck to stay cool and get away from the nasty smells inside.

"The odor is so bad, people are getting sick and they're throwing up everywhere," Brent Nutt, whose wife is aboard the ship, said Tuesday.

But not all passengers share the same dire view of the situation.

A poster on the cruising forum said her sister reported passengers have enough food and are "enjoying the extended vacation."

The incident is the result of a fire Sunday in the ship's engine room as the Triumph steamed about 150 miles off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on the way back to Galveston, Texas. The ship was on the third day of a four-day cruise.

Triumph's automatic fire extinguishing system kicked in and soon contained the flames, and no injuries were reported, Carnival said.

But the fire knocked out the ship's propulsion system and left the vessel slowly drifting in the Gulf of Mexico until a second tug boat arrived Tuesday.

The two boats are now towing the Triumph at about 6 knots an hour (6.9 mph). The ship is expected to arrive in Mobile, Alabama, on Thursday, Carnival officials said.

Passenger Ann Barlow told CNN Monday that while the staff was doing a good job, flooded rooms, hot, humid conditions, long lines for food and overwhelming odors were making things tough for passengers.

"It's disgusting. It's the worst thing ever," she said.

Barlow's husband, Toby, said she told him there was "sewage running down the walls and floors" with passengers being asked to defecate in bags and urinate in showers due to the lack of functioning toilets. The air conditioning is also out.

But things were getting better, according to Nutt and Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen.

Nutt said his wife tells him the boat isn't listing as much as it was Sunday, when she called worried she was going to die.

Gulliksen acknowledged issues on board Monday, but said the crew has been able to restore toilet service in some public areas and cabins, the showers are working -- but with only cold water -- and some elevators are working.

One restaurant on the ship has "limited food service" and Carnival has also brought meals aboard from two other cruise ships, the cruise line said Monday. Earlier, Carnival said in a statement that hot coffee was available, among other options.

"All our guests are safe, and we're doing everything we can to make them as comfortable as possible," Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill said Monday night. "We're terribly sorry for the inconvenience, discomfort and frustration our guests are feeling."

In addition to the two Carnival ships that have brought supplies, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Vigorous is steaming nearby.

The Triumph is "in deep water and not near any hazards to navigation," said Cmdr. Greg Magee, commander of the Vigorous.

Carnival initially planned to tow the ship to Progreso, Mexico, but strong currents that pushed it 90 miles north by Monday night prompted the decision to move the ship to Mobile instead. The change will also make it easier on the 900 passengers who don't have passports, the cruise line said.

Passengers will get a free flight home, a full refund for their trip and most expenses aboard, and a credit for another cruise, Carnival said.

The incident has forced Carnival to cancel the ship's next two departures, refund bookings for those trips and offer those passengers discounts on future cruises.

CNN's Joe Sutton, Dave Alsup, Mike Ahlers, Chuck Johnston, Esprit Smith, Greg Botelho and Marnie Hunter contributed to this report.


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