- More than 4,000 passengers and crew on the Carnival cruise ship Triumph has been stranded since the engine room experienced a fire Sunday.
- The ship has drifted from the Gulf of Mexico to just off shore of Mobile, Ala., where tug boats are working to bring it in.
- Port officials believe the ship could make landfall late Feb. 14, but the rescue operation might be delayed after the line from one of the tug boats snapped Thursday afternoon.
- Passengers speaking by phone to news stations and to family have described the squalid conditions, which include raw sewage, waiting hours in line for food and sleeping on deck.
- Even when passengers are brought to shore they will spend hours on buses before they are able to make it home.
The stranded Carnival cruise ship and its more than 4,000 passengers enter day five without power after a fire in the engine room disabled the ship Sunday. Although the ship is currently being towed into an Alabama port and could arrive late Thursday or early Friday, conditions are still worsening.
Since the initial incident, many passengers have been living on deck in conditions that include feces and urine on the floor with some cases of food poisoning occurring. Recent footage of the ship shows passengers holding signs made with bedsheets and a deck that looked like “a shanty town, with sheets, almost like tents,” one father of a stranded passenger recounted.
The disabled ship is already having a rough go being pulled into Mobile, Ala., as the a tow line snapped, setting the ship adrift once again as crews worked to repair it.
Renee Shanar, of Houston, is on board the Carnival Triumph with her husband. She said passengers have food, but toilets aren’t flushing. Some older people have also fallen and injured themselves.
She said her husband is a heart patient and that they’ve been told they will be among the first to disembark, but she doesn’t believe the officials.
“They’ve been lying to us from the beginning,” she said.
Thelbert Lanier was waiting at the Mobile port for his wife, who texted him early Thursday.
“Room smells like an outhouse. Cold water only, toilets haven’t work in 3 1/2 days. Happy Valentines Day!!! I love u & wish I was there,” she said in the text message, which was viewed by The Associated Press. “It’s 4:00 am. Can’t sleep…it’s cold & I’m starting to get sick.”
Listen to passenger Larry Poret talk to CNN about the horrible conditions with aerial footage of the ship:
The ship might make landfall in Alabama around 11 p.m. or midnight. But port officials have said it could be difficult.
Jimmy Lyons told the Associated Press port officials would prefer that the ship not come into the city during nighttime hours because there are tricky turns and cross currents in Mobile Bay. He described the bay as only 10 feet deep outside the ship channel.
Lyons says tying up the ship also will take longer than usual because the winches are inoperable and the thrusters that normally get it in and out of the berths aren’t working, either.
Here is footage of Thursday’s rescue from CNN (via WPIX):
Making it on dry land isn’t the end of an already long journey for passengers either.
Carnival said in a statement late Wednesday that passengers were being given the option of boarding buses directly to Galveston, Texas, or Houston – a roughly seven-hour drive – or taking a two-hour bus ride to New Orleans, where the company said it booked 1,500 hotel rooms. Those staying in New Orleans will be flown Friday to Houston. Carnival said it will cover all the transportation costs.
“I can’t imagine being on that ship this morning and then getting on a bus,” Kirk Hill, whose 30-year-old daughter is on the cruise, said to the Associated Press. “If I hit land in Mobile, you’d have a hard time getting me on a bus.”
Passengers are supposed to get a full refund and discounts on future cruises, and Carnival announced Wednesday they would each get an additional $500 in compensation.
Check out this footage showing the ghostly outline of the ship as it is viewed from the Alabama coast:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
(H/T: Daily Mail)