Stricken Carnival cruise ship nears Mobile, Alabama
As the damaged Carnival cruise ship limped towards the Alabama coast, passengers talked about the overwhelming stench and described the trip as hellish.
Reeking of raw sewage, a crippled cruise ship carrying more than 4,200 people was limping into Mobile, Alabama, on Thursday as passengers awaited the end of a vacation voyage some described as hellish.Skip to next paragraph
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The Carnival Triumph was being towed into port by tugboats as the drama played out live on U.S. cable news stations, creating another public relations nightmare for cruise giant Carnival Corp. Last year, its Costa Concordia luxury ship grounded off the coast of Italy, with 32 people killed.
Passengers described an overpowering stench on parts of the ship four days after an engine room fire knocked out power and plumbing across most of the 893-foot (272-metre) vessel and left it adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship, which went into service in 1999, was on a four-day cruise and on its way back from a stop in Cozumel, Mexico.
After the mishap, toilets and drainpipes overflowed, soaking many cabins and interior passages in sewage and turning the vessel into what some have described as a giant Petri dish.
"The thing I'm looking forward to most is having a working toilet and not having to breathe in the smell of fecal matter," said Jacob Combs, an Austin, Texas-based sales executive with a healthcare and hospice company.
Combs, 30, who said he had been traveling with friends and family on the Triumph, had nothing but praise for its crew members, saying they had gone through "hell" cleaning up after some of the passengers on the sea cruise.
"Just imagine the filth," Combs told Reuters. "People were doing crazy things and going to the bathroom in sinks and showers. It was inhuman. The stewards would go in and clean it all up. They were constantly cleaning," he said.
Terry Thornton, a Carnival Cruise Lines senior vice president, told reporters in Mobile that additional provisions were laid in on Wednesday and the ship was now "in excellent shape."
Passenger Donna Gutzman said those aboard the ship were treated to steak and lobster for lunch on Thursday afternoon.
"Our basic needs are being met. For the most part, they are making us happy," Gutzman told CNN.
The ship was expected to arrive in port around 10 p.m. CST (0400 GMT Friday), Carnival said. A senior Carnival official said it could take up to five hours to remove all the passengers from the ship, which has only one functioning elevator.
More than 100 buses were lined up waiting to drive some passengers the 490 miles (790 km) back to Galveston, Texas, while other passengers had elected to stay overnight in hotels in Mobile before flying home, Carnival said.
The ship is negotiating a narrow channel to reach Mobile, and officials said it would be the largest cruise liner ever to dock in the port.