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How bad are conditions aboard crippled cruise ship? (+video)

Carnival president contradicted reports of unsanitary conditions aboard the stranded cruise ship Triumph. Carnival said the cruise ship has running water and most of its 23 public restrooms and some of the guest cabin bathrooms were working. Passengers were sleeping on the deck.

By Juan A. LozanoAssociated Press / February 13, 2013

Family members report food shortages and poor sanitation aboard the cruise ship Triumph. Carnival officials refute some of the claims.


 A cruise line says it is making the passengers stranded aboard a disabled ship in the Gulf of Mexico as comfortable as possible with running water and some working bathrooms, contradicting the accounts of some passengers who told relatives of filthy, hot conditions, overflowing toilets and limited access to food.

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The ship, the Carnival Triumph, is still at least a day from being guided to a port in the U.S.

Carnival President Gerry Cahill said Tuesday the ship has running water and most of its 23 public restrooms and some of the guest cabin bathrooms were working. He downplayed the possibility of an outbreak of disease from unsanitary conditions, saying the ship had not seen an abnormal number of people reporting to the infirmary as being ill.

"No one here from Carnival is happy about the conditions onboard the ship," Cahill said at a news conference in Miami. "We obviously are very, very sorry about what is taking place."

Jimmy Mowlam, 63, whose 37-year-old son, Rob Mowlam, got married Saturday onboard the ship, said his son told him by phone Monday night that there is no running water and few working toilets. He said passengers were given plastic bags to "use for their business."

Despite a forecast of brisker winds and slightly higher seas, the Coast Guard and Carnival said they did not expect conditions to deteriorate aboard ship.

The ship was about 200 miles (320 kilometers) south of Mobile, Alabama, as Tuesday faded into Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard said. Carnival said the ship is expected to arrive in Mobile on Thursday.

The ship left Texas for a four-day cruise last Thursday with 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members. The ship was about 150 miles (240 kilometers) off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Sunday when an engine room fire knocked out its primary power source, crippling its water and plumbing systems and leaving it adrift on only a backup power.

No one was injured in the fire, but Carnival spokeswoman Joyce Oliva said Tuesday that a passenger with a pre-existing medical condition was taken off the ship as a precaution.

Carnival hasn't determined what caused the fire, Oliva said. The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday it has opened an investigation into the cause.

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