The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

February 14, 2013

Crippled cruise ship slowly makes its way to land

— MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — This is not at all how it looked in the brochure: Pulled by a tugboat at a maddeningly slow pace, the cruise ship Carnival Triumph finally drew within sight of land Thursday as miserable passengers told stories of overflowing toilets, food shortages, foul odors and dangerously dark passageways.

Around midday, four days after the 893-foot ship was crippled by an engine-room fire in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, the more than 4,200 passengers and crew members suffered another misfortune with towline issues that brought the vessel to a dead stop just when it was getting close to port.

The towline was replaced, and the crawl to Mobile resumed. The ship was expected to arrive around midnight Thursday. Officials said it would take passengers up to five hours to get off the ship, and then most faced hourslong bus rides or other travel hassles to get back home.

Frustrations with the cruise line simmered on and off the ship, as passengers and their relatives questioned why it had taken so long to get back to dry land. The ship left Galveston, Texas, a week ago.

Television images from CNN showed passengers with signs of "Help" and "I love you" hanging from their cabin rooms.

As the vessel drew within cellphone range, passengers vented their anger.

Renee Shanar, of Houston, was on board with her husband, who she said has heart trouble. They were told they will be among the first to disembark, she said.

"I don't believe them, they've been lying to us from the beginning," Shanar said.

Disgusted by the foul air and heat on the lower decks, many passengers hauled mattresses and bed sheets onto the top deck and slept there, even staying put in a soaking rain. As the ship approached the coast, a slew of Carnival workers removed the bedding and took it downstairs.

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