The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

February 14, 2013

Crippled cruise ship slowly makes its way to land

(Continued)

"Today they cleaned the ship, they're serving better food, covering up basically, but at least they're making it more bearable," said Kalin Hill, of Houston, who boarded the Triumph as part of a bachelorette party.

In a text message, though, she described deplorable conditions over the past few days.

"The lower floors had it the worst, the floors 'squish' when you walk and lots of the lower rooms have flooding from above floors," Hill wrote. "Half the bachelorette party was on two; the smell down there literally chokes you and hurts your eyes."

Shanar said passengers initially were given only cold cuts, such as turkey and vegetable sandwiches. Then another cruise line dropped off hamburgers and chicken sandwiches, but the line for that fare was nearly four hours long, she said.

"There's poop and urine all along the floor," she said. "The floor is flooded with sewer water ... and we had to poop in bags."

The 14-story ship still must negotiate a tricky, shallow shipping channel, and was expected to be the largest cruise liner to ever dock in Mobile. The channel narrows to 400 feet inside Mobile Bay, and the ship was only 115 feet wide. It was traveling about 5 mph.

The company disputed the accounts of passengers who described the ship as filthy, saying employees were doing everything to ensure people were comfortable. Carnival didn't immediately respond to questions the illnesses reported by some passengers.

Terry Thornton, senior vice president for Carnival Cruise Lines, said the ship received an extra generator that allowed hot food to be served.

"This is going to be a long day," Thornton said Thursday. "There is no way we can speed up the process."

Some travel agents said cruise prices and bookings have not been affected by the disabled Carnival ship, but others in the industry say it's too early to tell.

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