Stricken cruise ship Carnival Triumph is finally closer to shore tonight after drifting for days without power following an engine fire on Sunday. The ship’s propulsion system ceased working because of the fire, leaving the ship stranded in the Gulf of Mexico.
The ship is expected to arrive at the Mobile Cruise Terminal in Alabama sometime between 11 p.m. and midnight Eastern Time tonight. Efforts to tow the stricken cruise ship to shore were abruptly halted when a towline from the main tugboat broke this afternoon.
After the engine fire, conditions onboard quickly deteriorated. Passengers who were able to call relatives on land or connect to the internet lamented on excessively long lines for food, broken toilets, dwindling food supply, and massive outbreaks of illness. Other extreme occurrences included the backup of raw sewage, and passengers having to take extreme measures to use the bathroom, including going into showers and using bags. The Triumph’s pool deck became a makeshift tent city for guests seeking to escape the heat and lingering smoke odor in their staterooms.
A CNN.com report mentions that passengers onboard the Triumph have already started a line in preparation to disembark. Though arrival of the ship is expected in just a couple of hours, it will still take about four to five hours to complete the disembarkation process.
The city of Mobile, Alabama, which once served as a homeport for several ships in the Carnival Cruise Line fleet, has been actively preparing for the ship’s arrival ever since the decision was made to tow the stranded ship into the currently inactive cruise port. During a press conference this afternoon, Mayor Sam Jones detailed some of the preparations happening in the city to accommodate the more than 4,000 passengers and crew onboard the Carnival Triumph.
Though it has not serviced a cruise ship since Carnival pulled out of the cruise port in October 2011, the port is operational according to the Mobile mayor. The city’s efforts in this mission also include dozens of on-call volunteers ready to assist passengers, and thousands of available hotel rooms in Mobile to accommodate guests while transportation plans are finalized.
Carnival has confirmed that various transportation will be provided for guests to get to airports in Louisiana and Texas to return to their respective homes. A small number of passengers may be able to fly out of Mobile, but the majority will fly out of New Orleans or Houston, where most passengers flew into for the cruise that left from Galveston.
An official statement released by the cruise line (click here to read the latest update) advises that a full refund plus additional compensation will be given to the passengers of the Triumph. The compensation package is as follows:
- A full refund of the cruise fare and transportation expenses
- Reimbursement of all shipboard purchases, excluding those from the gift shop, art purchases, and casino expenses
- A future cruise certificate equal to the amount each guest paid for the cruise
- An additional future cruise certificate in the amount of $500
Today marks a full weeks that guests and crew of the Carnival Triumph have been onboard. The cruise left Galveston, Texas on Thursday, February 7 on what was supposed to be a 4-day cruise. The ship was scheduled to return to Galveston this past Monday, February 11.
CBS Miami: Crippled Carnival Ship On Way To Mobile