ALABAMA (TIP): More than 4,000people are disembarking from acrippled cruise ship that reached landfour days after an engine fire knockedout its power.Unloading all 3,200 passengers isexpected to take hours. Food, blanketsand mobile phones await them in theterminal, a Carnival official has said.Passengers had reported sewage onthe floors, poor sanitation and accessto toilets, and lengthy queues for food.Some lined the decks as the 900-ft(275m) ship docked, waving andcheering at people on shore.Chants of “Let me off, let me off !”could be heard coming from the shipas they waited to disembark.Carnival Corp which operates theship, was also the owner of CostaConcordia, the cruise ship that ranaground off the Italian coast and sanklast year, killing 32 people.
After the ship reached port ataround 21:15 (03:15 GMT), CarnivalCorp said it would take as long as fivehours to get all the passengers off.They have already been cleared bycustoms officials.On disembarking passenger, ClarkJones, told the BBC the last day wasparticularly hard as tugs took severalhours to tow the stricken ship the lastfew miles to port.”Today has been especiallynightmarish because we knew we wereso close to land and getting off,” he toldthe BBC.Once passengers are off the ship,they will be taken by bus either toGalveston, Texas, which is about sevenhours away, or to New Orleans, wherethe firm said it booked 1,500 hotelrooms.
New Orleans is two hours away.Hospitality staff will be sent onearly holiday with full pay ortransferred to other ships, dependingon the length remaining in theircontracts, Carnival Senior Vice-President Terry Thornton toldreporters.Passenger Janie Baker told NBC byphone on Thursday that conditions onthe ship were “extremely terrible”.There was no electricity and fewworking toilets, she said.Ms Baker described using plasticbags to go to the toilet and that she hadseen a woman pass out while waitingfor food.The stench from overflowing toiletsand drainpipes made some cabinsuninhabitable and many people sleptin corridors while others took beddingout into the open to escape the heatand foul smell.
Past mechanical problems
Ms Baker said she and her friendsslept with their life vests one nightbecause the ship was listing.Passengers will be offered a fullrefund and discounts on futurecruises. Carnival announced onWednesday they would each get anadditional $500 (£322) in compensation.But the firm has disputed theaccounts describing the ship as filthy,saying employees were doingeverything they could to ensure peoplewere comfortable.Carnival has cancelled more than adozen planned voyages aboard theTriumph, while acknowledging thatthe crippled ship had othermechanical problems in the weeksbefore the fire.
Spokesman Vance Gulliksen saidTriumph had an earlier electricalproblem with the ship’s alternator butthat repairs were completed by 2February. He said there was noevidence linking the previous problemto Sunday’s fire.The National Transportation SafetyBoard has opened an investigation intothe fire. No-one was injured in theblaze, but one passenger with a preexistingmedical condition was takenoff the ship as a precaution.