Carnival Cruise Lines has canceled a dozen more planned voyages aboard the Triumph and acknowledged that the crippled ship had been plagued by other mechanical problems in the weeks before an engine-room fire left it powerless in the Gulf of Mexico.
The company’s announcement Wednesday came as the Triumph was being towed to a port in Mobile, Ala., with more than 4,000 people on board, some of whom have complained that conditions on the ship are dismal and that they have limited access to food and bathrooms.
The ship will be idle through April. Two other cruises were called off shortly after Sunday’s fire.
Debbi Smedley, a passenger on a recent Triumph cruise, said the ship had trouble on Jan. 28 as it was preparing to leave Galveston. Hours before the scheduled departure time, she got an email from Carnival stating the vessel would leave late because of a propulsion problem. Passengers were asked to arrive at the port at 2 p.m., two hours later than originally scheduled. The ship did not sail until after 8 p.m., she said.
“My mother is a cruise travel agent so this is not my first rodeo. I have sailed many, many cruises, many, many cruise lines. This was, by far, I have to say, the worst,” said Smedley, of Plano, Texas.
Robert Giordano, of Oklahoma City, said he last spoke to his wife, Shannon, on Monday. She told him she waited in line for three hours to get a hot dog, and that conditions on the ship were terrible.
“They’re having to urinate in the shower. They’ve been passed out plastic bags to go to the bathroom,” Giordano said. “There was fecal matter all over the floor.”
Even more distressing, Giordano said, has been the lack of information he has been able to get from Carnival, a complaint shared by Vivian Tilley, of San Diego, whose sister is also on the vessel.
Carnival, she said, has not told families what hotel passengers will be put in or provided precise information about when they will arrive in Mobile, Ala. And that came after the cruise line switched the ship’s towing destination from Progreso, Mexico, to Mobile.
Tilley said her sister, Renee Shanar, of Houston, told her the cabins were hot and smelled like smoke from the engine fire, forcing passengers to stay on the deck. She also said people were getting sick.
After losing power on its most recent journey, the ship drifted until Tuesday, when two tugboats began moving it toward shore.
Tilley said late Wednesday that she had received an update from Carnival saying the Triumph had again rendezvoused with another cruise line, taking on more supplies and food, and that a third tugboat had also arrived to bring the ship to port.
Passengers have had limited cellphone service because of the power failure, but many were able to make calls to friends and family when the Triumph rendezvoused with another Carnival ship that dropped off food and supplies. The other ship had a working cellular antenna.
Meanwhile, officials in Mobile are preparing a cruise terminal that has not been used for a year to help passengers go through customs after their ordeal. The Triumph is expected to arrive today.
The cruise ship company has chartered 15 buses to haul passengers to hotels in New Orleans and downtown Mobile, said Barbara Drummond, a spokeswoman for the city of Mobile.
Carnival said passengers would be able to fly home on chartered flights.
The company has disputed the accounts of passengers who describe the ship as filthy, saying employees are doing everything to ensure people are comfortable.
Passengers are supposed to receive a full refund and discounts on future cruises, and Carnival announced Wednesday they would each get an additional $500 in compensation.