Passengers cheer escape from ‘horrible’ cruise
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Passengers who finally escaped the disabled Carnival cruise ship Triumph were checked into hotels early today for a hot shower, food and sleep or riding buses back to Texas after five numbing days at sea on a ship left powerless by an engine-room fire.
The vacation ship carrying some 4,200 people docked late Thursday in Mobile after a painfully slow approach that took most of the day. Passengers raucously cheered after days of what they described as overflowing toilets, food shortages and foul odors.
“Sweet Home Alabama!” read one of the homemade signs passengers affixed alongside the 14-story ship as many celebrated at deck rails lining several levels of the stricken ship. The ship’s horn loudly blasted several times as four tugboats pulled the crippled ship to shore at about 9:15 p.m. CST. Some gave a thumbs-up sign and flashes from cameras and cellphones lit the night.
“This is my first and last cruise. So if anyone wants my free cruise, look me up,” said Kendall Jenkins, 24, of Houston, referring to compensation offered by Carnival Cruise Line. Bounding off the ship clad in bathrobes, she and her friend Brittany Ferguson immediately kissed the pavement at the Port of Mobile in Alabama.
It took about four hours for all passengers to disembark.
Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said Triumph guests had three options: board a bus straight to Galveston, Texas, to retrieve cars parked at the ship’s departure port, take a bus to New Orleans to stay at a hotel before a charter flight home or have family or friends pick them up in Mobile.
Gulliksen said up to 20 charter flights would leave New Orleans later Friday to take guests who stayed in hotels there to their final destinations.