Disabled cruise ship's passengers report nasty conditions
BY JUAN A. LOZANO Associated Press
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
2/13/13 at 3:34 AM
HOUSTON - Passengers onboard a disabled cruise ship being towed to shore in the Gulf of Mexico told relatives they are trying to make the best of a bad situation by sleeping under the stars instead of in their stuffy, hot cabins and having to use plastic bags to "do their business."
Jimmy Mowlam, 63, said his 37-year-old son, Rob Mowlam, told him by phone Monday night that the lack of ventilation onboard Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Triumph had made it too hot to sleep inside. He said Rob and his new bride - they got married onboard Saturday - are among the many passengers who have set up camp on the ocean liner's decks and in its common areas.
"He said up on deck it looks like a shanty town, with sheets - almost like tents - mattresses, anything else they can pull to sleep on," said Mowlam, 63, who is from Warren, in southeast Texas. His son is from nearby Nederland.
The ship, carrying 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members, left Galveston, Texas, for a four-day cruise last Thursday. On Sunday, the ship was about 150 miles off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula when an engine room fire knocked out its primary power source, crippling its water and plumbing systems and leaving it adrift on backup power.
There were no reported injuries caused by the fire, but Carnival spokeswoman Joyce Oliva said Tuesday that a passenger with a pre-existing medical condition was taken off the ship as a precaution.
Everyone else will likely have to remain onboard until the ship reaches Mobile, Ala., which is expected to happen Thursday, weather permitting.
At least two other Carnival cruise ships have been diverted to the Triumph to leave supplies, and a 210-foot Coast Guard cutter was at the scene, Coast Guard Petty Officer Richard Brahm said Tuesday.
"If they do need any help, we're there," he said.
Mowlam said his son told him there is no running water and few working toilets and passengers were given plastic bags to "use for their business."
"But so far people have been pretty much taking it in stride," Mowlam said his son told him.
Rob Mowlam told his father the ship's crew had started giving away free alcohol to passengers.
Other passengers have described more dire conditions, including overflowing toilets and limited access to food.
Texas resident Brent Nutt, whose wife is on the cruise ship, said Monday that she told him the "whole boat stinks extremely bad" and some passengers were getting sick and throwing up. Nutt said his wife reported "water and feces all over the floor."
Carnival said in a statement that it had canceled the Triumph's next two voyages scheduled to depart Monday and Saturday. Passengers aboard the stranded ship will also receive a full refund, the statement said.
Original Print Headline: Lame cruise ship 'like a shanty town'
The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday it has opened an investigation into an engine room fire that crippled a cruise ship carrying more than 4,000 people in the Gulf of Mexico.
The NTSB said its officials and the U.S. Coast Guard are sending investigators to Mobile, Ala., where Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Triumph is expected to arrive Thursday. The NTSB said the Bahamas Maritime Agency will lead the investigation because the ship carries a Bahamian flag.
Investigations are routine in such cases.
A U.S. Coast Guard boat patrols near the cruise ship Carnival Triumph in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday. Tugboats have since begun towing the disabled vessel to Mobile, Ala. Passengers say the ship, with more than 4,000 people on board, has no running water and few working toilets. It is expected to reach port Thursday. U.S. COAST GUARD / Associated Press