Passengers aboard a cruise vessel stranded in the Gulf of Mexico had limited access to toilets, food and hot coffee on Monday as they waited for two tugboats to arrive to tow them to Mexico, Carnival Cruise Lines have said.
The Carnival Triumph has been floating aimlessly about 150 miles (240km) off the Yucatan Peninsula since a fire erupted in the aft engine room early on Sunday, knocking out the ship's propulsion system. No-one was injured and the fire was extinguished. The ship has been operating on backup generator power since the incident, the Carnival statement said.
The ship, which left Galveston, Texas, on Thursday and was scheduled to return there on Monday, will instead be towed to Progreso, Mexico, and the 3,143 passengers on board will fly back to the United States. There are also 1,086 crew members aboard the ship. They are to arrive in Mexico on Wednesday.
One of the tugboats arrived on Monday afternoon, and the other is expected this evening, Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said. One is coming from Mobile, Alabama and a second is from Mexico, he said. The US Coast Guard has informed Mexican authorities of the situation in their waters, a spokesman said.
When another Carnival cruise ship, the Legend, rendezvoused with the stranded vessel, supplying Triumph passengers with food and supplies, Texas resident Brent Nutt was able to briefly chat with his wife, Bethany, who could get a mobile phone signal from the visiting cruise line.
Without power, the ship's stabilisers are apparently not working, Mr Nutt told The Associated Press, and the massive liner had been leaning to one side. By Monday afternoon, the ship seemed more upright, he said.
"She sounded a whole lot better today than she did yesterday," Mr Nutt said after chatting with his 32-year-old wife. Passengers were also given food, Mr Nutt said, and some of the toilets were working.
"There's water and faeces all over the floor," Mr Nutt said. "It's not the best conditions. You would think Carnival would have something in place to get these people off the ship." Passengers also are getting sick and throwing up, he said, adding that his wife told him: "The whole boat stinks extremely bad."
A similar situation occurred on a Carnival cruise ship in November 2010. That vessel was also stranded for three days with 4,500 people aboard after a fire in the engine room. When the passengers disembarked in San Diego they described a nightmarish three days in the Pacific with limited food, power and bathroom access.
Carnival said in a statement that it had cancelled the Triumph's next two voyages scheduled to depart on Monday and Saturday. Passengers aboard the stranded ship will also receive a full refund, the statement said.