Stricken cruise ship towed to US
The cruise ship Carnival Triumph is towed in this video frame grab from NBC News taken off the coast of Alabama, 2013. Three tugboats were hauling the disabled ship slowly into port in Mobile tonight where its arrival with more than 4,220 people ab
Four tugboats are hauling the disabled Carnival Triumph cruise ship slowly into port in Alabama today, hopefully bringing an end to a horrific episode for more than 4,220 people who have endured days of unsanitary conditions and food shortages onboard.
The 272m (893ft) vessel, notorious for reports of raw sewage from overflowing toilets, has been without propulsion and running on emergency generator power since Sunday, when an engine room fire left it adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. Its operator, Carnival Cruise Lines, has said it is offering passengers an additional $500 in compensation for their hardship.
It is being hauled by tugboats to Mobile, Alabama, where it is due to arrive tonight.
Carnival Cruise Lines is the flagship brand of Miami-based Carnival Corp, the global cruise industry giant. The troubles on the Carnival Triumph occur a little more than a year after 32 people were killed when the Costa Concordia, a luxury cruise ship operated by Carnival's Costa Cruises brand, was grounded on rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio in Italy.
Carnival Corp spokesman Vance Gulliksen in Miami said the Triumph was expected to arrive in Mobile at between 8pm. and 11pm tonight (between 2am and 5am Irish time) .
"This is going to be a long day," Terry Thornton, a senior Carnival Cruise Lines vice president, told reporters at the port in Mobile.
He said the ship, which he described as "in excellent shape" after additional provisions were laid in yesterday, was near the sea buoy at the entrance to Mobile Bay late this morning. Getting from the buoy into port normally takes about three hours, Mr Thornton said.
"There is no way we could actually speed up the process to get the ship alongside sooner," he said. "We're making every effort we can to get the ship alongside here in Mobile as quickly as possible."
A Coast Guard cutter has been escorting the Triumph on its long voyage into port since Monday, and a Coast Guard helicopter ferried about 1,360 kg of equipment including a generator to the stricken ship late yesterday.
Earlier this week, some passengers who contacted relatives and media before their cellphone batteries died reported a grim situation, saying the ship was awash in raw sewage from overflowing toilets and running short on food and water.
Kim McKerreghan told television news network CNN that her husband and young daughter said in a call from aboard the ship on Monday that passengers were being forced to defecate in plastic bags due to a shortage of working toilets and that meals consisted of sandwiches with only condiments or onions.