Cruise ship back on the move after latest setback

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by CBS News

KMOV.com

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 2:06 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 14 at 5:44 PM

Coast Guard official says a disabled cruise ship off the coast of Alabama is again moving toward the shore after a broken towline delayed the vessel's slow journey back to port.

Petty Officer William Colclough says a new tugboat has been secured and the Carnival Triumph is again making its way into Mobile.

He says the ship will be further delayed because of the towline issue, though he did not give a new estimated arrival time. It had been expected to arrive Thursday night.

Docking a ship takes three hours in a normal operation. But because of the ship's condition, it will take at least seven hours, CBS Mobile affiliate WKRG reported. CEO of the Alabama State Port Authority Jimmy Lyons says the winches are inoperable and the thrusters that normally get it in and out of the berths aren't working. Additionally, Triumph's arrival is also slowed by high winds.

A nighttime arrival could pose more complications, Lyons said. He said port officials prefer that the ship not come into the city at night because there are tricky turns and cross currents in Mobile Bay. He described the bay as only 10 feet deep outside the ship channel.

Since a fire in the engine room left the ship powerless Sunday, the ship abandoned its plans to travel to the Progreso, Mexico, and has been drifting to Mobile, Ala.

Conditions on the cruise ship continue to be dismal. Passengers have told of limited access to food and bathrooms, a strong stench and fecal matter on the floors after a week at sea. Many were sleeping on the deck for fresh air. But it was getting colder as the ship headed north.

Frustrated, some people hung bedsheets with angry or humorous messages for news helicopters closing in, according to images on CNN.

Robert Giordano, of the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, 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 to Mobile.

Carnival Senior Vice President Terry Thornton said in a press conference earlier Thursday that care teams were on their way to Mobile to assist families, "provide more information and to take care as best we can their needs," according to WKRG.

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