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Crippled cruise ship slowly makes its way to land

  • The cruise ship Carnival Triumph into Mobile Bay near Dauphin island, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013.  The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    The cruise ship Carnival Triumph into Mobile Bay near Dauphin island, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • This Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 photo, provided by Kalin Hill, of Houston, shows passengers with makeshift tents on the the deck of the Carnival Triumph cruise ship at sea in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship nearing Mobile Bay is without engine power and is being towed by tugboats. (AP Photo/Kalin Hill)

    This Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 photo, provided by Kalin Hill, of Houston, shows passengers with makeshift tents on the the deck of the Carnival Triumph cruise ship at sea in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship nearing Mobile Bay is without engine power and is being towed by tugboats. (AP Photo/Kalin Hill)

  • This Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 photo, provided by Kalin Hill, of Houston, shows passengers with makeshift tents on the the deck of the Carnival Triumph cruise ship at sea in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship nearing Mobile Bay is without engine power and is being towed by tugboats. (AP Photo/Kalin Hill)

    This Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 photo, provided by Kalin Hill, of Houston, shows passengers with makeshift tents on the the deck of the Carnival Triumph cruise ship at sea in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship nearing Mobile Bay is without engine power and is being towed by tugboats. (AP Photo/Kalin Hill)

  • Terry Thornton, senior VP of Carnival Cruise Lines addresses the media outside the Alabama Cruise Terminal in Mobile, Ala. on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. After days stranded in the Gulf of Mexico in conditions some have described as dismal, most passengers aboard the disabled Carnival Triumph can look forward to a two-hour bus ride Thursday after they reach dry land. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

    Terry Thornton, senior VP of Carnival Cruise Lines addresses the media outside the Alabama Cruise Terminal in Mobile, Ala. on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. After days stranded in the Gulf of Mexico in conditions some have described as dismal, most passengers aboard the disabled Carnival Triumph can look forward to a two-hour bus ride Thursday after they reach dry land. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

  • Passengers congregate on an upper deck of the disabled Carnival Lines cruise ship Triumph as it is towed to harbor off Mobile Bay, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

    Passengers congregate on an upper deck of the disabled Carnival Lines cruise ship Triumph as it is towed to harbor off Mobile Bay, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • People watch the cruise ship Carnival Triumph as it is towed into Mobile Bay from Dauphin Island, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    People watch the cruise ship Carnival Triumph as it is towed into Mobile Bay from Dauphin Island, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • A disabled Carnival Lines cruise ship is towed to harbor off Mobile Bay, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013.  The ship with over 1,000 passengers aboard has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

    A disabled Carnival Lines cruise ship is towed to harbor off Mobile Bay, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with over 1,000 passengers aboard has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • In this Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew delivers approximately 3,000 pounds of equipment, which included a generator and electrical cables, from the offshore supply vessel Lana Rose to the Carnival Cruise Ship Triumph in the Gulf of Mexico. The generator will be used to help provide additional power to the cruise ship, which has been idled for nearly a week following an engine room fire. (AP Phioto/U.S. Coast Guard, Lt. Cmdr. Paul McConnell)

    In this Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew delivers approximately 3,000 pounds of equipment, which included a generator and electrical cables, from the offshore supply vessel Lana Rose to the Carnival Cruise Ship Triumph in the Gulf of Mexico. The generator will be used to help provide additional power to the cruise ship, which has been idled for nearly a week following an engine room fire. (AP Phioto/U.S. Coast Guard, Lt. Cmdr. Paul McConnell)

  • Rusty and Beth Adkins of Noblesville, Ind., await the arrival of their 18-year-old daughter Brianna aboard the disabled Carnival Triumph in Mobile, Ala., on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The teenager went on a cruise with four aunts and cousins. Rusty Adkins is holding his 1-year-old son Brocktyn Adkins. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

    Rusty and Beth Adkins of Noblesville, Ind., await the arrival of their 18-year-old daughter Brianna aboard the disabled Carnival Triumph in Mobile, Ala., on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The teenager went on a cruise with four aunts and cousins. Rusty Adkins is holding his 1-year-old son Brocktyn Adkins. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

  • Passengers spell out the word "HELP" aboard the disabled Carnival Lines cruise ship Triumph as it is towed to harbor off Mobile Bay, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

    Passengers spell out the word "HELP" aboard the disabled Carnival Lines cruise ship Triumph as it is towed to harbor off Mobile Bay, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • People watch from their balconies and hold up signs aboard the Carnival Triumph after it was towed to the cruise terminal in Mobile, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/John David Mercer)

    People watch from their balconies and hold up signs aboard the Carnival Triumph after it was towed to the cruise terminal in Mobile, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/John David Mercer)

  • The cruise ship Carnival Triumph is pushed towards the cruise terminal along the Mobile River in Mobile, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members was idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    The cruise ship Carnival Triumph is pushed towards the cruise terminal along the Mobile River in Mobile, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members was idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • The cruise ship Carnival Triumph is towed into Mobile Bay near Dauphin Island, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    The cruise ship Carnival Triumph is towed into Mobile Bay near Dauphin Island, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • The cruise ship Carnival Triumph is towed up the Mobile River in Mobile, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    The cruise ship Carnival Triumph is towed up the Mobile River in Mobile, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • The cruise ship Carnival Triumph into Mobile Bay near Dauphin island, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013.  The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • This Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 photo, provided by Kalin Hill, of Houston, shows passengers with makeshift tents on the the deck of the Carnival Triumph cruise ship at sea in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship nearing Mobile Bay is without engine power and is being towed by tugboats. (AP Photo/Kalin Hill)
  • This Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 photo, provided by Kalin Hill, of Houston, shows passengers with makeshift tents on the the deck of the Carnival Triumph cruise ship at sea in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship nearing Mobile Bay is without engine power and is being towed by tugboats. (AP Photo/Kalin Hill)
  • Terry Thornton, senior VP of Carnival Cruise Lines addresses the media outside the Alabama Cruise Terminal in Mobile, Ala. on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. After days stranded in the Gulf of Mexico in conditions some have described as dismal, most passengers aboard the disabled Carnival Triumph can look forward to a two-hour bus ride Thursday after they reach dry land. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)
  • Passengers congregate on an upper deck of the disabled Carnival Lines cruise ship Triumph as it is towed to harbor off Mobile Bay, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
  • People watch the cruise ship Carnival Triumph as it is towed into Mobile Bay from Dauphin Island, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • A disabled Carnival Lines cruise ship is towed to harbor off Mobile Bay, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013.  The ship with over 1,000 passengers aboard has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
  • In this Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew delivers approximately 3,000 pounds of equipment, which included a generator and electrical cables, from the offshore supply vessel Lana Rose to the Carnival Cruise Ship Triumph in the Gulf of Mexico. The generator will be used to help provide additional power to the cruise ship, which has been idled for nearly a week following an engine room fire. (AP Phioto/U.S. Coast Guard, Lt. Cmdr. Paul McConnell)
  • Rusty and Beth Adkins of Noblesville, Ind., await the arrival of their 18-year-old daughter Brianna aboard the disabled Carnival Triumph in Mobile, Ala., on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The teenager went on a cruise with four aunts and cousins. Rusty Adkins is holding his 1-year-old son Brocktyn Adkins. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)
  • Passengers spell out the word "HELP" aboard the disabled Carnival Lines cruise ship Triumph as it is towed to harbor off Mobile Bay, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
  • People watch from their balconies and hold up signs aboard the Carnival Triumph after it was towed to the cruise terminal in Mobile, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/John David Mercer)
  • The cruise ship Carnival Triumph is pushed towards the cruise terminal along the Mobile River in Mobile, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members was idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • The cruise ship Carnival Triumph is towed into Mobile Bay near Dauphin Island, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • The cruise ship Carnival Triumph is towed up the Mobile River in Mobile, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew members has been idled for nearly a week in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

This is not at all how it looked in the brochure: Pulled by a tugboat at a maddeningly slow pace, the cruise ship Carnival Triumph finally drew within sight of land yesterday as miserable passengers told stories of overflowing toilets, food shortages, foul odors and dangerously dark passageways.

Around midday, four days after the 893-foot ship was crippled by an engine-room fire in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, the more than 4,200 passengers and crew members suffered another misfortune with towline issues that brought the vessel to a dead stop just when it was getting close to port.

The towline was replaced, and the crawl to Mobile, Ala., resumed. The ship was expected to arrive around midnight last night. Officials said it would take passengers up to five hours to get off the ship, and then most faced hourslong bus rides or other travel hassles to get back home.

Frustrations with the cruise line simmered on and off the ship, as passengers and their relatives questioned why it had taken so long to get back to dry land. The ship left Galveston, Texas, a week ago.

Television images from CNN showed passengers with signs of “Help” and “I love you” hanging from their cabin rooms.

As the vessel drew within cellphone range, passengers vented their anger.

Renee Shanar, of Houston, was on board with her husband, who she said has heart trouble. They were told they will be among the first to disembark, she said.

“I don’t believe them, they’ve been lying to us from the beginning,” Shanar said.

Disgusted by the foul air and heat on the lower decks, many passengers hauled mattresses and bed sheets onto the top deck and slept there, even staying put in a soaking rain. As the ship approached the coast, a slew of Carnival workers removed the bedding and took it downstairs.

“Today they cleaned the ship, they’re serving better food, covering up basically, but at least they’re making it more bearable,” said Kalin Hill, of Houston, yesterday, who boarded the Triumph as part of a bachelorette party.

In a text message, though, she described deplorable conditions over the past few days.

“The lower floors had it the worst, the floors ‘squish’ when you walk and lots of the lower rooms have flooding from above floors,” Hill wrote. “Half the bachelorette party was on two; the smell down there literally chokes you and hurts your eyes.”

Shanar said passengers initially were given only cold cuts, such as turkey and vegetable sandwiches. Another cruise line dropped off hamburgers and chicken sandwiches, but the line for that fare was nearly four hours long, she said.

“There’s poop and urine all along the floor,” she said. “The floor is flooded with sewer water . . . and we had to poop in bags.”

The 14-story ship still faced negotiating a tricky, shallow shipping channel, and was expected to be the largest cruise liner to ever dock in Mobile. The channel narrows to 400 feet inside Mobile Bay, and the ship is 115 feet wide. It was traveling about 5 mph.

The company disputed the accounts of passengers who described the ship as filthy, saying employees were doing everything to ensure people were comfortable. Carnival didn’t immediately respond to questions about the illnesses reported by passengers.

Terry Thornton, senior vice president for Carnival Cruise Lines, said the ship received an extra generator that allowed hot food to be served.

“This is going to be a long day,” Thornton said yesterday. “There is no way we can speed up the process.”

When passengers arrived in Alabama, their stay was to be short. Carnival said they were being given the option of boarding buses directly to Galveston or Houston – a roughly seven-hour drive – or taking a two-hour bus ride to New Orleans, where the company said it booked 1,500 hotel rooms.

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