16 Feb 2013

Passengers on ill-fated cruise head home

12:09 pm on 16 February 2013

Thousands of passengers who spent five days stuck on a stinking cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico are heading home by bus, plane or car.

The passengers spent the night in Mobile, Alabama, where tugboats had pulled the stricken Carnival Triumph into port.

The vessel was returning to Galveston from Cozumel, Mexico, on the third day of a four-day cruise when an engine-room fire knocked out power and plumbing across most of the ship on Sunday.

Passengers described an overpowering stench on parts of the ship and complained to relatives and media via cellphone that toilets and drainpipes had overflowed, soaking many cabins and interior passages in raw sewage.

It took several hours for more than 3,000 holidaymakers to disembark after the ship arrived late on Thursday.

Some travellers kissed the ground when they walked off, and others left wearing the ship's white bath robes, part souvenir and part protection against the chilly night air.

It's been another public relations disaster for the cruise giant Carnival Corp. Last year its Costa Concordia luxury liner ran aground off the coast of Italy killing 32 people.