It took about four hours for all passengers on the ill-fated Carnival cruise ship Triumph to disembark late Thursday.
More than 4200 people spent nearly five days adrift in the Gulf of Mexico after an engine fire on Sunday knocked out power. Their slow tow into the Port of Mobile was marred by limited food, overflowing toilets and growing frustration.
23-year old Galilee Webb of Beeville, Texas was on her first cruise, accompanied by her brother and sister. They thought it would be fun, a new adventure. It was, but not the sort of experience Webb had envisioned. She spoke by cell phone with KERA just hours before the ship docked in Alabama.
Upon arrival those onshore were greeted with homemade signs passengers hung on the side of the 14—story ship. One said, "Sweet Home Alabama!" The ship's horn blasted several times as four tugboats helped it to shore at about 9:15 p.m. CST. The glow of cell phones and cameras lit up the night.
"It was horrible, just horrible" Maria Hernandez, 28, of Angleton, Texas told the Associated Press. Tears welled in her eyes as she talked about waking up to smoke in her lower-level room Sunday from the engine-room fire and the days of heat and stench that followed. She was on a "girls trip" with friends.
Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said passengers had three options: take a bus straight to Galveston, Texas, to retrieve cars parked at the ship's departure port, take a bus to New Orleans to stay at a hotel before a charter flight home or have family or friends pick them up in Mobile.
Up to 20 charter flights are scheduled to leave New Orleans today to take guests who stayed in hotels there to their final destinations.