UK & World News
Disabled Cruise Ship 'Filthy', Passengers Say
Relatives of passengers aboard a disabled cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico say their loved ones have complained of filthy, hot conditions, overflowing toilets and limited access to food.
Jimmy Mowlam says his son, Rob, who got married onboard the Carnival Triumph, told him by phone that there is no running water and few working toilets.
He said passengers were given plastic bags to "use for their business".
The ship, which became stranded on Sunday after a fire erupted in the vessel's engine room, is not due to reach a port in Mobile, Alabama before Thursday at the earliest.
Another passenger told CNN her ex-husband told her "the conditions have gotten so bad that they're asking them to use the restroom in bags, and they were eating onion sandwiches".
The cruise line, however, contradicted the accounts, saying it is making the passengers as comfortable as possible with running water and some working bathrooms.
Carnival President Gerry Cahill said the ship - carrying more than 4,200 passengers and crew - has running water and that most of its 23 public restrooms and some of the guest cabin bathrooms were working.
Jay Herring, a former senior officer for Carnival Cruise Lines, said one of the biggest concerns crew members will have until the ship docks is the potential for disease outbreak, particularly norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea.
Mr Cahill downplayed the possibility of an outbreak of disease from unsanitary conditions, saying the ship had not seen an abnormal number of people reporting to the infirmary as being ill.
He said: "No one here from Carnival is happy about the conditions onboard the ship. We obviously are very, very sorry about what is taking place."
Mr Mowlam said his son told him the lack of ventilation on the Triumph's current voyage had made it too hot to sleep inside and that many passengers had set up camp on the ocean liner's decks and in its common areas.
"He said up on deck it looks like a shanty town, with sheets, almost like tents, mattresses, anything else they can pull to sleep on," said Mr Mowlam.
He added that his son indicated that passengers are trying to make the best of a bad situation, and that the ship's crew had started giving free alcohol to passengers.
Despite a forecast of brisker winds and slightly higher seas, the US Coast Guard and Carnival said they did not expect conditions to deteriorate aboard the ship.
The ship left Texas for a four-day cruise last Thursday.
The vessel was about 150 miles (240 km) off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Sunday when an engine room fire knocked out its primary power source, crippling its water and plumbing systems and leaving it adrift on only backup power.
No one was injured in the fire, but Carnival spokeswoman Joyce Oliva said that a passenger with a pre-existing medical condition was taken off the ship as a precaution.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it has opened an investigation into the cause.
Carnival Cruise Lines has cancelled a dozen more planned voyages aboard the Triumph and acknowledged that the crippled ship had been plagued by other mechanical problems in recent weeks.
The ship will be idle through April. Two other cruises were called off shortly after Sunday's fire.