Stranded cruise passengers facing dirty conditions

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm •  Published: February 12, 2013
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HOUSTON (AP) — Passengers onboard a disabled cruise ship being towed to shore in the Gulf of Mexico told relatives they are trying to make the best of a bad situation by sleeping under the stars instead of in their stuffy, hot cabins and having to use plastic bags to do "their business."

Jimmy Mowlam, 63, said his 37-year-old son, Rob Mowlam, told him by phone Monday night that the lack of ventilation onboard Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Triumph had made it too hot to sleep inside. He said Rob and his new bride — they got married onboard Saturday — are among the many passengers who have 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 Mowlam, 63, who is from Warren, in southeast Texas. His son is from nearby Nederland.

The ship left Galveston, Texas, for a four-day cruise last Thursday carrying 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members. On Sunday, the ship was about 150 miles off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula when an engine room fire knocked out its primary power source, crippling its water and plumbing systems and leaving it adrift on only a backup power.

There were no reported injuries caused by the fire, but Carnival spokeswoman Joyce Oliva said Tuesday that a passenger with a pre-existing medical condition was taken off the ship as a precaution.

Everyone else will likely have to remain onboard until the ship reaches Mobile, Ala., which is expected to happen Thursday, weather permitting.

Besides the two tugs, at least two other Carnival cruise ships have been diverted to the Triumph to leave supplies and a 210-foot Coast Guard cutter was at the scene, Coast Guard Petty Officer Richard Brahm said Tuesday.

"If they do need any help, we're there," he said.

Mowlam said his son told him there is no running water and few working toilets and passengers were given plastic bags to "use for their business."

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