Carnival Triumph cruise ship docks at Alabama terminal

First buses with cruise ship passengers pull out

MOBILE, Ala. - Passengers pulling into an Alabama port after days aboard a disabled cruise ship are shouting "Hello, Mobile" and "Roll Tide" to hundreds of people gathered at the terminal.

Despite their obvious excitement, passengers who have described miserable conditions aboard still had hours to wait Thursday and into Friday before they can walk on solid ground.

Carnival Cruise Lines has said it would take up to five hours for all of the 3,000 or so passengers to disembark.

Anxious passengers lined the decks waving, cheering loudly and whistling to those on shore.

Passengers have the option of a seven-hour bus ride to the Texas cities of Galveston or Houston or a two-hour trip to New Orleans. One hundred buses were on order to transport  the passengers.

The cruise ship has been at sea for a week. An engine-room fire Sunday left the ship powerless. More than 4,000 people are on board the Triumph, and passengers face long bus rides or other travel hassles to get home once they arrive in Alabama.

Some passengers have complained to relatives that conditions on the ship are dismal. They report limited access to food and bathrooms.

"Everywhere you go, you’re walking in slushy sludge water, even the dining room area. It is raw, we are in raw sewage," said Brenda, mother of 7NEWS reporter Amanda Kost, who is aboard the ship with her friends from a jazzercise class.

A photo Brenda sent from the deck of the ship shows a littering of cots and sheets draped over the bannisters.

"They call it tent city, I call it triage," she said.

Another passenger, who took a recent cruise on the ship, says the Triumph had a mechanical problem last month.

Debbi Smedley says hours before the Triumph was to leave Galveston on Jan. 28 she received an email from Carnival stating the vessel would leave late because of a propulsion problem.

The email said the issue affected the ship's cruising speeds and the propulsion problem would prevent them from docking at two ports. Smedley says she's sailed many cruises and this was by far, the worst.

Carnival acknowledges there was an electrical problem with the ship's alternator on the previous voyage and repairs were completed Feb. 2.

There are 4,000 passengers on the ship.

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