As if spending five days on a stranded cruise ship wasn’t enough, passengers of the Carnival Triumph were delayed even further after a charter bus taking them from Mobile, Ala., to New Orleans, La., broke down during the trip back.
Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen told the Associated Press that, while the bus was sidelined en route to Louisiana, another bus was available to the disgruntled passengers to New Orleans where they arrived safely later Friday morning.
The Carnival Triumph, carrying some 4,200 passengers, docked late Thursday in Mobile with the help of four tugboats, which tugged the ship all the way from the Gulf of Mexico. The ship docked five days after an engine-room fire left it powerless and adrift.
The cruise ship made national headlines over the five-day period, with passengers reporting unsanitary living conditions to several news outlets via text message and Instagram photos.
"Conditions are getting worse by the hour," passenger Debra Rightmire told ABC News in a text message. "Cabin carpets are wet with urine and water. Toilets are overflowing inside cabins. We are having to sleep in the hallways. Onion and cucumber sandwich last night."
The ship's horn loudly blasted several times as four tugboats pulled the crippled Carnival Triumph to shore at about 9:15 p.m. CST. Some gave a thumbs-up sign and flashes from cameras and cellphones lit the night.
Less than four hours later, the last passenger had disembarked.
Deborah Knight, 56, of Houston, who was not aboard the broken-down bus, had her husband, Seth, drive in from Houston to pick her up before they would check in to a downtown Mobile hotel.
"I want a hot shower and a daggum Whataburger," Knight told the Associated Press.
Busses eventually arrived at the Hilton in New Orleans to reporters and paramedics on the scene with wheelchairs to roll in passengers who were elderly or too fatigued to walk.
While many were tired and didn’t want to talk, Maria Hernandez, 28, of Angleton, Texas, told the AP, "It was horrible, just horrible. I just can't wait to be home."
My name is Carey Vanderborg and I'm a journalist working in New York City. I love food, travel, craft beer, live music and writing about all of the above.