HOUSTON (CBS/AP) — Passengers aboard a cruise vessel stranded in the Gulf of Mexico after a weekend engine fire have limited access to bathrooms, food and hot coffee, but also a new destination: Mobile, Ala.
Carnival Cruise Lines President and CEO Gerry Cahill said in a statement Monday that the Carnival Triumph had drifted so far north of its original position that it will be towed to the southern U.S. port, instead of the original plan to take it to Progreso, Mexico.
Cahill said strong Gulf currents caused the Triumph to drift about 90 miles north of its original position off the Yucatan Peninsula.
Cahill’s statement said the ship should arrive in Mobile on Thursday and that the change will allow for less complicated re-entry for passengers without passports.
Meanwhile, CBS Houston has learned that approximately 500 McDonald’s employees are among those stranded on the ship. A source told Sports Radio 610 that the group of employees consist of mostly franchisees and executives from the Houston area.
The Carnival Triumph had been floating aimlessly about 150 miles off the Yucatan Peninsula since a fire erupted in the aft engine room early Sunday, knocking out the ship’s propulsion system. No one was injured and the fire was extinguished. The ship has been operating on backup generator power since the incident, the statement said.
The ship, which left Galveston, Texas, on Thursday and was scheduled to return there Monday, will instead be towed to Mobile with its 3,143 passengers 1,086 crew members. They are due to arrive in Alabama on Thursday.
One tugboat arrived Monday afternoon, and the other was expected later in the evening, Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said in an email. The Coast Guard has informed Mexican authorities of the situation in their waters, a spokesman said.
When another Carnival cruise ship, the Legend, rendezvoused with the stranded vessel Monday, supplying Triumph passengers with food and supplies, Texas resident Brent Nutt was able to briefly chat with his wife, Bethany, who could draw a cellphone signal from the visiting cruise line.
Without power, the ship’s stabilizers are apparently not working, Nutt told The Associated Press, and the massive liner had been leaning to one side Sunday. By Monday afternoon, the ship seemed more upright, he said.
“She sounded a whole lot better today than she did yesterday,” Nutt said about two hours after chatting with his 32-year-old wife.
Passengers were also given food, Nutt said, and some of the bathrooms are working. But the ship is dirty, Nutt said his wife told him.