Cruise ship in port of Mobile.
(Jeff Gammons/Getty Images)
MOBILE, Ala. - A Carnival cruise ship disabled for five days in the Gulf of Mexico finally pulled into a dock in Mobile, Ala., on Thursday night, ending a nightmarish ocean odyssey for more than 4,000 people on board.
Passengers could be seen cheering and waving to family and friends waiting on shore. As they disembarked, many expressed relief to be back on land. All passengers had disembarked by early Friday morning.
Kendall Jenkins, 24, from Houston, walked off the ship in a cabin bathrobe and promptly kissed the ground.
"This was my first and my last cruise," Jenkins said.
Despite the deplorable conditions on board, many passengers lauded the ship's crew for their tireless professionalism.
"The crew was always smiling," Jenkins said. "They need a huge raise."
Erwin Ward, of Bay City, Texas, was on Triumph with his wife, Sharon Ward, and both said the crew worked hard to make the best of a bad situation.
"The crew is wonderful," Erwin said. "They did the best they could. They would have made some different decisions if they had it to do over again, but so would most of the quarterbacks that play in the Super Bowl."
Carnival had nearly 200 employees in Mobile helping with the ship's arrival.
A Sunday fire in Triumph's engine room cut power to the ship, leaving it adrift in the Gulf of Mexico and turning a fun holiday cruise into a hellish nightmare for scores of passengers and crew. Passengers described terrible conditions on board, with backed up toilets, feces and urine on floors, little food and electrical power. Some passengers slept in tents to escape sweltering temperatures in overheated cabins.
MORE: Carnival passenger relates days of 'emotional breakdown'
Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill apologized at a news conference.
"I know the conditions on board were very difficult,'' Cahill said at the news conference. "I want to apologize to our guests.''
Cahill also apologized later over a ship loudspeaker as passengers were leaving the ship, though some weren't impressed, loudly chanting "bull----."
Passengers exited the 14-story Triumph -- the largest ship ever to dock at the Alabama Cruise Terminal -- by using its one functioning elevator.