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February 14, 2013

Towline breaks as cruise ship nears shore

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MOBILE, Ala. (AP) —

Shanar, who is on the ship with her husband, said the couple had a cabin with no windows, so they have been sleeping outside for days. She said the food has been distributed on the 9th floor, and some of the elderly have needed younger people to bring it to them. They were initially only given cold cuts, like turkey and vegetable sandwiches. Then another cruise line dropped off hamburgers and chicken sandwiches, but the line for that fare was nearly four hours long.

“And then people started getting sick from the food,” she said.

The company has disputed the accounts of passengers who describe the ship as filthy, saying employees are doing everything to ensure people are comfortable.

Terry Thornton, senior vice president for Carnival Cruiselines, said they received an extra generator that allowed them to serve hot food on the ship Wednesday night, and that the food services will be fully operational when they are docked.

That isn’t expected until at least 8 p.m., perhaps later and the massive ship still needs to travel through tricky turns and cross currents — all without the help of its engines.

“This is going to be a long day,” Thornton said. “There is no way we can speed up the process.”

When passengers arrive in Alabama, their stay will be short. Carnival said in a statement late Wednesday that passengers were being given the option of boarding buses directly to Galveston, Texas, or Houston — a roughly seven-hour drive — or taking a two-hour bus ride to New Orleans, where the company said it booked 1,500 hotel rooms. Those staying in New Orleans will be flown Friday to Houston. Carnival said it will cover all the transportation costs.

“I can’t imagine being on that ship this morning and then getting on a bus,” said Kirk Hill, whose 30-year-old daughter, Kalin Christine Hill, is on the cruise. “If I hit land in Mobile, you’d have a hard time getting me on a bus.”

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