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February 14, 2013

Towline breaks as cruise ship nears shore

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MOBILE, Ala. (AP) —

The ship left Galveston for a four-day cruise last Thursday with 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members. The ship was about 150 miles off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula when an engine room fire knocked out its primary power source, crippling its water and plumbing systems and leaving it adrift on only backup power.

No one was injured in the fire, but a passenger with a pre-existing medical condition was taken off the ship as a precaution.

In Mobile, officials were preparing a cruise terminal that has not been used for a year to help passengers go through customs after their ordeal.

Mobile Mayor Sam Jones questioned the plan to bus passengers to other cities, saying the city has more than enough hotel rooms and its two airports are near the cruise terminal.

“We raised the issue that it would be a lot easier to take a five-minute bus ride than a two-hour bus ride” to New Orleans, Jones said. Jones said Carnival employees will be staying in Mobile.

Carnival Cruise Lines has canceled more than dozen more planned voyages aboard the Triumph and acknowledged that the crippled ship had been plagued by other mechanical problems in the weeks before the engine-room blaze. The National Transportation Safety Board has opened an investigation.

Gulliksen said the Triumph’s recent mechanical woes involved an electrical problem with the ship’s alternator on the previous voyage. Repairs were completed Feb. 2. He said there was no evidence between the previous problem and the fire.

Passengers are supposed to get a full refund and discounts on future cruises, and Carnival announced Wednesday they would each get an additional $500 in compensation.

Once docked, the ship will be idle through April.

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Plushnick-Masti reported from Houston. Associated Press writers Bob Johnson in Montgomery, Ala., and Melissa Nelson-Gabriel in Mobile contributed to this report.

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