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February 15, 2013

Crippled Carnival ship docking at terminal

(Continued)

MOBILE, Ala. —

Carnival have the option of a seven-hour bus ride to the Texas cities of Galveston or Houston or a two-hour trip to New Orleans. Some also can stay in Mobile.

“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.”

Buses are standing by to take them to their next stop and Galveston is the home port of the ill-fated ship, which lost power in an engine-room fire Sunday some 150 miles of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.

It was the end of a cruise that wasn’t at all what it should look like in a brochure.

Thornton said the ship had been fully cleared by customs and Border Patrol, and that should speed up the process.

Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill apologized at a news conference.

“I appreciate the patience of our guests and their ability to cope with the situation. And I’d like to reiterate the apology I made earlier. I know the conditions on board were every poor,” he said. “We pride ourselves on providing our guests with a great vacation experience, and clearly we failed in this particular case.”

On Thursday night, dozens of chartered buses — with markings from Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas — had gathered in Mobile. Carnival said 100 buses had been reserved and that it will cover transportation costs.

While the passengers are headed home, Triumph will be headed to a Mobile shipyard for assessment, Thornton said.

Earlier Thursday — four days after the 893-foot ship was crippled by an engine-room fire in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico — the more than 4,200 passengers and crew members suffered another setback with towline issues that brought the vessel to a dead stop for about an hour just when it was getting close to port.

As the vessel drew within cellphone range Thursday, passengers vented their anger.

Renee Shanar, of Houston, was on board with her husband, who she said has heart trouble. They were told they will be among the first to disembark, she said.

“I don’t believe them; they’ve been lying to us from the beginning,” Shanar said.

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