Tugs begin moving disabled Carnival cruise ship

Fed-up passengers made their feelings known.
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The disabled Carnival cruise ship Triumph is being moved from the Alabama dock where it discharged its weary passengers and crew after five days at sea paralyzed by an engine-room fire.

Tugs pulled the 14-story ship away from the dock in Mobile. The ship was being moved backward down a waterway in the direction of a shipyard where city officials said it will be repaired.

"We survived it. We are here, we're on land. Thank God," said Veronica Arriaga, one of over 4,000 passengers and crew members who arrived in Mobile late Thursday night.

Their five-day ordeal on board a ship with no power, little food, and non-working toilets is over. Thousands of passengers trapped on the Triumph are now on their way home.

Passengers' despair turned to jubilation as they were reunited with family members and friends, many of whom they hadn't been able to reach in days.

"I'm ecstatic, I love them so much and I worried about them the whole time they were gone and I'm glad to have them back," said Joe Espe, passenger.

Eighteen-year-old Brianna Adkins of Noblesville is one of those back on land this morning - thankful after her early graduation celebration turned into a nightmare. She told Eyewitness News that she kissed the ground when she left the ship. The one thing she missed the most about the mainland? "Toilets," she said.

Food improved from vegetable sandwiches the first day. "After that, we had ship that brought us supplies, and we had chicken, and ham and turkey," Adkins said. "And then the third day, I think, we had hamburgers."

Other passengers boarded buses bound for New Orleans or Texas, while others, including Adkins, settled into local hotels in Mobile.

Adkins said the crew, stewards and passengers made the best of the ordeal. "I was surprised," she said. "There were no fights or anything like that. People were helping each other."

Within the next day, federal investigators will begin their work to determine what caused the engine fire and loss of power.

"It was like post-natural disaster, but stuck on a boat with 3,200 other people, and those poor workers trying to clean up after everyone and deal with everyone freaking out," said Julie Billings, passenger.

Passengers had high praise for the ship's staff, who kept smiling and working amidst the chaos and poor conditions. Two passengers emerged from the ship newly engaged.

"She said yes," said Mike Harmeier, passenger.

Carnival, which has suspended its cruises through mid-April, will give $500 to each passenger from the Triumph, plus reimbursement for the cruise and a free future cruise.