Weary Triumph travelers are headed to New Orleans

AP Photo
AP Photo

New Orleans, La - A travel nightmare is nearing an end for thousands of people stranded on a Carnival cruise ship in the Gulf. Turns out, for many, their first night of relief will be right here in New Orleans.

The Carnival Triumph left Galveston on Thursday for what was supposed to be a 4 day cruise, but on that last full day a fire in the engine room added 4 miserable days to the trip.

The more than 4-thousand people on board are dealing with overflowing sewage and no air conditioning. Mary Poret and Kim McKerreghan say they both got disturbing messages from their daughters who are traveling with their fathers.

"Sleeping on the floor, urinating and using the bathroom in bags," said Poret.

"Onion sandwiches," added McKerreghan.

"Standing in line for food for hours," said Poret.

"They had water, but it was hot," explained McKerreghan. "They have no air. It's so hot mommy. It's so hot."

The young girls are among the the more than 3,100 passengers aboard the crippled Triumph now on it's way to Mobile, Alabama, with the help of three tug boats.

Once those passengers are finally off the water they'll have two options. They can board buses headed straight for Houston and Galveston or they can come to New Orleans, spend the night and fly out on private charters the next day.

Carnival has reserved more than 1,500 hotels rooms in New Orleans and schedule multiple charter flights bound for Houston on Friday.

Tony Barfield of Gulf Coast Tours will be among the first to see the weary travelers. "I've not had a group that's had this rough a trip before, so I really don't know what I'm going to say or do," said Barfield.

Gulf Coast Tours will carry 11 bus loads from Mobile to New Orleans. "I would imagine that some of them are going to be a little bit on the relieved or hostile side,' said Barfield. "It's been an experience from what I've read in the paper."

The experience is one fellow cruisers say demands healthy compensation. "I think they really owe those people a lot because it ruined their vacation," said one woman.

"I can't imagine what they're putting up with," said a man.

To compensate passengers, Carnival is giving them a full refund, credit for a future cruise and 500 dollars. In the latest news release, Carnival's CEO states, "We are very sorry for what our guests have had to endure. Therefore, in addition to the full refund and future cruise credit already offered, we have decided to provide this additional compensation."

The Triumph is set to arrive in Mobile Thursday.

Carnival has canceled 14 Triumph cruises. Guests affected will get a full refund and discounts on their next Carnival cruise.