As they finally came off the Carnival cruise ship Triumph late Thursday and early Friday in Mobile, Ala., passengers from the ill-fated cruise told stories that call to mind TV's Survivor and literature's classic Lord of the Flies, the Los Angeles Times writes.
According to the Times, "Debbie Moyes, 32, of Phoenix said she was awakened Sunday by a fellow passenger banging on her door, warning people to escape." An engine fire had left the ship stranded off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula.
"Soon after, she said some passengers panicked. 'People were hoarding food boxes and boxes of cereal, grabbing cake with both hands,' she said. "Toilets stopped working and the 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew had to urinate in sinks, she said, and eventually red plastic bags. She saw sewage dripping down walls. Sometimes people slipped on it, she said. Soon, the ship began to smell.
" 'It was like a hot port-o-potty,' Moyes said, and when the ship tilted, 'it would spill.' "
CNN writes that "the frustration that many felt was typified by Janie Esparza, one of the first passengers to get back on land. 'It was horrible. Horrible,' Esparza told a scrum of reporters. 'The bathroom facilities were horrible and we could not flush toilets. No electricity and our rooms were in total darkness. Honestly, I think that this ship should have [never] sailed out.' "
The Associated Press says that passenger Deborah Knight of Houston, "had no interest in boarding one of about 100 buses assembled to carry passengers to hotels in New Orleans or Texas. Her husband Seth drove in from Houston and they checked into a downtown Mobile hotel. 'I want a hot shower and a daggum Whataburger,' said Knight, who was wearing a bathrobe over her clothes as her bags were unloaded from her husband's pickup truck. She said she was afraid to eat the food on board and had gotten sick while on the ship."
The wire service adds that another passenger, Maria Hernandez of Angleton, Texas, had "tears welling in her eyes as she talked about waking up to smoke in her lower-level room Sunday and the days of heat and stench to follow. She was on a 'girls trip' with friends."
" 'It was horrible, just horrible' said Hernandez. ... She said the group hauled mattresses to upper-level decks to escape the heat. As she pulled her luggage into the hotel, a flashlight around her neck, she managed a smile and even a giggle when asked to show her red 'poo-poo bag' distributed by the cruise line for collecting human waste."
NBC News says that "passenger Janie Baker told MSNBC's Ed Schultz that people managed the situation well and that the crew was 'fantastic,' but on the final night, 'people's tempers started flying.' She described one incident where another passenger tried to disrupt a movie, and was taken away by the crew. 'If we had gone any longer, it could have been much, much worse,' she said."
On Morning Edition, NPR's Greg Allen reported about the $80 million the debacle is expected to cost Carnival and the blow suffered to the cruise industry's image. As for the passengers, he said, they're now getting "a full refund, credit for a future cruise plus $500 in cash."
Reuters add that "for all the passengers' grievances, they will likely find it difficult to sue the cruise operator for any damages, legal analysts said. Over the years, the cruise industry has put in place a legal structure that shields operators from big-money lawsuits."
Update at 9:45 a.m. ET. And On The Ride To New Orleans, At Least One Bus Broke Down:
CBS News reports that among the "caravan of buses" that Carnival chartered to take passengers to New Orleans, "at least one ... became stranded on the way."