Crippled Carnival Cruise Ship Finally Docks

Thousands of passengers stranded on a crippled cruise ship for nearly a week have finally docked in Alabama.

There were cheers as the Carnival Triumph arrived in the Alabama port, after its first attempt failed when the towline being used to manoeuvre it into position snapped.

Passengers slowly disembarked from the ship in a process that took just under four hours.

Many then faced long journeys home aboard a fleet of around 100 coaches, after days enduring what the company's Chief Executive admitted were "poor conditions".

What began as a four-day voyage in the Gulf of Mexico last Thursday turned into a holiday nightmare.

Passengers have described overflowing toilets and say food has been scarce.

Some of those on board have become unwell.

Speaking as the 14-storey ship docked, Carnival Chief Executive, Gerry Cahill, said that his priority was to go on board to apologise and to help passengers disembark as quickly as possible.

He said: "I know that the conditions on board were very poor. I know it was very difficult and I want to apologise again for subjecting our passengers to that.

"We pride ourselves on providing our guests with a great vacation experience but clearly we failed in this particular case."

The ship left Galveston, Texas, for a four-day cruise a week ago.

It was about 150 miles (240 km) 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.

Frustrations with the cruise line were simmering on and off the ship, as passengers and their relatives questioned why it took so long to get back to dry land.

Renee Shanar, of Houston, said: "There's poop and urine all along the floor. The floor is flooded with sewer water ... and we had to poop in bags."

Ms Shanar, who was on the ship with her husband, said the couple had a cabin with no windows, so they slept outside for days.

She said food has been distributed on the ninth floor, and some of the elderly passengers needed younger people to bring it to them.

They were initially only given cold food, like turkey and vegetable sandwiches.

Then another cruise line dropped off hamburgers and chicken sandwiches, but the line for hot food was nearly four hours long.

"And then people started getting sick from the food," she said.

The company has disputed the accounts of passengers who describe the ship as filthy, saying employees did everything to ensure people were comfortable.

Carnival said that passengers would receive a full refund, discounts on future cruises and a compensation sum of \$500 (£322).

The problems are the latest in a string of failures for the massive cruise company.

Most notable was in January last year when the Costa Concordia, operated by Carnival's Costa Cruises, grounded on rocks off the Italian island of Giglio.

A total of 32 people died in the tragedy, which also unleashed numerous lawsuits against the company.