(CNN) – Carnival Triumph passengers scattered to the four (better smelling) winds Friday, headed anywhere and everywhere but back to the stinky, crippled ship where they were trapped for days.
By the busload, passengers arrived in New Orleans, Galveston, Texas, and Houston, destined for flights or car trips that would take them home after the ill-fated trip — which went horribly wrong after an engine-room fire Sunday left the ship drifting, largely without power, in the Gulf of Mexico. Among the arriving passengers in Galveston were Tony and Jenny Larocca of Lake Charles, Louisiana, on their first trip away from the kids — a cruise that the husband got his wife for Christmas. Their souvenir? A bag of stinky clothes and a new appreciation for each other.
“There’s no way I could have made it without him,” Jenny Larocca said. As they spoke, tugboats were pulling the crippled Triumph to a Mobile, Alabama, shipyard where it was to undergo repairs. The ship won’t carry passengers until at least mid-April. The Triumph finally pulled into port in Mobile late Thursday night after an agonizingly slow trip to the docks made longer by a busted tow line. Passengers lined the railings, cheering and waving towels in celebration as the ship finally pulled in.
The last passengers got off early Friday. Some stayed overnight in Mobile before boarding buses to New Orleans or Texas. All were happy to be back on land. A few even kissed the pavement. “It was horrible. Horrible,” passenger Janie Esparza told reporters. “The bathroom facilities were horrible and we could not flush toilets. No electricity and our rooms were in total darkness. Honestly, I don’t think that this ship should have ever sailed out.”But passengers had nothing but rave reviews for the cruise ship’s 1,086 crew members. Many said they bent over backward to meet the needs of passengers and made a good show even during unpleasant jobs such as cleaning up raw waste that had sloshed out of toilets aboard the listing ship.
“The situation we were in was a terrible situation, and there were a lot of frustrating and horrible things to deal with,” said passenger Joy Dyer, wearing a Triumph bathrobe with “Float Trip 2013″ scrawled on the back.
“But what we were in awe of the entire time was the crew that was completely unselfish,” she said. “They served us with smiles, and served us in ways that are truly unthinkable, the things they had to do for us, yet they did it with smiles.” The ship was in the third day of a planned four-day cruise when a fire in an engine room left it with no propulsion, listing to the side, drifting in Gulf of Mexico currents. In addition to the crew, it was carrying more than 3,100 passengers. The power outages put many toilets out of order. Some commodes overflowed, splashing the floors with waste as the ship listed and sending urine and feces sloshing across floors and down hallways, passengers reported.