SALT LAKE CITY — Tyler Endsley managed a laugh as he talked about wretched conditions aboard Carnival's stranded cruise ship Triumph.
Endsley and his wife were able to connect a call home to Utah on Thursday as the powerless craft limped "back to the USA," he said.
The Eagle Mountain couple were among those trapped on the ship when it lost power Sunday, their cabin smoke damaged and flooded because of its proximity to the engine room that caught fire and knocked out power.
"People have got to go," Endsley said, almost apologetically. "We started out with red bags, where we would have to do No. 2 in a red bag and give it to our steward."
Passengers quickly lost patience with the bag system, he said, turning instead to the ship's soon overflowing toilets.
"It's pretty nasty," Endsley said. "There are floors that are completely wet from sewage."
Nevertheless, he said his group, which includes his wife's family, decided to keep their spirits up throughout the ordeal.
"We've had no cellphone communication and no Internet, so it's just been hanging around and talking about stories," Endsley said. "The conditions have been pretty bad, but all you can do is control your attitude and your emotions, and it's been OK."
The Endsleys said they were told they will receive a refund for the cruise, were offered a second trip and will receive $500 compensation.
Logan resident Toni Woods boarded the Triumph with her husband, hoping for a relaxing vacation. She didn't get one. Instead, Woods described soggy floors, onion sandwiches and pleas for extra insulin needles and diapers as people ran out.
Because the Woods have a room with a balcony, they tied the doors to their cabin open to let air down the passageway and into other suites.
"We've been really lucky, with our balcony room," she said. "For the people across the hall from us, it was just stifling."
Wood said she longs to hug her children, but knows they are being cared for. And if she goes on another cruise, she will come better prepared.
As the sun set on the Triumph's crawl toward shore, passengers' only source of light was a cellphone.
The cruise ship pulled into the port at Mobile, Ala., late Thursday night, but passengers still had hours to wait before they could walk on solid ground.
The Triumph was pulling into port at about 9:15 p.m. Central time Thursday after taking about six grueling hours to be towed from the mouth of Mobile Bay some 30 miles to the port.
Anxious passengers lined the decks waving, cheering loudly and whistling to those on shore.
Carnival says the 3,000 or so passengers had the option of a seven-hour bus ride to the Texas cities of Galveston or Houston or a two-hour trip to New Orleans. Buses were standing by to take them to their next stop.
Officials said it would take passengers — carrying their own luggage, with only one functioning elevator on the ship — up to five hours to disembark.
Earlier Thursday — four days after the 893-foot ship was crippled by an engine-room fire in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico — the more than 4,200 passengers and crew members suffered another setback with towline issues that brought the vessel to a dead stop for about an hour just when it was getting close to port.
Frustrations with the cruise line simmered on and off the ship, as passengers and their relatives questioned why it had taken so long to get back to dry land. The ship left Galveston a week ago.
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