MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – A second tug boat has reached a disabled cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico.
Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines said the tugs intend to tow it Mobile, Alabama.
More than 3,000 passengers and a crew of more than 1,000 aboard the Carnival Triumph have had limited services since a fire in an engine room Sunday. The Carnival Legend rendezvoused with the stranded vessel Monday and supplied it with food and other essential supplies.
Gerry Cahill, President and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, held a press conference Tuesday evening.
"I apologize to our guests and to their families that have been affected by this difficult situation," Cahill said from the cruise lines' headquarters in Doral.
Hotel arrangements have been made in Mobile, Ala. And New Orleans for passengers to rest before being transported to Texas on Friday, Cahill said.
"We have finalized arrangements for more than twenty charter flights to fly guests to Houston, Friday," Cahill said.
Accommodations are also being made for transportation from Houston to the Port of Galveston where some travelers parked their cars before the cruise set sail.
"Every action we are taking is to get our guests home as quickly as possible," Cahill said.
The fire on board the Triumph comes after a fire on board the Carnival Splendor in 2010 off the northern coast of Baha California.
Cahill said the circumstances behind each fire were different, but the challenges in returning passengers to dry land are similar.
No injuries have been reported.
Because the Carnival Triumph is a Bahamian flagged vessel, the Bahamas Maritime Authority is the primary investigative agency. In accordance with international guidelines, the U.S. will participate in this investigation as a Marine Safety Investigative State.
The original plan was to tow it to Progreso, Mexico, but currents pushed it north. Coast Guard Petty Officer Richard Brahm said as of Tuesday morning the ship was about 270 miles south of Mobile. It is expected to arrive there Thursday.
A similar situation occurred on a Carnival cruise ship in November 2010. That vessel was also stranded for three days with 4,500 people aboard after a fire in the engine room. When the passengers disembarked in San Diego they described a nightmarish three days in the Pacific with limited food, power and bathroom access.
Carnival said in a statement that it had cancelled the Triumph's next two voyages scheduled to depart Monday and Saturday. Passengers aboard the stranded ship will also receive a full refund, the statement said.
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