A Carnival cruise ship disabled off the coast of Mexico is going to be towed to San Diego, officials said Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the cruise line requested military assistance to help supply food to the disabled vessel, after suffering engine failure Monday morning. The original strategy was to tow the ship to Ensenada, in Mexico, but those plans changed Tuesday.
"Given the ship's speed and current position, we have decided to take the vessel to San Diego where it is expected to arrive late Thursday," Carnival Cruise Lines said in a statement. "Additionally, we are in the process of making all the necessary hotel and flight arrangements for our guests."
There is still a chance, though, that the Carnival Splendor may be brought to shore in Mexico.
"If the ship is unable to maintain sufficient speed under tow [to San Diego], it is possible that we could revert to the previous plan and dock in Ensenada," the Carnival statement continued.
The Navy diverted the USS Ronald Reagan from training activities to the Splendor, which is dead in the water just off the Mexican coast, according to Navy Cmdr. Greg Hicks. The ship’s crew airlifted 50,000 pounds of food, provided by the cruise line, from the carrier to the cruise ship, Hicks said.
US Coast Guard crews boarded the ship on Tuesday to inspect the damage and have security crews onboard the ship, said Coast Guard San Diego Sector Commander Tom Farris.
"As of now, the cruise ship is still disabled, dead in the water, the passengers are being monitored closely," Farris said. "They are in good care and doing very well considering the circumstances."
Farris said there hasn’t been a need for any medical evacuations. The cruise line says toilets and cold water were restored overnight.
The Carnival Splendor, a $700 million ship, was 200 miles south of San Diego when the engine room fire cut its power early Monday, stranding passengers and crew. The fire started around 6 a.m. and forced the ship's generators to shut down. Crews were able to use emergency generators to get by, but with limited power; there was no air conditioning, hot food service, flushing toilets or telephone access aboard the ship.
Tracy Krell, whose parents are stuck on the ship, said that because there are no calls coming in or out from the ship, she's only been able to get information from a family services line set up by Carnival.
”The conditions right now are difficult for the passengers,” said Krell. “They are urging everyone to stay inside their cabins."
On Sunday, more than 3,200 hundred passengers and 1,167 crewmembers started a seven-day cruise aboard the ship. The itinerary included stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. Those plans disappeared after the fire.
Even though the cruise was canceled, passengers will receive a full refund and also a voucher for a future trip of equal or lesser value.
"We know this has been an extremely trying situation for our guests and we sincerely thank them for their patience," Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill said in the statement. "Conditions on board the ship are very challenging and we sincerely apologize for the discomfort and inconvenience our guests are currently enduring."
Family members concerned about loves ones aboard the ship can call: 888-290-5095 or 305-406-5534.