Stranded Cruise Ship Being Towed to San Diego

A third tugboat was sent to pull a stranded Carnival cruise ship to San Diego after one of two tugboats was forced to turn back because it wasn't powerful enough.

The third tugboat was hooked up Wednesday morning and pulling with no problem, Coast Guard officials said.

The Splendor and its 4500 passengers and crew were expected to arrive late Thursday.

The cruise left Long Beach on Sunday for a weeklong trip to the Mexican Riviera. One day into the cruise, a fire broke out in the engine room, cutting power and disabling the ship.

According to a photojournalist traveling with the U.S. Coast Guard's rescue effort, most passengers are trying to have a good attitude.

"They can't take showers, but they have plenty of drinking water and food," said Richard Klein. "They cannot cook though, and there's no refrigeration or air conditioning on board."

The U.S. Navy diverted USS Ronald Reagan from training activities to the Splendor. The ship’s crew airlifted 50,000 pounds of food, provided by the cruise line, from the carrier to the cruise ship. Among the supplies: canned crab meat, Pop Tarts and Spam.

It's been a frustrating situation for family members. Vicky and Fernando Alvarez are two of the 3300 guests on board the ship. "I don't think she'll go on a cruise again," said Alvarez' cousin. " This was her first and I don't think she'll ever do it again. Ever."

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,” Krell said Monday. “They are urging everyone to stay inside their cabins."

"They have no air conditioning so it may be a little rough in the cabins with no air conditioning," said Klein. "Many of them have been spending most of their time up on the upper deck outside."

The Carnival Splendor, a  $700 million ship, was 200 miles south of San Diego when the engine room fire cut its power around 6 a.m. Monday and forced the ship's generators to shut down.

Crew members 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.

The broken-down ship is also a security issue. USS Reagan and Coast Guard Cutter Morganthau will keep a close eye on the 952-foot long drifting hotel as it makes its way into San Diego.

If the ship moves too slowly it could still be sent to Ensenada, Mexico, just south of San Diego.

More than 3,200 hundred passengers and 1,167 crewmembers had planned to stop 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. Family members concerned about loves ones aboard the ship can call: 888-290-5095 or 305-406-5534.

Because of the fire and repairs, the next cruise scheduled for the Splendor has also been canceled.

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