(MOBILE, Ala.) — Carnival Cruise officials apologized Tuesday for the crisis on the Carnival Triumph, the fire-damaged ship that has been stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. There are 4,200 people on board, living with limited power and sanitation. The cruise line said it would get passengers home as quickly as possible when the ship is pulled ashore in the next few days.
“I need to apologize to our guests and to our families that have been affected by a very difficult situation,” Carnival Cruise Lines President and CEO Gerry Cahill said at a news conference Tuesday evening.
Carnival said original plans to haul the crippled ship to Progreso, Mexico, have been scrapped because the ship drifted about 90 miles north in strong currents. Instead, the Triumph is being towed to Mobile, Ala., and should arrive Thursday afternoon.
Passengers on the ship have reported worsening conditions, including scarce running water, no air conditioning and long lines for food.
“Let me assure you that no one here at Carnival is happy about the conditions aboard the ship and we are obviously very sorry,” Cahill said.
He said that most of the bathrooms are working, there is running water and that there has not been an abnormal number of people reporting to the infirmary.
On Thursday, the ship will be met by a medical triage center and extra security in case they need it, according to Alabama Cruise Terminal General Manager Sheila Gurganus.
The cruise line said it has been busily making arrangements for the ship’s passengers when they reach the shore.
More than 1,500 hotel rooms have been reserved in Mobile and New Orleans and more than 20 chartered flights have been booked to fly passengers back to Houston on Friday after they have had a chance to rest, Cahill said. For those wishing to get home sooner, the company is organizing charter buses to Houston and Galveston.
“Every decision we’ve made since Sunday morning is to ensure the safety of our guests and to get them home as quickly as possible,” Cahill said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Farida Fawzy and Jareen Imam, CNN