(NEW YORK) — A Texas couple’s fantasy wedding quickly turned into a nightmare honeymoon when the fire-damaged Carnival cruise ship carrying them became stranded in the Gulf of Mexico.
Rob Mowlam, 37, and Stephanie Stevenson, 27, of Nederland, Texas, got married on the Carnival Triumph on Saturday. The four-day cruise was meant to be back to shore on Monday, but was left disabled by an engine fire on Sunday.
The ship is being slowly towed to shore and is expected to dock in Mobile, Ala., on Thursday if weather permits. The vessel is without air conditioning, many working toilets and some restaurant service. Passengers, many who are sleeping in tents on deck, have told ABC News the smell on the ship is foul.
That is the honeymoon setting for Mowlam and Stevenson.
“It is an atrocious scene to be subjected to,” Mowlam’s brother, James Mowlam III, told ABC News.
James said he has not been able to communicate with his brother, but that his father has had sporadic communication with him.
The bride’s brother, Justin Davis, told ABC News that his sister works for a doctor’s office and the cruise was a gift from the doctor to the staff.
Davis has not been able to speak to Stevenson but said that her two young sons are being cared for by her mother. He said his sister is tough and he guesses she’s probably not scared.
“She might be a little aggravated at the situation, but I’d say she’s [probably] handling it really well,” he said.
Others on the ship do not seem to be handling the situation so well.
Elderly and disabled passengers aboard the ship are struggling to cope with the worsening conditions, according to at least one passenger.
“Elderly and handicap are struggling, the smell is gross,” passenger Ann Barlow text-messaged ABC News. “Our room is leaking sewage.”
The head of Carnival Cruise Lines said the British-U.S.-owned company was working hard to ensure the thousands of passengers stranded on the disabled ship were as comfortable as possible while the vessel was being towed to a port in Alabama.
“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.
It was the first time since a fire erupted in Triumph’s engine room Sunday, knocking out its four engines, that a company representative had spoken publicly. The cruise ship, with roughly 4,200 people on board, was left bobbing like a 100,000-ton cork for more than 24 hours. Giant sea-faring tugboats then hooked up to the ship and began towing the nearly 900-foot-long ship to land.
On Wednesday evening, Carnival announced that in addition to giving all passengers on board a full refund and a credit to use on a future cruise, each person would be receiving $500.
“We know it has been a longer journey back than we anticipated at the beginning of the week under very challenging circumstances. We are very sorry for what our guests have had to endure. Therefore, in addition to the full refund and future cruise credit already offered, we have decided to provide this additional compensation,” Cahill said in a statement.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Lisa France, CNN
Kareem Khadder, CNN
Faith Karimi and Joe Sutton, CNN
Kelsey Schwab, Deseret News