Passengers on Crippled Carnival Cruise Ship Describe Dire Conditions

KRTK/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Passengers on the fire-damaged Carnival cruise ship stranded in the Gulf of Mexico have reported worsening conditions, including scarce running water, no air conditioning and long lines for food.

Carnival said original plans to haul the crippled ship to Progreso, Mexico, have been scrapped because the ship has drifted about 90 miles north because of strong currents.  Instead, the Triumph will be towed to Mobile, Ala., and should arrive on Thursday.

For the more than 4,200 people on board, Thursday could not come soon enough.

"Conditions are getting worse by the hour," passenger Debra Rightmire told ABC News in a text message.  "Cabin carpets are wet with urine and water.  Toilets are overflowing inside cabins.  We are having to sleep in the hallways."

Another passenger, Shelly Crosby, told ABC News in a text message that many people are sleeping in tents set up on the ship's deck.

Passengers had limited access to bathrooms, food and hot coffee on Monday.  With lack of power, there's no refrigeration so the stink on board is apparently intense, which is one of the reasons many people are choosing to sleep on the deck.

"We stood in line for four hours to get a hamburger," Crosby texted.

Cellphone reception is just as scarce, coming only when another Carnival ship pulls alongside to drop off supplies.

Carnival has acknowledged the problems, but said there's plenty of food and water aboard and that it is working on the sanitation issue.

"All of our guests are safe, and we're doing everything we can to make them as comfortable as possible," Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, said in a statement Monday night.

A tug boat reached the Triumph Monday night.  The tug has tied up with the cruise ship, but will wait until Tuesday for the expected arrival of a second tug before towing the cruise ship to port.

The ship, which is 2.5 football fields long and bigger than the Titanic, will then be towed back to shore at the rate of a few miles per hour.

The Triumph has been bobbing in the Gulf of Mexico without propulsion since the fire broke out Sunday morning.  No one was hurt in the fire, but the ship lost power and is relying on a back-up generator.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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