Powerless cruise ship nears California harbour

The cruise ship Carnival Splendor has reached dock at San Diego`s harbor amid cheers from crowd.

Updated: Nov 11, 2010, 22:25 PM IST

San Diego: Several tug boats pulled a
stricken cruise ship to San Diego Bay early today, bringing
the nearly 4,500 passengers and crew closer to freedom after
four days of limited food, smelly toilets and dark cabins.

The 952-foot vessel was about eight miles off the
harbour mouth today morning, Coast Guard Petty Officer Rachel
Polish said the Carnival Splendor. Two tugs hauled it
slowly up from the Mexican coast, and four more were hooking
up to help gently steer the vessel to the dock.

The rigging is expected to take about an hour and the
ship will need another two hours to reach dock.

Coast Guard cutters will escort the ship around the
tip of the Coronado Peninsula to San Diego`s downtown harbour.

"It will take a lot of effort to get a 952-foot safe
and secure," said Petty Officer Rachel Polish, adding that
weather conditions for the operation were favourable.
It is expected to take several hours for everyone to
get off the ship.

"Every day is getting more frustrating for some
people. You can tell some people are just angry," passenger
Kate Kapelka told CBS television today morning.

Passenger Danny Cole that people were getting fed up
because toilets didn`t work.

"They couldn`t flush and there`s quite a smell issue
on the ship," Cole told CBS by cell phone.

Cruise Director John Heald said in comments posted in
a blog on Carnival Lines website that the people aboard "have
risen to the obvious challenges and difficult conditions
onboard."

He said he`s been making a lot of announcements from
the bridge to keep everyone informed of the situation.

"Obviously it has been a challenge but let me tell you
the most important facts and those are that the ship is safe,
the guests are safe and that nobody was injured," he said.

Just about anything that requires electrical power was
knocked out by a Monday morning fire in an engine room. There
was no air conditioning, no hot food, no hot water, no casino.
The swimming pool was off-limits because there was no way to
pump chlorine.

Lines for cold food stretch for hours. Navy
helicopters flew in Spam, Pop Tarts and canned crab meat and
other goods for the passengers and crew, said passenger David
Zambrano, who phoned his employer, Denver TV station 9NEWS,
from the ship.

Zambrano of Denver told NBC`s ``Today`` show by cell
phone today that lines were long for food.

"There are still people in the dark here," Zambrano
said. "I mean they`re the inward cabins that have no windows.
I mean, they`re still in total black."

PTI