A Coast Guard cutter patrols near the Triumph, which lost propulsion power after an engine fire on Sunday. (Source: U.S. Coast Guard/Chief Petty Officer Jason Chambers)
A Coast Guard cutter stands by to assist the stranded Triumph. (Source: U.S. Coast Guard/Lt. Cmdr. Paul McConnell)
(RNN) - A few extra days at sea is not the extended vacation thousands of passengers stuck aboard a stranded cruise ship were hoping for.
The Carnival Cruise ship Triumph will have to be towed back to the U.S. after an engine fire on Sunday left it - and the more than 4,200 passengers and crew onboard - adrift in the Gulf of Mexico.
In a statement, Carnival says the first of two tugboats has reached the ship, with the second scheduled to arrive early Tuesday.
Together they'll pull Triumph ashore, arriving at port in Mobile, AL, on Thursday.
The cruise line will then arrange transportation for the ship's passengers to get home.
Carnival originally planned to tow the ship to Mexico, but strong currents pushed it 90 miles north, making Mobile not only the closer location, but a simpler port of re-entry for the estimated 900 passengers aboard without passports.
Carnival says the engine fire was quickly put out by the ship's automatic extinguishing systems and no one was injured.
But the fire did leave the ship on generator power and passengers have complained of less than luxurious conditions. There is no air conditioning and some spent Sunday night on the ship's deck, according to ABC News.
Carnival says public and cabin toilets are operating in parts of the ship and some power is available for limited hot food service.
"We're terribly sorry for the inconvenience, discomfort and frustration our guests are feeling," Carnival said in a statement. "We know they expected a fantastic vacation, and clearly that is not what they received. Our shipboard and shoreside teams are working around the clock to care for our guests and get them home safely."
A poster to CruiseCritic.com said she received word from her sister, who is onboard the ship.
"They have plenty of food," she wrote. "Said they are still having fun and gave me the task to call her boss who seems to think I was lying."
Triumph set out on a four day trip from Galveston, TX, last Thursday before losing power on Sunday.
Carnival says all passengers will receive a full refund for the cruise and shipboard expenses as well as a credit for a future cruise, should they choose to take it.
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