Stricken cruisers camp on deck

Last updated 10:45 13/02/2013

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Passengers onboard a disabled cruise ship being towed to shore in the Gulf of Mexico told relatives they are trying to make the best of a bad situation by sleeping under the stars instead of in their stuffy, hot cabins and having to use plastic bags to "do their business".

Texas man Brent Nutt, whose wife is on the Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Triumph, said that she told him the "whole boat stinks extremely bad" and some passengers were getting sick and throwing up. Mr Nutt said his wife reported "water and faeces all over the floor."

Jimmy Mowlam, 63, said his 37-year-old son, Rob Mowlam, told him by phone yesterday that the lack of ventilation onboard had made it too hot to sleep inside. He said Rob and his new bride - they got married onboard last weekend - are among the many passengers who have set up camp on the ocean liner’s decks and in its common areas.

"He said up on deck it looks like a shanty town, with sheets, almost like tents, mattresses, anything else they can pull to sleep on," said Mowlam, 63.

The ship left Galveston, Texas, for a four-day cruise last Friday NZT carrying 3143 passengers and 1086 crew members.

On Monday, the ship was about 240 kilometres off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula when an engine room fire knocked out its primary power source, crippling its water and plumbing systems and leaving it adrift on only a backup power.

There were no reported injuries caused by the fire, but Carnival spokeswoman Joyce Oliva said today that a passenger with a pre-existing medical condition was taken off the ship as a precaution.

Everyone else will likely have to remain onboard until the ship reaches Mobile, Alabama, which is expected to happen on Friday NZT, weather permitting.

Mowlam said his son told him there is no running water and few working toilets and passengers were given plastic bags to "use for their business".

"But so far people have been pretty much taking it in stride," Mowlam said his son told him.

Rob Mowlam told his father the ship’s crew had started giving away free alcohol to passengers.

"He was concerned about what that was going to lead to when people start drinking too much," Mowlam said.

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- AP

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