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Extra Tugs to Meet Carnival Splendor Near San Diego; Ship Expected to Be in Port by Midday

November 11, 2010
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(Updated 6:50 a.m. EST November 11) -- Carnival Splendor, trudging ever closer to San Diego, is expected to rendezvous with more tugboats this morning before the delicate operation of towing the 113,000-ton ship into port begins. According to the Associated Press, six tugs will pull Splendor into port, an operation expected to take six hours. That puts the arrival at about midday Pacific time. The news service quotes Petty Officer Rachel Polish as saying weather conditions are favorable for the maneuver.

On Wednesday morning, in one of the first reports from a passenger onboard, Cruise Critic member AZ GIRL posted on the message boards that he received a phone call from his wife: "She said 'This is a cruise from HELL!' ... She said there is no light in her cabin, toilet only got restored yesterday and stinks beyond belief. People are hoarding food, taking platefuls." The call was abbreviated, he added, because "she needs to conserve her cell battery because there is nowhere to plug in for power." Late in the day, Carnival senior cruise director and avid blogger John Heald chimed in from the ship: "The ship is safe, the guests are safe and ... nobody was injured in what was a very difficult situation. I also want to tell you that the guests have been magnificent and have risen to the obvious challenges and difficult conditions onboard." In an interview Wednesday morning, Carnival Cruise Lines spokesman Vance Gulliksen echoed Heald, telling Cruise Critic that there are no reports of injuries among the 3,299 passengers, who are being entertained with "trivia contests, music on the promenade, acoustic music, dance and blackjack classes." Fees have been waived throughout the ship, and Splendor's bars were reopened on Tuesday. Though he couldn't say how many children are onboard, he noted, "Camp Carnival is open and we're keeping the kids occupied."

The ship was crippled by an engine-room fire on Monday and set adrift west of Baja California. Generators are providing power to navigation equipment and emergency-detection systems onboard; while the ship has cold water and flushing toilets, there is still no air conditioning, telephone or Internet service available. Communication has improved on the ship -- according to the latest Carnival statement, "Guests are now beginning to receive intermittent cellular service. Additionally, the ship's phone system is working on a limited basis and guests are able to make complimentary calls home." All public areas of the ship remain open; reports indicate that some passengers are choosing to sleep on the open decks in the fresh air (temperatures are in the mid-60's) rather than their stuffy cabins. On Tuesday, the USS Ronald Reagan delivered about 35 pallets of food (60,000 pounds of grub, including Spam, fruit, canned milk and Pop-Tarts) and utensils by helicopter to Splendor, a move necessitated by the lack of refrigeration. Gulliksen said no further airlifts of provisions will be necessary, provided the ship arrives in port as scheduled. Click the image to the left for a supply mission slideshow. There are no reports of structural damage to the 113,000-ton, 952-foot-long vessel, and there is no visible damage to the ship's exterior.

Although Splendor was originally set to be towed to Ensenada, Mexico, Carnival announced Tuesday evening that it would head to San Diego. The Los Angeles Times reports that during a Wednesday afternoon news conference in San Diego, Carnival Chief Executive Gerry Cahill said the ship is being pulled by two tugboats and followed by three others.

Carnival Splendor's fate upon arrival in San Diego has not been announced, and Gulliksen could not comment on whether Splendor's 1,167 crewmembers would stay onboard or debark upon arrival in San Diego.

Gulliksen said that a team from the cruise line is making arrangements for hotel accommodations, ground transportation and flights home for all passengers. In addition, passengers will receive a full refund, plus a complimentary future cruise, as compensation.

Carnival has already canceled the next cruise, originally scheduled to depart Long Beach on November 14. Passengers booked on that sailing will receive a full refund of their cruise fare and air transportation costs, along with a 25 percent discount on a future cruise. According to a letter from the line received by Cruise Critic member zonacruiser25, passengers also have the option to rebook onto a different Carnival cruise.

We'll be monitoring the situation, so check back for the latest.

--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor, and John Deiner, Managing Editor

--First image appears courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard. Second Image appear courtesy of the U.S. Navy.

Related Stories
Fire FAQ: Passenger Safety, Damage Report, More
Passengers, Others Speak Out About Life on Carnival Splendor
Anatomy of a Relief Mission: How the Navy Assisted Splendor
Slideshow: U.S. Navy Supply Mission
Your Turn: Chat About the Splendor Fire

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