Update, 2:53 p.m. EST: Carnival has dispatched a third tugboat to assist in towing Carnival triumph to Mobile. The tug is enroute and is expected to arrive at the ship this evening.
Upon their arrival in Mobile, Triumph passengers will be bused to New Orleans where 1,500 hotel rooms have been reserved. Those passengers that choose to spend the night will be flown to Houston on private charters on Friday.
(10:30 a.m. EST) -- Carnival Cruise Lines President and CEO, Gerry Cahill, called conditions aboard the fire-disabled Carnival Triumph "very challenging." But he insisted there are working toilets, playing down the portrait framed by the national media of sewage running down the walls.
"No one here from Carnival is happy about the conditions aboard the ship ... there is no question that conditions aboard are very challenging. Most of the public bathrooms -- there are 23 public bathrooms -- most of them are working," he said during a Tuesday night news conference in Miami. There is also a "good section" of passenger cabins, in the forward and midship sections of the ship, that have working toilets.
His statement stands in stark contrast with reports from the national media, as well comments from Cruise Critic members, that there are no toilets or running water and that there is human waste everywhere.
LynnA last heard from her daughter-in-law Tuesday morning via text. "[Feces] and [urine] rolling across floor with every wave. People sick and throwing up every where," she texted.
First-hand accounts in news outlets paint a similar picture.
Jimmy Mowlam told the Miami Herald his 37-year-old son phoned him Monday night to say there is no running water and few working toilets. Passengers, he said, are being given plastic bags for when they need to go to the bathroom.
Carnival maintains there is running water, albeit cold, in certain parts of the ship, so some passengers can wash their hands and take showers.
Others onboard have reported food shortages, and passengers fighting over food. Carnival insists there is no shortage of food, with meals being served in the Lido dining area and at the grill in the poolside restaurant.
Click here for more stories from passengers onboard.
Triumph is currently on its way Mobile, Alabama, under the power of two tugboats towing the ship at approximately 8 miles per hour. The ship, whose propulsion system was knocked out by the Sunday morning fire, is expected to arrive in Mobile late Thursday afternoon, where passengers can either spend the night in a hotel in Mobile or New Orleans or be bused back to Texas immediately.
More than 1,500 hotels rooms in Mobile and New Orleans have been booked and 10 charter flights have been secured to fly passengers to Houston on Friday. For passengers with cars at the port of Galveston, buses have been arranged to bring them back.
Carnival is in the process of securing buses for a Thursday evening transfer from Mobile to Houston or Galveston for passengers who would rather get home sooner, Cahill said.
The cruise line has cancelled voyages through April 13; those 14 cruises could impact more than 40,000 passengers. A timeline for repairs will be announced once the ship is in port and has undergone inspection, according to the line. Damage suffered by Carnival Splendor from an engine room fire in 2010 kept the ship out of service for more than three months.
Yesterday, the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation into the cause of the fire. The Bahamas Maritime Authority will be the lead investigative agency, as Carnival Triumph is a Bahamian-flagged ship.
--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor