After days stranded in the Gulf of Mexico in conditions some have described as dismal, passengers aboard the disabled Carnival Triumph will reach land today.
The cruise ship company announced Wednesday that the Triumph was being towed to a port in Mobile, Ala., with more than 4,000 people on board.
Many have complained that they have limited access to food and bathrooms and started to become physically sick as conditions deteriorated on board.
Plastic bags were used as toilets, facilities overflowed and the unbearable stench of human waste and lack of food supplies began to take its toll at sea.
Travelers have been calling their loved ones on what limited cell phone coverage they have, as the vessel is dragged by a towboat towards Alabama.
The ship was stranded in Gulf of Mexico after an engine fire last Sunday.
Anne Barlow, a passenger, texted that some less able passengers were “struggling,” the smell was “gross” and her room was leaking raw sewage.
“Why can’t they get us off?” she asked, and not in the way that millions of other women are likely asking that same question on this Valentine's Day.
"It's a nightmare," said Vivian Tilley, whose sister, Renee Shanar, is on board and says rooms smell like smoke from the engine fire, forcing passengers to stay on deck.
She also said people were getting sick.
The company has disputed the accounts of passengers who describe the ship as filthy, saying employees are doing everything to ensure people are comfortable.
Meanwhile, officials in Mobile were preparing a cruise terminal that has not been used for a year to help passengers go through customs after their ordeal.
The Triumph is expected to arrive this afternoon.
But passengers' stay in Alabama will be short.
Carnival said in a statement late Wednesday that passengers were being given the option of boarding buses directly to Galveston, Texas, or Houston.
That, or they can stay New Orleans, where the company said it booked 1,500 rooms. Those staying in New Orleans will be flown Friday to Houston.
Carnival said it will cover all the transportation costs.
Mobile Mayor Sam Jones questioned the plan, saying the city has more than enough hotel rooms for passengers and two airports near the cruise terminal.
"We raised the issue that it would be a lot easier to take a five-minute bus ride than a two-hour bus ride" to New Orleans, Jones said, after their experience at sea.
"I don't know if the passengers even know that," Jones said.
They'll find out soon enough!