NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS) — The nightmare Carnival Cruise has ended Thursday morning.
Escorted by Coast Guard cutters, the nearly 1,000-foot Carnival Splendor reached the dock at about 8:30 a.m. PST and the first group of passengers walked down a ramp about an hour later, dragging rolling suitcases behind them and entering a tent on the dock. With the ship’s elevators out of order, port officials estimated it would take about four hours for everyone to leave the ship.
People on the decks and about 100 onshore cheered loudly as the ship reached the dock, while all along the harbor, tourists, joggers and fishermen stopped to snap photos.
High up on a ship railing, someone had stuck a sign thanking the Coast Guard and a hand-drawn U.S. flag.
Seventy-five buses were arriving to drive passengers north to Long Beach, where the Splendor is based. Passengers also were given the option of staying overnight at San Diego hotels.
1010 WINS Reporter Terry Sheridan with details
“We’re going to be providing a variety of assistance once they disembark the ship here in San Diego,” said Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill.
After the Splendor docked, Cahill told passengers via ship’s intercom: “I’m very sorry” and added: “I would like to thank you for all your patience and understanding that you showed throughout the situation.”
Tugs had been slowly towing the ship from the waters off Mexico where it broke down on Monday. For four days the nearly 4,500 passengers and crew have been without air conditioning, hot food and just about everything that runs on electricity.
Among those were 47 senior citizens from Yonkers and Westchester County legislator Bernice Spreckman. “She’s a Yonkers girl. She’s tough. She’s making the best of a bad situation,” legislative spokesman Tara Martin said.
Passengers were telling horror stories about bathroom facilities that didnt work for the first two days.
“People are getting upset and frustrated by the toilet situation. They couldn’t flush and quite a big smell issue on the ship,” said Danny Cole.
“We have no air conditioning, no heating. There is just no power,” Gordon Gilbreath said.
There were two-hour lines for food like spam and pop tarts, but despite the challenges, passengers said they’ve pulled together.
“By and large, people have been nice to each other and there has been almost a camaraderie amongst the passengers because we are going through the same ordeal,” Cole said.
“The only thing that made it really tough was when the facilities were all broken down and the bathrooms weren’t working. But now that they started getting those going and water flowing. Then that made all the difference,” passenger David Zambrano said.
Splendor was scheduled to tour the Mexican rivera for seven days. An engine room fire left the ship without power and made those plans go up in smoke.
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