Local passengers say living conditions worsen on cruise ship

The US Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board have now launched an investigation into the cause of the fire aboard the Carnival cruise ship, Triumph.

The ship became stranded in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday after an engine room fire. It was returning to Galveston from Cozumel.

Dozens of Southeast Texans aboard the ship have been wrestling with little electricity, no working toilets and small amounts of food and water. Now, a tugboat is pushing the ship to a port in Mobile, Alabama.

Seven employees of Beaumont Family Eye Care are stuck on the ship along with their spouses.

The passengers say the toilets are overflowing onto the carpet; making the odor on the ship almost unbearable.

Sarah Long is a friend of Dr. Peter Cass, a Beaumont Optometrist who brought his staff on a work retreat aboard the Carnival Triumph.

Long has offered a helping hand rescheduling patients and answering phones.

"We could barely get on the phone because so many patients were calling asking 'Is that the cruise ship Dr. Cass and his staff are on? We're praying for them. We're worried about them," says Long.

Also worrying is Dr. Cass' mother-in-law whose daughter was able to make a brief call to her mother Tuesday morning.

"She was crying. She said 'Mom it's terrible'", says Dorothy McKnight,"She said commodes won't flush. The place stinks. It's hot. There's limited food supply. There's very limited water and no baths."

McKnight said her daughter waited in line for several hours for a cold hamburger because there's no electricity to cook.

McKnight says once she confirmed her daughter was safe Sunday, she then became concerned about terrorism.

"Drug cartel, hijacking, terrorists. Now, in this time that we live in, you just don't know," says McKnight.

The Cass' have two children who McKnight is caring for until their return. They have a 14-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter who McKnight says cries for her parents.

"She cried and cried and cried and doesn't sleep," says McKnight.

McKnight says she also won't rest well until her daughter and son-in-law are home.

She's sending a bus to Mobile, AL Thursday to pick up her family and the office staff.

"I'm not counting on Carnival to do anything. If they will just please get them on land, we'll take it from there," says McKnight.

In the meantime, Cass' office sits empty with hundreds of patients waiting to visit their doctor.


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