In this image released by the U.S. Coast Guard on Feb. 11, 2013, a small boat belonging to the Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous patrols near the cruise ship Carnival Triumph in the Gulf of Mexico, Feb. 11, 2013. The Carnival Triumph has been floating aimlessly about 150 miles off the Yucatan Peninsula since a fire erupted in the aft engine room early Sunday, knocking out the ship's propulsion system. No one was injured and the fire was extinguished. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard- Lt. Cmdr. Paul McConnell)

Not even cruise 'from hell' will deter passengers, experts say

A cruise ship stranded for days in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to arrive on land Thursday afternoon, after what some aboard have called the vacation "from hell."

But travel experts say the ordeal will have little effect on the impending cruise season in Seattle, where some 400,000 passengers are expected to come through port.

The disabled Carnival Triumph and roughly 4,000 passengers and crew members on board are being towed to Mobile, Ala., where they will be shuttled via bus to Galveston, Texas, Houston or New Orleans.

The cruise ship lost power Saturday after a fire broke out in the engine room, causing widespread malfunctions. Passengers have reported putrid conditions, including sewage in hallways.

"It's a nightmare," said Vivian Tilley, whose sister, Renee Shanar, is on the ship. Tilley said Shanar told her the cabins were hot and smelled like smoke from the engine fire, forcing passengers to stay on the deck. She also said people were getting sick.

KIRO Radio's travel expert, Steve Daneshek, said the event will do little to deter would-be passengers from booking a cruise vacation in and out of Seattle.

"This may sway some not to go on a cruise, but as the news recedes from the headlines that will recede as well," Daneshek said. "This is what we would refer to as an 'adventure in travel.' It's not fun, but when you go home the person down the street that went on a cruise didn't have the same adventure."

Suzy Smith, president of Lake City Travel & Cruises in North Seattle, said she has been on countless cruises despite being aboard a ship that lost power in 1990 while en route to the Bahamas from Miami. She described a scene similar to the one unfolding on the Carnival Triumph.

"We were stranded at sea for four days, so I'm aware of the odors and things that happen," she said.

Smith said passengers aboard her cruise brought mattresses up to the top deck, where crew members played movies to pass the time.

"The bottom line was that we got off safely, we had a lot of fun things to look back on (and) the cruise line made it up to us tenfold."

Smith said such events are rare, and maintains that cruises are a "carefree" vacation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Brandi Kruse, KIRO Radio Reporter
Brandi Kruse is a reporter for KIRO Radio who is as spontaneous and adventurous in her free time as she is on the job. Brandi arrived at KIRO Radio in March 2011 and has already collected three regional Edward R. Murrow awards for her reporting.
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