Stranded cruise ship towed to San Diego port

SAN DIEGO Meanwhile, the 4,500 passengers on board are running low on food. The ship is expected to arrive in San Diego on Thursday morning.

On the first day of a weeklong Mexican Riviera cruise, a fire in the engine room meant Carnival's Splendor would not live up to its idyllic name.

Passengers are finally able to use a cell phone.

"It's been quite an ordeal, I have to tell you," said passenger Gordon Gilbreath. "A lot of people that are in the inside cabins, it's been pitch black for several days and most of those folks have been up on the decks and a lot of them have been sleeping on the decks with their blankets."

Gilbreath said there's no heating, air conditioning or working toilets in the rooms in the back part of the ship, although public toilets are working. They have running water only periodically. There's no hot water or hot food.

"It is my understanding that all the passengers are safe and as comfortable as they can be," said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Tom Farris.

It's taking a Navy airlift to get more food on board. Nearly 50,000 pounds of food have been delivered so far.

"We're delivering the stuff to the carrier and the carrier is going to get that over to the Carnival Cruise Lines so they get the supplies they need to make their passengers happy," said U.S. Navy pilot Matt Gonabe.

The ship weighs 113,000 tons and is twice the size of the Titanic.

In a statement, Carnival said, "Conditions on board the ship are very challenging."

The company is offering a full refund plus a free future cruise.

However, some passengers' family members doubt their loved ones will want to cruise again anytime soon.

"You think they're going to want to go again? No. I don't think she will," said Tony Sweet, a passenger's relative. "This was her one chance. I really don't think she will."

The last major cruise accident was in 2007 when a ship with more than 1,500 people sank after hitting rocks near the Aegean island of Santorini. Two French tourists died.

In May, a machine room fire in a cruise ship off the coast of Norway forced 607 people aboard to evacuate.

Those who have family members or friends on board the Carnival Splendor can call a hotline that has been set up at (888) 290-5095.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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