Passengers describe 'rotting trash and sewage'

SAN DIEGO Escorted by the Coast Guard, the /*Carnival Splendor*/ reached the dock at about 8:30 a.m., and Gerry Cahill, CEO of Carnival Cruises, stepped onto the cruise ship to talk with the nearly 4,500 passengers and crew members.

It's the end of a long journey from Long Beach to Mexico, where an engine room fire left the ship dead in the water Monday at about 6 a.m. The ship had to be pulled by tugboats more than 200 miles to San Diego.

"It was great the first day. It was Monday morning, and my son and I got up really early to watch the sun rise, came back inside, and the bed started vibrating really bad," said Jackie Harlan of Buena Park. "We all kind of looked around, turned on the TV, and it just went black."

Harlan said they were kept in the dark about the engine fire that started all the problems.

"They told us it was just a flameless fire, and when we were getting ready to get off, they said, 'Oh no, there was a real fire,'" she said.

Harlan said the worst part of the ordeal for her family was having to be in the pitch dark.

"We have little kids, and so, it was trying to just keep everybody occupied the whole night. There were kids that were freaking out 'cause it was dark. They had emergency lights, but that was it," she said.

For one newlywed couple on the ship, the cruise was supposed to be their honeymoon.

"It's dark, it's cold, the food is terrible. It's not what we planned. It's more like a 'diet' cruise," said Riverside resident Paul Patrick, father of the bride.

It wasn't the honeymoon they had wanted, but as Patrick pointed out, it's a trip the couple will never forget.

Buses were ready to drive passengers back north to Long Beach, where the Splendor is based. Passengers also had the option of staying overnight in hotels.

Carnival first planned to haul the ship to the Mexican port of Ensenada, not far from a movie studio complex used to film "Titanic," and bus passengers to the U.S.

But the cruise line decided it would be better to go a little farther to San Diego, sparing passengers the 50-mile bus ride to the border. San Diego also offers more transportation and hotel options.

The company is offering a full refund to all passengers, plus a free future cruise.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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