(CNN) — Finally, after days of listing on a disabled Carnival cruise ship without electricity and working toilets, thousands of passengers finished disembarking early Friday morning at the Port of Mobile.
The frustration that many felt was typified by Janie Esparza, one of the first passengers to get back on land.
“It was horrible. Horrible,” Esparza told a scrum of reporters. “The bathroom facilities were horrible and we could not flush toilets. No electricity and our rooms were in total darkness. Honestly, think that this ship should have ever sailed out.”
The Carnival Triumph, became a major media story, when it caught fire off the coast of Mexico. The blaze left the vessel listing to the side, drifting in Gulf of Mexico currents and the more than 4,200 passengers and crew on board in limbo. It took five days for the ship to dock at the Alabama Cruise Terminal, three days after it was due.
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Family members cheered as the ship pulled in and in the crowd also was Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill. The CEO had his own message for the weary passengers: Sorry.
“We pride ourselves in providing our guests with a great vacation experience, and clearly we failed in this particular case,” he said.
The beleaguered CEO went on the ship as passengers departed and delivered another apology.
But for some, like passenger Norma Reyes, it was too little too late.
“The hallways were toxic,” said Reyes, who said she would never go on a Carnival cruise again. “Full of urine. It was horrible. If that ship caught on fire, and they had not contained it where would we be? Floating in the ocean or dead.”
Others were more forgiving.
“They did a good job of managing expectations,” said Brett Klausman. “The information that trickled out was probably well thought out to kind of keep people safe and calm.”
Despite the ordeal, many passengers had nothing but praise for the crew, saying they had worked long shifts to make sure their guests were as comfortable as possible.
“No power, no toilets, nothing. Nothing. I mean, it was was disgusting, but the staff, they did such an amazing job,” said Joseph Alvarez. “And I give them so much props because they were amazing through it all. I mean, they worked their tails off to accommodate everybody’s needs.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, Coast Guard members and a Carnival team boarded the ship before it arrived in port to help speed efforts to get passengers off as quickly as possible, he said.
Some families gathered at the Alabama Cruise Terminal, far from where the ship was originally supposed to dock in Galveston, Texas. Marissa Jenks said her family reported they had a hot meal Thursday morning and crew members were trying to clean up the ship as it neared port.