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Ailing cruise ship waits for rescue in Gulf of Mexico

A small boat from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous patrols near the cruise ship Carnival Triumph in the Gulf of Mexico, in this Feb. 11, 2013 handout photo. The cruise ship lost propulsion after an engine room fire on Feb. 10 and was adrift off southern Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. REUTERS|U.S. Coast Guard

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By The Associated Press
Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, 10:00 p.m.

HOUSTON — Passengers aboard a cruise vessel stranded in the Gulf of Mexico had limited access to bathrooms, food and hot coffee on Monday as they waited for two tugboats to arrive to tow them to Mexico, Carnival Cruise Lines said in a statement.

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. The ship has been operating on backup generator power since the incident, the statement said.

The ship, which left Galveston, Texas, on Thursday and was scheduled to return there Monday, will be towed to Progreso, Mexico, and the 3,143 passengers on board will fly back to the United States. There are 1,086 crew members aboard the ship, and they are to arrive in Mexico on Wednesday.

One of the tugboats arrived on Monday afternoon, Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said in an email.

When another Carnival cruise ship, the Legend, rendezvoused with the stranded vessel, supplying Triumph passengers with food and supplies, Texas resident Brent Nutt was able to chat briefly with his wife, Bethany, who could draw a cellphone signal from the visiting cruise line.

“She sounded a whole lot better today than she did yesterday,” Nutt said about his 32-year-old wife.

The ship is dirty, Nutt said his wife told him: “There's water and feces all over the floor.”

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