But that was nothing compared to life on the crippled cruise liner. To pass the time, Joseph Alvarez said about 45 people gathered in a public room on the lower deck for Bible study.
“It was awesome,” he said. “It lifted up our souls and gave us hope that we would get back.”
Because many passengers were sleeping on the outside deck, Dwayne Chapman of Lake Charles, La., used his pocket knife to cut decorative rope to make tents out of bed sheets. At first, other passengers told him they thought he was going to get in trouble, but later, everyone wanted to borrow his knife to do the same thing.
“I really think we’ve made some lifelong friends going through this ordeal,” Chapman’s wife, Kim, said.
When it was over, many passengers were just grateful for simple pleasures. After days of warm drinks, Cheryl McIntosh and her husband were glad to see coolers full of ice.
“The first thing we did was open up those Diet Cokes and we drank some,” McIntosh said.
Tugs pulled the ship away from the dock Friday, moving it down a waterway to a shipyard where it will be repaired. Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said the damage assessment was ongoing.
The cleanup seemed daunting. Passengers described water-logged carpet, sewage seeping through the walls, overflowing toilets and a stench so bad people choked when they tried to endure it.
But by most accounts, the crew did as much as they could, using disinfectant and picking up plastic bags of feces after toilets stopped working.
David Glocker, of Jacksonville, Fla., praised the crew’s efforts to help passengers and recognized the conditions for them were worse than for most passengers because their quarters were on the lowest part of the ship.
“The conditions down there were horrible. They all had to wear masks,” he said. “They worked their butts off trying to get us food.”
Dorsett praised a voice over the ship’s public address system that she knew as “Jen.”
“Jen was fabulous. I can remember her saying ‘Everything is brilliant!” Dorsett said. “One day, she was just talking and she said, ‘I know, folks, it just really sucks.’ So she was even letting go. She would try to keep that happy spirit, but yet sometimes you could hear tension in her.”
Six investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were in Mobile to look into the cause of the engine-room fire, which happened some 150 miles off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.