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Cruise ship nightmare is almost over for weary passengers

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — This is not at all how it looked in the brochure: Pulled by a tugboat at a maddeningly slow pace, the ill-fated cruise ship Carnival Triumph finally drew within sight of land on Thursday as miserable passengers told stories of overflowing toilets, food shortages, foul odors and dangerously dark passageways.

Around midday, four days after the 893-foot ship was crippled by an engine-room fire in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, the more than 4,200 passengers and crew members suffered another misfortune when the towline snapped, bringing the vessel to a dead stop just when it was getting close to port.

The towline was quickly replaced, and the crawl to Mobile resumed. The ship was expected to arrive around midnight Thursday. Officials said it would take passengers up to five hours to get off the ship, and then they faced an hours-long bus ride or other travel hassles to finally get back home.

Frustrations with the cruise line simmered on and off the ship, as passengers and their relatives questioned why it had taken so long to get back to dry land. The ship left Galveston, Texas, a week ago.

Television images from CNN showed passengers with signs of "Help" and "I love you" hanging from their cabin rooms.

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