The cruise ship Carnival Triumph is pushed towards the cruise terminal along the Mobile River in Mobile, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. / AP Photo/Dave Martin
(CBS)-- Thousands of passengers erupted into cheers Thursday night as the crippled triumph finally pulled up to the dock. As they stepped onto dry land, and into the arms of their loved ones some couldn't contain their excitement.
Carnival then chartered a caravan of buses to transport folks out of Mobile, Ala. To add insult to injury, at least one of those buses became stranded on the way to New Orleans, reports CBS News correspondent Anna Werner.
The nightmare started Sunday, when an engine fire knocked out power.
Kendell Jenkins won the trip in a contest, but said it was more like cruising on a floating port-o-potty. "I'm just really thankful and blessed to be back," she said. "I mean there was sewage, water everywhere, mix that with some rotten food smells and welcome to carnival Triumph."
"No ships were coming, no boats, were coming, we saw no helicopters," said Jenkins. "It scared us because we thought the ship wasn't notifying or coming out to help us."
It took more than a day before the first tugboat arrived. As passengers got cell reception, they shared photos revealing squalid conditions - sewage seeping through the floors, plastic bags used for restrooms. Tent camps above deck, and mattresses sprawled out below. For some, the hardest part was losing contact with their family.
It took several grueling hours to drag the massive ship through a narrow channel Thursday. At the terminal, carnival C.E.O. Gerry Cahill addressed reporters.
"We pride ourselves in providing our guests with a great vacation experience and clearly we failed in this particular case," he said. He then boarded the ship and apologized to passengers, but some still want answers.