A passenger from the stricken Triumph cruise ship sued Carnival Corp on Friday over "horrifying" conditions, including being forced to wade through human feces from overflowing toilets after power was knocked out by a fire.
The lawsuit by Cassie Terry of Brazoria County, Texas, alleged Carnival failed to provide a seaworthy vessel and sanitary conditions, according to court documents.
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Terry suffered physical and emotional harm, including anxiety, nervousness and the loss of the enjoyment of life, according to the complaint filed in federal court in Miami.
Thousands of passengers who spent five days stuck on a stinking cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico headed home on Friday by bus, plane or car, and relished the chance for a warm shower and working toilets after finally arriving back on land.
"I got some sleep. I got a shower. A working toilet was really nice," said Nancy Petrone, 58, who was heading to southern California after spending the night in Mobile, Alabama, where tugboats had pulled the stricken Carnival Triumph into port.
It took several hours for more than 3,000 vacationers to make their way off the ship after it arrived late on Thursday. Some travelers kissed the ground when they walked off, and others disembarked wearing the ship's white bath robes, part souvenir and part protection against the chilly night air.
About 100 buses waited to carry passengers on the seven-hour journey to Galveston, Texas, while other buses departed for shorter rides to New Orleans or to hotels in Mobile.
One bus broke down on its way to New Orleans, said passenger Jacob Combs, an Austin, Texas-based sales executive with a healthcare and hospice company.
Carnival officials said the Triumph, which entered service in 1999, would be towed on Friday to a Mobile shipyard for damage assessment.
The 893-foot (272-metre)vessel was returning to Galveston from Cozumel, Mexico, on the third day of a four-day cruise when an engine-room fire knocked out power and plumbing across most of the ship on Sunday.
Passengers described an overpowering stench on parts of the ship and complained to relatives and media via cellphone that toilets and drainpipes had overflowed, soaking many cabins and interior passages in raw sewage.
The saga, which received extensive coverage on U.S. cable news stations, was another public relations disaster for cruise giant Carnival Corp. Last year, its Costa Concordia luxury liner ran aground off the coast of Italy, killing 32 people.
The nature of the troubles aboard the Triumph inspired bathroom-humor banter among late-night comedy shows and the amateur comedians who took to Twitter with poop puns.