Passengers relayed accounts of increasingly deplorable conditions aboard a disabled Carnival cruise ship, but the Coast Guard said Tuesday that it would take two more days to tow the ship from the Gulf of Mexico to port in Mobile, Ala.
A fire Sunday knocked out the vessel's propulsion system, leaving it unable to sail and without power, sewage, heating or air-conditioning systems. The ship, the Triumph, is carrying 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members.
"It is just squalor and disgusting," said Steven Peery, whose wife, Cindel Pena, was on the ship.
Ms. Pena, in conversations with both her husband and her mother, Serena Pena, described a vacation turned nightmare. The lines for meals lasted more than an hour, she said, and the hallways and cabins were so hot and foul that people had taken to sleeping in whatever outdoor space they could find.
Also, with many of the toilets not functioning, the crew was forced to distribute plastic bags for people to use instead.
A fire in 2010 aboard a different Carnival cruise ship, the Splendor, left 3,300 passengers without electricity for 72 hours. When the ship was finally towed into port in San Diego, the people looked more like refugees than holiday revelers as they disembarked.
Gerald Cahill, the president and chief executive of Carnival Cruise Lines, said everything possible was being done to improve the conditions on the ship.
"All of our guests are safe, and we're doing everything we can to make them as comfortable as possible," he said in a statement. "The ship has maintained emergency generator power since the fire occurred, and the technical team on board has been successful in gradually restoring auxiliary power to operate some basic hotel functions. Currently, public and cabin toilets are operational in certain sections of the ship, power has been restored to a limited number of elevators, and some power in the Lido dining area is providing for hot coffee and limited hot food service."
Two other Carnival cruise ships were delivering food and water to the vessel, according to the Coast Guard.
The ship left Galveston, Texas, on Thursday for what was scheduled to be a four-day cruise. The fire that disabled the propulsion system broke out in the engine room Sunday morning.
"The ship's automatic fire extinguishing systems activated, and the fire was successfully extinguished," Mr. Cahill said in a statement.