HOUSTON - Carnival Cruise Lines has canceled a dozen more voyages aboard the Triumph and acknowledged that the crippled ship had been plagued by other mechanical problems in the weeks before an engine-room fire left it powerless in the Gulf of Mexico.
The company's announcement on Wednesday came as the Triumph was being towed to a port in Mobile, Ala., with more than 4,000 people on board, some of whom have complained to relatives that conditions on the ship are dismal and that they have limited access to food and bathrooms.
The ship will be idle through April. Two other cruises were called off shortly after Sunday's fire.
Debbi Smedley, a passenger on a recent Triumph cruise, said the ship had trouble on Jan. 28 as it was preparing to leave Galveston. Hours before the scheduled departure time, she received an email from Carnival stating the vessel would leave late because of a propulsion problem. Passengers were asked to arrive at the port at 2 p.m., two hours later than scheduled.
The ship did not sail until after 8 p.m., she said.
"My mother is a cruise travel agent, so this is not my first rodeo. I have sailed many, many cruises, many, many cruise lines. This was, by far, I have to say, the worst," said Smedley, of Plano, Texas.
After losing power on its most recent journey, the ship drifted until Tuesday, when two tugboats began moving it toward shore. A third tugboat was on the way Wednesday from Louisiana.
The National Transportation Safety Board has opened an investigation into the fire.
Passengers have had limited cellphone service because of the power failure, but many were able to make calls to friends and family when the Triumph rendezvoused with another Carnival ship that dropped off food and supplies. The other ship had a working cellular antenna.
Robert Giordano, of the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, said he last spoke to his wife, Shannon, on Monday. She told him she waited in line for three hours to get a hot dog, and that conditions on the ship were terrible.
"They're having to urinate in the shower. They've been passed out plastic bags to go to the bathroom," Giordano said. "There was fecal matter all over the floor."
Even more distressing, Giordano said, has been the lack of information he has been able to get from Carnival, a complaint shared by Vivian Tilley of San Diego, whose sister is also on the vessel.
Carnival, she said, has not told families what hotel passengers will be put up in or given precise information about when the ship will arrive in Mobile. And that came after the cruise line switched the ship's towing destination from Progreso, Mexico, to Mobile.
The Triumph is expected to arrive this afternoon.
Carnival has chartered 15 buses to haul passengers to hotels in New Orleans, said a spokeswoman for the city of Mobile. Carnival said passengers would also be able to fly home on chartered flights.
Passengers are to receive a full refund and discounts on future cruises.