It could be after noon on Thursday before the 4,229 people stranded on a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico step foot on land.
Wednesday, a fourth tugboat was dispatched to join the other three that have been slowly towing the ship to Mobile, Alabama.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the ship was still more than 100 miles of the port.
Aboard the Triumph are 10- and 12-year-old East Texas girls who are anxious to get off the ship. Back on shore, their mothers Mary Poret and Kim McKerreghan from Lufkin are just as eager to see them.
"She called me and she was hysterical-- screaming and crying that she was so scared. She was scared not only of what was happening on board, but she was afraid she wasn't going to ever see her mom again. For me to be at work and to hear that from my 12-year-old daughter... I was devastated," says Mary Poret.
"I said, 'Well, okay. I will be there for you. I will meet you wherever the boat is going to end up. I don't know what is going on, but I will be there. Mommy is going to be there,'" says Kim McKerreghan, the mother of one of the girls.
Cell phone reception on the boat is spotty. Passengers report only getting reception when another Carnival ship is nearby brining them supplies. Those who have called out, say the crew is handling the situation the best way they know how.
"We're eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and things they can keep out for us, so they're keeping us fed pretty well. The worst part is the bathrooms. There's no water. You can't really flush, so everyone is going in little plastic baggies and putting it outside their room," says Donna Gutzman, a passenger stranded on the ship.
"The smells are... I can't even describe them. Our room is flooded. There is sewage, raw sewage," adds another passenger, Ann Barlow.
Carnival has released multiple updates and is answering questions. Wednesday they tweeted, "We evaluated a wide range of options including using another ship to transport guests, but the safest solution was towing the ship back to port."
The president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines continues to apologize.
"No one here from Carnival is happy about the conditions onboard the ship. We obviously are very very sorry about what has taken place. There's no question that conditions onboard the ship are very challenging," says Gerry Cahill.
Late Wednesday afternoon Carnival announced the passengers on the Triumph would receive a refund on their cruise and travel expenses, credit for a free cruise on Carnival as well as $500 per person.
"We know it has been a longer journey back than we anticipated at the beginning of the week under very challenging circumstances. We are very sorry for what our guests have had to endure. Therefore, in addition to the full refund and future cruise credit already offered, we have decided to provide this additional compensation," Cahill says.
The port in Mobile is calling in extra security and making other plans for the ship's arrival. They'll be ready for those passengers eager to step foot on land, by Thursday morning, even though they're not expected until later in the day.
Carnival says the passengers were given two options for travel when they get to Mobile. Some guests have opted to board buses immediately and head directly to Houston and Galveston. More than a thousand others will be bussed to New Orleans, stay the night there, then fly out on private charters Friday morning.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 6:05 PM EDT2013-05-21 22:05:26 GMT
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