A Texas couple's fantasy wedding quickly turned into a nightmare honeymoon when the fire-damaged Carnival Cruise ship carrying them became stranded in the Gulf of Mexico.
Rob Mowlam, 37, and Stephanie Stevenson, 27, of Nederland, Texas, got married on the Carnival Triumph on Saturday. The four-day cruise was meant to be back to shore on Monday, but was left disabled by an engine fire on Sunday.
The ship is being slowly towed to shore and is expected to dock in Mobile, Ala., on Thursday if weather permits. The vessel is without air conditioning, many working toilets and some restaurant service. Passengers, many who are sleeping in tents on deck, have told ABC News the smell on the ship is foul.
That is the honeymoon setting for Mowlam and Stevenson.
"[Rob Mowlam] had been with his girlfriend, or fiance, for a long period of time and they just took the next step," Mowlam's brother James Mowlam III told ABCNews.com. "The captain is the king of the world when they're on the boat and he hitched them up."
James Mowlam said he was shocked when he heard about the stranded boat and the increasingly dire conditions on the ship.
"It is an atrocious scene to be subjected to," he said.
Mowlam said he has not been able to communicate with his brother, but that his father has had sporadic communication with him.
"It would be my guess that this would probably not be on anyone's great list of memorable wedding experiences," Mowlam said with a laugh. "Although, my mom told him that she was hoping they had a memorable wedding and I think this would classify as a memorable wedding experience."
The bride's brother, Justin Davis, told ABCNews.com that his sister works for a doctor's office and the cruise was a gift from the doctor to the staff.
Davis has not been able to speak to Stevenson but said that her two young sons are being cared for by her mother. He said his sister is tough and he guesses she's probably not scared.
"She might be a little aggravated at the situation, but I'd say she's [probably] handling it really well," he said.
Others on the ship do not seem to be handling the situation so well.
Elderly and disabled passengers aboard the ship are struggling to cope with the worsening conditions, according to at least one passenger.
"Elderly and handicap are struggling, the smell is gross," passenger Ann Barlow text-messaged ABC News overnight. "Our room is leaking sewage."
The head of Carnival Cruise Lines said the British-U.S.-owned company was working hard to ensure the thousands of passengers stranded on the disabled ship were as comfortable as possible while the vessel was being towed to a port in Alabama.
"I need to apologize to our guests and to our families that have been affected by a very difficult situation," Carnival Cruise Lines president and CEO Gerry Cahill said at a news conference Tuesday evening.
It was the first time since a fire erupted in Triumph's engine room Sunday, knocking out its four engines, that a company representative had spoken publicly. The Triumph, with roughly 4,200 people on board, was left bobbing like a 100,000-ton cork for more than 24 hours. Giant sea-faring tugboats then hooked up to the ship and began towing the nearly 900-foot-long ship to land.
Carnival spokeswoman Joyce Oliva told The Associated Press Tuesday that a passenger with a pre-existing medical condition was taken off the ship as a precaution. Everyone else will likely have to weather conditions such as scarce running water, no air conditioning and long lines for food.
Back on land, passenger Barlow's 11-year-old twins told ABC News Tuesday they are worried as more passengers continue to talk about living with limited power and sanitation.
Cruise Ship Went From Love Boat to Horror Honeymoon
"I just hope that she comes back safely and sound," Colby Barlow, 11, said of his mother.
U.S. Coast Guard officials say the passengers are safe, if somewhat uncomfortable.
But the destruction aboard the ship, the compensation to passengers, the costs of returning them home, the towing and other expenses could hurt the Doral, Fla.-based cruising colossus, at least temporarily.
"The financial cost to Carnival is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars, some estimates as high as $80 million," ABC News travel and lifestyle editor Genevieve Shaw Brown said. "It remains to be seen how badly this will hurt their brand."
If all goes as scheduled and tugboats nudge the ship into port in Mobile Thursday, Alabama Cruise Terminal general manager Sheila Gurganus said, the disembarking passengers will be met by a medical triage center and extra security in case they need it.
The cruise line said it has been busily making arrangements for the ship's passengers when they reach the shore.
More than 1,500 hotel rooms have been reserved in Mobile and New Orleans and more than 20 chartered flights have been booked to fly passengers back to Houston Friday after they have had a chance to rest, Cahill said. For those wishing to get home sooner, the company is organizing charter buses to Houston and Galveston.
The Carnival Triumph departed Galveston last Thursday with 3,143 guests and 1,086 crew on board for a Mexican cruise, which was due to return Monday.
The Triumph has had a past electrical problem with an alternator, but Carnival says that is not connected to the fire or the current situation.
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