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Disabled cruise ship pulls into San Diego Harbor [Updated]

November 11, 2010 |  8:28 am

The disabled cruise ship Carnival Splendor is making its way through San Diego Harbor, and passengers are expected to begin disembarking around noon, officials said Thursday.

[Updated at 8:41 a.m.: The ship is now docking in San Diego to cheers from a waiting crowd. Passengers can be seen waving to the crowd below.]

As television news helicopters hovered overhead Thursday morning, passengers could be seen lining the deck of the ship, some dressed in white terrycloth robes. When the ship finally docks in port, it will end the 72-hour odyssey at sea of 3,200 paying passengers.

Hundreds of members of the media were waiting at the port for the ship's arrival, and dozens of buses were called in to transport passengers to Los Angeles and Long Beach, where they initially boarded the ship Sunday.

Passengers' family members were starting to arrive in cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles.

When they disembark, they may think a parade has been organized for them, but it's actually the annual Veterans Day parade that goes right by the cruise ship terminal in San Diego.

Maneuvering the powerless 952-foot, 113,000-ton vessel will not be a speedy process, officials said.

A chagrined Carnival Cruise Lines, along with apologizing profusely, has arranged hotel rooms and ground and air transportation for the passengers, who were without air-conditioning, hot food and hot water for showers since a fire Monday morning knocked out most systems on the ship.

The ship will remain in San Diego for repairs before returning to its home port of Long Beach, company officials said. So far, no injuries or medical complications have been reported among passengers or the 1,167 crew members. The U.S. Coast Guard sent food and health technicians to the ship; the U.S. Navy airlifted 70,000 pounds of food and other supplies, paid for by the cruise line.

[For the record at 1:13 p.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated the Navy sent 70,000 tons of food.]

The main complaints of passengers have been the long lines for food and those hours on Monday when the flush toilets were not working. Bands and magicians continued to entertain passengers; free drinks were available; and passengers had bottled water and canned goods, including fruit, pudding, and that all-purpose meal, Spam.

Carnival has promised a full refund, reimbursement for travel expenses and a free cruise of comparable value. With the ship set for repairs, a Nov. 14 cruise from Long Beach to the Mexican Riviera has been canceled.

That cruise, and the one interrupted by fire, was to have included stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. The fire occurred as the ship was about 150 miles southwest of San Diego.

Related: Voices of passengers aboard Carnival Splendor

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Carnival Splendor pulls into San Diego Harbor. Credit: Fox 5 San Diego