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Stranded cruise ship being towed to San Diego, or maybe Ensenada

November 9, 2010 |  6:04 pm

The cruise ship Carnival Splendor, left powerless by an engine fire Monday morning, is being towed to San Diego and is expected to arrive Thursday night, the cruise ship company announced Tuesday night.

But if the 952-foot ship is unable to maintain adequate speed under tow, it may be taken instead to the port of Ensenada in Baja California. One tug has reached the ship and others are en route, the company said.

Whether the ship is taken to San Diego or Ensenada, the cruise ship company is promising to provide transportation to Long Beach, the ship's home port.

Because of the damage done to the ship, the seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise set to leave Long Beach on Nov. 14 has been cancelled.

The same cruise left Long Beach on Sunday and suffered an engine fire at 6 a.m. Monday. The U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, and Mexican Navy all responded with helicopters and ships. No one was hurt in the fire that knocked out several systems on the ship.

The ship is carrying 3,229 passengers and 1,167 crew members. It remains without air-conditioning, telephone service and hot food, but the flush toilets have been repaired and are operational.

The U.S. Navy airlifted 70,000 pounds of canned  milk, bread and other food to the ship, including the classic military meal: canned Spam. The food was taken by plane to the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and then by helicopter to the Splendor.

Children's games were organized, company officials said.

"We sincerely apologize to our guests for this unfortunate situation and offer our thanks for their patience and cooperation during this challenging time," said Gerry Cahill, president and chief executive of Carnival Cruise Lines.

Passengers will receive a full refund and free cruise trip equal to the amount of their earlier payment.

For passengers booked on the Nov. 14 cruise, the company is providing a full refund and a 25% discount on a future cruise.

Family members of passengers seeking information can call (888) 290-5095 or (305) 406-5534.

Late Tuesday, the ship was reported to be approximately 150 miles southwest of San Diego.

--Tony Perry in San Diego