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With two tugs pulling, powerless cruise ship continues to San Diego

November 10, 2010 | 11:29 am

One tug arrived at the ship about 150 miles southwest of San  Diego on Tuesday but a second had to be turned back due to mechanical problems. That tug has been replaced and the journey is continuing, the Coast Guard said.

Carnival Cruise Lines, owner of the 952-foot-long ship, had said Tuesday it might be necessary to take the ship to Ensenada if it was unable to maintain sufficient speed to make it to San Diego. But that speed has apparently been maintained and San Diego remains the destination for 4,000 passengers and crew members.

The ship lost power Monday after a fire in an aft engine compartment. On Wednesday morning, some telephone service had been restored for passengers.

There have been no injuries or medical complications reported to authorities. But passengers who expected the luxury of a seven-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera have instead found themselves without air conditioning or the sumptuous meals that were promised before they left Long Beach on Sunday.

One of the passengers, an employee of a Denver television station, called his employer to report that passengers were standing in long lines for food but were otherwise doing reasonably well -- chatting, playing cards and walking the open-air decks.

“The only thing that made it really tough was when the facilities were all broken down and all the bathrooms weren’t working and people were starting to get uncomfortable,” David Zambrano told 9News.

 "You stand in line for two hours just to get your food because everybody goes to the same place to pick up their food," he said. "And, so you stand in line and you wait, then once you get your food, you leave and you look for something to do."

The toilets were down for several hours but are now operational.

The Navy airlifted 70,000 pounds of food to the ship on Tuesday, including bread, canned milk, canned Spam, other kinds of canned meat, canned fruit, and snack food like Pop Tarts. The ship also has a supply of bottled water and some cold food.

A "large Carnival team" is arranging hotel accomodations and air and ground transportation for passengers, the company said.

Related: Passengers aboard cruise ship are 'safe and healthy,' Coast Guard says

--Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Seen from a U.S. Navy resupply aircraft, the Carnival Splendor cruise ship is towed by a tug about 100 miles off the Baja California coastline. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times