4,400 Carnival Cruisers Stranded Off Mexico -- With 70,000 Pounds Of Bread On The Way

The passengers of the good ship Splendor fight for their lives with no air conditioning
The passengers of the good ship Splendor fight for their lives with no air conditioning
Wikipedia Commons

Updated after the jump: A Mexican tugboat named Chihuahua begins the Splendor's long tow of shame. Originally posted Tuesday morning.

Update: The burning question: Can they keep drinking? Carnival answers after the jump!

Already, "Cruising Day" aboard a 113,000-ton party boat can feel like a 24-hour sentence in post-apocalyptic prison, "Wall-E" style.

So imagine the wave of claustrophobia gripping the Carnival Splendor today: The ship is dead in the water 200 miles off Ensenada, Mexico, unable to propel itself through the Pacific after an engine-room fire destroyed its main source of power.

Additional dead weight comes in the form of 3,300 passengers and 1,170 crew members -- who could have had little idea last Sunday, leaving the Long Beach harbor, just how terrible an all-inclusive luxury vacation could turn out to be. So much for Puerto Vallarta.

Carnival Cruise Lines announced the severity of conditions aboard the ship in a press release this morning:

"Currently several key hotel systems, including air conditioning, hot food service, and telephones are not available. Last night, the ship's engineers were able to restore toilet service to all cabins and public bathrooms, as well as cold running water."

The statement also promises a rescue team of tugboats is making its way west to pull the idle queen to shore, but experts speculate such an epic tug might take as many as three days.

Meanwhile, 70,000 pounds of bread are being flown in by U.S. Navy helicopters, and guests are being fed all the cold food on the ship (lest their luxury-bred blubber not be enough to live off for a couple more nights).

Carnival's public-relations gal couldn't tell us if alcohol is still being served, but we hope, for the sake of those poor soft-bellied souls adrift the ocean blue, that cruise authorities will make the customers' right to drown their sorrows in fruity island drinks a top priority.

Update: Carnival spokeswoman Laurie Mahle confirms that "alcohol is still being served and a number of entertainment options are being offered." Woot woot! All hands to the RedFrog Pub for a round of Shipwreck Shooters!

Update: Apparently worried that dumping them on the Mexican shore might cause more panic attacks among the tourists, Carnival Cruise Lines decided late Tuesday afternoon to tow the Splendor to San Diego.

According to CBS 8, this means they'll go without hot water or telephones until Thursday evening at the earliest. Because two tugboats quickly proved too awkward, the Mexico-deployed Chihuahua is going at it alone, straining along at 2 to 3 nautical miles per hour.

What do you think: Will the sunburned gringos of the Splendor be the next Chilean miners? Will Joe-Bob from Minnesota rush into the arms of his mistress on shore? Stay tuned!

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