Thousands of passengers have returned home after being stranded aboard the Carnival Triumph cruise ship for five days. The ship docked in Mobile, Alabama early Friday morning.
It was all smiles leaving the port, but passengers departed the 14-story ship in tears, draped in bathrobes after spending days in soiled conditions.
An engine room fire knocked out all power, sewage and air conditioning systems aboard the ship.
Carnival CEO Gary Cahill acknowledged that the Triumph had mechanical problems last month that delayed a cruise to Mexico but said the episodes were not related.
And it looks like Carnival will have to take great strides to save its reputation. Last year, 32 people died last year after the Costa Concordia, a ship operated by a subsidiary of Carnival, capsized on the rocky shore of an Italian island.
The cruise-line has offered all passengers a full refund of the cruise along with a free future cruise and compensation of $500.
"I know the conditions on board were very poor, I know it was very difficult and I want to apologize again for subjecting our guests to that. We pride ourselves in providing our guests with a great vacation experience and clearly we failed in this particular case," said Gary Cahill, Carnival president and CEO.
But the reimbursement may not be enough, as the first lawsuit against Carnival was filed Friday. Court documents show a Texas woman alleges the cruise line failed to provide sanitary conditions, thus causing her physical and emotional harm.
Carnival has cancelled fourteen cruises over the next few months. However, a local travel agent with AAA says this did not affect any local passengers and says the agency has not received any phone calls from concerned customers.
"If you look at the numbers of people who travel on cruises, I think it's about 10 million people from U.S. cruise ports and 17 million worldwide, so this is really an isolated incident in this case," said Brenda Cahill, AAA travel agent.
This first lawsuit may only be the beginning. Carnival estimated that these costs, including repairing the ship and reimbursements, would reduce its earnings by more than eight cents a share.
Many of the passengers said they would not go on another Carnival cruise even if it's free.