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Cruise Ship Nightmare

Aired February 14, 2013 - 20:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Erin, thank you very much.

To call this a big night, a very busy night, would be understating it. As we wait for that crippled cruise ship to come in, we have other breaking news. The charred remains inside that Southern California cabin have now been positively identified as killer ex-cop Christopher Dorner.

And another major crime spree developing as well. The world being rocked by the arrest of a sports hero who inspired all of us. Oscar Pistorius, the Olympic blade runner, now charged with murdering his girlfriend.

However, we will begin now with this breaking news out at sea. Thousands of people waiting for their ship to come in literally. This exclusive view of the Carnival Triumph tonight under tow. Gradually making its way, barely inching forward at times. We'll tell you why.

It is heading into the port of Mobile, Alabama, right now about 16 miles off shore. The cruise line expects it to arrive some time after 11:30 Eastern Time but that has been changing. We'll keep you up to date as best we can. Its progress is hampered by weather. Unfavorable currents and a tow line that broke under the strain of this massive vessel.

This, too, what you're looking at, exclusive video of the ship. And some other exclusive video. A look at some of the, frankly, revolting conditions that more than 4200 passengers and crew have been coping with since a fire knocked out power over the weekend. Buckets and bags -- because the toilets don't work. Raw sewage streaming down hallways and pouring down walls.

Yes, terrible but true.

We just got some video and it shows it. A warning, it is pretty gross. It was taken by a passenger walking through one of those flooded corridors. If you want, take a look and listen.




CUOMO: That's not good obviously. She's not walking through bath water there so you get the picture. It's not a pretty one.

Throughout the hour and the night we'll be following the cruise ship's progress into port, talking to people on board, seeing how they're dealing with what you just saw there, and a lot worse. We will be there live at the time of arrival.

All right, so right now, let's get into the story. We begin with Victor Blackwell who's been providing an exclusive video. Reporting from alongside the cruise ship in a boat himself.

Victor, you've been at sea following the ship since this morning. What have you been able to see?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, my team and I, we've been on this boat for 13 hours now. And we've watched this process from the moment the first pilot boat went out to guide Triumph into port to this very moment and I can tell you there have been challenges and mishaps all day.

Our original plan was to wait here in Mobile Bay for the ship to come in and then follow it to port. But as we waited and it was delayed one hour and then two, and then three, and then a fourth, we went out to the Gulf of Mexico, and what we found was a ship that was just at mercy -- at the mercy of the current. Spinning 180 when there was no tugboat in control. That was because that line broke. And after they connected that line they started moving.

But this evening we found out that that was the second mishap of the day, when a bit connected to a tug at the stern of this ship broke. So the two tugs right now that are operating the front and rear of this ship were not the original tugs involved. Those have both been traded out. After those were traded out, we know that the ship got into the channel and started moving toward the port -- Chris.

CUOMO: So, Victor, just to emphasize one of the points you made there, just to show how heavy this current is, you're saying when the tow lines broke, that massive vessel turned sideways all by itself? Boy, that says something about the strength of the current, we're going to learn more about that in a second.

Also, is it true, Victor, if I still have you, that somebody was taken off the ship for medical reasons earlier? Is that true and if so what happened?

BLACKWELL: Yes, we heard that actually from the scanner traffic we were listening to on our boat. We heard that at about 2:00 p.m. Eastern that there was a medical emergency on the ship. And sure enough moments after that, we saw one of the first responders rushing away from the ship back to shore.

Now we have not gotten confirmation from Carnival what the medical concern was, but we do know that one person was taken from that ship this afternoon -- Chris.

COOPER: All right. Victor, thank you very much. Stay safe in that boat, it's been a very long day. Appreciate the reporting. We'll be back to you soon.

Right now I want to bring in Chad Myers. He's going to give us a better look at where the ship is, why it's moving so slowly. We learned a little bit because of how it was pivoting there because of the strength.

So there are a lot of challenges here, Chad.


CUOMO: What are we dealing with?

MYERS: You know what, let's back up exactly seven days and about three hours. This ship left Galveston, Texas, for a four-day cruise. Technically it's a 3 1/2 day cruise because you leave in the evening, you come back in the morning -- you know, four days later.

So here we go, Galveston -- traveled down on Friday, stopped in Cozumel on Saturday. Starting to come back, lost its engines. It was supposed to keep going to Galveston, but then it got caught in this loop current. It's the same current we talk about when we talk about hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, having very warm water coming out of the Caribbean.

That loop current pushed it farther to the north. Remember for a while they thought they were going to drive it back to Progreso. Drag it back there. But they're not going to do that. They're actually now we're going to move it up to Mobile because the current moved it too far north.

So fast-forward now to today when obviously Victor was talking about how the line broke for a while out here. And this thing just aimlessly was just drift -- just adrift out here in the Gulf for about two to three hours. Got a new line on it. And then it made its way into the channel. We will fly you into where it is right now.

This was the tricky part, getting it lined up. You've got a 300 to 400 foot wide channel and a -- you know, I mean, all of a sudden, a 900 foot boat. This thing has to go straight down that channel. And now it's coming up the channel. So people were seeing land, like 8:00, 10:00 this morning, and they thought, we're almost there. No, because when you see land, it's still 30 more miles, Chris, to get up into Mobile harbor -- up here where the cruise dock is.

So there's the Triumph right now about 12 miles away. It has to make a quick left and a quick right and then finally dock there up into Mobile, at the port of Mobile -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Chad, right now just to tell our viewers we're looking in a split screen there, the one next to me, those are live pictures. The boat obviously has lights, still underway, hasn't lost all power.

But, Chad, a big part of the frustration is here -- well, they got to the channel, 30 miles, they should be able to cover that very quickly, towing a boat. The current was -- well, this is a huge ship, what difference could a current make? Then we learned from Victor that when it lost its towline it pivoted almost immediately. How strong are the currents, how difficult is it to make way against them?

MYERS: Well, you have the long-shore current when you're just out into the Gulf of Mexico. They tried to push it over back toward Pensacola when the line broke. So what we have now, though, we have a little bit of wind. And you have to think about this thing. This ship is almost 1,000 feet long, it's at least 100 feet tall. That's 100,000 square feet of sail. Think about how fast a sailboat could go if it had that much sail. And so when that boat gets caught by the wind it does move.

Now the good news is that wind has died down, there is no more current. And so this thing will be able to drive right at about six miles, almost seven miles per hour right now. This is going to make good way, I suspect, probably about 9:15, 9:30, now that's Central Time. We are going to see this thing right near the dock. It may take a little while to get it to the dock, because we have to have little tugboats on each side of the ship so that it doesn't bounce into something one way or the other.

And again, this trench, what we call -- you know, this place where this thing has to travel on up where the buoys are on the right and the left, only 400 feet wide. You can't have too much room for air before that thing runs aground. And the only reason why it ever would is because it doesn't have any power on its own. This is easy to do when you have a joystick, bow thrusters, rear thrusters, (INAUDIBLE) thrusters, and you have a joy stick to drive this thing straight in.

But when you don't have any power of your own you're relying on someone to drag you in. There's a lot of margin for error.

CUOMO: True. True, Chad. Although and as much as they do have more practice docking the vessel with the tows -- the tugs so that should get a little bit easier there but excellent point about how this is basically a buoyant building that they're dragging up against current right now.

And, Chad, I've got to tell you --

MYERS: Hotel. A floating hotel.

CUOMO: That's what it is. A floating hotel. And I have to say, between the storm and now, it is amazing how you can use your skills to predict even what's going to happen with the cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico.

Thank you very much for the latest. Appreciate it. We're going to leave you right now, Chad, because a number of passengers have been reaching out to us, and we've been trying to contact them and get a better picture of the conditions on board the Carnival Triumph.

With us right now -- we have some of them on cell phone, of course. Kayla Robles, who is six months pregnant, also her husband, Eric. Waiting for them on shore, Kayla's mom, Theresa Gaspard and Kayla's sister Trisha.

So, Kayla, do I have you right now? Can you hear us?


CUOMO: All right. Big question. You're six months pregnant, God bless, how are you doing?

ROBLES: You know, for the circumstances, we're doing pretty good. The baby is moving a lot. So I'm happy about that. We're both happy about that.

CUOMO: Do you know what the baby is yet? Do you know? Do you know if you have a little boy or girl?

ROBLES: No. No, we don't know. We'll find out in March.

CUOMO: One of life's great surprises. You're living right now through a surprise that you didn't want to say the least. You say the night of the fire was extraordinarily terrifying. Please take us through it. What happened?

ROBLES: It was absolutely the most terrifying experience that I have ever gone through, that we've all ever gone through. About 5:30 the captain came over the intercom system over the entire ship and he called for the Alpha Team to an Engine Room Six. Well, we didn't know what that meant. But about a minute later the cruise director came over and told us to stay away from the stairwell.

So we all kind of just (INAUDIBLE) wanting to know what was going on. And we went to our room just to gather our things in case we needed to leave. And then that's when a steward came banging on our door, yelling for us to get our life jackets. We grabbed our life jackets, started to head toward the muster station of the ship. And as we were walking down the hallway, that's when the hallway started filling with smoke.

So we made it to the muster station and then we just kind of started getting information from there. But it was -- it was an experience where most of us felt like we were going to die. And I can't even describe how horrifying it was.

CUOMO: Well, thankfully, Kayla, that wasn't the situation, you're safe. It's very unpleasant but at least you're safe. A muster station, just for the rest of our audience, for uninitiated of the cruise culture, that's where people gather in grave situations. And there's a lot of pre-trip, pre-cruise instructions about what will happen. Most of us will never have to ever use that. But Kayla and Eric who were on board, they did have to.

Eric, you're there with your wife. I don't want to make the mom- to-be sick, so you tell me about the conditions you're having to deal with on there.

ERIC ROBLES, PASSENGER, CARNIVAL TRIUMPH: Well, you know, it can be described in a couple ways. But most importantly, it's unsafe, you know, for anybody, let alone a pregnant woman to be around a place where you can't use a bathroom with a flush. You know, it smells like urine and that's probably the biggest issue that we're having to deal with.

Last night my wife had to sleep with the covers over her face because she couldn't deal with the smell. It's not everywhere, but there's pockets of it. And so that's the biggest issue that we've been having to deal with.

CUOMO: That's a pretty big one at that. Let me -- let me go to Kayla's family there.

Trisha, can you hear me?


CUOMO: OK. Thanks for joining us. I've been talking to your sister right now, I don't know if you can hear her. She sounds good. And I know you've been struggling to get communication. How has this been for family members? Have you been getting information regularly? How has the frustration been?

DUHON: Well, it was -- it started out with information, you know, kind of automated message from Carnival. They called my parents first, and my parents called me. I was actually out of town. We were able to text with Kayla the first couple of days. And so that was -- that was helpful. When they had a ship on side of them they were able to get a cell signal. So that really was helpful, you know, hearing straight from her, although it was unfortunate the news, hearing what she was going through. You know, how scared she had been, like what she talked about just a minute ago.

But then we lost contact, complete contact for three days. We didn't hear from her from Monday afternoon until this morning. So we've just been reading the news and trying to keep up as much information as we could. But the news is so sketchy, everything sounded terrible. We just assumed the worst. And not being able to hear from her just made it that much harder.

CUOMO: That's terrible. How's your mom holding on? Theresa, can you hear me there? It's so hard, you've got your pregnant daughter on board the ship, it's hard for her to be there, it's probably just as hard for you to be wondering if she's OK. How are you doing.

THERESA GASPARD, MOTHER OF PASSENGER, KAYLA ROBLES: It's been quite a long week. It's been very stressful. As long as we were in contact it was a good thing. But when we lost that contact on Monday and we didn't hear from her until this morning. I can't even begin to tell you how happy I was when I saw that text, can you all pick me up in Mobile? It was -- it as wonderful. And we're glad to know that she's OK, and Eric is OK, and his whole family, because we love our Texas family and we -- we sure didn't want anything to happen to them.

CUOMO: Well, you know what, here's a good idea. Why talk to me when you can talk to them? Theresa, Trisha, Kayla and Eric can hear you. Please say something to each other, so you all know you're OK.

DUHON: Hey, guys.

GASPARD: Hey, Eric, I'm glad to talk to you. I haven't talked to you all week. Thank you for taking care of Kayla so well and your whole family. You're the best son-in-law ever.

E. ROBLES: We love you, guys.

GASPARD: But we're not going to tell Brad that.


E. ROBLES: Happy to hear your voice.

K. ROBLES: We love you and we miss you.

GASPARD: We miss you.

K. ROBLES: The baby loves you, too.

DUHON: The kids are dying to see you. So we're eager to get you off the boat and get you home.

K. ROBLES: Yes. We're ready to be home as well.

GASPARD: Yes. The faster you can get here the better. Well, we'll be out in the waiting area waiting for you, promise.

DUHON: We'll be here.

CUOMO: Hey, Eric, you know, let me tell you something, as a married man for 11 years myself, that kind of praise from your mother- in-law, that is priceless. So if nothing else, Eric, this has been tough to go through.

GASPARD: But listen --

CUOMO: But if your wife is healthy and you got that kind of love from your mother-in-law, there's a little bit of a silver lining here.

E. ROBLES: Yes. I definitely married into a beautiful family.

GASPARD: But I listen I --

CUOMO: Let me ask you something, we're talking about silver linings and the value of a good mother-in-law, you can't put a price on that. However, you can't put a price on what the cruise line says they're going to give you guys who've suffered through this. They said you're going to be receiving $500, a refund and a voucher for a flight home, and a credit for another trip.

Does that seem like the right level of compensation to you? Are you happy with that? E. ROBLES: You know, we're not really sure at this point what we're going to do with that. I'm happy that the cruise line is offering us something. But at the moment I'd like to say that if anybody's getting money, we need to give money to this crew. Because the crew that has been taking care of us from day to day around the clock, I mean, they're still folding the toilet to make it look nice.

They're taking care of the elderly. They're cleaning up all the urine that we spoke of before, and so if there's anybody that needs to get extra money out of this, without a doubt, it is that amazing, incredible, excellent crew that we've had around us the entire time.

CUOMO: Eric, strong point. Thank you for making it. Not easy for them either. It's good to hear that everybody is giving their best. I can't wait to hear that you're safely on land. Take care of your wife. Thank you for talking to us.

E. ROBLES: Thank you very much.

K. ROBLES: Thank you.

CUOMO: OK, and to your family, Trisha and Theresa, thanks for joining us as well. I hope you get to see your family soon.

DUHON: Thank you so much.

GASPARD: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Take care of yourself.

You know, you're still looking -- this is a live shot of the ship. If it doesn't look like it's moving very quickly, that's because it isn't. At least it's got lights and under power. But the people on board clearly under duress as we were just hearing. No power, just think about that, what that does. And the -- one of the biggest concerns, of course, sanitary conditions on board.

Let's get some perspective on that. Let's bring an MD, our man here, Sanjay Gupta for his read on the situation.

Sanjay, are you with me, Doctor?


CUOMO: So, Sanjay, you know, we were just listening to Eric Robles and his wife Kayla, she's six months pregnant. There's video that we saw of literally waste flowing down hallways, obviously not a good situation, but what are the health risks that extend from them.

GUPTA: Well, if I can offer a little bit of good news here, Chris, I think the health risks are pretty minimal.

CUOMO: Good.

GUPTA: They may surprise some people because, you know, you're describing some pretty -- as you put it, disgusting conditions. But you know the thing about it is, you look for the basics, is there water, certainly? We hear that there is. It wasn't cold for a few days, but they have water. The refrigeration, in case, medications need to be refrigerated and food. You know, people always are concerned about these health sort of infectious disease outbreaks, but you remember Katrina even, Chris, they were concerned about it after that, because of the unsanitary conditions.

It doesn't typically happen. And I don't know quite how to say this, but, you know, there's not a lot of the pathogens if you will in the fecal material that's been described. So, you know, as long as people are still taking care of the basics, hopefully health conditions will be -- there won't be a big health outbreak.

CUOMO: A lot of families are bringing antibiotics, partly because they've heard from family members on board, but also, as you know, Doc, we're very often hearing, when everything's OK on a cruise line, they wind up having outbreaks of all these gastrointestinal stuff.

GUPTA: Sure.

CUOMO: And these different bugs we're always scared of all the time. Antibiotics. Good move to bring to these people? Will they be necessary or as you're saying, not really pathogenic, you'll be OK?

GUPTA: Yes, I don't think they're necessary. And, again, look, Chris, like you were saying earlier, I get the sentiment. You know, I mean, if they were my family on there, I'd want to do everything I could as well. But, you know, being sensible, a couple of things to keep in mind. First of all, there is an infirmary on the -- on the ship. It was a crippled infirmary for a couple of days, but, you know, if people were sick, if they needed antibiotics, they're probably already getting them.

The second thing is, you don't want to just give these medications willy-nilly, you know, without actually being -- used to treat a particular infection. It could actually make somebody sick, and they can -- make the antibiotic resistance even worse, which is a real problem. So again I get the sentiment, but I just don't think that's necessary.

CUOMO: All right. Appreciate it, so the body is going to be OK, Doctor. How about the head? How about this anxiety? How about the, are we going to sink? They're giving me a life preserver, I'm in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico? Are these anxieties that are just connected to the moment and they'll be OK, or is mental health something that will need to be managed after a situation like this?

GUPTA: Some of that can last longer, actually, with regard to this, and there's a couple of predictors, and again, you were alluding to this earlier in your previous interview, Chris. But this idea that there were periods of time where there wasn't much information. They didn't know exactly what was going on, and we've been obviously hearing about it from our perspective here safe on dry land. But for people who are actually on that ship, there may have been periods of time where they literally thought, you know, we -- we're just going in absolutely the wrong direction and we don't know how this is going to turn out. Those can be very anxiety provoking times. Children and elderly actually tend to be more resilient. But kids tend to take their queues from the adults. So if there was panic at all, that can have a more dramatic and long-lasting effect on the children.

Chris, as with, you know, situations like this, you and I have covered in different places around the world, it tends to bring out the worst in people and the best in people. To the extent that people actually helped each other that can be very empowering and help people get over some of this mental health anguish.

CUOMO: You're so -- you're so right, Sanjay, because remember, 4200 people, this is a floating city.


CUOMO: They're a community on board there, and the crew we were hearing earlier from Eric, who he and his wife Kayla who's six months pregnant, he was saying that the crew has been outstanding. So that can go so far in terms of keeping people together. And there'll be relationships made on board that will never be forgotten because of this and God-willing they get it back to the dock, they get locked on the land and everything is OK.

Appreciate the perspective, Sanjay. Good to make TV with you.


GUPTA: Yes, same here, Chris.

CUOMO: Together first of many.

GUPTA: Welcome aboard, Chris. Thank you.

CUOMO: Thank you very much, Doctor.

We're obviously going to stay on this story all night. Until that ship comes in. The passengers are back on dry land and we're seeing those hugs that we're all looking forward to. We're going to talk with a cruise ship veteran who once worked on the Carnival Triumph and has exclusive insight into how things work at sea and how sometimes they don't.

Also, we're going to talk to more passengers about how they're getting by as our 360 coverage continues. We'll be right back.


CUOMO: Welcome back to ANDERSON COOPER 360. As is the CNN way, we are showing you a picture you can see nowhere else. This is exclusive aerial views of the Carnival Triumph. That is the ship that is being towed carefully, very slowly toward the post of Mobile, Alabama, where it's expected to dock sometime late tonight or early in the morning. When it does, be sure of this, we will bring it to you live.

We have a lot of reporters everywhere covering this situation. My good friend Erin Burnett, she's down here dockside, waiting for the ship to come in.

How are you, Erin? What are we learning about how soon this will be?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN'S "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": Well, I'm good, Chris. Let me start off by saying, you know, it's probably about 50 degrees here right now, maybe in the high 40s, and a lot of the people that were on that ship, as you know, they were on going on a Caribbean cruise, so a lot of them don't have coats and are cold tonight as they come in these last couple of hours.

A man on board the ship, Trey Love, just told us that on board the ship they told him that they're going to be having -- the ship will be fully docked at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time. So that's the latest they're getting on board the ship. And basically it's going about six, seven miles an hour, Chris, and inching closer and closer to where we are.

On board, Trey Love, I just mentioned to you, he was celebrating his 40th birthday on board that ship. And he was in, you know, one of the rooms that didn't have a view. And those are some of the places that have been the hardest hit, with sewage running down the walls in some cases, and so hot without air conditioning, they had to take their mattresses and go out and sleep on the deck.

Donna Gutzman, we spoke with her, she's on board the ship and actually had taken some pictures, Chris, of a -- basically buckets into which you were supposed to go to the bathroom that are in the hall and they're filled with red bags. And she said that the crew has said, please go to the bathroom in those bags. They'd also been told to urinate in the showers. This just gives everyone a sense of how grueling and -- you know, the nauseous fumes for this have been pretty horrific for a lot of people that have been on board.

But the one thing we have heard, you just mentioned a few moments ago, Chris, everybody has had wonderful things to say about the crew. And as you know, the crew on this is more than 1,000 of them, most of them are not American, if any of them are. They work for what Americans would think are incredibly low wages. And they have by all accounts risen heroically to the occasion to try to help the more the 3,000 passengers on board the ship. So that's been one of the real good stories of the night.

CUOMO: Man, that's very true. Very true, Erin.

Let me ask you something. You know, you're there dockside, you're waiting for people to come. There are 4200 people are going to come off of this. Where do they go? BURNETT: Well, that -- that's a tough, tough part of this. One woman who was on board the ship told me earlier tonight that they already had customs officials come on board the ship. So they've already done that long process on board. But still, they have to get luggage for those 4200 people and get them off and -- off the ship.

Now behind me, Chris, you can see there's a gang way basically. It looks -- we got a picture up in a second. It looks basically like when you get off an airplane, that's where they're going to come off. The ship is literally going to be in that picture in a couple of hours' time. They're going to come down this gangplank, they're going to go into the Alabama cruise terminal, and then they're going to go straight into the garage where they're not staying here, as you're aware.

So it's going to be already midnight after many days without a shower, and they're going to have to get in buses. There's going to be about 100 buses to take them either to New Orleans and then fly them out from there or all the way to Galveston, Texas, which is seven hours away. So their ordeal is still many hours away from being fulfilled when you think about the fact that they're hungry, they're exhausted. They haven't been able to shower, they haven't been able to brush their teeth and there's still a long way to go.

CUOMO: You're right, Erin, and yet, when they get on land, they're going to be so much happier, at least they know that ship is behind them, and it will be the best bus ride in their lives. But you're right, it's going to take time.

All right, I'll be checking in with you later for sure. Stay warm over there.

BURNETT: All right. See you soon.

CUOMO: I'm tucked into the studio, I feel for you. Don't worry about it. You'll get me back at some point.

We're going to go back now on board the ship. We've been able to get ahold of another passenger who will be happy to walk down that gang way we were just talking about, 16-year-old Haley Meyers. She's vacationing with her family, just managed to get a meal, and not a bad one either I understand.

Haley, are you with us? What did you just get to eat?

HALEY MEYER, PASSENGER ON CARNIVAL TRIUMPH: I had a half of a lobster tail and some pineapple.

CUOMO: Well, that's not bad. That's not bad. So how are you doing there? Tell me about it. What's life like on board right now for you?

MEYER: Stressful. Everyone's trying to cooperate with each other. The crew is nice, though. But the showers are really cold. And we're all just glad that our toilet works and how we have a balcony. CUOMO: I'm reading here that one of the things you're looking forward to is getting some greasy food, is that true?


CUOMO: Well, it can't be that bad on board then if that's what you're looking forward to is greasy food. Let me ask you something, tell me about when you were finally able to get in touch with your family and loved ones and know that everything's OK, and tell them that everything's going to be OK. Tell me about that.

MEYER: It was kind of stressful. I didn't have touch with my mom or anything, so it was kind of hard. You know, when we called them, and texted them, we all just cried and everything. So I mean.

COOPER: No, I'm sure you did. This is scary, this is very scary, Haley, even though you're on the way home. I know it's scary. It's OK. I'm sure a lot of people are afraid there.

MEYER: And grandma and my aunts, they're so happy and they're worried. So we got in touch and everything, so, yes.

CUOMO: And I know it's a little scary. At least you know the worst is behind you. You know, you're making time.


CUOMO: It's slow because you're going into those currents. And obviously the ship isn't running under its own power. But you know you're going to be OK, right? It's just going to take some time?

MEYER: Yes. A couple more hours.

CUOMO: And let me ask you, Haley. You're a teenager, 16 years old. Have you kept battery charge strength up there? You've been able to text with your friends back on land?

MEYER: Yes. I got in touch with them today. They're all concerned. They're really happy I'm coming back.

CUOMO: Were you going through some kind of text withdrawal when you weren't able to get them?

MEYER: A little bit because I wanted to tell them what was going on, but I couldn't. I mean, all you wanted to do on the cruise is have fun.

CUOMO: Well, that's true. You want to enjoy yourself. That's what it was supposed to be about, and that's what it usually is about. This is not what happens on cruises ordinarily, but it did happen this time. We've been showing your photos up there, what's been the hardest part for you?

MEYER: Seeing the elderly being in pain. They can't do anything about it. Some people have broken their ankles and it's kind of hard to help them. CUOMO: Well, you make sure -- there are a lot of tough comforts there. They do have an infirmary, medical staff. But without power it's got to make people uncomfortable. This has been tough. Try to keep it together. It's going to be over soon. You're with some family. You have loved ones waiting for you and you'll be back on land soon OK?


CUOMO: All right, you do well, thank you for talking to us. I appreciate it. I can't wait to see pictures from you when you get back on land. Will you make sure you send us some of those so we can see them?

MEYER: Yes, I will.

CUOMO: All right, you take care. It's good to meet you.

MEYER: Thank you.

CUOMO: Good to talk to you.

MEYER: Thank you, bye.

CUOMO: Let's bring back in Sanjay for a second if we still have him. Doctor, are you there?


CUOMO: A couple different elements that just came up, I don't know if you could hear it or not. The elderly struggling because of this lack of climate control, small injuries as you said, there's an infirmary, should be able to be attended to but a lot of infants. It's difficult. Creature comforts matter to the very small and the elderly, as more than just convenience, right?

GUPTA: Yes. You talk about expectations here as well. I think Haley was saying this they obviously went on a cruise. They expect to be having fun. So you don't plan to try to be in a situation like this or prepare for a situation like this.

Either in terms of the pragmatic things, having the things you might bring to deal with pain. Someone sprained their ankle, but also just psychologically as well. And also, you asked a very important question. That is just about the communication.

You know, the communication can be very empowering. For a while, there was no communication. Either with Haley and her family, but very little communication it sounds like we're hearing from some of the passengers in terms of what was happening. So those comforts I guess come both physical and mental -- Chris.

CUOMO: That's very true. And, of course, let's just keep some context here. Also, I do not in any way mean to overdramatize this. You said the major health concerns are very few if any at all. This certainly is not what we were talking about earlier about Hurricane Katrina. But for these people at this time, this is horrible lifestyle. Not that it's life threatening, but it's threatening to your lifestyle, right, fair assessment?

GUPTA: I mean, it's miserable. You can almost hear a collective misery from the people who you've been talking to, people on that ship, the -- obviously the smells, just how disgusting the atmosphere and the environment has been for them. That's -- you know, that's tough.

Again, you asked earlier about specific health conditions, and I wanted to be fair about that, I just don't think that's a real risk. I mean, I think -- you hear about Norovirus outbreaks for example on cruise ships, that can happen because people are living in close quarters or contained in close quarters.

If one person gets sick, many people can get sick. That's true whether a cruise ship is in distress like this one is, or it's not. You're absolutely right. It's still a miserable experience it sounds like.

CUOMO: It totally is. The cruise industry is growing all the time, Doctor. That's why we're following this so closely, such a big part of people's lives. I'll be checking in with you, thank you for coming back to you. I'll talk to you soon.

For these people, they were supposed to be having fun. This is a vacation. When it goes so long, and it could have been in greater jeopardy out there in the open sea, it raises our concern.

Thankfully they're all coming home now, we're going to keep following this story as the cruise ship does approach port. And we're going to follow other breaking news for you as well.

Coming up after the break, double amputee and star athlete, Oscar Pistorius, the blade runner, an inspiration to so many for competing in the Olympics on prosthetic legs, how we all cheered for him. Now, he's charged in the shocking death of his model girlfriend. What police in South Africa are saying about the shooting? We'll have it for you next.


CUOMO: All right, just a reminder, we're continuing to follow the arrival of the cruise ship, "Carnival Triumph," now expected to dock in Mobile, Alabama at about 11:00 Eastern Time. We'll be following it. We'll bring it to you when it is live. You're looking at our exclusive video of the Triumph.

If you want to see where the cruise ship is tonight, you must come to CNN. Tell one, tell all your friends, this is the place if you want to watch this beautiful return to dock when all these people can finally get off, 4,200 people and be with their families. There's that shot there, we'll have it up from time to time.

Other breaking news as well, in crime and punishment tonight, they were a golden couple in South Africa. She, a model, he, a star athlete, an inspiration, as the first double amputee to compete against runners with legs at the Olympics. Tonight, however, she is dead and he is charged with murder.

He is Oscar Pistorius, earned the nickname "Blade Runner" for running on carbon fiber prosthetic blades because of a congenital abnormality. He had both legs amputated below the knee when he just was a child.

He was a paralympic star and fought for the right to compete at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Early South African media reports said that Pistorius may have accidentally shot his girlfriend thinking she was an intruder in his house. Now however he has been charged with murder. Robyn Curnow has more.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bent over, hiding his head under a hoodie, Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius is led away by police, after they say he killed his girlfriend, model, Reeva Steenkamp, before dawn on Valentine's Day.

And in a sad twist of fate, Reeva's last tweet on the 13th of February said, "What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow." But by Valentine's Day, the hashtag, "Rest in Peace Reeva" was trending across South Africa.

The shooting took place behind the walls of this gated community in Pretoria, South Africa. Inside, Pistorius' home, Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee invited CNN into the house a few years ago and showed us the prosthetic legs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm missing a fibula, this is the tibula.

CURNOW: Later, he also showed us pictures of when he was a child. Always adventurous and daring, this snapshot showed him water skiing, scuba diving and bike riding with his prosthetics.

It was somewhere in this house that Pistorius allegedly fired a pistol. Local media saying bullets hit Reeva in her head and arm. A tragedy that shocked the nation and of course, left Reeva's family grief stricken.

MIKE STEENKAMP, REEVA STEENKAMP'S UNCLE: It's a devastating shock. What she could achieve never came to fulfillment. She's with the angels and that's about all I can say to you folks.

CURNOW: A stunning change of fortune for a man who inspired so many became known as the fastest man with no legs running on carbon fiber blades, beating other athletes with legs. A journey of determination and struggle said his coach before the Olympics. Pistorius spent Valentine's night in jail. Police say he is cooperating. No word on when Reeva will be buried.


CUOMO: Robyn, thank you for joining us. What's the latest?

CURNOW: Well, the latest is that Oscar Pistorius spent a night in jail. He'll be facing a magistrate on Friday morning. The police have already said that he'll be officially charged with murder. They also say crucially that they oppose bail.

CUOMO: And what is the theory right now about why this happened?

CURNOW: You know, I think there are a lot of theories out there, a lot of speculation, a lot of rumors. There was the sense that perhaps Oscar Pistorius had shot dead his girlfriend because he mistook her as an intruder.

However, later on in the day, the police kind of dismissed this theory, the speculation saying it had never come from them. And they seem to point at more of a domestic violence scenario.

CUOMO: Lastly, you know Oscar Pistorius, he's a national hero, broken so many barriers. He's a symbol for so many. Anything about his character that would lead to a discussion he's capable of something like this?

CURNOW: I think this is why -- I think there's still a sense of disbelief from people like me interview people like him all the time. I'm still trying to struggle with the thought, is there another Oscar Pistorius? Is there another deeply complex darker side to his character?

The man I knew, and a lot of people knew -- all of us saw him as an open very sort of generous kind with his time. At the same time, he was driven and ambitious and disciplined. But he was a man who really was very charismatic. He was an open kind person. There's a deep sense of confusion as to how this all adds up.

CUOMO: Terrible situation, no matter the explanation. Robyn, thank you for joining us. Just tough, tough anyway. Obviously, we need more information there. We're going to get it as soon as we can.

We're going to get caught up on other stories we're following right now. We have Susan Hendricks with a "360 Bulletin" for us. Hello, Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris. Authorities in Washington State say two fifth grade boys armed with a semiautomatic gun, an ammo clip and a knife plotted to kill a female classmate. Another student apparently told the school employee about the plot. The boys will be in court next Wednesday for a hearing.

Senate Republicans today blocked a vote to confirm defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel. Democrats fell short of the 60 votes they needed to end a filibuster. Now, the Senate will take up another vote on Hagel on February 26th. And Republicans have signals they are willing to allow the nomination to move forward after a recess.

The Justice Department says Trans Ocean Deep Water will pay a $400 million fine for its role in the 2010 deep water horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. As far as environmental fines, that is the second only to the $4 billion BP was penalized for its role in the spill. BP contracted Trans Ocean to do the drilling.

How about this one? It's a celebratory meal fit for a K-9 champ, Banana Joe, the Affenpinscher who won "Best in Show" at the Westminster Dog Show enjoys a steak on a silver platter at Sardi's Restaurant in New York City. Much deserved -- Chris.

CUOMO: You know, Susan, he deserves the steak, you know why? Look at the poise. He's sitting there, he has to hold his stance and people randomly grab his tail and lift him off the ground. He can't say anything.

HENDRICKS: Give me the steak. Give me the steak. He's a cute little dog there -- Chris.

CUOMO: And a champion. Susan, thank you very much. Good to work with you.

Just ahead, we're going to go back to the arrival of the "Carnival Triumph," when our 360 coverage continues.


CUOMO: Exclusive aerial video of the "Carnival Triumph," suffering through an epic fail right now, expected in the port at Mobile, Alabama within the next couple hours, about 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time. We will be here when it comes in live.

Some perspective now, on what passengers are going through. Looking at a split screen, if you want to see what's going on with the Carnival ship "Triumph," you must see it here on CNN. You will not see it anywhere else. Please stay with us if you want to see what happens here.

This is the place to see it. So why is this happening? What does this mean? Is it about the ship or the industry? Well, let's get some perspective. Joining us now Jay Herring, a former senior officer for Carnival Cruise Lines, worked on the "Triumph," in fact, also the author of "The Truth about Cruise Ships, Cruise Ship Officer Survives the Work, Adventure, Alcohol and Sex of Ship Life," quite a long title there, Jay.

JAY HERRING, FORMER SENIOR OFFICER, CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES: It was a fun experience, a lot of experience working on a cruise ship. You know, when I was on the "Triumph," we actually sailed in a hurricane. We had 30 foot waves crashing up over the bow causing all kinds of flooding and damage. And so when you look at this story, this would be a very different story if we had a storm system in the gulf with a ship with no power.

CUOMO: Very true. Luckily that was not the case. Let me ask you the most obvious question we've been getting all night. We can finally get an answer. Why didn't they just send another ship when this happened and put the people on to that ship? Either bring them back or continue on with the cruise? Why didn't they swap it out?

HERRING: Yes, passenger safety. You know, there's a report that just came out today, that five crew members were killed in the Canary Islands in a life boat accident. And so that's why we don't do this. You think about these life boats are 50, 60 feet off the water.

If something happens and they don't come down, two cables don't come down simultaneously. There's risk of injury there. And once you're in the water, OK, let's say they use the on board ferries and you get on the boat.

Well, now you have an itty bitty boat, and one to two waves is going to make this boat bob up and down next to a massive cruise ship that's going to remain stationery.

Imagine you have this boat bobbing up and down, and a gang way in between it. You're trying to walk children the elderly across that, it would be disastrous.

CUOMO: It's really not easy, is what you're saying? It sounds easy, but it season the?

HERRING: Yes, the only time you would ever leave the boat is if your fear of the cruise ship is greater than your fear of getting into a tinder or a life boat.

CUOMO: You worked on the "Triumph," tell us, I mean, obviously, life on a cruise ship, 4,200 people, it's like a small village. Is this a good vessel? Is this a ship that when you were there, was known to be sea worthy and was a happy place to work?

HERRING: Yes, this ship right now is 14 years old, and that's -- it's now one of the older ships in Carnival's fleet because they come out with so many new ships almost every year. So you think about the analogy of an older car, the older cars break down more and need more servicing.

The same holds true for a cruise ship and it's even multiplied. Imagine you take that analogy of a car and multiply it by 100,000. Imagine this cruise ship is three football fields and imagine all the moving parts and plumbing and systems that are involved.

CUOMO: Let me ask you something, you said this is one of the older ships in the fleet. The "Costa Concordia," there was another ship that was Carnival that was stranded somewhere and now this. Why always Carnival? Is it always Carnival? Is that fair? Should there be some criticism here?

HERRING: No, I think Carnival's doing everything they can to safely sail. A clean safety record is mandatory for the industry. It almost self-regulates itself, because it couldn't exist or be profitable if it was known for constant mishaps. That's -- I mean, that's -- that's key.

CUOMO: "Triumph" itself did have some type of mechanical issue not too long ago, right? HERRING: Yes, right, and we don't know all the details yet. It could be related to this, it could not. You know, it -- even if the ship is sailing under partial power, they can still -- it can still sail.

CUOMO: Another expert said to me, not to cut you off. I was talking to this other expert before, and he said to me, the truth is, it is like a floating city, you're right. And things go wrong in cities all the time, there's so many different systems affected.

A ship has problems, they all have problems. It doesn't mean they are terminal problems. It could just be temporary. As to our audience, you're looking at this shot, every once in a while it may look like lights are going off on the ship, it's not. It's the shot going in and out.

Jay Herring, thank you very much. It's a great name for a guy who worked at sea. Good luck with the book. Thank you for the perspective. Appreciate you being with us.

HERRING: It was a pleasure, thank you.

CUOMO: We're going to stay on the cruise ship "Triumph," find out when it gets to dock, when it does, we have other news for you as well. We're going to take a quick break, we'll be right back.


CUOMO: Welcome back to "Anderson Cooper 360." As we've been telling you, right now, live picture, exclusive to CNN. If you want to see when the "Triumph" gets into dock, you have to watch it right here. Tell one, tell all. I'm sorry if you've heard me say that, I have to assume some viewers are just tuning in.

Other breaking news as well, right now, we're going to deal with the charred remains found in the burned out cabin in the San Bernardino mountains, have been positively identified as Christopher Dorner's.

The San Bernardino Sheriff's Office says the I.D. was made through dental records. That puts one big question to rest though the investigation is ongoing.

Randi Kaye joins me now from Big Bear, California. Randi, thank you. I know you spoke to the man who was carjacked by Christopher Dorner. Does he want the reward money, $1 million out there?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Chris. He certainly does want that money. Rick Heltebrake called the sheriff's deputy right after Christopher Dorner put a gun in his face and stole his truck.

He said there's no doubt he deserves that reward money. He says it was his call that directed them to Dorner's location and put an end to the largest manhunt in L.A. history.

But you have to remember that there's very specific language in that reward offer and we discussed earlier today.


KAYE: The reward will be given to someone who provides information for the capture and conviction of Christopher Dorner. He wasn't captured and he wasn't convicted, but you still think you deserve it?

RICK HELTEBRAKE, CARJACKING VICTIM: Did anybody ever believe that he was going to be captured and convicted? I don't think so. I think they put that in there possibly to have an out for later. I believe that money was put up by the private sector and corporate donors, not in taxpayer money or anything like that I believe those people wanted that money to go somewhere.


KAYE: Now, what he wants to do with that money if he gets it is set up a college fund. He would give $100,000 to each family that lost a loved one. As far as the couple that was tied up and lost their car to Christopher Dorner. He says they're entitled to it too. He's willing to split the money with them. He just wants the reward -- Chris.

CUOMO: It's an interesting question, Randi. I mean, somebody does have to get the money in this situation. Everybody was there. Thanks for the reporting. That mystery continues. We'll try to get answer to who does get it.

But certainly for now that's it for 360. Appreciate you being here. We're going to see you again one hour from now at 10 p.m.