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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Nightmare Voyage Ends

Aired February 14, 2013 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Chris Cuomo, filling in for Anderson Cooper tonight.

Of course, the big breaking news, the cruise ship Carnival Triumph now just minutes away, possibly, about mile or so out from port -- and we don't know how long it will take -- finally, finally ending a very unpleasant journey.

You are looking at the live pictures of the enormous ship that is threading its way into a channel leading to Mobile, Alabama's cruise ship terminal.

How did this begin? Well, it was a fire and days of power outages and massive sanitation issue, and the ship is now again about a mile out, a half-mile, it's tough the judge. We get different information. But remember it will reset. The ship does not just pull in like a sea boat. They have to reset all of the tugboats around it and then sophisticated docking to get it in at night.

More difficult, a new port, more difficult, but we believe the transition should be happening soon and we will be here for it as again you are looking at a live picture right here. It could take several hours once it does get into port for these 4,200-and-some passengers to get off. It is going to be difficult unboarding. They have a whole setup there to make it safe, but it will take time simply because it is such a massive move of humanity and then we have to deal with baggage and transport into different places where they can meet their families.

There is a lot to go yet, but the great news will be when this ship,, the Triumph, is actually dockside. We want to find out the best sense impression of what is it right now to be on board, what this means to this company. The cruise line spokesman recently talked about what will happen next, and here is what they have to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TERRY THORNTON, CARNIVAL: Inside the terminal, there is also warm food available. There are blankets. There are cell phones, and refreshments available for the guests that need that or want that assistance.

Our biggest focus very honestly though is to move the people as quickly as possible on to the roughly 100 motor coaches that are awaiting their arrival and move them quickly as we talked about for the options earlier on their way motor coach-wise to Galveston or on their way to the hotels that have been schedule and they have elected to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: They are doing their best logistically, huge situation, again, 4,226 or 4,229. A number of like of people they have to move not going to be easy. A lot of them unhappy. This was supposed to be a vacation after all, and it could have been much, much worse, not a life-threatening situation, the vessel is not taking on water, but very unfortunate.

Let's get the latest down there from Mobile. We have Martin Savidge, who is monitoring the situation for us.

Martin, what do we know at this time?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, we know the vessel is within sight of the Alabama cruise terminal.

This actually is a parking deck attached to it. On the third level, that's the top floor of this cruise terminal, people are waving and gesturing and they can see the ship, so clearly it's within view and not quite for our camera, we expect that to be shortly. But we have also seen other activity that suggests the vessel is really near.

One, there was a whole group of stevedores who made their way back toward the dock area. It appears they're anticipating the arrival. And then on top of that a lot of families have been heading in, so it's got every indication now, Chris, that this ship is just within sight and we should be picking it up any moment.

The tricky part is going to be docking it here. Normally ships like this, as you know, under power have thrusters. They can usually dock themselves into any of the number of ports they visit. This is a ship that has no power whatsoever, and being pulled and being towed and it's also being shoved a little bit by tugs.

But the problem is even in the old days when you used the tugboats, the main ship had at least some propulsion, and this has none. You are going against a current of a river that is flowing downstream, and you are trying to come upstream with the vessel, and it is a big boat, and we already know that, and it is trying to come gently up against the dockside here when you have got 4,000 people on board. You want to be very, very careful.

So, that is why it is going to be a real tricky and very careful operation. Don't expect this thing to suddenly pull up and park. It is going to be a very delicate maneuvering that takes place. But once they do, then the off-loading and as you have already pointed out that could be four, maybe five hours. It just depends. There's only one gangway and there are a lot of people who have to use it and first and foremost are going to be the elderly or those with special needs and young children who will be allowed off first, Chris.

CUOMO: At least at that point, it will be the beginning of the end.

Let me ask you what is the range of the emotion that you are seeing there among the people who are waiting dockside?

SAVIDGE: You know what? I think it is just, let's get them off. let's just -- let's get them off of this boat. At least for the family members that are waiting -- and many have come a long way.

There was one gentleman I talked to, he has come from Indiana and that is an 18-hour drive. They are here and they felt that their loved ones wanted to see them after this ordeal and that they did not want to wait for Carnival to handle their transportation, that, look, it is my family and I will pick them, thank you very much.

Many of them have hotels here and that's first place they plan to go and hot shower and warm meal of some sort and then begin thinking about getting everybody home, because that is where they want to be after this long ordeal.

Right now, anticipation, not so much anxiousness, because they have all have had the opportunity to talk on the telephone or text or communicate with somebody, their loved one on board ship. The worry is. It is now just let's get this over with and get them back in my arms. So that's the problem, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Martin, thank you very much, and I will be checking back in with you and appreciate it from there.

Looking at a live picture right now in split-screen WBRC. Thank you, courtesy of them, you will see people there looking over the rail and everybody expectant here at the end, these last moments especially tense because they are so close to their loved ones, and yet this may be one of the longer periods of their frustration, because they will be so close, yet docking does take time, safety matters. It is nighttime.

You heard Martin Savidge telling us rightly so that without any power in the vessel, it will be more difficult to dock it. Safety first, especially at this point. It would be horrible to have a problem after everything that has happened.

Let's bring in Chad Myers for a second here, because earlier on, we were talk about the difficulties of moving upstream in river with basically this floating building. When we get close here to docking, Chad, are you with me?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You bet. Right here.

CUOMO: OK. Why is it going to be difficult to dock this ship for the uninitiated out there? What makes it so tricky?

MYERS: Everyone who has ever watched a speedboat go around a lake knows that all of the gas, all of the power comes from the back.

That is how a speedboat works, but with cruise ships, power actually comes out of the sides as well. They are called bow thrusters or stern thrusters and they can actually literally move the ship right across from left to right if the ship is moving just to the north. It can go east or west with these bow thrusters pushing water out from the front and from the rear.

So if we had the real joystick really working, it would be easy, and this is a walk in the park, but we don't have that. This is a barge basically that doesn't have any power whatsoever. They are going to have to move some ships to the other side, some more just like pushing vessels, smaller ones, not the big large one that we moved from hundreds of miles into the ocean, but these small tugs are going to slide it sideways, just shift it off to the left, push it, push the portside right up to the dock and it really won't take probably more than 25 or 30 minutes.

These guys, these men and women on these little tugboats, they know what they are doing, and this is not their first rodeo. They will put this ship right up against that dock in no time, and people will be off I would say within the hour, maybe less, and people will be walking off of this ship.

CUOMO: And yet, it is a delicate maneuver, and any boater out there knows. I have a small fishing boat, Chad, and I need like nine people to help me dock even when I have all my power and facilities, but obviously the level of sophistication here is so high and the tugboats are there, and thank you very much for the latest bit of information, Chad. We will be back to you son.

And now who matters the most? The passengers and we have been talking to them tonight, including one of our favorite, 16-year-old Haley Meyer. And when we were speaking to her early, she was doing the best of it, but she was understandably emotional.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: 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 everything's going to be OK. Tell me about that?

HALEY MEYER, PASSENGER: It was kind of stressful. I didn't have touch with my mom or anything, so it was kind of hard. And when we called them, texted them, we all just cried.

CUOMO: I'm sure you did. This is very scary, Haley, even though you're on the way home. I know it's scary. 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Haley's cell phone batteries are too apparently shaky right now to talk to us, and we are trying to get her back on and make sure she is OK and doing her best, but do we have her parents, Patricia and Darren Blake joining us now.

Can you hear us, Mr. and Mrs. Blake? There you are.

PATRICIA BLAKE, MOTHER: Yes, we can hear you. (CROSSTALK)

DARREN BLAKE, FATHER: Yes, sir. We can hear you.

CUOMO: Your daughter, we had a great conversation earlier and she got upset when she was thinking about when she would finally get to see you and talking to you, but she is doing her best and she sounded good. I can't imagine how excited you are going to be to see your little girl. How are you doing?

P. BLAKE: We are doing better now. Great to hear from her. It has been a very long week. Very stressful week not being able to talk to her since Sunday, SO we were very pleased to hear from her.

CUOMO: How did she sound to you?

P. BLAKE: She sounded actually better than what I anticipated. I was expecting a lot worse, but it was such a joy to hear her and I can't wait to see her.

CUOMO: What is your biggest concern about what she has had to deal with on board?

P. BLAKE: The aftermaths of what will happen when she gets back home, what she endured while she was on the ship.

We are just going the have to wait and see once we get back home.

CUOMO: And, Darren, what are your feelings at this point, still early, but about the responsibility of the cruise line and how they should make up for this?

D. BLAKE: Well, I think that the crew did a really fantastic job. Sounds like all of the passengers have given them a lot of accolades, so, the crew deserves a lot of credit, and I think that they deserve some sort of compensation.

So hats off to the screw, because it seems to be a pretty collective effort on their part and so kudos to them, and hats off to them. I really appreciate it.

CUOMO: We have heard that. Even though they are under such duress, Darren, we have heard the crews, the actual crew, men and the women are going around and helping the elderly and tending the needs and trying to still make sure that the place looks as good as possible, cleaning up the most unimaginable of messes.

We have heard that from many people, that the crew men and women have really helped to salvage a situation that has been so unpleasant, and what is the first thing you will do with your little girl when you get her off of the ship?

D. BLAKE: Well, we want to see if she wants to go back here to the hotel and get a shower. She wants McDonald's Chicken McNuggets, french fries and an iced tea. So, that is probably -- I don't know if that is a Texas thing or not, but going to load her up in the car and take her wherever she want wants and head back to Midlothian, Texas.

CUOMO: Boy, if that does not fix her up quick, nothing will, if that is not going to make her better nothing will.

Listen, thank you so much for taking the time and we are glad that your daughter is well and if you speak to her before we do, please, pass along our best wishes for her, OK?

D. BLAKE: We sure appreciate it. Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: All right. We are still looking at pictures of the cruise ship now here, people coming up against the rail. They are so anxious to get off that ship. This is one vacation they can't wait to end, I'm sure.

Let's see if there is any more developments.

Let's get to Martin Savidge. He is dockside waiting for the ship that is maneuvering its way towards him right now -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: Hey, Chris.

Let me walk you up here to kind of the media line here, and this is as far as we will be allowed to go. There's the terminal right there, and there's the gangway that people are going to be coming down, so this is as close as we are allowed to get at the moment when it comes to any of the passengers getting off of the vessel.

It is all being carefully controlled. The one who is doing the controlling is Carnival. Right now, we are penned up in this particular area, so how well we will be able to talk to some of the passengers when they get off, that remains to be seen, but trust us, we have been talking to a lot of families who intend to make sure that one way or another their loved one is heard.

And we have already seen the lead tugboat go by, so that means any moment from this vantage point we should see the bow of the vessel, and it is coming up the river, the Mobile River, so we should see the bow first and then the rest of the ship will follow.

Up there on the second floor, you might see some tables up there. That is actually where they are going to process the passengers as they come off of this vessel. Then, once they figure out who is going by bus or who is going to a hotel, they head on their way. There will be reunions be taking place up there as well, because that is where the family who have driven in are awaiting anxiously, you can bet right now, and the windows up there, so by far they are certainly looking at the ship already.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: It is hard to see here, Martin.

They are so small for the people, and it gives a sense of scale. The cruise ship is almost 1,000 feet long and it's like 100 feet high or more and it's literally like a floating apartment building and there's a city's worth of people in there, 4,000-plus people, and you can see how tiny they are up there at the rail, and so anxious to get off.

Martin, we have both covered so many different tragedies that end in loss of life and certainly, thank God, that is not what we are dealing with here, and we don't want to overdramatize the situation, but there is something about being stuck out at sea for days that really does capture the fascination of something we really so much want to avoid. Isn't that a big reason you think there is such interest in this?

SAVIDGE: Well...

CUOMO: Oh, listen to that horn, Martin. Look how happy they are to hear that. Port of call horn means they are about to dock.

(CROSSTALK)

SAVIDGE: There it is. That is a sound that many family members have waited for.

CUOMO: I am sorry, Martin. You were saying?

SAVIDGE: I was just saying you are absolutely right. Just last week I was here in Alabama, very different story but again involving death.

This one, no one has died. And you're right to keep that in point. It's a drama that has captured us, but it is still without death. Let's take a listen. All right. I'm guessing that they are done.

So just getting to your point, it has been a drama that has captured much of the world and it's coming to an end, and it's a good ending and it's a happy ending for the families, so I think in many ways, you're right to put it into that kind of perspective.

But nonetheless, stuck at sea, many of these families did not hear from their loved ones for days. The first thing they heard was that there was a fire on board, there's a problem, we don't have power. And then they lost all communication. If you're unsure, if your loved one is on that boat, you were terrified for many days until finally you got some sort of official word from your loved one. That was the only time it really ended in your mind -- Chris.

CUOMO: Also, Martin, because of the way it started, with a fire -- yes, here she is. Here she comes in now. That's the best picture so far as the bow is nosing in to the point of embarkation debarkation, as they will say now, as they get to get off the ship.

(CROSSTALK)

SAVIDGE: Massive size of that structure.

CUOMO: It's like a floating apartment building, literally, 4,000-plus people on board and every single one of them so anxious to get off. Easing into port now.

SAVIDGE: You are just looking at -- yes, you can see the lights and the illumination that is up there.

And some of it is just piloting lights that are necessary for navigation, but they have been able to establish some power to that vessel. Some have suggested, family members that they thought it was pretty interesting the lights came on the closer it got to shore, but there are people waving from up there. This is the moment that the families have waited -- I can hear cheering coming from the dock, a lot of pent-up emotion, Chris.

CUOMO: OK. Thank you, Martin.

I will leave you for one second.

We're going to join by cell phone Eric Robles. He is on board with his six-month-pregnant wife, Cayla (ph). We spoke earlier.

And can you hear me, Eric?

ERIC ROBLES, PASSENGER: Yes, I can.

CUOMO: Hey, we see the ship, my friend. How are you feeling?

ROBLES: (AUDIO GAP) to get off first because of the condition that she is in, and so we're very, very, very excited.

CUOMO: Great. You are breaking in and out there, Eric. I heard you say that you were one of the first in line to get off because Cayla is six months pregnant. Is she feeling OK? You ready to go?

ROBLES: Yes. She is feeling great and we're ready to get off and (AUDIO GAP) have a doctor's appointment tomorrow to make sure that the baby is doing fine. We know that the baby is probably just OK, but we just (AUDIO GAP) to make sure, and we are excited to get off.

CUOMO: Better safe than sorry. I know that your mother-in-law who loves you more than ever -- I remember from earlier she could not thank you enough for how you have taken care of your daughter, and I know there are CNNers running around trying to get you miked up so that you can do an interview the right way.

But while I have you here, earlier, for those who were not watching earlier, Eric's mother-in-law, Theresa (ph), was so happy with him and that is a great thing to have going in when he gets to port that his mother-in-law is loving him.

Eric, if you are still with me, now as you are getting off of the ship, what are the first couple of things that you can't wait to do?

ROBLES: Oh, man, the first thing I can't wait to do is to like we said (AUDIO GAP) our baby is doing fine. (AUDIO GAP) my mom and my sister has been here. And so I have been with them. (AUDIO GAP) her family. The whole goal this entire time is to make sure that she gets back safe and so when I can achieve that goal, I feel like I have done the right thing.

CUOMO: We are trying to get your mother-in-law and your sister- in-law miked up so you can talk to them again like last time.

We wish you the best. There is no reason for everything not to go great at the doctors, and of course this is going to be a memory you will never forget, but I hope the name Triumph of the ship, that has not popped its way into the top of the naming of the list, has it, Eric?

ROBLES: (AUDIO GAP)

CUOMO: We can't hear Eric, but you know his answer was no way.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBLES: I think they are calling at this moment.

CUOMO: Can you still hear me, Eric? You with us?

ROBLES: Yes, I believe they are calling us at this moment to go ahead and get...

CUOMO: OK. Go ahead then. Turn off the phone. Get off the ship nice and safely. Make sure your bride is OK and we will talk to you when you get on shore. I'm very happy for you.

ROBLES: All right.

CUOMO: All right.

Theresa, are you there with me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I am.

CUOMO: Ms. Gaspard (ph), how are you? It's great to see you. How excited are you? Look at your big smiles.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We see the boat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Listen, this is a great moment. We are so happy to see that boat. We are thrilled.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Your daughter is getting off and she has a doctor's appointment to check on the baby and make sure that everything is OK, and she is six months along. That is tomorrow?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes, it is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

CUOMO: But she seems fine, right? She has not been experiencing anything other than just the desire to get off, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are just making sure all along she is eating and drinking, and she said she had enough food and water. So...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And she is a cheerful little person and I'm pretty good that she is giving a raging Cajun yell out there that she is happy to be home.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: Raging Cajun. I love it.

Let me ask you, you got anything special planned for them, anything you know she likes, any kind of special food or something, craving?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, we have -- I have spent quite a bit of money -- and don't tell my husband, but it is in the car waiting for her and Eric when they get out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We took a little shopping spree at Target.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I have to stop you. If you don't want them to know, don't say. You're on TV, Theresa. I can't protect you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no. Oh, no. No, actually we gave him a hint so they know.

CUOMO: Look, if there is any time that you want to spend money, it is when your daughter who is carrying your grandchild is getting off a ship where she has been stuck for days. I think this is a good time to open up the pockets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think so.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we did, and we are excited.

We are very happy that this time has finally come.

CUOMO: All right.

Listen, it has been great getting to know you this way, and I'm so happy that we are here for your happy ending. She is going to be one of the first to get off of the ship, because she is pregnant, so hopefully you will be seeing her soon. If you feel like it after you get done with your arms hugging each other and you want to use one to grab a cell phone and give a call, we will talk to you then.

Otherwise, God bless you and good luck at the doctor's tomorrow. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good night.

CUOMO: Good night.

All right. We are going to go to another passenger now. Larry Poret. He is on the Triumph, of course, and he is on floor eight of the ship. Passengers are being off-loaded by floor starting on one, so he has got a little bit of time.

We are looking at live pictures right now. They're waving some signs there.

And, Larry, are you there?

LARRY PORET, PASSENGER: Yes.

CUOMO: All right. Congratulations.

PORET: Thank you.

CUOMO: So, you went on this vacation, I believe, for a father/daughter vacation, yes?

PORET: That is correct.

CUOMO: And your daughter is 12 years old?

PORET: Yes. Rebecca (ph) is 12.

CUOMO: So was Rebecca anxious to go on the trip or did it take a little kind of tugging in the beginning?

PORET: Oh, no, she was as anxious as I was and we were both anxious.

CUOMO: All right. And so this had to be a little bit trying, to use a parental word, but what is the bond like now after this experience?

PORET: Well, it just perfect, I mean, absolutely perfect.

We just got closer and WE communicated at lot. And we did things together, instead of her going off to camp Carnival and me doing what parents do. We really spent the time together.

CUOMO: Let me ask you something. When the word of fire came out, and it was a very different type of potential situation, and you are being told to go to the muster areas, the gathering areas and being told to get your life vests, what was going through your mind?

PORET: Well, we really didn't have time to think. It was just a matter of following instructions. And when we got out, you know, because we were on eight and nine and when we got up to nine, we could smell the -- see the smoke and smell the burning. It smelled like wires burning and it smelled like diesel or oil or something burning as well. And so we were just waiting to see what. (AUDIO GAP)

CUOMO: Well, look, as tough an ordeal as this has been, and I don't even know the half of what you have had to deal with, thank God it was not anything worse. And now that you're dockside, it can all start to become a memory, right? Larry?

PORET: It has been a life-changing event and we are going to (AUDIO GAP) from it.

CUOMO: All right. You are breaking up a little bit on me, Larry, and please, stay a little patient while you get off there from the eighth floor and hopefully you will get off soon and we will talk to you. All the best.

All right. We have another passenger, John Goebel. He's joining us now. He's on the sixth floor and again, they're off-loading by floor, so John has a little bit of a wait.

John, you're a retired Coast Guarder, I understand. How did that play into your understanding of what your situation was?

JOHN GOEBEL, PASSENGER: Well, when they originally called for team alpha, team alpha, report to the engine room six, I was immediately awakened.

And I knew that there was a problem in the engine room.

CUOMO: Why? Is that specific code language that you know from your nautical training?

GOEBEL: Yes, I basically understood that there was an emergency and I think they trying to maybe not scare the passengers too much.

CUOMO: Well, I'm sure. Fire on board always very scary in these situations, and it could have been much worse, wasn't.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Go ahead, John.

GOEBEL: Yes, they actually didn't announce that there was a fire right away.

They just called for team alpha, and at that time, I told my wife that I was going to get up and see what was going on. And at that time, I went up on the 12th deck. And I observed smoke coming from the vicinity of the stack, and it appeared to be coming out of the ventilation from the engine room.

CUOMO: Were you concerned that you were about to go from a big boat to a small boat? GOEBEL: I was.

And I went back down below and talked to my wife and advised her to go ahead and get dressed and come topside.

CUOMO: How long did you have to deal with that not knowing whether you were going to have to abandon ship? How long did it take before you knew that it was something under control?

GOEBEL: I would say that it was probably a good 15 or 20 minutes.

CUOMO: And as they were trying to help ease the tension, a lot of the things were good. We keep hearing that the crew behaved very admirably during this situation keeping people comfortable, but you had some concerns as well about what was happening on board, yes?

GOEBEL: Yes, I did.

My main concern is that they didn't -- they told people to stay calm and that they had the situation under control, and they advised people that had gone to their muster station to actually...

CUOMO: I know they are making an announcement, John. I know they have been directing people about how to disembark.

GOEBEL: Yes.

CUOMO: Go ahead, John. I can hear you.

GOEBEL: OK. I kind of lost my train of thought.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: We were talking about what you were concerned about on board that was going on.

GOEBEL: Right.

Yes, and I was concerned that they didn't require the passengers to go to the muster station. And they told everybody that they had the situation under control and to return to their cabin. And this was at 5:30 in the morning approximately that the situation started.

And they made that announcement at about 5:50. So my concern was that maybe they didn't have the fire under control, because I observed black smoke coming out of the vents, and based upon my experience with firefighting, I believe they didn't have it under control at that time.

CUOMO: So you felt that there was a little bit of false calm being delivered by the crew, but, ultimately, John, in the final analysis, you wound up being OK in terms of that level of urgency, and now you are waiting there on the sixth floor to get off of the ship, and everybody is basically safe.

And I wish you well. Thank you for talking to us, John, OK?

GOEBEL: Thanks a lot. You have a good one.

CUOMO: All right, all the best to you.

As a side note, John is getting off. They will have buses there to take them someplace. He said he is going to self-charter. He does not want to put himself in their hands anymore. He warnings to be master of his own fate.

Let's get some more word from what is going on dockside there in Mobile, Alabama.

Erin Burnett has been there all day and night making sure she was there for exactly this moment.

You have been talking to people all evening as the ship creeps its way. What are you hearing? What are you hearing?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: I have to say, after what they have been through the past few days, they said the most important moment was when said we see land, we see land.

And let me just let you listen to what is coming through my microphone, Chris.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BURNETT: The cheering.

And there are families here on the ground, not too many of them, but there are some who have come from as far away -- I was talking families driven 10 to 11 hours from Paris, Texas, to come here to pick up their wife and daughter. And it is just sort of fun looking up. I have to say that standing on the ground here -- and many people have either been on cruises or seen cruises -- they are all lit up and big party mobiles in a sense, but this is pretty amazing. It is just completely dark.

CUOMO: That is exactly right.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Alternative power they have been running on there, Erin.

BURNETT: Exactly.

And so they have been waving signs. You saw "I miss my cat, sweet home Alabama," as you could see right there, all sorts of homemade signs, but I think a lot of people that we talked to on the ship were saying, all right, we have all heard the awful things that happened, but they made some new friends. And they got to know people that they thought they knew a lot better.

And some of those things had some good outcomes. But two logistical things that are important, Chris, we had been heard -- been told -- I'm sorry -- by Carnival that this could take four to five hours to actually disembark.

And the ship right now is still moving. It is moving inches at this point. It is not fully docked. But, from then, it could take four to five hour. But what my understanding is talking to people on the ship, they have all cleared customs. And I was just talking to a man whose wife is on the ship. He's waiting for her. He says that they have already also already gone down below deck and gotten their bags.

And that was something that could have taken a couple of hours * BURNETT: ... but from then, it could take four to five hour, but from what my understanding is talking to people on the ship, they have cleared customs and I was talking to a man whose wife is on the ship. He's waiting for her. He says that they've already also gone down below deck and gotten their bags, and that was something that could have taken a couple of hours of time, as well. So that's apparently already been accomplished, at least for some people on that ship.

So it could be much -- we could see them much more quickly get off of the ship come on that gangplank, but it's going to be -- it's going to be fun. I have to say, there are people who are very emotional. You know, it was only a few days, but it was very emotional for so many people.

CUOMO: Well, right now, the main emotion should be relief. Because they are dockside, and obviously, there's going to be a press conference coming soon. We'll bring that to you live, of course.

And just to reset for those who may just be tuning in right now, that is the Carnival ship Triumph. It is the ship that was stranded out there in the gulf when there was a fire was on deck last weekend. And it wound up losing its power, and it wound up losing sanitation and all types of services.

And the people have lived with no climate control and sleeping on deck and not having showers and any kind of toiletry or sanitary. It's been very rough for them, and now they're finally coming home. Not a life-threatening experience, but certainly a lifestyle- threatening experience.

And one of our favorite people we've talked to tonight is my young friend Haley. Haley, you're on the phone with me right now, Haley Meyer, 16 years old. How are you, sweetheart?

HALEY MEYER, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER (via phone): Good.

CUOMO: So, come on, don't -- give me more than good. How are you feeling? You're about to get off the ship.

MEYER: Overwhelmed.

CUOMO: Overwhelmed, all right. One word, but a big word. I'll take it. When I spoke to you earlier, you were -- you were worried, and you had been a little bit upset when you spoke to your family. But now, as you know, you're going to see them in moments. I spoke to your parent. They can't wait to see you. They've got your special meal ready. Are you psyched to see them?

MEYER: Yay.

CUOMO: Good. Good. Listen, I know that you're upset, but this time at least it's those tears of joy that you're going to be feeling for seeing them soon. Let me put a smile on your face by telling you what your dad told me. This is what he has ready for you. Are you ready, Haley?

MEYER: Yes.

CUOMO: Chicken nuggets. How are we doing? Got a little smile?

MEYER: Yes. Good.

CUOMO: OK. French fries. How are we doing? How are we doing with French fries?

MEYER: Good.

CUOMO: Iced tea.

MEYER: Yay.

CUOMO: OK?

MEYER: Yes.

CUOMO: All right. And look, thank God it's only going to take that to make you feel better after what you've been through on that ship. I know it was scary, but now, as you know, it's so close to being over. What deck are you on?

MEYER: I was on six.

CUOMO: So you're on six, so you have to wait a little while to get off. It may take a little time. You know that, right?

MEYER: Yes.

CUOMO: OK. How is everybody around you doing? People feeling about being finally there?

MEYER: They're overwhelmed. They're really excited. People are clapping because they got to see land. It was really fun.

CUOMO: When is the last time you spoke to your parents?

MEYER: Today at like 11.

CUOMO: All right. Well, you should give them a call if you can, because they're waiting down there, you know. Give them a call and let them know you're all right; you're about to see them.

MEYER: Yes.

CUOMO: Don't be texting your friends all the time. You can do that later. Deal with Mom and Dad first.

MEYER: Yes.

CUOMO: What do you see people doing on deck around you? A lot of hugging, a lot of dancing? What are people doing?

MEYER: Scrambling around trying to get off first.

CUOMO: Right. They have the crew trying to keep them calm, keep everybody orderly. No reason for an injury now after everything you made it through.

MEYER: Right. I don't need a broken ankle.

CUOMO: No, not right now. Now all your baggage and stuff, you get to take that with you or that will stay behind and you'll get it later?

MEYER: I get to take it with me.

CUOMO: All right. And again, not to bring you down, but I just want to manage your expectations. It may take a couple of hours before you're able to get off of the ship. That doesn't mean anything is wrong. It's just about how many people they have to unload over 4,000.

MEYER: Yes.

CUOMO: And you know, it's kind of a narrow zigzagging thing to get down, you know.

MEYER: Yes.

CUOMO: All right. Well, I'm glad you're feeling a little bit better.

MEYER: Thank you.

CUOMO: Don't be too sad. It's the good part now. And...

MEYER: Yay. I'm home.

CUOMO: Yes, right. I mean, come on, give me a little bit of excitement. You've got chicken nuggets and iced tea waiting for you. You're lucky I'm not down there. You'd come back; it would be an empty cup.

MEYER: Yay, my greasy food is ready.

CUOMO: Well, look, you enjoy it. And if you start getting lonely, you can always call back, and I'll talk to you. OK?

MEYER: All right. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Haley, you take care.

MEYER: Bye-bye.

CUOMO: Good for her. Good for her. It's got to be -- it's such a mix of emotions for all these people on board, let alone when you're at that tender age, 16 years old. You've been stuck here. You thought it was a fire. God forbid they'd tell you to put on your life preserver and you'd have to get in the water, so it's been really tough.

Now, just so we can reset a little bit of perspective here, let's bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Doc, you've been really good early on; we were talking about this managing the expectations, that this is not a crisis situation, even though it is dramatic for us to watch the ship come in. It's not a crisis mode, but as they come dockside, should there be some protocol in place for how you organize need to address medical things as they come off?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I imagine some of that sort of triage, Chris, was probably done even on the boat. You know, unlike a lot of other situations, other natural disasters, you do have medical personnel here. You know, some of that triage and infirmary even on the boat.

So my guess is the biggest concern is going to be just keeping people organized and keeping them so they -- no one gets hurt as they disembark the ship.

The other thing, I think, to keep in mind and you're sort of seeing it with these great interviews you're doing with this young gal, Haley. There is a -- you probably want to listen in to this.

CUOMO: Doctor -- Doctor, let me interrupt you for one second just to go to the press conference they're giving us right now. Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... lining up alongside here and knowing that all of our guests and our crew members have made it here safely.

I know this is what our guests have been waiting for. And I can tell you this is what we all at Carnival have been working towards.

There's been a tremendous amount of effort that's gone into getting this ship back here, and there are so many people I want to thank for helping us in this regard.

I would like to specifically mention the United States Coast Guard who has done a fantastic job. Having that cutter alongside was tremendously helpful in reassuring our guests. The United States Customs and Border Protection, who's expedited the clearance.

The United States Public Health, the City of Mobile, and the port of Mobile have been gracious and helpful to us, and I thank everyone.

But I'd also like to also recognize the tremendous effort made by our shore-side teams in Miami and mostly our team on board. I know it has been very trying for our guests, but I can tell you that our crew worked tirelessly to try and make it as good of an experience as they possibly could for our guests, and I want to thank them very much.

Now, one of the nice things for me is to see that many of our guests, in online media and other types of media, have recognized just how hard our crew has worked. And I appreciate the patience of our guests and their ability to cope with the situation.

And I'd like to reiterate the apology I made earlier. I know the conditions on board were very poor; I know it was very difficult, and I want to apologize again to subjecting the guests to that. We pride ourselves in providing our guests with a great vacation experience, and clearly, we failed in this particular case.

Now, there's one other thing. I know we have been making media updates as we've gone throughout the course of the day, providing the status of what's going on with the ship and all. It's our plan to continue those. We will continue those past the last guest getting off the ship and starting on their way home.

We know that we have gotten our guests back to land. Now we need to get them home, and we have the full resources of Carnival are working from here to get them home as quickly as we possibly can.

Now, the most important thing for me at this point in time is to go on board and to apologize to our guests. Once I finish that, I'm going to walk around and I'm going to try and help expedite the process of getting them off and getting them on their way as quickly as I can.

So right now, that is what I'm going to do. I'm going to go on board, and I'm going to apologize to the guests. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. We need to get Gerry on board. Thank you again.

CUOMO: Now, obviously, there in the news conference, a premium by the Carnival official on apologize. He works on the Triumph, of course. Also the author of a book with a very long title: "The truth about Cruise Ships: A Cruise Ship Officer Survives the Work Adventure, Alcohol and Sex of Ship Life." Did I get it right, Mr. Herring?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct. What a mouthful?

CUOMO: Long titles, they say, is very good for a book. Nobody says that. Let me ask you this, Jay. He was very apologetic, the Carnival official there. He said sorry several different times. This is a tricky situation for the company, is it not? Because no one lost their lives. This wasn't a tragedy the likes of which we have seen recently with cruise ships. And yet so long, so uncomfortable. What's the right thing to do?

JAY HERRING, AUTHOR: Yes. I think that was certainly the right thing to do. I think even better learning experience for next time would be if he had made that apology three or four days ago right at the beginning. I mean, we didn't hear a lot from Carnival in the beginning.

You know -- you know, we had passengers who were giving updates from the media, as opposed to from people on the ship. So -- but I think -- I think that was first class with what he just did to him going on board to apologize to the guests. I imagine he's probably going to be shaking hands and everything he can, you know, to show the sincerity of the apology.

CUOMO: What else should they do, Jay? It's going to be a big question as we go forward. We've heard some details of cash and vouchers and such. What do you think the responsibility of the cruise line is in a situation like this?

HERRING: I think what the public and the passengers are looking for is a reassurance of how do we prevent this to the best of their ability from happening again. I think we -- I think the public and the passengers deserve to know exactly what happened on the ship, was it related to the previous mechanical problems that we've heard about, and how can we -- how can we prevent this again in the future.

CUOMO: Well, what do you think? You worked on this ship. You were in the industry for how long? How many years were you in the industry?

HERRING: Two years.

CUOMO: Is safety a significant issue? Do you think these ships maintained the right way, or is there a cause for speculation?

HERRING: Yes, I think they are. I mean, cruising is one of the safest things people do and certainly one of the safest vacations, you know. So outside of these very rare tragedies, it's still very safe.

But at the same time, you know, I just think that, again, over communication to the passengers and to the public as to what the cause of this was is going to be key to protecting their image moving forward.

But regardless, you know, the cruise industry is bulletproof. Carnival, bulletproof. So, you know, as bad as this was, I don't think we're going to see any effect on revenue for the cruise industry or affect its growth in any way.

CUOMO: What does that mean, bulletproof? Why are they bulletproof? Don't they have to be responsive to their customers? I mean, in one way, this is like a P.R. nightmare for them. You know, they're all about vacations and making pleasant memories, and they have people, you know, living in, you know, kind of abject squalor for a week. How are they bulletproof?

HERRING: Yes, and the reason why is because the cruise experience is such a great value for your dollar when it comes to vacation. And passengers that have cruised before know this. And so you see a lot of repeat passengers from previous cruises. And you know, only 20 percent of the American public have ever even cruised, and so there's a huge growth opportunity for the rest of America.

CUOMO: Well, then you better treat the situations like this right, my friend. Otherwise, you're not going to grow your business.

Jay, thank you very much. Appreciate the perspective. I may come back to you later.

HERRING: Thank you.

CUOMO: Thank you very much for now, though.

I want to get back on board, if we may. We have on the phone passenger Tony Zaheer. Is that right, Tony? Did I get your name right?

TONY ZAHEER, PASSENGER (via phone): You did, sir.

CUOMO: All right, Tony, you're with 15 members of the family. You]re on deck six. You're going to have to wait a while to get off. How has everybody been through this ordeal, Tony?

ZAHEER: You know, thank God we have family with us. If it were just me and my wife and my son, this was truly a nightmare of gigantic proportions. I mean, you know, the lights went off, the ship tilted, and you know, smoke everywhere, and this just -- so after that, you know, we had sewage in our room, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on the balcony and just really terrible situation.

Most of the -- on the ship, you know, a mixture of urine, human vomit and sewage. I mean, it]s something you do not want to subject your family to ever.

CUOMO: Absolutely. Obviously, you couldn't have been anticipated this, Tony, because it was a total accident. And now it's about how the crew responded, which we heard was good, and how the company responds.

Tony, just so you know, there was just a press conference, and Gerry Cahill, the head of Carnival, said he's going to go on board to apologize to the passengers. Is that an apology that you're willing to accept?

ZAHEER: Well, here's my thing, you know. You have to have some accountability. You know, you have to answer the question, was this the result of an accident or was this due to negligence? That's the question everybody has to answer.

And the actions you take after that determine if that apology is sincere or not. You can -- you can -- you know, it's good P.R. to apologize to everyone getting off the ship, but you know, in my mind if you were -- I'm just speculating, obviously, but if you're not negligent and you maintain the ships properly, then you know what? I don't need anyone's apology. That's good enough for -- you know, it's just floating in the dark, literally in the dark, and you have your 6- year-old son that you look at and pray about getting off this thing or not. You know what? I don't need anyone's apology at this point. I need them to find out what happened.

CUOMO: When you say, Tony, I totally understand where you're coming from. Let me just ask you for a little bit of perspective on it. When you say whether it was an accident or if it were negligence, what makes you think that this may not have been what it was reported as on board, which was a fire in the engine room and they did the best they could to contain it after the generators went out.

ZAHEER: I think that's exactly what happened. There was a fire and, you know, they tried to seal the room and then contain the fire. But the question is, again, you know, and then I think that there should be a look at the maintenance records and find out what was going on before this happened. You know, there's -- accidents usually just don't pop out of the blue. There's always a reason for an accident. You have to make sure that this -- I mean, it's not an act of God, I can tell you that.

You know, inside -- you know, I don't really listen to the rumors, but there were ladies who were very close to where the engine compartment is. They told me that, you know, when they were -- and this is before this accident happened, you were setting up, I think, to dine and there is a buffet. And they were saying, you know, they've taken many cruises, but this engine is not starting. The ship was shaking. They were trying hard. I said, "It's probably nothing."

But you know, the same morning, 4:45 a.m., nightmare. So you just have to really look hard at this and determine what happened.

CUOMO: When you get off of this ship, will the matter be closed for you or is this something that you and you believe others will stay on and seek accountability from the company?

ZAHEER: For me, there are two aspects of this. One, I need accountability, and the very big aspect part of that is, you know, a lot of people have lost wages because they were supposed to be working this whole week. And they should determine how that's going to be, you know, played out, because it's not just offering people $500 and saying, "Good-bye. You know, see you next time."

This is really -- I mean, they cannot -- you cannot just put a value on someone's time before you understand what this situation is.

And one thing that I really want to mention, you know, our staff, the staff on the ship was truly amazing. They were overworked. You could tell they were overworked. They never had a frown on their faces. Just amazing people. Just -- hat's off to them.

CUOMO: Well, we keep hearing that, so it can't be a coincidence there, and it's great that the crew stepped up in the worst of situations.

You know, Sanjay Gupta said earlier on, our doctor here at CNN, said that situations like this bring out the best and the worst in people. And it seems that the crew really stepped up and brought out the best in themselves. That's what you're saying, Tony, right?

ZAHEER: Absolutely. I mean, think the crew -- as far as I'm concerned, you know, when you're an employee for a corporation, you're in the same boat as everybody else. You're given the information you're give, and you are told to do the best you can, but they went above and beyond that, and my gratitude.

CUOMO: Tony, let me ask you something. With the power out, how were you able to charge the cell phone?

ZAHEER: So on deckside by the casino there was one outlet that was working, and...

CUOMO: One outlet on the whole -- one outlet?

ZAHEER: Yes. One outlet was working, so everyone went around with extension cords, and there was usually a two- or three-hour wait and everybody just waited. We had nothing else to do the whole time. Might as well sit there and watch their phone charge.

CUOMO: One outlet. How many people in two-three-hour lines to charge the phone, but I guess you're right: what else were you going to do?

ZAHEER: And nothing else to look forward to. I mean, you go back to your room and you close the stateroom door and you -- it smells like you're living in the sewage. You open up the window, you know, and almost freeze the death the last two nights. And there's no lights in the dark, and there's nothing else much to do but sit and watch your phone charge.

CUOMO: All right. Well, Tony, assuming that your battery is not going out on you, you have a few decks to go before they get to you and unload. If you can, stay with us. I'll come back to you. We'd love to talk to you more. I'm going to check in with our reporters who are dockside right now to see how quickly along the process is moving along. OK, Tony? I'll get back to you.

ZAHEER: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you.

All right. Let's go back now. Let's go to Martin Savidge. He's dockside. He's watching the proceedings here as we get closer and closer. Martin, let me ask you if you can get an echo of this dockside. People on board are saying, "Hey, I need to know if this was really an accident or was this negligence. Could this have been prevented." Are you hearing little bubbles dockside about the need for accountability here?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Chris, Erin and I were just both discussing this fact that, of course, the fire, it must have been a massive event, an extremely serious event. And that's what you really want to find out now, and that's, of course, now the ship is back safely and everyone will get off, is what did happen at sea that knocked this massive ship, apparently, to a point where it was unable to move on its own, where it was unable to care for its passengers on its own, where it was essentially knocked out? And that's what Erin and I were with discussing. Is that there's going to be accountability here and they're going to have to investigate to figure out what went on.

BURNETT: These generators are big. They're the size of buses. They talk about that. You know, one thing that we always hear about the cruise industry, you know, is these ships are operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.

And so when something happens -- someone goes overboard or there's a fire -- there usually are short investigations. And then it goes -- they go back to sea, and we don't always get answers.

This time, people are going to demand answers, and this ship is going to be out of commission for quite a while.

SAVIDGE: They will. What's interesting is, of course, this flag is registered in the Bahamas. That is the flag it would fly. So that essentially means that the -- I think it's the Bahamian Maritime Administration is the lead organization that looks into this now.

That said, NTSB is going to be the big brother, right over their shoulder, that will begin the investigation to determine exactly what went wrong.

And one of the lessons learned here, because, you know, this is an all-electric ship. As we point out, the engines, everything on that ship, ran off of electricity. So the fire took out either the connection that is the bus board that blinked all the electricity or it took out the generators. And how do you allow that to happen? Is that a design flaw?

BURNETT: That's right. And I think that the industry overall -- this is a huge industry in the United States: $39-plus billion. You know, tens of millions of people go cruising every single year. So it's an important industry. And I think it may amaze people how little oversight the United States has over these ships.

Carnival Cruise Lines is not headquartered in the United States. In fact, according to Morningstar, it pays no federal taxes, and it's the biggest cruise company in the world. So this could be an opportunity to look a little bit more into the industry and how it operates, in addition to finding out what went wrong on this ship, Marty.

CUOMO: Also, Erin and Martin, right now, just so you know, behind you, we're watching people scrambling up that gangway that they put up there. They're bringing wheelchairs, because we have to remember there are elderly and some infirm who have been under some pretty rugged conditions the last few days. That's why we see them scrambling up. Not necessarily an emergency, but it's just part of the unloading procedure.

Go ahead. Pick up with what you were saying, Erin. SAVIDGE: Well, the noise -- noise you can hear in the background, by the way, they are now bringing out all of the luggage carts.

BURNETT: Yes.

SAVIDGE: So it's an army of people that are pushing these sort of four-wheel luggage carts that are going to be helping to offload. My question was, first of all, you know, it's a short cruise, Chris, so how much luggage did they have? I figure most people had a carry- on. And here's the real question: how much do you want to take away when you leave a ship as vile as this?

BURNETT: You may want -- you may want to leave some of the things behind -- behind forever.

SAVIDGE: Yes, I would think that I would say, "You know, I'm good. I'll just walk off with what I've got," and my family members.

BURNETT: And in order to get the ship fixed, it's going to go into repair here, as Marty's been saying, here in Mobile, but it could cost anywhere between $65, I believe, and $80 million just to repair the ship and get it back onto the high seas.

This is one of 24 ships, I believe, in the fleet of Carnival, one of the biggest in the world. But just this one ship going out of commission for a couple of months is going to cost them a lot of money. And this should give people a sense of why they use all this overseas labor. This is how come people on this ship reported they pay $350 for a week. That's part of how they do it.

CUOMO: Erin...

SAVIDGE: That's one of the reasons why they came to Mobile was the fact that they've got a dry dock big enough to handle it here.

CUOMO: All right. It's a good point to make, Martin. Obviously, we're hoping for as happy an ending as we can get here right now.

Let's bring Sanjay back in. Doctor, we see them scrambling up the gangway with wheelchairs. No cause for alarm. We have no reason to believe there's any emergency situation. But from a medical necessity standpoint, what is the protocol of who you get off and how?

GUPTA: Well, you know, some of this -- and you can tell, basically, it looks pretty organized that this has been predetermined and that, you know, you have situations any time you're on a ship or a plane where you have people who may need wheelchairs. So this may be something that there may have been people who would have taken a wheelchair regardless of whether they were in this situation or had been in just a regular cruise line.

But, you know, to your point, Chris, it doesn't look like a particular emergent or urgent situation. People who are dehydrated, people having difficulty walking. I we heard one of your guests, Haley, earlier referred to maybe some people who had broken ankles, perhaps because of the ship moving around. So any of those types of things.

But medical triage applies here. You get the sickest off first or the people who are the most infirm off first, people who have difficulty getting off on their own first. And, you know, that's, I think, over the next several hours as you're pointing out, four or five hours, Chris, you said, that's what you're going to see.

CUOMO: All right. Sanjay, thank you.

I'm actually going to get to a passenger right now and see if we can get some perspective of the conditions on board right now. Robin Chandler, are you with us?

ROBIN CHANDLER, PASSENGER (via phone): OK. Standing by.

CUOMO: Robin, can you hear us?

CHANDLER: Yes, I can.

CUOMO: Hi, this is Chris Cuomo. I'm -- I'm very excited to hear that you are about to get off the ship, yes?

CHANDLER: So am I, very excited.

CUOMO: How close are you to exiting?

CHANDLER: Repeat that, please?

CUOMO: How close are you to getting off the ship?

CHANDLER: I don't really know how close we are. We are about -- how many yards -- about 20 yards or so from the exit door. Lined up in a section where there are diamond, platinum, VIP passengers. There are still elderly passengers in wheelchairs that obviously will disembark first. And there's probably, I don't know, 300 to 400 people in this group that will disembark after the elderly and those that need special assistance.

CUOMO: OK. So just so I understand you right, Robin, is your understanding of how you get off the ship right now, first the people who need to get off first, the people who have any medical situations or the elderly or infirm, and then they start going through the classes? Is that how it works?

CHANDLER: Yes, I think that, like I said, yes, the elderly, those with special needs, maybe even those with small children should be able to. They were asked to come down to notify the crew earlier in the day. So, they were expected to disembark first.

CUOMO: OK. And let me ask you, when you're looking around yourself now, is there anybody who seems to be in distress, or are these people who are just elderly but stable? Does everybody seem OK who's getting off?

CHANDLER: I think that -- for the most par part, everybody seems OK. Just, as you can imagine, exhausted. And ready to go home.

CUOMO: Now I understand that this was your first cruise, you and your husband?

CHANDLER: Yes, it was my first cruise. For my birthday, a surprise.

CUOMO: Happy birthday.

CHANDLER: And I don't know that I'll do this again.

CUOMO: Well, listen, keep your -- keep a little bit of an open mind right now. You know, this is a very rare circumstance. I know it's really scary right now, but, hey, I want to help you. I hope you have a happy birthday, even though it's not the best way to celebrate it.

CHANDLER: Yes, I did. I did. I mean, we are -- I think everyone on this ship, we are blessed that it wasn't worse than what we experienced. It could have been worse.

CUOMO: You think that some of the people you met on this ship during the last week or so, that you're going to have a bond with them that will last long after you go home?

CHANDLER: Yes, I have met some folks on here that we connected with, and you're absolutely right. We'll continue to keep in touch with them.

CUOMO: OK. Well, Robin, I wish you the best. Please get off safely and get home as quickly as possible, and happy birthday again.

CHANDLER: Bye.

CUOMO: Sanjay, are you still with us?

GUPTA: I'm still here, Chris. Yes.

CUOMO: That's good. Robin is about to get off. She's looking around. She says they're going to let the elderly and the infirm and those with kids off first and didn't see anybody who seemed in particular distress. That's got to be somewhat of a good sign, right, because if there were somebody who was in a serious situation, they'd be up near the front, right?

GUPTA: Yes, I think; I think so. And, you know, as we saw at least a couple of times people who were in distress or there was some concern, they even got them off earlier, Chris, as you know. They actually medevaced a couple of people off over the last -- one today and one on Monday.

So yes, I think it's going to be interesting to watch people come off, but I think, you know, as she said, and as is -- as is typical protocol, the elderly, you know, people who are sick and maybe need to get to some sort of medical facility, even if nothing else is to become stabilized and checked out. I think that's what we're going to see first.

She also mentioned people with young children. I'm sure it's been quite challenging for them. But that -- you know, that's, again, typical protocol, really, on any big craft, ship, plane. So it's just exactly what you'd expect.

CUOMO: All right. Doc, thanks for being with us. I'll come back to you if we hear any situations that we don't understand that are in your field, which could be just about anything. But please, stay with us, Sanjay. Thanks.

I'm just going to reset as we get near the top of the hour here. What we're looking at is the Carnival ship Triumph. About a week ago there was a fire in the engine room. While it didn't cause this ship to take on any water or become in that type of desperate distress, it did knock out power.

And now after days, they're finally home. People have lived without sanitation, without toilets, without any climate control. Very difficult living for many days, but now they are finally home, and that's what we're looking at. Mobile, Alabama. Now they are not coming off yet, but it's going to be happening very soon. They will unload by docks, so over the next few hours, they will be getting out. And for right now, it's going to do it for this edition of "Anderson Cooper 360." Thank you for watching. Our coverage, of course, will continue. Erin Burnett takes over, "OUTFRONT" live from Mobile, Alabama right now.