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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Crippled Filthy Cruise Ship Limps Into Dock; Christopher Dorner's Remains Identified; Hagel's Nomination Stalled; Legless Olympian Accused Of Killing Model Girlfriend
Aired February 14, 2013 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, we're in Mobile, Alabama, tonight, where the disabled cruise ship, the "Triumph," is set to dock. More than 4,000 people have been stranded at sea for five days on the ship, and tonight, we're going to hear from the passengers, we're going to bring you updates on the horrible conditions that some of them have faced on board. We have finally come to the last act of this drama. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. And OUTFRONT tonight, in Mobile, Alabama, we are waiting for more than 4,000 people to arrive, after being stranded on a Carnival cruise ship that lost power after an engine fire on Sunday, 3,142 passengers and 1,086 crew members have been stuck on the "Carnival Triumph" for five day.
They've had no hot water, they've had limited food, they've had few working toilets. Here is the latest. At this moment, we understand that the ship is about 25 miles away from the dock where I'm standing. It's traveling at about six miles an hour and according to Carnival, it's scheduled to arrive between 10:00 tonight and midnight.
Now, it's currently about 55 degrees here in Mobile and that temperature is dropping. Most of the passengers don't have clothes for this climate. They were going on a Caribbean cruise. A lot of them are very cold. And even after they arrive, Carnival says it's going to take from four to five hours to disembark every passenger from the ship.
That's going to happen behind me. There's a gangplank. They're going to be coming off of that gangplank. They're then going to go and finish clearing customs, which apparently they have started to do already on the ship, to try to speed up this process. Then they're going to head right over here, straight from that gangplank, into this garage.
And that is where all the buses are waiting. In fact, the cruise line has about 100 buses right now, ready to go. They have rented 1,500 hotel rooms in New Orleans and have multiple charter flights reserved to fly people back to Houston on Friday.
Now, every passenger is also going to be compensated for the inconvenience. Here's what we understand Carnival has offered. They're giving every passenger $500, a free flight home, a full refund for the cruise, which was scheduled to be a five-day cruise, as well as a credit for a future cruise.
Throughout the day, we have been getting a look at life aboard the ship and what passengers have been experiencing. Some of it isn't pretty. We see passengers sleeping in hallways, out on the deck. There have been buckets of sewage, power strips full of cell phone charges, and people desperate to have some sort of contact with their families.
And there are people out on the deck at night, who have been trying to escape from the horrible smells and the heat. And this is just a small glimpse of what life is like aboard the ship. We're going to bring you more throughout the hour, as we await the "Triumph's" arrival.
Now that the ship is closer to shore, many of the passengers are out on the deck and our Sandra Endo has been in a helicopter above the cruise ship with exclusive images all day.
And Sandra, I know you've seen a lot of people on the ship. They've been making signs and waving as it's been making its way closer and closer here to the dock here in Mobile. What have the passengers been doing?
SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Erin. We've been hovering and circling the "Triumph" all day long here from the sky, providing live aerial pictures as the "Triumph" has been approaching the port of Mobile.
And when we first approached the ship earlier this morning, you could sense that there was just a spiritless motion on the ship. A lot of passengers just looked disheartened. And as they saw land, as they saw more vessels coming to support the ship as well as more helicopters in the air, you saw life come back to this ship.
And a lot of passengers now are excited. They're seeing the lights on the land, and they are dancing, they're actually making signs, celebrating Valentine's Day, of all things. They made a heart ring of life vests and they put strobe lights on to -- that their spirits are up that they are approaching the port.
But these are the first live pictures of the ship at night and you can see that there are lights on the upper deck. There are spotlights on the lifeboats as well. And people may wonder, look, they have power.
This boat is run solely on electricity and because of the engine fire, the emergency generator did kick in, but that is only powering the necessary systems to keep this ship afloat and that is why these passengers, the thousands of them on board, are in these horrid conditions.
So the electricity you're seeing now are only available to those systems that are really needed to keep this afloat and to keep the ship safe. And also, you may think, why not off-load the passengers on the lifeboats? Well, maritime experts, Erin, say that that is dangerous on open sea. That's why they didn't off-load these passengers on to another ship. The only safe option for them was to stay where they are, even in these bad conditions, and tow them to shore.
Obviously, we know that along the way of this towing process, one of the tug boats, the line snapped earlier in this process. That was fixed and now it looks like a very secure line, from what we can see at this vantage point, in the air, and it looks like it's making some progress.
But again, it's very slow moving. This ship is more than 100,000 tons. It's nearly the size of three football fields long. And clearly, though, passengers are getting excited. We can see them dancing on the upper deck, waiting to dock. But, again, it's still several hours away until they reach land -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Sandra, thank you very much. And I want to bring in cruise ship passenger Dee Tucker now. She's joining us on the phone. She's on the ship with her sister, Audra, and a group of friends.
And Dee, I want to bring in your fiance, Joe Eckert, as well, he's on the phone right now from Florida and so eagerly awaiting your arrival. Dee, you heard our reporter say that people are now out on the decks, there was some dancing, some celebrating getting ready for land. How are you feeling right now?
DEE TUCKER, PASSENGER ON CARNIVAL TRIUMP (via telephone): We are just exhausted. We're tired. This has been a very long journey and we're trying to keep our hopes up, keep our spirits up. We had some people who put banners up that said, you know, say strong, God is with us, you know? And we've had some get-togethers to try and boost some morale. So we're doing what we can to survive.
BURNETT: And I know you're going to be arriving -- I mean, we're not sure exactly when, within the next couple of hours. What are you hearing from the crew about when you're going to arrive and the process to get off?
TUCKER: Well, the communication to us seems to be a little slower that it is to the families. They told us between 8:00 and 10:00 p.m., but I just heard you say it's between 10:00 and midnight. So I don't know. We're always finding out a day late, you know? It's slow communication.
BURNETT: Have you been frustrated with the crew on board or is this just more a communications frustration that you have with Carnival?
TUCKER: You know, our steward has been absolutely amazing. The crew here worked time and a half, endlessly. They were awesome. They're not going to get paid enough, whatever it is. They just -- they did the dirtiest work that they could. Shoveling, working into the night, you know, doing things I wouldn't do. So it's not with the crew. They've been awesome. Yes. BURNETT: That's wonderful to hear. And Joe, I know you and Dee haven't had a lot of chance to talk, but obviously you can talk to her now. And it's Valentine's Day. I know you've got to be incredibly eager to see her soon.
JOE ECKERT, FIANCE OF CARNIVAL TRIUMPH PASSENGER: Yes, I am. I just can't wait to see her. Happy Valentine's Day, honey. I know it's --
TUCKER: Hi, honey bunny! I miss you!
ECKERT: I miss you, hon. I love you so much!
TUCKER: I'm making my way back to you!
ECKERT: Well, here I am. I can't wait to see you. It's going to be so wonderful. I can't wait to hold you and kiss you and tell you how much I love you and how much I was worried about you.
TUCKER: I have a sign here that says "I love you." I don't know if they caught that, but I'll save it. Keep the shower warm. I need a warm shower.
ECKERT: You can take as many showers as you like.
TUCKER: All right, honey.
BURNETT: Dee, can you tell us a little bit about how tough conditions have been? I know we've heard some horrific stories, some people have said it isn't as bad as that. Others have talked about raw sewage, and some really horrible images. What have you experienced?
TUCKER: They were lying. I stood in line 3-1/2 hours to get a burger. Every line for every meal is at least an hour, hour and a half, every line. In fact, we're missing dinner right now because we didn't get in line.
But we had to use the bathroom in hazard bags and put them in a hallway. We had to hand scoop, you know, some of the bathroom items just to take a shower, it had accumulated in the shower. We're doing all of this in the dark. There's no hot water.
You know, there was water building everywhere. The boat has listed at least 6 percent to 18 percent for days. So water has drifted from one side to the other. So we have to walk on cardboard boxes. The smell has accumulated.
It's making us sick. I mean, it's just -- it's horrid. And you know, the last day -- I know for image, they need to look good, so we got a better breakfast today. But we've had, you know, just the same food for days. And -- so I'm just -- I just can't wait to get off of here. It's just horrible.
BURNETT: Well, Dee, we are all -- everyone, I think, watching, feels the same way and looking forward to you all getting back here safe and sound and happy Valentine's Day to both of you. It will be one to remember.
I want to bring in Victor Blackwell now and tell you exactly where he is. As you can see right there, the "Triumph," it's a live picture you're looking at next to me. Victor Blackwell is in a boat traveling right alongside the "Triumph." So he can see the ship from where he is right now. And Victor, what are you seeing?
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the most important thing over the last hour is that nightfall has come here over Mobile Bay. And I've been able to do some reporting in the last 90 minutes.
I spoke with the director of the Alabama State Port Authority, and he told me that if this had been an empty cruise ship coming in for repairs at the shipyard or a cargo ship, he would not have allowed it inside the bay and into the port.
But because he so sympathizes with the 4,000 people on this ship and he knows how badly they want to make it home, he allowed this. Now, he also said, there are no safety concerns, because the winds have died down. The waters have calmed.
It's a clear night. So he says, he's pretty confident that it will make it safely to the port. Now, why is it late? Well, there have been some challenges and mishaps throughout the day, the big challenge, the wind and the current.
We saw, in the Gulf of Mexico, "Triumph" kind of spin around, do a 180 out there before it was able to be towed into the channel. Also, Sandra Endo mentioned a few moments ago, that line that snapped on the tug at the front of this ship, but we also learned tonight about the tug at the stern.
There was a problem, even before that line snapped. A tow from Mexico came to support this mission and a bit broke. So neither of the tugs right now towing this ship were the original tugs in these places. Both have been traded out.
Also, there was one passenger who had to be rushed from the ship to shore because of a medical mishap. We've gotten no official confirmation of what that mishap or that problem was, but those kind of added up over the day and that director told me that that pushed this trip back four hours.
Now, if you think about four-hour delay, we're told that it's somewhere around 11:00 p.m. Eastern that it's expected, give or take an hour. Well, take four hours off that, it would be about 7:00 p.m. Eastern and they would be pulling into port right now. Instead, this journey continues -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Victor, thank you very much. And Victor talking about all the delays and the difficulties, but as you just heard from Dee Tucker, the passenger, we were talking to, passengers on the ship have been getting all kinds of conflicting reports.
And you can only imagine the frustration of thinking you're going to be coming to land after this ordeal and then finding out it's another six hours, it's another eight hours and how awful that must feel.
Still to come, our breaking news coverage of the crippled cruise ship continues. When we return, we're going to talk to a man celebrating his 40th birthday on the "Triumph." It was anything but happy.
BURNETT: Joining me on the phone now is a passenger on the "Carnival Triumph," Trey Love. He is celebrating his 40th birthday. Trey, what day was your birthday? Was it before or after the power went out?
TREY LOVE, PASSENGER ON CARNIVAL TRIUMPH: Actually, it's on the 18. So hopefully we're not still here when it happens.
BURNETT: And how did you celebrate?
LOVE: We met with some friends of hours from Texas. We're actually from South Carolina. And then we drove down to Galveston for the cruise, and went to Cozumel and had a good time there and then, unfortunately, everything kind of turned south after that.
BURNETT: I know you have some pictures, Trey, that you've taken of what you've experienced that are pretty stunning for people around the country to see. Tell me about them.
LOVE: Yes, I guess the first thing that kind of went up was the tent city or the town there and people just being kind of crafty with their bed sheets to get a break from the sun. Because when we first went down, the sun and the heat was pretty bad. And so they made makeshift shelters and we were on the first level and it's just really hot, and smells pretty bad down there. So we slept outside up top for a couple nights.
BURNETT: And do you feel, Trey, are you worried about getting sick or have you felt sick? I know that when you talk about having to sleep outside and we hear about all of the sewage and the other problems, are you worried about that?
LOVE: That's fear has gone through my mind, but really not concerned about it at this point yet. I think we're probably at that point now where it's cold and people want to be inside and everything, so if we were to be here another day or so, I think it would really get to that point.
BURNETT: And Trey, I want to ask you a question, you know, we've reported on what Carnival says they're going to do for you, you'll get a refund for your cruise and $50 and a discount on a future cruise, are you satisfied with that?
LOVE: Well, I guess, there are two levels to it. I want people to know that the crew and staff have been amazing. They have really just pulled together and one minute you'll see a guy cleaning a toilet and the server will be serving the food. They've had a good attitude and have been super helpful. On the other hand, if the corporate folks knew they had a problem with the engine then it shouldn't have been gone out, yes, that's going to be tough to think about.
BURNETT: All right, well, Trey, best of luck to you. We're all here right on the dock where you're going to be coming in and we can't wait. Thank you.
And as we await for the arrival of the cruise ship coming in the dock right here behind me, you can see the gangplank actually where all the passengers, several thousands of them will disembark, I want to update you on a couple on other big stories we're watching.
I want to start first with the fate of Christopher Dorner. The San Bernardino Police Department has positively identified the charred human remains that were found in a burnt out cabin in Big Bear Lake, California, to be those of Christopher Dorner.
The identification was made through dental examination. Dorner was the rogue ex-cop who had been pursuing a vendetta against his fellow officers and who had been wanted for a string of killings in the Los Angeles area.
Well, Republicans have now stalled Chuck Hagel's nomination for defense secretary. Senate Democrats needed 60 votes to stop a filibuster against Hagel and they only got 58. The vote split largely along party lines.
Some Republicans still have questions about Hagel's finances, while others used the process to pressure the White House to answer questions they have about the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi.
Some Republicans, however, have signaled they been willing to go forward with the nomination after a recess. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin's office announced the next vote will take place on February 26th. So it's going to be quite a while.
And now a shocking story out of South Africa. Oscar Pistorius, the runner with prosthetic legs, who competed against able-bodied runners at last year's summer Olympic games has been accused of killing his girlfriend.
A police spokeswoman says they were alerted to a shooting by neighbors. There had been previous incidents at the home, including allegations of a domestic nature. Police say that Pistorius is cooperating.
Robyn Curnow is in Johannesburg, South Africa and has the latest on that.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, it's unclear why Oscar Pistorius wasn't in that magistrate's court today. However, we do know that he will be there on Friday morning, facing murder charges. Police say they will oppose any bail application. Now, there have been some photos released of Oscar, as he's been led away by police. He's covered his head with a hoodie. He's bent. It's an extraordinary fall from grace for an international sporting star, a man whose considered a role model and an inspiration to many. He is, of course, now, facing a possible jail term for murder -- Erin.
BURNETT: Still to come, nightfall in Mobile, Alabama, where I am tonight. The crew of the "Triumph" will have to dock the ship with no power and no light. How will they manage it? This ship is 2-1/2 football fields long. It's 1,200 tons. We'll be back.
BURNETT: All right, we are back with breaking news here in Mobile, Alabama, where in as little as three hours, the "Carnival Triumph" may have finally reach the port where I'm standing and the thousands of passengers are going to finally be able to disembark on land after their ordeal.
Now, there is not a lot of room for error. This is one of the biggest ships to ever dock here in Mobile and there are these tug boats that have been taking the ship through -- navigating it through a very narrow channel. And of course, it's in the dark.
Our Chad Myers is OUTFRONT. Chad, can you tell me how they're actually going to get this ship in here? I mean, to actually have to do a ship like this, more than 100,000 tons, 2-1/2 football fields long, and to have to basically park it with no power.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Without a ruder and without brakes, exactly. This is going to be a little bit of a trick. Right now they're in a 400-foot-wide channel with a 112-foot-wide ship with basically, you know, tug bouts on each side, trying to keep it inside the tunnel.
They didn't have a very good time of it out here during the earlier part of the day when the line broke on the front of the tug boat and it was adrift out here in the gulf for a couple of hours.
Finally, now, they have it back on and they've been moving very, very well, right through the buoys here, the channel. There's Fort Morgan, there's Dauphin Island, did a very nice job traversing here, made a left-hand turn and a right-hand turn.
And now this ship is 17 miles from you, right now, 17 miles from the dock at Mobile. But the next part is going to be a little bit more tricky. They're going to travel another straight dance, and then have to get into this Mobile section where it turns left, turns right, and then they're going to try to dock it with the bow facing north on to the port side right here.
And how they're going to do that, they're going to let these two tug boats, there's our ship right there, let the tugs that are on this side go and leave and they're going to plant two more tugs on this side and push it right on to shore and hopefully dock it without any event, whatsoever. And that should be about 2-1/2 to 3 hours if it keeps on its 7-mile- per-hour pace that's very good. And remember when the passengers are telling you they're hearing 9:00 to 10:00 p.m., that's Central Time, and we're thinking Eastern Time. So right now that boat is still right on time.
BURNETT: All right, Chad, thank you very much.
And still to come, more of our breaking news coverage of the crippled cruise ship, the "Triumph." How did a four-day luxury cruise turn into a total nightmare? We're going to explain exactly what happened next.
BURNETT: Welcome back.
We are live in Mobile, Alabama, waiting on the return of the crippled ship, the Carnival cruise Triumph. Right now, it is traveling about seven miles an hour. It's 17 miles away from the dock that is directly behind where I'm standing right now.
It was supposed to be a four-day luxury cruise through the Caribbean. It left Galveston, Texas. It was going down to Mexico, and was supposed to be back safe and sound.
But for the more than 3,000 passengers aboard the Carnival Triumph, it has become a vacation nightmare.
BURNETT (voice-over): When the Carnival Triumph departed Galveston, Texas, last Thursday, there were promises of fun in the sun. And the Triumph, which made its debut in 1999, had plenty to offer, a casino, a disco, live entertainment, a spa, swimming pools, and all the food you could eat.
But on Sunday, an engine room fire knocked out the power. This is video taken by a passenger's cell phone early Sunday morning as the fire broke out. Passengers wouldn't find out until later that day, though, that the fire had crippled the ship, setting it adrift about 150 miles off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. With nothing but backup generators, there was no hot water, no toilets, and limited food options.
ANN BARLOW, PASSENGER ON CARNIVAL TRIUMPH (via telephone): It takes 3 1/2 hours to get food. The smells -- I can't even describe them. There's sewage, raw sewage, pretty bad. You walk in the hallway you have to cover your face. We don't have any masks for breathing.
BURNETT: Floating aimlessly in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, the Triumph waited, as passengers try to call for help.
JULIE MORGAN, PASSENGER ON CARNIVAL TRIUMPH (via telephone): Actually, the first day that I was able to get through to Kim, I cried. And one of my friends who got through to her husband, we cried too, just partly out of fear and frustration, because at that point, we still didn't know exactly what had happened and if it would happen again. I mean, we still were very in the dark.
So that was very scary times. And yes, people are starting to lose it a little bit. Tempers are flaring. People are being very snippy.
BURNETT: With no air-conditioning, many passengers were forced to move mattresses into hallways and out on the deck to stay cool and to get away from the horrific smell of raw sewage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, wow.
BURNETT: Mary Poret's 12-year-old daughter is on the ship with her ex-husband, Larry.
MARY PORET, 12-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER IS ABOARD SHIP: I cannot imagine the horror that they have had to deal, with no food, lines to go to the bathroom, seeing urine and feces sloshing in the halls, sleeping on the floor, nothing to eat, people fighting over food.
BURNETT: Hundreds of miles out at sea, many scrambled to charge their cell phones as they struggled to communicate with loved ones back home. On Tuesday, with food supplies dwindling and conditions getting worse, Carnival's president and CEO apologized.
GERRY CAHILL, PRESIDENT & CEO, CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES: Let me assure you that no one here from Carnival is happy about the conditions on board the ship. And we obviously are very, very sorry about what's taking place. There's no question that conditions on board the ship are very challenging.
BURNETT: According to passengers on the ship, the 1,100 crew members were doing the best they could in a terrible situation. But by Wednesday, Kyle Nutt says that her fiancee had had enough.
KYLE NUTT, FIANCE ON SHIP FOR BACHELORETTE PARTY: She was just scared and everything and she just wanted to come home.
BURNETT: As tug boats steer and propel the ship towards Mobile Bay, the process has been slow going, and passengers are getting anxious, moving up to the upper decks and pleading for help. Carnival senior vice president, though, says moving a 100-ton ship isn't an easy task.
TERRY THORNTON, SENIOR V.P., CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES: There's no way we can actually speed up the process to get the ship alongside sooner. So just understand that it's going to be a long day as we get the ship alongside, but we're making every effort we can to get the ship alongside here in Mobile as quickly as possible.
BURNETT: All right, our Martin Savidge has been here in Mobile for days and, as of now, just a couple of hours of the ship coming in. MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We hope, yes.
BURNETT: But there was a medical emergency. Tell me what you know about that.
SAVIDGE: This was an emergency -- first of all, it should be pointed out, it's amazing, really, given al of what has taken place, they've only had two emergencies, medically.
This particular circumstance, it was a woman who was airlifted off, medevaced, flown to Dauphin Island. This was a result that she had indications of possibly a stroke. So erring on the side of any caution, you want to make sure you get that person taken. That person is now in a hospital.
There was a previous person taken off shortly after this all began. This was a person that needed dialysis. They knew that couldn't be provided the in any way on board ship. So that person was taken a couple of days ago. So two we know of so far.
BURNETT: Two we know of so far. But we're not sure at this point whether there's other people who are sick, or anything like that, right?
SAVIDGE: And that's, of course, a huge concern. I'm sure Sanjay can talk more about that, but yes, that is the worry, that people may contract something, spread it, and get it days, weeks later.
BURNETT: Which is, we're going to talk to Sanjay about that in a few moments, because it is pretty terrifying. You might come off and feel fine and become incredibly infectious a week or more later.
We were just talking to some passengers who are really -- I mean, the conditions that they've had to endure are pretty frightening and horrific. You've talked to a lot of passengers.
SAVIDGE: We have. It's kind of interesting. It depends on where you were on the ship. That's one of the things you find, depending if you were at a cabin way down deep in the middle, you probably had a really bad experience.
You had one of those cabins up high that had a nice balcony, not so bad, because you had a way to escape and get into the fresh air and away from the humid and the stench inside. So, it really depends who you talk to.
Almost everyone we've spoken to, though, has had very high praise for the crew members. They say that the people, the crew have been there every step of the way with them and they really, really support them.
BURNETT: Which is a pretty -- it's a wonderful thing to hear. You know, I think worth reminding a lot of people that on cruise ships like this, they're not flagged in the United States.
SAVIDGE: Right. BURNETT: They employ a lot of foreign workers who don't get paid a lot of money.
SAVIDGE: And the question is going to become, those thousand plus workers, once they get off this vessel, this ship will close down for 12 weeks. What happens to them? Where do they go? And what do they do for a job?
BURNETT: We have to hope Carnival does something about that, given the heroic acts they've had to go through over the past few days.
All right. Well, thanks to Martin Savidge. And Martin is going to be with me throughout the night.
And we are going to be here. I want to emphasize to everybody, we are going to be here the entire night. We are going to be here overnight as that ship comes in, as those passengers disembark, come into the parking garage where we are, get on that bus --
SAVIDGE: And hopefully see those reunions that so many family members want.
BURNETT: We are really looking forward to that. And we're going to be talking to some kids who are being reunited with their parents. And there will be, hopefully, some very joyful moments after all of this.
I want to go to a passenger on board the Carnival Triumph right now, Donna Gutzman. She has taken some amazing photos.
And, Donna, you just heard Martin talking about some of the conditions and what it's been like on the ships. Tell me what you've experienced?
DONNA GUTZMAN, PASSENGER ON CARNIVAL TRIUMPH (via telephone): For the most part now, everyone's kind of settling down, standing in line for food. Everyone is getting antsy. They're ready to get off the ship. But all of the Carnival crew members have cleaned up most of the mess and everyone seems to just be kind of in wait mode.
We're waiting to hear from our coordinator that comes over the loudspeaker to give us our instructions. And most of everyone has already been through Customs and now we're just trying to figure out where to take down our luggage and how we're going to come off the ship and in what order.
BURNETT: Right. Well, I'm glad to hear that you've cleared Customs, because I know that a lot of people were worried that would add even more time to the ordeal that you've gone through.
Donna, you've taken some pictures that we wanted to share with our viewers. Just tell me a little bit about them. And we're going to then show them to people as you're talking about them.
GUTZMAN: OK. Well, if you'll kind of tell me what you have up, I'll try to tell you which one --
BURNETT: Sure. All right. Let me start with the one, everyone, with the red bags that you just saw there in a bucket on the side of the hallway.
GUTZMAN: OK. We were handed out red bags to use the bathroom in. We would use the bathroom in those red bags and then set them out in the hallway. Some of us were having to share red bags, because there wasn't enough.
And then they also told us to pee in the shower or pee in the sink. So those little red bags were laying all throughout the hallways on this ship.
BURNETT: How worried are you, Donna, about germs and getting sick? That must be terrifying?
GUTZMAN: I brought medication on board with me and I started taking antibiotics. So far, everyone seems to be pretty well. I don't se people walking around, the children are behaving as normal. Everyone seems to be well.
I don't see anyone -- like I said, there's no one vomiting. You know, there's no one stalling out. Pretty much, everyone's acting normal.
BURNETT: That is very good to hear, for everyone. There was another picture, Donna, that you had of basically, it looks like a hallway with a floor that's sopping wet. Is that water, is that sewage?
GUTZMAN: That is the dining room and that's the hallway, and the ship was at a pretty good tilt for quite a long time. It began to scare some people. It went on for hours. We were at a pretty good tilt.
Now, all of the sewage and water started leaning towards that one side, and that's where it gathered there in the dining room. And it smelled awful.
BURNETT: I can -- I can just imagine. Well, hopefully we will se you in just a couple of hours and it will be over soon. Thank you, Donna.
Well, you've just heard from Donna about some of the conditions that people had to endure, and that picture of the red bags, just, we thought, really would bring home how horrible it was to go through this.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to talk about the health concerns connected to that. If you're feeling fine now on the ship, is it possible you could get sick in a week or two? We'll be back.
BURNETT: We are here in Mobile, Alabama, following the status of the Carnival cruise ship, Triumph, which is going to be docking tonight behind me. I'm going to be here all night. You will see it.
And here are some of the other stories we are watching right now. Republicans have successfully stalled Chuck Hagel's nomination for defense secretary. Democrats needed 60 votes to stop a filibuster, but they only got 58. And the vote split mostly along party lines. Some Republicans have questioned Hagel's income after he left the Senate. And there's going to be another vote to go ahead with a nomination, but not until February 26th.
Well, he's been called the blade runner. I'm talking about Oscar Pistorius. He inspired millions at the London Summer Olympic Games. You may remember as the double amputee that competed against able- bodied runners. Now, though, he's accused of murdering his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, early this morning.
A police spokeswoman said they were alerted to the shooting by neighbors who had heard things earlier. She also noted there had been previous incidents at the home, including allegations of a domestic nature. Now, police do say that Pistorius is cooperating, but they haven't given any motive as for the alleged killing as of yet.
And in California, the San Bernardino Police Department has positively identified the charred human remains found in the burnt cabin in Big Bear Lake, California, to be those of Christopher Dorner. The identification was made through dental examination. Dorner was the rogue ex-cop who was wanted for a string of killings in Los Angeles.
And now back to our breaking news coverage of the crippled Carnival cruise ship that is crawling to the port behind me in Mobile, Alabama. As you have been hearing, we've been talking to passengers. They're frustrated, they have been without fresh food or clean bathrooms. One of them tonight was telling me she had waited 3 1/2 hours in line to get food.
The conditions have been described in their words as revolting and it raises the question, what if any legal action can they take against Carnival?
OUTFRONT tonight, Jim Walker. He's a maritime lawyer and cruise safety advocate. Brian Bruns is a former Carnival cruise line crew member and author of "Cruise Confidential." And Carolyn Brown is the editor of cruisecritic.com.
Also joining me, our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Let me start with you, Jim. You know, we went to book a cruise today on Carnival, so we could look at the contract. So, when you buy a cruise, what rights to do you sign away.
Carnival says, we're going to give you the value of this cruise back, we're going to discount the future, we're going to give you $500. Is that going to be all these people can get? Do they have the right to sue? Would it be appropriate for them to sue? JIM WALKER, MARITIME LAWYER: Erin, to determine what rights a passenger have, you look at the passenger ticket. The passenger ticket is considered to be the binding contract between the cruise line and the passengers.
I used to be a defense attorney for the cruise lines. The cruise lines, for decades, have drafted those tickets to essentially strip all the rights away from the passengers. So you can read all the terms, if you can read the fine print, you won't find any rights in there.
So, at the end of the day, if Carnival does, in fact, reimburse the cruise fare, waive the expenses, pay their airfare, give them a new voucher equal to their lost cruise and then give them $500, they're going to be receiving more than Carnival legally has to pay.
Now, the exception to that, and you've touched upon this, is if there is a physical injury of any type or a physical illness, so if someone comes down with hepatitis, let's hope not, Legionnaires' disease, let's hope not, some type of gastrointestinal virus due to the unsafe conditions, then you could have legal resource. Otherwise, you're out of luck.
BURNETT: So, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, let me bring you in here. I mean, we have seen some images, passengers took a picture, we just showed our viewers a few moments ago, of a bucket of sewage in the hall, with red plastic bags into which passengers were told to defecate.
I mean, these are -- these are revolting images. Passengers have said it's horrible, it smells horrible, there's sewage on the floor.
But no one, at least as of this point, has told us that they feel sick. Does that mean they're safe? There's not going to be illness?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the chances are that there's not going to be illness. I know that probably surprises a lot of people, but when you look at these situations, you want to make sure, obviously, there's enough water, you want to make sure there's refrigeration for medications that might be necessary. And food.
But, you know, Erin, this is sort of -- this is almost sort of like a natural disaster, confined to a cruise ship, if you look at other natural disasters. Katrina, for example, people said, is there going to be infectious disease outbreaks, involving some of the infections that were just mention after Katrina? There was a lot of nasty disgusting conditions there. That typically doesn't happen.
A lot of the -- I don't know how to say this tactfully, Erin, A lot of pathogens that contain these diseases aren't found in fecal matter or this way. It's very gross and disgusting. But unlike to lead to infectious disease problem.
BURNETT: Brian, I want to ask you about the crew. We have heard, while passengers are frustrated with Carnival cruise lines. They have been overwhelming complimentary of the crew, and the crew's cleanup and the crew trying to help them through this.
You were a crew member. Can you tell us, when I mentioned earlier, vessels like this don't fly under the American flag, so they can employ foreign workers and pay them very low wages. How much money do these people work for? What are their lives like?
BRIAN DAVID BRUNS, AUTHOR, "CRUISE CONFIDENTIAL": Well, how much money they work for is very, very little. It's undoubtedly less than minimum wage from the United States. As you mentioned, none of these people are from the United States. So, with the exchange rate, a lot of these people are making a lot of money back home. That's why you'll see people from the Philippines, from Indonesia, from Asia, maybe the Caribbean.
But as far as what they're life is like, it really is all work and no play. It's a sweat shop condition. The work is kind of fun because you're dealing with people that are on vacation. There's a very positive vibe. And you're part of their good time.
So even though the hours are long, people have not much sleep, they're overworked. Not much money, et cetera. But you know what? It's not that bad of an existence, it really is not.
BURNETT: Carolyn, what about people going on cruises. You know, we had a poll looking at your numbers that 10 percent or so of people are now more hesitant or wouldn't book a cruise because of this kind of event. When you look back, I know as Jim has, fires are not that infrequent on cruises. Two years ago, Carnival had a ship that had a similar problem and lost power and was adrift for three days.
So, is cruising really the safe, inexpensive, great way to go on vacation we've all been told? Or is this now the truth that's coming out?
CAROLYN SPENCER BROWN, EDITOR, CRUISECRITIC.COM: Well, I think cruising in general is a safe vacation, and it's a wonderful vacation. This is awful, it's horrible. It's definitely an anomaly.
But what I think was troubling about our most recent poll on Cruise Critic. And remember, people who go on Cruise Critic tend to have a few cruises under their belt. They understand this is not the usual situation.
BROWN: But when we asked them, does this make you pause when you think about pausing, 60 percent said no. To us, that's a low number -- 80 percent, 85 percent said they would cruise again after Costa Concordia. I think this has made an impact against people that understand the cruise industry and I think that's troubling.
BURNETT: That's impressive. In your context, it is significant. I wasn't aware of that, that this is a more significant hit than Costa Concordia to U.S. potential cruisers.
Jim, what about a question -- everyone I've talked to today has asked this question, and that is why didn't they have another ship come up and get these people on life boats as difficult and dangerous as that may have been, and get them out of this so they didn't have to go through it? I mean, Carnival doesn't have any rescue ability? Can you explain?
WALKER: Well, if you bring another cruise ship up, that's probably one of the most dangerous things you can do, trying to get passengers from one cruise ship to the other. Even if you could get them aboard -- through some type of system, you then have the second life -- the second cruise ship with inadequate number of life boats without enough life vests.
So, instantly, that second cruise ship would be in violation of the IMO regulations. If you try to take them down in life boats, life boat drill is a very dangerous thing. There were five deaths last weekend when a life boat cable broke and killed five crew members.
So, there's no way to do it, unfortunately they had to go through this tortuously long process on this rather disgusting ship. It's really the only way to do it.
BURNETT: Well, at least -- very good explanation there to explain why that really wasn't something feasible.
Brian, someone who's been a crew member, who knows the best and the worst of being on a cruise, would you go on one yourself?
BRUNS: Oh, I love cruising. I cannot wait to go on any and every cruise. Bring my passport.
BURNETT: All right. Well, that is good to hear. We'll end on that hopeful note.
Although, obviously, interesting to our viewers from Carolyn, that there appears to be from her initial poll, a real impact of this Triumph disaster on whether people in this country are going to go on cruises. Americans account for about 2/3 of the people who cruise around the world. This is an industry that's $35 plus billion a year.
We have more of our breaking news coverage of the triumph in a moment.
BURNETT: All right. We are here at the port in Mobile, Alabama where the Carnival cruise ship is going to be coming. And we expect now in somewhere around two hours. It's going about 6.9 miles an hour. It's 12 miles away from the dock.
But, of course, when it gets to the dock, it's 100,000 tons, two and half football fields long, it has no brakes and it has to get into port. That's a process that's going to take some time.
There are more than 4,000 people onboard. And when they get to the dock behind me, they're going to go along that gang way that you see there. Kind of looks like what you might see at an airport. But they're going to be coming down that. Then, they are going to go into the Alabama cruise terminal, finish any kind of Customs they have to do, although passengers have been telling me that's been taken care of on this ship, then they're going to go into this parking garage where about 100 buses are waiting to take them to Galveston, Texas, seven hours away or New Orleans, three hours away, where their hotel rooms waiting and also chartered.
I'll be here all night as that ship arrives.
And, now, "A.C. 360" begins right now.