Showers and hot meals were the first order of business today for the more than 1,000 passengers and crew members disembarking the crippled Costa Allegra luxury cruise ship for the Seychelles' main island of Mahe today.
The cruise liner, which is owned by Carnival Cruise Lines' Costa Cruises subsidiary, went adrift Monday in the Indian Ocean after a fire in its engine room knocked out power.
Passengers and crew members had no water and slept outside for three days to avoid the 100-plus temperatures indoors. Food and emergency supplies were delivered by helicopter.
"We were very hot and the sewage was very poor," Eleanor Bradwell of Athens, Ga., said. "We are just elated to be off the ship."
Bradwell and husband Gordon were among the 636 passengers -- eight of whom were American -- aboard the Costa Allegra for the nearly month-long cruise with numerous stops at island nations off the east coast of Africa along the way to Savona, Italy. They said they were eating lunch Monday when the alarm sounded.
"There was a bit of chaos and confusion," Gordon Bradwell said. "They began to lower the boats. They were very disorganized [and] unprofessional in the way they handled it. It could have been a disaster of biblical proportions if that fire had gotten out of control. Who knows what the results could have been."
The Italian cruise line released a statement Monday saying no one was injured and the blaze that broke out in the engine room in the ship's aft had been quickly extinguished.
Ship Avoids Pirates
Although there were early fears of a pirate attack because the powerless ship was in open waters off the coast of Somalia, the Allegra was eventually towed to the Seychelles' main island of Mahe by a French fishing vessel and two Seychelles tugboats accompanied by a Seychelles Coast Guard boat.
High winds and choppy waters reportedly hampered the journey but the weather was reportedly warm and humid with cloudy skies.
Te cruise liner was off the coast of the Seychelles island of Desroches Wednesday but was unable to dock there because it did not meet the necessary security conditions.
Eight members of the Costa Cruise Line "Care Team" flew from Mahe to Desroches and then took a private company boat to the Allegra to help manage the ship and help passengers make plans. The company said Tuesday that a "Care Team" of 14 executives, managers and technicians had reached Mahe to prepare for the ship's arrival.
Helicopters delivered flashlights, medicine, ice, fresh produce, bread and communication devices to the ship's occupants and the Seychelles government flew its immigration officers to the Allegra to clear the passengers and 413 crew of customs before their disembarkation.
A small generator was also brought by a Navy ship and reportedly being used by the ship's crew to "restore basic services on board."
Three charter planes were reportedly standing by today on Mahe to take passengers and crew to Italy, where Costa Cruises is headquartered. Four hundred hotel rooms had also been secured to accommodate those who preferred to stay for Seychelles' International Carnival of Victoria this weekend.
The Bradwells said they'd accepted Costa Cruise's offer of a free week at a Mahe resort.