(CNN) - Squalid, smelly and steamy, the crippled ship Carnival Triumph limped toward port Thursday, its passengers and crew looking forward to an end to their hellish cruise.
The laborious slog through the Gulf of Mexico tested not only the senses of the thousands on board, but their patience as well.
Rough weather overnight slowed the Triumph and the tugboats leading it to Mobile, Alabama. The ship, now accompanied by four tugboats, is expected to arrive at the port between 8 and 11 p.m. (9 p.m. to midnight ET), according to the latest guidance. At one point it had been expected as early as 3 p.m.
It's been a nightmare five days for the 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members on board the 900-foot, 14-story Triumph, where a fire broke out in the engine room early Sunday.
This morning on "Starting Point," moms Kim McKerreghan and Mary Poret talk about their emotional wait for their daughters's return.
More than four thousand passengers and crew members aboard the Carnival Triumph are expected to arrive at the port in Mobile, Alabama by 7 p.m. tonight and preparations are underway for their arrival.
Alabama Cruise Terminal General Manager Sheila Gurganus joins Starting Point this morning to explain how authorities are getting ready for the ship's arrival.
"We’re hoping we can make it a little more pleasurable for them once they’re in the terminal and we have it set up," Gurganus says. "We’re gonna have some warm food and some drinks in there for them and a clean environment."
Gurganus also says that local organizations and national companies like Coca Cola and Krispy Kreme have stepped in to support the Triumph's passengers.
"Mobile has jumped up there and there’s been so many donations," Gurganus says. "All of the vendors in Mobile have come out whole heartedly to support this."
(CNN) - Ewwwww.
That about sums up how people are describing conditions aboard the Carnival Triumph Tuesday as tug boats slowly dragged the stricken cruise ship toward Alabama - and freedom for its 3,143 passengers.
Some passengers report sewage sloshing around in hallways, flooded rooms and trouble getting enough to eat after a fire in the ship's engine room Sunday left it drifting in the Gulf of Mexico. Passengers have dragged their mattresses onto the ship's open deck to stay cool and get away from the nasty smells inside.
But not all passengers share the same dire view of the situation.
A poster on the cruising forum cruisecritic.com said her sister reported passengers have enough food and are "enjoying the extended vacation."
This morning on "Starting Point," Brent Nutt, whose wife and sisters-in-law are on the Carnival Triumph, talks about his communications with his family and the conditions inside the stranded ship.