Thornton related that the Carnival Triumph's arrival was further delayed earlier in the afternoon by problems with tugboat lines, but the ship entered the channel at about 2:30pm CST. It will be seven to ten hours before Carnival Triumph is alongside the pier and will likely take another five hours to fully debark all passengers. The first ashore will be passengers with children and anyone with special needs. U.S.Customs and Immigration officials have already boarded the ship to process passengers prior to arrival. Crewmembers on board will assist with luggage.
Hotel accommodations and meals will be provided for people who've traveled to Mobile to pick up passengers.
CNN has been covering the story all afternoon and has been in contact with passengers aboard Carnival Triumph. While they all agree that conditions on board have been miserable, some sound more upbeat than I would have expected. They seem cheered by the sight of land and the prospect of their ordeal ending soon.
U.S. Coast Guard Photo/Ensign Chris Shivock