TODAY   |  February 13, 2013

Conditions worsen on stranded Carnival cruise ship

As the Carnival ship Triumph enters its fourth day without power, passengers and crew stranded on the ship are struggling with dwindling food and lack of water, which has rendered the ship’s toilets useless. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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>> half hour with mounting frustration for passengers on a stricken cruise ship now in the gulf of mexico . the head of carnival cruise lines this morning is apologizing. janet shamlian is in mobile, alabama, where the ship is expected to arrive some time tomorrow. janet, good morning.

>> reporter: hey, matt, good morning to you. an apology from the president of the cruise line . now the ntsb and coast guard say they are launching an investigation into the fire that caused the power outage on that massive ship. as you said, it's heading here very slowly to the port of mobile. and as it does, we have new pictures of the ship and also of the passengers who can't get here soon enough. this morning, we have our first look at some of the thousands of passengers on the crippled cruise ship , lined up on the deck of triumph, they cheered as another kacarnival ship delivered food. what they want most, to get off this ship, is still many hours away. pat tester's daughter is on board and sent her mom this anxious message.

>> this is honestly the worst experience ever. i'm not sure i can take two more days at sea with no food, water or power.

>> reporter: then there is the sewage problem, fewer than two dozen working public toilets. a foul odor has seeped into every corner, sickening some as desperate people take drastic measures. donna guntsman describes it.

>> the worst part is the bathrooms. there's no water. you can't flush. everyone is putting it in little plastic baggies and putting it outside their rooms.

>> reporter: carnival called the conditions challenging and for the first time since sunday's fire, carnival 's president came out and apologized.

>> i think it's very important that i apologize to our guests and to their families that have been affected by this very difficult situation.

>> reporter: carnival says it's been keeping families updated but lindsay peterson , whose parents are on the ship, is hearing one story from them and another from carnival .

>> carnival is telling me all the passengers are safe, the boat has 40% power, they have one dining room working with hot food and hot coffee , that the sleeping conditions are fine. everything that carnival has told me thus far has not matched up with what my mom said.

>> reporter: a.j. jones also has a family member on board, his wife, tammy, who is hanging in there for the moment.

>> a couple of girls in her group were -- not necessarily p panicking, but starting to be a little uneasy, which is understandable. the longer it goes on, the worse it will get.

>> reporter: the ship will be here some time tomorrow. carnival now says it's making plans to get people home as quickly as possible. they booked 1,500 hotel rooms between here and new orleans for thursday night and then 20 charter flights out of both of those cities friday. matt, for people who want to get home quicker, which is probably a lot of people, they've got charter buses going out thursday night.

>> sounds like a horrible situation. janet shamlian , our hearts go out to those people on board and their families. let's