Cruise ship arrives at port in Alabama


UPDATE (CNN) - Amid cheers, Carnival Triumph towed into port in Alabama after 4,200 people spent extra three days on the disabled ship. 



(CNN) -- People aboard the Carnival Triumph have gotten used to standing in long lines, but Thursday night thousands of people were starting to queue up so they could get off the ship as fast as possible when it finally docks in a few hours.

Julie Morgan said the line in her area was 300 people deep already but her group was still walking around the deck because they wouldn't be able to actually get off the boat until the wee hours of the morning.

It's almost over for the 4,229 passengers and crew stuck on a filthy, disabled cruise ship limping into port five days after it was due.

As the Carnival Triumph inched closer to Mobile, Alabama, passengers gathered on deck, waving as a helicopter flew overheard. About a dozen people used their bodies to spell out "HELP."

Some made signs on sheets sending well-wishes on this Valentine's Day to loved ones. Others used life vests to form a giant heart, then when the sun began to set, they turned on the emergency strobe lights.

As night fell, it appeared help was just hours away.

Terry Thornton, vice president of revenue and planning for Carnival Cruise Lines, said the ship was expected to dock after 10:30 p.m. (11:30 p.m. ET).

The journey home was delayed for four hours when the towline from the lead tugboat to the ship snapped and another tug pushing the ship broke a bit, Alabama State Port Authority Director Jimmy Lyons said.

"(The broken line) looked like a whip in the water," passenger Darryl Malone said, adding he was being told to get off the deck via an announcement broadcast throughout the ship. "They're telling us to go inside, not look overboard because one of the towlines broke."

Despite the delay, passengers were thrilled to be nearing port.


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