Stricken Carnival Triumph sits in Gulf of Mexico
Stricken Carnival Triumph sits in Gulf of Mexico

A dream cruise in the Gulf of Mexico has descended into a savage 'Lord of the Flies'-style hell for holidaymakers.

Passengers on the Carnival Triumph are fighting each other for scraps of food, as raw human sewage runs down walls and urine soaks carpets in alarming scenes which appear to show a society in serious breakdown, according to witness reports.

Holidaymakers have spoken of their cruise nightmare after the massive cruise liner was crippled by an engine fire which left it drifting in waters off Alabama.

The situation has been worsened by the fact that only five working toilets are being used by 4,200 people.

Desperate crew members have reportedly ordered passengers - who paid thousands of dollars for the trip - to defecate in plastic bags and to use showers for urinating in. There are reports of mass vomiting on board.

David Nutt, whose son is on board the vessel, said: "The odour is so bad people are getting sick and they're throwing up everywhere. People are fighting over food and stuff - that's a bunch of savages."

Queuing for dwindling supplies can take four hours, passengers have complained, with bread and onions said to be among the last remaining food stuffs.

Scramble for fresh air

Debra Rightmire texted ABC News saying: "Conditions are getting worse by the hour. Cabin carpets are wet with urine and water. Toilets are overflowing in the cabins, we are having to sleep in the hallways. Onion for dinner."

There is no electricity or working air-conditioning. Conditions have deteriorated so badly in cabins and corridors that a tent-city has sprung up on deck as passengers scramble for fresh air.

Jimmy Mowlam told ABC what his son Rob, a passenger, had said: "He said up on deck it looks like a shanty town, with sheets, tents, mattresses, anything else they can pull up to sleep on."

Nautical expert Jim Herring warned that there was a growing risk of onboard disease spreading through passengers with many of them potentially vulnerable to a norovirus, which cause spontaneous vomiting and diarrhea.

Carnival Cruises president Gerry Cahill said: "No one here from Carnival is happy about the conditions onboard the ship."

"We obviously are very, very sorry about what is taking place."

It will be towed into Miami and is expected to dock on Thursday.

Carnival Cruises President Gerry Cahill
Carnival Cruises President Gerry Cahill