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Crippled cruise ship expected in San Diego Thursday

(CNN) — Thousands of passengers on a towed cruise ship will disembark in San Diego, California, Thursday with their own tales from a three-day ordeal that left them without air conditioning and hot showers. Their diet became Spam and Pop Tarts rather than steak and chocolate mousse.

And while Carnival Cruise Lines said Wednesday that most passengers knew that the Carnival Splendor’s crew was doing the best it could, there were reports of passengers pledging not to take up the company’s offer of a free replacement trip.

The vessel, which became stranded Monday after an engine-room fire off the coast of Mexico, is expected to arrive early Thursday, Carnival Cruise Lines CEO Gerry Cahill said at a press conference.

Because the ship is without most of its power, the company decided to wait until daylight for five tugboats to deliver the Splendor to a dock, probably around midday, Cahill said. Nearly 4,500 people, including crew, are on board.

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