Less than an hour after a news briefing in which a Carnival spokesman said the ship was five miles away and would arrive between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m. Central, the Triumph was visible from shore a bit early.
Passengers cheered, crowding the rails on at least three decks as the ship pulled into port. The ship’s horn sounded several times. Cameras flashed on board and people waved to those on the ground and across from them in the cruise terminal as the ship pulled alongside the gangway.
By 9:20 p.m., Triumph had docked. Buses were standing by to take passengers to hotels in Galveston, Houston or New Orleans. Families, too, were standing by.
As the ship docked, passengers sang, “Sweet Home, Alabama,” and someone on board shouted, “It’s good to be home!”
Joe Burgess of Carthage, Miss., was on his cellphone waving at the boat and looking for his wife and 18-year-old daughter, who told him they were dangling a bed sheet. With all the chaos, they had trouble seeing each other.
“Wave or something!” he told them.
An engine fire on Sunday left the 14-story-high ship without power. Many toilets weren’t working, passengers told relatives and reporters by cellphone, and food was scarce. Although the ship was restocked with food during the days it was under tow, the misery of the more than 4,000 people aboard persisted.