Feb. 29, 2012 at 10:57 AM ET
Conditions on board on the disabled Costa Allegra, currently being towed to the Seychelles' main port of Mahe, are regular, Costa Cruises said Wednesday. The ship is expected to arrive in port on Thursday at about 9 a.m. local time (midnight EST), but that depends on sea conditions and towing speed.
The Allegra lost power and began drifting in the Indian Ocean on Monday.
Costa said soft drinks, cold cuts, cheese and fruit are available to eat and drink, mineral water is offered for personal hygiene, and fresh bread was delivered by helicopter. They said the situation is "regular" and the weather is good.
Passengers will begin flying to Rome within hours after arrival at port, Gilbert Faure, chief executive of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority, said Wednesday. Three planes with a seating capacity of at least 580 passengers were lined up, he said. The first plane is tentatively scheduled to leave Thursday afternoon.
"It could all depend because they have been at sea for three days. They may want to take a shower, we are not sure," Faure said. "I can assure you that we are doing our best to ensure that they have a nice few hours in the Seychelles."
The Costa Allegra lost power Monday after a fire broke out in its generator room, setting the Italian cruise ship adrift in a region where Somali pirates have long been active. A French fishing vessel began towing the Costa Allegra, at first to a small, nearby island, but later to the Seychelles main port — Victoria. Two tug boats arrived alongside the cruise ship on Tuesday but the slower French fishing vessel continued to tow it. Alan St. Ange, the chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board, said the tugs were helping push the Costa Allegra and that "everybody is working together."
Officials indicated that the more than 1,000 passengers and crew are on board the Costa Allegra would have overwhelmed the resources on the tiny resort island Desroches.
Monday's fire came only six weeks after the Costa Concordia hit a reef and capsized off Italy, killing 25 people and leaving seven missing and presumed dead. No one was injured in the fire Monday, but passengers have been without power, communications and air conditioning since the accident.
The ship's operator, Costa Crociere SpA, said it expected a helicopter to deliver 400 flashlights and fresh bread to the passengers on Wednesday. The operator said the ship has sufficient food and that a small generator delivered by a navy ship — it did not specify from which country — could help restore basic services and "to make the situation on board more comfortable."
The Allegra, whose Italian name means "merry," or "happy," left northern Madagascar, off Africa's southeast coast, on Saturday and was cruising toward Port Victoria when the fire erupted. Costa said the Allegra had been due in Port Victoria on Tuesday.
The general region where the cruise ship was adrift — off the coast of Tanzania — has seen a rash of attacks by Somali pirates. In 2009, an Italian cruise ship with 1,500 people aboard fended off a pirate attack in the Indian Ocean far off the coast of Somalia.
Photos released by the Seychelles on Tuesday showed hundreds of people milling outside on the decks of the Costa Allegra. Taken by an Indian navy plane, the photos showed calm seas and an upright ship.
The liner is carrying 413 crew members and 636 passengers, including 212 Italians, 31 Britons and eight Americans. Four passengers are children ages 3 or younger.
NBC News, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.