After disembarking in Mobile early Friday, Cassie Terry, 25, of Lake Jackson, Texas, hired attorneys Wayne Collins and Brent Allison in the Houston area, who filed the lawsuit in federal court in Miami.
The suit charges Carnival with failing to provide a seaworthy ship and sanitary conditions, describing the ship as "a floating toilet, a floating petri dish, a floating hell."
Vance Gulliksen, a Carnival spokesman, said officials had not seen a copy of the lawsuit late Friday and could not comment about it. Terry could not be reached for comment.
Terry also claims in the lawsuit to have suffered physical and emotional harm during the cruise, including anxiety, nervousness and the loss of the enjoyment of life.
"Plaintiff was forced to endure unbearable and horrendous odors on the filthy and disabled vessel, and wade through human feces in order to reach food lines where the wait was counted in hours, only to receive rations of spoiled food," says the lawsuit, which Allison provided to the Los Angeles Times.
The lawsuit also claims that during the "horrifying and excruciating tow back to the United States," the ship listed several times, "causing human waste to spill out of non-functioning toilets, flood across the vessel's floors and halls, and drip down the vessel's walls."
Terry planned to seek legal advice before she even got off the ship, Allison said. After she reached shore, she called her husband and he contacted the attorneys, Allison said.
Allison said Terry was thankful to be home but felt sick and planned to see a doctor.
The Carnival Triumph had left Galveston, Texas, a week ago Thursday for a four-day Mexican cruise, but it became stranded in the gulf after an engine fire Sunday. Investigators on Friday were still trying to determine what caused the fire.
Allison said he specializes in maritime law. His firm represented relatives of one of the victims of the deadly wreck off Italy last year of the Costa Concordia, a cruise ship operated by a subsidiary of Carnival. That case was eventually transferred to Florida, he said.
Allison said he was hearing from other Triumph passengers Friday who had heard of his work with the Costa Concordia and were exploring possible lawsuits.