Four large hotels in the downtown area were all sold out, and only some smaller hotels outside the city center had vacancies, city spokeswoman Barbara Drummond said.
"We realized early on in assessing the situation that most of these people wanted a hot meal, a warm bed and a shower," Drummond said.
The city ran shuttles for passengers, taking them to hotels, restaurants or a Walmart for supplies. Drummond said there was an outpouring of support from local businesses. Krispy Kreme sent "tons and tons" of doughnuts for passengers, and Saucy Q Bar B Q prepared meals for them, Drummond said.
The ship carrying about 4,200 people and under tow by tugboats docked in Mobile late Thursday, about five days after an engine-room fire left it powerless and adrift. By Friday afternoon, many of the passengers had left Mobile and were well on their way home by car, bus or plane.
Drummond said she heard passengers and their relatives say they planned to visit Mobile again after getting a taste of the city's hospitality.
"Mobile has other amenities and family members were there long enough that they got an opportunity to see the hospitality that Mobile has," she said.