The Port of Galveston is ready to welcome back Carnival Cruise Lines’ ships and passengers even sooner than many people expected. Galveston's only year-round cruise operator, Carnival has announced that it will resume service from the Texas port on Nov 1, 2008 following the temporary suspension of cruise operations due to Hurricane Ike last month. The 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy will resume year-round 4- and 5-day cruises from Galveston with a 5-day voyage departing on Saturday, Nov 1. The 2,974-passenger Carnival Conquest will begin year-round 7-day service on Sunday, Nov 2. Until that time, the ships will continue to operate round-trip from the Port of Houston's Bayport Cruise Terminal where they were shifted temporarily following Hurricane Ike.
Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO said, “We are extremely pleased to be resuming service from the Port of Galveston and extend our congratulations and appreciation to the port and the Galveston community as a whole for enabling us to return so quickly. We would also like to express our gratitude to the Port of Houston for their tremendous efforts in accommodating our ships and being such exceptional partners. Their support enabled these ships to remain Texas-based while Galveston worked through its recovery process," Cahill noted. Carnival Ecstasy cruises departing on Oct 23 and Oct 27; and the Carnival Conquest cruise departing on Oct 26 will operate round-trip from Houston.
Galveston’s Port Director Steven M. Cernak had high praise for Carnival’s operational work and customer service in the weeks following Hurricane Ike. He said, “Carnival’s advance planning and experience enabled them to swiftly relocate the ships temporarily while they continued to provide excellent passenger service. That allowed us to fast-track our repairs at the cruise terminal.” Following the storm, Galveston’s Cruise Terminal 1 underwent a speedy but thorough top-to-bottom cleaning and overhaul, with work crews on the scene as soon as the storm waters receded. All cruise terminal services and operations are now in place; for example, air-conditioning, web-based pre-paid parking, and Customs and Border Protection services are up and running. Cernak said, “We almost have a new terminal. It is spotlessly clean and nicely appointed, with fresh paint and carpeting. All of the equipment is in working order and ready to receive guests.”
Carnival launched the first year-round cruise program from Galveston in 2000 and has expanded its presence dramatically over the past eight years. With the return of its two year-round ships, Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival Conquest, the line expects to carry an estimated 350,000 guests annually from Galveston. Both vessels will embark passengers only on their first post-storm call, but will be back to a normal schedule thereafter, both disembarking and embarking in Galveston.
Additionally, RoShelle Gaskins, public relations manager at the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau reports that many attractions have reopened, including all beaches, Moody Gardens and its golf course, the Texas Seaport Museum’s tall ship Elissa, and Bishop’s Palace. A wide selection of hotels and entertainment venues are also open and receiving guests. According to Gaskins, “Substantial progress has been made and the Island is excited to welcome back cruise passengers.”
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