Thursday, March 10, 2011

Carnival Drops a Homeport: Mobile, Alabama Not Ecstatic

When there's bad news, it often arrives in multiples. My mother used to predict that it came in triple digits. We're sure the folks in Mobile, Alabama have heard that bit of age old wisdom. First this week there was nasty weather and now they are going to suffer an economic hit. Their ship has sailed...or it will soon.

Carnival Cruise Lines is repositioning Carnival Ecstasy from New Orleans, Louisiana to Port Canaveral, Florida in November and redeploying Carnival Elation from Mobile, Alabama, to New Orleans (to replace Carnival Ecstasy). That leaves Mobile with their worst nightmare: a cruise terminal and no ship to homeport there.

It's a position other cities find themselves in as well (we're thinking of Houston, Texas and Norfolk, Virginia), although we're sure Mobile officials will diligently court another cruise line to fill the empty berth. That's the way they operate in Mobile and they proved to be pretty good at it in the past. Initially they landed the oldest ship in the Carnival Cruise Lines fleet and then lobbied for a larger Fantasy-class ship when the cruise line retired the older, smaller Holiday.

We have our fingers crossed for Mobile as a cruising homeport and hope nothing else unfortunate happens there this week. In the meantime, here's the official word:

Statement Regarding Carnival Cruise Lines’ Cancellation of Mobile Cruise Program

March 10, 2011: “We have made the very difficult decision to discontinue our cruise operations from Mobile effective Oct 22, 2011. We are extremely grateful for the many years of tremendous partnership, support and cooperation provided by the Alabama Cruise Terminal team, the local leadership in Mobile, area travel agents and the community at large.

Unfortunately, we have not been able to achieve favorable financial results with this program. Although we have consistently filled the ship, it has been at lower relative pricing to the rest of our fleet. We have made every effort to drive higher demand and pricing through our sales and marketing initiatives and the deployment of a newer class of ship in 2009. However, we have not been successful in achieving a sustainable level of acceptable pricing. Additionally, the itineraries from Mobile require much higher relative fuel costs to operate and those fuel costs will become even more unfavorable with the implementation of the new ECA requirements starting in 2012.

We would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to everyone in the Mobile community for the friendship and support we have received during the past six years.”

- Gerry Cahill, president and CEO, Carnival Cruise Lines

1 comment:

RobBar's Cruise Area said...

Interesting letter where Carnival indicate they have filled the ship from this port but at what seems like reduced prices.
It is too bad they have not worked with local government and port authorities to find ways to boost tourism and cruising.
A lot of people have expressed on boards of long trips to travel by car to Florida in the winter.
This port might be a way to reduce costs to the ship.
Marketing is always the key to get folks attention and for both parties to make it easy on us the traveller,