Carnival Cruise Lines has chartered three of its cruise ships to the Military Sealift Command (MSC) on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for six months as part of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts
The three cruise ships are the Ecstasy, Sensation and Holiday.
The federal government will pay Miami-based Carnival Corp. $192 million for providing temporary housing to evacuees from hurricane Katrina on three luxury cruise liners.
The Ecstasy, normally homeported at Galveston, Texas, operating four- and five-day cruises, and Sensation, normally homeported in New Orleans operating four- and five-day voyages, will be pulled from service effective Monday, Sept. 5. Initial plans are for both vessels to be docked in Galveston.
The Holiday, which is homeported at Mobile, Ala., operating four and five-day Mexico cruises, will be pulled from service effective Thursday, Sept. 8. Initial plans are for the vessel to remain docked in Mobile.
“We sincerely apologize to those guests whose vacations have been impacted by these voyage cancellations,” said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO. “However, given that Hurricane Katrina is the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, we trust our guests will understand that the decision to enter into these charters was the right one. This inconvenience to our guests will provide desperately needed housing for thousands of individuals affected by this tragedy,” he added.
As a result of three ships being taken out of service, Carnival is implementing some additional deployment changes within its fleet.
All guests originally scheduled to sail on the Ecstasy during the affected six-month period will be automatically moved to the Elation. The Ecstasy and Elation are sister ships with identical layouts. Guests will be assigned to the same cabins on Elation that they had booked on the Ecstasy.
Carnival Conquest, which is normally based in New Orleans, will move to Galveston after it completes its current drydock on Sept. 11, to operate her original seven-day itinerary to Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. The 110,000-ton Carnival Conquest entered service in 2002.
The Ecstasy entered service in 1991, the Sensation in 1993 and the Elation in 1998. All three are sister ships in Carnival’s eight-ship, Fantasy-class series. The vessels measure 70,367 gross tons and have a basis-two passenger capacity of 2,052 and a total passenger capacity of 2,606.
The 46,052-ton Holiday entered service in 1985 and has a basis-two passenger capacity of 1,452 and a total passenger capacity of 1,800.
Carnival shipboard employees will be staffing the three chartered ships. The Ecstasy, and Sensation each have approximately 920 crew and the Holiday has approximately 660.