|Carnival's Holiday, which has virtually been a one-ship experiment for the fledgling port of Mobile, will sign on for another year, according to a Carnival announcement. The 46,052-ton, 1,452-passenger vessel, which has operated four- and five-night Western Caribbean cruises from the Alabama Cruise Terminal, will now stay on through October 2005.|
That's great news for Mobile which built a brand-spanking-new cruise terminal in an effort to court cruise ships. That's plural -- Mobile's still reaching out and trying to nab other regular customers. "The terminal realistically could take two more ships and even conceivably one more," says director Al St. Clair. "We'd like to have a seven-night on Sunday that goes on alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries."
St. Clair notes that Mobile, which competes with the larger New Orleans as a drive-to northern Gulf of Mexico turnaround port, draws a big contingent of its passengers from Atlanta (and other parts of Georgia), along with Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida panhandle, though folks have driven from as far away as Minnesota and Canada's Ontario.
Another plus? While ships departing New Orleans have a 10-hour trip down the Mississippi before even reaching the Gulf of Mexico, the corresponding commute for Mobile-based cruises is 3 hours and 15 minutes.
But what's really appealed to Carnival is the aforementioned new terminal. In a statement, Carnival's president Bob Dickinson said that "response to Mobile's first cruise program has been nothing short of sensational."
Indeed, St. Clair said that Holiday is booking 30 to 35 percent over double occupancy.
At this point, the terminal director says they're in talks with a number of cruise lines -- including Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, in addition to Carnival -- and waxes optimistic about the city's chances.
"Everybody's aware of us and we just feel we've proven the sustainability," St. Clair says.