(12:38 p.m.) -- In the wake of the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, Carnival has redeployed both of its New Orleans-based ships -- Carnival Conquest and Sensation -- to other locales.
So far, Carnival has only established a temporary new homeport for Carnival Conquest; Galveston will be its new home indefinitely. That ship, due to some benevolent timing, has been safely tucked away for a previously scheduled dry-dock maintenance.
Its first cruise from Galveston departs on Sunday, September 11. The ship's itinerary remains exactly the same, with calls at Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
In quite a fit of generosity (and by no means is Carnival required to offer such flexibility), the line has said that any passenger who booked a future Conquest cruise by September 1 and wants to cancel can opt for a full refund. Passengers who booked by September 1 and opt to sail will receive $50 per-person credit to their shipboard account. Folks who bought air through the cruise line will receive help in readjusting their flights from New Orleans to Houston.
Sensation, which sailed four- and five-night Western Caribbean cruises from New Orleans, has also moved over to Galveston but at this point Carnival hasn't committed to that port past the September 5 departure.
Currently, Carnival is the only big-ship cruise line to be impacted by Hurricane Katrina as New Orleans tends to function as a seasonal (winter) homeport for Western Caribbean voyages. As such, cruise lines such as NCL, Princess and Royal Caribbean -- all of which had planned to homeport ships in the Big Easy this winter -- will likely be announcing alternative points of departure.
As always, we'll keep you posted.
Our thoughts go out to everyone in the region who is coping with the devastating aftermath. Interested in donating cash or time to victims of Hurricane Katrina? Here's how you can help.