|A second Fun Ship won't be heading to the Big Easy this year after all. Carnival Cruise Lines announced today that Carnival Triumph, which was originally scheduled to shift to New Orleans this August, will remain in Miami at least through April 2008.|
According to a company statement, misperceptions about the city's tourism readiness post-Katrina prompted Carnival to re-evaluate the timeline for adding a second ship to the homeport; Fantasy is currently (and will remain) stationed there for four- and five-day Western Caribbean voyages.
Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO, is quoted as saying, "There are lingering misconceptions by the vacationing public as to the recovery of New Orleans' tourism infrastructure, which has necessitated a re-evaluation of our timeline for adding a second ship to that port.
"We are committed to New Orleans and, not only will the Fantasy remain there, but we will continue our efforts to build consumer interest in cruising from New Orleans and to counter some of the erroneous perceptions of the city that are currently posing a challenge. In the meantime, we do not feel the timing is right to place a second ship there just yet."
Chris Bonura, the Port of New Orleans' communications manager, tells us that port officials are disappointed that Carnival has decided to delay the arrival of the Triumph, but encouraged that they are still committed to bringing the ship to New Orleans at a later date.
"We also understand that many travelers continue to have misconceptions about the city's recovery. The French Quarter and other parts of the city where tourists congregate are back in full swing with hotels, restaurants and attractions reopened and eager to welcome visitors."
The 102,000-ton, 2,758-passenger Triumph was originally scheduled to homeport in New Orleans starting in August for weeklong Western Caribbean cruises. Instead, Carnival will expand its Exotic Eastern Caribbean offerings from Miami; beginning August 25, 2007, Triumph will sail seven-day Exotic Eastern Caribbean cruises from Miami weekly, rather than every other week.
--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor