Update, 6 p.m. EDT: Tar balls from the Gulf oil spill reached beaches near Pensacola, Florida, on Friday. The sheen is expected to reach the Florida panhandle, but it is unclear when that might happen. The closest cruise ports to Pensacola are New Orleans, Mobile and Tampa. All three are turnaround points for Carnival ships; however, spokesman Vance Gulliksen says there have not yet been any itinerary changes made as a result of the spill.
(June 1, 8 p.m. EDT) -- Despite the worst oil spill in history -- which may have dumped as many as 25,000 gallons of oil per day into the ocean since April 28, according to the New York Times -- the Florida Keys and Key West have not yet been impacted, and cruise ships are still calling as normal in the area.
Both Carnival's Carnival Imagination and Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas called on Key West Tuesday, as scheduled, and Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen says there have not been any itinerary changes at this time for Carnival Fantasy, which is due in Key West on Thursday (June 3) and Monday (June 7). RCI's Grandeur of the Seas, is also due in port on Sunday (June 6), but efforts to reach the line for comment were not immediately successful.
In a statement, released Tuesday by the Florida Keys and Key West Tourism Council, officials say that "the Keys have yet to see physical impacts from the spill," and reiterate that the majority of the oil still lies close to the spill site, which is about 500 miles northwest of Key West, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).
The report goes on to say that, although there are no guarantees that the Keys will be completely unaffected, it is very likely that any oil reaching the area will come in the form of tar balls, which are weathered and less dangerous to the environment.
We'll keep you posted.
In the meantime, if you've got something to say about the oil spill and its potential impact on Key West, sound off here.
--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor
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Florida Keys, Gulf Coast Cruises Still Unaffected by Oil Spill
June 7, 2010