Carnival To Stay in Mobile

Carnival Cruise Line has signed a contract extension with the city of Mobile, Alabama, that will see the Carnival Fantasy continue to homeport in Mobile through December 2018.

Carnival Fantasy is presently based year-round in Mobile and operates a mix of four- to 10-day cruises to Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean and the Panama Canal, a representative of the cruise line tells Travel Agent. We are very pleased to be continuing and further building upon our outstanding partnership with mobile.

We continue to build the momentum of the growing cruise industry in Mobile and are committed to expanding the cruising options and destinations both in and out of our port, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said in a statement provided to Travel Agent. The agreement will be placed on the City Council agenda for approval as soon as possible.

Carnival began operating cruises from Mobile onboard the Carnival Fantasy in the fall of 2016 following an absence of a few years. The ship underwent a multimillion-dollar refurbishment prior to its deployment to the port, adding a number of Fun Ship 2.0 amenities such as Guys Burger Joint, developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, two poolside watering holes, the RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar, and the BlueIguana Cantina Mexican-themed eatery.

Since the Carnival Fantasy returned to the port, the City of Mobile Cruise Terminal has generated over $4.7 million in gross revenue, according to the Mayors office. Over the course of the full calendar year, the terminals gross revenue is expected to exceed $6.4 million, and over 190,000 cruise travelers will spend more than $18 million in Mobile, with the overall direct impact expected to exceed $35 million.

2018 will see Carnival add a number of new, longer-length voyages from Mobile, the line reported in April. The new itineraries will include two six-day cruises to Cozumel and Grand Cayman or Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), as well as two new eight-day voyages.

Carnival Adds Longer Trips out of Mobile

Mobile tourism and government officials trumpeted the news Tuesday that the Carnival Fantasy will sail out of Mobile on some longer voyages in 2018.

New destinations apparently will include Key West, Nassau, the Panama Canal and the Costa Rican port of Limon.

Visit Mobile was quick to express hope that the longer trips – which include six-, eight- and 10-day trips, will be a boon to the city in multiple ways. The tourism bureau embraced the possibility that the longer trips will provide cruisers “an even greater opportunity to visit and spend time in Mobile before or after they set sail.”

We are excited that Carnival Cruise Line has continued to expand opportunities for tourists in our great city of Mobile, says David Clark, President/CEO, Visit Mobile. “We appreciate Carnival’s investment and partnership in our port city to offer multiple entertainment options for our tourists.”

City Finance Director Paul Wesch, speaking before the Mobile City Council on Tuesday morning, said the development reflected reports that “Carnival has been exceeding all their expectations” since resuming service from Mobile last year.

Wesch said that a variety of groups, including cruisers, travel agents and the city administration, “had been asking Carnival to consider some more lengthy cruises.”

Carnival Fantasy sailing out of Mobile into 2019, but contract extension beyond 2017 still looms

Carnival Fantasy sailing out of Mobile into 2019, but contract extension beyond 2017 still looms

Travel agents are booking voyages of the Carnival Fantasy out of the Alabama Cruise Terminal through April 2019, even though a contract to extend Carnival’s relationship in Mobile expires in November 2017.

“It looks like Carnival is happy enough to be experimenting,” Wesch said, implying that Carnival wouldn’t be adding more ambitious offerings if it weren’t happy with business in Mobile.

Carnival officials have generally downplayed the notion that such developments mean Carnival plans to commit to a longer contract with Mobile. Corporate Communications Manager Christine de la Huerta reiterated that stance on Tuesday.

“Our current contract with Mobile runs through December of this year,” de la Huerta said via e-mail. “However, it is customary with all ports we operate from, that we will open inventory approximately 18 months out.”

Huerta said that it is “not uncommon for us to change up an itinerary rotation on an occasional basis to offer new options to our guests,” but said the company was “excited to be offering these new voyages from Mobile.”

According to de la Huerta, the new offerings are:

  • Two six-day cruises to Cozumel and Grand Cayman or Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) departing April 29 and Nov. 11, 2018.
  • A pair of eight-day voyages – one visiting Costa Maya (Mexico), Mahogany Bay, Belize, Cozumel, and Progreso, Mexico departing April 21, 2018, and another visiting Key West, Freeport, Nassau and the private Bahamian destination of Princess Cays departing Nov. 3, 2018.
  • A 10-day Carnival Journeys cruise that includes a partial transit of the Panama Canal and calls at Limon (Costa Rica), Mahogany Bay and Cozumel departing Sept. 17, 2018.

For full information on upcoming cruises out of Mobile, visit www.carnival.com.

Tourism officials said Tuesday that since the Carnival Fantasy began sailing from Mobile last fall, “Visit Mobile has spearheaded several new initiatives that have improved the overall visitor experience.” Those include a “Very Important Cruiser” program for hotel guests; suggested itineraries for cruisers who have time to tour the city’s attractions; and a “Cruising From Mobile” Facebook page that serves as a resource for up-to-date visitor information. That’s in addition to the website www.mobile.org/cruise/.

According to a statement issued Tuesday, Visit Mobile also has assigned a sales manager “to strengthen travel agent relationships in key markets to continue to promote pre and post cruise packages.”

A Cruise thorough the Panama Canal

 

(recently posted in the Travel Agent daily news)

We recently took a Caribbean cruise on the Crystal Harmony which took us through the Panama Canal, visiting Curacao, St, Lucia, Tortola, and disembarking in New Orleans. This is my favorite route for that part of the world. This is also one of the most popular cruise destinations, and more than 150,000 passengers transit the canal each year. Panama is situated 600 miles above the equator so it is hot and humid. The canal is considered one of the world’s greatest engineering feats of all time. Ships save 7,872 miles by not having to go around Cape Horn.

Vicomte Ferdinand de Lesseps was the mastermind behind building the Suez Canal and thought building the Panama Canal would be easier. The history of the canal is worth reading. Building the 50 mile short cut took a lot of lives. The French started the project attempting to dig a sea level canal in 1882, and 25,000 died from smallpox, cholera, malaria, and yellow fever before the company went bankrupt in 1889.

When the Americans took over the project it was decided that the best plan was for three locks to be built, and ships would be raised and lowered 85 feet in a series of steps. The locks were the largest structures of their kind ever attempted. Each lock is 1,000 feet long and 110 feet wide.

The canal was completed in 1914, and over 1,500 ships a year use it. More than 1,500 electric motors are used in the operation of the locks. No pumps are used; instead, the force of gravity flowing from one level to another moves the water. It is fascinating to be sitting in the dining room looking at the rain forest and before you have finished your meal, you are facing a brick wall. Our ship paid $142,000 for the nine hour transit.

Those who have never visited the canal tend to picture it as a great ditch. Only Gaillard Cut, not the locks, might fit that description. A better analogy would be the world’s largest water elevator, lifting ships 85 feet above sea level at one end and lowering them back down to the sea at the other.

Of the close to 100 cruises I have been on, I have never seen passengers so interested or camera happy as when they go through the canal watching the parade of vessels. If the dirt and rock removed from the canal during its construction were made into a wall, it would be eight feet high and would circle the Earth at the equator four times.

The lock chambers are comparable to the height of a six story building. It takes 52 million gallons of water to transit a ship through the locks. This is fresh water from rainfall that is harnessed by locks and dams to transit the ships before it flows out to sea. Gatun Lake, the largest water reservoir for the canal, contains 1.5 trillion gallons of water.

The cruise was wonderful — great food, outstanding entertainment, interesting ports of call, and it deserves the title of the No. 1 cruise line in the world. The canal is a must see. Have a few extra days in New Orleans at the end of the trip. Great destination if you have never been there.

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Carnival Adds Sailings to Cuba

Reservations Now Being Accepted for Carnival’s First-Ever Visits to the Historic Cuban Capital MIAMI (February 14, 2017) – Following the history-making launch of cruises from the U.S. to Cuba on Carnival Corporation’s Fathom brand last year, the company’s namesake and largest cruise brand — Carnival Cruise Line — has now received approval to sail to Cuba. The Cuban capital of Havana will be added to select Carnival Paradise voyages from Tampa beginning in June 2017. The overnight visits to Havana will be featured on 12 four- and five-day cruises aboard Carnival Paradise departing from the Port of Tampa starting June 29, 2017, providing vacationers with a rare and exciting opportunity to explore this fascinating and previously off-limits destination. Four-day cruises will depart June 29, July 13, August 24, September 7 and 21, and October 5 and 19, 2017 as well as May 3, 2018 and include a daytime and overnight visit to Havana. Five-day voyages will depart August 14 and 28, September 25 and October 9, 2017, and include a daytime and overnight visit to Havana as well as a stop in either Cozumel or Key West. Carnival Paradise guests will be able to choose from a range of exciting shore excursion experiences that showcase Cuba’s vibrant culture and majestic beauty, along with the island’s warm and friendly people and centuries-old architectural landmarks. “Cuba is an island jewel unique from anywhere else in the Caribbean and we are thrilled to have this rare opportunity to take our guests to this fascinating destination,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “The opportunity to visit Havana, combined with the fun, relaxed ambiance and wide variety of amenities and features offered on Carnival Paradise, will make for a truly one-of-a-kind vacation experience,” she added. Aboard Carnival Paradise, guests can enjoy an array of amenities and a full schedule of daytime activities and nighttime entertainment. A variety of dining options include two full-service main dining rooms and expansive poolside choices. The ship also features a 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival health and wellness facility and an exclusive Serenity adults-only retreat. Popular family-friendly programming includes Seuss at Sea in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises and featuring the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends and fun, supervised activities for kids in three age groups. Four swimming pools and a 115- foot-long water slide are additional features. 2