Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: September 13, 2005

AFTER BASING THREE of Carnival Cruise Lines ships in Galveston, Texas, and Mobile, Ala., in order to house evacuees from New Orleans and Mississippi, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) now plans to move some or all of the cruise ships it chartered from Carnival to ports closer to New Orleans, where they will be used to shelter evacuees in the area, local emergency personnel and relief workers. The plan to move people onto the ships was scuttled last week due to lack of interest from the evacuees. Some of them have decided the cruise ships on water are too traumatic, a FEMA spokesman said. Or theyre finding family and friends and relatives and so they dont want to leave it to go to the unknown.

THE PRICE FEMA paid to Carnival for the three-ship charter was $192 million, Carnival disclosed last week. An additional $44 million can be utilized for cruise line expenses, such as fuel. The objective was to reach a contract number that results in Carnival not making any more money than we think we would have made keeping these ships in service in a post-Katrina environment, a Carnival spokeswoman said. She added the $192 million is not money in the companys coffer. We have a lot of expenses.

MEANWHILE, agents scrambled to relocate thousands of cruise-ship passengers who were displaced from Carnivals chartered or repositioned ships (such as the Elation, whose deployment was altered from seven-day cruises to four- and five-day sailings). Some agents said rebooking passengers was difficult because Carnival had given passengers full refunds but hadnt accounted for todays rates, which are sometimes higher than when passengers booked. Carnival acknowledged the decision to charter the ships was difficult due in no small part to the fact that we realized we would be disrupting the vacations of tens of thousands of people.

DELTA QUEEN STEAMBOAT CO. canceled the fall and winter deployment of the American Queen, which was to have offered three- and four-day cruises from New Orleans starting in mid-September. Refunds will be automatically generated within the next 60 days and will go through the lines agent partners, it said. RiverBarge Excursions, another river cruise operator, relocated its headquarters from New Orleans to Houston last week. Its ship, the River Explorer, was unaffected by the hurricane.

THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL of Cruise Lines said members of it and sister organization Cruise Lines International Association have donated more than $2.6 million in relief support so far. Outreach includes monetary donation, corporate programs to match employee donations, shipments of furniture and soft goods for use in shelters, donation of cruises for an online charity auction and delivery of drinking water to rescue operations in Mobile.

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