Cruise ships house first responders in New Orleans

T0913GRANDCLASSICA_C_HR [Credit: Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line]
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has chartered the Grand Classica to Entergy, the Louisiana power company. Photo Credit: Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line's Grand Classica and the Carnival Glory have suspended cruise operations to assist with Hurricane Ida recovery in New Orleans.

Bahamas Paradise has chartered its only vessel to Entergy, the Louisiana power company, to house more than 1,500 workers, technicians, engineers and other frontline workers engaged in recovery efforts after Hurricane Ida left large sections of Louisiana without power on Aug. 29. 

The workers have been sleeping in trucks and vans due to a lack of suitable accommodations. 

The Grand Classica can carry 1,620 passengers at maximum capacity.

The ship will act as a floating city as relief efforts continue, according to CEO Oneil Khosa.

"We will be able to provide it as a crisis management center. We have power, food, air conditioning and a highly trained staff," he said. Besides offering housing for the workers, Grand Classica also is carrying relief supplies.

The Grand Classica is no stranger to serving as a housing headquarters during a natural disaster. In 2017 the line housed Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) workers onboard the Grand Celebration when Hurricane Irma hit St. Thomas.

Due to the deployment of Grand Classica, Bahamas Paradise canceled all cruises in the near future and did not specify when cruises would resume. In a notification to passengers holding current reservations, the line said that guests wiling and able to move their cruise to a new date instead of canceling would receive a cruise certificate for a complimentary cabin for two on a future sailing.

Carnival Glory's return to cruising postponed

The Carnival Glory also will provide housing for first responders involved in New Orleans recovery efforts from Hurricane Ida, through Sept. 18.

Through an agreement with the city and FEMA, the Glory arrived in the Port of New Orleans on Sept. 3 and and began provisioning food, water and materials to prepare for up to 2,600 hospital workers, first responders, city and utility workers and other emergency personnel to join the ship.  

The ship will stay in port and serve as emergency housing for frontline workers directly involved in the city's infrastructure recovery and healthcare needs.

Carnival Cruise Line canceled the Glory's cruise that was scheduled to depart Sept. 12 and plans to restart guest operations on the ship on Sept. 19. Carnival had already canceled the Glory's Sept. 5 departure.

"While we want to provide the city of New Orleans with an economic boost by restarting guest operations, we want to first provide this critical housing support to address emergency needs and to get power restored to the region," said Carnival president Christine Duffy.  "We appreciate the understanding of our guests, who we know love New Orleans as much as we do."

Port of New Orleans CEO Brandy Christian said that the port "appreciates Carnival's deployment of Carnival Glory to New Orleans. Her berths will accommodate the hardworking first responders and essential personnel working on storm recovery efforts in our region.  Port NOLA, our federal, state, and local partner agencies all support those who are quickly restoring critical infrastructure in the city and helping to get cargo moving again."

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