MIAMI -- Will cruise
ships be pressed into service as floating hotels for victims of
The idea is being
talked about, but some industry observers say the timing and
logistics make it more likely that cruise lines would end up
hosting disaster recovery and relief workers at a later phase, if
Carnival Cruise Lines
said last week it had received an initial inquiry from the federal
government about using cruise ships for Katrina relief
Although to undertake
such an endeavor would involve many complicated issues, we are
actively taking a look at it, the line said in a statement. We are
immensely saddened and concerned for the people of the Gulf Coast
who have been devastated by this storm.
Cruises CEO Richard Fain told Travel Weekly that his company had
been talking to state and federal agencies to see if theres some
way to make a difference. And at NCL Corp., a spokeswoman said: If
it is feasible, the company will look at moving ships to
accommodate relief workers.
The idea, which was
broached last week on CNNs Larry King Live, was enthusiastically
supported by agents like Cynthia Neu of the Fun and Fitness Travel
Club in McLean, Va., who wrote in an e-mail to the presidents of
Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises: An overnight
bed and shower provided [to] desperate mothers and their children
would be remembered forever by Americans watching TV.
But the concept is a
tricky one to put into practice.
The port of New
Orleans, a lifeline of the city and one of the biggest ports in the
country, remained closed last week except for tugs, barges,
offshore vessels and recovery boats.
Can a cruise ship get
anywhere near where it has to be? wondered Jay Lewis, executive
director of the Passenger and Shipping Institute, a Miami-based
research firm. At the end of the day, how many people are you going
to provide for? And who selects who gets to be on a cruise
The lines also would
have to cancel cruises and refund passengers on scheduled voyages
to make ships available, a costly act. Provisioning the ship and
paying crew, who work for tips, would also be an issue.
reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].