FEMA: Charter ships will likely move from Galveston

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BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will likely move some or all of the cruise ships it chartered from Carnival Cruise Lines to ports closer to New Orleans, where they will be used to shelter evacuees in the area, local emergency personnel and relief workers.

FEMA had chartered three ships -- the Sensation and the Ecstasy to Galveston, Texas, and the Holiday to Mobile, Ala. -- and had made the ships available to people arriving from hurricane-torn cities like New Orleans and Biloxi, Miss.

But a plan to move people onto the ships was scuttled earlier this 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 [the shelters] to go to the unknown.

Meanwhile, a Carnival spokeswoman said the contract of the three-ship charter was for $192 million. An additional $44 million can be utilized for cruise line expenses, such as fuel.

The contract ... was designed to be impact-neutral to Carnival, a Carnival spokeswoman said. In other words, the objective was to reach a contract number that results in Carnival not making anymore money than we think we would have made keeping these ships in service in a post-Katrina environment.

She added the $192 million is the value of the charter deal, but that doesnt mean thats money in the companys coffer. We have a lot of expenses.

To contact reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].

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