BATON ROUGE, La. --
Additional cruise ships could join Carnival Cruise Lines three
vessels as temporary homes for evacuees or workers in the
storm-torn and flooded Gulf Coast region.
We are still in
negotiations, a spokesman from the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA), which has chartered Carnivals Sensation, Ecstasy and
Holiday for Hurricane Katrina relief purposes, said last week. A
former ferry, the Scotia Prince, also was chartered.
But FEMA found few
takers last week among evacuees at shelters at the Houston
Astrodome and nearby Reliant Arena for Carnivals two vessels in
Galveston, the Sensation and the Ecstasy. And as of late last week,
FEMA was planning to move both Galveston-based ships, the Sensation
and the Ecstasy, into ports closer to New Orleans and Gulfport,
Miss. It was undecided whether the Holiday would move from Mobile,
Ala., or if more ships would join it there.
officials, people were unwilling to move again so quickly after
being transported from places like the Superdome in New
Houston Response office said last week that some refugees preferred
to stay put while they look for family members. All of them still
struggle to comprehend the dramatic changes that have occurred in
less than a week, the office said.
The FEMA spokesman
added the departments screening process to relocate to the ships
didnt turn up enough people, and many have accepted shelter
elsewhere. Some of them have decided that the cruise ships on water
are too traumatic, he said. Or theyre finding family and friends
and relatives, and so they dont want to leave it to go to the
But, he added, if the
ships arent used for evacuees, they can be used to accommodate
local emergency personnel such as firefighters or relief workers
who have come in from around the country.
The cruise ships will
be used, either by the evacuees, local responders, and then by the
relief workers, the FEMA spokesman said.
through the U.S. Navys Military Sealift Command (MSC), had
originally asked for 25,000 cruise ship berths to be made available
for evacuee housing, more than three times the number of berths
that Carnival is providing on its three ships. FEMA has chartered
the ships for a six-month period that can be extended by an
additional three months, according to the request-for-proposal
circulated by the MSC.
The contractual price
of Carnivals three six-month charters is $192 million, according to
a Carnival spokeswoman. An additional $44 million can be used for
costs incurred by the line, such as fuel for the ships
The contract was
designed to be financially impact-neutral to the line and its
parent, Carnival Corp.
The objective was to
reach a contract number that results in Carnival not making any
more money than we think we could have [by] keeping the ships in
service in a post-Katrina environment, the spokeswoman
It is still unclear
whether Carnivals contract will be neutral, or whether the line
will see a loss or a gain on the deal. Carnival Corp. built a one-
to two-cent reduction in earnings per share into its most recent
financial estimate to deal with potential unknown impacts from the
charter. Costs from cancelling and refunding cruises and
reaccommodating travelers will impact the line by one cent per
As of late last week,
Carnivals ships were still in Galveston, pending the finalization
of plans to take them to ports closer to New Orleans and
And evacuees may
change their mind down the road about accepting shelter onboard a
cruise ship, the FEMA spokesman said.
Theyre still in shock,
reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].