Carnival Commits to Mobile

Carnival was first celebrated in Mobile 312 years ago, before there were cruise ships bearing the name. There is a Carnival season in the Alabama seaport, the state’s third-largest city. It starts in November and runs through February or sometimes March, depend on the date of Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

Carnival arrived early this year.

It started yesterday, which on our calendar is still September. It arrived in the form of a cruise ship, or the promise of one, namely the Carnival Fantasy. This, however, is not a fantasy. The ship will be in Mobile next November…yes, about the time the other Carnival season begins. It will stay for a year, at least. It will take cruisers on 4-and-5-day trips to Mexico…to Cozumel, to Costa Maya, to Progreso.

While it’s a one-year commitment by the cruise line, there are two one-year options. All of this is significant because Mobile has been without a cruise ship of any kind since 2011. FantasyThe last one there was the Carnival Triumph, and an ill-fated return from the Mexican Caribbean that made more headlines than this news will.

But that’s another story. Bad news is big news.

Before arriving in Mobile, the Fantasy will undergo a facelift. In nautical terms, they call this a refurbishing, one that will include Carnival’s FunShip 2.0 upgrade. This ship, which has been working out of Charleston, is 25 years old. That’s probably 75 in people years. Facelifts, as people of that vintage in Hollywood can attest, can be expensive.

When she gets to Mobile, she’ll be treated like a new ship. Of the 2,056 passengers she hopes to ferry to Mexico twice every week and a half, there will be some who aren’t Alabamans. In a city of under 200,000 people, drawing from the surrounding area is a prerequisite for being a homeport.

On a list of ocean cruise ports, you’ll find the names of Bar Harbor and Cadiz and Tortola and Oranjestad. But no Mobile.

That’s about to change.

In the news…

• Regal Princess largest cruise ship ever to visit St. John's, Newfoundland
• Marco Polo, formerly the Alexander Pushkin, back in Quebec after 50 years

Today at portsandbows.com: MSC Divina back to Miami to stay


Carnival Ecstasy
4 nights
November 30, 2015
Miami (return): Key West, Cozumel
Inside: $169
Cost per day: $42
www.carnival.com

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