|Carnival Cruise Lines is negotiating for a return to home porting in Mobile, AL, officials say. // Photo by Susan J. Young|
John Heald, veteran cruise director, Carnival Cruise Line, who has more than 91,000 followers on Facebook, confirmed that Mobile, AL, may once again be a home port in his line's future plans.
Here's the message Heald posted on his Facebook page:
"For my friends in Mobile and beyond: Carnival Cruise Line can confirm that we met with the mayor of Mobile yesterday in Miami. We are in the final stages of contract negotiations with the City of Mobile for future cruises from the port. We expect this process to be concluded by the end of the month."
Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson confirmed the negotiations. The Mobile Register reported that Carnival officials are expected to visit the port this month to announce specifics. Any agreement would have to be approved by the Mobile City Council.
"Providing additional home ports for our cruise customers is very welcome, especially those who prefer driving to the port itself," emphasized Clay Nottrodt, Priority Travel LLC, a Nexion member in Birmingham, AL. "Also, knowing the immense, rich history that Mobile has to offer, this is a great opportunity for those flying or driving into Mobile to enjoy a new experience. "
Back to Mobile?
Carnival first began cruising from Mobile back in 2004. That continued for seven years, but in 2011, the line made the decision to pull out of the port. No other cruise lines operated regularly scheduled cruises from Mobile following the line's departure.
That put much financial strain on the city, left with sizable debt -- and no influx of cruise docking revenue -- to pay for the building of the Alabama Cruise Terminal (which was in use by Carnival prior to its departure).
Coincidentally, Carnival brought its ill-fated Carnival Triumph cruise to Mobile, in 2013, when the ship had propulsion issues near Mexico. That infamous voyage, with days without onboard power, created serious PR woes for the line as media across the globe picked up on the story and passengers' displeasure.
Officials in Mobile worked hard to prepare and assist guests and crew upon their arrival, despite not having any regular Carnival service from the port. Whether Carnival will return with year-round service, or seasonal service is not yet known.
Nottrodt said he's had many clients on Carnival’s previous sailings from Mobile. "This will fill a void for the Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and other surrounding states," he stresses.
“Carnival's return to Mobile is like the icing on the cake," believes Sean Schultz, franchise owner, CruiseOne, Foley, AL. "I have had many calls about Carnival's return looking for more details." He stressed that Carnival has a record as a good partner, offers a great value for clients and is a good fit for the city.