In a recent article on [% 2310817 | | cruising trends %], I wrote that New Orleans was an up-and-coming port this year, partially because Carnival planned to homeport the Carnival Triumph in the Big Easy year-round. In a press release yesterday, Carnival revoked that decision because, according to CEO Bob Dickinson, “we do not feel the timing is right to place a second ship there just yet.”
The Carnival Triumph will not move to New Orleans in late August. Instead, it will remain in Miami through at least April 2008 and sail weekly seven-night “Exotic Eastern Caribbean” cruises to Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, St. Thomas, and Puerto Rico.
Dickinson gives two reasons for this decision: the popularity of the new eastern Caribbean itinerary and hesitation within the vacationing public to embrace New Orleans as a travel destination. Carnival does plan to continue its cruise program in New Orleans, and the Fantasy will keep its current schedule of four- and five-night sailings from the port.
“We are committed to New Orleans and, not only will the Fantasy remain there, but we will continue our efforts to build consumer interest in cruising from New Orleans and to counter some of the erroneous perceptions of the city that are currently posing a challenge,” says Dickinson.
This decision must be a huge blow to the people of New Orleans, who were looking forward to the increased revenue a second year-round Carnival ship would bring. If you want to see this city’s tourism industry rebound, book a cruise out of New Orleans on any of the lines that homeport there or write Carnival expressing your interest in seven-night sailings from the Big Easy. Only with renewed public interest will New Orleans be able to grow its cruise business once again.