Carnival Cruises announces return of Charleston-to-Mobile trip after four year hiatus

Carnival’s announcement that a ship would be coming back to the Alabama Cruise Terminal kicked off with a lot of fanfare, and cruise fans. “I just wish it was going to be sooner than next November,” said Vickie Williams an avid “cruiser” from Mobile. “Maybe they’ll stretch it out to 7 day cruises one day, but we’re happy with everything,” said Angela Gray, also from Mobile.

But how long will these cheers last?  “This contract actually spans a period of 13 months,” said Mayor Sandy Stimpson, City of Mobile.  Because of the size of the port, and because Mobile is only docking one cruise ship city officials tell us Carnival will only sign a year to year contract. However the city may have one big advantage.

“Last time when they left us, you know it just kind of naked and so this time if the leave they’ll have to pay a penalty of $1.3 million,” said Stimpson.  With that said Carnival has an option to renew — and the company did for 7 years until it left. But no matter what happens the city still has to pay off the $20 million debt on the terminal. And under this agreement — the city is also expected to fetch more in parking revenue, helping to bring a $2 million net profit.  Ultimately the ball is still in Carnival’s court.  So, if the company doesn’t make enough profit, it could be faced with having to leave.

“And we’ve just got to be hopeful that the economics work out this time,” said Stimpson.  But Mobile has changed since 2011. New businesses have come to downtown, and the city has recently launched a tourism initiative. And all this gives “cruisers” a reason to be hopeful.  “We have the Maritime Museum Center and just more attractions to draw more people to Mobile and I do think that is a good thing,” said Williams.

The Mayor’s Office also told us cities that are small as Mobile, or host only one cruise ship routinely only get year to year contracts, so securing this deal was considered a major win. The contract will run from November 2016 until December 2017. Like the previous contract Carnival has 90 days to give notice before the term ends.

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