Mechanical problems delay Carnival Ecstasy on first cruise from Mobile since pandemic

Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 5:30 PM CST
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The Carnival Ecstasy has experienced some mechanical problems during the first voyage out of Mobile since COVID-19 halted cruising.

A passenger sent video to FOX10 News and indicated that the crew had difficulty getting two lifeboats back on the ship during a safety drill Tuesday, delaying the vessel’s departure from Cozumel, Mexico, until midnight. He told FOX10 News that the captain informed passengers that the ship would return to Mobile at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday, several hours late.

Carnival Cruise Line confirmed the issues.

“Carnival Ecstasy’s crew completed necessary maintenance on one of the ship’s lifeboats, which delayed its return to Mobile today,” the company said in a statement to FOX10 News. “We apologize for the late return, but the safety of our guests and crew is always our priority.”

Even before problems on this cruise, Carnival planned to retire the Ecstasy at in mid-October. Mobile will be without a ship until the following September, when the Spirit arrives. It is newer and bigger – but there’s a catch. It will sail out of Mobile only six months out of the year and then relocate to Alaska.

That has the potential to cut the roughly $12 million economic impact for Mobile in half. But Visit Mobile president and CEO David Clark said he does not believe it will be that significant.

“That would be the first logic, but I say it does not cut in half for these reasons,” he said. “One, when you have a longer, like a six- or eight-day itinerary, this customer demographic tends to stay the night before – usually even more, or maybe stay two days before and maybe stay after.”

Clark noted that major tourist destinations like Seattle, San Francisco and New York also are seasonal cruise markets.

“I think we’re a pretty good company even to maybe just be a seasonal port for a while,” he said.

Mobile becoming a seasonal market also will cut revenue the city colleges in parking and other fees. Currently, that comes to about $6 million annually for a full year. The change looks to cut that roughly in half, although it still would exceed the $1.8 million debt payment on the Mobile Alabama Cruise Terminal.

Customers now can book those six- and eight-day cruises online. The shorter route takes passengers from Mobile to Cozumel and then to the Carnival-owned Mahogany Bay in the Caribbean Sea, before returning back to Mobile.

The eight-day cruise starts in Mobile and has stops at Mahogany Bay, Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico.

There’s also an eight-day option that takes passengers to the Bahamas. That takes travelers to Bimini, Freeport and Half Moon Cay and Nassau.

Few industries have been belted as hard by the COVID-19 pandemic as the cruise industry. But Clark said he is bullish on the future,

“They have a lot of challenges,” he acknowledged. “They’ve been more adversely impacted than any other industry segment the world. But it also shows the resiliency. They’re back to cruising again, and their protocols are very tight. They’re very safe. So you know, their standards are very high. So I think they’re gonna bounce back very quickly, and it’s going to be totally sustainable.”