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3 Cruise Ships to Serve as Shelters

September 04, 2005|From Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — Three Carnival Cruise Lines ships have been pressed into service by the government to provide shelter for as many as 7,000 hurricane victims.

The Ecstasy, the Sensation and the Holiday will be pulled from regular use Monday at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The cost of the charters was not disclosed.

Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said Saturday from Miami, where the company is based, that pleasure cruises were canceled to make the ships available for the next six months.

"I can't put a number on it, but we are displacing people to accommodate the FEMA charter," he said. "You're looking at tens of thousands."

Ecstasy, normally berthed at Galveston, Texas, for four- and five-day cruises, and Sensation, normally in New Orleans for similar trips, will both be pulled Monday and are scheduled to dock and house Katrina evacuees in Galveston.

The Holiday, which normally sails four- and five-day Mexico cruises out of Mobile, Ala., will be pulled Thursday and probably docked in Mobile.

About 920 crew members will staff the Ecstasy and Sensation, with about 660 running the Holiday. The Ecstasy and Sensation can each take 2,606 passengers, and the Holiday can hold 1,800.

All Carnival customers with canceled bookings will get full refunds and the opportunity to rebook on any Carnival ship with a $100-per-person shipboard credit.

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