Eight weeks into the BP oil spill disaster, Carnival President & CEO Gerry Cahill reports no impact yet on cruises. “Is the oil spill impacting demand for Gulf cruises out of Alabama and elsewhere? The answer is no, it’s not,” Cahill emphatically told CruiseWeek.
Ships entering or leaving New Orleans and Mobile are cruising around the oil slick. “That costs us more fuel, and that’s unfortunate,” says Cahill. “They also inspect us to make sure we don’t have any oil on the hull, but we haven’t had to do a cleaning yet.”
CruiseCritic.com reports that Carnival stands to bear the greatest impact from the spill if it worsens, because it sails from Mobile, New Orleans and Florida ports. As a precaution, Carnival is only sailing through oily areas of the Gulf during daylight. This has led to slight changes in departure times. However, Carnival ships are still sailing in parts of the Gulf of Mexico outside the slick zone during the night.
While tar balls have washed up on Alabama and Pensacola, Florida area beaches, they are beginning to enter the Gulf Stream and could loop around southern Florida reaching the shores of the Bahamas and southern Florida over the next few weeks. Little has been said so far on what type of impact this development will have on cruise operations from Tampa, Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
Not only specific to cruise travel, a B.C. agent says the oil spill is impacting Canadian travel plans. Claire Newell with Jubilee Travel in Burnaby says people who are now planning their group holidays, like weddings and family re-unions, for the fall are avoiding not only Florida but the entire Gulf region.
“All anyone is thinking is that these oil slicks are going to hit the beaches in the Caribbean, the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Mayan Riviera in Mexico. People are really concerned, and they are thinking if this doesn’t stop or doesn’t get cleaned up quickly, the beaches are going to be covered in oil,” she says.