Last updated: 09:13 PM ET, Thu September 03 2015

Carnival Negotiating a Return to Mobile, Alabama

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Carnival Cruise Line | Theresa Norton | September 03, 2015

Carnival Negotiating a Return to Mobile, Alabama

PHOTO: Carnival operated the Holiday out of Mobile through late 2009. (TravelPulse file photo)

It appears Carnival Cruise Line is returning to Mobile, Ala., the homeport it abandoned in 2011 after seven years there.

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson tweeted the news. “I am proud to share with you today: We are in the final stages of contract negotiations with Carnival for future cruises from Mobile. When we have a final contract it will be provided to the Mobile City Council to approve for execution. We expect this process to be concluded by the end of the month.”

The cruise company issued a similarly worded statement. “Carnival Cruise Line can confirm that we met with the mayor of Mobile yesterday in Miami. We are in the final stages of contract negotiations with the City of Mobile for future cruises from the port. We expect this process to be concluded by the end of the month.”

That’s good news for Mobile, which built a $28 million cruise terminal that has gone virtually unused and generating little income save for some special events for the past four years, according to local TV station WKRG.

Stimpson wants to boost tourism to Mobile, increasing visitors from 3 million to 6 million by 2020 and recruiting a cruise line.

Stimpson was in Miami meeting with Carnival executives and held a press conference at Mobile Regional Airport upon his return Sept. 3. WKRG broke into regularly scheduled programming to air the press conference.

He declined to say whether Carnival would operate seasonally or year-round, or how long the deal would last, but said “I don’t think anybody’s going to be disappointed in the contract.”

He also said he was not negotiating with any other cruise lines.

When Carnival announced it was leaving Mobile in 2011, then-President and CEO Gerry Cahill said it was because the operation was not generating high enough returns.

“Although we have consistently filled the ship, it has been at lower relative pricing to the rest of our fleet,” he said. “We have made every effort to drive higher demand and pricing through our sales and marketing initiatives and the deployment of a newer class of ship in 2009. However, we have not been successful in achieving a sustainable level of acceptable pricing.”

Carnival operated several ships from Mobile through the years, including the Carnival Holiday, Fantasy and Elation.

The Mobile Alabama Cruise Terminal is a two-story, 66,000-square-foot facility with an attached 500-space parking deck, six covered pick-up and drop-off lanes, and a pedestrian circulation tower with four elevators, escalator and stairwell. Located in downtown Mobile, the terminal is close to hotels, restaurants and attractions. It is a half a mile from I-10 and six miles from the I-65 and I-10 junction.

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