MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Port City’s favorite cruise ship set sail on its final voyage to Mexico today. But the cruise line plans to bring a new ship to Mobile in October 2023.
Many passengers were saddened by this news, including the ship’s captain Michele Coppola, who says this last trip in Mobile is an emotional one, but he is excited for bigger and better things to come for the future.
“It’s kind of mixed emotion to be honest,” said Coppola. “In a way, we are bit sad like all the guests I met in the last cruise because this ship is leaving us.”
One couple, Doug and Leslie Bryant from New Hampshire got engaged on the Carnival Ecstasy heading to Mobile nearly 30 years ago, so when they heard the news about the cruise leaving Mobile, they knew they had to go on the ship one last time to relive one of their best memories.
“When we heard the ship was leaving service, I was surprised,” said Doug Bryant. “And thought I would go back, but now it is going out, we called up some folks, and I even got the same cabin I was in.”
Saying goodbye to ships was never easy for Carnival Brand Ambassador John Heald, but the outpour of community support at today’s farewell makes this moment more bittersweet for him.
“This is unprecedented because we’ve said goodbye to other ships of her class,” said Heald. “We’ve never had the opportunity to say goodbye because it was during the pandemic. The fact that all these people are here shows that they love this class of ship.”
As the cruise ship leaves, many businesses, such as hotels and restaurants around Mobile, will be impacted by its departure.
Joseph Snowden, the Executive Director of Administrative Services for the City of Mobile, understands these concerns, and he says there is a plan to keep the terminal in use and that he’s been keeping working with businesses that might be impacted.
“We totally understand with the loss of the ship…with every four to five days, we’re bringing over 2,000 new people or people to downtown,” said Snowden. “Our effort to continue to look for another platform or ship to Mobile is ongoing, our ultimate goal is to have more than two ships to have operations year-round.”
Carnival representatives tell News 5 that the plan is to bring a bigger ship called “Spirit” to Mobile by October 2023.