Due to the loss of the airline’s luggage, Carnival Cruise Lines brand ambassador John Heald was underdressed when the company’s Ecstasy ship left port on Mobile Monday for the final time to retire.
Instead of an Armani suit, the ship’s former cruise director sported a crimson Alabama shirt, while joking about borrowing dress shirts from the assembled reporters. Nevertheless, he said he would not have missed such an opportunity.
“Today 1,800 of my relatives – drove and flew here from as far away as Canada and Scotland because they love Mobile and they love Ecstasy,” he said.
Heald served as Ecstasy Cruise Director in 1993 and 1994. He returned to Mobile and also served as Cruise Director on the Holiday.
“There are so many great memories from the past,” Heald said of his return to Mobile. “I’m excited about the future.”
As Ecstasy leaves port and will be retired from Carnival’s fleet after the five-day cruise departed Monday, Oct. 10, Heald said the city will welcome another ship in a year’s time when the Carnival Spirit makes port. Ville its seasonal home from October 2023.
The larger ship with more balconies will sail from Mobile to a number of destinations on six- and eight-day trips to Mexico, the Bahamas, Belize and other popular destinations.
In March of each year, the ship will return to Seattle and then to Alaska to resume cruises in the Pacific Northwest during the spring and summer months.
Ecstasy captain Michele Coppola said he had mixed emotions about sailing the ship for the last time.
“We are a bit sad because this ship is leaving us,” he said through a KN95 mask. “The ship deserves her rest and I am honored to be on her last voyage.”
After the final cruise with passengers, Coppola, a 22-year-old carnival veteran, will steer the ship to Europe where it will be dismantled.
The Carnival Ecstasy was built in Helsinki, Finland, and debuted as the second “Fun Ship” in the groundbreaking Fantasy class. Over the years, the ship has serviced eight of Carnival’s homeports, including Miami, Port Canaveral and Jacksonville, Florida, Galveston, Texas, Long Beach, CA, New Orleans, Louisiana, Charleston, SC, and more. recently, Mobile .
An important piece of Carnival Ecstasy memorabilia, a 1934 Rolls Royce Saloon that had been parked by the ship’s aptly named Rolls Royce Café, will remain a part of the fleet – aboard the new Carnival Celebration. The car that millions of Carnival guests have admired will become a feature of Carnival Celebration’s The Gateway, a two-deck area of the ship that celebrates the excitement of exploring new destinations and highlights the evolution of ships from Carnival over the past 50 years. The new ship debuts in Port Miami on November 20.
Joe Snowden, executive director of city administrative services, said that in the absence of the ship, ASM Global would help manage the Mobile, Alabama cruise terminal and use it as event space for weddings, meetings and other activities. . The Spirit’s arrival in a year will give the city a chance to show it belongs as a home port for cruise ships, Snowden said.
“Carnival put this ship in Mobile as an opportunity to show what a great port we are,” he said. “It’s a whole new ship, bigger and better. We’re going to fill the ship and keep it full to show the world how great we are.
Although there are no passengers and no ships coming to the cruise terminal, Snowden said, the city will be undertaking upgrades to the facility, including a new $4.9 million gangway. which would allow passengers to board larger and newly reconfigured ships.
“We have identified funding for a new passenger boarding bridge,” he said. “I think it’s an investment that will pay dividends.”
Snowden understands the impact a year without a cruise ship could have on downtown Mobile. That’s why the city is working to bring other ships to port, he said.
“The goal is to have two or more ships operating out of here,” Snowden said.