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September 3, 2005

Carnival ships chartered for hurricane relief

Carnival Cruise Lines has chartered three of its cruise ships to the Military Sealift Command (MSC) on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for six months as part of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

MSC has also reportedly separately chartered the car ferry Scotia Prince, which has been available since the cancellation of its 2005 season after a dispute about conditions at the terminal at Portland, Maine.

The three Carnival cruise ships are the Ecstasy, Sensation and Holiday.

The Ecstasy, normally homeported at Galveston, Texas, operating four- and five-day cruises, and Sensation, normally homeported in New Orleans operating four- and five-day voyages, will be pulled from service effective Monday, Sept. 5. Initial plans are for both vessels to be docked in Galveston.

The Holiday, which is homeported at Mobile, Ala., operating four and five- day Mexico cruises, will be pulled from service effective Thursday, Sept. 8. Initial plans are for the vessel to remain docked in Mobile.

"We sincerely apologize to those guests whose vacations have been impacted by these voyage cancellations," said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO. "However, given that Hurricane Katrina is the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, we trust our guests will understand that the decision to enter into these charters was the right one. This inconvenience to our guests will provide desperately needed housing for thousands of individuals affected by this tragedy," he added.

All guests whose bookings have been cancelled will be offered full refunds and will have the opportunity to re-book their cruise on any Carnival ship. Guests who re-book on any Carnival ship will receive a $100 per person shipboard credit. Carnival is protecting travel agent commissions on cancelled cruises.

As a result of three ships being taken out of service, Carnival is implementing some additional deployment changes within its fleet. The Elation, which currently operates seven-day cruises from Galveston, will offer a one-time six-day voyage departing Sept. 4, then take over the Ecstasy's four and five-day Galveston program effective Saturday, Sept. 10.

Guests on the Elation's six-day voyage will receive a 15 percent refund and a $50 per person shipboard credit.

The Ecstasy's five-day cruise of Sept. 5 has been cancelled. All guests originally scheduled to sail on the Ecstasy during the affected six-month period will be automatically moved to the Elation. The Ecstasy and Elation are sister ships with identical layouts. Guests will be assigned to the same cabins on Elation that they had booked on the Ecstasy.

Carnival Conquest, which is normally based in New Orleans, will move to Galveston after it completes its current drydock on Sept. 11, to operate her original seven-day itinerary to Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

Carnival shipboard employees will be staffing the three chartered ships. The Ecstasy, and Sensation each have approximately 920 crew and the Holiday has approximately 660. Affected Carnival guests will be notified of the cancelled and modified sailings this afternoon.

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