The fact a cruise ship will soon locate in Mobile is a disappointment to Coast tourism officials. Steve Richer of the Tourism bureau wants to put a positive spin on the news, but admitted shortly after the announcement was made, he wishes the Carnival line had chosen to come here.
"Am I disappointed that it is not an announcement about Gulfport today, absolutely," Richer told WLOX News anchor Jeff Lawson. But he added, "I am more optimistic about the future because of today."
Earlier this year, it was Gulfport that hosted the largest cruise ship in the world, when it had to leave its homeport of New Orleans due to navigational problems. Carnival officials said they were very impressed. But, it's Carnival that has chosen to home port in Mobile, not Gulfport.
Richer says it's important to have a good relationship with our neighbors in Mobile, but he's left scratching his head on this one.
"We have 18 thousand rooms, they don't have 18 thousand rooms. We have first class entertainment and new museums, they have some."
Richer says it actually works to our advantage to have a cruise ship so close, and he insists, our competition is not Mobile or New Orleans.
For those anxiously awaiting a cruise ship berthing here, Richer insists it's not a matter of if, but when. In the next three years, 26 cruise ships will come on line, Richer is optimistic, one of those, will be coming here.