Mobile Hopes To Cruise Into Financial Success

For 70 years, the Southern Fish and Oyster Company has sat along a fishing pier in Mobile Bay, providing quality seafood to the community.

As of Friday, the pier is being shared, and according to Southern Fish & Oyster Company owner Ralph Atkins, this new neighbor is simply a huge opportunity.

"Today, we were probably almost double what we normally are and that was just people coming down here and 'well let's take some shrimp home with us and that type of thing.' And here we're still down here dark and we're just wore out. It sure is a good tired though I tell you that. I feel like it's gonna be the anchor for downtown Mobile. This will come in and will create enough stuff that it'll bring other businesses in and Mobile is fixin' to just take off," said Atkins.

And that is the plan.

In the efforts to lure the cruise industry, city leaders took immediate action, which included constructing a nearly 20 million dollar terminal in seven months.

This was all to make sure the Carnival Fun Ship Holiday would dock in Mobile Bay, and it is predicted that this new business venture will equal nothing but smooth sailing for the city.

"The economic impact is about 10 or 12 million dollars a visit. Considering the state too. Of course, there are other jobs and then people come to the state and they buy gas and they eat. Some of them stay overnight and the other thing is that they see enough about Alabama and Mobile I think that will bring them back," said Mobile waterfront development director Al St. Clair.

And Ralph Atkins hopes at least 10-percent of the estimated 1500 travelers aboard the Holiday each week will stop by his business to get a taste of what he has to offer.

But when asked if he would ever take a Holiday cruise, Mr. Atkins closed the door on his big opportunity.

"No. Why? I'm too old. And somebody's got to be here to catch all these tourists when they come back in," said Atkins.

The Holiday offers four and five day vacations to various parts of Mexico.

The luxuryliner is expected to visit Mobile 75 times a year, and if fully booked, the city could see at least 120-thousand visitors annually.