Evacuees Settle In To Life On Board The Holiday

Some 1600 South Mississippians now call the Carnival Cruise Ship Holiday home. The ship, docked in Pascagoula, has been housing evacuees displaced by the storm for the first time in history.

"You have to remember, we are in a cabin, not a room. It's a ship, not a boat. And we are on a deck, not a floor," FEMA representative Herve Riou said.

Its lunch rooms, never served those really in need, until now.

"We serve over 3,000 meals a day to all of the FEMA guests on board. Full breakfast in the morning, a five course lunch including a salad bar. We have a pizzeria which is open 12 hours a day. Non-stop self service ice cream," Andrew Mace with Carnival said. "It's a holiday, on the Holiday."

It's that atmosphere Katrina victims say they like. Lisa Xenos has been living on the ship for nine weeks. She says it beats living in her car.

"It's wonderful. I can have a little privacy, my kids can have a nice warm bed, I wouldn't have to worry about is it too hot, too cold," Xenos said.

Robert Herr plans to stay until he finds a permanent home.

"They've got a game room for the kids, they feed us three times a day, a gym," Herr said.

FEMA officials say they're happy to provide evacuees a safe place to stay so they can continue the recovery process. But the ride isn't always smooth. Some residents have witnessed problems.

"Teenagers fighting and a domestic assault, but FEMA and the security guards were right on it," Xenos said.

Lisa Xenos says that made her feel safe - safe enough to continue her stay as she looks for a more permanent home for her family.

FEMA officials say the cruise ship will continue to be a shelter as long as it's needed. Remember, you can still apply to stay on the cruise ship. Space opens up almost daily as ship residents move into permanent housing.

To apply for housing, call 1-800-621-FEMA or go online at www.fema.gov. If you already have an application for housing filed with FEMA, you may update it by phone, online or by visiting a local Disaster Relief Center.