On Sunday evening, Galveston waved bon voyage to the first Carnival cruise ship setting sail from the island since the awful voyage of the Carnival Triumph. And passengers aboard the Carnival Magic weren’t all that worried.
“The odds are absolutely incredible in our favor,” said Jonah Siegel, a father from Seattle corralling his family and their luggage on a Galveston pier. “Very few times there are problems with cruise ships and they just had one, so we feel very lucky.”
Huge cruise ships tower over The Strand in Galveston like skyscrapers sailing ashore, drawing tourists from across the nation. Despite the nightmarish publicity surrounding the Triumph’s troubled trip, the parking lots around the piers were crowded Sunday as whole families unloaded their bags for a few days at sea.
“We love to cruise, so that’s not going to stop us,” said Susan Lee, one of a family of passengers boarding the Magic. “It’s not like you’re on an airplane where you crash and you’re gone. At least these people survived and it was just an adventure.”
Still, no matter how committed the cruise ship fans, Galveston will feel an economic impact from the Triumph’s problems.
Carnival has cancelled 14 cruises of its troubled ship. That means roughly 3,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members who normally set sail on each cruise won’t pass through the port or wander around the shops on The Strand.
“This being the slow season for us down here, Mondays and Thursdays when that Triumph was in, from when we opened the doors at 9:30 until about 3:00, that was about 90 percent of our business,” said Ryan Conner, a manager at Tolah, a clothing and gift shop a short walk away from the piers.
The total economic impact is difficult to figure. Port officials have already calculated they will lose $700,000 in revenues they usually collect when the Triumph docks in Galveston.
Still, some cruise enthusiasts will simply rebook their reservations on other ships. Lee’s extended family was scheduled to board the Triumph this week, but even though some of her relatives decided to bail out a few of them decided to take their cruise early aboard the Magic.
“Yes,” she said, as she snapped a photo of her relatives waiting to board the Magic. “We’re cruising with Carnival!”