Turns out that most folks who set sail from New Orleans on Carnival Conquest and Sensation just before the storm hit (both ended up disembarking passengers in Galveston) will be able to get their cars back -- though whether they'll want them back is now the question.
We say "most" because an unknown number have been stolen, and nearly all of the vehicles that are still at the port have been damaged in one way or another. According to an advisory on the Port of New Orleans' Web site, most damage consists of "broken windows, steering column damage and removal of CD players and other electronic equipment." Although none of the parking lots flooded, the Port of New Orleans does not guarantee the "drive-ability" of any vehicle.
The Port of New Orleans has compiled lists of cars in the Tchoupitoulas surface parking lot, the Poydras St. surface lot, the Fulton St. parking garage and the Delta Queen garage that include make, model, color and license plate number. Next to each, an "x" indicates whether the car was broken into or if an attempt was made to hotwire it ... or both. Unfortunately, the outcome looks grim for many: Only 3 out of 335 cars parked in Fulton garage are not marked as having been broken into.
Click here to view the complete vehicles lists.
All of the parking lots are open and accessible during daylight hours, but entry into the Parish is limited. A spokesperson for the port tells us that "some [cruise passengers] have made it through the checkpoints, but others may not have" because entry is controlled by the City of New Orleans. It's prudent to call ahead for further information on entry before attempting to retrieve your vehicle -- the office of emergency preparedness can be reached at 504-658-2009.
If you do not see your vehicle on any of the lists, "it can be assumed to have been stolen." However, the port is willing to recheck the lots to make sure your vehicle was not simply overlooked; if your car is not listed, contact Johnny Cefalu at 504-528-3219.
The Port of New Orleans recommends that passengers whose vehicles are listed as damaged, or are not on the list, notify their insurance carriers.