Apparently, a barge broke loose from a tow boat on the Mississippi and banged into River Explorer, Conrad explained. The vessel did take on some water but, "You have compartments and pumps just like on big cruise ships so it couldn't go any further than the first compartment."
Indeed, though the U.S. Coast Guard is on the barge, River Explorer is being permitted to finish its cruise -- slated to end tomorrow morning in New Orleans, some three hours away. No one was injured, and folks will be able to sleep on the barge tonight.
However, tomorrow's new cruise -- a Delta South-themed eight-night trip from New Orleans to Memphis has been canceled; the ship will go to a yard in the region for the necessary repairs. Passengers on that trip have been notified.
River Explorer is the flag ship of the one-vessel RiverBarge Excursion Lines. A hotel barge -- more like those that ply the inland waterways of Europe than big cruise ships -- it actually consists of two 295-ft. long vessels (called DeSoto and LaSalle) that are hitched together and pushed by a 3,000-horsepower towboat, not to be confused with a tugboat, named Miss Nari.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor