New Orleans-Based Mississippi Traffic Jam Clearing Out

February 26, 2004
A tragic ship sinking last Saturday -- a five passenger supply vessel collided with a cargo ship -- in the Southwest Channel, which leads ships between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico, has caused a bottleneck there that still reverberates for cruise passengers.
Carnival Conquest, which is based in New Orleans, sailed out of Gulfport Monday night -- a day later than the scheduled departure. As a result, passengers will miss the port of Montego Bay (the company has offered pro-rated refunds, a $50 per person shipboard credit, and a discount on a future cruise).
Their situation -- depending on how you look at it -- at least is preferable to folks booked on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas this week. This also-based-in-New Orleans vessel, which like Conquest was slated to depart on Sunday, never even made it out of port. The good news is that those folks get to experience an in-depth version of New Orleans' famous Mardi Gras. Folks on Rhapsody of the Seas, slated for a Mardi Gras-timed call at New Orleans, were able to make it because their ship docked at Gulfport instead. Passengers were bussed to the Big Easy.
Stormy weather throughout the past week made it difficult for the Coast Guard and salvage operators to raise the sunken ship (and tow it out of the way) but a one-lane channel in the Mississippi was reopened on Wednesday and cruise ships are now able to pass through.