November 27, 2002
Is Carnival's new Conquest just too big for New Orleans and the
Mississippi River? Last week's debut of the ship, the fleet's new
biggest-ever at 110,000 tons and a 2,974 passenger capacity, was
overshadowed by a controversy over power lines.
Seems that Carnival was promised that a low-hanging power line that spans
the Mississippi about two hours down-river from the "Big Easy," would be
raised by Entergy Corp., which owns it. Even during the river's low season
-- which it's currently experiencing -- the ship, which towers 207 feet
high, must hug to one side of the Mississippi (rather than sailing down
the middle -- and deepest part) to avoid the low line. When seasonal rains
begin, expected in two months or so, and the river rises, passing under
the power cable safely might be all but impossible.
Furious cruise line executives last week announced plans to abandon New
Orleans as the Conquest homeport for Gulfport if the issue wasn't
And so it has been. At this point it looks like the folks from Entergy
have gotten the message and have, according to Carnival spokeswoman
Jennifer de la Cruz, pledged to provide "a short and long-term resolution
to present to Carnival and other relevant parties on or before Dec. 3.
This is the first specific, formal written commitment we've received and
we are very encouraged by it. The various parties are communicating and it
appears that some positive progress is being made."
That's good. A Cruise Critic correspondent who sailed on Conquest last
week -- at the height of the brouhaha -- described crossing under the
power cable as "creepy." Not to mention sailing on a 110,000-ton behemoth
as it got incredibly close to the more shallow riverbank. "You could toss
a can onto the riverbank," she said. "You're that close."