Carnival Cruise Line reported today that the Port of New Orleans notified them that the river is closed to ship traffic. The port has not given a specific timeframe for the reopening of the river to deep draft ship traffic. The Elation is due to dock on Thursday but that could be delayed if the port is not reopened.
The Carnival Elation sails a combination of four and five night itineraries out of New Orleans, Louisiana to the Caribbean side of Mexico. Recently, the Carnival Conquest joined the Elation in New Orleans. The Conquest sails week long cruises to the Caribbean. During the Winter cruise season Norwegian and Royal Caribbean sail from New Orleans as well.
The port is scheduled to remain closed thru Wednesday. Once the storm is past they will conduct an assessment of the port in conjunction with the United States Coast Guard. The port has to be deemed safe for operations meaning the waterways must be safe for passage and the port facilities must be safe. Further, Carnival will have to assess the cruise terminal to ensure it can be used for turn-around of the cruises.
At this point no additional cruise ships are impacted by any of the current port closures. Of course the Port of New Orleans and Mississippi River are used to transport many tons of good each day out to sea, so the impact on commerce is adding up each day. With it being the low season for cruises out of the Gulf of Mexico ports the impact to these cruises is minimized compared to what it would be in the Winter cruise season.
Carnival works to ensure the safety and comfort of the passengers and crew. Thus, any changes to scheduled cruises are undertaken to ensure safety and comfort. This could impact the length of current and scheduled cruises. It is possible a prolonged closure of the Port of New Orleans could impact where the ship docks for the end of the current cruise.
At this point Carnival has set up text alerts for this sailing as well as put information on the Carnival weather alerts page. Those sailing on the cruise Thursday should consider enrolling in the text alert program so they can remain abreast of changes to their sailing. Information about changes to the sailing will be announces as soon as Carnival can make the announcements. To enroll, in this program, text CCL1 to 278473. Regardless, make sure Carnival has contact information if you are scheduled to be on the next sailing.
Nearby alternate cruise ports are Galveston, Texas which about five to six hours by highway to the West and Mobile, Alabama which is about two hours to the East. Port of Galveston has not been impacted by Isaac. Port of Mobile closed due to Isaac and has not reopened the port to traffic. Once the Isaac, passes all closed ports will review any damage and changes to the waterways due to the storm before allowing ship traffic in.