The Port of New Orleans says workers are preparing for Tropical Storm Karen, but cargo operations are continuing uninterrupted, despite the closure of Southwest Pass at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
However, Carnival Cruise Line ships scheduled to arrive at the port this weekend may be delayed until Monday, the port and the cruise company are saying. Guests aboard the Carnival Elation and the Carnival Conquest are being kept apprised of the storm, and both vessels are said to be sailing a safe distance from the storm.
“The entire Port community continues to monitor the storm and we have implemented Phase II of our Hurricane Preparedness Plan,” said Gary LaGrange, the President and CEO of the Port of New Orleans. “Phase II includes securing all equipment and facilities and removing any debris that could become a hazard during a tropical storm. We’re prepared and ready for whatever effects may come our way.”
The port says nine cargo ships are expected to be at docks through the weekend, and many of them will be working cargo pending continued favorable weather conditions.
The port says the US Coast Guard will determine when the river will reopen for transit once the storm has passed.
The full statement from Carnival Cruise Lines:
Carnival Elation operates four and five-day cruises from New Orleans and departed on its current voyage, a five-day cruise, on Monday, Sept. 30 that included stops in Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico. The ship is presently headed on a northwesterly course to remain behind and west of the storm. The ship, which was originally scheduled to return to New Orleans on Saturday, Oct. 5, will remain at sea, a safe distance from the storm, and await the re-opening of the Mississippi River. Once the river re-opens, it requires a time frame of approximately eight to nine hours to sail up river to New Orleans. Therefore, Carnival Elation is expected to dock in New Orleans on Monday, Oct. 7. The exact time of arrival is dependent on when the river re-opens. The Elation’s next voyage has been modified from a five-day cruise to a three-day Fun Cruise at Sea. Guests who opt to proceed with the cruise will receive a 50 percent refund for this voyage and a 50 percent discount towards a future three to five-day cruise.
Carnival Conquest operates seven-day Caribbean and Florida/Bahamas cruises from New Orleans. The ship departed New Orleans on its current voyage on Sunday, Sept. 29 that included stops in Montego Bay, Jamaica; Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
The Carnival Conquest is presently headed on a northwesterly course through the Gulf of Mexico and will remain a safe distance from the storm. Carnival Conquest was originally scheduled to return to New Orleans on Sunday, Oct. 6. The ship will remain at sea until the Mississippi River re-opens. Once the river opens, given the necessary eight to nine hour transit time up river, we expect the ship to arrive in New Orleans on Monday, Oct. 7. The exact time of arrival is dependent on when the river re-opens.
The Conquest’s next voyage will be modified from a seven-day cruise to a six-day cruise with stops in Key West and Nassau, The Bahamas – two of the three originally scheduled ports. Guests who opt to proceed with this cruise will receive a one-day pro-rated refund.
Given the nature of tropical weather systems, the above plans could be further modified depending on the storm’s track, speed and other factors. As always, our foremost priority is on the safety and comfort of our guests and crew. We are closely monitoring the storm, keeping our guests informed and navigating the vessels a safe distance from the weather system. We are also mobilizing a number of additional staff who will join our current team in New Orleans. This will enable us to do everything possible to provide our guests with a high level of assistance and to minimize the inconvenience caused by Tropical Storm Karen.
Guests can receive automatic updates by signing up for text alerts. For updates on Carnival Elation, text CCL1 to CRUISE (278473) and for updates on Carnival Conquest text CCL2 to CRUISE (278473). Updates are also being posted on www.carnival.com.