New Orleans Cruising Resumes as Ports Appeal for Recovery Aid
Cruising resumed from New Orleans this weekend as the ports of southern Louisiana continue to work to recover from Hurricane Ida that left a part of damage across the region less than a month ago. The resumption of cruising, which was the first since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, is seen as another step forward for the regional economy and recovery for the region.
Carnival Cruise Line had scheduled the resumption of cruising for the beginning of the month but delayed two weeks due to the impact of the hurricane. The Carnival Glory cruise ship rode out the storm in the Gulf of Mexico and then was used to provide emergency housing for recovery workers. The 110,000 gross ton cruise ship began its first revenue 7-day cruise from New Orleans to the Bahamas on September 19.
“Carnival Cruise Line has been a part of the New Orleans community for more than 25 years and we’re absolutely thrilled to provide our guests an opportunity to get ‘Back to Fun,’ while supporting the local economy in one of our most popular homeports,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.
The Carnival Glory returned to cruising as an extensive refit carried out in Europe, which included the addition of the company’s new red, white and blue livery for its ships. She became the company’s eleventh cruise ship to return to service. Half of Carnival’s cruise ships have returned to service with the phased-in returns scheduled to continue into early 2022. On November 1, the Carnival Valor will join the Carnival Glory in New Orleans resuming short cruises and combined Carnival Cruise Line expects to carry 400,000 passengers annually from New Orleans.
While the return of the first cruise ship was seen as a positive development, several south Louisiana ports also partnered to request federal assistance to aid in the recovery from the impacts of Hurricane Ida on their infrastructure, waterways, and communities. The Ports of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Fourchon, Morgan City, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, South Louisiana, and Terrebonne formally submitted a request to President Biden to ensure ports are included in bills for urgent funding from Congress.
According to the ports, critical impacts to maritime facilities and infrastructure include damage and extended closures of grain terminals and ongoing extended closure of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway between Morgan City and New Orleans, resulting in four- to five-day delays for barge tows and shallow-water traffic. There was also damage sustained to maritime communication systems and pilot stations on the Lower Mississippi River, extended outages of four of nine oil refineries on the Lower Mississippi River, power grid failures resulting in ongoing delays for restarting critical operations, and an increasing resulting need for sufficient back-up power generating systems for maritime infrastructure.
“The Port of New Orleans and New Orleans Public Belt Railroad are resilient and strong. Our wharves are busy post storm and trains are moving, but we still have challenges to overcome in order to get back to previous levels,” said Brandy D. Christian, President and CEO of Port NOLA and CEO of NOPB. “To restore this economic engine fully and preserve the thousands of jobs that depend on it, we respectfully ask that the White House urgently request funding from Congress to address these issues as soon as possible to help us collectively move forward from these significant impacts.”
The Lower Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to the Gulf is one of the busiest port complexes in the world, with approximately 6,000 oceangoing ships annually transiting the river and handling 60 percent of the nation’s export grain and 20 percent of its energy.