Cruises from New Orleans on hold in wake of Hurricane Ida

Sep 3, 2021

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The comeback of cruising out of New Orleans is on hold for now, thanks to Hurricane Ida.

With electricity, drinking water and fuel still scarce across much of Louisiana in the wake of the storm, cruise giant Carnival has canceled a sailing out New Orleans scheduled for Sunday that would have been its first from the city in 17 months.

River cruise lines that operate Mississippi River sailings out of New Orleans also are steering clear of the city for now. Both American Cruise Lines and American Queen Steamboat Company will be operating river cruises in the coming days out of more northerly Mississippi River ports in Mississippi and Tennessee instead of New Orleans.

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The Carnival sailing on Sunday the line canceled, on the 2,980-passenger Carnival Glory, would have been the first ocean cruise out of New Orleans by any line since the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic in March of 2020.

The vessel had been scheduled to operate a seven-day voyage to the Bahamas that would have featured calls at Bimini, Freeport and Nassau.

In a statement sent to TPG, Carnival said the decision to cancel Sunday’s sailing followed a post-storm assessment by local officials. For now, the line only has canceled the coming week’s sailings. A sailing of Carnival Glory scheduled for Sept. 12 remains on the schedule.

“The channel to the cruise terminal remains closed, and New Orleans is under emergency management,” the line said in the statement. “We will provide our guests and travel advisor partners with additional information as it becomes available.”

Carnival said passengers on the canceled sailing would receive a full refund of their cruise fare.

“We are very sorry for this disruption to our guests’ vacation plans, and we will keep those affected by the storm in our thoughts and prayers,” the line added in the statement.

Among river ships affected by Hurricane Ida, American Cruise Lines’ 175-passenger American Melody will depart today on a 22-day Mississippi River cruise from Natchez, Mississippi, instead of New Orleans.

American Melody was sailing up the Mississippi from New Orleans last week on an eight-day voyage as Hurricane Ida approached the region but was able to adjust its schedule to avoid the storm, American Cruise Lines spokesperson Alexa Paolella told TPG. The vessel docked in Vicksburg, Mississippi, earlier than usual, she said.

American Cruise Lines’ 175-passenger American Melody has altered its Mississippi River cruise itinerary this week due to Hurricane Ida. (Photo courtesy of American Cruise Lines)

American Cruise Lines has four vessels operating on the Mississippi River complex this month. But only American Melody is anywhere near the areas affected by Hurricane Ida. The line’s three other Mississippi River-based vessels are sailing on the upper Mississippi and Ohio rivers.

“American Cruise Lines extends our sincere sympathies to everyone affected by last week’s devastating storm,” Paolella said. “We are supporting our partners in New Orleans and working with them to ensure a speedy and safe return of tourism.”

Also affected by Hurricane Ida is American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Queen. The iconic 436-passenger paddlewheeler will begin a nine-day Mississippi River voyage out of Memphis, Tennessee, on Monday instead of New Orleans. The sailing will include stops at Vicksburg, Greenville, Natchez and Terrene Landing in Mississippi; and Helena, Arkansas — a slightly different mix of stops than was originally planned.

American Queen Steamboat Company operates three vessels on the Mississippi River complex. But only American Queen is currently operating in the region affected by Hurricane Ida.

The line’s two other vessels (American Duchess and American Countess) currently are sailing on the Ohio River and the upper Mississippi River, respectively.

“Due to wide-spread power outages as a result of Hurricane Ida, we cannot travel to New Orleans safely at this time,” the line said in a statement sent to TPG.

The statement said no other sailings beyond next week’s American Queen sailing have been affected.

“Our thoughts are with the city of New Orleans, state of Louisiana and the many crew, guests and travel partners that call the city home,” the line said in the statement.

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Featured image by Gerard Bottino/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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