Gulf Oil Spill Not Yet Affecting Cruise Ships Out of New Orleans

As a massive oil spill threatens the coast of Louisiana, cruise ships have so far been able to navigate the waters around New Orleans.

The Port of New Orleans posted a notice on Thursday explaining the Southwest Pass -- the main route between the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico -- was open and remained clear of oil. Any oil currently in the area is light enough that ships passing through are not yet required by the Coast Guard to clean their hulls.

Carnival Cruise Lines, who has the only cruise ship currently sailing the affected area, told USA Today the company's ships have so far been able to maneuver around the spill. The 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph arrived on schedule at the Erato Street Cruise Terminal early Saturday morning to disembark passengers. The ship then set sail once again from the port on Saturday evening.

A Carnival spokeswoman told industry insider Cruise Critic, "captains navigating our ships sailing from Mobile and New Orleans may opt to deviate course slightly to sail around the affected area. However, we do not anticipate any changes to the scheduled itineraries and associated ports of call as a result."

On April 25th, Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Star left for its final sailing from New Orleans for the season. The ship will be repositioned to Alaska for the summer until returning again in November. Norwegian recently announced plans to expand year-round sailings out of the port in November.

Just a little over a week ago, Royal Caribbean announced the line will begin sailing from New Orleans. However, the 3,114-passenger Voyager of the Seas, the largest ship to ever be based in the city, will not begin sailing out of the port until November 2011.

According to USA Today, the Coast Guard said yesterday the oil leaking from a deepwater well explosion on April 20th has been spewing "five times as much oil as originally thought." Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency on Thursday, and President Barack Obama arrived in Louisiana to tour the region today.
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