Categorized | Etcetera


Posted on 03 May 2010

Shippers, shrimpers and tourism officials braced Sunday as a huge oil slick continued to spread in the Gulf of Mexico, bringing some fishing operations to a halt, but many said it was too early to tell how severe the economic impact would be. The spill could disrupt shipping traffic if lanes are closed to prevent the oil spill from spreading. Cruise ships were advised to reroute their approaches to New Orleans, as the massive oil spill began creeping towards the Louisiana coastline. The Port of New Orleans said that all ships should take the Southwest Pass route from the Gulf of Mexico to the Mississippi river, to try and avoid the spill areas altogether. Carnival Cruise Lines has the only ship currently sailing in the affected area near New Orleans, with the 2,758-passenger Triumph operating weekly four-, five and seven-day sailings from New Orleans this month. The Triumph was scheduled to return to New Orleans on Saturday morning and depart again Saturday afternoon.

Carnival’s 2,056-passenger Fantasy is currently operating seven-day cruises out of Mobile, Ala., where officials are also bracing for the slick to possibly reach its shores. The Fantasy is scheduled to depart for its new homeport of Charleston, S.C., on May 15, the same day the 2,052-passenger Carnival Elation begins year-round service from Mobile. The Fantasy is scheduled to return from its current cruise to Mobile today. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Star left New Orleans on April 25, the ship’s final sailing of the season before repositioning to Alaska for the summer. Tourism officials in Mississippi and Alabama said the impact on their business has been minimal so far. “We don’t see any kind of signs so far” of the oil slick, said Richard Forester, executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau. “People are walking and fishing on the beach.”

The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau said it is closely monitoring cleanup efforts of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. It is business as usual for visitors to New Orleans and the city welcomed hundreds of thousands of leisure and business travelers over the weekend for the second weekend of the Jazz and Heritage Festival. New Orleans is located approximately 100 miles inland, and the CVB does not anticipate any disruption in guest services or impact to visitors, New Orleans citizens or the tourism industry

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