Back to business for cruises after Triumph debacle

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 17, 2013 at 6:46 PM

Updated Sunday, Feb 17 at 7:01 PM

Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News
Email: ssatchfield@wwltv.com | Twitter: @satchfield

NEW ORLEANS -- At the riverfront Sunday, passengers filed onto the Carnival Conquest bound for the western Caribbean.

While excited about the journey, Zachary Hunter had the Carnival Triumph debacle on his mind.

"I can't say it hasn't factored in. We already booked the cruise prior to this,” Hunter said.

The disabled Triumph and its more than 3,000 stranded passengers captured national attention last week, but Port of New Orleans officials aren't expecting much impact here.

"We don't think anybody's gonna jump out there and really start to cancel their cruises,” said Gary LaGrange, CEO of the Port of New Orleans. “You know, it's a thing that just doesn't happen real often.”

And for a city with so much riding on the industry, that's critical. More than 800,000 passengers cruised in and out of New Orleans in 2011, officials say, and the yet-to-be confirmed numbers for last year look even better.

Over the past couple years, the city has beefed up its cruise port infrastructure, and tourism officials say more changes are coming."

"We've got two active boarding areas, two cruise terminals. You've got Julia Street as well as Erato,” said Mark Romig, CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. "Planning is underway for a third cruise terminal down around Poland Avenue and that'll probably add up to two more ships here, home-ported."

The expectation now is that Carnival and other companies will learn from the Triumph's turbulent voyage.

"You have to be vigilant,” LaGrange said. “You have to learn from your lessons. You have to move forward and take the necessary precautionary steps for the next time that something like this may happen."

"I've been on a whole bunch of cruises before this and I've done Carnival before,” Hunter said. “I don't think it's gonna be any problem."

Officials say the cruise industry currently provides more than 5,000 jobs in Louisiana.

 

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