Vessel traffic on the Mississippi River returned to normal Sunday as the remnants of Tropical Storm Karen dissipated. U.S. Coast Guard officials rescinded all restrictions on the River and area waterways about midnight, allowing vessels and mariners to resume normal operations.

The Carnival Conquest arrived at the Port’s Erato Street Cruise Terminal about noon, followed by the Carnival Elation berthing at the Julia Street Cruise Terminal a half hour later.

“Our top priority was to keep a safe distance from the storm while we waited for the river to re-open. We are pleased to be able to get our ships back into New Orleans earlier than what was originally anticipated as the storm was moving towards the coastline. We apologize to our guests for the inconvenience caused by Tropical Storm Karen and we extend our appreciation to all of the officials and maritime partners in New Orleans who have worked with us throughout to manage the situation as smoothly as possible," said Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines.

Both the Carnival Elation and Carnival Conquest are scheduled to depart on abbreviated cruises by 4 p.m. Monday. All Port terminals and gatehouses will operate normally Monday, as four cargo vessels – including two container ships – are scheduled to arrive at Port docks.

“We always prepare for the worst and hope for the best and this time it thankfully turned out to be the latter,” said Gary LaGrange, Port President and CEO. “We appreciate all of the hard work and professionalism from all Port stakeholders, including the U.S. Coast Guard, river pilot associations, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Customs and Border Protection for working to return commerce to this vital waterway as soon as safely possible.”

Carnival Cruise Line information is below:

Carnival Cruise Lines has two ships homeported in New Orleans whose operations were impacted by Tropical Storm Karen. Given the closure of the Mississippi River, the arrivals of both Carnival Elation and Carnival Conquest to New Orleans were delayed. Both vessels maintained a safe distance from the storm while awaiting the re-opening of the river.

Carnival Elation

Carnival Elation operates four and five-day cruises from New Orleans and departed on its current voyage, a five-day cruise, on Monday, Sept. 30 that included stops in Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico. The ship was originally scheduled to return to New Orleans on Saturday, Oct. 5. Carnival Elation arrived about 12:30 pm today. Guests have the option of disembarking today or remaining on board until tomorrow morning.

The Elation’s next voyage will depart on Monday, Oct 7 and has been modified from a five-day cruise to a three-day Fun Cruise at Sea. Guests who opt to proceed with the cruise will receive a 50 percent refund for this voyage and a 50 percent discount towards a future three to five-day cruise. Tomorrow's embarkation for the next voyage is scheduled from 11 am to 3 pm.

Carnival Conquest

Carnival Conquest operates seven-day Caribbean and Florida/Bahamas cruises from New Orleans. The ship departed New Orleans on its current voyage on Sunday, Sept. 29 that included stops in Montego Bay, Jamaica; Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Carnival Conquest was originally scheduled to return to New Orleans this morning. The ship arrived at noon today. Guests have the option of disembarking today or remaining on board until tomorrow morning.

The Conquest’s next voyage will be modified from a seven-day cruise to a six-day cruise with stops in Key West and Nassau, The Bahamas – two of the three originally scheduled ports. Guests who opt to proceed with this cruise will receive a one-day pro-rated refund. Embarkation for tomorrow's cruise departure is scheduled from 10 am to 2 pm.

Additional staff was mobilized to join the current team in New Orleans to provide guests with assistance and support.