Conquest Comes To Gulfport - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/09/03

Conquest Comes To Gulfport

Carnival's Largest Cruise Ship, Conquest will be homeported in Gulfport for at least the next six weeks. Passengers disembarking on Sunday's cruise didn't know they would be coming to Mississippi when they boarded this ship last Sunday. As WLOX news first reported to you just four days ago, Carnival made the decision to dock here because of high currents in the Mississippi river, and low lying power lines.

Passengers cheered as they ship finally pulled into the Gulfport harbor. More than 60 buses were waiting to take the 3200 passengers back to New Orleans.

Coline and Steve Boyer, from Canada, got off the ship and rolled there luggage right onto the bus, they had no complaints about coming to Mississippi.

"We love Mississippi. Mississippi, New Orleans, we don't care, it's great. It really worked to our advantage because we get a free ride to the airport," Calgary Residents Coline and Steve Boyer said.

Other passengers didn't share in the Boyer's enthusiasm.

"It caused a little bit of confusion, but it didn't ruin the trip at all. I'm getting on a bus to New Orleans, then to Orlando, then up to Albany, New York" cruise passenger Lisa Piazza said.

Really long morning? "Yeah, yeah, and a short night. They told us we would be here at seven, got fogged in now it's eleven, and we got to go all the way to Missouri. This was our first cruise, but it's not going to dampen it, we'll come back and do it again," cruise passengers Larry & Carol Meeks said.

The fog forced the captain to drop anchor and caused some headache for passengers needing to catch a departing flight.

"The only solution I had was to come here to Gulfport. Which actually I really want to thank you very much, the State of Mississippi, all of the nice cooperation we receive from the people of Gulfport operations," the Captain of the Conquest said.

"We have to get to the airport our flight is at one thirty, we have friends from California with a flight at 12:30, don't think they're going to make it," cruise passenger Nora Hrubochak said.

And there was one more thing that caused some confusion.

What didn't you see when you got off the ship? "A welcome to Mississippi sign," one cruise ship passenger said.

The wet concrete and the beige walls of the port buildings are not much to look at.

Although the Conquest will be docking here for the next six weeks there is the possibility it could be here longer than that.

"The port of Gulfport is prepared to serve Carnival for six weeks, if the conditions of the river don't improve we're prepared to go beyond six weeks. If it's two months, three months, four months. We're here to serve the customer while they're in a time of crisis," Executive Director of the Port of Gulfport, Don Allee said.

"It will be a seasonal occasion whenever the height of the river and the currents that are created by that rising river, create a situation where it's unsafe to safely pass under the entergy power lines, that we will be using Gulfport," Carnival Cruise Line Port Director Gordon Buck said.

There are estimates that New Orleans could lose $18 million just in the six weeks the Conquest will be here.

By Nathan Mihelich

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