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I am taking a cruise out of New Orleans this December. Do the cruise ships sail down the Mississippi and through the Delta or do they cut out some way through Lake Borgne? I think it would be great to sail through the Delta.



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You sail down the Mississippi River.

I wrote a bit of a virtual tour for one of our past cruises, and I will post it here to keep eyes on it.

There is another one that another person posted that went into more detail about what you will see in New Orleans, but they stopped at Chalmette and did not list anything down river from there.


The times were averaged over a number of sailings of the Carnival Conquest and were pretty accurate when we sailed on the Dream this year.

And now for a bit of history about the things you will see as we ride down the river.


Before sailaway, the building from where we boarded the ship was built in 2005-2006 and opened in October 2006. It sits on the site of the 1984 World’s fair, and specifically where the Mississippi Aerial River Transit system terminated on the east bank of the Mississippi River. The MART was a ski-lift like passenger system that carried passengers across the river. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi_Aerial_River_Transit


Just in front of the ship is the two bridges of the Crescent City Connection. Many people call them the twin bridges, but if you look carefully, they are not twins at all. The first bridge was built from 1954 to 1958 and was called the Greater New Orleans Bridge. It was the second bridge to span the Mississippi River south of Baton Rouge, the first being the Huey P. Long bridge. The second bridge, the one closer to the ship was built from 1981 to 1988. The two bridges were called the GNO bridge until they were renamed in 1989. The CCC is the official name, but it is still commonly referred to as the GNO. The trip from the westbank (Algiers, Gretna), to the eastbank(French Quarter, garden district, Metarie, and Kenner) was a toll span of $1.00 charged to each car. The tolls were removed earlier in 2013. The lights on the bridge are decorative. There are 4 strings of 64 lights totaling 256 lights to light the two bridges.


As the ship pulls away from the dock, and turns in the river you can get an excellent view of the bridges from the starboard side.


Shortly after turning in the river you will see the French Quarter on the port side. The French Quarter is full of history and is the main reason most people come to New Orleans to visit, and many wind up staying. It is bordered on the upriver side by Canal street, the down river side by Esplanade Ave, and by Rampart street on the inland side. There is much to see and do in the French Quarter, and you can get as many answers to the question “what can I do here?” as people you ask.


(12 minutes after departure)

Just as we pass Jackson Square we will start to make a corner in the river, that corner is Algiers point (starboard side). It is one of the deepest portions of the river, somewhere around 200 feet deep just off the point. Algiers point is 96.4 miles “AHP” or above head of passes on the Mississippi river. The passes refers to the point in the river just down from Pilottown where the river splits 3 ways.


(20 minutes after departure)

Shortly after Algiers Point we will pass two large navy ships that actually belong to the ready reserve fleet of Navy vessels. The ships are kept up and maintained by the Keystone Corporation to be activated with 5 days notice. The ships are named “Cape Kennedy” and “Cape Knox”.


The next think you’ll notice is Jackson Barracks. It is the current home of the Louisiana National guard. It is located in the lower 9th ward.


The big factory on the port side is the Domino Sugar refinery, the domed structure on the property is one of the largest sugar storage facilities in the world. If you eat anything with sugar in it in or near New Orleans (probably including the ship) it passed through this facility. There is an old plantation that sits on the property too.


The next big thing is the monument at the Chalmette national battlefield. The battle was fought after the peace treaty had been signed, but was not ratified by the US congress until after the battle had occurred.


After the Battlefield, you will see the city of Chalmette and the Oil Refinery there. This is the first of the refineries you will see, and you will see many many oil support stations along the river and out into the Gulf, where you will see drilling rigs.


(1 hour, 28 minutes after departure)

After Chalmette, we will pass the communities of Meraux, Violet, and Poydras, before reaching English Turn.


After the point of English Turn, we will pass Belle Chasse on the starboard side, which is home to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, a Naval Air Station for the U.S. Navy Reserve which was founded in 1941.


Between Belle Chasse and Point A La Hache you will see the Harlem Plantation house on the port side. It was built in 1840 and added to the national register of historic places in 1982. This plantation was a Louisiana Creole plantation house, similar to Plantation Laura.


(3 hours, 14 minutes after departure)

The next town of any size you will see is Point A La Hache. It is connected to West Point A La Hache by a river ferry operated by the Plaquemines Parish Government. It started service in 1933 and its future is questionable. The Woodland Plantation is in West Point A La Hache and is known as the plantation on the bottle of Southern Comfort. It is on the national register of historic places. This area was devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Isaac. Isaac flooded most of West Point A La Hache and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill killed some fish in waterways up river from here. Point A La Hache’s population in 2010 was 187.


Downriver from Point A La Hache is Bohemia, which had a population of about 200 people prior to Hurricane Katrina, but the storm only left about 25 homes inhabitable. The town is only 7 feet above sea level. It also serves as the last town on the road that follows the eastbank of the Mississippi river.


The next town is Port Sulphur and was founded in the early 1930s around the Freeport Sulphur company which refined sulphur from nearby mines. In the early 2000’s Freeport sulphur shut down due to low prices on sulphur. The land was sold and what was left of the plant was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The town sits 8 feet above sea level and was under 22 feet of water during the flooding. Most of the single family homes in the town were destroyed, and moved off their foundations by as much as 100 feet. Before Hurricane Katrina the population of the town was 3,115, and in the 2010 census it was down to 1,760.


(3 hours, 59 minutes after departure)

We pass the next navigation obstacle, the turn at Port Sulphur.


Just after the bend the next town is Empire, which when combined with Venice, a little further downriver, is the third largest seafood port in the United States by weight. Empire was also devastated by the storm and flooding as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill also caused an immediate stop to all seafood landings here, and many did not return for a year or more.


Buras-Triumph is an area formed in the 1840’s. It was originally a farming community raising citrus, and a fishing community with oysters being the main product. In the 1930’s oil was discovered in Quarantine Bay east of Buras. This started the oil boom in the region and is now the largest product of this area. Katrina also took her toll here, as this was the part of Louisiana where the eye of the storm made landfall. The storm destroyed the town’s water tower which has been replaced.


(4 hours, 50 minutes after departure)

The next major landmark will be Fort Jackson(visible) and Fort St. Phillip(invisible). Fort Jackson is on the starboard side and is a decommissioned masonry fort around 40 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi river. It was constructed between 1822 and 1832 to protect the city of New Orleans and the Mississippi river. It was used as a fort and military training facility until after WWI. It was turned over to Plaqumines Parish in 1962. It was almost put into service during the 1960 as a prison for hippies and desegregation advocates who entered the county, but this never occurred. It was later used as a park and has been closed to the public since Hurricane Isaac last year. It was used as a bird cleaning station in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but this station was moved to Hammond, La later to make it less vulnerable to hurricanes.

Across the river is Fort St. Phillip, which was a masonry fort on the East bank of the Mississippi. It was originally established as San Felipe, during the 1700’s when Spain had control of Louisiana. The fort was used to hold back the British during the war of 1812. It was also a part of the 12 day siege against it and Fort Jackson during the civil war. In the 1930’s it was used as a tanning factory. From 1978 to 1989 it served as the headquarters of the non-sectarian spiritual community Velaashby. The name was formed by combining the surnames of the land owners prior to this community being established. There were as many as 16 members of this community and were known as the Christos family. They resided in three of the two story officer’s quarters and the officer’s club that remained after the refortification during the Spanish-American war of 1898. The fort was badly damaged during Katrina and Rita, and only a few of the masonry structures still exist. It is only reachable via boat or aircraft as it remains flooded much of the year and there are no roads.


(5 hours, 19 minutes after departure)

The next town is the last town on the road. Venice Louisiana. It is considered “the end of the road” and it is. Any town after this one is reached by boat or aircraft. Venice is the home base to many seafood and oil operations. It is the last place that a vehicle can reach before goods have to be transferred by boat. The population before Katrina was 460, after Katrina it is 202. It was also greatly impacted by the oil spill.


(5 hours, 54 minutes after departure)

Next we will slow down quite a bit as we near Pilottown. At Pilottown there is usually a pilot boat that will catch up to us and meet us to exchange pilots. The pilot who joined us in New Orleans will sign off, and the pilot that will navigate us through southwest pass will get in place. Pilottown was built as a replacement for LaBalize which was south of here. The town is built on piers and raised above ground level, which is prone to flooding. While the town has a zip code, the post office in the town was closed after the postal service could not find a postmaster willing to live in the village. The one room school was closed in the 1970s.


(6 hours, 1 minute after departure)

The village is just a few miles upriver from the Head of Passes. This is the point from which all mile markers along the Mississippi river are counting. The passes split 3 ways and are considered the “mouth” of the Mississippi. We will take the western most pass, called Southwest Pass. All large ship traffic takes southwest pass as it is the only one cleared enough for deep draft vessels.


As we enter Southwest pass, you can notice that we start seeing more navigational beacons. The safe path is between the red and green lights. They are spaced evenly throughout southwest pass and into the gulf.


We will pass a few tank farms and a couple of seaplane bases before entering the gulf.


After 7 hours and 16 minutes of travel, we will enter the Gulf of Mexico.


We will pause shortly after entering the Gulf to disembark our southwest pass pilot, and then the captain will put the pedal to the metal, and we will be making 24 knots by the time you wake up. If you wait just a few more minutes, the ocean waves will rock you to sleep.

Just for reference, if we leave port at 4:30 pm, it will be 11:45 roughly when we get to the gulf of mexico.

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This is amazing. Thank you so much!



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the mississippi delta is in the northwest part of the state stretching from vicksburg northward i also enjoy the trip from the new orleans port and into the gulf

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the mississippi delta is in the northwest part of the state stretching from vicksburg northward i also enjoy the trip from the new orleans port and into the gulf


As a region, yes.

The whole story is that the part of the river past the Head of Passes is called the Birdfoot delta, and is indeed a delta. See here: http://www.americaswetlandresources.com/background_facts/detailedstory/RiverDelta.html


To be completely pedantic, the "delta" region of the mid-south US is not actually a delta at all, but an alluvial plane. The region is called the delta, but does not serve the function of the delta.


Technically speaking the OP is correct, but in a regional context you are correct.

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The sun sets fairly early in the south in December - by 5:30 or 6:00 pm it is usually dark. You also probably won't be coming back up the river until around midnight. So there's really not much to see either way. We sailed in March and had fading daylight for about an hour and a half or two hours after leaving New Orleans.

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We make the cruise out of NO the first week of December every year. The ship leaves the dock at 5 pm and if there is no fog (it has been brutal 2 out of the last 5 years) you might get 45 min to an hour before it becomes nothing but lights to see. On the return, you can see quite a bit from about 5 am until you dock. Still it's a great trip.

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