I took this photo from an upstairs window last night. (Our upstairs window. Like, from our house. Because we live here now, but I digress.) This is the Carnival cruise ship Valor, which has nothing but crew on board. A passenger tested positive for COVID-19 after they all disembarked a month ago, so the hundreds of crew members have been tested and quarantined ever since. They were docked in Mississippi, then sent back out to sea, and finally were allowed to dock here April 8th. The healthy ones were allowed off the ship a few days ago and allowed to fly to their homes all over the world. Those remaining on board tested positive, but are well enough to ride it out on the ship. Thus is the unfortunate-but-could-have-been-worse story of the men and women trying to make a living on the Valor.
When I walked upstairs last night to go to bed and saw this out the window, it freaked me out. We live two and a half blocks from the river, but that ship looked close enough to jump on over for shuffleboard on the Lido deck. It reminded me that I read the city has been talking for years about building a cruise ship terminal here at the Poland Avenue Wharf. Curious as a cat I am, so I researched it and found out that two cruise ships docked at the wharf a couple of years ago because there was no room at the Julia and Erato Street terminals. The local scuttlebutt was that the city was using this as an opportunity to test the waters again for the concept.
What a difference a couple of years makes. The pandemic has decimated the cruise industry, and it’s hard to imagine enough people willing to hop back on board ships to keep the existing terminals occupied. Additionally, it will take so long for the city’s finances to recover that the idea of New Orleans shelling out over $50 million to make it happen is far-fetched, at best.
That disappoints me not at all. As one of my awesome new neighbors said last week — from a safe distance — try to find a place where home values went up because a cruise ship terminal went in down the street. One of the things that surprised Mindy and me the most about the Bywater is the quiet, residential feel of the neighborhood. If all you’ve ever known of it is Vaughan’s and Bacchanal, you’d be surprised, too. I’m OK with putting that terminal idea on hold for a long, long time.
(By way, the evaporation of the cruise industry deals another difficult blow to musicians. All of those music-themed cruises — Blues Cruise, Jam Band Cruise, Southern Rock Cruise — were great-paying gigs. Consider that another reason to Venmo some dough to your favorite band while they’re stuck streaming gigs online.)