While we were enjoying dinner on the last night of our cruise, our ship was preparing to enter the Mississippi River Delta. Night fell we as silently glided by the offshore oil rigs, and soon a well-light Pilot boat appeared from the distance. Hurrying to the front of the Carnival Dream, I stood on the 6th deck overlook that wrapped around the bow of the boat. The deck was devoid of light, and the navigation bridge two decks directly above me was shrouded in darkness with only the faint glow of navigation systems to pierce through the night.

A multitude of blinking lights beckoned in the distance as we neared the delta entrance. Some Buoys warned ships of hidden dangers, while others showed the safe channel into the Mississippi. Flames from the oil rigs illuminated our approach, and soon the faint moaning of the buoys could be heard. A laser blinked from the bridge, perhaps searching for navigation markers or gaining more precise information than the radar could provide.

We glided past the first barrier island, and the water gradually turned from an inky blackness to a distinctly muddy grey color. Although the water was smooth, the sound of the ocean waves crashing against the islands could be heard just a few hundred feet of either side of the ship.

Peering forward, the red and green lights marking the channel could be seen beckoning the ship forward. Along with the buoys were the orange glows of industrial operations just outside the river delta, and with them, civilization.

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