Port of New Orleans Posts Record Cruise Traffic

The Norwegian Breakaway, left, and the Carnival Dream at Port of New Orleans (file image courtesy Port NOLA)

By The Maritime Executive 02-07-2019 04:23:27

The Port of New Orleans, the sixth largest cruise port in the United States, set a new record for cruise traffic in 2018 with about 1.2 million passenger movements. According to the port, its numbers were buoyed by newer and larger ships departing New Orleans for both the Caribbean and inland river destinations.

The port continues to attract new ships and port calls, with 235 vessel arrivals in 2018. Disney recently announced that it will be adding a homeported vessel in New Orleans for the first time, beginning in 2020. Carnival Cruise Line, which has an established presence at the port, is upsizing the vessels it deploys from New Orleans by moving the newer 3,000-passenger Carnival Glory and Carnival Valor to The Big Easy.

New Orleans is also the home port for NCL's Norwegian Breakaway, the largest cruise ship it has hosted to date. In December, Royal Carribean's Vision of the Seas arrived, marking the line's return to New Orleans after a four-year hiatus. 

Five riverboats also call New Orleans home, including the American Harmony, the newest riverboat plying the Mississippi's waters. The port saw a 23 percent surge in guests taking Mississippi River cruises last year, with a total of 30,000 passengers opting for this classic option.  

Cruising is great for passengers and for the cruise industry, but it also boosts New Orleans' local economy. A recent study found that the vast majority of cruise passengers and crew arrive from outside of the city, and they spend a total of about $120 million per year when they visit. "The popularity of New Orleans as a cruise port and our commitment to customer service proves again why Port NOLA is a catalyst for local businesses." said Brandy D. Christian, Port NOLA President and CEO. "Our homeport status is important for the local economy and helps us fulfill our role as an economic engine for Louisiana."