Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and the Port of New Orleans recently signed a three-year agreement, with a three-year option, which allows NCL to homeport one of its Freestyle Cruising ships in New Orleans through Oct. 31, 2014. The agreement also provides certain berthing privileges through the entire term of the agreement.

“This agreement underscores Norwegian Cruise Line’s commitment to New Orleans,” said Port President and CEO Gary LaGrange. “NCL is a valued partner of the Port and a great asset to the entire City and our bustling tourism industry.”

NCL was the first cruise line to re-commit its ship to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina – returning its Norwegian Sun on Oct. 15, 2006. NCL has home-ported cruise ships here annually since 2003.

“NCL and the Port of New Orleans have enjoyed an exceptional relationship for more than six years. This agreement allows NCL to continue to offer cruise guests in New Orleans and its surrounding areas another convenient drive-to option to experience our unique Freestyle Cruising vacations,” said Kevin Sheehan, NCL’s CEO.

Currently, Norwegian Spirit offers seven-day western Caribbean cruises seasonally from the Port of New Orleans. The ship’s itinerary includes Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; Santo Tomas De Castilla, Guatemala; and Belize City, Belize.

The cruise industry is vital to Louisiana’s economy, supporting 3,617 jobs, which result in $108.8 million in wages. Industry spending totals about $149 million annually, which results in $23.7 million in state and local taxes and cruise passengers account for more than 180,000 room nights in area hotels.