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New Orleans: Prime Family Cruise Destination

The Norwegian Breakaway in New Orleans

New Orleans welcomed the largest cruise ship ever to sail from the port when the Norwegian Breakaway arrived in November to homeport through early April. The sister ship, the Getaway, will take over this coming fall.

Thus, New Orleans offers seasonal deployment by Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean, while Carnival sails two ships year-round.

Interviewed by Cruise Industry News in November, Steve Gauthier, Jr., deputy director of cruise, said he expected some 1,160,000 passengers for the year, slightly above the previous year, and that numbers for 2019 and 2020 will continue to rise.

Adding to the draw is New Orleans. “This city sells itself in some ways. The passengers want to be here,” Gauthier said. “New Orleans is a popular tourist destination and has a lot of offer pre- and post-cruise with history, culture, food and more.

“We are also a family friendly destination,” he continued. “There are tons of things for families to do and Disney coming here enhances that concept.”

Disney Cruise Line has announced six cruises from New Orleans during the 2020 season, and the first one was reportedly sold out within less than one hour.

 Ships also make port calls in the Crescent City and this season includes Celebrity Reflection, staying overnight, the Crystal Symphony, Artania and Ventura.

“We are looking at additional berth space to grow our capacity and are now in the process of seeing where our options lie,” Gauthier said. “We want to stay ahead of the curve. There is space available, it just has to be the right time.”

Meanwhile, the Julia Street Terminal has been upgraded with more check-in counters, X-ray machines and seating space.

Another unique aspect to New Orleans’s cruise traffic are the river vessels which are also in a growth mode, and they require less shoreside infrastructure without the need for customs and border protection services.

Gauthier said that he expects to soon have three riverboats from American Cruise Line and three from American Queen Steamboat Company on the lower Mississippi.

And the port is still in talks with Viking and believes their market entry will happen – within the next two to three years.

On top of that, the dinner and jazz boat market is booming going from two to four paddlewheelers, building on the popularity of the Natchez steamboat.

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