As New Orleans prepares for Mardi Gras next month, the city is celebrating a new cruise tourism record.
In 2018, nearly 1.2 million passengers boarded cruises in New Orleans, a new high for the port city. In fact, their total traffic is up by 2.3 percent compared to what it was a year ago, according to a Port NOLA news release.
The report found that 90 percent of cruise passengers travel from out of state and more than two-thirds stay in the city and spend money around their cruise dates, which bodes well for the city’s tourism stats. And according to a study by LSU’s E.J. Ourso College of Business, cruise passengers and crews spend about $129 million each year in New Orleans.
While New Orleans is only the 6th busiest cruise port in the U.S., port officials expect to see the cruise traffic increase in 2019 and 2020 with the introduction of new ships like the Norwegian Breakaway, among other things.
For one, Royal Caribbean returned to the Big Easy after a four-year hiatus last year. The Vision of the Seas will sail from NOLA on seven-day itineraries to the Caribbean through March 2019.
In addition to the Breakaway, the largest cruise ship to homeport in New Orleans, the city will welcome the Norwegian Getaway in November 2019 when it replaces the Breakaway.
Carnival Glory will arrive on March 1 to replace Carnival Triumph, and in May, Carnival Valor will arrive to sail year-round on four- and five-day Caribbean cruises. In 2020, Disney Wonder will arrive in New Orleans and will sail to the Caribbean and The Bahamas.
The city’s riverboat cruise numbers are up, too, with nearly 30,300 riverboat cruises in 2018, which is a 23 percent increase from 2017. Last year, American Song of the American Queen Steamboat Co. debut in New Orleans as the first modern riverboat in the country. It will be replaced this year by the newly-built American Harmony.
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