The Port of New Orleans has announced a “big comeback for cruise ship operations” with the Norwegian Breakaway arrival on Nov. 21, 2021. The Breakaway joins the Carnival Glory and Valor that successfully restarted ocean-going cruises in September and early November.
According to a press release, river cruises resumed successfully from the port in March 2021, and in September 2021 Carnival was the first to restart ocean-going cruises that have continued to “consistently drive business back to the New Orleans market.”
Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) is forecasting 285 sailings during the 2022 calendar year and expecting nearly 1 million passenger movements, with the return of Norwegian Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line slated for February.
All cruise lines operating from the port currently have vaccination, testing and mask wearing requirements in place as well as strict COVID-19 protocols beyond federal recommendations.
“We are pleased ocean-going cruises are resuming and joining the successful restart of river cruises nine months ago,” said Brandy D. Christian, president and CEO Port NOLA. “Cruises from the Port of New Orleans are critical to the state and regional economy. Our cruise passengers make up more than 300,000 hotel room nights alone in our city and they spend more than $125 million locally.”
New Orleans is the sixth-largest cruise port in the United States, according to the press release. The port said that demand for cruising from it continues to grow for both Caribbean and Mississippi River itineraries. At Port NOLA, 90 percent of cruise guests travel from out-of-state, with 73 percent spending a day or two days in New Orleans either before or after their cruise.
Cruisers can choose itineraries from New Orleans from three ocean-going cruise brands. Port NOLA said that it is currently offering sailings to a variety of Caribbean destinations weekly on the 2,980-passenger Carnival Glory and four- and five-night sailings on the 2,974-passenger Carnival Valor.
The 3,963-passenger Norwegian Breakaway is sailing seven-day seasonal cruises to the Caribbean from November to April. The Disney Wonder returns offering four-, five- and six- night sailings during her season scheduled from February to March 2022.
Visitors and locals also have the option for river cruises with American Queen Steamboat Company and American Cruise Lines. In 2021, American Cruise Lines introduced the American Jazz and American Melody on the Mississippi River despite the pandemic. More cruise ships are being constructed and will debut in 2022 and beyond.
Port NOLA said that it also looks forward to welcoming Viking Cruise Lines to New Orleans in 2022.
“With stops along the Mississippi River, Viking cruises also represent the future commitment to tourism and economic development for many communities in Louisiana,” the port wrote.
According to the press release, prior to the pandemic, Port NOLA had been on trend to hit 1.4 million passenger movements in 2020. In 2019, Port NOLA saw a record-breaking year in cruise passenger numbers and vessel calls, as demand for cruising from Port NOLA continued with 1.2 million cruise passenger movements.
River cruises were “one of the fastest growing segments” of Port NOLA’s business, the port said. A total of 31,306 passenger movements were recorded along the Mississippi River on the six riverboats homeported in New Orleans in 2019.