Carnival pioneered year-round cruising from New Orleans in 1994 and has become the port’s largest cruise operator with two ships offering more than 125 four- to seven-day departures on an annual basis.
Following Hurricane Katrina, Carnival resumed service in New Orleans in October 2006—14 months after the storm—with one year-round ship, Carnival Fantasy, carrying fewer than 16,000 passengers that year. The company gradually increased capacity, deploying newer and larger ships, and next year expects to carry a new record 450,000 passengers from New Orleans.
Currently Carnival Dream operates seven-day Caribbean cruises, while Carnival Elation sails four- and five-day Mexico cruises. Carnival will increase capacity on short cruises from New Orleans by 34% when Carnival Triumph replaces Carnival Elation next spring.
Carnival and other cruise operators have a significant impact on the Louisiana economy, accounting for more than 8,000 jobs and in excess of $400m in direct purchases each year, according to a study commissioned by Cruise Lines International Association. Additionally, data collected by the Port of New Orleans indicate passengers spend an average two nights pre- or post-cruise in the city.
'Carnival has a long and deep history with the city of New Orleans,' said Carlos Torres de Navarra, Carnival’s vp commercial port operations. 'We not only enjoy a very successful New Orleans-based cruise program but strive to be valuable community partners providing strong economic impact and supporting a variety of philanthropic initiatives.'
Port of New Orleans president and ceo Gary LaGrange called Carnival a 'valuable partner not only to the port, but to the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana.' He noted cruising has grown 180% since 2001, the year the port began in earnest marketing itself as a premier cruise destination.
'And we could not have realized such growth without Carnival’s investment in New Orleans,' LaGrange said.