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Celebrity Equinox heads to Mardi Gras as New Orleans cruise count climbs

Celebrity Equinox - will stay for Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest
When the 1,041-foot Celebrity Equinox arrives in New Orleans for the finale of Mardi Gras, it will become the longest cruise ship to visit the port.

Celebrity Equinox will be alongside at the Julia Street Cruise Terminal from Sunday through Tuesday, Mardi Gras Day.

'The port is thrilled to welcome Celebrity Cruises back to New Orleans for an extended port call,' said Brandy Christian, port president and ceo. 'Celebrity’s brand is synonymous with luxury and we hope their guests enjoy all that New Orleans and the surrounding region have to offer.'

'Mardi Gras and the amazing city of New Orleans are a big draw for our guests, and the perfect backdrop for them to create memories,' said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and ceo, Celebrity.

New Orleans Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest are part of the line's 'Signature Event Sailings' that include the French Open in Paris, New Year’s Eve in Dubai, Carnival in Brazil and the Pingxi Lantern Festival in Taipei, among others.

The Port of New Orleans' cruise business continues to grow, with a 4.5% increase in 2016 and 1,070,695 passenger movements—the third year in a row to top 1m passenger moves.

'We continue to strive to work with cruise lines to provide new and varied itineraries and a top notch experience for our guests,' Christian said.

New Orleans tourism officials predict a brighter future for international travelers when Louis Armstrong International Airport launches two new direct international flights in 2017 serving Germany and Great Britain.

'The new, direct air service on Copa, Condor and British Airways makes cruising from New Orleans that much more attractive,' according to Kim Priez, svp tourism for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Direct cruise industry expenditures in Louisiana total $406m, supporting 8,102 jobs and providing $324m in personal income, according to research conducted by Cruise Lines International Association. Port studies found 80% of cruise passengers are from outside the state and 60% spend an average of two nights in New Orleans before or after their cruise.

'Cruising is big business for the Port and for Louisiana,' said Christian, who also serves as Cruise Committee chair for the American Association of Port Authorities. 'Due to the port’s sizeable drive-in market, passengers embarking on cruises from New Orleans visit restaurants and attractions throughout Louisiana and stay in our hotel rooms.

'We market cruising from New Orleans as two vacations in one: visit all that Louisiana has to offer either before or after your cruise.'

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