Port president and ceo Gary LaGrange called it a 'great milestone.' The total represents a 180% increase in cruise passengers since 2001, the year the port 'began in earnest marketing itself as a premier cruise destination.'
A study for Cruise Lines International Association ranked New Orleans the sixth largest cruise port in the United States with direct industry expenditures in Louisiana totaling $406m, supporting 8,129 jobs and accounting for $323m in total income.
The port is marketed as two vacations in one, LaGrange said, adding that New Orleans is a world-class destination city. Cruisers, on average, stay two nights before or after their seagoing trip.
Port of New Orleans studies determined more than 80% of cruise passengers are from out of state and 60% spend an average of two nights in New Orleans. In addition, passengers and crew spend about $75m in New Orleans.
Port cruise terminals currently host four homeported cruise ships. Year-round operator Carnival Cruise Line fields the 2,052-berth Carnival Elation on four- and five-day itineraries and the 3,646-berth Carnival Dream on seven-day routes to the eastern and western Caribbean. Norwegian Cruise Line’s 2,340-bert Norwegian Dawn sails seasonal seven-day cruises from November through April and Royal Caribbean’s 2,476-berth Serenade of the Seas is sailing weekly through April this year.
American Cruise Lines operates sternwheeler Queen of the Mississippi and American Queen Steamboat Co. sails American Queen from New Orleans. Blount Small Ship Adventures operates inland routes aboard Grand Caribe.