Port of New Orleans Cruise Passenger Numbers Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Port Nola - New Orleans (Logo)The Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) finished calendar year 2023 with nearly 1.2 million cruise passenger movements and renewed commitments to the New Orleans cruise market from both oceangoing and river cruise lines.

“The cruise business has rebounded in New Orleans and cruise line partners are confident in our Port NOLA cruise market,” said Port NOLA President and CEO Brandy D. Christian. “This is really encouraging as our cruise business drives tourism and contributes significantly to the hospitality industry. We want to thank all our cruise line and hospitality partners as we work together to make cruising out of New Orleans two vacations in one.”

“New Orleans is one of the most popular pre-and post-cruise destinations in the country, which is a tribute to our excellent partners at the Port of New Orleans as well as the work of our team at New Orleans & Company,” said Walter J. Leger III, President and CEO of New Orleans & Company. “Travel drives our economy, but visitors don’t just show up. In a highly competitive marketplace, travelers have choices, and we have to earn their business through aggressive sales and promotion. We are pleased to work closely with the Port, the cruise lines and travel advisors to ensure that extremely loyal cruise passengers are selecting to sail from New Orleans instead of competitor cities.”

Carnival Cruise Line homeports two year-round vessels from Port NOLA, and in 2024 Carnival celebrates its 30th year of cruising from New Orleans. Norwegian Cruise Line will also renew for five more years with additional sailings and a new ship, “Norwegian Getaway,” to replace the “Norwegian Breakaway” starting in October 2024.

Disney Cruise Line also returned to the Big Easy with the Disney Magic in January, while Royal Caribbean returns with a new vessel, the “Brilliance of the Seas” in November 2024. Port NOLA is also seeing record growth in river cruises, with nine homeported vessels including America’s first Viking Cruise that began sailing in 2022. That vessel was built in Louisiana.

Port NOLA set a passenger record in March 2023 for oceangoing and river cruises, topping pre-pandemic levels with 155,225 passenger movements and 39 cruise vessel calls at the Port.

The Port’s previous monthly high was set in February 2020 with 154,409 passenger movements and 31 vessel calls just prior to the entire cruise industry coming to a complete halt in March of that year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Port NOLA, 90% of cruise guests travel from out-of-state with 73% spending one or two days in New Orleans either before or after their cruise. That generates more than 300,000 hotel room nights in New Orleans and more than $125 million in local spending each year.

(Port of New Orleans Cruise Passenger Numbers Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels – Port of New Orleans)