Passenger Vessels

Port Of New Orleans Sets Monthly Cruise Passenger Record In March

Cruise-goers in the Big Easy are partying like it’s pre-COVID, with the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) setting a monthly oceangoing and river cruise passenger record in March with more than 155,225 passenger movements and 39 cruise vessel calls for the month.

The previous monthly record was set in February 2020 with 154,409 passenger movements and 31 vessel calls. A month later, in March 2020, the cruise industry came to a halt due to COVID-19 restrictions. Before then, New Orleans was on track for 1.4 million passenger movements in 2020. Three years later, Port NOLA is once again on track for an annual cruise passenger record.

“These record numbers highlight how demand for cruising from New Orleans never went away, as people from all over the world returned to our vibrant city to launch their cruise vacations as soon as they were able,” said Brandy Christian, president and CEO of Port NOLA. “As a result, our cruise line partners continue to commit to the New Orleans market, and that’s good news for Louisiana tourism and hospitality.”

According to Port NOLA, 90 percent of New Orleans cruise passengers hail from other states, and 73 percent of those extend their trip in the city either before or after their cruise. That generates more than 300,000 room nights for New Orleans hotels and more than $125 million in spending.

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Carnival was the first company to resume cruising from New Orleans post-pandemic, with departures resuming in September 2021. The company celebrated its 50th year in New Orleans in 2022, the same year that saw its average occupancy rise to 110 percent for cruises sailing from New Orleans. Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean have also returned to New Orleans, and Disney has doubled its cruises from the city in 2023 to 12. River cruising relaunched in March 2021, and a record nine river cruise vessels now sail from New Orleans. In 2022, Viking Cruise Line’s first U.S.-built and U.S.-operated vessel, the Viking Mississippi, began sailing from New Orleans.