Port NOLA Sets New Monthly Record for Cruise Passengers

NEW ORLEANS — The Port of New Orleans said it 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 for the month.

The port’s previous monthly high was set in February 2020 — notably, right before the beginning of the pandemic — with 154,409 passenger movements and 31 vessel calls. The port said it had been on track to meet a record 1.4 million passenger movements in 2020. Now, it’s on pace to welcome a record number of annual passengers in fiscal year 2023.

“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 Port NOLA President and CEO Brandy D. Christian in a press release. “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.”

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The port said that 90% of its cruise guests travel from out-of-state. Nearly three quarters spend 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.

Carnival Cruise Line was the first to resume oceangoing cruises in New Orleans after the pandemic. Its first sailing was in September 2021. Later, Norwegian Cruise Lines brought back Port NOLA’s largest homeported vessel, the Norwegian Breakaway. Royal Caribbean returned for the 2022-2023 season, and Disney doubled its cruises from Port NOLA in 2023 with 12 sailings.

River cruises resumed from the Port in March 2021 and are now at record levels with nine vessels embarking from New Orleans. Port NOLA welcomed Viking Cruise Line’s first homeported cruise in North America to New Orleans in 2022. The vessel was built in Louisiana.

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