Port NOLA Sees Record Cruise Passengers and Ship Calls in 2019
NEW ORLEANS – The Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) said 2019 had a record-breaking number of cruise passenger numbers and vessel calls as demand for cruising from the sixth-largest cruise port in the United States continues. With the launch of Disney cruises and the addition of year-round itineraries from Royal Caribbean International in 2020, Port officials anticipate another robust cruise season.
During 2019, Port NOLA said it recorded 1.2 million cruise passenger movements, a new annual high, up from 1.18 million in 2018. Port NOLA also saw an increase in cruise vessel calls with a total of 251 in 2019 up from 235 calls the year before.
“These record numbers year over year highlight the popularity and convenience of cruising from New Orleans, with more and more passengers choosing to set sail from our unique city,” said Brandy D. Christian, Port NOLA president and CEO. “As a result, our cruise line partners continue to strengthen their partnerships with Port NOLA, and that’s good news for the Louisiana cruise and tourism industry for years to come.”
The 2,700-passenger Disney Wonder began sailing six cruises from Port NOLA in February 2020, marking the first time Disney Cruise Line has had a homeport in Louisiana. Disney doubled down on its belief in the New Orleans market late last year announcing the Wonder will set sail from Port NOLA for a second season in 2021.
Royal Caribbean, which previously offered seasonal cruises from New Orleans, is now offering year-round weekly itineraries on the 2,356-passenger Majesty of the Seas.
The port said that guests traveling along the Mississippi River on the six riverboats based in New Orleans also set a modern-day record at 31,306 passenger movements in 2019. Port NOLA also welcomed the American Harmony in August 2019 and will welcome the American Jazz in August 2020. Port NOLA is set to homeport seven riverboat vessels in 2020.
The growing popularity of river cruises is evident in the number of new vessels in service. These riverboats go as far as St. Louis and Minneapolis, bringing visitors and tourism dollars upriver to Louisiana locations such as St. James, Ascension, West Feliciana and West Baton Rouge parishes as well as others.
At Port NOLA, 90% of cruise guests travel from out of state, with 73% spending a day or two in New Orleans either before or after their cruise.