Cruise line Royal Caribbean announces return to Port NOLA
More options for cruise aficionados are on the horizon. This week Royal Caribbean cruise line announced it will return to the Port of New Orleans after a three-year hiatus with a seasonal homeported vessel in December 2018.
The 915-foot, newly revitalized Vision of the Seas will call at the port’s Julia Street Terminal and offer seven-night itineraries to the Bahamas and Yucatan Peninsula, departing on Saturdays.
“The Port of New Orleans is thrilled to welcome back Royal Caribbean. We look forward to working productively together for many years to come,” said Brandy Christian, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans. “Our City’s energy and music, culinary and cultural attractions perfectly compliment the Caribbean cruise experience. Our cruise business continues to grow, as does the variety of itineraries offered, as most cruise passengers spend an average of two nights in the region, either before or after their cruise.”
The response from cruise fans is positive so far. The Royal Caribbean blog announced the news, and on Cruise Critic fan Michael Gaughan of Fort Worth, Texas commented, “Yes, Galveston is closer but I'd rather spend a day in New Orleans than Galveston.”
The drive-in market to the Port of New Orleans is one of its success factors. Port NOLA handled 1,070,695 cruise passenger movements in 2016, breaking the million mark for the third straight year. It ranks as the sixth-largest cruise port in the United States with direct industry expenditures in Louisiana of $406 million.
Mark Romig, president and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, said, “We welcome Royal Caribbean back to New Orleans and look forward to a successful partnership. We know RCCL as a trusted brand name in the cruise industry and we look forward to their guests spending time exploring all that our city has to offer before and after their cruise.”
According to the Port, cruise passengers stay an average of two days before or after their cruise, which is above industry standards. That means increased revenue from tourism when they book hotels, eat in our restaurants and visit our cultural offerings.
“The return of Royal Caribbean to New Orleans with the Vision of the Seas is excellent news,” said Kim Priez, senior vice president of tourism at the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. “In 2016, New Orleans broke all previous visitation records by attracting 10.45 million visitors from around the world. New Orleans’ unique and authentic culture combined with these cruise offerings makes the Crescent City a world-class destination that is increasing in popularity year after year.”
The 2,514-passenger Vision of the Seas is part of the Vision Class in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. It was refurbished in 2013 and has 11 decks with four main categories of staterooms: suites, balcony, ocean view and interior. It also has eight pools and whirlpools and eight bars and lounges. Vision of the Seas includes an outdoor movie screen, five new dining experiences and amenities like Vitality Spa, Solarium Pool, Casino Royale and complimentary Broadway-style entertainment. There are also numerous family-focused activities and youth programming, as well as the new Royal Babies & TotsSM Nursery.
Bookings open for the Vision of the Seas May 5.