Carnival announced that as it continued to expand its presence in the port of New Orleans, the line expected to carry the record 400,000 passengers from Crescent City this year. Carnival Cruise Line also estimated that 2016 would welcome its 3 millionth passenger at Port of New Orleans since it had been hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Carnival claimed to have pioneered year-round cruising out of New Orleans in 1994. Over the past decades the line has become port's largest operator with two cruise ships offering over 125 four- to seven-night departures on an annual basis.
Following Katrina, the line resumed service in the port 14 months after the storm, in October 2006, with one year-round cruise vessel, Carnival Fantasy, carrying nearly 16,000 travelers that year. The company increased capacity from the Big Easy by deploying newer and bigger ships and in 2016 expects to carry the record 450,000 vacationers from New Orleans.
Currently, the two New Orleans-based cruise ships of Carnival include the 3,646-guest Carnival Dream, sailing 7-day Caribbean voyages, and the 2,052-guest Carnival Elation offering 4- and 5-day cruises to Mexico. Carnival will increase short cruises' capacity by 34% when the 2,758-guest Carnival Triumph replaces Carnival Elation in New Orleans next spring.
Carnival and other operators claimed to have a significant impact on Louisiana economy, accounting for over 8,000 jobs and in excess of USD 400 million in direct purchases per year. Additionally, data collected by the cruise port indicated that cruise passengers on average spent 2 nights pre- or post-cruise.
Carnival's vice president commercial port operations, Carlos Torres de Navarra, said that Carnival had "a long and deep history with the city of New Orleans". He added that they not only enjoyed a very successful cruise program but strived to be valuable partners providing strong impact on economy and supporting various philanthropic initiatives.
According to Gary LaGrange, Port of New Orleans President & CEO, Carnival was "a valuable partner not only to the port, but to the City of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana". He added that cruising had grown 180% since 2001, when the Port had begun marketing itself as a premier destination.