NOLA New Orleans is a major USA cruise port located in Louisiana. The Gulf of Mexico is approx 110 mi (180 km) from the port. NOLA port itself is between Lake Pontchartrain and Mississippi River. New Orleans City is Louisiana's largest, with population over 390,000 (metro over 1,3 million). Note: CruiseMapper's digital map shows the location of Julia Street Cruise Terminal.
New Orleans City attracts many US and international tourists with its architecture, cultural heritage, cuisine and the annual Mardi Grass festival.
Port NOLA New Orleans
Port NOLA's cruising business has a significant impact on Louisiana State's economy, accounting for 8000+ local jobs, USD 250+ million (annual economic impact) and USD 400+ million (direct purchases annually). Port's statistics show that cruise passengers spent 2 nights (on average) pre- or post-cruise. Currently, Port NOLA is ranked USA's 6th largest cruise port and supports 21,700+ Louisiana State jobs. Port's largest liner (so far) is NCL's Norwegian Breakaway (LOA length 326 m, GT 145650 tons, max capacity 4800 pax plus 1600 crew).
Between 2001 and 2015, port's cruising business grew by around 180%. Year-round homeported here liners include Carnival Dream and Carnival Triumph (both since 2017), Norwegian Breakaway and Vision of the Seas (both since 2018), as well as American Queen Voyages/Steamboat Company's new paddlewheel riverboat American Duchess (launched 2017). PortNOLA's cruise schedule includes mainly 4-, 5-, 7-day itineraries to Eastern or Western Caribbean destinations. Most visited call ports on these roundtrips are in Mexico (Cozumel, Progresso, Costa Maya) and Belize.
In 2017, Celebrity Equinox became one of the biggest luxury cruise ships ever docked in PortNOLA. On Feb 26, the ship berthed at Julia Street Cruise Terminal, just in time for the 2017 Mardi Gras carnival's finale. Celebrity Cruises Equinox ship (LOA length 317 m / 1041 ft) also made its first ever call at NOLA port, remaining in port for 2 overnights (through the Mardi Gras Day - Feb 28).
New Orleans Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest in 2017 were scheduled as “Signature Event Sailings” in Celebrity Cruises 2017 program. Key global events in that program were also "The French Open" (Roland Garros) in Paris France, "New Year’s Eve in Dubai", "Carnival in Brazil" (Rio de Janeiro), "Pingxi Lantern Festival" (Taipei City Taiwan). Each of these signature itineraries offered as optional unique shore excursions and themed onboard events and shows.
In 2015, Carnival announced a record year with over 400,000 passengers booking cruise out of NOLA. In 2016, Carnival welcomed its 3 millionth cruise passenger at Port New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina (2005). Carnival pioneered year-round departures from NOLA in 1994. The company operates year-round roundtrips with cruise vessels and around over 125 departures annually on 4- to 7-night itineraries.
Port NOLA's cruise shipping sector continues to grow. For season 2016 was reported 4,5% passenger increase (over 2015), with total handled 1,070695 million pax. Cruise industry expenditures totaled USD 406 million. Port's cruising business provided USD 324 million in personal income. Port studies showed 80% of all cruise ship tourists are from Louisiana, and 60% spend an average of 2 nights in New Orleans (before and after the cruise).
On October 4, 2016, Louisiana state (delegation of 50 officials) and PortNOLA (via its CEO) signed in Havana a MoU with Cuba to expand shipping trade and commerce opportunities.
In 2017, Louis Armstrong International Airport launched 2 new direct international flights (to Germany and UK) operated by the airlines Copa, Condor, and British Airways. In early-May 2017, RCI Royal Caribbean announced that for winter 2018-2019, Vision of the Seas will be homeported in NOLA. Beginning December 15, 2018, the 2500-passenger liner offers 7-day roundtrips to Western Caribbean (Yucatan Mexico) and Bahamas. In 2018-2019 (December 15 through March 2), RCI homeported Vision OTS (max capacity 2514 pax plus 765 crew) for 7-day roundtrips to Florida-Bahamas (Coco Cay, Nassau, Key West FL) and Western Caribbean (Cozumel, Costa Maya, Grand Cayman). The ship was only seasonally deployed, relocated for the winter from Galveston TX.
In 2017, PortNOLA reported a record year for its cruise business - with handled 1,15 million passengers at both terminals (Erato Str, and Julia Str). In 2018, Port NOLA celebrated its 300th anniversary and also surpassed the 1 million cruise tourist threshold (for 4th consecutive year) hitting a record volume for 7th year in a row.
In September 2018, ACL American Cruise Lines added to the company's NOLA homeported fleet the new riverboat American Song. In November 2018, NCL Norwegian Cruise Line replaced Norwegian Pearl (max 2873 pax) with PortNOLA's ever largest cruise ship - Norwegian Breakaway (max 4819 pax, 1595 crew). In 2019, Breakaway will be replaced by sistership Norwegian Getaway.
For FY2018, Port NOLA reported a container shipping record with handled 591,253 TEUs (+12,3% over 2017). 2018 was also the 5th consecutive year with handled over 0,5 million TEUs. Port's dedicated facility (Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal) can handle world's largest boxships and is operated by New Orleans Terminal and Ports America. In 2019 started construction works on Barbours Cut Container Terminal, which included demolition of the existing structures, replacing the old pavement with new asphalt (~23 acres / 9,3 hectares), construction of 2 buildings, new electrical and drainage systems and utilities. For the project (USD 39,7 million) was contracted Archer Western Construction (subsidiary of Walsh Group).
As of 2021, Port NOLA's container terminal serves 12 weekly lines from 3 major global shipping alliances with worldwide connections to 60 seaports (direct) plus 450+ other (indirect). Port NOLA handles ~70% of all TEUs moved through US Gulf of Mexico. Imports and exports are driven mainly by petrochemical and resin markets. In September 2019, the 2M Alliance (Maersk and MSC) started a new Transpacific service with Houston as first call port after the Panama Canal crossing. NOLA's multi-purpose terminals are at City Docks, Woodhouse, Jacintoport.
Cruise port's season 2018 ended with a record of 235 ship calls (229 in 2017) and handled 1,182111 million passengers (+2,3% over 2017). Mississippi River cruise passengers increased 23%.
In 2019, Carnival Cruise Line increased its homeporting capacity by replacing Carnival Triumph (max 3310 pax) with Carnival Valor (max 3581 pax). In Spring 2020, for the first time from New Orleans, Disney Cruise Line scheduled a total of 5 roundtrip itineraries on the homeported here 2700-passenger Disney Wonder.
- 7-day Bahamian Cruise (Feb 7-14) visits Nassau, Castaway Cay Island, Key West FL.
- 7-day Western Caribbean Cruise (Feb 14-21) visits Mexico (Cozumel), Grand Cayman Island (George Town), Jamaica (Falmouth).
- 6-day voyage (Feb 21-27) visits Cozumel and Grand Cayman.
- 4-day voyages (Feb 27 - Mar 2, and March 2-6) visit Cozumel.
- Followed a 14-day relocation through Panama Canal (RepositionCruises.com) to San Diego.
Port NOLA's FY2019 (fiscal year) ended with 10% growth in handled TEU-containers (648,538) over FY2018. The half-million mark was surpassed at the Napoleon Terminal (jointly operated by Ports America and New Orleans Terminal). TEU-containers are shipped via cargo barges from NOLA to Baton Rouge LA and Memphis TN (and the reverse). In 2019, the cruise port reported 1,2 million handled tourists (1,18 million in 2018) and a total of 251 ship calls (235 in 2018). Mississippi cruise shipping was based on six NOLA homeported boats with handled 31306 passengers. New riverboats include American Harmony (2019) and American Jazz (2020).
In 2020 were initiated infrastructure investments (USD 100 million port development and expansion project) that includes purchasing four new 100-ft Rail Mounted Gantry Cranes and other container terminal upgrades. The new bridge cranes start operations in 2021-Q2.
On August 1, 2020, the Louisiana state (Governor John Bel Edwards) signed an agreement with the US Army Corps of Engineers for deepening Lower Mississippi River from 45 ft (13,7 m) to 50 ft (15,2 m). The USD 250 million (~EUR 213 M) project will provide larger cargo ships (Post-Panamax vessels) with access to Port Baton Rouge, Port South Louisiana, St Bernard Port (Chalmette LA), Port NOLA (New Orleans) and Plaquemines Port (at Mississippi's mouth on Mexico Gulf, near Belle Chasse LA). The project's funding included USD 81 million from LADOTD (Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development / state government organization).
For FY2020, due to the Coronavirus crisis, Port NOLA reported USD 21 million loss in direct revenues from the ship cruise industry. For 2021, the cruise port had scheduled 338 ship calls with estimated ~1,5 million passengers. For 2022 were reported 285 berth bookings/cruise ship calls with estimated ~1 million tourists.
On August 17, 2021, Port NOLA and CLEANCOR Energy Solutions LLC (subsidiary of SEACOR Holdings Inc) signed a MoU for providing bunkering/fueling to LNG-powered ships within Port’s jurisdiction. The MoU was signed by Brandy Christian (Port's President and CEO) and Jeff Woods (CLEANCOR's CEO).
In December 2021 started construction works on NOLA Oil Terminal's extension at Port Plaquemines. The project (budgeted USD 930 million) involves the development of an area of 158 acres/64 hectares at Mississippi River's Mile Marker 59 and building 2x ship berths plus 1x barge dock. When completed, the new facilities will allow river access to larger tanker ships (New-Panamax- and Suezmax-sized, with max GT ~200,000 tons) and max storage capacity 10 million oil barrels.
New Orleans cruise terminal
Port NOLA (New Orleans cruise port) is approx 5,5-hour drive from Houston TX, 2-hour drive from Baton Rouge LA and 3-hour drive from Jackson MS. New Orleans Airport is approx 16 mi (26 km) from the cruise terminal.
Port NOLA has two terminals serving cruise ships (liners and riverboats) - Julia Street Cruise Terminal, and Erato Cruise Terminal, with combined wharf length (2 berths) 792 m (2600 ft).
Julia Street Cruise Terminal
Port's first cruise terminal building was opened in 1991. The facilities include baggage area, refreshment stands, check-in desks, elevated loading ramp for passengers, ATMs, souvenir kiosks. Terminal's parking (Whale Parking) is off Convention Center Blvd.
Erato Cruise Terminal
Port's second (new) cruise terminal was opened in 2006 and has capacity to handle two large cruise vessels simultaneously.
Building's facilities include waiting halls, baggage handling area, elevated loading ramp, customs clearance, souvenir shop, check-in desks. Terminal's dedicated parking (4-storey building) has capacity over 1000 vehicles. Parking costs $14 per day (Port Authority subject to change).
Erato Street Terminal serves Carnival Cruise Lines.
(NEW) Poland Avenue Cruise Terminal
In May 2017, NOLA port commented about converting Poland Avenue Wharf into a new cruise ship terminal facility. In 2016, port officials met with Bywater residents to comment on the proposal. In 2017 the port announced that RCI Royal Caribbean starts turnaround operations (NOLA roundtrip departures) after a 3-year hiatus. The news rekindled the new passenger terminal project.
Poland Ave is port's best area for a large-sized cruise terminal, but there is still docking capacity at the existing terminals Erato Street and Julia Street. RCI liners dock on Saturdays at Julia Wharf as scheduled in company's NOLA cruise program 2018 (based on Vision of the Seas).
The new passenger terminal's building is expected to cost over USD 50 million. The project has no official timeline or funding. It would also need an environmental review - the process could take years.
New Orleans tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Jackson Square: located at the French Quarter neighborhood center. This area is with Spanish and French atmosphere. Near the square are sights including the Cabildo, the Presbytére (Hurricane Katrina museum) and the St Louis Cathedral.
- Artillery park: few steps after Café Du Monde, you will see amazing view of the river Mississippi.
- Bourbon Street: the busiest French Quarter street. Popular places to visit are Pat O’Brien’s bar, Galatoire’s Restaurant, the Old Absinthe House and Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop.
- Moonwalk: the famous walk runs along Mississippi river, its west side. It will take you from Jackson Square to Canal street. It is named after mayor Maurice Moon Landrieu.
- St Louis Cemetery #1: the rest place of Ernest Dutch Morial, Marie Laveau, Homer Plessey, Etienne de Bore and more famous New Orleans citizens. Be aware of weird sounds, inexplicable happenings and unreal apparitions.
- St Charles St Streetcar: it will take you from the French Quarter through the St. Charles Avenue, a great way to enjoy the beautiful architecture of the city.
Port New Orleans cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from New Orleans, Port NOLA, Louisiana. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
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