The Port of New Orleans 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 at the Port for the month.
The Port’s previous monthly high was set in February 2020 with 154,409 passenger movements and 31 vessel calls just prior to the entire cruise industry coming to a complete halt in March of that year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, Port NOLA had been on track to meet a record 1.4 million passenger movements in 2020. Now, the Port is 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. “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.”
At Port NOLA, 90% of cruise guests travel from out-of-state with 73% spending 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 in September 2021. In 2022, Carnival celebrated their 50thanniversary year with an average 110% occupancy on their sailings out of New Orleans. Norwegian Cruise Lines continued their commitment to New Orleans by returning Port NOLA’s largest homeported vessel, the Norwegian Breakaway. Royal Caribbean returned for the 2022-2023 season in November, and Disney doubled their cruises from Port NOLA in 2023 with 12 sailings.
River cruises resumed successfully from the Port in March 2021 and are now at record levels with 9 river cruise vessels cruising from New Orleans. Port NOLA was thrilled to welcome Viking Cruise Line’s first homeported cruise in North America to New Orleans last year. The vessel was built in Louisiana.