Port NOLA reports return to pre-pandemic cruise numbers for 2023

The American port handled nearly 1.2 million passengers from both oceangoing and river cruise lines

Port NOLA reports return to pre-pandemic cruise numbers for 2023


Port NOLA records nearly 1.2 million passenger moves in 2023

By Laura Hyde |

The Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) in Louisiana handled nearly 1.2 million cruise passengers in 2023, returning to pre-pandemic passenger levels for the first time. 

A passenger record was set in March 2023 when Port NOLA recorded 155,225 passenger movements, as well as 39 cruise vessel calls. The port set its previous record of 154,409 passenger movements and 31 vessel calls in February 2020, just before the global shutdown of the cruise industry due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“The cruise business has rebounded in New Orleans and cruise line partners are confident in our Port NOLA cruise market,” said Brandy D. Christian, president and CEO of Port NOLA. “This is really encouraging as our cruise business drives tourism and contributes significantly to the hospitality industry. We want to thank all our cruise line and hospitality partners as we work together to make cruising out of New Orleans two vacations in one.” 

Port NOLA expects further growth in 2024, with several new and returning ships homeporting from the port. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Getaway will sail from the port from October 2024, with the line renewing its commitment to the port for five more years by scheduling additional sailings from the Louisiana port. Disney Cruise Line returned with Disney Magic in January 2024, while Royal Caribbean International returns to Port NOLA with Brilliance of the Seas from November 2024. 

Carnival Cruise Line, meanwhile, will celebrate 30 years cruising from New Orleans in 2024. The cruise line homeports Carnival Glory and Carnival Valor year-round at the port. 

Port NOLA is also seeing record growth in river cruises, with nine homeporting vessels in 2024, including Viking River Cruises’ Viking Mississippi, which was built in Louisiana in 2022. 

Cruise visitors generate more than $125 million in local spending for the city of New Orleans each year, with 73 per cent of cruise passengers spending one or two days in the city before or after their cruise, according to figures released by the port. 

“New Orleans is one of the most popular pre-and post-cruise destinations in the country, which is a tribute to our excellent partners at the Port of New Orleans, as well as the work of our team at New Orleans & Company,” said Walter J. Leger III, president and CEO of New Orleans & Company. “We are pleased to work closely with the port, the cruise lines and travel advisors to ensure that extremely loyal cruise passengers are selecting to sail from New Orleans instead of competitor cities.” 

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