Winter Cruises: New Orleans is Your Port

Lacy LangleyBusiness

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If you're looking for a winter cruise to escape the dreary conditions, you might try New Orleans. The Big Easy seems to be the place from which to get to destinations like Mexico, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Florida, Belize, Honduras, San Francisco, the Canary Islands and Spain, according to

New Orleans in on track to set its third record this year for cruise ship passengers, said Gary LaGrange, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans. Some larger ships will call New Orleans home in the near future, and business is up for the port.

New Orleans' cruise business skyrocketed over 32 percent last year to 977,703 passengers. The 2011 passenger total of 736,908, itself broke the passenger record set in 2004, port officials have said. "This year we have a good shot at passing a million," LaGrange said.

The Carnival Sunshine arrives Sunday, just in time for those winter cruises. The Sunshine carries 2,984 passengers, which is 22 more than the Carnival Conquest, the one currently in operation. April will see the arrival of the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream. The dream will then stay in New Orleans.

LaGrange said the Dream could also possibly increase the passenger numbers even more in 2014, when it's expected to up Carnival's passenger total from more than 330,000 a year to more than 400,000 a year. Carnival is the only cruise provider out of New Orleans that sails year round.

LaGrange boasts that cruises have risen from about 5 percent of the port's income 12 years ago to 20 percent of last year's astounding number of over $50 million in revenues. He said, "A lot of it has to do with the fact that we're marketing it as two vacations in one: Come down and you get the Big Easy and get the cruise as well."

Image via wikimedia commons

Lacy Langley

Lacy is a writer from Texas. She likes spending time in the home office, homeschooling her kids, playing the didgeridoo, caring for her chickens (Thelma and Louise), Rolos, Christmas, and Labyrinth.