Are you looking for a different vacation? One with international flare? Do you want to spice up your New Orleans travel plans? Although the port of New Orleans has long been an active shipping hub, Hurricane Katrina delayed the emerging cruise ship industry in New Orleans. But, it is all back with a zest! From Ocean Liners, to Riverboats, to small Yachts, New Orleans offers it all!
Where else can you vacation for a week, stepping back in time in the French Quarter, dine on the best food the world has to offer, and then board a cruise ship for a trip to the Caribbean? There are not many places where this all comes together to make a perfect vacation. But this is one, and one you do not want to miss.
So, you want to see the Big Easy and then cruise on out to sea? No worry here, New Orleans has what you want.
Several great cruise lines operate out of New Orleans. Geographic logic shows that New Orleans is a perfect cruise terminal - because of its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. Historically, New Orleans has been a predominate port city.
The New Orleans cruise ship terminal is located adjacent to the Hilton Riverside (2 Poydras Street, New Orleans, LA, 504-561-0500), which is a great place to stay for a fly-in for a land (New Orleans and French Quarter) and sea (cruise) vacation. No rental car needed to experience the French Quarter, St. Charles Avenue and the Caribbean. The Hilton Riverside is within easy walking distance of the French Quarter, the CBD, the streetcar lines, and is right on the Mississippi River.
New Orleans Travel Tip: The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau offers land and sea cruise packages at New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. These are great bargains, and they offer unadvertised specials! Check it out if you are looking for a New Orleans land/sea vacation for a deal! New Orleans CVB
Presently, there are three traditional cruise lines that conduct business from New Orleans - Carnival Cruises (1-800-764-7410), Norwegian Cruise Line (1-866-234-7350), and Royal Caribbean (1-866-562-7625). These three have great service, great routes, and large ships. Other cruise options are available as well - including day cruises, riverboat cruises, and other, more unusual cruise options.
You may want to visit the Port of New Orleans website at portno.com that offers a wealth of information regarding the New Orleans cruise experience.
Its best to check the sites often because the price swings are fairly dramatic from season to season and depending upon what conventions are in town at the particular time.
Carnival Cruises is a large New Orleans line that specializes in affordable cruises to ports in Mexico from New Orleans. It generally offers 4-, 5- and 7-day cruises sail to ports like Cozumel, Progreso and Jamaica. They have also offered cruises to the Bahamas. Departures are offered all year-round on the so-called "fun ships." Carnival offers great bargains, good ships and great locations.
Norwegian Cruise Line's large Norwegian Spirit embarks on a 7-day western Caribbean cruise from New Orleans. The Norwegian Spirit serves Costa Maya, Guatemala, Belize and Cozumel. A new ship, The Norwegian Star, is scheduled to begin cruises from New Orleans in late 2012. Norwegian is also known for its "Freestyle Cruise" option. From New Orleans, Norwegian offers a variety of exciting restaurants, a relaxed dress code and lots of shore excursion choices.
Another well-known line, Royal Caribbean, has cruises from New Orleans on the Voyager of the Seas. Royal Caribbean also offers western Caribbean cruises and, has offered a Transatlantic cruise to Barcelona. It rotates is routes frequently and offers a great variety of cruise locations.
New Orleans Travel Tip: Parking for oversized vehicles is somewhat tricky. They may use the Poydras St. Parking lot which is adjacent to the Julia St. Cruise Terminal. Parking for oversized vehicles is $32 per day. Please call ahead at 504-528-3318. Lot is secured, lighted and patrolled. There is a shuttle service to help you and your luggage get aboard.
Instructions to get to the cruise ship terminals are as follows: Take I-10 east to New Orleans; follow the signs to the N.O. Business District, US90 West, Crescent City Connection to the West Bank. Take last exit before crossing the Mississippi river, which is the Tchoupitoulas Street/St. Peter Street exit11C; turn right onto Tchoupitoulas Street, take a left onto Henderson Street(at the red light), proceed down Henderson St. past the railroad tracks and floodwall and turn left onto Port of New Orleans Place. Follow the signs into the appropriate terminal.
New Orleans Travel Tip: The only food in the terminal is basically a refreshment stand offering coffee, ice cream, assorted sweets and other snacks and services. There is a Souvenir and Curio Stand offering New Orleans keepsakes and forgotten personal items. You may want to eat prior to entering the embarkation process.
In New Orleans, there are also day cruising options. The Steamboat Natchez Riverboat (400 N Peters St., Suite 203 New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-569-1401) offer several day, night and dinner cruises along the Mississippi River. These cruises travel up and down the river for a few hours' worth of excursion time. The Audubon Institute offers the Zoo Cruise (6500 Magazine Street, 866- ITS-A-ZOO) where visitors leave from the Aquarium, cruise upriver to the zoo and return. It is more of a shuttle than a cruise, but gives the flavor of cruising on the Mississippi River.
New Orleans Travel Tip: If the Zoo Cruise is not for you, you can still get to the zoo on the St. Charles trolley line and there is a shuttle to the zoo from where you get off the trolley, and you can get a combination ticket for the zoo and aquarium. Check the times - there are shuttles than run infrequently from the streetcar line over to the zoo. Otherwise, it’s quite a walk.
Steamboat Cruises are also returning to New Orleans in 2012. The 436-passenger American Queen will have its inaugural eight-night cruise from New Orleans to Memphis, Tenn., on April 13, 2012. Great American Steamboat Co. (888-749-5280). The ship is scheduled to make 15 stops in New Orleans while cruising up and down the Mississippi River, with stops in Cincinnati; Memphis and Chattanooga, Tenn.; Vicksburg, Miss.; and Louisville, Ky.
American Cruise Lines (1-800-460-4518) is scheduled to launch its 150-passenger Queen of the Mississippi sternwheeler from New Orleans to Memphis on Aug. 11, 2012. It will make stops upriver in Memphis and Nashville, Tenn.; St. Louis; St. Paul, Minn.; and Cincinnati before returning to New Orleans on Nov. 17 for two weeks. It will then return Dec. 1 and stay ported in New Orleans until Dec. 29, 2012. Beyond this date is uncertain.