Cruises To and From New Orleans
New Orleans, with its key location just 90 miles upriver from the Gulf of Mexico, has long been known as “The Gateway to the Caribbean.” Adding to that distinction, in recent years, the Crescent City has also become one of the nation’s Top 10 ports for embarkation and stopovers for cruise ships traveling to both the eastern and western ends of the Caribbean, as well as for smaller cruise ships traveling up and down the Mississippi River and other inland waterways of the South and Midwest.
Since recovering from Hurricane Katrina, the Port of New Orleans’ Mississippi Riverfront has become a hub of activity for everything from large, ocean-going vessels and old-time sternwheel riverboats to sleek, smaller vessels capable of navigating narrow, natural and man-made waterways.
As a result, in July 2013 New Orleans was ranked #6 among American cruise ports by the Cruise Lines International Association. The number of passengers handled by the Port of New Orleans was over 1 million in 2014, setting a new record for the port.
Such international cruise industry giants as Carnival Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Line have made long-term commitments to homeporting some of their largest vessels at the port for four- to seven-day cruises to a wide swath of destinations in the Caribbean Sea between the Bahamas and the eastern coast of Central America.
On a smaller, but no less important scale, American Cruise Lines’ Queen of the Mississippi and the Great American Steamboat Company’s American Queen, both of which offer excursions throughout the Mississippi Basin, dock in New Orleans for journeys lasting anywhere from 4-11 days. And, in the spring of 2015, American Cruise Lines added a second riverboat, the American Eagle, to its expanding inventory of old-style paddlewheelers.
In addition, in 2014, Blount Small Ship Adventures’ Grand Caribe began carrying passengers from New Orleans to Chicago and points in between for 16-day cruises.
With this rapid growth of leisure cruising in New Orleans, improved parking and loading facilities at the Erato and Julia Street cruise terminals has made it more convenient than ever for passengers to embark and disembark. In late 2015 a third cruise ship terminal is expected to be completed a few miles downriver at the foot of Poland Avenue, with enough space to berth the largest cruise ships now in service.
Here is a rundown of the cruises originating and terminating in New Orleans.
- Carnival Cruise Lines Dream
Year round 7-day cruises to the Caribbean.
- Carnival Cruise Lines Elation
Year-round 4- and 5-day cruises to Cozumel and Progresso, Mexico. Erato Street Cruise Terminal.
- Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Dawn
7-day cruises to the Caribbean.
- American Cruise Lines Queen of the Mississippi
7-day round-trip cruises from New Orleans to Vicksburg, Mississippi along the Mississippi River.
- American Cruise Lines American Eagle
8-day cruises along the lower Mississippi River between New Orleans and Memphis
- Great American Steamboat Company American Queen
4- 11-day/night cruises on the Mississippi River and tributaries originating from or terminating at the Port of New Orleans.
- Blount Small Ship Adventures Grand Caribe
16-day, 15-night cruises between New Orleans and Chicago along the Mississippi River and other inland waterways
Here are more details about the cruises and their parent companies:
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Lines, one of the largest cruise companies in the world with 24 ships sailing all over the globe, has two of its major vessels homeported year-round in New Orleans – the Carnival Elation and the Carnival Dream.
The Elation (capacity 2,052 passengers) specializes in 4- to 5-day excursions to the Western Caribbean (particularly the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico). The Dream (capacity 3,652) offers 7-day cruises or 10+ day cruises to various ports in the Caribbean.
In 2016, the Elation will be replaced by the Carnival Triumph, which Carnival Cruise Lines plans to keep in New Orleans.
For more information about fares, itineraries, amenities, departure dates, etc. visit the Carnival website at www.carnival.com and type in the information you are requesting.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line operates one cruise ship out of the Port of New Orleans, the Norwegian Dawn, which offers 7-day cruises to the Caribbean during the winter sailing season. With a capacity of 2,340 passengers, the Dawn is 965 feet long by 125 feet maximum width.
For more information about the Norwegian Dawn go to the following link: www.ncl.com/cruise-ship/dawn/overview. For information about Norwegian Cruise Line go to www2.ncl.com.
Great American Steamboat Company
The American Queen, the third, largest and newest of the former Delta Queen/American Classic Voyages Line sternwheel riverboats, returned to active service in April 2012. Formerly homeported in New Orleans and now under the ownership of the Memphis-based Great American Steamboat Company, the return of the American Queen also marked the return of overnight journeys of paddlewheelers to the Mississippi after a three-year absence.
The American Queen, with a capacity of 436 passengers in 222 staterooms, offers river cruises ranging in duration from four to eleven nights. As before, the ship will offer numerous amenities, including fine cuisine, live music and other entertainment and stops at scenic and historic sites along the Mississippi and its tributaries.
For more details about the American Queen, including voyages, price ranges, accommodations, amenities, reservations and other key information visit their website at www.greatamericansteamboatcompany.com.
American Cruise Lines
The 150-passenger Queen of the Mississippi made its debut at the Port of New Orleans in early August 2012. As the first paddlewheel riverboat to be constructed for the Mississippi River in nearly two decades, the Queen features all the amenities and comforts of the late 19th/early 20th century “Golden Age of Riverboating” but with the added advantages of 21st century technology and ambience.
During the winter months the Queen ties up at the Julia Street Wharf and offers 7-day round trip cruises between New Orleans and Vicksburg, Mississippi, with stops at various points along the way, especially at plantations adjacent to the river. During the warm months of the year, the Queen cruises the upper Mississippi, the Ohio and Tennessee rivers with occasional stops in New Orleans.
The American Eagle, which launched in the spring of 2015, carries up to 150 passengers aboard its 305-foot length. It offers up to 8-day cruises along the lower Mississippi River between New Orleans and Memphis. It also offers a limited number of 22-day cruises along a much longer stretch of the Mississippi.
For more information about the Queen of the Mississippi, American Eagle and American Cruise Lines visit their website at www.americancruiselines.com.
Blount Small Ship Adventures
In the spring of 2014, Blount’s Grand Caribe inaugurated a series of 16-day, 15-night cruises between New Orleans and Chicago along the Mississippi River and other inland waterways. They also offer a cruise that goes from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama, then up the Tennessee-Tombigbee (TennTom) Waterway to Tennessee and Kentucky, down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers back to New Orleans.
The Grand Caribe has a capacity of 88 passengers in 44 cabins, spread evenly on two decks, and is 184’ x 40’ in length and width.
For more detailed information and to make reservations go to www.blountsmallshipadventures.com and click on “Cruises” then “Mid America and the Great Lakes.” Detailed information on the Grand Caribe can be found by clicking on “Ship Info.”
Cruise Terminal Directions
and Parking Map
For parking and other portside information about any of the cruises arriving in or departing from New Orleans call the Port of New Orleans at 504-522-2551or visit their website www.portno.com.
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From Central Business District
Convention Center Blvd. to Henderson St., left on Henderson St. continue to Port of New Orleans Place, left on Port of New Orleans Place to Julia St. Terminals 1 & 2.
From Interstate 10 (East or West)
Exit at Business 90W/Westbank (locally known as Pontchartrain Expressway). Proceed to Tchoupitoulas St./South Peters St. exit, continue to Convention Center Blvd., right on Convention Center Blvd. continue to Henderson St., left on Henderson St. continue to Port of New Orleans Place, left on Port of New Orleans Place to Julia St. Terminals 1 & 2.
From River Bound Pontchartrain Expressway
Exit at Tchoupitoulas St./South Peters St. exit, continue to Convention Center Blvd., right on Convention Center Blvd. continue to Henderson St., left on Henderson St. continue to Port of New Orleans Place, left on Port of New Orleans Place to Julia St. Terminals 1 & 2.
From River Bound Westbank Expressway
Westbank Expressway to Crescent City Connection, continue over Crescent City Connection, exit at Tchoupitoulas St. exit. Continue to Henderson St., left on Henderson St. continue to Port of New Orleans Place, left on Port of New Orleans Place to Julia St. Terminals 1 & 2.
From New Orleans International Airport
Take I-10 East toward New Orleans. Follow signs for Westbank (Business 90) as you approach downtown. Exit at Tchoupitoulas St./South Peters St. exit, continue to Convention Center Blvd., right on Convention Center Blvd. continue to Henderson St., left on Henderson St. continue to Port of New Orleans Place, left on Port of New Orleans Place to Julia St. Terminals 1 & 2.
Parking for Erato St. Cruise Terminal
Go directly to the Erato Parking Garage entrance. On the first floor of the garage (3rd floor of the terminal building) you will be directed to the offloading area in the middle of the floor. SeaCaps will take your checked baggage and deliver them directly to the ship. After parking, you will take Elevators #3, 4 or 5 to the second floor check in and waiting area. Parking is priced on a per day fee. Please have your cruise ticket available as you will need to show them to enter the garage. Maximum height is 8' 4" (limited space) on 3rd floor and 7' 6" on higher floors, and maximum 22 feet in length. Garage is secure, lighted and patrolled.
Parking for Julia St. Cruise Terminal
Parking will be in the Erato St. Garage adjacent to the Julia St. Cruise Terminal. If you prefer to carry your baggage from the parking garage (approximately 75 yards between garage elevator and Julia Terminal), upon entering Port of New Orleans Place get in right lane and go straight into the Erato St. Parking Garage and follow directions below.
If you prefer to drop your bags at the Julia Terminal, upon entering Port of New Orleans Place get in left lane and go past the Erato Terminal and proceed directly to the Julia St. Cruise Terminal No. 2. Drop off all luggage except for your carry-ons, and all passengers except the driver. After dropping off all passengers and baggage, proceed to Julia St. and turn left. Go one block to Convention Center Blvd. and turn left. Go approximately one mile to the end of Convention Center Blvd., and turn left onto Henderson St. Go one block and turn left onto Port of New Orleans Place. (You have completed a circle.) Stay in right lane and proceed to the entrance of the Erato St. Parking Garage.
After parking, you will take Elevator # 1 at the far end of the building, and go to the ground floor (Floor 1), and walk approximately 30 yards to the entrance for the Julia St. Cruise Terminal Complex (entrance is underneath outdoor stairway on your right). Parking is priced at a per day rate; cash or credit cards accepted. Please have your cruise ticket available as you will need to show it to enter the garage. Maximum height is 8' 4" (limited space) on 3rd floor and 7' 6" on higher floors, and maximum 22 feet in length. Garage is secure, lighted and patrolled.
Oversized vehicles, RV's and Buses
Oversized vehicles may use the Poydras St. Parking lot which is adjacent to the Julia St. Cruise Terminal No. 2. Utilize the same directions as to Erato/Julia terminals. Go directly to the drop off areas for either the Erato or Julia terminal. After offloading all luggage and passengers, the driver should proceed past the Erato and Julia terminals and turn right into the Poydras St. Parking Lot. There will be a shuttle available to bring you back to Erato St. (You can walk to the Julia Terminal). Parking for oversized vehicles is at a per day rate. Please call ahead for space at (504) 525-5476. The lot is secure, lighted and patrolled.
Parking may also be available at off-site parking lots near the terminal. Cruise passengers should check with these lots directly for rates and availability.
For more detailed portside information about any of the cruises arriving in or departing from New Orleans call the Port of New Orleans at 504-522-2551 or visit their website www.portno.com.
You can also follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NewOrleansPort or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/portnola.