There was a time when cruises from New Orleans weren’t really the best option unless you actually lived in the city. Driving out of your way just to take a New Orleans cruise on a Carnival fantasy class ship that only cruised to Cozumel wasn’t high on many cruisers must do list.
Times however seem to have changed and over the next couple of years some great ships from Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines will be cruising out of New Orleans on a regular basis to ports such as Roatan, Belize, Nassau and Key West.
The Carnival fantasy class ship Elation is still sailing 4 and 5 night cruises to Mexico but Carnival has also added the Carnival Conquest and Carnival Sunshine into the mix for 2012 and 2013. These are two of Carnival’s better cruise ships that both feature amenities such as the Seaside Theater, twisting water slides, and top notch children’s programs. Best of all you can catch a 7 night cruise for less than $400 a person on one of these ships.
Royal Caribbean Cruises
Royal Caribbean has also jumped into the mix in a big way starting last year when the Voyager of the Seas began cruising out of New Orleans on 7 night Western Caribbean itineraries to Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Mexico. Royal Caribbean is one of the top cruise lines in the world for customer satisfaction and New Orleans offers a chance to cruise on some great RCL ships for less than $500 a person.
In November 2012, RCL added one of my personal favorite ships, the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas (click here for review) to the Port of New Orleans giving cruisers a chance to enjoy rock walls, ice skating at sea, an inline skating course and an amazing adults only Solarium featuring massive hot tubs. Also sailing out of New Orleans at the end of 2012 and into 2013 will be the Serenade of the Seas. She isn’t quite as big as the Navigator but she is still a magnificent ship non the less and another one we have sailed on in the past.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norwegian has also been doing a great job of spreading their ships around and had moved the Norwegian Spirit to New Orleans. She has since been replaced by the NCL Star which will sail 7 night cruises out of New Orleans to Costa Maya, Belize, Roatan and Cozumel. Norwegian features anytime dining and a more casual cruising experience which fits perfectly with the laid back culture of New Orleans. I expect NCL to do well in New Orleans for years to come. NCL is also one line I have yet to try for some reason. New Orleans would be the perfect spot to finally try one of the anytime cruises and hopefully we can make that happen soon.
Cheap Cruises from New Orleans
Not only has New Orleans become a major cruise port, it is doing so at prices that are better than the more traditional ports. The following is a listing of the cheapest cruises out of New Orleans for each of the cruise ships sailing from New Orleans in 2012 and 2013.
- Carnival Elation – Starting at $239
- Carnival Sunshine – Starting at $399
- Carnival Conquest – Starting at $369
- Norwegian Star – Starting at $409
- RCL Serenade of the Seas – Starting at $599
- RCL Navigator of the Seas – Starting at $499
These cruise deals from New Orleans are amazing. The cost above are for inside cabins but balcony’s can still be had for under $700 a person on many of these sailings. With savings like these you will even have a little money left over for a couple of drinks on Bourbon Street when you get back.
Port of New Orleans
The Port of New Orleans offers cruisers convenience to all of New Orleans main attractions such as the French Quarter, Harrah’s Casino, the Aquarium of the Americas as well as the RiverWalk Mall. In fact the Julia Street Terminal is actually located within the same building as the mall and the Erato Street terminal is adjacent to that one.
Parking at the New Orleans port is $16 a day
Where to Stay
If you are flying into New Orleans then you could stay at any of the hundreds of hotels in the downtown/ French Quarter area and be within either walking distance or a short cab ride away from the terminals. Inexpensive trolly rides and hotel shuttles may also be available. If you are driving however, you may want to look for a park and cruise hotel that will allow you to park your car for free or at least for a cheaper rate during your cruise. Parking is limited in downtown so finding hotels with parking in New Orleans can be a challenge. Also note that during times like Mardi Gras, New Years, Jazz Fest and football games, hotels can be booked well in advance and parking can be non-existent. So be sure to plan this out in advance. Here is a list of a few places that at one time offered a park and cruise package.
- Marriot on Canal St
- Holiday Inn Superdome
- Drury Inn ($50 fee)
What to do in New Orleans Before Your Cruise
- Bourbon St
- Aquarium of the Americas
- Visit the Garden District
- Harrah’s Casino
- Eat Cajun Food
- New Orleans Zoo
- Ghost Tour
- Saints Game
- Ride the Trolley