Port NO: City's cruise future is bright despite Royal Caribbean move

Royal Caribbean International has decided not to sail from New Orleans after next Spring, but port managers aren't worried about the future of the city's cruise industry.

The cruise line chose not to renew its contract with the Port of New Orleans for the 2015-2016 season. Royal Caribbean called the change part of it's "ongoing global expansion." Port President and CEO, Gary LaGrange, says the company is hoping to capitalize on a growing demand for cruise vacations in Asia.

That demand is also something seen in New Orleans. In 2012, the port say more 970,000 cruise passenger. Last year, more than 980,000 passengers, according to numbers released by the port.

The New Orleans Convention and Visitor's Bureau says those numbers continue to rise.

"They can come spend a few days, enjoy the city," said Lauren Cason with the NOCVB. "It's great for our tourism industry,"

Royal Caribbean has sailed from New Orleans for four seasons. It left after Hurricane Katrina, only to return in 2011, and the port says it could happen again.

"They just didn't renew their contract so we're making an assumption that they won't be back for the 2015-2016 season," says LaGrange. "That's not to say they can't come back from the 2016-2017 season."

No word yet if Royal Caribbean will be back, but the Port of New Orleans has already started talking to other cruise lines. LaGrange says the port has meetings set up for next week.

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