Port of New Orleans loses $21 million without cruises, but president predicts fall return

Updated: Mar. 22, 2021 at 3:50 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Port of New Orleans services four major cruise lines: Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Disney. The docks are empty and have been for over a year when the CDC held up U.S. operations because of the coronavirus.

“This coming year we were due to have 338 cruise ship calls and about 1.5 million passenger moves for the year,” said Brandy Christian, Port of New Orleans President and CEO. “I think for the regional economy, annually that’s about $250 million in spending.”

Christian says the port has lost $21 million in direct revenue. “We typically collect fees for both parking and a passenger fee for using the cruise terminal.”

The CDC laid out plans for safe returns, but most cruise liners are waiting.

Disney Cruise Line and Carnival canceled all cruises from U.S. Ports through the end of May. Norwegian cruises through June. Two Royal Caribbean cruises will resume this summer but not any sailing out of New Orleans.

“They’re trying to do it very smart, very safe. I think that’s why there’s a pause,” said Don Redman with AAA Louisiana. “Yes, they can start having cruises now but they don’t want to yet.”

Redman says cruise lines took a big hit with COVID-19.

“I think most of them are hesitating to plan anything. You might actually see some cruises developing, even by the end of this year, 2021,” said Redman.

Christian says from communications she’s had with cruise liners, they’re hopeful the city could see all cruising ships return by the fall.

“What we’re hearing from cruise lines, New Orleans will fare very well in the return. People are going to want to go to more of a domestic, short term cruise. Florida, Texas, New Orleans we have a lot of option for sailing domestically.”

“On Oct. 30, 2020, the CDC issued the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, a roadmap for the steps required for resumption of cruise voyages in the U.S. As we work through our return to service plan to meet these requirements, we will continue to partner with global and domestic authorities, including the CDC, to chart a path forward. In the meantime, our voluntary suspension of global cruise voyages currently includes all sailings through June 30, 2021. Given the fluid and evolving nature of the circumstances, we are making decisions as quickly and thoughtfully as possible, continuing to keep our guests’ and travel partners’ best interests at heart.” - Spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line

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