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Cruise industry showing signs of making a comeback in New Orleans

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 5:11 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - There are signs of a comeback in the city’s cruise ship industry.

The Port of New Orleans says some cruise ship business is already returning, but the larger ships won’t be arriving until September.

“We want to get back to being that international place to be in the world,” said Mayor Latoya Cantrell.

The CDC has approved cruise passenger service for Florida and Texas ports beginning in July. The Port of New Orleans says the Carnival Glory will be returning to New Orleans Sept. 5, offering seven day cruises.

”We want to get the segment back as soon as possible because it would help restore the economy and the jobs that go along with that,” said Mark Romig with New Orleans & Company.

In 2019 the cruise ship industry produced $250 million in direct spending for the city of New Orleans as it handled over a half million passengers.

”We will have cruise passengers come and stay a couple days before they get on the boat for the ship and then when they get back they stay a couple more days,” said Romig.

For cruise ships handling thousands of passengers, strict coronavirus protocols will need to be adhered to and city officials say they’re working on it.

”The health department has been having conversations around what that would look like and I don’t believe they have a policy I completely logged in yet,” said Beau Tidwell, New Orleans Communications Director.

The cruise dock sits empty now, but if and when the CDC approves the return of cruise ships to New Orleans it would boost the economy in several ways.

”The ships themselves buy goods and services from people in NOLA. It’s a very important segment,” said Romig.

When the ships return, there will be strict vaccine standards. Though the big cruise boats won’t be returning until September, river cruises aboard the American Cruise Line and the American Queen Steamboat Company returned two months ago. But tourism officials say it may be another year and a half before the cruise ship industry returns to 2019 levels.

“The conditional sail order is for 98 percent vaccination of crew and 95 percent vaccination of passengers,” said Brandy Christian, the president of Port Nola.

She says after the Carnival Glory resumes cruising in September, the Carnival Valor will begin offering four and five day cruises out of New Orleans November 1st. Disney cruise lines is expected to return in February 2022 and the port says they are expecting announcement soon from Royal Caribbean and Norwegian.

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