Citing strong performance and growing consumer demand, Carnival Cruise Lines today announced its’ largest and newest line of ships will sail from the Port of New Orleans beginning in April 2014.
First, Carnival will deploy the 3,006-passenger Carnival Sunshine to New Orleans Nov. 18, replacing the current 2,984-passenger Carnival Conquest. The Carnival Sunshine recently underwent a massive $155 million transformation. The Carnival Sunshine will sail regular seven-day western and eastern Caribbean itineraries from New Orleans through April 2014 – when Carnival will reposition the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream from Port Canaveral, Fla. The 130,000-ton Carnival Dream is from the line’s newest and largest class of ships and offers an array of on-board facilities and features. It will sail year-round seven-day itineraries from the Port of New Orleans. In turn, the Carnival Sunshine will reposition to Port Canaveral, Fla., in April.
The 2,052-passenger Carnival Elation will continue to sail year-round four- and five-day itineraries to Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico. Carnival is the only cruise line to operate two, year-round ships from New Orleans and will carry more than 400,000 guests annually from the Port of New Orleans.
“These deployment changes will enable us to offer our guests even more exciting Carnival cruise vacation choices from Central Florida and the Gulf region and significantly enhance our leadership positions in the Port Canaveral and New Orleans markets,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO.
Carnival’s announcement comes on the heels of a recently signed three-year extension of its berthing agreement with the Port of New Orleans, which will keep two Carnival cruise ships sailing year-round from New Orleans through at least Feb. 12, 2016.
“Carnival Cruise Lines has shown tremendous commitment to the Port of New Orleans and to Louisiana,” said Port President and CEO Gary LaGrange. “Carnival is a true partner and has worked alongside Port officials to help shape New Orleans into a world-class cruise port.”
LaGrange also congratulated New Orleans native Arnold W. Donald, who will assume the role of Carnival Corp. CEO July 3.
“We have worked closely with Carnival Corp. for decades and congratulate a fellow New Orleanian in his new role as CEO,” LaGrange said. “We look forward to working with Mr. Donald to continue to grow a robust cruise industry in Louisiana.”
A recent study by Cruise Lines International Association found the cruise industry accounted for $280 million in direct spending in 2011, up 35 percent compared to 2010. The study also found the industry generated 5,512 jobs and $211 million in income in Louisiana.
A study commissioned by the Port in 2012 found cruise passengers in New Orleans stay an average of 1.8 nights in area hotels either before or after their cruise and spent another $27.9 million on lodging, food, beverage and incidental spending.