The New Orleans cruise port features two ship terminals, its primary located at Erato Street and its secondary and original at Julia Street. Each of the cruise port terminals sits on the Mississippi River a few miles south of the French Quarter and Riverwalk districts. New Orleans is the home port for several cruise operators, including three major cruise lines and four small ship companies.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival’s (carnival.com) Elation, Conquest and Sunshine cruise ships offer year-round cruise itineraries departing from New Orleans. All travel to either the western or eastern Caribbean, spending between four and seven days visiting a variety of ports in the Bahamas, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Mexico, Honduras and Belize. Carnival Sunshine and Conquest have similar on-board dining options including a taste bar, signature dining room, a steakhouse and a kid’s menu. Carnival Elation dining options include a Mongolian wok restaurant, the chef’s table dining experience and a coffee bar for breakfast and snacks. All three ships feature a gambling casino, a piano bar, comedy club, a video arcade, stage shows, sports activities and children’s camps and clubs.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line’s (ncl.com) Star, Dawn and Jewel ships offer seasonal, seven- to 15-day sailing itineraries to the western Caribbean and the Panama Canal, as well as transatlantic voyages lasting 13 to 25 days. Ports of call in the western Caribbean and Panama regions include Honduras, Belize, Mexico, Panama and Colombia, and the island nations of Jamaica and Grand Cayman. Transatlantic cruises stop in Miami, Florida, the Azores, England, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Russia and Finland. Norwegian’s three New Orleans-based cruise ships have 14 to 16 dining options, up to a dozen bars and lounges, a casino, an expansive fitness center, sports courts, teen discos, kid’s centers and multiple swimming pools and hot tubs.
Royal Caribbean International
With Royal Caribbean International (royalcaribbean.com), seasonal and seven- to nine-night cruise itineraries are offered to the Bahamas and western Caribbean, while a 15-night cruise is also available to eastbound transatlantic ports of call. You can sail from New Orleans aboard the Serenade of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas ships enjoying on-board amenities including an ice-skating rink, miniature golf course, rock-climbing wall, sports courts, casino and Broadway shows. Navigator of the Seas features a three-story dining room with spectacular ocean views, while the Serenade of the Seas has a nine-story, all-glass atrium offering panoramic views of the sun and ocean, as well as the moonlight and stars.
American Cruise Lines
American Cruise Lines (americancruiselines.com) offers one-way and round-trip paddle-wheel cruises aboard the Queen of the Mississippi riverboat that depart from New Orleans. These eight-day cruises travel north along the Mississippi River to the ports of Oakville, Baton Rouge and St. Francisville, Louisiana; Natchez and Vicksburg, Mississippi; Helena, Arkansas; and Memphis, Tennessee. The Queen of the Mississippi riverboat features a passenger capacity of 150 and has large, upper level staterooms with private balconies. It also has elevators for all decks, a cafe on the top deck, an on-board calliope powered by steam, a putting green, exercise center and a Mark Twain library.
Blount Small Ship Adventures
Blount Small Ship Adventures (blountsmallshipadventures.com) offers excursions aboard the Grand Caribe small ship to various regions of the south. The 12-day Gulf Coast cruise begins in New Orleans and ends in St. Petersburg, Florida, stopping in the cities of Biloxi, Mobile, Pensacola, Panama City, Carrabelle and Tampa Bay. The 16-day Mississippi and Tenn-Tom Waterway cruise sails round trip from New Orleans with stops in various cities in Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee and Louisiana. The 12-day Tenn-Tom Waterway cruise begins in New Orleans and ends in Nashville, stopping in the ports of Mobile, Demopolis, Columbus, Pickwick, Waverly, Kuttawa and Clarksville. Renovated in 2009, the Grand Caribe features new showers and bathrooms as well as furniture and decor throughout the ship. It can carry up to 96 passengers per voyage with its 48 overnight cabins, has a 180-degree vista-view lounge and an upper deck for sunning or gazing at the stars.
American Queen Steamboat Company
American Queen Steamboat Company (americanqueensteamboatcompany.com) offers a variety of cruises lasting four to 12 nights aboard its American Queen steamboat. Several cruise itineraries are round-trip from New Orleans, while some are one-way with an end destination of Memphis or St. Louis. Types of cruises available include history and culture, blues and barbecue, spring pilgrimage, big band music, Dixie festival and holiday voyages. According to the company website, the American Queen is the largest boat of its kind ever built, with six decks and staterooms ranging from 80 to 500 square feet. While cruising, you can enjoy nightly entertainment shows, dancing, calliope concerts and excellent cuisine from culinary director and chef, Regina Charboneau.