NEW ORLEANS -- The Carnival Dream has 15 decks, 1,800 staterooms, a 300-foot water slide and two dozen watering holes.
The captain knows his crew makes dreams come true for 3,600 passengers.
"It is so nice to see people coming on with a smile and leaving with a smile even bigger," said Cpt. Rocco Lubrano.
The Dream carries 600 more passengers than her predecessor, because New Orleans is a popular port.
"New Orleans has been absolutely fantastic for Carnival," said Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer De La Cruz. "That's why we keep sending bigger ships here."
Many passengers make a stay in the city part of their trip.
"I hear a lot from folks that they went on the cruise, and they came here, they came here for a day and they left, and said boy, there's so much to see here, we need to come back," said Royal Sonesta Hotel General Manager Al Groos.
"We come back next Sunday, and we're going to spend another three nights here then, so we can have a good look around, because it's always wonderful here," said Mike Webb, who came from Wales to take the cruise and then visit New Orleans.
Cruise industry figures show visitors spend $95 a day in most cities, but $335 in New Orleans.
"The cruise business has been real good for us," said Denny Amato at Mother's Restaurant. "It's taken some of our normal Saturdays and turned them in to great days."
"The ones I see at seven in the morning have had a whole lot of fun," said waitress Janet Grant.
Four ships dock in New Orleans right now. But there is so much interest in cruising from New Orleans that the port is about to start work later this year on a new $30 million terminal in the Bywater.
Cruise Lines International Association figures show that in 2012, the industry generated $400 million in Louisiana and supported 7500 jobs.