Port of New Orleans sees huge jump in cruise passengers

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 17, 2013 at 10:22 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 17 at 10:41 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- More and more people are flocking to New Orleans, and it's not for the food and music.

A new study says the Crescent City is seeing more cruise ship traffic.

"The whole ambiance, the food, the atmosphere, the people. Everything is pretty nice here," said Martin Moore.

He and his wife walked through the French Quarter Wednesday night as a solo saxophonist played melodic tunes nearby. The newlyweds from Memphis, Tenn., are in town waiting to hop on-board their cruise to Mexico Thursday.

"Our honeymoon. We just got married, so we're going to Cozumel," said Tracie Moore.

The Moores are joining thousands who continue to pick the New Orleans as their vacation port of choice. A new study by the Cruise Lines International Association shows that in 2012. the Port of New Orleans saw a 32 percent spike in passenger embarkations, totaling 488,000.

Port President & Ceo Gary Lagrange credits improved venues and larger ships docking at the port for the increase.

"We just jumped up to No. 6 overall in the nation. Sixth largest cruise port in the United States," Lagrange said. "We're very proud."

More passengers -- of course -- means more money for New Orleans. The port says in other cities, passengers spend about $95 a day. In the Crescent City they'll shell out $335 daily and spend on average of two nights at a local hotel.

"Over 7,500 people are now employed in the state of Louisiana because of cruising, and last year 977,703 passengers went through our terminals," Lagrange said.

"The main reason that they come to New Orleans is because it's New Orleans," said Ambassador Hotel owner Warren Reuther, which is one of the businesses benefiting from the cruise industry boom.

"If they come in on a Friday, they'll spend the weekend. Or if they come in on a Thursday, they won't cruise until Saturday or Sunday. And it's only going to increase more and more," said Reuther.

The two-in-one vacation charm is drawing more visitors from near and far before they head out on their maiden voyage.

"With the cruise leaving from here it was an added bonus," said Martin Moore.

The Cruise Lines International Association study also showed that cruise passengers and crew contributed over $42 billion to the U.S. economy in 2012. The study says the industry also generated more than 356,000 jobs and paying a record $17.4 billion in wages to American workers.

 

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