The Port of New Orleans has two terminal complexes located next to each other, behind the New Orleans Convention Center. It's about 10 blocks to Canal Street and the start of the French Quarter from both terminals.
Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean sail from the port weekly for destinations in the Caribbean and Bahamas. A number of smaller lines that cruise the coast or inland river system -- including American Cruise Lines, Travel Dynamics International and Blount Small Ship Adventures -- also depart from there.
The Erato Street Cruise Terminal houses Carnival Cruise Line ships. The Julia Street Cruise Terminal, home to Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International, is located further downriver from the Erato Street Terminal and is next to a shopping complex called The Outlets at Riverwalk.
The Erato Street Cruise Terminal Parking Garage is located on top of the terminal. There are porters to assist passengers inside the garage with transporting luggage to the ship. Once you've parked your car, take the elevators down, and you're inside the terminal.
The Julia Street Cruise Terminal Parking Facility is located adjacent to the terminal. Passengers are directed to drop off their luggage at one of four doors at the terminal, where porters collect it. Drivers then continue on to the parking facility.
Parking at the port costs $16 per day. It's reserved for cruise passengers only.
Getting There by Public Transit
New Orleans is lacking in the public transportation arena. It's possible to use the city's network of streetcars to get to the port from some locations, but be warned: Ongoing construction has resulted in months of service disruptions along the St. Charles Avenue line. The network is also very limited. The Riverfront Trolley line does stop just steps away from the nearby Convention Center, but it has a very limited route through the French Quarter. For more information about the streetcar line, contact the city's Regional Transit Authority at 504-248-3900.
Taxis can drop off and pick up passengers directly in front of their desired terminal. A line of taxis is always waiting for passengers during debarkation.
What Time to Arrive
Most cruise ships get in around 7 a.m. and leave around 4:30 p.m. (There are some exceptions, so always check with your line for confirmation.) Passengers should arrive between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; keep in mind the port is at its most crowded between noon and 1 p.m.
All passengers go through the same security line upon entering either terminal. Once inside the embarkation lobby, signs and staffers direct passengers to the line for their loyalty levels or cabin categories. Both terminals have ample seating and multiple bathrooms. Porters are based at multiple locations in both terminals to assist passengers. There are VIP lounges at both terminals, as well.
Baggage Pick Up/Customs
After passengers have disembarked their cruise ship, they'll find their bags laid out by deck and/or zone. Signs direct passengers to the appropriate area. Porters are available to help. After picking up their bags, passengers must clear Customs and Border Control. Once through, you're in the "passenger pick-up" area of the terminal.
Passengers should contact their cruise line before departure day about having a wheelchair waiting for them in the terminal.
There is Wi-Fi in both the Julia Street and Erato Street terminals.
Where to Grab a Bite or Last Minute Essentials
There is a refreshment stand and a small store selling souvenirs and personal items in the cruise terminals; there is an ATM inside, as well, if you need some quick cash. The port is within walking distance of dozens of shops and restaurants. The most convenient options can be found at The Outlets at Riverwalk, which is located at the top of the Julia Street Cruise Terminal.
Passengers can drop off luggage with porters at the terminals before their cruise and explore the city. Passengers disembarking must remove their vehicles from the parking areas by noon to allow space for embarking passengers. For those flying home, a local baggage transfer service (Rush It Courier Service) will transfer baggage from the port to the airport -- a great option for those who want extra time to explore the city before catching late flights.