(11 a.m. EDT) -- The 2,980-passenger Carnival Glory set sail from New Orleans on Sunday, September 19, marking the return of the Big Easy as a prime cruising destination. The Port of New Orleans had not seen a ship set sail with paying guests for 18 months.
A second ship, the 2,980-passenger Carnival Valor, will also homeport in New Orleans beginning in November. With the two ships, Carnival plans to host 400,000 passengers sailing from the city annually.
Carnival Glory left the Erato Street Cruise Terminal headed for Bimini, Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas on a seven-day itinerary. The ship will also do weeklong sailings this year to Cozumel, Belize City and Mahogany Bay on Roatan, Honduras, with 6-, 8- and 14-sailings included on next year’s calendar.
Mississippi River cruises with American Queen Steamboat Company and American Cruise Lines have been sailing from New Orleans since early summer, but of course, those ships carry only a few hundred people or less, as opposed to the thousands who sail on ocean ships from the port.
The significance of the ship’s embarkation was marked by a ribbon-cutting event attended by cruise line and port officials.
“Carnival Cruise Line has been a part of the New Orleans community for more than 25 years and we’re absolutely thrilled to provide our guests an opportunity to get Back to Fun, while supporting the local economy in one of our most popular homeports,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, in a prepared statement.
“The return of Carnival cruises from Port NOLA will be a boost to our local economy as guests are once again able to experience our famous New Orleans hospitality when they sail from our vibrant city,” said Brandy D. Christian, president and CEO of the port.
Christian applauded Carnival “for exceeding health and safety requirements to protect guests, crew and the community.” Those protocols, as outlined on the Carnival website, include fully vaccinated guests being required to present negative results from a PCR or antigen test that was taken within two days prior to embarkation, and a very limited number of exemptions for unvaccinated guests including children under age 12.
When it returns to New Orleans on November 1, Carnival Valor will do 4- and 5-day cruises to Mexico.
Norwegian Cruise Line is also set to return to New Orleans in November with the 3,963-passenger Norwegian Breakaway, the largest cruise ship sailing from New Orleans. Beginning on November 21, the ship will sail to Cozumel; Roatan, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Costa Maya, Mexico. Breakaway will also do some 5- and 9-day sailings before moving on to Miami in April 2022.