New Orleans gets a Norwegian Jewel as cruise ships get bigger
Don Ames Reporting
Norwegian Cruise Lines has replaced its seasonal ship at the Port of New Orleans with a newer and larger model.
The 2,376-passenger Norwegian Jewel docked in New Orleans on Sunday.
"And, she sails for a seven-day itinerary into the Western Caribbean," says Robert Jumonville, Director of Cruise and Tourism for the port.
The newly arrived Jewel will depart on Sundays until April 13 with port calls in Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; and the Honduras Bay Islands.
"It's a newer ship than the one we had last year, which was the Norwegian Star," Jumonville says. "It's a little bit larger and a little bit newer. It's about three years newer than the Star."
He says the ships are growing, as New Orleans cruise industry continues to grow.
"They keep inching up on us. Every year, they're giving us a newer, better ship and a larger ship."
The Jewel features 16 restaurants and 13 bars and lounges. It will be the largest ship from the Norwegian line to homeport in New Orleans.
"It's still not the largest ship to sail out of New Orleans which, until now, has been Royal Caribbean's Navigator and the Voyager of the Seas, both of which will soon be eclipsed by the Carnival Dream in April," says Jumonville.
And, more are on the way.
"On November 17th, we'll get the Carnival Sunshine, which has undergone about a $200 million facelift and it will be a little bit larger than the Carnival Conquest. The Sunshine will stay here for six months until the Dream comes over. And the Dream is the largest ship in Carnival's fleet. So, that bodes well for our market. Our ships keep getting larger, and offer more itineraries. It's a good thing for us."
Meanwhile, the port continues its efforts to attract more cruise business to New Orleans.
"We're working with a lot of cruise lines. We're building a third cruise terminal at Poland Avenue that should be online some time in the third or fourth quarter of 2015. And, we're actively marketing it to various cruise lines, one of which is Disney. We'll market it to every viable cruise line out there. I would say we're probably in active conversations with four or five of them."
Jumonnville says the new terminal facilities are needed to accommodate any additional cruise lines out of the city.
"The two terminals that we have, Erato Street and Julia Street, are pretty much full. We have Carnival here year-round, in the Erato Street terminal, so we don't have any spots for anything else other than a third Carnival ship to work the opposite 5-5-4 schedule from the Elation. The Julia Street terminal is filled with Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, so if we want to attract another cruise line, we need another terminal."
"It's what I call the reverse 'Field of Dreams'...if you don't build it, they won't come."
"We're continuously building," says Jumonville. "We're continuously marketing, we're continually having good success at getting cruise lines into New Orleans. And, a lot of that has to do with the draw of New Orleans and the fact that we have rebounded so successfully from the debacle that was Katrina."
Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines together have four ships that homeport in New Orleans.