The port's Director of Cruise and Tourism, Robert Jumonville, says the port is constantly targeting other cruise lines, including Disney.
"And, because we've always advertised 'two-vacations-in-one', we thought it was a good position to take with Disney. And they were not turned off by it."
In fact, Jumanville thinks New Orleans' growing family vacation reputation has caught Disney's eye.
"We have a lot of synergy with Disney in that New Orleans is now becoming a family oriented tourism attraction."
Jumonville says he'd like to see the Disney ship currently ported in Galveston move to New Orleans when the new Poland Avenue terminal is completed next year.
"It would be a home port, but probably for one season. They're in Galveston for one season...maybe they shift from Galveston to New Orleans," hopes Jumanville. "We think we have a better mousetrap than Galveston."
Disney has a total of four ships.
He says the port has made a pitch to Disney that was received well, and will meet with them again this month in Miami.
"They were very interested in what we had to say, and we'll be following up with them," says Jumanville.
The new extension of Carnival's agreement with the port means there will be two Carnival ships sailing year round from New Orleans through at least until February, 2016.
The 2,974-passenger Carnival Conquest sails seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries, while the 2,052-passenger Carnival Elation sails four- and five-day cruises to Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico. Beginning in November, New Orleans will homeport the Carnival Sunshine, which will have undergone an extensive $155 million refurbishment that will add a wide variety of dining, bar and entertainment innovations and top-deck amenities.
"The cruise industry is alive and well in New Orleans," says Jumanville. "The four ships that we have here, they continuously sail at 115 percent occupancy. 78 percent of all those passengers stay in New Orleans at least one or two nights before or after their cruise. And, this past year, we had over 950,000 passenger movements. We also get a great amount of local passengers...people from the local area and a three-hour drive of New Orleans."
A recent study by Cruise Lines International Association found the cruise industry accounted for $280 million in direct spending in 2011, up 35 percent compared to 2010. The study also found the industry generated 5,512 jobs and $211 million in income in Louisiana.
The new Poland Avenue facility will add capacity for two more cruise ships to call on the port, which would add about 25,000 additional people passing through its terminals each weekend. Work on that project is expected to begin in the third quarter of this year. It's expected to cost about $23 million, with the state kicking in about $15 million.