After record year in 2015 for cruise ship passengers, what's in store for Port of New Orleans in 2016?

For the fifth consecutive year, the Port of New Orleans handled a record number of cruise ship passengers.

Port officials said the passenger total was just over 1 million, a 1 percent increase from 2014. The Port of New Orleans ranks as the sixth largest cruise port in the U.S., according to the Cruise Lines International Association.

“Year-end numbers illustrate how popular the port and the city of New Orleans are with cruise passengers throughout the nation,” said Gary LaGrange, port president and CEO.

LaGrange said 2016 should be another record year for cruise ship activity in New Orleans. Carnival Cruise Lines is set to replace the 2,052-passenger Carnival Elation in April with the larger Carnival Triumph, which can hold 2,754 passengers. American Cruise Lines will add a third riverboat to its home-ported fleet in May, when the 185-passenger America begins offering Mississippi River cruises.

“The fact our cruise partners are investing in new and larger ships here bodes well for the industry for years to come,” LaGrange said.

Direct cruise industry expenditures pump $406 million into the Louisiana economy, support more than 8,100 jobs and account for $324 million in total income, according to figures from the Cruise Lines International Association.

Port officials said 80 percent of cruise passengers are from out of state and 60 percent spend an average of two nights in New Orleans either before or after their cruise.

Three cruise ships are homeported in New Orleans: the Carnival Elation; the Carnival Dream, which can hold 3,646 passengers; and the Norwegian Dawn, which holds 2,340 passengers.

New Orleans also features coastal and Mississippi River cruises throughout the year. American Cruise Lines homeports its sternwheelers Queen of the Mississippi and American Eagle in New Orleans, while American Queen Steamboat Co. sails the American Queen from the Crescent City.

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