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Big Easy — No. 6 in cruising


Next month, it will be eight years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans. At the time, there was some doubt if the most famous city below sea level would ever recover.

Not that this makes the recovery complete by any means, but the cruise news from New Orleans is all good. More cruises, more passengers, more money…and if ever a city outside of Detroit needed a kick in the economy, it was Nawlins.

Here are some figures, courtesy of the Cruise Lines International Association:

• Number of passengers in 2012 almost a million, up 32 per cent from 2011

• Cruise industry spending of $399 million, up 42.5 per cent

• Jobs generated — 7,548, or 2,036 more than the previous year

• Income from jobs generated — $294 million, up 39 per cent

• 80 per cent of the passengers from out of state, and 60 per cent of them spend at least two nights in the city before or after cruising

• Money spent by passengers and cruise ship crews of $78.4 million, more than half of it from lodging, food and beverage

As a result, New Orleans has moved up three spots and is No. 6 among the largest cruise ports in the U.S. Some of it comes from the altruistic and ongoing desire to help the city hit so hard by violent weather. Some of it is just because New Orleans is New Orleans.

Celebrity Millennium
11 nights
October 22, 2013
EnsenadaLahaina, Nawilwili, Kilauea Volcano, HiloKonaHonolulu
Inside: $949
Cost per day: $86

Florida Space Coast 'Ecsta…tic'

Every once in a while, it’s worth re-visiting what it means to a port when a cruise line decides to use it as a home port.

The latest example is Carnival, Port Canaveral and the Ecstasy.

When the world’s largest cruise line — now 23 ships strong — sent the Ecstasy to Florida, it gave Carnival three ships operating out of Port Canaveral. In joining the Dream and the Sensation, the Ecstasy adds an annual economic impact of $50 million to the area.

You could say this is a case of “when one door closes, another one opens.” Earlier this year, the end of the space shuttle program destroyed a chunk of the tourist industry on what they call the “Space Coast.” It’s probably a stretch to say the Ecstasy will replenish that, but it might.

After all, while there are no shuttle launches to watch, the Kennedy Space Center — a tourist attraction on its own — is there all the time. And now, for most of every year, so is the Carnival Ecstasy.

Norwegian Jade
9 nights
January 20, 2012
Malaga (return): Barcelona, Funchai (Portugal), Tenerife (Canary Islands), Arrecife (Canary Islands)
Oceanview $599

Barcelona's Cruise Ship Bonanza

For months, we’ve been hearing about how European countries are on the verge of bankruptcy…first Greece, then Ireland, Spain, Portugal and even Italy. While it’s not exactly a bailout, cruising is giving Spain a shot in the arm, at least this week.

Last Saturday, eight cruise ships delivered 31,000 passengers to Barcelona. This weekend, nine cruise ships will deliver 26,000 more, the first time there have ever been nine cruise ships in Barcelona on the same day.

Any tourists who’ve ever been to Barcelona (that would be us) always want to go back. For cruise tourists, having six or eight hours in the city is likely just to whet the appetite to see a place that is becoming Europe’s cruise capital…ship calls are up 21 from 430 last year, and passengers are up 16%, to 1.3 million.

Of the eight ships in port last Saturday, seven call Barcelona home. That translates into a lot of flights, taxis and tourism dollars in general for the struggling economy, but it’s not sympathy that draws people to the Catalan capital.

As our colleague Phil Reimer at Ports and Bows discovered, the historic Las Ramblas district is the heart of the city and it’s walking distance from the port. In Las Ramblas, with its cozy streets and forgotten architecture, you feel like you’ve taken a step back to a time. There’s the inevitable shopping, lots of street musicians providing entertainment and tapas bars in the country that invented them.

When you’ve been there, it’s one of those places you’re happy to have been…and happier still to see again.

New Zealand Cruise Economy Benchmark

The first, and biggest, cruise ship to dock in the Port of Lyttelton this season arrived this week. Lyttelton? It’s in New Zealand, in the region known as Canterbury, which means there must be an archbishop there somewhere. It’s just 10 minutes from Christchurch, 35 from Kaiapoi, 44 from Rangiora. It has 3,100 people, a maritime museum and seven places where you can get a room for the night.

Enough geography, already. The story of cruise ships and Lyttelton isn’t geographic, it’s symptomatic.

Here’s why:

When the Sapphire Princess ropes went onto the bollards in Lyttelton this week, it was the start of an annual (and growing) windfall for New Zealand. Studies Down Under have calculated that each cruis-ship passenger injects $1,700 into the country’s economy. Think about that for a minute. Whether those are U.S. dollars or New Zealand dollars (about 75 cents US), they are BIG dollars.

There will be 71 cruise ships following the Sapphire’s maiden landing at Lyttleton this year, up 11% from last year. One of them will be the Queen Mary 2, so the dollars-per-passenger left behind might be even higher. In total, 200,000 passengers will arrive on those 72 ships,  an economic impact large enough to create 5,600 jobs. The bottom line is almost $350 million.

And that’s why port cities are so anxious to have cruisers like us as visitors. Even if they don’t have an archbishop.

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