Embarkation ports in the Gulf of Mexico, primarily New Orleans and Galveston, are continuing to see an increase in the cruise business departing from their ports. Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line have been the main players in the port of New Orleans for the past few years. Each have been operating two ships out of that port, with itineraries that mostly range from five to ten nights in length, with Norwegian also operating a 21 night re-positioning cruise that starts in New Orleans. But soon the cruise traffic will be increasing in New Orleans, as Royal Caribbean returns after a three year break.
With the opening of itineraries to book from May 2018 through April 2019, Royal Caribbean announced several new itineraries and ship movements. As a land locked travel agent in the southwest, I’m excited about the news that the Vision of the Seas is moving to New Orleans. The ship will start operating seven night itineraries out of New Orleans starting December 15, 2018.
However, before that the repositioning of the Vision of the Seas will involve an attractively priced 13 night transatlantic itinerary from Barcelona to Miami. This will be followed by two Panama Canal cruises, which is the first time in three years since Royal Caribbean has offered sailings through the canal. The first sailing will be 16 nights long, departing Miami on November 13, 2018 and ending in Los Angeles. The ship will then depart Los Angeles on November 29, 2018 and sail for 16 nights ending in New Orleans.
Business is also booming for Galveston, Texas as Carnival, Disney, and Royal Caribbean continue to move ships and add itineraries to this port, in order to lure more passengers to this bustling embarkation port. Carnival also has a ship running itineraries out of Mobile. I’m cautiously optimistic that other cruise lines may start operating out of Mobile as well, but for now New Orleans and Galveston are the more active embarkation ports.
The increase in business operating out of these ports is a boon for travel agents. It used to be that clients were relegated to the eastern and western coasts of the United States if they wanted to cruise. For many passengers, that required flying to the embarkation port. Cruises departing from Galveston, Mobile, and New Orleans over the years has greatly increased the interest in cruising for land locked passengers that weren’t keen on flying to their departure port.
It can be an advantage to travel agents when they have a port close by, and clients can easily drive a couple of hours, avoiding the added cost of airfare (not to mention the added stress of dealing with airports and flights these days).
If we want the cruise lines to continue sailing out of gulf ports, we need to prove that the demand exists, and that it’s a strong demand. Talk to your cruise line Business Development Managers, and put together your game plan to promote these new cruise opportunities.
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations, she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209.