A local New Orleans newspaper has reported Royal Caribbean has made the decision to leave the Port of New Orleans for the 2015-16 winter cruise season. Royal Caribbean’s hiatus in the port will begin following the departure of Serenade of the Seas in April 2015.
The newspaper report was confirmed by Royal Caribbean earlier this week with a statement from Janet Diaz, a Royal Caribbean spokesperson, “At this time, we do not have any ships planned for New Orleans in the winter 2015-16 season once Serenade of the Seas departs in April 2015.” The surprising announcement comes after a substantial period of growth for the port, but follows a recent reduction in capacity for Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean’s larger Navigator of the Seas once called the port home, but was recently moved to Galveston, Texas, being replaced by the smaller Serenade of the Seas.
In a statement issued by Port president and CEO Gary LaGrange, he speculates the Serenade of the Seas would probably be repositioned to Asia, specifically to Hong Kong. “It’s become more of a new trend for people in Asia to take cruise vacations,” said LaGrange, “Hong Kong will be likely to replace New Orleans.”
LaGrange also stated that he had initiated contact with a number of lines that currently do not sail from New Orleans, such as Celebrity, Holland America Line, Princess, MSC, and Disney, to gauge interest in sailing from the port. LaGrange noted that he’d like to see either Princess or Holland America Line to fill the void left by Royal Caribbean’s departure.
Royal Caribbean had signed a contract with the Port of New Orleans, guaranteeing at least one ship to be based at the port through the 2014/15 winter cruise season. At the current time, there has been no discussion on Royal Caribbean sailing from the port in the future.
The Port of New Orleans is currently home to two Carnival ships, the Carnival Dream and Carnival Elation, both of which currently sail to the Caribbean year round.