Want to Save on a Cruise? Consider Sailing From New Orleans
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
If you are going to have to fly to a port anyway to get on your next cruise, you might as well fly somewhere that offers some pretty stellar deals. Recently, we've noticed some terrific deals for cruising out of a city that may surprise some: New Orleans. Louisiana probably isn't the first state that pops into your mind when it comes to sailing, but there's good reason to add it to your list of ports to price out. Additional ships will homeport there beginning in 2020, and that's putting some downward pressure on cruise fares.
Royal Caribbean announced that its Majesty of the Seas, which previously sailed Cuba itineraries, before the current administration severely restricted Americans visiting that country, will homeport out of The Big Easy from January to April 2020.
Majesty of the Seas joins the following ships that will also sail out of New Orleans in 2020: Carnival Glory and Valor, Norwegian Getaway and Breakaway, and Disney Wonder.
Related: How to Book a Cruise Using Miles and Points
New Orleans Cruise Deals
Cruise fares out of New Orleans are compelling. Let's take a look at some options:
5-Night Carnival Valor Caribbean Cruise
Ports of Call: Cozumel and Merida (Progresso), Mexico, plus two sea days
Fares: As low as $59 per person, per night plus taxes and fees for an interior cabin.
Of Note: Carnival Glory sails seven-night Caribbean/Mexico itineraries out of New Orleans starting around $63 per person, per night. Its seven-night Bahamas voyages are slightly more expensive.
7-Night Majesty of the Seas Bahamas Cruise
Ports of Call: Key West, Nassau and CocoCay, Bahamas, and three sea days or Nassau and Grand Bahamas Island, Bahamas, and Key West plus three sea days
Fares: As low as $54 per person, per night plus taxes and fees.
Of Note: Royal Caribbean recently rolled out its Perfect Day at CocoCay initiative. The line's private island is pretty fly with a tethered helium balloon for rides, a zip line, waterpark, pool and more. Here's what you need to know about Perfect Day at CocoCay.
5-Night Norwegian Getaway Mexico Cruise
Ports of Call: Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico, plus two sea days
Fares: As low as $59 per person, per night plus taxes and fees.
Of Note: Getaway also sails seven- and nine-night itineraries out of New Orleans. NCL's Breakaway, a newer ship with heftier fares, sails seven-night cruises out of The Big Easy (the cheapest option is pricing out around $86 per person, per night).
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With prices like these, it doesn't hurt too much to pay cash. Or, use fixed-value points that can be redeemed for a statement credit against travel purchases. Think Capital One miles or points earned from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard (not currently accepting new applications). Use those points to nab a "free" cruise.
If you've got eagle eyes, you noticed that I mentioned that the Disney Cruise Line sails out of New Orleans, too. Disney Wonder spends most of February and a little of March based out of New Orleans on four-, six- and seven-night cruises (before a massive 14-night cruise through the Panama Canal to San Diego). Just know that it's tough to score a great deal on a Disney Cruise, so expect an average of $250 per person, per night. You can get that down to about an average of $179 per person, per night, if you choose your sailings wisely. But if budget is a driving issue, look beyond just Disney when sailing out of New Orleans. (Here are other tips for saving on a Disney Cruise.)
Related: The Best Credit Cards for Booking Cruises
Where to Stay in New Orleans Pre-/Post-Cruise
It's not just good cruise prices you might find out of New Orleans -- it's a legit place to visit, too. (Here are some reasons we love New Orleans.) If you haven't spent time in New Orleans recently, budgeting an extra night or two is not the worst idea.
While planning your stay, know that there are two cruise terminals -- Julia Street and Erato Street -- at the port, which is right on the Mississippi River. There are plenty of hotels to choose from in this downtown location if you want to stay close the night before embarkation.
New Orleans Downtown Marriott at the Convention Center
This Category 5 property, a five-minute walk to the Julia Street terminal and 10 minutes to Erato, runs 35,000 Marriott points or use the up to 35k free night certificate that arrives on your Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card anniversary.
Hyatt Place New Orleans/Convention Center
This Hyatt Place -- about a seven-minute walk to the Julia Street cruise terminal and 12 minutes to Erato -- starts at 12,000 Hyatt points, which you can earn with the World of Hyatt Credit Card. You can also transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to your Hyatt account on a 1:1 basis. You can earn Ultimate Rewards points with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Two Hilton Properties Within Walking Distance of the Cruise Terminal
The Hampton Inn & Suites New Orleans-Convention Center and Hilton Garden Inn New Orleans Convention Center are close to both cruise terminals: a 10-minute walk to Julia Street and 15 minutes to Erato. Each hotel also runs 27k–50k Hilton points per night, depending on season. The Hampton Inn offers free breakfast so that's a nice perk, while the Hilton Garden Inn has a full-service restaurant.
The Hampton Inn offers a free shuttle to the cruise port while you'd have to buy a specific package at the Hilton Garden to get the shuttle to the port included in your stay.
Whether you're looking for a last-minute getaway before the summer ends or you're into planning for 2020, take a look at the well-priced Bahamas and Caribbean cruises out of New Orleans. The deals are especially sweet if you can drive to the cruise terminal and avoid the purchase of airfare for this vacation, but even if you have to fly, it makes sense to price out all available options. Have you cruised out of New Orleans? Tell us about it.
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