The Big Easy is famous for many things: jazz music, Creole cuisine, the French Quarter. And now cheap cruises has joined the list of reasons to visit.
What’s truly great about snagging cheap cruises from New Orleans (where seven nights in the Caribbean can be yours for as little as $399 per person) is you’ll have money to spare so you can also indulge in more of what this legendary Louisiana hot spot has to offer. Here are answers to your questions on how to choose a cruise from New Orleans. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
1. Which cruise lines sail from New Orleans?
There are two choices: Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line. Two of Carnival’s ships sail from New Orleans year-round: Carnival Triumph on four- and five-night itineraries to Mexico’s Caribbean coast, and Carnival Dream on seven-night Western Caribbean cruises. The newly refurbished Norwegian Dawn will arrive in New Orleans in November 2016 and sail seven-night cruises through April 2017.
2. Where can you go from here?
Most sailings are to the Western Caribbean. Ports include Key West; Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico; Georgetown in the Cayman Islands; Montego Bay in Jamaica; Belize City and Harvest Caye in Belize; Roatan, Mahogany Bay, and Trujillo in Honduras; and Santo Tomas de Castilla in Guatemala. Select Carnival Dream itineraries visit Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas.
3. What time of year is cheapest to cruise from New Orleans?
Fares tend to be lowest from September to November, as well as the first few weeks of January. Despite the heat and humidity in this part of the South — and it’s hot enough to curl your hair, for sure — July and August are popular with families on summer break. But if you book a few months in advance, you can score some good deals. Book six months to a year out to find top deals on cruises from February to April.
4. Which itineraries have the best deals?
Five-night Western Caribbean cruises on Carnival Triumph that visit Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico, can cost as little as $239 per person — that’s just $48 per night. Fares on seven-night Western Caribbean cruises on Carnival Dream range from $399-$439 per person ($57-$63 per night). Even a seven-night Western Caribbean cruise on Norwegian Dawn can be as cheap as $479 per person ($68 a night).
5. Will I have to have an inside cabin to cruise for less than $500?
Although the cheapest cruise fares — those promoted online and via deals alerts — are typically for inside cabins, on some of Carnival’s four- and five-night itineraries you can book an ocean view for as little as $309 per person and a balcony for as little as $419 per person. Always check all categories and dates to find top bargains.
6. What are these ships like?
All three ships that sail from New Orleans have a lively ambience, multiple pools, and many of their line’s latest amenities. The 2,754-passenger Carnival Triumph was launched in 1999 and had a major refurbishment in 2013, while 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream debuted in 2009 and was refit in 2012. Norwegian Dawn, inaugurated in 2002 and accommodating 2,340 passengers, is fresh from a summer 2016 refurbishment.
7. How do I look for deals?
First, opt in for email alerts from ShermansCruise.com, which aggregates cruise deals from travel booking sites and the lines themselves. Deals for cheap cruises from New Orleans are especially prevalent during so-called “wave season,” which is from January to March.
Whenever you’re shopping for a cruise, watch for deals with onboard credit, which you can use for shore excursions and cocktails or gratuities, leaving more cash on hand to indulge in Hurricanes, muffuletta sandwiches, and beignets before you set sail.