The Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) is the sixth largest US port, with modern facilities for six cruise lines. In order to navigate the terminals safely and quickly, consider the following helpful hints.
New Orleans Port Arrival
If you are arriving by air, you will likely fly into the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY). It is located less than 20 miles from Port NOLA, with an approximate travel time of 45 minutes to one hour depending on traffic. There are airport and cruise shuttles available for transfer. Also, you can hire an airport limousine or a taxi for a flat rate/per person cost.
If you are driving your own vehicle, you will find that navigating to the ports is quite simple compared to driving in some other cities. This location is only minutes from Interstate 10, the main thoroughfare along the Gulf of Mexico. Once you arrive, you’ll find ample parking (some in covered lots) reserved specifically for cruise ship passengers. This is a bonus since other well-attended events (think Mardi Gras) would otherwise leave you without a space to park. The rates are approximately $20/day for regular-sized vehicles; more for oversized. Also, there are overflow lots with complimentary shuttles during peak cruise seasons. While there are alternate lots outside the port area for slightly less per-day fees, consider the possible extra costs of luggage handling and shuttles.
The Port of New Orleans main cruise ship terminals are located at the edge of downtown behind the Convention Center. The Julia Street complex serves Norwegian Cruise Line; and the Erato Street complex serves Carnival Cruise Line. Both offer climate-controlled passenger gangways that are ADA-compliant, and Seacap luggage assistance.
Port NOLA is literally within walking distance of hotels, attractions, and the famous historic French Quarter. The Riverfront Trolley Line also travels by the port for easy access to the city.
In order to keep all passengers safe, be aware that there will be security check points at the Port of New Orleans and other terminals. If you are over 18 years old, you’ll need a photo ID. If you are traveling with children, please bring the proper verification. (The best tip is to check with your chosen cruise line for the details on child identification requirements.) Often the easiest and most accepted adult form of ID is a passport. You’ll need to plan ahead to allow time for it to be processed and arrive at your home. I’ve found that it’s worth the effort in the long run.
In order to pass through the ticketing areas at the terminal, you will have to be holding a ticket. Also, all luggage and carry-on items will be searched. I state all of these procedures so that you will allow enough time for the particulars, and prepare your mind for the likely delays. Travel in the current day does take patience – so remember to pack some!
At present, Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line leave the Port of New Orleans for Caribbean and Bahamian ocean adventures. Coastal and river cruises by American Cruise Lines, American Queen Steamboat Company, Travel Dynamics International, and Blount Small Ship Adventures also set sail from this busy port.
On a final note, you can secure a baggage transfer service at the conclusion of your cruise that will deliver your luggage to the airport without you. This is a great bonus if you have several hours between debarkation and your flight home. Step off the ship and explore the sights, sounds, and tastes of The Big Easy.
I do love maps! Check out the official layout of the cruise terminals at the Port of New Orleans.