NCL latest line to recommit to Big Easy cruises

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NEW ORLEANS -- Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Sun will be the first cruise ship to return to the Port of New Orleans on a regular basis.

The ship returns to the city on Oct. 15 to sail seven-day Western Caribbean cruises, sailing into the Big Easy two weeks before the return of Carnival Cruise Lines Sensation and two months before Royal Caribbean Internationals Grandeur of the Seas.

Prior to the hurricane, New Orleans was on pace to break the 1 million-passenger mark, according to Port of New Orleans President and CEO Gary LaGrange.

Four ships -- the Carnival Conquest, the Sensation, the Norwegian Sun and the Grandeur of the Seas -- were forced to relocate from the Port of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit.

NCLs commitment with the Sun, which it announced during a press conference in Jackson Square here last week, means that all three major cruise operators with a New Orleans presence will be back by the end of 2006.

LaGrange thanked NCL for its commitment to the city and emphasized the critical nature of cruise business to the local economy.

The cruise industry evolved into a major economic engine for the entire city, LaGrange said.

We are pleased to return Norwegian Sun back to her winter home in the Big Easy and in some small way assist in the recovery process of New Orleans, said Andy Stuart, executive vice president of sales, marketing and passenger services for NCL.

We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Port of New Orleans and welcoming passengers back onboard.

The Norwegian Suns seven-day itineraries out of New Orleans run through April 8, 2007, and call on Costa Maya, Mexico; Santo Tomas De Castilla, Guatemala; Belize City; and Cozumel, Mexico.

The port of New Orleans cruise tonnage is still in transition. The 2,974-passenger Carnival Conquest, which sailed year-round from that port, has moved to Galveston, Texas, for the 2006 season.

But in December, the 2,600-passenger Golden Princess is scheduled to make its -- and Princess Cruises -- long-term debut in the Crescent City.

To contact reporter Kristin OMeara Hillmann, send e-mail to [email protected].

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