A record 1.2 million passengers took a cruise out of the Port of New Orleans last year, and they’re expecting to set another record of 1.4 million passengers for this year.

Port of New Orleans spokesperson Jessica Ragusa says they’re the 6th largest port in the nation, and the cruise business has seen explosive growth over the last decade.

“We had 246 ship calls last year,” said Ragusa. “Since 2010 we are up by ship calls 159 percent, and passenger movements 128 percent.”

The numbers are set to rise again in 2020 as Disney and Royal Caribbean prepare to launch from New Orleans, along with an additional up-river cruise.

Ragusa says 90 percent of their cruise passengers are from out of state, and 73 percent of those guests spend the night in New Orleans before leaving.

“We did a recent economic impact study and found that the cruise lines, the passengers, and the crews generate over 250 million dollars into our local and regional economy,” said Ragusa.

She says that adds up to 306,000 hotel room nights.

The Port currently has two cruise terminals, and Ragusa says if they continue to see this rate of growth, they’ll have to make a substantial expansion.

“We will eventually in the future have to look at a third cruise terminal. We are not there yet, but we are starting to look at that,” said Ragusa.

Ragusa spoke with WWL Radio.

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