Port of New Orleans still plans third cruise ship terminal

Published 7:23 pm Thursday, March 1, 2007

The decision by Carnival Corp. to delay indefinitely the arrival of its 2,758-passenger Triumph vessel to the Port of New Orleans will not affect plans to erect the city’s third cruise ship terminal, the port’s head says.

With fewer cars using the port’s new garage, the state agency is bracing for a blow to its bottom line, port president Gary LaGrange said.

Carnival had planned to begin cruising from New Orleans in August. But earlier this month, the company moved the vessel to Miami, saying advance bookings had been slower than expected.

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The decision means that New Orleans will have three homeported ships, instead of the four it had before Hurricane Katrina. Only Carnival’s Fantasy will sail year-round.

The port is still planning to spend up to $13 million to convert a cargo shed into the port’s third passenger terminal by 2008, LaGrange said Tuesday. LaGrange said the agency initially struggled with the question of whether put off the project, but that the “general consensus is to move forward.”

The third terminal was proposed while New Orleans was one of the country’s fastest-growing ports, a pattern that was washed away with the storm. LaGrange said he is personally calling travel agents and travel writers to encourage them to promote cruise travel from New Orleans.

The Triumph had been scheduled to dock at the port’s newest terminal that opened recently and passengers were expected to park at the new garage. About 400 fewer cars will park in the garage each week now.

Garage revenue is used to make debt-service payments on four long-term bonds. The agency will not be in danger of missing those payments, but it will take the agency longer to retire the bonds, LaGrange said.