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Setting sail from the New Orleans cruise port offers a unique blend of Southern charm, vibrant culture, and historic beauty. This guide will help you plan every aspect of your trip, from arriving in the city to selecting a hotel, getting to the port, parking options, and exploring ‘The Big Easy’ before or after your cruise.

greetings from NOLA mural in New Orleans

Arriving in New Orleans


New Orleans is served by Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY), located about 16 miles from the cruise port.

  • Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY): This is the main airport for New Orleans, offering a variety of domestic and international flights. The drive from MSY to the cruise port takes approximately 20-30 minutes.

Transportation Options from the Airport to the Cruise Port

  • Ride-Sharing Apps: Uber and Lyft are available at MSY and provide a flexible and cost-effective way to get to the cruise port. Expect to pay around $35-$45 for a ride to the port.
  • Taxis: Taxis are readily available at the airport and offer a straightforward way to reach the cruise port. The fare to the port is typically around $36 for one or two passengers.
  • Car Rentals: Renting a car gives you the flexibility to explore at your own pace. Multiple car rental companies operate at MSY.
  • Shuttle Services: Several shuttle services operate between MSY and the cruise port. Companies like Airport Shuttle New Orleans offer convenient and affordable transfers. Prices typically range from $24 per person one-way.
  • Private Transfers: For a more luxurious experience, consider booking a private transfer or limousine service. While more expensive, this option provides comfort and convenience, especially for larger groups or those with lots of luggage.

Selecting a Hotel in New Orleans

As with any departure port, we highly recommend traveling to the city at least a day prior to your cruise to prevent any delays or cancellations from impacting your embarkation. New Orleans boasts a wide range of accommodations. From luxury hotels to budget-friendly options, you’ll find the perfect place to stay in NOLA.

Luxury Hotels

  • The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans: Located in the heart of the French Quarter, this luxury hotel offers elegant rooms, a full-service spa, and exceptional service.
  • Windsor Court Hotel: Known for its luxurious suites and world-class amenities, Windsor Court Hotel is perfect for those looking to start their vacation in style.

Mid-Range Hotels

Budget-Friendly Hotels

Getting to the Port of New Orleans

Once you’ve settled into your hotel, getting to the New Orleans cruise port is straightforward. Here are some transportation options:

  • Ride-Sharing Apps: Uber and Lyft are readily available in New Orleans and provide a convenient way to get to the port.
  • Taxis: Taxis are also an option, though they can be more expensive than ride-sharing apps.
  • Public Transportation: The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) operates buses and streetcars, but they may not be the most convenient option for getting to the cruise port with luggage.
  • Hotel Shuttles: Many hotels offer complimentary or low-cost shuttle services to the cruise port. Be sure to check with your hotel about availability and schedules.

Parking Options at the New Orleans Cruise Port

If you’re driving to the port, you’ll need to arrange for parking. The cruise port offers several parking options to suit different needs and budgets.

  • Port of New Orleans Parking: The official port parking offers both covered and uncovered options. Prices range from $20 to $22 per day. The lots are secure, and shuttles run regularly to take you to and from the terminal.
  • Fulton Place Parking Garage: Located a short distance from the port, this garage offers covered parking and free shuttle service to the terminal. Prices are competitive, and advance reservations are recommended.

Things to Do in New Orleans Before or After Your Cruise

New Orleans is a vibrant city with plenty to see and do. Whether you have a few hours or a few days, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

New Orleans Historical Attractions

  • The French Quarter: This historic district is the heart of New Orleans, filled with lively streets, jazz clubs, shops, and iconic landmarks like Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral.
  • The National WWII Museum: A must-visit for history buffs, this museum offers an in-depth look at World War II with immersive exhibits and artifacts.
  • Garden District: Known for its stunning mansions and lush gardens, the Garden District is perfect for a leisurely stroll and some sightseeing.

Cultural Attractions

  • Mardi Gras World: Get a behind-the-scenes look at the famous Mardi Gras celebration by touring Mardi Gras World, where you can see the colorful floats and costumes up close.
  • New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA): Located in City Park, NOMA features an impressive collection of fine art and a beautiful sculpture garden.
  • Preservation Hall: For an authentic NOLA jazz experience, visit Preservation Hall, where you can enjoy live performances by talented musicians.

Natural Attractions

  • Audubon Aquarium of the Americas: Located on the Mississippi River, this aquarium offers fascinating exhibits and marine life from around the world.
  • Audubon Zoo: Another great option for families, the Audubon Zoo features a wide variety of animals and beautiful grounds.
  • City Park: This expansive park offers plenty of outdoor activities, including walking trails, boating, and the New Orleans Botanical Garden.


New Orleans is renowned for its culinary scene. Here are a few must-try spots:

  • Café du Monde: A trip to the city wouldn’t be complete without trying the famous beignets and coffee at Café du Monde.
  • Commander’s Palace: Known for its Creole cuisine and elegant atmosphere, Commander’s Palace is a top choice for a memorable meal.
  • Central Grocery & Deli: Home of the original muffuletta sandwich, this deli is a must-visit for foodies.

Tips for a Smooth Cruise Experience

  • Arrive Early: Aim to arrive at least a day before your cruise. This gives you time to relax, explore the city, and avoid any last-minute travel issues.
  • Check Documentation: Ensure you have all necessary travel documents, including your passport, cruise tickets, and any required visas.
  • Pack Wisely: Remember to pack essentials in your carry-on, as it may take some time for your checked luggage to arrive in your cabin. Use this guide for our top 10 cruise essentials.
  • Stay Informed: Keep an eye on the weather and any updates from your cruise line.

With its rich history, vibrant culture, and diverse attractions, New Orleans offers plenty of excitement outside of just being the starting point for your cruise. Follow this guide to you will have a smooth, enjoyable trip and make the most of your time in this captivating city.

Enjoy Your Cruise!

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