New Orleans Cruise Includes Panama Canal Transit in 2024
Sailing on cruise ships out of the Port of New Orleans offers those who choose to travel that way a unique perspective on the world around us. You can see where the Mississippi River spills into the Gulf of Mexico south of New Orleans. You can sail "above" the farms that hide behind the levees along the way too. But one thing you won't normally be able to see as you sail in and out of the Crescent City is the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal.
Most cruise ships that serve the Port of New Orleans don't make the canal transit. The itineraries you're most likely to encounter on one of the two Carnival ships, the Norwegian vessel or the Disney boat are all Caribbean-based.
The reason for the limited destinations is time. It takes several hours for a cruise ship to exit the Mississippi River from New Orleans. By most accounts, it's a seven or eight-hour sail from the Big Easy to the blue waters of the Gulf. And since cruise ships usually have a top speed of just over 20 miles per hour destinations in Mexico, south Florida, and the Caribbean make the most sense.
However, we have found a cruise that might be very appealing to the Louisiana cruise aficionado, especially if they have always wanted to make the transit from the Pacific to the Atlantic via the Panama Canal. I have done so and it was one of the most amazing sites I have ever witnessed on a cruise ship.
Which Cruise Ship Serves New Orleans and the Panama Canal
The cruise you'll want to look into is from Royal Caribbean. The cruise line is returning a ship to the Port of New Orleans for the 2024-2025 winter season. The ship in question is the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas. The vessel has undergone a recent renovation. That work was done in 2018 and the vessel is poised to serve guests along the Gulf Coast beginning in late September this year.
What is a Repositioning Cruise?
It is exactly what you think it is. A repositioning cruise is when a cruise line moves a vessel from one part of the world to another part of the world. In this case, The Brilliance of the Seas will set sail for New Orleans in late September of 2024.
You'd sail out of Los Angeles to ports in Mexico and Costa Rica on the Pacific Coast. The vessel will then transit the Panama Canal. The transit of the canal takes a full day. You'll then make a port stop in Colombia From Panama, the 14-night adventure will likely include stops in the Caribbean as well before eventually landing in New Orleans.
One thing about repositioning cruises as opposed to "normal cruises", the itinerary is usually very different, as far as ports are concerned and you can expect a few more days at sea. Such will be the case with the Brilliance of the Seas in September. The 14-night plan includes 10 days at sea.
Cabins are booking now for this repositioning cruise. And for my money, the trip through the Panama Canal is worth the price. And, you get to land back in Louisiana when the cruise is done.
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Gallery Credit: Bruce Mikells