Royal Caribbean Announces Return to New Orleans

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Beginning November 2011 Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas will call the Port of New Orleans home. The move marks one more step forward for the comeback of the city's cruise industry.

According to a report by the Associated Press, port officials said the 3,114-passenger ship is the largest to ever be based in the city. The ship will sail to the Caribbean 24 times between November 2011 and April 2012, with itineraries set to include calls in Falmouth, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico and George Town, Grand Cayman.

Cruise ships pulled out of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005. Royal Caribbean made a brief return from late 2006 to early 2007. Now, the cruise line has already pledged to keep the Voyager of the Seas in New Orleans for the winter 2012-13 season.

Royal Caribbean's move comes after Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line fared well in the Big Easy. USA Today reported the 2,052-passenger Carnival Fantasy began sailing from New Orleans in 2006, and was replaced by the larger 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph in November. As for Norwegian, the line sails out of New Orleans on a seasonal basis from November to April, but recently announced plans to expand year-round sailings starting in November.

Royal Caribbean's 138,000-ton Voyager of the Seas was the world's largest cruise ship when it entered service in November 1999. The vessel features an ice-skating rink, rock-climbing wall, 9-hole miniature golf course, full-size basketball court, and casino. Also onboard the ship is a 24-hour Royal Promenade, Johnny Rockets, Portofino Italian Restaurant, and other themed bars and lounges.

Voyager of the Seas is being redeployed to New Orleans from Galveston, Texas. The 3,114-passenger Mariner of the Seas will be replacing the ship for the winter 2011-12 season. For a full list of itineraries for the Mariner of the Seas, click here.

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