Bloom arrivals mean Lily Orchid Days at Allen Acres

The Carolina Lily and the Yellow Fringed Orchid are in bloom so it must be time for Lily Orchid Days at Allen Acres near Fort Polk.

The event is set for Friday-Aug. 18, and organizer Charles Allen says visitors might also see the yellow fringeless orchid and crested yellow orchid. The crew has located good spots for these plus other notable plants for viewing and photographing, Allen says.

Friday’s schedule includes a 5 p.m. tour of cool spots at Allen Acres, and 8 p.m. talk on “Orchids of West Central Louisiana” by Allen, and a 9 p.m. moth light/hummingbird moth/firefly counting.

On Saturday, there will be an 8 a.m. caravan from Allen Acres to the Carolina Lily and Yellow Fringed Orchid spots plus other plants. From noon to 5 p.m., rest, slides shows, and the Allen talk are planned. The rest of the day runs as follows: 5 p.m., tour of Allen Acres shady spots; 8 p.m., Allen talk and other slide shows; and 9 p.m., moth light/hummingbird moth/firefly counting.

Another caravan to the flower viewing spots will start at 8 a.m. Aug. 18.

There is no charge for tours and talks. Allen Acres also has a bed-and-breakfast (allenacresbandb.com).

To get to Allen Acres: From the east side of the state, take La. 10 going west from Oakdale and follow La. 10 through Elizabeth and Pitkin and then six miles past Pitkin, when you will reach Cravens. In Cravens, turn south (left) onto La. 399. La 399 is just east of the two stores in Cravens. Traveling from the west, turn onto La. 10 at Pickering and follow La. 10 just south of Fort Polk and continue east for about 15 miles. After entering Cravens, watch for the store on the right and then turn right onto La. 399. All will follow La. 399 south for 1.8-1.9 miles and in a sharp curve to the left, turn right into the Allen Acres driveway. If coming from the south, take La. 112 (an east-west road) and turn north onto La 399. Travel north on La. 399 for six miles and turn left into Allen Acres.

For more information, call (337) 328-2252 or email native@camtel.net.

Cruising on the rise

A 32 percent increase in cruise passengers at the Port of New Orleans in 2012 resulted in huge gains in employment and cruise spending in Louisiana, according to a report released recently by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Port of New Orleans cruise terminals handled a record 977,703 passengers in 2012, up 32 percent compared to 2011’s former record of 736,908. CLIA’s report by Business Research and Economic Advisors (BREA) found cruise industry spending last year in Louisiana grew 42.5 percent to $399 million, generating 7,548 jobs, compared to 5,512 jobs in 2011. Those jobs resulted in $294 million in income, up 39 percent, compared to the same period one year ago.

CLIA’s figures also rank New Orleans as the sixth-largest cruise port in the United States, up from the ninth position in 2011.

In conjunction with the CLIA report, Port officials retained the same firm to determine passenger and crew spending in the New Orleans region. The BREA study found more than 80 percent of cruise passengers are from out of state and 60 percent of them spend an average of two nights in New Orleans either before or after their cruise. That figure is up from 50 percent in 2010, the last year the Port measured passenger and crew spending. In addition, those passengers and shipboard crew spent $78.4 million in 2012, with lodging ($27.5 million) and food and beverage ($8.3 million) encompassing more than half of the overall spending.

Cruise passengers will have several new ships to sail from New Orleans this fall and spring. On Nov. 18, the 3,006-passenger Carnival Sunshine will replace the 2,984-passenger Carnival Conquest. The Sunshine recently underwent a massive $155 million transformation and will sail regular seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries from New Orleans through April 2014 – when Carnival will reposition the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream from Port Canaveral, Fla., to New Orleans to sail year-round seven day cruises, replacing the Carnival Sunshine.

The 2,052-passenger Carnival Elation will continue to sail year-round four- and five-day itineraries from New Orleans.

In October, the 2,376-passenger Norwegian Jewel will replace the 2,348-passenger Norwegian Star sailing seasonal seven-day itineraries from the Julia Street Cruise Terminal through April. In November, Royal Caribbean will replace the Navigator of the Seas with the newly renovated Serenade of the Seas, sailing weekly through April.

In addition, New Orleans also features a wide array of inland and River cruises. American Cruise Lines sails its sternwheeler Queen of the Mississippi and Great American Steamboat Company sails the American Queen from New Orleans. Blount Small Ship Adventures sails inland itineraries aboard the Grand Caribe and Travel Dynamics International sails its Yorktown coastal ship from New Orleans.

For more information, visit portno.com.

Windsor Court honored

Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans has been named to the list of top large city hotels in the continental U.S. by Travel + Leisure Magazine. Ranking 38 out of 50, Windsor Court moved up the list 10 spots from last year and represents the only hotel in New Orleans to be named to the prestigious list. Windsor Court is also featured on the publication’s list of top 500 hotels worldwide.

The World’s Best Hotels list by Travel + Leisure is a selection of the top-rated 500 hotels around the world as voted by the readers. This year marks the seventh time Windsor Court has been named to the list.

The Travel + Leisure designation comes on the heels of another recent recognition for Windsor Court: the hotel is one of 15 charter members of the new Southern Living Hotel Collection and the only member of the collection in Louisiana.

WWII Museum makes list

The National WWII Museum in New Orleans has been named a Travelers’ Choice Attraction for 2013 by TripAdvisor┬«, the world’s largest travel site. This award is based on feedback from millions of TripAdvisor travelers, who currently rank The National WWII Museum as No. 1 in New Orleans attractions.

The Museum was also named the No. 7 museum in the United States and No. 14 worldwide for 2013. Other U.S. museums in the top 10 included the National Air and Space Museum, the National Naval Aviation Museum and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Pool schedules change

The Louisiana Office of State Parks is adjusting swimming pool schedules at sites throughout the state. Certified lifeguards are present during pool operating hours.

Bayou Segnette (Westwego): The wave pool will continue its normal schedule through Labor Day. Visitors should note that the daily capacity of the wave pool will depend on the number of lifeguards on duty.

Chemin-A-Haut (Bastrop) and North Toledo Bend (Zwolle): Pools will be open only on weekends and Labor Day.

Lake Bistineau (Doyline) and Lake D’Arbonne (Farmerville): Pools will continue normal schedules through Sunday, then will open only on weekends and Labor Day.

St. Bernard (Braithwaite): The pool will continue its normal schedule through Aug. 25, then will open Aug. 30 through Labor Day.

All pools will close for the season after Labor Day.

State parks with designated beach swimming areas include: Bogue Chitto State Park near Franklinton; Cypremort Point State Park east of Franklin; Jimmie Davis State Park in Chatham; Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville; Lake Bistineau State Park near Doyline; Lake Bruin State Park in St. Joseph; Lake Claiborne State Park in Homer; Poverty Point Reservoir State Park in Delhi; and South Toledo Bend State Park near Anacoco.

All beach areas are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, but do not have lifeguard supervision. Standard day-use admission, $2 per person, provides beach access.

For more information, visit LaStateParks.com.

Shrimp Festival

The 63rd annual Shrimp Festival will run Wednesday-Aug. 18 in Delcambre.

The festival is held on the grounds of the Delcambre Shrimp Festival Building off La. 14, about 20 miles southwest of Lafayette. For more information, go to shrimpfestival.net or call (337) 685-2653.

Louisiana Travels is a biweekly column about travel destinations and events in Louisiana. Email items for Louisiana Travels to travel@theadvocate.com or jbergeron@theadvocate.com or mail to Judy Bergeron, The Advocate, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810.