We arrived at the port early, around 11AM, having checked with the cruise line prior that it would be okay to drop off our suitcases so we could roam around Riverwalk prior to our cruise. Well, we were hustled through and before you knew it we were in line for the security check point. Reading that you couldn't board until 1, I didn't want to sit there for 2 hours waiting. The man assured me that this was best, as they start allowing you to board at 11:30 and if we go and come back, he said it would be an hour or more in line to get on board and I should consider this VIP boarding. Enough said, we decided to board.
Once on board we were not allowed into our stateroom until 1PM but all the other parts of the ship were open; the grill, cafe and all the bars and pool. So we had a good time and it was nice to take in the views of New Orleans before we set sail. Setting sail was unique, traveling along the Mississippi River seeing old factories, other ships and towns - just beautiful.
The ship itself was very nicely appointed, all the public areas were beautifully and uniquely decorated and very clean. My favorite hangout became the Aquarium bar but mostly due to the fact of the fantastic staff they had working there; Marina, Jovica and Raymond. Other bars like the Sky Bar above the pool and the Schooner Bar were also nice.
The casino was nice, my mother actually won $3000 playing penny slots so that made her whole cruise. Drinks are not free there like in Vegas but all-in-all it was a nice place to spend a little time.
The dining room was immaculate, 3 floors and simply stunning. The service was great as were our tablemates at dinner. Dinners were good and they allowed you to order 2 appetizers, or have an entree as your appetizer, etc. anything you wanted.
We never did breakfast in the main dining room, we either ordered into our room or went up to the Windjammer cafe's buffet. Room service is okay if you get the pastries, otherwise the food is not that great and my toast could have been used as a lethal weapon.
Alternate dining we did try both Portofino and Johnny Rockets. Portofino was magnificent both service and food wise, and it is highly recommended you make reservations before your cruise. Johnny Rockets on the other hand, it is a cute 50s like diner with burgers, fries and shakes but unlike Johnny Rockets on dry land, they annoy you here yelling "Everybody say hello!" when someone enters, followed by "Everybody say bye!" when someone leaves and while you are waiting to place your order or receive your order, the entire waiting staff breaks into a dance and they are not dancers. I think if they would have just left it as it is at the rest of the chain it would have been better.
The shows were very good, went to three of them and they were all great.
They had karaoke in Cleopatra's Needle which was very entertaining and fun. Although a word of caution, the sofa/bench seats there have a 1 inch piece of metal that extends past the cushion, sliced my leg open on it and we found that they were all along the seats. If it doesn't cut your skin I am sure it could rip a dress or pants.
The pools and jacuzzis were nice, they even have a kid zone small pool for the little ones and there is also an adult pool.
Shopping and entertainment on the Promenade deck were great, very uniquely designed, like a city street and it even had a pub.
The only bad thing . . . by the time I could navigate my way around on the ship it was time to go home.