NOLA: we stayed at the Comfort Inn in Gregna. Not luxurious in any way however, the people there are wonderful. They have a cruise and park rate of $150. They drive you directly to the port assist with luggage and pick you up upon return. They will also drive you to the ferry the night before for sightseeing. Awesome ! The driver, Lenny is kind and working 3 jobs to save money to take his son on a cruise next summer.
Embarkation: we were called but the "up-sell" fairy the week before and upgraded from a spa balcony to an ocean suite, so we were VIP. We were first on board at 11:15, explored, had lunch and cabins were ready at 12:30.
Cabin: OMG, awesome!!!! Very large, private dressing area with vanity, 3 huge closets, a large 5 drawer dresser, mirrors everywhere!! The bathroom was huge with. 2 sinks, and a jetted tub!!! King size bed and a couch that folded into a queen. This cruise was myself, husband and 12 year old daughter. The extra dressing area space was worth the $600 extra. ( if you have preteen daughter you know what I mean). The balcony had 2 reg chairs and 1 lounger. We loved the cabin and never felt crowded.
Circle c: for those of you with 12-14 year olds, if you listen to anything I say, this should be it: don't miss the meet and greet at circle c. It was ont the first night at 8:00. They basically hold them hostage for 2 hours until they interact with each other. My daughter immediately wanted to leave but I just lingered with her long enough that she started to talk to another girl and that was it. She told me to go without her. We literally didn't see much of her for the rest of the cruise. She had the greatest time of her life. ( those were her words)! I brought a sticky pad and she checked in hourly. I spoke with other parents with miserable preteens who had not gone to the meet and greet and their kids were not having fun. Amazingly, the little groups are formed day 1. They had great activities, laser tag, scavenger hunts, wii dance offs, karaoke, dances at the disco( only kids allowed), hide and seek, ice cream parties, etc. I can't say enough about the carnival staff.
Ports: we went to key west first. Really not much there but shopping and walking. Don't miss the butterfly conservatory.
Freeport: we had booked a power snorkel excursion for 12:15, we got off the ship around 9 and took a cab to Port Lucaya, it's about a 15 minute ride and our driver was very informative. The cab system is very organized, they are vans with a set price so no shady ness. We walked around a bit then crossed the street to the public beach, we paid for a banana boat ride that lasted about 45 minutes. They took us to the " pirates of the Caribbean shipwreck", and we saw dolphins at the dolphin rescue. We then made our way back for our excursion. I enjoyed the snorkeling but DH and dd thought the water was too rough but they thoroughly enjoyed the boat ride and crew. These were some of the warmest, nicest people ever. Freeport is very industrial and poor and these people appreciate the business and it shows.
Nassau: VERY touristy. We did not book Atlantis because I knew there were 3 other ships in port that day and all hotels were sold out so I knew it would be crowded. We jumped off the ship about 8:30, walked to British Colonial Hilton and paid the resort fee. Now it is $50 for adults and $35 for kids so $135 for us BUT, we got about $80 in food and drink credits. This paid for a wonderful lunch and 2 drinks a piece! There are beautiful chairs on the beach with cushions and umbrellas, a pool, snorkel gear, boogie boards, sand buckets, kayaks etc. all included. For kids, this is a great p,ace to snorkel. Lots of fish, crabs beautiful calm water, there are showers and restrooms. We had a great time. We left about 1:00 walked around the straw market then got back on board.
Food was great, steakhouse the first night was fabulous. Very crowded on the lido deck but I loved the fish and chips. We hung out at the adults only (strictly enforced) pool a lot. DH loved the pizza. The only gripe I have about food was that after a day in port, getting back on the ship after 3:30, there is very little to eat. Buffet closing up, fish and chips closed, mdr closed, there is a grill near the pool but literarily you will wait an hour for a burger.
Sea days: lots of trivia and games which I love! DH not so much. Casino!!!!! The comedians are hit and miss, some being raunchy. I never felt pressured to buy drinks as others have posted, I call it "good service"
Disembarkation: love being VIP first on and first off!!!!
All said we had a great time and we were all depressed for a few days when we came back to reality!