Our whole family (except for 2 nieces) went on a cruise this June to Progreso and Cozumel. That's 23 of us, aged 6 to 83. By keeping a careful eye on prices and resubmitting the form for discounts, we were able to get upgraded to the Empress deck and get plenty of shipboard credits to spend on the drinks of the day.
Faresaver was a great help in finding the price cuts and my sisters were vigilant in watching for free upgrades and price cuts.
We stayed at the Embassy Suites and the Courtyard Marriott near the terminal. It's possible to walk there if you have one rolling piece of luggage, but we ended up paying the $7 per person to take a taxi.
This was the first cruise for my son (who'd been in the Navy for 8 years but never on a cruise ship) and he threw himself into the acrtivities whole heartedly--the karaoke, the hairiest man contest, the trivia night, dances, etc. The 6, 9 and 10 year old played a lot of miniature golf, and hit the pizza place between every meal. Our family found the pool towards the back of the ship was less crowded, so that's where we hung out.
I never met my cabin steward, but the service was terrific. I'd ordered bottle service (beer and vodka), and they kept a plastic bucket filled with ice for me every day for our drinks. Every adult in our group brought a bottle of wine on board, so we also had at least one bottle a day chilling.
Good news: the warm melting chocolate cake, by far the best desert on the menu, is now available every night. And the avocado soup and bing cherry soups were amazing, with a terrific presentation. I stuck with the server resommendations almost every night and wasn't disappointed. Though I have to say, breakfast isn't the most inspired offerings.
The past guest party still had free drinks and appetizers, but it was poorly attended and it seemed more like one long Carnival sales pitch more than a thank you to past guests. Kind of a disappointment.
Disembarkment for us was complicated because someone in our group got sick and had to be taken out in a wheelchair. Actually, about seven of us got sick during the cruise, and not from seasickness. People in our family various forms of stomach pains, some of us later got diarrhea or ram a temp.
Not sure if this was from something we ate, or some bug going around, but it definitely put a damper on things.
Finally, New Orleans is a great port. 8 of us stayed on for 2 more days after the cruise and had a fantastic time exploring the city, including a Cajun Encounters swamp tour. We love NOLA!