My family and I booked a Western Caribbean cruise on NCL leaving from New Orleans on February 1. Since some of us had never been to New Orleans, we left an extra week for New Orleans and Memphis. While in Memphis, we visited Graceland. Everyone should visit "the King" at least once. It is an interesting experience and we all had a good time. Be prepared to eat lots of BBQ if you eat close to Graceland. New Orleans was a treat. We stayed at the Maison St. Charles which is in the Garden District and found it a very nice and comfortable hotel. The room was clean and roomy, and the staff were very friendly and accommodating. Plan on buying a three day transit pass for about $12, as it will come in very handy. The streetcar stops right in front of the hotel and we rode it everywhere. There are three streetcar lines on which you can use your pass, and where one stop, another picks up. We visited the riverfront, the French Quarter and the Garden District, and got to all on the streetcar. The food and choices of restaurants in the French Quarter and many and varied. The Maison St. Charles staff booked some tours for us that were worth the money. I would suggest the River Road Tour with Oak Alley and the City Tour. We also took a mule drawn buggy ride through the older sections of New Orleans. My family and I will come back again and will stay at the Maison St. Charles again. It was a little chilly for part of our time in New Orleans and for part of the cruise. The weather can not be helped nor changed so I will concentrate on other features and leave the weather to the chronic complainers.
We left on Sunday on our cruise. Embarkation went smoothly, and since we were a little early, we at lunch at the buffet. There was plenty of food and all well prepared. This is a buffet, so I do not expect every dish to be piping hot, nor do I expect seasoning exactly to my taste. The food was good and there were many choices. I ate there most breakfasts and lunches and was very satisfied. Our cabin was clean and sunny. We chose balcony cabins in order to open up the space, to enjoy the sun, and to enlarge our living space. The cabin was about the same size of other cabins in which we have stayed. I liked the fact that the bathroom had a door instead of a curtain. Curtains tend to cling to me during showers and I do not like that sensation. Because I have medication that needs to be kept refrigerated, I called the desk and one was delivered very quickly. I might suggest that a refrigerator be standard in all cabins on all ships. The colors in the room were tropical and bright and helped to lighten the cabin. Our steward was excellent and kept the room clean and neat. Most nights we had towel animals on our bed when we retired to the cabin. This was a welcome touch. Ice was kept in the bucket every day without our asking. All of this was very unobtrusive. He got to know the names of all of our party. We had an adjoining cabin with another couple in our group while the cabin across the hall was held the rest of the party. We had the same steward who asked us politely about our excursions and trips.
We ate most dinners and a few breakfasts at the Garden and Windows dining rooms. Again, the food was varied and delicious. We had lobster twice, prime rib, roast beef, and different fish meals. Each different menu had a choice of Heart Healthy, Pasta, Meat, Fish and Low Calorie meals. In addition there were entries that were on the menu every day. They included a nice Sirloin steak and Salmon. There were also salads that changed on each menu along with some that stayed the same. I ordered the steak which came with french fries more than once. After I ordered the first time, I noticed the table next to our had baked potatoes with their meal. When I asked them about it, they said they just requested it. How simple!! The next time I ordered steak, I asked for a baked potato and there it was. The servers were most friendly and were always willing to make changes if we requested.
The ship had activities schedules all day, or you could just sit in a comfortable deck chair and read. Most of the ship was non-smoking, and it was easy to avoid the smoking areas because they were posted. I enjoyed the evening entertainment. There was a Cajun/Country Western show, a couple of musical reviews, and a comedy night in the main theater that were excellent. We also enjoyed big band sounds in the Galaxy Room at the other end of the ship. There were Jeopardy and trivia games a personal favorite of mine. Those that wanted, played cards both in the card room and on the deck. Exercise and beauty programs were scheduled each day. There was no reason for anyone not to have a good time.
I didn't visit the casino nor many disco clubs, but other members of our party did and had a great time especially the Beatles and Bee Gee reviews. I noticed some of our group enjoyed Wii and the arcade. We took a few excursions and, except for the weather, they were enjoyable. I do wish the ship would refund part of the excursion fee when weather interfered. The colored luggage tag idea for disembarkation can really save time. Read and believe the times associated with your tag color. The luggage is in different rooms according to the tag color and you will not save time getting off the ship earlier, assuming you get that job done. All you accomplish by trying to get off earlier is to stand in line until your tag color is called. Follow the rules and all goes very easy and fast.