We arrived at the port about 10:30 AM to avoid some of the traffic associated with the Mardi Gras parade being held Sunday afternoon. We parked in the EZ Cruise parking facility (pre-paid reservation) and were quickly loaded into a van (including luggage)and transported to the terminal where a porter took our bags. After a short wait they opened the entrance to the boarding terminal and began processing passengers. The boarding process was quick and painless. After a short wait in the waiting area, we went aboard the ship and were eating lunch by 12:30 PM.
At 1:30 PM, we checked out our room on the spa deck. Everything was ready, including the roses I had bought for my wife. Very, very lovely. We attended the muster drill and went to the CCer's meet and greet. Not as many people attended as had said they would. But, still enjoyable and met some really nice people. As always, we had to change our dinner time to the early dining (they haven't gotten that right on any of our cruises). And, while we were there, we requested and received a nice table for two. The Maitre'd was very accommodating and extremely nice to all the people requesting changes to their dining arrangements. Our luggage was delivered to our room before early seating dinner. After dinner we explored the ship and were shown how to use the new slot machine cards (no coins anymore) by a very nice young lady. Since we didn't use the Casino, we don't know how the new card system is being received.
We spent a lot of our free time on the Lido deck. The large screen TV was great when there were events on the lido deck - an excellent view for all no matter where you sat. The live music was loud enough it made having a discussion difficult, but not so loud that it gave us a headache. Yes, they did have CNN on most of the time without the volume on during the live music. This didn't particularly bother us and the volume wasn't all that loud when there was no live music. I did notice they played movies in the evenings (at least on a few of the at sea days) on the big screen TV, but didn't pay attention to times or movie names since it was too cool and windy for us to sit on the lido deck in late evenings. Instead, we would retreat to our room and use the balcony for fresh air.
Everyone cruises for the food and drinks, so here goes. The coffee and tea were on the strong side, but no big deal, since a little water takes care of that. Definitely better strong than too weak. In the morning, you usually had to try several different coffee dispensers to find one that had coffee in them. The alcohol drinks were on the expensive side, but readily available, and excellent tasting. My only complaint - it was tiresome continually telling the waiter you didn't need another drink, especially when your glass was still more than half full. We ate all our breakfasts and lunches from the lido deck food services. Overall the Lido deck food (buffets, pizza, grill and deli) was good, the cinnamon rolls were excellent, and waiting lines were minimal. Our only complaint - the short hours that the Grille was open. It generally opened at noon and closed by 6:00 PM. It would have been nice to get a hamburger, hot dog, and/or nachos for dinner and/or later in the evening. We ate five dinners in the dining room and found the service to be outstanding - the food arrived quickly and was at the appropriate temperature. Our only complaint was that the dining room food, in general, could have used a little more herbs and spices. Desserts were definitely outstanding. We are very early risers and used room service to have coffee and a few rolls delivered to the room before the buffet lines opened every morning. This service was excellent and deliveries were always on time.
Of course, being a chocoholic, I had to sample the chocolate desert buffet the last day at sea. To be honest, I wasn't all that impressed. Personally, I thought the standard chocolate desserts served during the rest of the week in the dining room and on the lido deck were better. The chocolate melting cake was to die for!