This was the third cruise for me and the second for my wife. We were traveling with friends who have been on many more cruises. We left south Texas the day before our cruise for the day-long drive to New Orleans and stayed at the Comfort Inn and Suites near the airport. We took a cab the next morning and were all checked in before noon. We had lunch in Raffles (the buffet) and explored the ship while our luggage was being loaded aboard. Lunch was surprisingly good as was all the food we had. We were used to eating well on cruises but I was half-way expecting cheese sandwiches on this trip since the cost was so low. We had been to the Western Caribbean before but decided at the last minute to go with our two friends as the cost was so low and the cruise stopped at two ports we had not seen.
Since we had cruised in this area before with shore excursions in each port, we also decided not to book any shore excursions this time and avoid drinking on ship to keep the costs low. We took advantage of all the free activities onboard instead. The trivia game each day was fun and we really had a blast with the 'digital scavenger hunt'. We also attended some of the free 'lectures' I enjoyed the art history session but most of the others were just sales pitches of one sort or another. The shows were good and we attended one every night in the stardust theater. We really enjoyed listening to Arvin and Emily though. What a pleasant surprise they were. My main disappointment on this trip was the lack of food variety and snacks late at night. In particular, ice cream was only available during meal hours and was doled out one tiny scoop at a time. All in all though, it was a great trip, lots to see and do, the weather cooperated nicely, and we had a super time.
I decided a long time ago that we never spend enough time in our room to warrant getting anything more than a hammock in the hold so anything better than that is great in my book. We booked the cheapest cabin we could and were pleasantly surprised when it was upgraded to a cabin with a window. The bed was about queen size and very comfortable since we like a firm mattress. The bathroom was actually roomy for a ship's head but the little hallway between the bathroom and closet got a bit crowded at times. I was amazed at how quiet the room was. Much quieter than many motels in which I've stayed. We were on level six midship which was right under one of the common areas and promenade (walking) deck on level seven. The steward didn't keep the room as clean as one might expect but it was ok.