The best thing about this cruise is the port of origin. New Orleans is one of the greatest vacation cities in the country. If you take this cruise plan a few days on either end to vacation here, you won't be disappointed. We stayed at Harrahs on Saturday and rolled our bags down the scenic Fulton St. approx a mile to the port.
We got to the port around 1pm and their were no crowds at all. We were on the ship in about 15 minutes, no hassles at all. The rooms weren't ready till 2 so we went up to Raffles and had a snack and some iced tea. The drinks on the ship were ridiculous,specials and mixed drinks were 9-10 dollars each with tip. My wife and I are not big drinkers so we didn't get taken by this. The only complimentary drinks they had in the afternoon was the iced tea.The glasses were very small, you needed to grab 2 with every meal. On all other cruises I've been on they also had lemonade, I was disappointed they had none. At 2pm the rooms were ready. We had a balcony stateroom. The rooms were much smaller and the bathroom was very small. The balcony was decent sized with 2 chairs and a small table. The room steward was hardly ever seen and the ice was always melted when we got back to our room. We learned to grab a few glasses of ice and bring it back to our rooms for the pepsi and water we had.
The food on the ship was pretty decent. We had an omelette most mornings from Raffles. Made to order and quite good. I'm not a fan of breakfast buffets but this wasn't bad. The lunch buffet however was total garbage everyday. For an Asian ship they had nothing I recognized or that looked appetizing by the Asian food at all. I was looking for some simple sweet n sour chicken or beef n broccoli. No egg rolls or crab rangoon. We learned to eat lunch at the Blue Lagoon. A simple small place that had burgers,chicken sandwiches, wings, and really good chef salads. You could eat there or take it to go. We got lunch and took it to our balcony.We ate dinner every night except one at Windows. Despite what I had read on previous reviews the food was very good, including lobster night. The service was the best I've ever had on a cruise.We had a girl named Chona who took great care of us, I would highly recommend her if you go. We tried Cagneys one night. The food was decent but not worth the $35 up charge for steak and lobster. I felt that the service was very bad for this restaurant. The staff catered to some loud mouthed group there and paid little attention to us. We were happy to get back to Windows the next day. I always look forward to a poolside BBQ but they scheduled it on our last sea day as we were heading back into the freezing weather. Because of the cold and wind they cancelled it. That was bad planning on their part, would have been nice to have it after we leave a port in 80 degree weather.
The shows were a letdown. This boat had a shortage of talent. The second city was good and the magician was OK, all crew shows were lame. The last show elements couldn't get a seat at either show so don't really know how it was. The casino was the lowest paying,worst odds I've ever experienced. There is no regulation and they can pay or in this case NOT PAY whatever they want. Video Poker machines had payout scales somewhere in the 80% range but they weren't even playing close to that. The slot club was also bad. They raved about it but basically if you put 25,000 dollars thru the machines you got $25 on board credit to one of they're overpriced services or $12.50 comp in the gift shop. Total ripoff! They did give you free drinks in the casino if you played allot. Since the drinks were free however, the servers were slow and appeared unhappy and even rude because they weren't getting the 17% tip for serving you.
This is not a cruise line that I plan to travel on again even though the trip was a freebee from Harrahs. The constant sell tactics were a harassment and not a vacation. I felt like I was trapped and they knew it. Very pushy and annoying. I think I'll stick with Carnival, they offer free or greatly reduced prices on cruises for the gamblers.