This was our fifth cruise. We drove to New Orleans the night before and stayed at a hotel near the airport because we had a free room with hotel points. This also included free parking for the week. We decided to take a cab to the ship port because it was cheaper than paying port parking charges ($112 for the week). Cabs have a set fee of $33/couple each way from the airport to the downtown area. Embarkation: We arrived at 11:14. Check-in only took about 20 minutes, but we had to wait in the terminal for two hours to board because the previous sailing was late in arriving. They kept us updated.
Cleanliness: This ship was immaculate and in great shape. I even saw our room stewards wiping down the ceilings in our hallway!
Cabin: Our cabin was your typical balcony cabin. The Lido deck was directly above us and we did hear noise even though it was the carpeted area of the buffet restaurant. I would definitely recommend one deck lower. Also, the covering over our balcony extended out more than other balconies so we didn't get much direct sun. This was not the best side of the ship for New Orleans, Key West or Freeport. We did get the good side when arriving in Nassau as we were up early and had a panoramic view of Atlantis.
Beds: While the linens and cover were nice, the bed was very hard. Food & Dining: With the exception of one really tough filet mignon, the food was the best we've had on a cruise ship. We chose "Your Time Dining". We only had to wait twice and only for about 10 minutes. There were plenty of tables for two so it was no problem to make this request.
Entertainment: While we are not big on cruise shows, we were able to catch a few in the Rome Theater and they were great. They have a magic show called "Somebody (can't remember his name) and Caruso". It was amazing. We also caught a hypnotist, a singer and comedian together, as well as "The Big Easy". They were all great. The Rome theater is very roomy and beautiful.
Pools: We found the quietest pool spots were on the decks near the back pool. The main pool with the slide looked like a lot of fun if you wanted to participate in games, etc. Fellow passengers: We are empty nesters and were hoping to miss the school crowd. The passengers came in all forms and some were quite rowdy. Because it was mid-May, there were a lot of college students and kids on their Senior Trip. While many had their parents with them, both the parents and kids got quite rowdy. In fact, I heard the f-bomb more times than I cared to hear it, even while on my balcony. This also came from many middle-aged folks. There was also a lot of drinking and smoking.
Smoking: It was everywhere! Our cabin even smelled the smoke mid-week. I had never been on such a smokey ship. Staff: Everyone was wonderful. We especially enjoyed visiting with the dining staff.
Debarkation: We chose self assist and took our own luggage off of the ship. We were in line for 7:00, hailing a cab at 7:30, then in our vehicle on the road for 8:00. Getting on and off the ship in ports: That was a bit slow. A few times, there was only one door open to check passengers in and out. Summary: I would recommend this trip, but only when all schools are in session if you are not interested in a rowdy group.