We flew a day before departure in order to avoid any arrival problems as we usually do. The Bourbon Orleans is a nice hotel with the rear of the hotel bordering Bourbon Street. Bourbon Street seemed a little more seedy, if possible, than on our last trip. There are plenty of other areas in which to spend your time. We recalled a food vendor in the French Market calling out last year they had the best crab cakes. Went back and they did live up to their word. We tried the legendary Ferdi sandwich at Mothers. Highly recommended. The Orleans Grapevine restaurant was outstanding . Their service was top-notch not to mention their gumbo and crab-stuffed mussels.
You need to be cognizant they are boarding 3000 passengers. Some are prepared when they get to check-in. Some are not. With a 4pm sailing, we planned to arrive at 230pm in hopes the lines would be shorter. The wait was not too lengthy. Next time, we will probably shoot for 60 minutes prior to sailing. We were one of the last to board. Remember, Carnival allows a couple to bring a total of two, one person each, 750ml bottles of wine on board. The terminal is vastly improved compared to our last New Orleans departure which was several years ago.
The trip down the Mississippi is probably one reason we like to sailing from NOLA. From our deck 7, aft balcony, we could see both banks as we wound our way to the Gulf. With the twists and turns of the river, the downtown high rises seem to jump from one side to the other. It always amazes it takes 8 hours plus to get out in open water.
Only issue with our cabin was it was over the rear dining room, and we could smell the food all night. However, this only happened on the first night. Plenty of room to store empty luggage. Carnival'staterooms always seem to be spacious and bedding and pillows were very comfortable. A/C worked well.
Originally, Progresso and Cozumel were the ports of call. With the approach of hurricane Paula, the captain diverted to Key West. Hot and muggy. Usually, we do not take tours in ports which we have visited before. However, we did sign up for the bus/trolley to see some sights we missed before. An hour tour took us around town and to the Southern-most point in the US. We had to depart before sunset as the Triumph would be blocking the view for the traditional group who gather on the waterfront to watch the sun going down. Totally overcast. No sunset. The track of the storm was eratic and two ports/two sea days turned into one port/three sea days. Seas were actually very calm throughout. Some passengers grumbled we should have been taken to the Bahamas, but the path of the storm could not be predicted.
Food & Service
The food on a cruise probably not the biggest draw for us. In our estimation, the menu items we selected were all excellent. Wine selections were good and we could buy a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio for the same price as we paid in 1992 when first sailing on the Island Princess. Anytime dining turned out to be a good option since only one port was visited . It was interesting to have different tables/servers each night from the Philippines to Goa. If a table was not ready, the hostess gave you a flashy buzzer. We did not wait long any night to be seated. This dining option was limited to the forward London dining room.
Usually we do not see most shows, but one in particular was absolutely hilarious. Mark Marverick , a Vegas hypnotist, put 15 or so passengers out on stage and what followed had the packed audience laughing for 60 minutes. The large screen on the Lido deck shows the Today show in the morning and two to three movies in the evening. Remember to grab the extra blanket in the stateroom closet as you might need it on deck if watching a late movie.
Overall, we would give this cruise/ship an excellent rating. We hope to book this one again next fall when the Triumph sails out of Galveston.