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Cruises to New Orleans

New Orleans (Photo:f11photo/Shutterstock)

About New Orleans

You can't keep New Orleans down. After weathering economic turmoil in the post-Hurricane Katrina years, the city is not only back ... it's on a roll, with an influx of artists and entrepreneurs drawn to its brassy music, savory cuisine, historic architecture and cultural diversity. Mardi Gras continues to draw massive crowds of revelers, the city remains a favorite for meetings and conventions, and it seems like there's a festival just about every weekend, regardless of the season. (While Jazzfest is the big one, taking up extended weekends in April and May, Essence Fest, French Quarter Fest and even Voodoo Fest have their devotees.) And New Orleans remains a favorite with cruisers; according to Port of New Orleans officials, 60 percent of cruise passengers spend two days or more in the city before or after they board their ships.

Whether you have an afternoon in port or a few days to explore, here's some advice: Don't take the easy way out when discovering the Big Easy. There is so much more than Bourbon Street honkytonks to this gorgeous city, with its leafy garden district avenues, wrought iron balconies and gastronomic gems. New Orleans represents a gumbo of cultures, from African and Spanish to Cajun and French, a melding over the past three centuries that delivers dining, music and art so diverse it truly stands alone.

A major early port for products from the Caribbean, New Orleans was also home to a significant community of Creoles, a term that originally denoted locals with Spanish and French blood. Over time, the term has morphed to include persons of mixed ethnicity, often with Caribbean, African and Native American bloodlines. Yet its early ties to France are perhaps the strongest influence, as evidenced by the ubiquitous fleur-de-lis signet synonymous with the original French Quarter, not to mention the NFL's New Orleans Saints. The French Quarter, with its cobblestone streets and Creole cottages laced with ironwork, is the heart and soul of the town.

That said, if you have a few days or it's a repeat visit, take time to explore some of New Orleans' other neighborhoods. Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood is the hub of the city's music scene, with jazz clubs and restaurants lining either side of the street (many with no cover charges). The funky Bywater neighborhood has gone beyond its beginnings as an artist enclave, with noted restaurants joining the gallery scene. You could spend a day wandering the shops of Magazine Street, which stretches through the Garden District and Uptown before it reaches leafy Audubon Park. Take a pilgrimage to Congo Square in Treme, arguably where jazz music was born. Even the city's Warehouse District and Central Business District have a number of clubs, sports bars and restaurants, many anchored by New Orleans celebrity chefs such as Emeril Lagasse, Donald Link and John Besh.

There is so much to do, you could return again and again and never be bored. You'll find yourself adopting the New Orleans slogan: Laissez les bon temps rouler! "Let the good times roll!"

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Norwegian Breakaway
Norwegian Breakaway
Norwegian Breakaway

14 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

3,613 Reviews
Leaving:New York
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
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Norwegian Breakaway
Norwegian Breakaway
Norwegian Breakaway

7 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
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Norwegian Breakaway
Norwegian Breakaway
Norwegian Breakaway

5 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
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Norwegian Breakaway
Norwegian Breakaway
Norwegian Breakaway

7 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite
Disney Wonder

6 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Disney Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Carnival Valor

4 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Carnival Cruise Line
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Carnival Glory

7 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Carnival Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Carnival Glory

14 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Carnival Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Carnival Glory

7 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Carnival Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Breakaway

7 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Breakaway

7 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Carnival Glory

7 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Carnival Cruise Line
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Carnival Valor

5 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Carnival Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Carnival Valor

5 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Carnival Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Carnival Glory

8 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Carnival Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Carnival Glory

7 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Carnival Cruise Line
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Carnival Glory

8 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Carnival Cruise Line
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Carnival Valor

5 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Carnival Cruise Line
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Carnival Valor

6 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Carnival Cruise Line
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Carnival Glory

7 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Carnival Cruise Line
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Carnival Glory

6 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Carnival Cruise Line
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Disney Wonder

6 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Disney Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite
Disney Wonder

4 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Disney Cruise Line
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Norwegian Breakaway

9 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
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Disney Wonder

6 Night
Cruise to New OrleansDetails

Leaving:New Orleans
Cruise Line:Disney Cruise Line
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Why go to New Orleans?

Pros:

The party begins before you board your ship in NOLA; there's always a festival or event taking place

Cons:

The best hotels aren't in the immediate port area; consider staying a 10-minute drive away

Bottom Line:

Art, music and libations suffer no shortage in the Big Easy; it has a carefree flavor all its own

New Orleans Cruise Port Facilities?

The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk puts stores such as Neiman Marcus Last Call, Coach and Tommy Bahama within minutes of the cruise terminal; it's even connected by an elevator. Thanks to the port's central location, you're a 10-minute walk or a streetcar ride away from the French Quarter, with its endless array of shopping, music and dining options. Try your luck at the nearby Harrah's New Orleans casino, where you can play the slots. Or stroll along the adjacent Fulton Street Square, a pedestrian walkway with eateries including the seafood-centric Grand Isle and a Gordon Biersch brewpub.

Good to Know?

Asking a local for directions can be a comedy of errors. Most of the older city neighborhoods were laid out following the crescent-shaped Mississippi River; the city's main nickname is the Crescent City. Except for the French Quarter, which is thankfully in a grid, streets were laid out either following the river's curves or perpendicular to them, not according to north, south, east and west. The four compass points are "up" (or "up river" or "uptown"), "down" (or "down river" or "downtown"), "river" (or "toward the river" or sometimes "in") and "lake" (or "toward the lake" or "back" or sometimes "out").

To stay oriented, just remember the French Quarter is roughly a one-mile square sandwiched between Canal Street and Esplanade Avenue, and the Mississippi River and Rampart Street. A good city map helps. If you really want to feel local, try mastering street names like Tchoupitoulas (CHOP-a-too-lis).

Getting Around?

By Foot: Because the cruise terminals are directly behind the New Orleans Convention Center, adjacent to the Warehouse District and Central Business District and within walking distance of the historic French Quarter, you don't need to worry about a shuttle service or taxis, although cabs are available. It's 10 short blocks to Canal Street, the beginning of the French Quarter.

By Trolley: There's no streetcar named Desire anymore -- in case you were wondering, the line ran from 1920 to 1948, down Bourbon Street through the French Quarter to Desire Street in the Bywater neighborhood, before looping up to Canal Street. But the city has invested heavily in new streetcar lines to make getting around a breeze, for just $1.25 each way (transfers are $0.25 and are good for two hours; one-day and three-day passes are also available).

To get to the French Quarter from the cruise terminal, take the Riverfront Trolley line with stops at Canal near Harrah's and Decatur, where you'll find the popular French Market. Catch the trolley at the Convention Center, just steps from the terminal.

The St. Charles Line starts at Canal Street (at Carondelet) and heads uptown, around the river bend, to Carrollton Avenue. This route shows you some of New Orleans' most scenic architecture, and you'll pass antebellum mansions, restaurants, hotels, Loyola and Tulane Universities, and Audubon Park, within walking distance of the Audubon Zoo.

The Canal Line takes you up the city's main thoroughfare, with two endpoints. One spur drops you at what city officials call the Historic Cemetery District near City Park. While these aren't the oldest above-ground mausoleums in New Orleans -- that honor belongs to St. Louis #1, just off the French Quarter on Basin Street -- you can walk around and take plenty of photos commemorating your visit to the City of the Dead. The City Park/Museum route takes you into City Park, a 1,300-acre expanse that's home to oak trees more than 600 years old, as well as the New Orleans Museum of Art.

For streetcar information, call the Regional Transit Authority (504-248-3900) for transit times and info.

By Car: All the standard rental car agencies are located at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, about a 30-minute ride from downtown. Popular day trips include visits to famous plantations such as Oak Alley; swamp tours in the city's outlying bayous or nature trips to Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve on the West Bank.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

There are ATMs all over the French Quarter and many at banks near Canal Street. Tip: Pick up supplies at Rouses, a local grocery store with outposts in the French Quarter (701 Royal) and Central Business District (701 Baronne Street) and get cash back with your purchase (no fee) if you use your ATM card.

Language?

Yes, they speak English there, with an accent more Brooklyn than Southern. But New Orleanians have a vocabulary all their own. A few examples of N'Awlins speak:

Dressed: the way to order your po'boy if you want it with the works: lettuce, tomato and mayo.
Gris gris (gree gree): a voodoo spell or good luck charm.
Lagniappe (lan' yap): widely used in all kinds of contexts, it means a little something extra thrown in gratis. A baker's dozen is one example.
Making groceries: that's what the locals call going to the store to pick up dinner.
Neutral ground: called the median everywhere else, this strip of ground in the middle of a road could refer to what became Canal Street, a division between the French Quarter and American sector, or it might have been a meeting spot for the adversarial Spanish and French settlers. Now, it's a place where kids play and people walk their dogs.
Second line: the happy followers of a neighborhood brass band parade.
Where y'at?: the standard New Orleans greeting, equivalent to "What's up?" or "How are you?"

Where You're Docked?

New Orleans Cruise Port Address:
920 Port of New Orleans Place, New Orleans, LA 70130

Located just behind the New Orleans Convention Center on the Mississippi, the Erato Street and Julia Street cruise terminals are in the heart of downtown with easy access to hotels and attractions. There is an ATM available, as well as a refreshment stand serving snacks, coffee and ice cream, and a souvenir kiosk in case you need to make last-minute purchases before boarding.


New Orleans Cruise Reviews
New Orleans was awesome. We just did our own thing.... Read More
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DrKoob
Our cruise departed out of New Orleans. We chose to arrive on Wednesday, two days early, and utilized the free/reduced airfare offered by NCL paying only the $25 fee for our flights. Our flight was out of Ohare... Read More
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HVLW11
We love New Orleans! Best food in the world.... Read More
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WestTexasCruiser
Easy walk along Julia Street to find parade Sunday night. Easy walk to Jackson Square, Lafayette Square and WWII museum. Celebrity Reflection was our hotel for 2 nights in downtown New Orleans. We walked easily... Read More
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tutone

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