We arrived at the port early, around 11AM, having checked with the cruise line prior that it would be okay to drop off our suitcases so we could roam around Riverwalk prior to our cruise. Well, we were hustled through and before you knew it we were in line for the security check point. Reading that you couldn't board until 1, I didn't want to sit there for 2 hours waiting. The man assured me that this was best, as they start allowing you to board at 11:30 and if we go and come back, he said it would be an hour or more in line to get on board and I should consider this VIP boarding. Enough said, we decided to board.
Once on board we were not allowed into our stateroom until 1PM but all the other parts of the ship were open; the grill, cafe and all the bars and pool. So we had a good time and it was nice to take in the views of New Orleans before we set sail. Setting sail was unique, traveling along the Mississippi River seeing old factories, other ships and towns - just beautiful.
The ship itself was very nicely appointed, all the public areas were beautifully and uniquely decorated and very clean. My favorite hangout became the Aquarium bar but mostly due to the fact of the fantastic staff they had working there; Marina, Jovica and Raymond. Other bars like the Sky Bar above the pool and the Schooner Bar were also nice.
The cabin was larger than the standard cabin, comparable to a standard 2 double bed hotel room. The bathroom was much larger than most cabin bathrooms and had a bathtub. The closet was a walk in closet but narrow, hard to reach to the back left side. The room had a nice size flat monitor television, a very comfortable sofa that converted to a bed. There was also a small refrigerator in the room and tons of cupboard and drawer space.
The balcony, which faces the rear of the ship, was nice size and sheltered from the wind and there were some windy days at sea. It had two chairs, a table and two lounge chairs and plenty of room. The down side is the design of the ship. It as if they cut through to make the balconies but the metal support beams for each floor extend past the balcony to the back of the ship, you can see through them but your view, say of a sunset or island, are obstructed by them.
Upon entering the port we say men on stilts dressed in costumes colored like the Jamaican flag, they also had pirates - all for tourists to have their photos taken with for a tip.
The port had ample shopping but not too much in the way of places to eat. There was small little bar, a hot dog place, snack bar and small jerk stand. Most of the shops carried the same items and most of the shopkeepers hounded you constantly to either enter their store or once inside, followed you around and anything you barely looked at they asked if you wanted it or want another color, etc. which made the shopping experience less than fun. Besides the shops there were some craft vendors set up selling their wood carvings, clothing and jewelry and they weren't nearly as annoying as the shopkeepers.
We booked the Chukka Horse & Buggy tour through the cruise line. It was a nice tour through the old town but some places made you feel pretty uneasy the way the locals stared at you. We made one stop at an old church, King Charles the Martyr which you could use their restroom, and were free to walk around the grounds.
The port itself is fenced in because it is not safe for you to enter the town alone. At the gates there are security officers in white vests with white hats that will escort through the town that has many places to eat and shop but it is highly recommended you don't go without a guard.