Wednesday - Pre-cruise hotel was the Hilton Garden Inn Conv. Ctr. Worked great for us. Just across from the Fulton Garage. The Valet even drove us to the pier. Some had said they thought the location was a bit worrisome... This is only my second trip to N.O. but in my opinion, anywhere near the pier or the F.Q. if you go 2 blocks in any direction you will find a not so nice area. This was just fine. They had a cruise parking deal: valet parking for $8 a day. The valet even took us to the pier on Embarkation day. Too cool!
EMBARKATION - Arrived at the pier at 11:25. Porter took our bags and we went into the terminal. The area is really a mess right now with all the construction but it did not seem to have an effect on the whole process. We are Carnival Vacation Club members so we headed for the Skippers Club. The regular lines were healthy but not too bad. The main room of yellow chairs was already full by this time. The Skippers Club was great. Too easy and we were on our way to the ship at @11:45am. For those that cruise out of N.O. the Chair GUY(can't use that other word on this board) has been assigned to the A-Pass photo machine.
When we walked onto the ship Empress deck there was beautiful string music playing in the Atrium and we headed down to our cabin. We(Me, DW, DS-4) had an inside cabin on the main deck M68 and my wife's parents had an outside Main deck M32. We used our vacation club points and gave them the outside cabin(aren't we nice!! LOL). Carnival did not hand out the usual flyer about the rooms not being ready so we assumed they were. Wrong. But the stewards were inviting all to put luggage in the cabins and go have some lunch. If this is a new policy I love it. I hated carrying my luggage to the Lido deck.