We started our trip in New Orleans. We spent a couple nights at the Hilton Riverside which is next to the port. LOVE that Hilton, and of course, love New orleans. We had a wonderful meal at Brennans. Pricy, but something you should do at least once in your life! We did a tour of the city from the Grayline station which is just down the trolly track from the Hilton. You should buy a daily trolly pass for $3 which allows you to ride all day. You can get it from your trolly driver. Here's a tip to save a little on transport to the port. You could actually walk down there by taking the Hilton passageway to the Riverside shopping mall. It's a long walk, though and there are stairs. The port is just past the food court. My son and I walked down there the morning of the cruise and got a great look at the ship from the food court. A taxi driver will charge about $6 or $7 per person, so if you have 3 or 4 in your party, get one person to taxi the luggage to the pier and everyone else walk thru the mall or take the trolly. I like taking the trolly down just to go to the food court. The trolly is just outside the front door of the Hilton. Our taxi driver was visibly disappointed that we were only going to the port (about 1/4 mile), and we were surprised he charged EACH of us.
The day of the cruise, after we walked down to the port, we HAD to go to the French Market (also a trolly stop) for more beignets and coffee at Cafe Du Monde and a little shopping, so we didn't board as early as we could and should have. I think we went down about 1:30-2 pm. Crowded doesn't begin to describe the situation. My knees were killing me by the time we got onboard. The earlier walk to the port and around the French Market didn't help either. Go early!
Some of the passengers of the Carnival Triumph that had been stranded for several days were bussed from Mobile to New Orleans, and they were staying at the Hilton. We met several of them and learned that the situation wasn't as bad as the news reports. They said there was plenty of food, and the staff was bending over backwards to be helpful. Other cruisers were taking meat off sandwiches on the line and putting it on theirs, which is why some people had no meat. I will sail Carnival again. I have been on the Triumph before and loved it.
Great cabin, but it was forward. wish I'd booked aft as that was where the dining rooms were. My knees were not happy about that walk. There was a lot of storage space in the cabin. It was great.
We had been to the Grand Caymon before, so we weren't particularly interested in paying for an excursion. We just got off the ship and did a little shopping. Great place to get things for the grandchildren.