We are a couple that has been on five cruises with Carnival. We traveled with two other couples. One couple has been on a Carnival cruise with us before, the other couple had never cruised and was celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. We are all in the late 30's to early 50's age range.
We drove from Iowa down to New Orleans, staying at two hotels along the way. The first night we stayed at the Fairfield Inn in Memphis. Nice and clean hotel, very hot "hot tub", good breakfast. The second night we stayed in New Orleans, at the Drury Inn. Very lovely hotel, clean rooms, great "kickback hour" food and drinks, great breakfast. One highlight: One of the couples checked into their room and found that there was another family already using the room! They were upgraded to a whirlpool suite at no extra charge, and that made for a nice start to their anniversary trip.
PORT: We planned to park at the port and weren't sure how long it was going to take to get there. We estimated about 45 minutes but it actually only took about 20 from the Drury Inn to the Port of New Orleans. We parked in the parking garage. (Note, we had a luggage topper on our minivan and it fit just fine inside the garage). The porters had our luggage unloaded and whisked away very quickly.