My Travel Philosophy

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Heading to the Carib

After a fun day and evening in New Orleans, we enjoyed a  breakfast of beignets at Cafe du Monde before heading over to the cruise ship terminal around 10:30ish.  It turns out to be directly behind the cafe court eating area at The Riverwalk so, if you stayed at the Hilton, you could almost walk to the terminal.

The process was incredibly easy -- we gave our bags to a porter and walked right in.  I had the paperwork ready so we were processed almost immediately.  Then, there was a short wait until we could actually board, but we were on the ship within 45 minutes of arriving at the terminal.  Really, really easy.  The cabins were not going to be ready until 1:00, so we went to the Windjammer buffet and had a really good lunch sitting at a table against a full wall of windows so we could watch the traffic on the river and watch the city.  Easily the most entertaining port we've ever visited.

Central Atrium loaded with shops & bars
Our cabin
We took a little walk around and found that the central atrium area is quite different on this ship:  it looks like you're walking along a block in a city shopping area. There was a sports bar, and an English pub, and an ice cream shop, plus various shops.  This area ended up being a primary spot each evening for entertainment as well as the ubiquitous sales that go on to clear out merchandise.  One of the wonderful surprises for me was the fact that they have Strongbow on board the ship!  The bar in Milwaukee after Stacy's book party and now this ship; I'm really pleased to see Strongbow being available in more and more places.  Another interesting thing about this "arcade" area is the fact that there are cabins with windows that look down onto the area.  You'd think that it would get pretty noisy but, in talking with some people who have a cabin in that area, it turns out that the windows are double insulated and they don't have any problems at all!

We have a balcony cabin on this cruise
Finally, at 1:00, we could go to our state room and loved it!  I had booked a balcony room because I thought it would be nice to be able to relax and enjoy the view without having to fight for chairs.  It sure makes the room appear larger!  The bed was already set up and our first bag arrived fairly quickly so we could begin unpacking.  Either we have poor memories, or the space is becoming larger in these rooms with a lot more drawers and cabinets.  It was really easy to store all of the suitcases under the bed, too.

A couple of notes:  in New Orleans, we stopped at a store and bought a bottle of rum and 4 little bottles of pre-mixed margaritas.  We know you're not supposed to take alcohol on board, but we figured the worst that could happen would be that it would be confiscated.  Turns out, I did a really good job of hiding it in the luggage and all of it made it through.  However, when our one suitcase never arrived we were told that we had a contraband iron that wasn't allowed on the ship.  Due to fire hazard, irons are no longer allowed to be brought on board.  After dinner, we went below and they were extremely nice about it:  just put a tag on it with our name and told us we could pick it up when we returned.  [Since it was in the suitcase with the margaritas, I didn't mind a bit!]  Sidebar:  after the cruise, it was indeed incredibly easy to recover the iron after we got our luggage and had gone through customs.

Dinner was wonderful, as always, and we were really surprised to note how long it actually took to leave New Orleans and arrive in the Gulf.  Our ship departed at 4 p.m. and, when we went to bed around midnight, we were just leaving the mouth of the Mississippi and negotiating all of the little islands and land masses prior to actually entering the Gulf.  It was awesome to stand on the balcony and watch the shoreline go by -- for a while.  It became so incredibly foggy that the ship had to continually blow the horn, and oncoming vessels did the same.  Until we were side-by-side, we often couldn't see the other ships at all.  Jeff and I both loved it!

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