We are first time cruisers both retired military. We started out on Saturday the 11th of Oct. Most of the packing was done that morning being first timers we were not sure what to take. Our kitchen sink was jealous because I think everything else in the house went. After one suitcase would be packed and put in the car I would hear "I need that one back I forgot to pack this" I'm scheduled for a hernia repair soon. But now we are on our way to Nawlins, a short three hours away (we live in Pensacola). Arrive at hotel, we stayed at Hilton Riverside nice place but rather pricey, they let you park there for same rate as cruise ship parking and its covered.
Got to the pier at about 1010 am and it was a mad house of people getting off the ship. We got inside the building and stood in a corner with our stuff until the crowds were almost gone, and the baggage handlers were ready to take bags the other way. Check in at the counter took about 10 min (wife did all the paper work and I stood by the bags) she got us both checked in and all I had to do was walk up and show my I.D. Went to a large room filled with yellow chairs where we told to sit by a nice lady who at one time in life was a Marine drill sergeant!!!. Time to move again to a larger room filled with guess what more yellow chairs. Sat there for about 20 min and they were ready to take our welcome aboard pictures. Now we go through security and surprise we set off metal detector, my change and her belt, cleared up. Keep I.D. out because everyone wants to see it.
Get on board WOW what a ship I think I am in sensory overload. You can read about the ship, you can look at pictures, but until you see it in person you don't realize how big it really is. To walk onto the Lobby deck and see this bar and a small group playing classical music. And 4 glass elevators going up and down. It was really cool.
Went to the room to drop off carry on stuff (they say rooms will be ready by 2:30 we were on by noon and room was ready, had a balcony on the Lido deck) Bags were outside room before 3PM.
The ship is so large that we would ask where is everybody, never felt crowded and any waits at all were short. Read a lot of articles of the complaints and gripes about chair saving and kids running everywhere but I never saw any of it. The crew was all smiles even the people cleaning up after everyone (not a pleasant job I'm sure). Never heard any complaints. Room service was excellent. It was so fast I think they were preparing it out side my door.
If you want to dine in style then the Point is the place to do it. The food, service and staff are impeccable. We dined there every night of the cruise and were in love with the place. Plan on at least two hours for a meal if not longer.
For first timers this was a trip of a lifetime. Most of our previous vacations always had family involved. This trip was for us alone (celebrated 22 wedding anniversary) and it could not have been better. Would we do it again to quote the old TV show laugh in "you bet your bippy we would". This crusin stuff is so much fun we have already booked our next cruise the Carnival Miracle out of Jacksonville Fl.
A few things to think about 1. Bring money, the casino loves it, also it's handy for tipping room service. 2. Photos can cost and they can really add up fast. For the formal pictures you have to buy the 8x10 @20.00 before you can order other sizes. 3. When packing and you think your done, put half of it back. 4. If you think you are on a diet and want to watch what you eat your best bet would be to stay in your room because food is everywhere and darn good too. 5. Bring money (more) when you get your sign and sail bill it might surprise you, mine did but I was spending my kid's inheritance so it didn't matter. 6. Getting off the ship can be slow but it seemed to keep the crowds in check, and the baggage area from being a mad house. 7. Read gripes about people not dressing up for formal nights, don't let it bug you, dress up sharp and show class. More people were in formal attire and dark suit then not. 8. If you're a first timer like us, stand by, this cruse stuff will be habit forming, can't wait till next one. 9. If your budget allows get a balcony its so nice having coffee or a drink sitting on your private bit of the ship and watching the world go by. 10. Buy a day date watch if you want to keep track of everything, after day one I had no idea of what day of the week it was, and didn't care. Not once did a phone ring or someone knock on my door to sell me something. (Telemarketers heres an untapped area, but the phone call might be a little pricey) 11. Bring money, more, after being waited on and pampered for a week you want to tip every one extra.
To sum it up we have to say it was money well spent and we will be addicted to this vacation style. I just wish we had done it sooner and not just talked about it. A lot of our friends say they have thought about doing a cruise well don't just talk DO IT!!!!!!!!!! Bob and Roberta M