I began planning our trip in fall 2018. I thought a trip to New Orleans would be fun. But after enjoying a cruise in September 2018, I decided to look into cruises sailing out of New Orleans We had a specific week to travel, as I work in education and our school district has “ski week” off every year. I haven’t skied in years, but appreciate the time off!
I booked a 5 night cruise on the Carnival Triumph. This is the 4th cruise I’ve taken since summer 2013 and the third in the last 14 months. My husband and I are very close to being empty nesters (at least financially). We just paid what we are hoping is our last tuition payment for youngest ds. So we have been doing a lot more traveling in the last year.
When I sailed in 2013, it was a ladies trip and my mom really wanted a balcony. We were upgraded to a mini suite, It was so amazing and wonderful. But, when we have sailed since then, I seem to book inside cabins. I just haven’t been able to justify the expense of balconies. Every time I look at prices, I see the difference and think, “the difference could be another trip”, or “the difference will pay for our other expenses (shore excursions, alcohol, airfare)”
So, for this cruise we booked an inside cabin for $339 each (taxes were $76 and pre-paid gratuities $65). We’re flying in the night before (from the West Coast) and then spending 2 days after the cruise exploring New Orleans.
My planning ahead for this trip consisted of port excursions, where to stay in New Orleans pre and post cruise as well as what to do in New Orleans. And because I am super obsessive about packing, planning my wardrobe, which includes bags and shoes!
I tend to be a little obsessed with packing. I am also someone who packs light. I generally only do carry on.
The bags I am taking for this trip are these:
Travelpro WalkAbout 2 Spinner 21” Expandable Spinner . It’s dimensions are 21” x 14” x 9.5 “ (45.5”). This is actually smaller than allowed for Southwest, which allows a bag to to 10 x 16 x 24 inches.
My under the seat bag is a Kipling Sasha. It’s dimensions are 15 3/4" x 11 1/4" x 8 1/4"in.
I am also packing two bags. One is a Coach travel weekend bag. (18"L x 12"W x 7"H). This is a great tote, since it folds into a pocket. When you take it out of the pocket, the pocket itself goes inside the bag and attaches as a zippered pocket. If I end up coming home with too many extras (not likely, but I prefer to be prepared), I will ship through my roller bag and use this to carry on.
The other bag is a ChicoBag Sidekick Crossbody Reusable Shopping Tote/Compact Grocery Bag. It rolls up very small and is great for carrying “extras” as needed when off the ship, around the ship, etc..
My packing is pretty simple. One nice cocktail dress for the cruise elegant night, a nice but more casual second dress, jeans for travel, 2 pairs of slacks and 2 pairs of capris, and a variety of blouses and nicer t-shirts. Two lightweight sweaters and a heavier cardigan, plus one heavier Goretex rain jacket for our time in New Orleans. One bathing suit and cover up. I’m easily able to limit clothes…..what I love is shoes!
On February 4th, I received an email for an upgrade. I called and ended up accepting it, which was $250 for a balcony. This made a balcony room $464 per person. I decided it would be a nice surprise for my husband. He likes to get up earlier than me and I think he’ll enjoy slipping out on the balcony. It was probably too much to pay, and after agreeing, I did have a little “buyers remorse”. But, what’s done is done. I realized I should start noting all the prices for cruise when I book, so if I’m offered an upgrade again, that information can help me decide if it’s a good choice or not.
We also had multiple discussions regarding the beverage package. We decided to bring two bottles of wine from home to bring to dinner (we like to wine taste and are members at two wineries) and just see what happened without the package. This was a decision I really agonized over, because I loved the Alchemy bar on our last cruise (a four day cruise on the Inspiration) and we spent a lot of time there. I knew I’d be really irritated if we spent more on drinks than the package cost.
We also finalized our plans for New Orleans hotels before and after the cruise. I originally booked the Springhill Suites, which is quite close to the cruise terminal, for $368 (includes tax). With a taxi ride to the area, I was looking at a bit over $400 for that first night. I started considering options and ended up booking a night at the New Orleans Marriott Metairie at Lakeway and renting a car. That price was just a little under $200. We’ll drop the car off at the Hilton on Poydras.
For our two nights after the cruise, we ended up at the Renaissance on Common Street, quite close to Canal. Not our first choice, but our best option when we weighed cost and convenience ($428 for two nights).
My mom dropped us at the airport and we took off for New Orleans. Both flights were delayed a bit, but we ultimately landed close to our original time. Lots of turbulence, which I didn’t like! Our first flight to Vegas had no beverage service due to turbulence. Our second flight was better, but I was still definitely happy when we were on the ground. Luggage took forever at the airport but we eventually had it and picked up our car and headed to the hotel.