We picked this cruise mostly because it left out of New Orleans which is only about a two hour drive from our home. (Our last two cruises were out of Tampa and 7 hours before and after of driving just wasn't appealing.) It was the the Western Caribbean itinerary of Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
We met the 'rents at Cracker Barrel for breakfast and were on the road to the port by 9 am. Through what could only be divine intervention, my little one didn't need to stop to use the bathroom (this announcement generally occurs seconds after passing the "next rest stop for miles"), we drove directly there and arrived there around 11:15. We have cruised out of New Orleans before and I would caution others that you need directions to the port if you are not familiar with the area. The signage on I-10 is terrible. In fact, I-10 in Louisiana is terrible. We made it to the Port without incident and got in line to park. There is only one lane into the garage and two people accepting payment. We paid, parked and were in the terminal. That was the longest part of embarkation. We lugged our luggage to the terminal and went directly through all the lines. We probably got to teh terminal around 11:50. Everything was moving well.
Here's a little side note. We're not smugglers. I'm a nerd. However, we do take what is allowed. We had two bottles of wine and two 12 packs of sodas. We had these packed in a carry-on roller bag. We ordered an outrageously priced bottle of Crown Royal to have in the room. (Being a nerd can get expensive.) We went through security without incident. Once past the metal detectors, a terminal agent announced that anyone with liquids go through another inspection line. Let me tell you, this was serious business. She cut the middle of our two packs of cokes to inspect the cans in the middle. She unwrapped our beach towel "protected" bottles of wine and scanned the labels, the corks and the foil. She even noted that one of my favorite wines has a new label. Since we were good, she let us through. I will point out a flaw in the system. Since we had no visible liquids, there was nothing to prevent us from passing the liquids line and just going directly to check in. If they're going to be that thorough, you would think they'd have thought of that.
Onward! We went to the check in desk and the only line was for Platinum, etc and FTTF. The regular line had no one in it. This is when little man had to go "right now!!" so we only waited for him. Pleasant experience with the gentleman who checked us in. My son and husband have the same first name. This agent noted it and put a sticker on my sons card so they wouldn't be confused. He's the first in all our cruises to do this without us having to ask (lesson learned.) From the time we set foot in the terminal to boarding was approximately 20 minutes. So easy!!!
We went directly to the Lido deck to eat and discovered the Tandoor grill area. Yummy!! The Lido was crowded which was to be expected. We waited a few more minutes until 1:30 and went to the room. We had room 7386 and was pleasantly surprised by the room. It was bigger than I remember other balcony rooms being and had great storage. Although the balcony seemed quite small.
Mom Tip - I'm an over-packer. I'd rather have too much then two little. ALWAYS UNPACK!! Do not try to live out of suitcases. With four people, it would be chaos. I bring a set of hanging shelves for extra shelving, an over the door shoe rack and two laundry bags with hooks. Evening clothes generally get hung up, everything else on the shelves. This was the first time I did not need the hanging shelves and left them in the suitcase. The shoe rack holds not only shoes, but everything from sunscreen to chargers to iPods and headphones. The stuff that would normally clutter up the vanity gets put away and no one loses a flip flop. I definitely recommend it! While we are on vacation, we keep the room as we would keep our home. For two reasons. 1 - I just can't live like a slob!! and 2 - The cabin stewards have enough to do without trying to clean around smelly boy clothes.
We went back to the Lido until time for the muster drill. Best muster ever!! This one was inside the dining room so no standing on top of each other in the sun trying not keep the hair of the person in front of you from blowing into your mouth. (So gross.) We got our luggage a little later than usual -- around 5, so I unpacked while the boys did pool-type things.
We had anytime dining in the Crimson dining room. I like the freedom of eating when I'm hungry and not being held hostage waiting for table mates to show up. We do not cruise to eat. We're not cruising for gourmet meals. (My kids don't get it at home so they don't know what they're missing anyway.) I'm happy with a decent meal and good service. That was what we got.
That night we wandered the ship a bit and turned in. Next up, first of two sea days.