Not by plan but I just happened to wake up and look out the window and there is Voyager of the Seas passing right in front of us. Almost missed it by the time I find my camera.
Carnival is also docking in New Orleans and we watch their ship pass by on the way to the pier.
Time to check out and make our way to the pier. Voyager of the Seas is the largest cruise ship to port in New Orleans and with a Carnival ship in town too, you are looking at about 4,500+ passengers trying to get off the ships and then another 4,500+ trying to get on the ships. For the first couple sailings (Voyager started New Orleans on Nov 12), traffic getting to the pier has been a real nightmare. I was concerned about sitting in traffic for hours without moving anywhere and considered walking to the pier. I checked with the hotel concierge and she stated that there is a new lane for taxis only so they can get people to and from the pier much quicker now. A taxi it is then!
Bellhop hails taxi for us and away we go. $14 sure beats walking with our luggage for a 1/2 mile.
We arrive at the pier. A porter greets the taxi and takes our bags and readies them for placement on the ship. He then instructs us where to go to begin the check-in process.
Royal Caribbean employees and the cruise terminal staff are still working out some kinks in their process for check-in here in New Orleans. Some guests are confused as to which line to get in for check-in even though employees are trying their best to direct them. We listen to the instructions and everything goes very smooth and now we just have to wait our turn to board. However, if Royal Caribbean were to put up some room dividers in this big warehouse type facility there will be far less confusion.
We are at the last step of boarding and have our picture taken for security purposes. Then we are permitted on board our wonderful ship and begin to explore.
Our room is not quite ready yet so we have just been exploring but now are stomachs are ready to explore the buffet. The key to eating on a cruise is to pace yourself or you will be sick from over-eating. I select a slice of roast beef, a hot dog and some pasta. Odd combination but I had to try some different foods to make sure it is ok for other passengers. Now Horse decided to play a popular cruise buffet game called “how high can food be stacked on this plate”? He must have been afraid that he was only allowed 1 trip to the buffet all week! hehe. He soon learned the pace yourself technique.
We have finished our “light lunch” and decide to keep exploring. Low and behold, I have found the self-serve ice cream machine!! Let the quest to break my record begin! I start with a chocolate cone but rumor has it that their is strawberry in another machine. Oh how I must find that machine!
The staterooms are ready so we make our way to deck #9 all the way forward on the port (left) side. Our stateroom is the very first one facing the port side of the ship. We have a window in our stateroom even though guests can select between interior (no window), ocean view (with window like ours), balcony stateroom (full sliding glass doors open to private balcony) or even suites. I like to have a window so that I can see out and have some light in the cabin but a balcony was not required for the two of us. The bridge (cockpit or control room) on this ship is on deck #10 and sits directly above our room. Gwen, our stateroom attendant, mentions that we need to keep our curtains closed at night so the light does not shine into the bridge and make it difficult for them to see. Every night I have to continually fight the urge to turn on all the lights and see how fast I can open and close the curtains!
For those who have not cruised before, the staterooms are small. Ours is about 165 square feet including the bathroom, living/sleeping area and the closet.. Bathrooms are small and 2 people would not be able to fit in at the same time. Once you realize that you are only in your room long enough to change clothes, shower and sleep, the small room size does not bother you. If you are a person who has to have space, then at least a room with a balcony or perhaps even a junior suite is needed.
We drop off our carry-on bag, put our passports and valuables in the room safe and prepare to head back out and explore some more.
Some people have changed and jumped in the pools or hot tubs already. We are busy taking pictures of the city skyline behind the cruise ship. We have about 2-1/2 hours before we set sail so we just walk around, explore and talk to other guests.
Anchors Away!!! The sun is setting and the ships deck lights have come alive as we begin our push away from the pier. We are facing up the river but we need to head down river to reach the Gulf. It is neat how the front is spun to the left side while the back of the ship remains in place until we are completely facing the opposite direction.
We watch for a while as we begin the long trek down the Mississippi River - about 9-10 hours - as we head for the Gulf of Mexico. We have a cocktail reception for our travel agent group so we have to go get ready for the reception and then dinner following that.
We meet in a lounge called The Vault. We have a couple cocktails and some appetizers as we meet and mingle with the other travel agents and our representative from Royal Caribbean. We have a great time and look forward to spending time with everyone this week.
Royal Caribbean has 3 dining options for guests; Main seating at 5:30 pm, Late seating at 8:00 pm and then My Time. My Time is for the guests who do not want to have the same set dining time each evening. My Time allows them to make reservations daily to come anytime between 6:00 pm and 9:30 pm. Our group is using the 8:00 pm dining schedule. I was not sure I would like to have a set time but 8:00 pm worked out great as we all conversed about our days.
Each night the meal consists of an appetizer, entree and then a dessert. You can order as many of each that you would like. Some nights there are multiple of each course that you might want to try. Tonight I will begin with a tortilla soup, some fresh made rolls and bread, then on to a mushroom Alfredo entree and finish it off with a piece of chocolate cherry cake. Wow! What a awesome dinner! The wait staff is amazing as we tell our assistant waiter, Selvin, that we would like a Coke for me and a diet Coke for Horse. Then each night Roberto brings them to us without us asking him for them. Can, our waiter, makes wonderful recommendations as a whole and then will recommends something individually based on what you have been eating all week.
In the main theatre, La Scala, tonight is a comedian so we decide to check him out. He was pretty funny and we have a good time.
The Cruise Director and his staff kick off our week with a parade through the Royal Promenade. This area is as long as 2 football fields and as high as 4 decks of the ship. Huge open area filled with shops, pubs and eateries. This is the central focal point of the ship and multiple events will take place here over the course of the week.
Well, as hard as we try to stay up and watch us exit the Mississippi River, we are just too tired. We have explored a lot of this massive 14 deck ship so we are worn out. We have decided to not take elevators and use the stairs as much as possible to counteract all of the food we eat. Doing so was good for us but also wears you out with a ship this size.
With all of the excitement of this ship I only manage 1 ice cream cone. I have a lot of cones to eat before I break my record that actually stands at 25! Well, better luck tomorrow.
Good night all.