Driving to New Orleans
Has anyone driving from Alabama to the port in New Orleans? I'm doing the drive for our upcoming cruise in November 2013. I was wondering how the roads were, and how the drive was? I plan on leaving early on Saturday morning (11/2), and hopefully get in around 2pm. Our cruise doesn't leave until the next day, but I heard it's wise to get in early and spend the extra to stay overnight, then to be late and miss the boat. It's better to be safe than sorry, right?
It's been a few years but we drove from Athens, Alabama, to New Orleans for a cruise. Mississippi was probably the worst part - not for the roads but for cops running radar seemingly every mile. Otherwise it like any other 7 hour road trip on interstates.
We drove from Disney World to New Orleans in Feb. (we actually live in Atlanta). It is a pretty easy drive. Don't know if you've been there, but New Orleans is a GREAT city so going a day early is a great way to start your cruise. Problem is finding hotels that aren't too expensive. To really enjoy it you need to be near the French Quarter where all the restaurants and bars are. Best to be within walking or taxi distance so if you drink a Hurricane at Pat O'Brien's you don't have to drive.
Another option is to stay short of New Orleans (we actually did that on our drive from Orlando as it was a 10 hr. drive). I think we actually stayed in Gulfport by the freeway. Short drive in, (about 75 miles).
Parking at the port is very confusing. Need to really follow the signs and traffic. It is one way in then out. After dropping bags, you'll go out and turn left and about immediately hit the lot. There is an elevator and bridge over the road. When you return we simply got a porter to take our bags to the parking lot.
If you're a fan of Cafe Du Monde, there is one in the mall attached to the port. So if you get there early Chicory coffee and beignets are a nice cruise beginning.
Boarding is a pain. Ours was delayed so everyone was in a single line. Since we were suite guests I asked an RCL employee for priority boarding (a suite amenity). He walked us to the front of the line, but if you are entitled to it and don't ask, you won't get it.
So plan to get there fairly early as parking, lines, etc. can take some time.
One "cool" thing is that it takes over 6 hours for the ship to get out of the Mississippi and into the Gulf. A very cool scenic ride. We sat on our balcony at midnight watching the lights on the shore (very close) and when we passed another cruise ship (coming in), they passed what seemed like around 100 yards apart.
Hope this helps. Have a great cruise.
A seven hour drive is a piece of cake. If you have never been in NOLa, you have got to spend at least one night downtown. Beware however of the incredible parking rates. We spent one night at the W Downtown, (fabulous location - but parking was $35 per night). Rate at hotel was $225 and that was New Year's eve as well - so other times cheaper. If you want to stay in the French Quarter, be prepared for the constant noise at night - we have stayed on Bourbon Street (and on Royal Street - where Sharon and Adam stayed from the Y&R a few years back) lovely lovely but very pricy and even there we could hear noise. Drive to the Julia Street Pier from downtown is maybe 10 min. Parking I believe was $15 per day at pier.
This last time we were there for a cruise, we stayed at Sheraton at Airport for the night and we left our car with the Sheraton for a grand rate of $129 including 7 nights of parking. Worked out well Cab back and forth was only $34 each way. You gotta check out New Orleans itself prior to cruise. Hit the cemetaries, walk Bourbon at night, see Jackson Square, get a Poyboy sandwich at this place on St. Charles (line are ridiculous but worth it - check out Fodors for exact street address). Go to Riverwalk, see Aquarian |($34 pricy). Just have fun. A seven hour drive is nothing. We drive from canada in the snow and it takes 26 hours on a good day.
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