Pre-Cruise and NOLA
After our trip on the Carnival Dream we were addicted to cruising. We had booked our “next cruise” while we were still on board, but then I booked another trip within two weeks of getting home and that turned into our “next cruise”. We now had a trip in October on the Carnival Triumph, followed by another trip on the Dream the following February. After that it has snowballed and we have two trips booked each year. We love going in February and our Fall trip was so much fun we have made them both annual events. If there is a cure for this monkey on our backs, don’t tell my wife!
So with another 5 day Western Caribbean Cruise out of NOLA on our countdown we started planning. I enjoy laying out our trips and digging up the details on our ships or ports of call far in advance, so that we can have a feel for what is coming. We had been to Cozumel already, so we were very excited to return. Progreso was a new stop for me, so that one took a lot of research. While I was prepping, I was talking to one of our best friends and mentioned our tentative plans. BOOM! He booked that night and Brian Hagan was in for his first Carnival experience. With that in mind, I decided our excursions would be beach days at Mr. Sancho’s in Cozumel and The All-Inclusive Beach Getaway through Carnival’s Excursions. With a start in New Orleans on Halloween weekend, this was shaping up to be a series of parties with a Fun Ship to ferry us between.
Saturday Night in the French Quarter – Halloween Weekend
Dawn and I had just experienced Mardi Gras in the French Quarter, so we were excited to get back down to NOLA and show Hago around. However, with all the different events going on we couldn’t snag a room downtown for anything reasonable. So it was time to branch out and try our luck at a park-n-cruise package. I found the Comfort Inn and Suites in Harvey, LA and settled on our accommodations. That decision turned out to be a great one as the room and parking was less than a hotel downtown. The package includes a hot breakfast buffet and a shuttle to and from the port. Port parking is $20 per day, so our overall savings was about $300.
The Comfort Inn and Suites is located about 15 minutes from the port, across the Mississippi River in a suburban area that is clean and has a lot to offer. If you want it, it is probably close. From shopping and dining to Daiquiri Bars, you can find it on Manhattan. In fact, Copelands of New Orleans is right next door and they have a fantastic menu. If you haven’t tried it, you should! We have actually ended up there twice on our last couple of trips, but more on that later.
Having traveled overnight we were due to arrive in town right around lunch time. I called the hotel and asked if they could take us in early. The staff there is awesome and got our rooms ready as we covered the last hundred miles of our journey. They had just finished as we checked in and we were able to drop our bags and wash off the road before heading out to see New Orleans. First, we stopped next door and had a little lunch at Copelands. The food was awesome and we filled up on appetizers while we had our first couple of cocktails. We called an Uber and off we went to the French Quarter. We had joined a Facebook Group and knew there would be a meet and greet later in the afternoon. We were determined to be primed and ready, so we stopped at several daiquiri bars and had a few grenades as we showed Hago the sights and sounds of Bourbon Street. Dawn did her level best to keep us corralled as Brian headed toward the music on the street and I headed towards the shiny thing across the way. We toured courtyards and bars, shops and even stopped for more food. Bourbon Street is always a blast and we enjoyed our day thoroughly.
As the afternoon wore on we made our way over to Krazy Korner to meet some new friends. Brenda B put the pre-cruise event together and the drink specials were perfect for strangers getting to know each other. Everything was 3-for-1, so pretty soon Bryan W. was walking around handing out his extras and the party was on! We met his wife Dawn Marie W., Brenda B. and a few others and headed up to the balcony. Hagan and I pretty much stationed ourselves on the rail and watched as Bourbon Street really got going. My wife flitted around in her new tutu, ventured back down to Bourbon Street and bought a couple of souvenirs. She gets more comfortable as the day wears on, but that may be that alcohol. Everywhere you looked there were costumed revelers and some of their get ups were pretty impressive. Lots of photo ops to be had and we per usual, took plenty. Finally, Shaun and Katie L. made their way onto the scene and we became fast friends. Good people have that effect and we met some REALLY GREAT people that night. We did our thing until it was time to head back, and caught a Lionel Richie filled Uber ride back across the river. We headed back to Copelands for more food, but left most of it on the table. The cocktails had finally caught up.
Our room at the Comfort Inn and Suites was very comfortable. The hotel is clean, and the staff is very friendly. The parking lot has one entrance and is well lit. I felt very comfortable leaving my car in their care for the week. The complimentary breakfast buffet includes eggs, sausage links, biscuits and gravy, and a waffle iron with two mixes to choose from. There is an assortment of pastries, fruit and dairy offerings as well. For a free breakfast I actually enjoy it very much. If you expect great food, you might want to step out, but compared to some of the overpriced buffets we have experienced, this breakfast was a winner for sure! I can also attest to it’s consistency as we have stayed there since and enjoyed the same service and quality. If you are looking for a park-n-cruise package, this is a great choice. The transportation is handled by the front desk. Simply let them know when to schedule your shuttle and they will take care of it. Upon your arrival back to NOLA a quick call to the front desk will produce a ride back to your car from the port. To date, we have not experienced any other park-n-cruise packages, but my research suggests this one is a great deal!