New Orleans, Louisiana – The Big Easy
To begin with, New Orleans is a destination virtually in a class by itself. The city has character like no other with its famous music, food and history.
It was settled first by French trappers in the seventeenth century, than it was ceded to the Spanish in 1762 by Treaty. Following a number of fires in the late eighteenth century the Spanish rebuilt the French Quarter using mostly fired brick, including the most impressive structure in New Orleans, St. Louis Cathedral. The architectural character of the French Quarter, including multi-storied buildings with inner courtyards, arched doorways, and the extensive use of decorative wrought iron, were actually more characteristic of the Spanish colonies.
Beginning in 1800 Spain and France signed a series of treaties stipulating that Spain would give Louisiana back to France, these confirmed and finalized the retrocession of Spanish Louisiana to France. Byl 1803, Napoleon sold Louisiana which then included portions of more than a dozen present-day states along with New Orleans to the U.S. in the Louisiana Purchase.
Involved in a war with England, in 1814 New Orleans defended itself against a large English force sent to take the city. Marshaling forces (regular, militia, and naval) and recruiting a number of pirates led by Jean Lafitte, Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson routed the British in a decisive battle on the early morning of January 8, 1815.
Anchored by the famous French Quarter with its iconic architecture, the downtown area wasn’t big enough to hold all that was going on, so recently it spread out into the adjacent neighborhoods including the warehouse district offering more famous eateries, clubs and trendy galleries.
Famous for throwing one of America’s biggest parties each year called Mardi Grau, the truth is the party virtually never stops in this city. The sidewalks of Bourbon Street are packed at night and some of its bars and restaurants virtually never close. Home to a musical tradition second to none and a restaurant scene famous around the world, New Orleans isn’t just a cruise port it’s a destination.
Where Your Ship Docks
The Mississippi waterfront runs along the French Quarter and the growing Warehouse District and in the middle of it all is the Riverwalk Mall where the cruise ships tie up. Virtually in the heart of everything the cruise terminal is attached to the outlet shops of the Riverwalk Shopping Mall and only blocks from Canal Street and The French Quarter.
If you are flying into New Orleans to catch a cruise expect to pay a little over $50 for a taxi ride to the cruise terminal. There is a public bus route that will take you into downtown from the airport for less that $4 but the trip takes about forty minutes. We have found an advertised shuttle to be unreliable but the airport has a very convenient ride share pick-up area. A recent Lyft ride cost just $32.
If you come in a day or two early (highly recommended) in downtown New Orleans there are numerous good hotels near the cruise piers. If you aren’t up to walking the French Quarter and downtown are flat and compact and there are pedicabs, street cars and easy to catch taxis.
Being the United States the currency is the Dollar and if you are visiting from out of the country you will find a number of conveniently located currency exchange outlets along with ATM machines and of course credit cards are welcome..
New Orleans is an attraction in itself. Just walking the French Quarter, listening to street music, eating Creole food, visiting Jackson Square and window shopping is a true experience but there are some other things to consider:
St. Louis Cathedral built in 1789 is the oldest cathedral in the United States.
Saint Louis Cemetery is a famous New Orleans cemetery (actually 3) where most of the graves are above-ground vaults constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Preservation Hall is a jazz venue in the French Quarter. The building is famous for a house band, a record label, and a music foundation.
The National WWII Museum, formerly The National D-Day Museum, a military history museum located in the Central Business District. NewOrleans was the manufacturing center for the landing craft used for WWII beach assaults. The museum focuses on the contribution made by the United States to Allied victory in World War II.
The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas located on the waterfront is run by the Audubon Institute, which also operates the New Orleans Audubon Zoo and the Insectarium on Canal Street.
When it comes to food New Orleans has more than its share of famous chefs including Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, John Besh, John Folse, Donald Link, and on and on. With restaurants like Emeril’s New Orleans, K. Paul, Commanders Palace, Brennen’s, and Emeril’s Delmonico you’ll run out of time before you run out of great restaurants.