Hello from the Serenade of the Seas.
It's April 13, 2014, and I am enjoying day two of my cruise. Jan Fisher and I board the ship a week early to meet our group coordinator, the cruise director, captain, maitre'd, etc. and to make arrangements so that the poker cruise goes smoothly next week. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.:) Part of my assignment this week is to write some blogs to fill you in on shipboard life and to provide some tips to make your cruise go smoother. Note: if you are reading this on Cardplayer.com, you can get a sneak peak of what life is like on a cruise ship.
My first tip is to arrive early and/or stay after the cruise in New Orleans. Jan and I got to New Orleans at 5pm April 11 and spent the next 22 hours being tourists in this awesome city. Our longtime friend Nick Gullo, who was born and raised in New Orleans, picked us up at the airport and volunteered to be our tour guide. This was a gonga for us since Nick knows all the best places to see and knows LOTS of interesting history and trivia about his city. After a drive around town, we arrived in the French Quarter to have dinner at Frank's Restaurant, located at 933 Decatur, a short block away from Jackson Square, a major tourist attraction. Frank's was the perfect choice for dinner! They offer traditional local favorites like gumbo, oysters, crayfish, po-boys and mufalattas, as well as Italian food. We shared fried oysters, jumbo shrimp, calamari, and chicken picatta. The reasonable prices and great food make this my number one pick for a restaurant in the French Quarter. Be sure to request balcony seating and be sure to tell Frank that Jan and Linda sent you! After dinner, we enjoyed the shopping and sightseeing around Jackson Square and topped the night off with world-famous beignets at Cafe du Monde.
We spent the next day seeing some amazing sights before Nick dropped us off at the cruise terminal at 3pm. Once onboard, we attended the mandatory fire drill then unpacked and explored the ship. We had dinner in the Reflections Dining Room. There are two pay restaurants on board, but I see no reason to pay for food on a cruise ship when they offer all-you-can eat delicious food included in the fare. The prime rib was excellent, as were the appetizers and desserts. After dinner, we went to the welcome aboard show, then played a game show. We were still on the Mississippi River when we went to sleep for the night.
Here are some tips for those of you joining us next week:
1. Be sure to take to take the street car that takes you along St. Charles Street in New Orleans. You will get to see lots of historic mansions, schools, parks, etc.
2. Do not get to the ship early; there will be long lines of people waiting to board. You are not even allowed in your stateroom until 1pm. Enjoy New Orleans instead and arrive between 2 and 2:30.
3. Do not overpack. The closet space in the cabins is limited. I suggest you put what you intend to pack on the bed and then put at least half of them back in your closet.
4. Necessities to pack in addition to the standard clothing: bathing suit, shorts, comfortable walking shoes/sandals, sunscreen, hat, lightweight jacket or wrap (it can get cool on the ship), passport, sunglasses, medicine, cushions for the poker room if needed, and reading material.
5. Shore excursions – PLEASE do yourself a favor and book your shore excursions online today. Many of them were sold out when we went to the shore excursion desk. You must do this today since it has to be done five days before your cruise.
6. Once on the ship, be sure to check in at the poker room to pick up your name tag and get details about the welcome aboard party hosted by Card Player Cruises.
7. There are packages available for the internet. Based on the amount of time you buy, you can bring it down to 25 cents per minute.
8. Unlimited drink packages are available. The soda package is $52.35 for the week and the beer package is $280. There are also bottled water and juice packages available.
9. If you drink too much and can't find your way home, there is a Wayfinder screen at most elevator lobbies. This allows you to find a path to any location on the ship, including your stateroom.
10. Pace yourself in the food department. You can eat as much as you want on a cruise ship at no extra charge. You can have four appetizers, two or more entrees, three desserts, etc. Bring some larger pants for your return trip home.:)
I hope you enjoyed a sneak preview of the cruise. I will be writing more in a day or two.
Card Player Cruises