I know a lot about cruising and the different brand personalities. The brands also do a wonderful job promoting themselves and their styles. I have found, however, the best way to get authentic insight (aside from taking the cruise myself) is from you, my clients. I love hearing about personal experiences. Everyone brings a different perspective to the table, and this is the best way to learn and truly understand how to match the right experiences - on and off the ship.
Dear friends and clients Kim and Maria are seasoned cruisers and global travelers and are not afraid to go off the beaten trail to explore more authentic, less touristy areas. "Go where the locals go" fits them perfectly. We met on on board a transatlantic trip while looking for exciting options in Reykjavik.
Their recent Celebrity cruise had an extended stay in New Orleans, and I thought it would be fun to share their experiences with you (written by them and sharing with their permission of course!). My learnings are at the end.
We got off the ship at the Julia St cruise terminal and stopped at Harrah’s hotel. We spoke to the concierge. She was amazing. She’s been doing this for 20 years and told us how to get where we wanted to go around the city.
There’s a trolley that you can take for three dollars on and off for the day. We decided to walk and take the trolley when we tucker out. (We never did, ended the day 18K steps,- 7.3 miles).
We headed down South Peter St. to Canal St to the corner of St. Louis and Chartres St. to Napoleon’s House for a 1/4 muffuletta. It was warmed up and YUMMY!!!
BUT THEN, we strolled through the French quarter on Decatur St., passed Jackson Square, and stopped at a little Italian grocery store (Central Grocery) that made the original Muffuletta!! It was served cold and Kim liked this one the BEST! We bought 2 jars of the amazing muffuletta salad and ate another half muffuletta between us. WE LOVE THIS TOWN! ❤️
The line was crazy long at Café Du Mode, but you know we are patient and found a way for beignets! Then, we strolled down Ann St and Bourbon St. and saw a parade of music and the “little followers”. There were lots of great music and talented street musicians too.
Emeril’s restaurant for dinner. I got the BUTTERMILK FRIED CHICKEN with bourbon whipped sweet potatoes, pecan gravy and Kim got the Shrimp and Grits!
We are looking forward to what tomorrow holds.... breakfast at the Ruby Slipper, and architectural walking tour in the Garden district with www.NOLATours.com and then head back to the ship for a nap. Then, take the river walk trolley to the end of the line around 5pm before the streets start filling up from the Jazz festival and spend the the majority of the evening on Frenchman Street listening to LIVE Jazz.
What a great day! We went to The Ruby Slipper for breakfast! Wow, breakfast options were huge. There was such a variety of yumminess!! There are a couple of locations and we had no trouble getting in the one on 2802 Magazine St. Pecan banana pancakes for Kim & eggs, bacon, grits & fried green tomato for me. The buttermilk biscuit was the size of Kim’s hand.
This was only 5 blocks from the meeting location for our 2-hour architectural walking tour at 10:45 in the Garden District. This tour included some unique stops such as a walk through Lafayette Cemetery. That was extremely interesting! We also learned about the evolution from Greek Revival, Italianate and Victorian architecture. We found a quaint place for espresso called “Gracious Cafe”” on St. Charles. They also served an unbelievable Meatloaf sandwich with tomato jam on green onion bread.
After we let our feet rest, we hopped on the Riverwalk trolley and took it to the end of the line around 5pm (before the streets start filling up from the Jazz festival) and spent the the majority of the evening on Frenchman Street listening to LIVE Jazz at the Spotted Cat Music Club. The $3 trolley 24hr pass was a life saver!!
We found some neat little places today. We slept like we chopped wood!! 9.5 hours!!!!
We started by hopping on the Riverwalk trolley to Canal St and walked a few blocks to Chartres St to Mena’s Palace in the French Quarter! They have been here for 50+ years and have a wonderful breakfast. The place is always packed and there is a line out the door. In our true form, we walked in at the right time with the only table in the house free. A perfect little 2-top under the sign :) in a matter of minutes, there was a 15 person wait line.
Then, we walked a block to Royal St, stopped, sipped a cappuccino at Mr. B’s Bistro Sunday Jazz Brunch. Again, we got the best table in the house!
The band started with a song that said, in Harlem, we got a table for 2 for 4 of us, me, your big feet and you! you’re feet too big.....LOL!!!!!
I had a “first” at Mr. B’s.... BREAD PUDDING!!! It was excellent! The warm whiskey sauce made it!!! Of course, we had to try one more muffuletta. Check out the description on the menu 😊 Everything was top notch!
Our last adventure in NOLA was to take the Canal St. Ferry across the Mississippi River to Algiers Point. We didn’t see much there really, but went to this little joint on the corner called “dry dock”. They had a pub tie-dye dry dock shirt to match my shoes!!!! I bought it since I bought the shoes specifically for this trip to NOLA.
Prep work: A little research ahead of time pointed them in the direction they wanted to go, but the plans were not overly structured allowing them to find hidden gems along the way. A little prep gives you an idea of options, so if one thing doesn't pan out you have others to choose from.
Ask the locals: Don't be afraid to ask questions. Locals love to show off their town, and will offer up tips you'll never find in a guide book.
Enjoy the moment: You are on vacation. It's not as if you would eat like this every day at home. When certain culinary experiences are only available in this destination, GO FOR IT!! Have fun. Try new experiences - you might be surprised. Don't fuss about the weather, go with the flow.
If you can, walk! Well, this isn't really a new learning for me as I have always believed the best way to experience a city is on foot. Add in local transportation if distances are a bit much. Hop on the trolley, the local tram, subway or bus. It's fun.
Travel is the best education: Travel opens you up to new experiences - things you may have known about and wanted to see for yourself as well as things you had no clue even existed. How exciting is that! Now you know. One more check on the knowledge roster!
And finally, know yourself. You know what you like and don't like. You know what makes you comfortable and uncomfortable. Travel and learning should push your out of your comfort zone, but only to that point where you are still enjoying the moment. Do the things you like/love to do. Skip the rest.
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Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder