Within Walking Distance
Start your city tour before your Carnival cruise from New Orleans departs in the exuberant French Quarter, walking down narrow cobblestone streets beneath magnificent cast-iron balconies. Carriage tours depart from Jackson Square—the central green—where street entertainers and fortunetellers show off their tricks. The Square’s Cabildo building is where the Lousiana Purchase title was signed. Next door, the Presbytére building has a colorful exhibit on the masks, krewes, and parades of the New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration. Mardi Gras—or Fat Tuesday—is the last Tuesday before Lent, usually in late February or March. Parades, parties, and festivities get the city rocking the weekend leading up to Fat Tuesday. Across from the square is Café Du Monde, best known for its perfectly-fried beignets, topped with a light dusting of powdered sugar, served with a café au lait.
The fascinating collection at the New Orleans Pharmacy includes all manner of tiny antique bottles, potions, and cosmetics, displayed in an apothecary from 1823. At the foot of the Quarter right by the Mississippi River, you can touch a cownose ray and watch sea otters play at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. In the nearby Warehouse District, the exhibits at the National WWII Museum concentrate on the amphibious landings of D-Day and life during wartime at home and abroad.
Beyond the Port Area
The graceful mansions of the Garden District are another big draw of New Orleans, Louisiana. As you wander along these picturesque streets, you’ll pass Italianate and Victorian mansions hidden behind the beautiful drapes of hanging Spanish moss. The scenic ride on the St. Charles Streetcar runs through the district to the Audubon Zoo and its adjacent park of leafy trees.
New Orleans’s atmospheric "Cities of the Dead," such as the city’s oldest, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, make for an intriguing stroll. Among the crumbling tombstones are the burial places of local figures like voodoo practictioner Marie Laveau. For something even more atmospheric, a nighttime ghost tour tells the spooky legends of New Orleans history.
Dining in New Orleans
When you book a New Orleans cruise, expect to indulge in the best Creole cuisine in the Deep South. Commander’s Palace and Galatoire’s are two venerable kings of the French Quarter. Their shrimp remoulade, turtle soup, gumbo, and étouffée are just a few Creole favorites. On the casual side, munching a meat-stuffed muffuletta sandwich from Central Grocery is an essential experience.