There is no better city to start your cruise from than New Orleans. You may be headed to sandy beaches in foreign lands or neighboring cities along the Mississippi River, but you can get a head start on your vacation with jazz, Creole cuisine, historic architecture, and much more in this port city. Here are a few suggestions on how to spend your pre-cruise vacation–or how to extend your trip after you've returned to port!
There are many hotels within walking distance of the cruise terminals, most of which can be found in the Warehouse/Arts District. Whether you're looking for a brand-name hotel, something with suites, or a more intimate boutique hotel experience, there's a property for you. Search all Warehouse/Arts District hotels here. If you’re cruising with your family, check out additional family-friendly hotel options here. You can also find hotels offering pre-and post-cruise packages and specials here.
This museum, conveniently located in the Warehouse District, is a must-see while in New Orleans. Voted the second-best museum in the world and the #1 museum in New Orleans by TripAdvisor, it includes extraordinary artifacts, powerful images, cinematic experiences, and much more. Their newest addition, Expressions of America, is a breathtaking and immersive experience that is enjoyable for guests of all ages.
No trip to New Orleans is complete without stops to sample the delicious food. Try Emeril’s more affordable, contemporary spot, Meril, for shared plates and local flavors. If you are staying downtown, Carmo is another great spot to grab lunch and even offers many vegan options. It is located in the Warehouse District and is just a short walk from many hotels, shops, and galleries. Cochon Butcher is also an excellent choice to experience the award-winning Cajun cuisine from Chef Donald Link, but in a more casual, sandwich-counter setting.
You can’t visit all of New Orleans before your cruise, but you may be able to Vue it. Vue Orleans is a newer attraction in the city, offering guests a complete 360° view of the Crescent City. See New Orleans like never before from their indoor and outdoor observation decks, located on top of the Four Seasons Hotel, right next to the Mississippi River. Vue Orleans is a great way to kick off or wrap up your time in New Orleans.
Whether you're interested in history, ghosts, architecture, cocktails, or cuisine, there's a tour for you in New Orleans. Enjoy the convenience of a hop-on-hop-off bus tour with City Sightseeing, or get spooked on a haunted history tour through the French Quarter. Excited to get on a boat before boarding your cruise ship? Why not schedule a swamp tour for the afternoon? From kayaks to airboats, there's a swamp tour for everyone.
Just a five-minute ride from the Warehouse District, the French Quarter is full of great options for dinner, as well as beautiful architecture to admire. Two recommendations include Irene’s and The Gumbo Shop. Or if you'd prefer to stay in the Warehouse District, one great option is Nina Compton’s Compere Lapin, located inside the beautifully outfitted Old No. 77 Hotel. If you are looking for a delightful twist on traditional southern dishes, the French and Caribbean influences of Nina’s menu will be sure to satisfy you. Reservations are highly encouraged for each of the restaurants above.
Every night of the week, this legendary music hall hosts the best in traditional jazz. It is open to all ages, so it is a great place for a family outing.
You can't come to New Orleans without sampling beignets! Cafe du Monde in the French Market is open daily from 7:30 a.m. until 11 p.m., which makes it a great stop before heading back to your hotel for the night OR a decadent choice for a sugar-coated breakfast the next morning.
Legacy Kitchen is a popular choice for breakfast in the Warehouse District any day of the week. The menu has a variety of southern favorites from chicken and waffles to beignets. For a quick bite and healthy options, check out Two Chicks Cafe. They have two convenient locations, with one on Convention Center Blvd and another on Gravier Street. Mother’s is another classic recommendation, especially for those seeking a fantastic breakfast or brunch experience any time of the day.
Get a taste of Mardi Gras year-round at the largest float-designing building in the world. Climb on the floats, see some costumes, and get a behind-the-scenes look at how the famous New Orleans holiday is produced. It is located just steps from the cruise terminal.
If you’re in need of some last-minute items for your vacation or just want to pick up some souvenirs to commemorate your time in NOLA, there are plenty of places to shop close by. The Riverwalk has a collection of outlet stores, while Canal Place has a variety of high-end shops. There are boutique shops sprinkled throughout the city filled with unique pieces you won’t find in any other city, and if you’re on the hunt for some of those famous New Orleans antiques, Royal Street is your spot.
Heads up - If planning on driving to New Orleans, park at the nearby Port of New Orleans for $20 a day while you are on your cruise. For more parking information, check our Cruise Parking page here.