I checked in online for this cruise a few days before leaving the UK and, at the same time, ordered some bottled water for my cabin.
The online check-in process, while generally smooth, suddenly becomes clunky when they, inexplicably, ask for all your other travel plans. I don’t know if this is a US Customs and Border requirement, but it’s implemented badly - in an attempt to be helpful, the site insists on pre-populating your return flight details based on your, already supplied, inbound arrangements then gets terribly cantankerous when you try to change them.
That being said, all of the documents and luggage labels printed out perfectly, despite, I assume, being designed for US Letter, rather than the A4 paper I was using.
Having arrived in New Orleans late the night before, jet lag ensured that I was still up and about early, so I decided to walk to the famous Cafe du Monde for beignets before it became crowded, then walked along the waterfront, with Carnival Triumph visible at the port, just before the Crescent City Bridges.
I took a short taxi ride to the terminal at my allocated check-in time of 2pm. There were plenty of porters on hand to deal with pre-labelled luggage, but I’m not a fan of the manner in which, rather than just asking for a tip (which I was in the process of doing anyway), my porter made an, almost threatening, comment about him being the last person to see my luggage.
Despite large crowds, security, check-in and boarding was slick and fast and, by the time I was on the ship, cabins were ready for occupation. Luggage was a bit slow in arriving, but showed up in the cabin after a few hours.
What was slightly odd was the time and effort expended by Carnival in policing their beverage policy. Carnival permits guests to bring on board one 750ml bottle of wine or Champagne and a maximum of twelve cans of soft drinks. I was shocked at how many people were bothering to lug 12-packs of Dr. Pepper onto the ship. More amusing were the number of conversations I overheard onboard about smuggling in contraband booze. A veteran of dozens of Carnival voyages advises re-filling an empty Listerine bottle with vodka and a few drops of food colouring.
Shortly after we left New Orleans, the other shoe in this pantomime dropped - hundreds of people lining up to buy “discounted” bottle of spirits from a special sale in the ship’s atrium.
Oh, between boarding and departure there was a mandatory safety drill that was almost comically disorganised - mainly because most of the ship was already wasted.
After that, I grabbed an oddly coloured cocktail from the poolside bar then retreated to my balcony to watch us pull away from New Orleans.