New Orleans, Louisiana
Name: Port of New Orleans
Address: 1350 Port of New Orleans Place, New Orleans, Louisiana
Shuttles and taxis — which normally offer a flat fee for airport to cruise terminal trips — are the two easiest means of transportation from Louis Armstrong International Airport. The cruise terminal is approximately 45 minutes from the airport. For shuttle service, call 504-522-3500.
New Orleans, known for its creole cuisine and incredible jazz musicians, is located on the banks of the Mississippi River, in southeastern Louisiana and is approximately 99 miles upriver from the Gulf of Mexico.
The Julia Street and Erato Street cruise terminals are located in downtown New Orleans, behind the New Orleans Convention Center and close to many hotels. Popular accommodation chains in the area include the Holiday Inn New Orleans Convention Center, Marriott Convention Center New Orleans, Hampton Inn and Suites, the Hilton New Orleans Riverside and the W New Orleans.
In the French Quarter are numerous small boutique hotels like Le Richelieu (1234 Chartres Street) with its old world character. Nearby are several other unique inns like the Soniat House (1133 Chartres) originally built inn 1830 as a townhouse for the Soniat family, or the elegant Hotel Monteleone (214 Rue Royale) with its grand lobby.
Defining New Orleans is a bit like chasing a butterfly. Just when you think you’re about to have it in your grasp, it flits away. For New Orleans is America’s most historically and culturally complex city, a place wrapped in a veneer of decadence. Revel in its historical sites, gorge yourself with its unique cuisine, walk for days among its 18th and 19th Century buildings, listen to and live its musical heritage and live performance, or revel in its tolerance of virtually anything as long as it has flair.
It’s a place where excess is excused and, along Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, even encouraged. And no matter how often you visit, or how long you stay, you’ll never be able to see beneath all of the layers that make up this unusual city that somehow manages to repel Americanization. It takes pride in its history of voodoo and its Mardi Gras is celebrated with unbridled exuberance, style and unabashed enthusiasm.
You can’t escape the city’s French and Spanish origins. You’ll find it in its buildings, in the graveyards, in its music and its language. You often hear French and Spanish spoken and its Cajun and Creole cuisine is founded in its French Canadian and European history.
The city is a cross-road of literature, performing arts, unique architecture, music and art. It’s where the American author and playwright Tennessee Williams did some of his best work; where Walt Whitman, and William Faulkner worked; where French Impressionist painter Edgar Degas lived from 1872-1873 and in whose house you can stay as a bed and breakfast guest.
New Orleans suffered greatly at the winds of Hurricane Katrina. Many of the neighborhoods that were on the outskirts of downtown were severely damaged. But most of the city has rebuilt itself and it continues to pulse with physical and spiritual energy.
Fortunately, the most historic areas of New Orleans were undamaged so that much of what we’ve come to love most about the city is still intact. Just steps from the cruise terminal, the French Quarter still pulsates with music and action along Bourbon Street, and St. Charles Avenue is filled with restaurants and quaint boutiques that celebrate New Orleans’ cultural richness. Enjoy lively Cajun music or Dixieland jazz while you feast on legendary Creole cuisine, or witness and participate in renowned festivals such as Mardi Gras, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2006.
Whatever sensual indulgence you choose, New Orleans has something for every visitor and is well worth the trip.
Visit Decatur Street where quaint shops abound and while you shop snack on fresh pralines sold from a vendor along the street. For upscale shopping head to the foot of Canal Street, or explore the boutiques on Magazine Street for antiques, jewelry, and other treasures. Don’t miss the Riverside Marketplace for unique shops and national brands right on the Mississippi River.
Things to do:
The French Quarter is to New Orleans what Montmartre is to Paris, or the Old Town is to Quebec City. It’s the city’s ancient heart in 98 blocks that run along the Mississippi waterfront and inland.
Nearby neighborhoods reflect a different New Orleans, no less rich in history and character. The Garden District, for example, was subdivided from cotton plantations and the great mansions have remained along historic St. Charles Street. There is where you’ll also find gourmet restaurants, chic boutiques, and two universities – Tulane and Loyola. Magnolia trees, gigantic oak trees, and night-blooming jasmine mark the area and it’s one of the city’s most popular.
In the French Quarter there are only about a dozen buildings dating from the original site, the oldest being the stately Convent of the Ursulines at 1100 Chartres. Completed in 1753, it resembles the continental French buildings of the Louis XV period. Jackson Square, the old Place d’Armes, is the oldest space in the city, laid out with the original town in 1718.
Every street in the quarter has its own character. Along Royal Street you’ll find dozens of antique stores; on Bourbon Street are countless bars, street performers and open air music parlors; and throughout the area you’ll find walking tours, horse-drawn carriage tours, and mini-bus tours.
The soul of New Orleans is its music. It’s why you go there, just as art is why you go to Florence and for the most part you’ll find what you’re looking for in the French Quarter. From Louis Armstrong and Al Hirt, to today’s young musicians who play for coins at St. Peter’s Square in the heart of the French Quarter, New Orleans arguably has the finest musicians per population in the entire western world.
There are many places to hear and experience New Orleans Jazz and Dixieland, and everyone has their favorite – The House of Blues (225 Decatur St.), Cafe Brasil (2100 Chartres St.), or in the front room of One Eyed Jack’s (615 Toulouse St.) that looks like a swanky bordello from New Orleans’ checkered past.
But there are two places that stand out. Preservation Hall (726 St. Peter St.) is where you get really old style New Orleans jazz performed by seasoned veterans of the art form. The hall is small, a rustic setting with benches, antique fans and aged mellow wood in one of the city’s old spaces, and if you’re not there early for one of the four nightly gigs (expect a lineup), you’ll find yourself standing since the hall has a seating capacity of about 50. And at the Palm Court Jazz Café (1204 Decatur) a younger generation performs classic and traditional jazz housed in a 19th Century building that also serves as a café. There are few places in the French Quarter that offer this combination of dining and music.
Bring along your fat clothes. You’re going to need them, for New Orleans is cuisine heaven. The Creole heritage that goes back more than 250 years and you’ll find strong French, Spanish, African, Irish, Italian, and Haitian French culinary traditions.
The French Quarter is packed with places to satisfy your cravings for everything from traditional to nouveau cutting edge cuisine like Antoine’s, Galatoire’s, Muriel’s at Jackson Square, Tujauque’s, Brennan’s, Arnaud’s, Bacco, Napoleon House, and more. You can’t leave the French Quarter without sampling the traditional muffaletta sandwich at Central Grocery. For authentic gumbo, be sure to have lunch at the Gumbo Shop (630 Saint Peter).
Faubourg Tremé, or “Tremé”, as locals call it, is America’s oldest black neighbourhood and the site of significant events that have shaped Black America for over 200 years. In the 18th and 19th centuries, African slaves regularly owned property in this area – a remarkable feat considering America’s involvement in slavery at the time (North Rampart to North Broad and from Canal Street to St. Bernard Avenue.)
Home to an open-air artist colony, where artists display their work on the outside of an iron fence, Jackson Square is a New Orleans hub for local artistic talent. It is an ideal place to relax in the city, catch up on people watching at the Café du Monde, and perhaps even watch a movie being filmed (on Decatur Street, in front of the St. Louis Cathedral).
At Mardi-Gras World daily tours take you behind the scenes and virtually into the construction of parade floats for the 30 or more Mardi Gras parades. You find out the real story of how these floats are made and why.
— Ray Chatelin