Thus, the birthday/mother's day/mother-daughter getaway was born. On May 9, we would embark on the Carnival Elation out of New Orleans for 4 nights on board the ship, including 2 full days at sea and a 7-hour stop in Cozumel, Mexico.
My mom's flight got in to New Orleans on May 4th. I'm so glad she came in a few days early. We had no way to know it when I booked her flight, but it would turn out that she would have just moved to a new house in the days/hours before leaving to come down here, so by coming early, it allowed her to get some much needed rest before we left for our trip. She spent her days here sleeping while I was working and it worked out beautifully for everyone.
Eventually, May 9th was upon us. We donned our cheesy matching t-shirts, I saw my daughter off on the bus, we packed up the car with our many pieces of luggage and headed off on the 90 minute journey to New Orleans. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 10am, paid, dropped off 2 bags and a hefty tip to bribe the porter not to "lose" our luggage, parked and headed down the elevator to the check-in area.
This was my 4th cruise out of New Orleans and checking in was, as usual, a breeze, made even breezier by the fact that I'd gone ahead and forked over the extra money to buy the priority benefits that allowed us to check in at a separate, dedicated line, get on the ship before everyone else and go to our room to drop off our luggage before the rooms were actually ready for everyone else. By avoiding the regular check-in line, we were able to check in immediately, then were escorted to a separate seating area where we were in the 2nd group of people allowed to get on the ship after a wedding party was shuffled on board.
This is the photo they take of you while you're waiting to board the ship.
We immediately headed to our room. Since we had the priority benefits, it was supposed to be ready for us even though the other rooms weren't ready. Well, it wasn't ready. We were allowed to leave our luggage but we couldn't stay in the room to unpack because apparently our priority status had been overlooked. I wasn't too happy, but I got over it because at least I didn't have to drag the bags around the ship. That in and of itself is 1000000% worth the price of buying the priority benefits. I can't stand lugging the bag around the ship waiting for the room to become ready. One thing that was nice was that both of our pieces of checked luggage made it to the room either before or while we were in it - I've never gotten my checked luggage so fast! Sometimes we're still waiting on it when we go to bed the first night only to find it finally magically appear overnight.
We headed up to Tiffany's, the Lido buffet restaurant to enjoy a lunch overlooking the Mississippi River.
After lunch, my mom went to the Drama Bar (yes, that's the name of it lol) to get her first drink of the trip. She is normally a beer drinker, but she decided she wanted to branch out and try some fruity drinks this trip. She got a Pina Colada.
After the drink, we headed back to the room to see if it was ready and unpack. I quickly slid outside the room to decorate the door, complete with an embarrassing picture of my mom from her youth.
After unpacking, we explored the ship some. I didn't take a lot of pictures of the ship because this was my 3rd time on board this particular ship and I didn't feel like taking pictures of everything I've taken pictures of before - nor do I feel like digging those pictures out!
We finally waited for the lifeboat drill to start and it was 30 minutes late. We headed to our designated lounge and they went through the spiel and I thought that was that. Ohhhh no no no. They then made us actually go up the stairs to the lifeboats. Ever tried to shuttle 2200 people somewhere in a span of 5 minutes? Yeah it took 10 minutes for everyone to get where it needed to go - and then we were literally there for less than 30 seconds (NO joke!!) and my mom and I had to split up because the elevators were disabled from use during the drill and my mom can't walk up stairs due to knee and leg problems. I could not remain in the lounge with her though since I was able-bodied. Yeah - not happy. By the time I found my mom and we got outside for the sailaway party, we'd already missed the 180 degree turn the ship made to head down the river!
We grabbed a fruity drink and headed up to the top to watch as we sailed down the river. It's an 8-hour journey to the mouth, so there was plenty to see.
We headed to the room to get ready for dinner and headed to get a drink before heading to dinner. We had a 6pm dinner seating and were the first to arrive to our table of 10. After about 10-15 minutes, a group of 4 showed up. They turned out to be great dinner companions. It was 2 brothers and their wives traveling together and the conversation with them never stopped. We had a lot in common, especially with an Air Force affiliation. They were interesting, funny people. I already miss them. On this night for dinner, I had an excellent plate of beef brisket and vegetables.
After dinner, we headed back to our room to find our beds turned down with our nightly newsletter, chocolates and towel animal on my bed. We soon headed out to get some more drinks and catch the Welcome Aboard Show. Once it was over, we wandered and drank a little more and then headed to bed. It'd been a long day and my stomach was hurting from some sugar free ice cream I'd eaten the day before. In fact, my stomach hurt so badly that I wouldn't drink a single drop of alcohol at all the next day!
Stay tuned for day 2, our beautiful, sunny day at sea.