Three cruises this fall and winter spend an overnight in what is arguably the most distinctive city in the United States – a city that bears virtually no resemblance to any other and proudly (and loudly) marches down the streets to its own drum.
New Orleans is a playground, of course, famously, for revelers seeking all-night live music, flowing cocktail concoctions and the trading (read: throwing) of iridescent beads. But this sweet southern spot nestled along the Mississippi River is a veritable onion of cultural, historical and culinary layers just waiting to be peeled. With the three ultra-luxury Crystal Serenity voyages embarking and/or debarking with an overnight in this glittering city, you’ll have at least 24 hours to immerse yourself in this high-energy locale. Many of the Big Easy’s best attractions are a mere couple of miles from the cruise terminal, making it convenient to explore on foot.
One of the best ways to acquaint oneself with a new city is with a crash course in local flavors. This is an enviable task, though not easy in New Orleans, simply due to the sheer number of must-try delicacies on the New Orleans menu. Stop at legendary Café Du Monde for beignets, cakey triangles of perfectly fried dough coated in powdered sugar and served with the establishment’s equally famous café au laits or chicory coffee. More than just world-class pastries, Café Du Monde has been a haven for foodies since 1862, and is conveniently open 24 hours, so you can squeeze in an extra late-night treat during your overnight stay.
After your doughy dose of heaven, venture out the door into the heart of the famous French Quarter, where Jackson Square’s central statue of its namesake, Andrew Jackson (the hero of the Battle of New Orleans), is serenaded by a circus of musicians and artists. This open-air artists’ market has occupied Jackson Square for over half a century. Everything is alive in this area of the city and music is everywhere. Even the filigreed Pontalba Apartment buildings lining the streets boast colors so vibrant you can almost hear them. Stop in the apartments for some light shopping or a tour through a local artist’s gallery.
From your vantage point in the square, you can’t miss historic gems including the St. Louis Cathedral, the Cabildo and Presbytere museums, all rich in the architectural and cultural styles unique to New Orleans.
Nightlife Tip: For evening adventures, head less than half a mile from the square to Bourbon Street, where piano bars, nightclubs and indulgent cuisine rule the night. Don’t forget to hydrate. New Orleans is the birthplace of refreshing libations such as the Sazerac, Hurricane, Obituary Cocktail and the Ramos gin fizz. Accordingly, the town is also home to some of the world’s best mixologists, who artfully shake and stir the concoctions every night in the most popular spots.
You’ll likely be hungry from all the cultural enrichment and need a snack. While there is certainly no shortage of Cajun flavors in virtually any direction you choose, we suggest you head northwest a couple of miles to Parkway Bakery & Tavern. The 100+-year-old hub serves up what is consistently voted the best Po-Boy sandwich in town, including one version overflowing with crispy fried shrimp and all kinds of other goodness.
Added bonus: you can get there via streetcar. Streetcars in New Orleans are a top experience in themselves, as they wind through the storied streets.
If you are en route back to the cruise terminal, you can continue your tour of New Orleans’ top attractions along the way. Nature-lovers’ favorites line the route, including the Audubon Nature Institute’s Aquarium of the Americas and its sister site, the Insectarium and Butterfly Garden. Both are walking distance from the ship’s dock, and both feature rare and endangered breeds that will intrigue the naturally curious.
Depending on your cruise itinerary, you’ll likely be on a flight home or aboard Crystal Serenity on to the next adventure and we’re willing to bet you’ll bring a piece of New Orleans with you on your journey…even if it’s only a new set of beads.
Crystal Serenity’s “Caribbean Kaleidoscope,” “Flavors of the Caribbean,” and “Bourbon Street to South Beach” voyages call in New Orleans, as well as coveted locales throughout the Caribbean and Mexico. To book now, contact your local travel agent or Crystal Cruises at 888.799.2437.