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- #1Disney Cruise Line#1 in Best Cruises from New Orleans
The 2,713-passenger Disney Wonder first debuted in 1999 and was updated in fall 2016, rolling out new family-oriented amenities and entertainment offerings like meet and greets with Disney characters and Frozen, A Musical Spectacular.
The ship offers plenty of onboard activities, with 10 designated family areas, six youth clubs and seven adults-only spaces. While younger passengers play at age-appropriate clubs, grown-ups can relax at the adults-only Quiet Cove Pool. Infants and toddlers in swim diapers are limited to specified kids' wet play and splash areas (this is a requirement by the United States Public Health Service, not a Disney-specific rule).
In terms of dining, Disney Wonder offers six options, including one adults-only specialty restaurant. At night, adults can unwind and enjoy After Hours, a section of the ship that features three nightclubs and lounges.
Like the majority of the ship, staterooms are designed with families in mind. Interior staterooms can accommodate up to four passengers, while larger Suites can sleep up to seven. All cabins come equipped with flat-screen TVs, seating areas and classic Disney designs. Recent cruisers noted the expensive cost of a trip on the Disney Wonder, but most felt the quality of service was top-notch.
In 2018-19, Disney Wonder departs from a range of ports, including Galveston, Texas, Port Canaveral (Orlando), Florida, Canada and California. It sails to destinations in Alaska, the Caribbean, the Panama Canal and more.
- #2Crystal Cruises#2 in Best Cruises from New Orleans
On the heels of a dramatic 2017 redesign, Crystal Symphony (first launched in 1995) boasts new open seating and dining areas, new Penthouses and Penthouse Suites, high-tech features and reimagined public spaces. The one thing that hasn't changed is the exceptional customer service Crystal is known for; recent travelers noted the crew was warm, attentive and extremely professional.
The ship offers a variety of activities including fitness programs, musical performances and treatments at the feng shui-inspired spa. All accommodations offer ocean views, flat-screen TVs, mini fridges and bathtubs. Those who choose Penthouse category rooms receive additional privileges, like personal butler service.
New dining options include the Waterside dining room, modern Chinese-inspired fare at Silk Kitchen and Bar and a Marketplace and Churrascaria serving casual buffet breakfast and lunch options by day and Brazilian-style delicacies by night.
For 2018-19, Crystal Symphony cruises to destinations across the world, including ports in the Caribbean, New England and Canada, South America and the Far East. Its departure ports include Fort Lauderdale, Florida, New York, New Orleans and more.
- #3Royal Caribbean International#3 in Best Cruises from New Orleans
Most recently updated in 2013, the 2,514-passenger Vision of the Seas offers Royal Caribbean staples like diverse dining venues and nonstop entertainment. Past cruisers especially praise the ship's appealing decor and the Solarium, an adults-only pool and lounge area.
In terms of food, travelers can choose from the main dining room, the buffet and several casual eateries. Cruisers recommend springing for a meal at the ship's specialty restaurants, which range from the Chop's Grille steakhouse to the Izumi Asian venue. Food in the main dining room received mixed reviews, but travelers praised the service around the ship.
When it comes to daytime activities, guests can try rock climbing, swim in the pools (which can become crowded) or play games in the casino. There are also sushi- and cupcake-making classes available.
In terms of lodging, Vision of the Seas touts four staterooms categories: Interior, Ocean View, Balcony and Suite. Interior cabins range from 136 to 256 square feet, while Suites on the opposite end of the spectrum range from 243 to 1,087 square feet. Opt for a balcony-equipped Suite and you'll enjoy cushier extras like whirlpool bathtubs. All cabins include amenities like flat-screen TVs and vanity areas.
In 2018-19, Vision of the Seas departs from Fort Lauderdale, Galveston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Puerto Rico and Barcelona. It features itineraries in the Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Panama Canal and Europe.
- #4Carnival Cruise Line#4 in Best Cruises from New Orleans
The 2,980-passenger Carnival Valor features a mix of activities and amenities geared toward a variety of traveler types and age groups. Introduced in 2004 and most recently renovated in 2016, the ship offers all the “Fun Ship 2.0” features, including the BlueIguana Tequila Bar and the Cherry on Top candy shop. Plus, the ship houses a nightclub, a comedy club, the Alchemy Bar and more.
While the ship can hardly be considered small, Carnival Valor boasts an approximate 1-to-3 staff-to-guest ratio, and past cruisers compliment the service they received. As far as meals are concerned, the ship offers two main dining rooms, BlueIguana Cantina, Guy's Burger Joint, Rosie's Restaurant, a steakhouse and more.
In terms of lodging, cruisers can choose from Interior, Ocean View and Balcony cabins, as well as Suites. Higher category staterooms offer more space and amenities, such as VIP check-in and balconies with Jacuzzi tubs. Recent cruisers report the rooms were generally clean.
- #5Norwegian Cruise Line#5 in Best Cruises from New Orleans
Introduced in 2014, the 3,963-passenger, 1,646-crew member Norwegian Getaway distinguishes itself from competitors with its quarter-mile-long "Waterfront" area that's lined with shops, bars and restaurants. The ship also offers unique entertainment offerings, including magic shows.
The ship appeals to younger crowds thanks to a multistory water park and age-specific kids and teens clubs. Still, it appeals to couples as well with its romantic gourmet dining venues, such as the Ocean Blue specialty restaurant, as well as Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at Sea.
When it comes to lodging, solo travelers can take advantage of Studio cabins, while groups can opt for Inside, Oceanview, Balcony and Suite category cabins. If you’re looking for even more luxury, splurge on a cabin in The Haven, which offers access to a private sun deck and 24-hour butler service.
- #6Carnival Cruise Line#6 in Best Cruises from New Orleans (tie)
Carnival Glory first set sail in 2003 and was outfitted with “Fun Ship 2.0” amenities, including new dining venues and bars, in 2012. In 2017, it received routine cosmetic enhancements like new carpeting and tile, as well as the Carnival WaterWorks water park.
Those seeking entertainment will find Playlist Production musicals (though recent cruisers lament the lack of a live band), as well as family-friendly Hasbro, The Game Show and comedy acts at the Punchliner Comedy Club.
When it comes to food, the ship is equipped with two main dining rooms, a specialty steakhouse (for an extra fee) and the Lido Deck, which features an extensive buffet, Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina. Apart from versatile dining venues, Carnival Glory also offers activities like mini-golf, waterslides and video arcades. Parents can sip cocktails at eight bars, while kids ages 2 to 17 play in age-appropriate youth clubs.
In terms of lodging, the ship offers a variety of options that range from smaller Interior and Ocean View cabins to Balcony and Suite category rooms – all of which include flat-screen TVs, terry cloth robes and 24-hour room service. Plus, the ship maintains a crew of 1,180 to serve the nearly 3,000 passengers, offering a higher level of personalization than larger ships within the fleet.
- #6Carnival Cruise Line#6 in Best Cruises from New Orleans (tie)
Carnival Dream features the Punchliner Comedy Club, nightly stage shows, age-appropriate kids clubs (for ages 2 to 17) and an onboard water park – all hallmarks of the line's "Fun Ships." Other family-friendly entertainment includes movies at the Seaside Theatre and the Seuss at Sea program.
Those more interested in relaxing can enjoy the Cloud 9 Spa and the adults-only Serenity Retreat. In terms of lodging, cruisers can stay in budget-friendly Interior staterooms (185 square feet) or splurge for more room (up to an extra 245 square feet) with an Ocean View or Balcony stateroom or Suite. All cabins are appointed with flat-screen TVs and 24-hour room service.
The ship added quite a few dining options in its most recent revamp in 2017, including Guy's Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina and Bonsai Sushi. Overall, the food quality on the ship gets mixed reviews. Carnival Dream carries 3,646 passengers and offers a nearly 4-to-1 guest-to-crew ratio, so public areas may be crowded and service can slow at peak times. Recent travelers also warned against choosing a room directly above any of the restaurants or bars, as noise travels easily through the walls.
- #6Norwegian Cruise Line#6 in Best Cruises from New Orleans (tie)
Built in 2013 and refurbished in 2018, the 3,963-passenger Norwegian Breakaway pleases passengers with a lively atmosphere and family-friendly amenities.
Offerings include two Aqua Parks (one of which is especially for children), a three-level Sports Complex with a ropes course, and specialized kids and teens clubs. In addition to a smattering of daytime activities, the ship contains more than 25 dining options, including three new seafood venues. Other options include three main dining rooms, a noodle bar and a popular steakhouse. Entertainment ranges from comedy acts to rock 'n' roll shows.
As far as cabins go, categories range from small Studio accommodations for solo travelers to Oceanview, Balcony and Mini-Suite cabins, as well as Spa designated rooms with extra perks. For even more luxury, guests can spring for a Haven category cabin, which offers more space, a private balcony and access to private dining and lounge areas. Even with the ship's massive size, the 1,657 crew members on board ensure that service is still a priority.
- #9Carnival Cruise Line#9 in Best Cruises from New Orleans
Built in 1999 and last renovated in 2016, the 2,754-passenger Carnival Triumph is outfitted with many "Fun Ship 2.0" features, like upgraded dining venues, numerous bars and pool deck parties.
Passengers have a variety of dining options to choose from, including the popular Guy’s Burger Joint and the BlueIguana Cantina, as well as the specialty Seafood Shack for an extra fee. Entertainment options include the Punchliner Comedy Club, Playlist Productions musicals, poolside movies and more. While grown-ups play cards at the casino, kids can play games at the video arcade, splash around the pool or make new friends at the children's clubs.
When it comes to lodging, passengers can choose from Interior, Ocean View, Balcony and Suite category rooms. All cabins feature flat-screen TVs and 24-hour room service.
Between November 2018 and February 2019, Carnival Triumph departs from New Orleans for sailings in the Caribbean. On March 1, 2019, Triumph will be pulled out of service to undergo a major two-month transformation. It will return at the end of April as the new Carnival Sunrise.
Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship’s Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 22 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship’s Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by Cruiseline.com.