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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.
- #2Carnival Cruise Line#2 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 1,150 to serve the nearly 3,000 passengers, offering a higher level of personalization than larger ships within the fleet.
- #2Norwegian Cruise Line#2 in Best Cruises from New Orleans (tie)
Introduced in 2014, the 3,963-passenger, 1,646-crew member Norwegian Getaway was recently renovated in 2019 to add a full-service Starbucks, a new live music venue and more. The ship further distinguishes itself from competitors with its quarter-mile-long "Waterfront" area that's lined with shops, bars and restaurants.
Getaway 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.
- #2Royal Caribbean International#2 in Best Cruises from New Orleans (tie)
Most recently refurbished in 2016, Majesty of the Seas is one of the smaller ships within the fleet, welcoming up to 2,767 guests and 912 crew members. Although it lacks some of the big-ship amenities of larger Royal Caribbean vessels, passengers can still enjoy a rock climbing wall, a basketball court and an expanded casino, plus four bars and lounges. Guests can also choose from six dining venues, including Johnny Rockets for an extra fee.
Due to the ship's relatively compact size, it offers fewer stateroom categories than others in the fleet. Passengers can choose from Interior, Ocean View and Suite cabins, all of which come outfitted with flat-screen TVs and minibars. Overall, travelers were complimentary of the staff, noting that the crew members were attentive and friendly.
- #5Carnival Cruise Line#5 in Best Cruises from New Orleans (tie)
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. Cruisers will have a blast on the ship's 214-foot-long waterslide, and children will love Seuss at Sea.
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 (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.
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.
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