Less than two years post-Katrina, it felt good to be going home to Louisiana again. Our mission was to embark on a cruise. After driving through the sad remains along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and skirting the edge of New Orleans' infamous Lower 9th Ward, we were relieved when the iconic Superdome came into view and we were once again in the New Orleans we knew from years past—long before the hurricane brought terrible flooding and death to sections of the city.
We wondered if the city had recovered enough for tourists to enjoy it as much as we always had. Just as we'd remembered, there's no better place to start a day in New Orleans than at the Cafe du Monde, the original French Market coffee stand since 1862. (You didn't think Starbucks invented the coffee house, did you?) Fortified with chicory-laced cafe au lait and sugary beignets, a walk through the French Quarter is in order. Boutiques, antique shops, and sidewalk cafes line the main streets of the Quarter. Bourbon Street enjoys a raucous reputation for smoky bars, music clubs, and strip joints, yet is also where some of the most elegant restaurants and hotels are located.
The downtown area is where everything is happening. Adjacent to either side of Canal Street are the French Quarter and Warehouse/Arts Districts with accommodations ranging from intimate bed-and-breakfasts to luxury high-rise hotels. With streetcars in service, as well as taxis and buses, getting around is easy.
Find out how to get there, where to stay, and what to see and do when Sailing From New Orleans.