Featuring Karen Revell and Laura Stone as they reminisce on their Lower Mississippi River cruise aboard American Duchess in late 2019.
We know there’s nothing quite like personal experience. It’s the little things. The smells, the music, the colours, the people you meet, the food you taste and the joys you discover that all add up to your opinion on a port of call – right?
In November 2019, before the world went mad, our special Key Partnership Managers, Karen Revell and Laura Stone, took a trip on the gorgeous paddlewheeler, American Duchess. We’ve asked them to take a deep dive into different ports of call for us in this series. Today’s episode features New Orleans, Louisiana.
Laura says, “This is one of those really incredibly large, but walk-able cities, that can just blow you away. Each corner you turn around you will experience something different. For example, Where the intercontinental is, you will find it to be quiet, a few cafes and restaurants, local apartments and businesses. Walk a block down and you are met with Canel St- the main shopping strip in New Orleans, which is brimming with people. Cross the main street and you are in Bourbon Street- with amazing restaurants, pubs and bars with Jazz filling the streets. At night no cars are allows down Bourbon Street so you are left to enjoy the street performers and dance the night away in the street. The energy of this city is extremely contagious and each district you travel into will give you a completely different experience- it is like 7 cities in one!”
Karen says, “The hop on hop off sightseeing tour was really great. A fantastic way to see the highlights of New Orleans. We did the first lap and stayed onboard to have a good look around and then decided where we wanted to get off and look at. Stops offered were Magazine Street, the Garden District and cemetery, the French Market, Mardi Gras World, the arts district, the National WWII museum, Jackson Square and Canal Street. At lunchtime we walked around Jackson Square and then went and had lunch in the French Quarter. On the circuit we also saw the Hard Rock Cafe where there had been a fire only a month or two earlier – it was very sad as they mentioned it on the commentary in the bus advising that nothing had been done because there was still bodies inside as the building was not safe for anyone to go into. We also went through the area where hurricane Katrina had hit the town many years ago. To see where the water had come to was quite incredible and very moving. 80% of New Orleans ended up being flooded – with some parts being under 4.6M of water.
We asked Laura for her highlight of the day. “In a city like this I would have to say the people and the place itself was just the best experience. I really loved the French Quarter and think this is a must for any visitor. It has everything on offer, from amazing street art, a market with local products, beautiful boutiques to explore… and then you have the AMAZING People!!! You are met with a smile in every direction, and we stopped at a cute little café and had a creole feast, listening to a band playing Jazz music, and talking to the locals. It felt like a really authentic experience.” said Laura.
Laura was fascinated to learn how the melting pot of French, African and American cultures come to create a city like this. She said, “I really found that the history of the cultures in this region was very fascinating. It truly is a melting pot of the French, African, and American cultures, and you can see this in everything they do. I loved hearing how jazz was created. New Orleans was founded by the French, but became part of the US in 1803. With French colonization and under Spanish rule, the slaves were “permitted” to gather on Sundays in Congo Square. This led to a mix of rhythmic African Music, Chants from Native Americans and the structure of French and Spanish songs which evolved in to a new type of music!”
Laura’s final word on New Orleans was “This is a great city for an introduction to the South. It is very lively and fast paced and may be overwhelming to some, but I think for those that love a truly immersive experience when traveling, this is a city not to be missed. It has everything you need- Cuisine, Music, Culture, people, architecture, history, shopping, you name it… this is the place to experience it.”