New Orleans Day 2: A Christmas Eve Cruise

Us at the Fulton Street Christmas Celebration in New Orleans, LA
Starting to feel the Christmas spirit.

Being a creature of habit, I of course wanted more beignets for breakfast on Christmas Eve. It turned out that pretty much everyone in New Orleans had the same idea, so we took one look at the line and decided to change course.

We took a short walk over to Johnny’s Po’boys, which is reputed to be one of the best po’boy shops in town. We shared a breakfast po’boy which was good, but had nothing on the lunch po’boys we’d grab there later in the trip.

For the last few days, Kathleen had been dealing with steadily-worsening congestion in her nose and ears. She felt bad enough the morning of Christmas Eve that, following breakfast, we took an Uber to the nearest open urgent care to get checked out by a doctor. Luckily, we were one of the first in to the urgent care that morning, so we were in and out in about 20 minutes. Kathleen was dealing with a pretty severe case of congestion, along with a possible sinus infection, so the doc put her on antibiotics, along with some powerful decongestants. We Ubered back to the Quarter and stopped at a CVS to pick up her meds.

Neither of us are strangers to getting sick while on vacation, so Kathleen took her meds and powered through, not letting her clogged nose and ears prevent her from having a good time. We worked our way over to the French Market to stock up on the New Orleans essentials we wanted to bring home. We grabbed some Café du Monde beignet mix and coffee, and some Pat O’s Hurricane Mix. Kathleen also grabbed some of the po’boy sauce she loves from the Pepper Palace. All of this can be ordered online, which is great when you need that New Orleans fix, but we decided to stock up and save the cost of shipping.

Our next stop was something I’d been looking forward to ever since we started planning this trip: a return to the Acme Oyster House. Our visit to Acme on our last journey to New Orleans has lived in my memory as one of the single most delicious moments of my life, and I was very eager to repeat the experience.

In our quest to find the best char-grilled oysters in town, we of course started with a dozen of Acme’s finest. Of all the oysters we tried on this trip, I still feel like Acme’s are the best. We also had gumbo, which was solid, and fries covered in debris gravy and cheese (think Cajun poutine, which was out-of-this-freaking-world good.

Having been on the go for most of the day, we decided to walk back to the hotel for a short rest before our evening activities.

A view of the Celebration on Fulton Street in New Orleans, LA
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, 80 plus degree temps notwithstanding.

Since we’d been putting some hard mileage on our feet, we decided to take an Uber to check out the Miracle on Fulton, which was supposed to be a street near the casino shutdown and decorated for Christmas We had read that there was supposed to be fake snow and everything, but it must have been too hot, even for the fake stuff. Apart from some Christmas lights and some piped in Christmas music, there was little to see or do.

After a quick look around, we walked back toward the Quarter and our activity for the evening: a Christmas Eve Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez.

This turned out to be our least favorite activity in New Orleans. The cruise was billed as a two hour trip down the Mississippi, with live jazz and a buffet dinner. The dinner was just okay—we were both disappointed that the buffet contained no Cajun or Creole dishes, despite being in New Orleans. We did have a very nice time chatting with the couple seated next to us, mostly comparing notes on where to go and what to eat while in town.

The bigger problem, though, was the cruise itself only lasted about half the time they said it would. We left at 7:30, and we were back along the pier at 8:30, the buffet shut down and the bar closed. They offered no explanation as to why we were back so soon. We asked one of the wait staff and he guessed it was because of the heavy fog on the Mississippi. That would explain why the cruise was shortened, but they could have let us stay on the boat for the rest of the allotted time, enjoying the buffet and music. Instead, they seemed in a rush to get everyone off, long before the cruise was supposed to end.

This must be at least somewhat common, because the person in the ticket office made a point (and made us sign an acknowledgment) that they do not give refunds. We spent good money for this experience, and we were less than impressed, to put it mildly. I wouldn’t recommend giving Gray Line any of your hard-earned money, for a Steamboat cruise or one of their tours, both of which were underwhelming at best.

Inside the St. Louis Cathedral on Christmas Eve.
A brief look inside St. Louis Cathedral prior to Midnight Mass.

We took another short rest in our hotel before taking a late-night walk to Jackson Square. We took a peek inside St. Louis Cathedral prior to Midnight Mass, and we enjoyed the quiet organ music as people made their way into the church.

Tired after a long day, we walked back to our hotel and awaited the coming of Santa, or at least the ghost of a Confederate general.

Up next in New Orleans Day 3: a Christmas brunch for the ages!


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