Disembarkation was a bit of a mess the final morning. We got to our waiting point (the tropical theater) and about halfway through calling the numbers they decided to just send everyone. This seemed a bit counterintuitive, since there was still a large crowd of people waiting to get off the ship. So instead of waiting in seats, we stood on a pretty lengthy line of people all exiting at the same time.
Once we finally got off the ship things went very smoothly. We picked up our bags and were through customs in less than five minutes. Having reserved a shuttle back to the airport the day we arrived, we simply walked to the line of airport shuttles and were able to get right on.
When we got to the airport we had to go through some of the longest check-in and security lines I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t a big deal, as it was only about 10:00 and our flight wasn’t due to leave until 2:00, but it took us almost an hour and a half to get through security—not the most fun way to end your vacation.
Having stupidly skipped breakfast, I was feeling faint with hunger by the time we got to our gate. I was on the brink of eating my own fucking arm off. Kathleen still says it was the most upset she’s ever seen me. Luckily, even the airport food in New Orleans is excellent, and we were able to dine on gumbo and shrimp po’boys while we waited for our flight.
We boarded our flight at about 1:30 and made it as far as the runway before—wait for it—a mechanical problem! Now, I don’t like to fly, so the thought of flying after a mechanical problem had been discovered did not fill me with a warm fuzzy feeling.
We returned to the gate and waited for maintenance for what seemed like hours. Oh right—it was hours. We eventually were forced to head back to the gate, where we were required to stand in line while only one gate agent tried to sort out everyone’s missed connections.
We eventually found out that there was no way to get to Pittsburgh that night, so we’d be overnighting in New Orleans and leaving the following morning. Unfortunately, they don’t put you up in a hotel near the French Quarter. Instead, we ended up in a generic airport hotel. They also did not give us a food voucher for dinner, which used to be common. Now, unless your flight was one that offered meal service, you’re on your own for dinner and breakfast—at least on U.S. Air/American.
By the time we got to our hotel at around 6:00 we were ravenous, having not eaten anything since lunch at 11:30 that morning. While we were getting our hotel vouchers back at the airport, one of the gate agents told us there was an excellent Mexican restaurant near our hotel. We looked it up on Yelp and it looked great, so off we went.
Unfortunately, according to the person behind the desk at the hotel, it was not possible to walk to that restaurant. When we went outside we found out why: it was on the complete opposite side of a very large, eight-lane highway. There was a pizza shop right next to the hotel, but—really wanting Mexican food—we decided to take our lives into our own hands and cross the very busy highway. We stood on the smallest median strip known to man, but we did eventually make it across, proving that guy back at the hotel quite wrong. The food was great—though I’m not sure it was worth risking our lives over.
After another death-defying highway crossing, we stopped in a New Orleans specialty: the frozen daiquiri bar. We picked up a drink that—for only $5.50—got me more drunk than anything I’d had on the trip thus far. We finished our drinks back in our room and promptly fell asleep.
Luckily, our rescheduled flight left at 9:30, so we didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn. We skipped the overly-expensive hotel breakfast (no free breakfast at these airport hotels) and headed right back to the airport.
We breakfasted at the same place where we ate lunch the previous day, hoping the feeling of déjà vu would not continue once we boarded our flight.
Things went much more smoothly this time though and we were back in Pittsburgh—cold, cloudy Pittsburgh—by about 4:00 that afternoon. We arrived home and found our house intact and our dog alive—way to go, house-sitter. We unpacked in record time and, while it definitely was nice to be home, we reluctantly came to grips with the fact that—sigh—vacation was over.
This brings us to the end of our New Orleans adventure. Thanks for coming along with us on this excellent vacation. Want to read more? Head on over to our Travel Page to find more stories from our many journeys.