True Disney fans know you don’t say goodbye, rather “see ya real soon.” Sadly, today is disembarkation day. When you are in the first seating for dinner, you also have the early breakfast time on the last morning. We dragged ourselves out of bed, then down to Tiana’s for one final DCL breakfast. We said our last goodbyes to our friends from the past week, then waited in the French Quarter Lounge with our trusty UNO deck for our group to be called to get off the boat.
It was just a tad chaotic once we got off the boat, as it seemed as though suitcases were kind of spread everywhere. They are in color-coded groups, but at the New Orleans cruise terminal, they had multiple areas for each color, and one huge line of people waiting to go back through customs. We hopped in a Lyft, and rode to our hotel for the night. Once again, we chose to stay near, but not in, the French Quarter. We relaxed at the hotel for a bit (yay for being able to check in to the room early), and then walked toward the French Quarter.
There are two places in New Orleans where you can earn a Junior Ranger badge. Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center for the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park. To earn a badge here, there was quite a length booklet for Aly to complete that we also helped her with. At the visitor’s center, we learned all about the people from all over the world who first inhabited the New Orleans region. We learned about their influences on the region, from their music, to their languages, and of course their food. We did spend a while there finishing the booklet, but it was really informative for all of us.
Our next stop, not too far away, was the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. This small building may have the honor of being the smallest location that we have earned a badge yet, but Aly is super into music and knew all about Louis Armstrong, so she had fun completing the booklet about jazz music. They were actually out of badges when we were there, so we are still awaiting the badge in the mail that was promised to us at the end.
We were all hungry and ready for lunch, so we stopped in Cafe Maspero, as I had seen it recommended on some travel pages I follow. Chris had a huge burger, and Aly and I split a grilled cheese and some gumbo. Who knew my girl would love gumbo so much?!?
After lunch, we walked around, and once again were treated to some live music all over (bucket drums, singers, a high school band on the steps near Jackson Square), as we made our way to some local Praline stores for some souvenirs. Traditional pralines are made from brown sugar, butter, cream, and pecans-how could you go wrong? We also got to sample said pralines in each store we went in, which was research, of course, to determine which flavors were the best. We also made a quick pit stop in Cafe Beignet again, for a last order of fresh beignets before our trip ended, and of course, there was live music in the cafe as well! Pralines and a little Mardi Gras flare in hand, we walked back towards the hotel to get ready for our plans later that night.
Not only did we get to be on the first Disney Cruise out of New Orleans, but we were there during Mardi Gras season! One of the main reasons we added on an additional day at the end of the cruise was so that we could see what these infamous parades are all about. We originally thought about going to a suburb of New Orleans to check out Family Gras, thinking it would be better for our little one. But, after talking with some friendly locals in the stores this afternoon, they convinced us to stay in town for the bigger parades. Tonight, there were 3 parades in uptown, very near to our hotel. We stopped at a local grocery store to pick up some supplies for hanging out on a parade route for a few hours (Pringle’s, Snapple, beef jerky), grabbed the extra blanket for the hotel room, and put on our flare.
We walked a few blocks to an area near the bleachers, and claimed our spots behind the guardrail. We got there around 6:30 PM, chatted with some other Coloradans next to us, and finally, around 7:30, the parade started to go by us. The first parade was the Krewe of Oshun, which had a lot of dance groups with them, some marching bands, and they threw out some beads.
But it was NOTHING compared to the next parade, which was the Krewe of Cleopatra. This is an all female group, and the floats were huge and so amazing to see up close. They threw SO MUCH STUFF off those floats. By the end, we were ducking out of the way of the beads. I think Chris and I both have PTSD from getting hit by/dodging various plastic items getting chucked off these floats. Aly was totally in her happy place, jumping up and down yelling “throw me some good stuff!”
We hauled back two huge bags of plastic “goodies”, beads, stuffed animals, bouncy balls, feather boas, and more. Mardi Gras 2020 was a HIT! We all enjoyed our brief, but fun-filled few days in New Orleans. Back home to the cold and snow tomorrow!