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MITSUGIRLYS JEWEL OF A CRUISE review and pictorial

We sailed the Jewel out of NOLA and this would be our 5th ship sailed.

I will start with the day of us leaving the house and heading off to the airport. We had some snow during the week and I was keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed that our morning commute to the airport would be a decent one.


Well....that was not the case. It had been snowing non-stop since midnight the night before and the road were terrible. I am terrified of snow. I do not drive in snow. I had a bad accident when I was 18 and totaled a car in a blizzard and have been afraid ever since then of snow. My worst fears were coming true. I tried to stay optimistic and hoped that the freeways would be clear since they've had all night to clean them....WRONG! It was even worse. Traffic was creeping around 25 mph and I was creeping even less than that (yes, I'm the one everyone complains about being on the road in the snow and I should get off of it...and I wished that I could). I was shaking, my heart was pounding, I started to sweat and my mind was racing about missing my plane.


What seemed like FOREVER on that highway (but probably wasn't) was a nightmare to me, but it only lasted about 5 miles before we had to get on the next freeway...and it was CLEAR. Whew. I just might make my flight after all.


Check in was easy as can be. We dropped off our luggage as soon as we got out of the car and headed to the terminal entrance. To our surprise, they told us to "head to this line" and we bypassed everyone standing in the long line??? I'm not sure why, but I wasn't about to strike up a conversation with them about it. When we got to the security, we started to remove our shoes, take out the computer from our bag...then they stopped us. :confused: They told us we were in the VIP line and none of that needed to be done. Um, arguments from me.


We flew with Southwest, as we always do, and boarded, found our seats and we were off. Well...not really. Since the snow was so bad, we were delayed for an hour while we sat on the runway getting deiced. I swear I took pictures of this process, but can't locate them. We were covered in pink foam and Sakari (my daughter) loved how "pretty" the plane was. LOL


We arrived in Missouri to change planes (we arrived about 20 minutes late) and sprinted through the airport to catch the plane that was waiting on about 7 of us coming in. Thanks for the glaring stares we could help that our plane was late. Another delay due to more deicing of the plane and we were finally off.


We arrived in NOLA safely and was happy that we had gained an extra hour (after all of the delays) because of the time change.


We quickly grabbed a cab and headed to our hotel, which cost us $42 for 3 people (which we knew in advance because I do my research).


We decided this time around to stay at The Blake Hotel. We have previously stayed at Drury (which is right next door) and also in the Warehouse District at Springhill Suites. We picked this location because we were meeting up with some cruise friends from our 2010 Epic cruise who were staying in the hotel right beside us.


This turned out to be a very good decision and we loved the location and the hotel.


Now on to the hotel itself...You can find my pictures of the Blake Hotel located HERE

So here we are, all checked in, luggage in room and ready to connect with our 2010 Epic friends who had already been there since the day before. We had not eaten anything all day and we were starved. We met up with them and headed to iHop for "breakfast" in the middle of the day. (They had just woke up as well from a night of "fun" in NOLA).


I ordered the BIGGEST breakfast burrito and hash-browns that I have ever seen in my life. Whew! It hit the spot.


Then we were off to see the sites. It had been cold and rainy that day, but it wasn't raining at the moment so we figured we'd head toward the Riverwalk area to see the sites. We had previously been to NOLA a few times and know what a beautiful city it is (our friends had never been there).


NOLA was all decorated with palm tree lights and Christmas trees everywhere. Now I could get use to see palm trees as a Christmas tree for sure!


It proved to be even prettier at night time.


NOLA is a crazy place with crazy drivers. It always seems to be packed and this weekend was especially "hopping" because it was the weekend with the "Running of the Santas". It was bumper to bumper traffic and I'm so glad we were within walking distance to everything.

We made it down to the river area and by the aquarium


They seem to have some type of construction going on in this area, but you were able to walk around it and still make it down to the river area.

NOLA is a crazy place with crazy drivers. It always seems to be packed and this weekend was especially "hopping" because it was the weekend with the "Running of the Santas". It was bumper to bumper traffic and I'm so glad we were within walking distance to everything.

We made it down to the river area and by the aquarium


The skies were looking a little dreary and it started to sprinkle. Ugh. I had brought my small umbrella with me (because we knew that it called for rain prior to leaving), however, my wonderful hubby decided we didn't need to bring it on our "walking" trip because it wasn't raining at the moment and if it did, we would be fine and just play in the rain. (Making note, don't ever listen to hubby).


There are a lot of neat picture opportunities in NOLA, I just wish we had more time there.


We walked along the river and headed toward this area:


They are doing some work in this area to the building as well. According to the signs, it will be a shopping mall (and a huge one from the looks of it). We made it so far down here before we were stopped and told that we were not allowed in this area (it was headed straight for a ship that was in port). Oops.


By this time, it was now pouring and I'm kicking myself (when I really wanted to kick the hubby instead-oops did I just say that out loud?) for not bringing that umbrella.

They have a beautiful fountain in the riverwalk area that we love to take pictures at. However, I'm not sure if they just don't have it working during the winter months or if it was being worked on. It was a disappointment.

                                                                                                                       More picture opportunities IN THE RAIN:


We were headed back toward Harrahs Casino because our friends had found they had a Christmas "thing" called Miracle on Fulton Street in front of it. We had looked it up online and it looked like an awesome time and we didn't want to miss it.


According to their website, they had the following:


Take photos with Santa, see the Reindeer, get crafty in Santa’s Workshop and kiss at Mistletoe Row. Snow falls on Fulton Street every hour on the hour beginning at 5PM daily. Take a picture with Santa in front of the tremendous 30-ft tree Friday & Saturdays from 6-10PM. Check out Santa's reindeer with your own eyes! Merry make on Mistletoe Row, a new addition to Miracle on Fulton! Mistletoe Row features a festive holiday atmosphere for adults with festive cocktails, a la carte menu items, and fun photo ops. Kids of all ages can make toys like the elves, decorate cookies, and more at Santa's Workshop, presented by Michaels Stores.

Sounds like a wonderful experience and something great to do to end the night right?


I even looked up pictures of this place and we figured it would be a great place to head to, especially since it was raining. I found pictures onto and the place looked beautiful. It did show a cover over top of everything. It would be a great place to seek shelter during the cold raining weather and still be able to enjoy ourselves.

Well here we are....and this is what we got:


Does this look like anything in the pictures they advertise? Because maybe I need my eyes checked. Where was the cover? Where is the changing lights? Where are all of the lined Christmas trees all lit up? Where is Santa? Where are all of the activities? Where are all of the reindeer? Well obviously they all went to seek shelter from the rain as well. They were the smart ones I guess. Meanwhile, we were the idiots out in the rain getting soaking wet.


We did find Mistletoe Row, but I really didn't see any "picture opportunities" as they described:


From the looks of the website and pictures we found online, it seemed to be a pretty long area. However, it wasn't big at all. Here's the Christmas tree that Santa was supposed to be there for pictures and was MIA.


At least there were a few picture opportunities for me...being the picture freak that I am. The only negative was there we were, standing in the pouring rain:


Just so you know, if you have to use the restroom, there are none to be found. We ask every employee we could find and everyone had the same reply..."You have to go into a bar and purchase a drink to use the restroom." UGH!


We decided since the rainy day Miracle on Fulton street was a bust, we would head back toward the hotel to use the restroom since was only a few blocks away.


On the way, we stopped at the corner of a street and found it to be blocked off with a lot of police officers with flashing lights. We knew exactly what was about to happen....Running of the Santa's.


Here's a video of the running Santas, elves, and whatever else people came up with for Christmas.

We decided to head back to our room since it was only a couple of blocks from here (since they forbid you to potty anywhere in the city) and get into some warm, dry clothes.


Along the way we came across this really neat place with waterfalls:


More Christmas decorations in the hotels along the way. This was next door to our hotel:


We caught up with some people on the internet from our roll call and decided to try to attempt to make plans to gather for sail away the following day.


I came out several times that night to see if the rain had stopped so that we could adventure out with friends again and see more of the city, but it continued to rain and then it got a lot colder as well. So, we decided to head to bed so that we would be bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning so that we could meet our beautiful Jewel.

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