Thought I would post a follow up to this thread since we have now returned from our Triumph cruise.
I find that my strategy of arriving at 11:00 to board now needs to be adjusted to 10:30... It was a very nice painless boarding procedure. It would have been a little longer, but there is an older gentleman who works in the cruise terminal and ever since our first cruise out of New Orleans when the kids were 2 and 4 (they are now 7 and 10) this man singles us out and finds ways to expedite our boarding. This time he opened an empty que where they set up our onboard account and gave us an early boarding number. But every time we cruise from NOLA he always finds a way to get us through in the quickest way possible and he is so very nice. I don't know why he does these things for us... I thought perhaps he was mesmerized by my girlish beauty, but then again it could be because he is trying to avoid having a couple of whiny fussy kids milling around the cruise terminal ruining everyone else's vacation
Regarding disembarcation, before we went to Europe about a year and a half ago, I invested in some nice hardsided spinner luggage. It has made travel so much easier. It has four wheels on the bottom and it is very easy to simply push or pull it along. I can handle two very large suitcases, and the kids can each handle one. So self assist has become our favorite way of getting off the ship. We awoke at 6:00 went down to the buffet and enjoyed a nice breakfast. (one thing about the Triumph is that on port days you had better get down to the buffet early because if you wait until they announce the arrival of the ship in port, it is complete and total pandemonium, the crew have trouble keeping plates and silverware and many food items stocked) at around 7:00 I saw people starting to leave the ship (self assist had not yet been announced) so the kids and I each grabbed a suitcase and made our way to the AFT elevators and went deck 3 where we got in line and within a couple of minutes were in the cruise terminal where we stood in line just long enough for me to complete our Customs Declaration Form (I would have filled it out in advance but our room steward didn't leave one for us in the room) so I grabbed one on our way off the ship. We answered a couple of questions posed to us by the Customs Officer and we were cleared. By 7:30 I was at the Hampton Inn in my Husband's hotel room laying on the bed and as we compared notes on how we spent our week, him in New Orleans, me and the kids on the cruise.
In my opinion, self assist disembarcation is a wonderful thing if you are able to handle your own luggage. But I don't know if I would attempt it without the spinner suitcases. I really am not opposed to sitting around and relaxing onboard as long as possible, I just hate standing around waiting in lines and being herded like cattle. I also don't want to delay my cabin stewards from being able to prepare the cabin for the next guests (I really have no idea how they get so many cabins done in the short period time they have to turn things around) The sea of people who stampede the buffet make it a less than relaxing environment to spend time waiting for them to call your level or color etc... It also felt good for us to be on the road on our way home by 9 or 10 and to pull in our driveway by midnight and sleep in our own bed that night.
So I have to give Carnival 2 thumbs up on a great self assist experience in New Orleans.