Rose: We have parked at New Orleans three times and have always parked right at the ship. But we always arrive between 10:30 and 11:00 to make sure we get the lot right at the ship. There is plenty of parking on the other side of the convention center...so don't worry about not having a place to park...the lot next to the ship is just the most convenient and worth getting there early to us. Since they are really packing them into this lot, you may have to wait until the lot is cleared from the previous cruise..but if that happens, we just go park down the street until the time they say they still start letting us in. Be sure to stay in the right lane, even if the line is long...because police will not let people in the left lane turn into the parking lot.
We sailed from the NO dock when the ship was the Inspiration (smaller ship). There was fenced parking adjacent to the pier for about $7 per day. We arrived around 3:30 and had no trouble getting a spot. The car was safe when we returned.
Our only trouble was finding the pier. The map I downloaded before we left was awful. Also, the pier is behind a railroad track, so you don't see the pier if a train is going by. It took us forever to find the ship. And the people we stopped to ask directions didn't know where the Carnival dock was located. So get a GOOD map before you go then have a ball!
Linda E: I know what you mean. New Orleans is known for being weird, but whoever designed their pier spent way to much time at Pat O'Briens! The parking has gone up to $10.00 a day and I don't know about waiting until 3:30pm for two reasons: The Conquest holds so many more people and many more are driving due to 9/11. Last week, we had people on from Chicago that had driven. You are so right about not being able to find that port, too. Thankfully, hubby grew up on the Ms Gulf Coast and knows NO from his young and restless youth. We always take the Canal exit off of I-10 (but that is a small problem because you don't turn right at the end of the ramp...you have to go straight for a short block before you hit Canal). Anyway, at the end of Canal (Harrah's Casino) you do this strange backward "s" move to get to the straightway. THEN you have to drive all the way to the end of it to get around the Convention Center. And, as you know, the whole time you can't see the pier, you can't see the ship and it looks like you are in the middle of nowhere....much less a cruise port. Although there is plenty of parking around that area....some is just not as convenient as the lot right next to the ship. The other parking would have been fine....if they had not put that stupid Convention Center in the middle of everything that you have to walk around. Someone obviously did not think ahead!!!