Okay, we're back from our river barge New Year's trip to NOLA..... it was great and I had a wonderful experience. When we boarded the barge on Sunday I noticed that NCL Spirit was docked directly in front of us. I figured their sailaway would be about 5:00 p.m., so when we got back from our afternoon excursion I took my camera up on the top deck, got a hot drink from the bar, and settled down on a chaise to await events.
Sure enough, about 5:20 the Spirit began easing away from the dock, pivoted on her beautiful stern and headed downriver for the Gulf! It was gorgeous! The moment when she was totally across the river, exactly parallel to the bridge behind her was breathtaking. It was my first time to watch a sailaway from such a close yet separate perspective.
We had a great time being with our son and DIL and daughter and SIL......watching the fireworks from the middle of the river with other boats all around us, everyone blowing their horns and steam whistles.....goosebump time.
Venice, it's really comparing apples and oranges........ oceans and rivers are very different as are cruise ships and river barges. My DH prefers the river barge and I prefer the cruise ship, but both are fun.
The main reason DH prefers the barge is that the bridge is open to passengers pretty much 24/7...... he can go up and visit with the captains (at least 2 on board at all times) and watch the instuments,etc. at any time. The other main reason is no "motion of the ocean"...... he is prone to motion sickness.
I prefer the more luxurious surroundings and constant service of a cruise ship. The barge has only one "sit-down" meal per day-dinner- the others are buffet style. There are NO occasions for even church clothes...... it is very informal. Cabins are small, but all have combo tub/shower. Also, all excursions are included in the price.
There is no room service, but there is a coffee-maker in the room and 24 hr. self-serve coffee and cold drink stations plus " raid the fridge" in the galley....... sandwiches, yogurt, milk, and fruit.
The excursions are mostly educational and entertainment is mostly local talent that comes on board for a day or two. Usually the age group is 50+, but our recent NOLA New Year's had several couples in their 20's and 30's. There are 2 bars, but hours are much shorter than on a cruise..... liquor is an extra charge but cheaper than a cruise ship.