Just Back: New Orleans

America is full of famous, or infamous, cities that encourage travelers to let loose, but none quite like New Orleans. On a Kerouac-inspired journey last month, we found ourselves in the Big Easy, and we can say with certainty that the city’s French motto, “laissez les bons temps rouler,” which translates to “let the good times roll,” is nothing short of dead on.

If you have clients heading to the Crescent City, we recommend booking the New Orleans Marriott. The 1,329-room hotel sits on Canal Street, just a few blocks from the city’s vibrant and historic French Quarter. Travel Agent stayed in connecting rooms 728 and 730, making it a spacious one-bedroom suite overlooking the river. Our room was equipped with a small kitchen, dining area, two flat screen televisions and two bathrooms. All rooms include internet access, video games and players for rent, in-room coffee or tea, and an iron/ironing board.

The hotel is within walking distance to some of New Orleans’ most acclaimed restaurants, such as Café du Monde, Acme Oyster House, Herbsaint and Arnaud’s, but if you have time, we suggest checking out the hotel’s restaurant, 5 Fifty 5. The restaurant opened in 2007 and serves up a medley of New Orleans, Cajun, French and Creole cooking. Tip: The lobster mac-n-cheese is heavenly.

Travel agents can reach out to Joan Esneault, director of sales and marketing with questions. ([email protected]; 504-553-5524)

When it’s time to hit the town, newcomers to New Orleans will of course want to hit Bourbon Street, but we suggest making this only a small part of the itinerary. Running straight through the French Quarter, Bourbon Street has become less authentic and more akin to Times Square, flanked with all sorts of New Orleans’ memorabilia shops, frat boy-packed bars and other houses of temptation. Still, it is a colorful part of New Orleans culture that should be briefly explored.

After your fill of Hand Grenades (a lethal concoction of grain alcohol and sugar), we suggest moving to calmer, trendier Frenchman Street, for some true New Orleans-style jazz and a local crowd.

Sports fans in town will want to check out the Louisiana Superdome, which recently completed an $85 million renovation, part of a $336 million overhaul taking place since 2006. Key enhancements include an expansion of the Plaza Level concourse, 135 additional women’s restrooms, additional concession points on the Plaza Level, 3,100 additional Plaza Level seats, 186 digital concourse monitors and two new premium bunker club lounges.

New Orleans will play host to the second edition of Prospect.2 New Orleans, an international contemporary art biennial. The event will welcome 26 local, national and international artists from October 22, 2011 through January 29, 2012.

And just to make sure New Orleans didn’t leave anyone out of the fun, cruisers will be delighted to know that as of November 12, Royal Caribbean International’s Voyager of the Seas will call the Big Easy its homeport