Carnival: 5 Day Western Caribbean
This is the most basic New Orleans cruise itinerary, sailing to Mexico's Yucutan Peninsula, stopping in Cozumel and Progreso, then returning to New Orleans. The interior cabins are quite affordable, and a good option for those not prone to seasickness. Shore excursions are available in each port of call (including New Orleans) for an additional fee of around $70 to $160 for most activities. If you enjoy outdoor recreation, the Mangrove Kayak Adventure (Progreso), Adventure Park, Zip Line & Snorkel Combo (Cozumel), Scuba Diving (Cozumel) and Family, Friends and Dolphins (Cozumel) are all good options. If you have your heart set on a particular excursion, reserve it when you book your cruise to avoid disappointment on board.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Norwegian Cruise Line: 7-Day Exotic Western Caribbean
This Winter and Spring cruise covers some of the same ground as its less-ambitious counterparts, but includes stops in Guatemala and Belize, in addition to a stop in Cozumel before heading back to the United States. You'll be visiting the heartland of the ancient Mayan world, so this is a great trip for history buffs interested in visiting ruins. For non-historical types, optional shore excursions include Cave Tubing and a Rainforest Trek (Belize), snorkeling along a barrier reef (Belize), swimming at a jungle waterfall (Guatemala) and sailing and snorkeling on a catamaran (Costa Maya, Mexico). Fares for 2010 start at around $400 to $500 per person for an inside cabin, though prices may be higher depending on the sailing date.
Norwegian Cruise Line
American Canadian Caribbean Line: U.S. Historic Rivers Leg 1
If ocean cruising and tropical beaches aren't your style, try this Spring cruise up some of the United States' most important rivers. This cruise can be combined with two further segments, taking you all the way to Chicago, or you can just go from New Orleans to Knoxville, Tennessee. After traveling from New Orleans down the Mississippi River, you'll set out along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, a sheltered shipping lane along the Gulf Coast. At Mobile, Alabama, you'll head inland up the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. On the way to Knoxville, you'll stop off at several historic sites, including the Civil War battlefield at Shiloh. At the end of the cruise, you'll disembark at Knoxville, a great place to start out on a land-based trip to Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This cruise offers a small-ship environment: none of the company's ships carries more than 100 passengers. The pace of activities is less frenetic than on larger cruises, and the ships are designed to have minimal environmental impact on the waterways they cruise.
American Canadian Caribbean Line