We had an excellent time on the Carnival Conquest on its voyage from Galveston, Texas, to Montego Bay, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, Mexico. It was relaxing and there were plenty of fun things to do.
The first section of this review describes each day. The next section gives tips on what to bring, do, or avoid. The final section contains general impressions about cruise vacations.
We are a family of four with a 14 year-old daughter and an 11 year-old son. My wife and I were on one previous cruise.
The Cruise Week We flew in to Houston on Saturday night and stayed at the Doubletree Hotel Houston IAH. I highly recommend this hotel.
We had a town car pick us up at 11:00 am.
We entered the terminal at about 12:20 pm and went through security. This was the only point where they would have screened for alcohol or soft drinks.
The next line was for tickets and ID. We did not need any of the fun pass documents we created on line. The "Fun pass" didn't allow us to by-pass any stage of the check-in.
The next line was to receivethe ship ID/room keys.
The next stop was the boarding photo. The delay for the photo was annoying, but it wasn't the real bottleneck.
We got to our deck at 1:22 pm. The boarding process seemed slow and inefficient.
We dropped our bags in our rooms and went to the Cezanne (buffet) restaurant for lunch. My expectations for the food were fairly low. However, it exceeded my expectations. We had lunch there three of the four sea days.
After lunch we went back to our cabin. I was very impressed with the staterooms. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and walking around the ship.
We had dinner Sunday night at 6:00 in the Monet dining room. It took a while to find our numbered table. The dinner food was above excellent.
Monday and Tuesday were days at sea. On Monday, we had breakfast in the dining room, but this was a mistake (see below). Other days, we ate breakfast in the Cezanne. The breakfast food there was the best!
Both days we stayed at the mid-ship pool. I played some mini golf, etc. with my kids. On Tuesday, I ran 10k on the "jogging track." But I was constantly dodging people.
Monday night, we saw the song-and-dance show, which was mildly entertaining.
Wednesday we arrived in Jamaica. Except for the last day, the ship docked and departed on schedule. We had pre-booked an excursion through Carnival.
I read about a previous reviewer who arrived at Jamaica and booked a room for the day at the Ritz-Carlton. This sounded snobby. If you're going to Jamaica, why get a hotel room for the day at the Ritz? Don't you want to see some of Jamaica? This excursion cost $456 for the four of us so we probably paid more than that reviewer did.
Our tour was excellent. The guide provided commentary and answered our questions during our drive. We had a chance to chat with the tour guide alone later. It was interesting to learn about her country and her way of life there.
The resort was excellent, the food and Red Stripe beer were good.
Re-boarding the ship was always easy. You don't need to clear customs in ports.
They do a security check when you return, but you could probably bring a six-pack of beer, as another reviewer mentioned.
Thursday, we arrived at Grand Cayman. The ship "anchors," but the "tendering" process to get to shore is quick and easy. The dock area of Grand Cayman is open, bustling with tourists and inviting.
We had no plans for Grand Cayman. We took a taxi to seven-mile beach near an open-air restaurant called "The Reef Grill." There were public washrooms and the beach was great. The weather was perfect, the water was turquoise and we had an excellent time. We had lunch at The Reef ($60, including a Cay Brew beer). We got back to the dock and bought some t-shirts, clothes and souvenirs for a total of $86.
That night, we saw the song-and-dance show called "Formidable." My impressions were similar to those of "Point and Click."
Friday, we arrived in Cozumel. We had booked the trip to the Mayan ruins at Tulum. The cost of this tour was $308. The day was long on travel (2+ hours each way by ferry and bus).
The guide was excellent. He gave an interesting talk.
Unfortunately, we only had about 1.5 hours at the site after the presentation (exactly as advertised). We ate the breakfast food we brought in zip-lock baggies from the ship.
The water off Cozumel is rough. On the way back, a window on the boat was smashed wide open (and passengers were injured by flying glass) because the boat's side inflatable bumper flew up in the rough waves.
Saturday was a sea day, which we spent by the pool. I attended the disembarkation presentation, but this was not time well spent.
Sunday morning, we arrived in Galveston around 6:00 am. They wanted us out of our rooms by 8:00. I was not happy about that.
We took our own bags and began to disembark at 8:40 (the other option was to put your luggage out for collection Saturday night). The customs line seemed slow and it took us an hour to get through.
We took a taxi to our rental car, visited the Houston Space Center, had dinner in Kemah and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express near Houston Hobby Airport.
Tips Here's a list of things to consider taking:
Two bottles of champagne -- Carnival wants to gouge you. But they'll allow you two 750ml bottles of liquor per couple. We brought two bottles of champagne. We could have made it four by dividing our party up or checking one of our bags.
Two 12-can cartons of soda
Water bottle -- for the champagne on deck.
Duct tape -- You never know.
Zip lock baggies -- We packed breakfast food with us on our trip to Tulum
Walkie-talkies -- Never used them.
Wall map and GPS tracker -- It was more fun than tracking our position on TV
Power bar/extension cord -- There is only one, single outlet in the cabin and no clock
Bungee cords -- Never needed them
Hole punch & lanyard -- Good for kids to wear their card keys
Bottle opener -- didn't use it.
Flashlight -- didn't use it
Other Tips Speak to a Carnival agent when booking -- They know things like which rooms have attached balconies and which are directly below the floor of the disco.
Balcony, window or inside cabin -- We travelled a long distance, so the difference between balcony and inside cabins was a small portion of the overall trip cost. The cost of the cruise alone was $4,055. The cost of the entire trip was about $7,400.
Balcony -- A Carnival booking agent will tell you if you'll get any sun.
Multiple rooms -- We called Carnival before booking to see if we could put our kids in one room. They said it would be no problem. On paper, they put an adult in each cabin. We did get extra duplicate door keys.
Booking flights -- Don't fly on the day of ship's departure or return.
Transfers from Houston -- Carnival's bus costs $40, A town car was $109, excluding tip. With four people, do the math.
Checking bags -- You don't have to check your bags to board, although 95%+ do. We kept ours. It seemed like a hassle. But bags were still being delivered to cabins in the evening and I was happy we'd already unpacked. If you do check yours, remember to take key items in a carry-on.
Accessing your room -- Carnival says you can't access your cabin until 1:30 pm. Their staff won't stop you.
Getting around the ship -- The stairs are usually faster than elevators.
Fountain/soda cards -- cost about $5, but aren't valid from all servers. Beware.
Kids' club -- Both my kids loved it. Kids 11 and older can check themselves in and out. There is no charge for the regular activities before 10:00 pm.
Reserving deck chairs -- Ignore the signs. Do it.
Pools -- The swimmable pool space is minimal. The "jumbotron" plays the video portion of music videos without the audio portion. Instead they played taped music.
Ship layout and amenity information -- Research the ship and print out relevant information in advance. There is little information in the cabins.
Dance shows -- Costumes on female performers are somewhat risqué.
Sports Bar -- Just the same channels as the TV in my cabin.
Information on ports of call -- Research at home. I think you should always know basic things about a country you visit. You won't find it in your cabin.
Foreign currency -- US dollars quoted and accepted everywhere.
Booking shore excursions -- Book through Carnival unless you know what you're doing. You can save hundreds of dollars doing it yourself.
What time is it in port? -- The ship stays on central time. Port time can be different. Don't miss your ship.
Laundry -- Total including detergent was $5.
Internet café -- First minute on board costs $4.70. Each minute after costs $0.75. It adds up fast. We spent $32 for four sessions.
Meals -- For breakfast, my wife ordered waffles in the dining room and got two quarter-pieces.
Buffet desserts -- Very limited. Some nights the left-over dining room desserts arrived around 10:00.
On-board expenses -- Check regularly on your cabin's TV. We charged $94 ($32 -- internet, $22 -- photograph, $14 -- sunscreen, $26 -- kids' program extra).
Don't take so much food. Eat what you take.
Thoughts on Cruise Ship Vacations The overall experience was significantly positive. I would take a cruise again, but probably not in the next year or two.
You pay for a level of service that you don't necessarily want. There are no price options.
You pay for four star dining room service every night, whether you use it or not. I just don't get the whole dining room thing with cruise ships. If you're on a regular vacation, how often do you go to a restaurant that has a dress code, let alone wear a tie? Probably never.
Another thing I don't get is the cruise director. He's the guy who makes announcements. I don't get why some reviewers make a big deal about this person.
The ship has too many entertainment options, which you pay for whether you attend or not.
All passengers and crew were friendly and courteous.
I hate the constant pressure to buy things (drinks, photos, constantly announcing sales at the on-board shops, trying to get you to book a future cruise, etc.).
It was strange that there was no mention of the fact when we passed into the tropics. No mention of the fact that we came within viewing distance of Cuba at 7:15 am Tuesday morning. The cruise line treats that information like unnecessary detail.
The cabin staff were excellent and friendly, but I couldn't get them to show me where the ice machine was. I just wanted to get it myself.
Cabin staff always acted as if they thought passengers believed they were better than the employees. They would apologize for being in the corridors passing you. They should treat passengers like regular people.
I would far rather the cruise line advertise a fair price and pay their staff a fair wage than expect tipping. If you want the standard gratuity removed from your bill, just ask at the service desk.
Conclusion A magnificent trip. And Carnival rebated us $1,000 after booking.
The cruise was fun, but an expensive vacation (30% higher than a comparable vacation in Hawaii).
If we were considering another cruise, we'd start by looking at Carnival. As a result, I do recommend the Conquest and its Western Caribbean itinerary.
This is a highly summarized version of a 12,000+ word review of the Conquest.
by Snoozeman - October 12, 2008 Just The Facts: Carnival Conquest October 12-October 19, 2008 Captain: Massimo Marino Cruise Director: Ralph Valente Hotel Director: Marvin Barrantes Ports: Houston – Montego Bay - Grand Cayman – Cozumel - Houston Weather: Cloudy first few days, generally very nice the rest of the week.
This is my 13th Carnival cruise and 4th time as a Platinum status guest. This is also my 7th and DW’s 6th time on the Conquest. We are sailing from the new Houston Bayport Cruise Facility due to damage of the pier facilities in Galveston by hurricane Ike, our original scheduled departure port.
Day One--Sunday--Embarkation We left the ranch at 6:15 a.m.. We made a brief stop in Clifton and headed south on SH 6. The drive was very smooth and there was little traffic until we reached Houston. We went through central Houston as we were headed to the new Bayport Cruise facility. Traffic was busy but tolerable being a Sunday morning, but I would take the loop if were a weekday. We arrived earlier than anticipated at Bayport, but it turned out to be a good arrival time. We werebehind the early arrivals and before most arrivals. We dropped our bags with the porters and I parked the car and walked the short distance to the terminal. There was a very nice VIP check in area and a VIP lounge. We saw some new friends we had seen on several previous cruises and visited with them until they called us to board the ship. We were very impressed with the new Bayport Cruise Facility and look forward to a cruise ship sailing form there in the future. ON BOARD: We were escorted from the VIP lounge to boarding just about 11:30 am and proceeded directly to the Cezanne Restaurant on Lido deck. Again as on the Conquest last month, I was the very first person through the buffet line and enjoyed viewing the presentation of the food before the mass of guests converged on the buffet. I had Roast Beef from the carving station and the Grilled Tilapia. The salads were very good. DW had a vegetarian sandwich from the deli and fruit and a salad. All were good. We went to our cabin at the designated time of 1:30 and our bags arrived very soon afterward. Muster drill began about 4:00. Following muster drill we met the Carnival Connections/Cruise Critic/CruiseMates roll-call groups on deck 9 aft and enjoyed a couple of “Funship Special” cocktails. It’s nice putting faces to screen names. The Conquest cast off at 4:30 pm. We relaxed on deck and visited with new friends while sailing through Galveston Bay. I was very curious how much time it would take to reach Galveston Island and into the Gulf of Mexico. I was told it took a couple of hours and was somewhat skeptical, but it does take about an hour and a half to reach Galveston and two hours to reach the Gulf. They had full bar service about 6:45 and the casino opened at 7:30pm. We were assigned the Monet dining room at 8:15 and have a great table location, a ten-top between the Captains table and the center of the room. It’s a very good location in the dining room. Six showed up the first night. I ordered: a shrimp cocktail, soup, and NY strip steak, all very good. DW had mixed veggies and a baked potato. She said they were bland, but she liked the small macaroni & cheese that came with my entrée. I had the Cream Brule for dessert and DW had the Chocolate Melting Cake which is now available every evening. The Welcome Show was again scheduled for 10:30 p.m. They used to try to do this show between early and late dinner, but with the new dining times it seems this is the new established time for the Welcome Aboard Show. It featured the Carnival Singers & Dancers and CD Ralph Valente. I was anxious to see ‘wee Jimmy’ since I heard good things about him. He was very good and a huge improvement from Jen on the Conquest last month. The feature comedian was Kim Harrison and she was fantastic. She is a big woman so there were a lot of buffet jokes, but she was very funny and a very good singer.
Day Two--Monday--Fun day at Sea Awoke to sunshine and fair seas this morning. I enjoyed a good nights sleep. The ship rocked just enough to make it very nice; however, the vibration is very noticeable and we had to move some items to avoid rattling noises. I could see flying fish from the window this morning, which was nice to see. I had breakfast in the Monet dining room, my personal standard 1st morning carnival breakfast of Eggs Benedict, side of bacon, tomato juice, and grapefruit which were very good. DW slept in and had room service breakfast. It was French day in the ‘Tastes of Nations’ section, but I had a lunch at Sur Mer which was not busy at all. I had the bouillabaisse, ceviche, and fish & chips. The bouillabaisse was best by far. I went to the Promenade deck this afternoon and I bought three Carnival future cruise bookings. I applied the two I purchased last month for the John Heald Bloggers cruise in February and will use these for cruises booked in the fall of 2009. We watched a movie this afternoon and ordered room service: BLT’s, grilled cheese, & veggie plates. It has become cloudier the further southeast we sail and it finally did rain around 5:00 pm. And the seas have become choppy. The Captains cocktail reception was before dinner and this was one of two ‘elegant’ nights. Conforming to the new Carnival dress guidelines I left the suit at home wore slacks with a dress shirt and blue blazer. For dinner I had the pumpkin soup, stuffed mushrooms, the seafood entrée consisting of lobster and jumbo shrimp, and prime rib.. The lobster was very good and the shrimp were excellent. I had the Cherries Jubilee for desert. People were really taking advantage of the lobby area this evening to dance. The late live band is a great new option especially for people who don’t really care for the disco type music in Henri’s in the evening. Good addition. The feature show was scheduled to be Formidable, but due to rough seas they switched and featured Ron Joseph who is a Vegas club style act. He is a regular on the Conquest and we have seen him several times and passed this cruise and retired to the cabin.
Day Three—Tuesday--Fun day at Sea It’s a cloudy day today and the seas are choppy. A very pleasant nights sleep although the ship was really rolling, but it rocked you to sleep. I had breakfast in the dining room: Tomato juice, Grapefruit, Eggs Benedict, Bacon, and Pancakes. Excellent. I showed some photos to assistant maître d' Slavica, of herself. She was amazed. We spent the morning on Lido deck aft and they had the roof 80% closed due to weather, but people were enjoying the pool and hot tubs. Our loungers were on the starboard side so when they opened the grill on that side at lunch time the aroma had me craving something from there. Since I had a big breakfast I came back about 1:30 and I had a hamburger while they prepared a minute steak for me. I normally wouldn’t order something that I can get at home, but they were both very good and the minute steak was unique. The weather clouded up more and the seas were rough most of the day. They closed the roof over the aft pool and passengers were doing the staggers & jags down the Promenade deck and passageways. They made several announcements about a revised show for this evening, but in the end they performed the production show Formidable. At least it was a modified version of it. They changed several parts of routines for safety and they ended the show before the actual finale. The ending was awkward, but people who had never seen the show may not have noticed the changes. It is my favorite of the Conquest productions so I was pleased they did the show. Dinner was one of the weaker menus. If one wanted to eat at The Point, this would be a good night. I had French onion soup, Salad, and Jerk flavored pork. Tonight they had a Mardi Gras deck party with food on Lido deck. Also at midnight was a showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show that was originated, at sea at least, on the Conquest and is now on many Carnival ships.
Day Four--Wednesday—Montego Bay, Jamaica There was partly cloudy skies and nice weather this morning. I had a very good nights sleep and again went to the dining room for breakfast. I had fried eggs with the usual. The dining room is just one deck above our stateroom and so very convenient. This was a good port to have our 'stay on the ship on a port day' tradition. We spent most of the day on Lido deck aft and with most people off the ship we basically had the pool and area to ourselves until noon. We spent a lot of time in the pool and I discovered later that I got a lot of sun. For lunch I had Chinese food from PC’s Wok. They change the menu daily and it was very good and another alternative from the buffet food. I spent the afternoon between the cabin and the lido deck. It was a very nice day as it didn’t get too hot and there was a nice breeze. It was beautiful watching us sail from Montego Bay at sundown. DW had ordered room service and I had a BLT waiting for me so that made for a great snack to hold me until dinner. The production show was Lady Helevi, Enchantress of the Elememts. It was a Carnival produced show featuring a Magician and the Conquest Dancers. The costumes were really unique and beautiful. This is a very visual show, the type of show with little dialogue that will be the future for cruises with a lot of international guests. Dinner was very good this evening, I had the Tomato soup, a Special salad, and the Grilled pork chop. DW’s favorite entrée of the week was tonight: a Vegetarian bean burrito. They had prepared special holloween desserts. I had a pumpkin cheesecake that was decorated with ghosts, pumpkins, bats, etc. The wonderful surprise after getting underway was that there was no vibration in the cabin. This will make the cabin and cruise much more enjoyable.
Day Five--Thursday--Georgetown, Grand Caymans Another good night sleep. We arrived by 7:00 am. and anchored off shore as usual. The Mariner of the Seas and The Freedom of the Seas are on either side of us. I again had a very nice breakfast in the dining room. The debarkation went very well quite different than when we were here last. We are going to have another 'stay on the ship on a port day' today since were just here last month. We enjoyed the aft pool this morning and afternoon. I had a Reuben sandwich from the deli for lunch and it was great. It was much better than previous cruises and much like the famous Conquest Reubens of old. I relaxed in the cabin and watched a movie in the late afternoon. Tonight’s production show was Point & Click, but we decided to check out several of the lounges and visited Vincent’s (jazz) and Alfred’s (popular music) before dinner. Dinner was very good, I had the Escargot, Fruit plate, the Grouper, the Chateaubriand, and Baked Alaska for desert.
Day Six—Friday—Cozumel, Mexico Another good nights sleep. The sky is cloudy but seas are smooth. I again went to the Monet dining room for breakfast. We arrived and docked at 10:00am at the Puerta Maya pier that just reopened yesterday, having been closed for two years due to hurricane damage. Many of the shops locate at the pier have reopened including a Los Cino Soles and a Pancho’s Backyard. Since we were at the Puerta Maya pier we had to take a taxi into San Migel ($6) and we were dropped off downtown. We went to see our friend Nelly who owns Mayan Pearl located just east of the square on Juarez Avenue and I stopped at Antonio's for a haircut. It’s always good to see Martin, my barber, who has been cutting my hair for almost four years. Nelly introduced us to her neighbor across the street that wanted to meet me. She has a shop called Atesanias Nallely and they have a baby monkey named Pancha that was found in the jungle. I played with Pancha for a while waiting for Nelly to make a necklace as a gift for DD. Very cute little monkey and she liked to have her belly rubbed. I believe they allow customers to photograph her. We then went down to the Forum Shops to get a mojito from Havana Blue. Unfortunately we discovered that Havana Blue has closed. We were told that Jorge, the bartender, was working at Kiss my Cactus. Since Havana Blue was closed we went to to very nice restaurant we had been going by since it opened about a year ago called la Candela. We were very glad we went there as it was very nice. The building and courtyard is very clean and smartly decorated. We had guacamole, pico de gallo, chips, etc. They did make a very nice margarita and mojito. It was a great place to stay and watch the rain that began pouring in the afternoon. (la Candela-two mojitos, one beer, two margaritas, guacamole, chips, pico, & queso - $30.) After drinks we went to the main square and found Kiss my Cactus, it was a premium tequila bar, but no Jorge. We went to Plaza Leza and had enjoyed some drinks and several mariachi’s who played for us. As mentioned in my previous Cozumel review, they have finished the reconstruction of the municipal building so all the temporary stalls have been removed. The square or Zocalo now looks beautiful, even more so than last month. The flowers are very nice and the trees have recovered from the hurricanes and look very full again. The ship was scheduled tom leave early from Cozumel at 6:00 pm. We were back at the ship by 4:30 p.m and DW made a fruit and cheese plate from the Cezzanne for us to eat in the cabin. It was Mexican day in the ‘Tastes of Nations’ section, good choice. The feature show was Manuel Zuniga a juggler and Marc Rubben a great comedian that we have enjoyed several times on previous Conquest cruises. I went to dinner solo as DW was resting from the big day in Cozumel. Dinner was excellent, best of the cruise. I had the Fried shrimp appetizer, Salad, the Red snapper, and the Filet mignon. The filet was very tender and perhaps the best steak I have ever had on Carnival. I retired after diner and sorry to find that the vibration has returned, not as bad as first nights, but noticeable.
Day Seven--Saturday--at Sea Another good nights sleep. I had my final breakfast in the Monet dining room, I have enjoyed it all week. I walked around the ship and visited with friends this morning. I finally played some Texas hold‘em poker. The Poker Pro table has been very busy as there is a gambling group sponsored by a casino on the ship. We ate lunch in the Monet dining room. It was my best lunch of the cruise, but only time I had eaten in the dining room. I had the Neptune Chef Salad and the Pepper Steak. DW had the Hay & Straw, a pasta dish that she said was very good. The Oklahoma-Kansas football game was on TV and I had a great cabin afternoon watching the game. It’s also great to have snacks delivered by room service during the game. The past guest party was this evening at in the Toulouse-Lautrec Lounge, but the football game went for four hours so we passed. OU won, they are 2-0 in the two games I’ve watched while on board the Conquest this year. Dinner was again good, my choices were Crab Cake, Shrimp, Prime Rib, and the Grand Marnier Soufflé for desert. We did not attend the Carnival Legends Show after dinner as we returned to the cabin to pack.
Debarkation--Sunday They had a priority meeting time for self-debarkation Platinum members. We met before 8:00 am and we left the ship about 8:15 am. We were the first through customs at 8:17 and at the truck by 8:25 am. It could not have gone smoother. We stopped at Ama's in Hearne, Texas for migas. Gasoline was $2.79 in Houston, but only $2.55 in Bosque county. We picked up the dogs in Waco and were home before 1:00 p.m.
Ship / Crew The vibration is a concern to me especially as I have two aft cabins booked next year. It was very bad from Houston to Jamaica, then none between Jamaica and Grand Cayman, then bad again the rest of the way. Not sure if it has to do with speed, the use of the stabilizers, calibration of the propellers, or what exactly, but I hope it is addressed during the January dry dock. The Conquest might be showing her 6 years, but the crew is always repairing and updating. The ship was very clean and you would always see staff cleaning during the day and night. I have always thought that the Conquest is beautiful. The French impressionist and post-impressionist themes are wonderful. Try to see the video featuring Joe Farcus, the designer of the Conquest, on the ships TV while on board.
The crew was great. We didn’t participate in a lot of usual cruise activities, but Ralph and his team really seem to be on the ball. DW attended the Q&A with the entertainment staff and found that very informative. Slavica an assistant maître d' is excellent, she should be maître d', I bet she would enforce the dress code.
Food The Cezanne Restaurant buffet food is good, but not great although the salads, fruit, and desserts are excellent. Paul’s Deli was good, the Reuben sandwich is my favorite and the vegetarian sandwich with arugula, mozzarella cheese, red peppers, and pesto is DW’s favorite of all food on the ship. PC’s Wok was very good. Sur Mer was good, my favorite item was the bouillabaisse. The Pizza Station was very good as was the Sky Grill both located on Lido deck aft. Room Service was very good and my favorites were the BLT’s and Veggie plate. The Monet Dining Room food is very good to excellent and much better than the buffet. I was very impressed with the entrees especially the meat dishes on this cruise. They were all excellent. We were assigned one of the large round tables in the center of the dining room and I was very pleased with the location. I enjoyed breakfast in the Monet every morning and they were all very good. I didn’t try the Sushi Bar this trip, but it has been very good in the past. There are ice cream and yogurt machines in several locations on Lido deck.
Cabin We had cabin 2465 supposedly one of the ‘secret’ cabins. It is located aft and wraps around a crew staircase so it has an unusual floor plan. It was classified as a 1A interior, but is actually a large O/V with two windows. The cabin has extra storage with oversized closets and extra floor space. The bedding has been recently updated and is very comfortable. The downside is that there was a lot of vibration in this cabin especially on the first three days. We knew there would be more noise, but not as much vibration as there was. The final days were not near as bad. You certainly know that you are on a moving cruise ship. Now that Carnival has reclassified all the cabins on the Conquest this cabin is now classified as a 6B. It was a secret for a good while, but with the new classification certainly not as good as a value. We didn’t meet our cabin steward, Jose, until the 2nd day as he is new to the Conquest and just assigned our cabin. He was good and he kept our small cooler full of ice all week. We did get a towel animal each night.
Changes / Needs Improvement One of the ‘cool’ things about Carnival was the Fruit Punch that was available in the Cezanne drink stations. It was something tropical to drink without having to order a cocktail. Very disappointed to see that it is gone. I only mention this as it has been discussed in online message boards, but the toilet paper does seem to have been upgraded since we were on board last month. The TV menus also seem to have been brought up to date. There was a big improvement in the Carnival Capers from last month.
Interesting / Unique The online roll-call group was very interesting as it was a combination of Carnival Connections, Cruise Critic, and CruiseMates online groups. First one that the majority of people were from an online group other than Cruise Critic. One never knows how the online groups will go once on board and this went fine. It’s also nice to see the familiar faces from the meet up on board throughout the week. It was also great to see friends we have actually sailed with four previous times on this cruise.
Bayport Cruise Terminal We were very impressed with the facility. As mentioned they have VIP facilities and the parking is adjacent to the terminal. We arrived about 11:00 a.m. but by noon it got very busy. Another ideal time to arrive would be 2:00-2:30 after the crowd. It was about a half an hour closer in travel time than driving to Galveston. Debarkation was a breeze. We are looking forward to a cruise line to begin sailing from Bayport. We will sail on whatever it may be. Maybe MSC?
Of course we are sailing from Bayport because of damage caused by hurricane Ike. Just a few miles from the cruise facility a hurricane staging area was set up along the highway. We could see probably a thousand appliances and hundreds of automobiles that were moved there from hurricane damaged homes around the area. One has to feel for the people that lost their posessions and perhap homes due to the high water. It does look like good progress has been made in recovery.
Final Overall another good cruise; however, there were more concerns than usual on this cruise. We have three cruises on Conquest scheduled next year and we will be canceling one for sure and perhaps more as we are concerned with the aft cabins and several other issues. By coincidence the last person I saw at the gangway while leaving was Marvin Barrantes, the hotel manager. I told him that I had just left a letter for him at the Pursers desk expressing some of my concerns.
For the first time or beginning cruiser the Carnival Conquest is a fantastic ship to experience.
Photo by MachMan. To see his fantastic Conquest photos: http://s242.photobucket.com/albums/ff313/mach_man/Conquest%203/Conquest%202/Conquest%201/
Just the Facts Carnival ConquestAugust 31-September 6, 2008Captain: Massimo MarinoCruise Director: Jen BaxterHotel Director: Carlos Santos DeMeloPorts: Galveston, Progreso Yucatan, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Galveston Weather: Very Good all week.
This is my twelfth Carnival cruise and third time as a Platinum status guest. This is also my 6th and DW's 5th time on the Conquest. There has been the threat of hurricane Gustav all this week and has made planning and preparing different and interesting. I'm attending a Seminar at Sea presented by Carnival on this voyage.
Day One -- Sunday -- Embarkation We left the ranch at 5:30 a.m. That's an hour earlier than normal due to possible problems from hurricane Gustav. We made a few brief stops including Waco, but the drive was very smooth and there was little traffic even in Houston. Approaching Galveston the traffic was heavy probably due to Labor Day weekend and beach traffic. The day was actually very nice. Since we arrived early we dropped our checked bags at the pier. We then parked at EZ Cruise Parking and walked over to the terminal. The new outdoor security check has been move indoors which is very nicefor the early arrivals. There is a waiting room and then you are checked for ID before starting the check-in process. Once through security we used the VIP check-in and then to the waiting area. We were then informed of the itinerary change due to hurricane Gustav. We boarded about 11:45 and the entire process was very smooth. The VIP status certainly helps in this process.
On board we proceeded to the rear buffet area in the Cezanne on Lido deck and found a nice table. I was the first person through the buffet and enjoyed viewing the presentation of the food before the mass of guests converge on the buffet. I had roast beef from the carving station and grilled fish. The salads were very good. DW had a vegetarian sandwich from the deli and fruit and a salad. It was French day in the "Tastes of Nations" section. It was all very good. We went to our cabin at the designated time of 1:30 and one bag arrived very soon afterward. We took a very nice nap. Muster drill began about 3:30. Following muster drill we met the MOB roll-call group on deck 7 aft and enjoyed several "Funship Special" cocktails. It's nice putting faces to screen names. I had a cocktail reception for my group before dinner and enjoyed some "melon balls," a drink recommended by the cocktail server. They were interesting and tasty. We went to dinner at 8:15 and it was good. Our waiter is Lloyd from India. We have the same assistant waiter as our previous Conquest cruise. I had the shrimp cocktail and NY strip steak, it was good, but not great. I had the Black Forrest Gateau and the Cream Brule for dessert, both very good. DW had the Chocolate Melting Cake which is now available every evening. The assistant maître d' visited with us and made suggestions for vegetarian selections for DW. We told her we would be alternating between the dining room and the Cezanne this cruise. The Welcome Show was scheduled for later than I've ever experienced -- at 10:30 p.m. They used to try to do this show between early and late dinner, but it was now following late sitting, at least on this cruise. It featured Marc Rubben who is one of our favorites and the Conquest C.D. with the Carnival Singers & Dancers. Since we have seen the show many times we passed and enjoyed the cabin and some sleep.
Day Two -- Monday -- At Sea I enjoyed a very refreshing night's sleep. The ship rocked just enough to make it very nice; however, today the ship is rolling a lot, more than normal. It is probably best that they are taking the alternative route. As soon as we cleared Galveston we began sailing south-southwest towards Brownsville trying to get distance between the ship and hurricane Gustav. This morning we changed course and we are now sailing southeast towards the Yucatan. I had breakfast in the dining room, my personal standard 1st morning Carnival breakfast of Eggs Benedict, which were very good. DW got fruit from the buffet and ate on the lido deck aft. We took a walk around the decks during the morning. They now sell future cruise booking on board the Conquest. I purchased two this morning. We had lunch in the Cezzane Restaurant. It was French day in the "Tastes of Nations" section. I did have a crêpe. From the regular buffet I had Virginia Baked ham from the carving station, light fried cod with tartar sauce, and a salad.
The Captain's cocktail reception was before dinner and we met the captain and then went directly to Henri's Disco knowing it was the overflow for the Degas Lounge. We were the only ones in there for a while and enjoyed very personal service. Thank you Captain Massimo. This was one of two "elegant" nights. Conforming to the new guidelines I left the suit at home an wore slacks with a dress shirt and blue blazer. We changed tables in dining room in order to consolidate tables within the group. We have a nice group at the table. Dinner was very good. DW had the stuffed mushrooms and an assorted fruit plate. I had the pumpkin soup, stuffed mushrooms, shrimp cocktail and the seafood entrée consisting of lobster and jumbo shrimp. The lobster was very good and the shrimp were excellent. I had the Cherries Jubilee for desert. People were really taking advantage of the lobby area this evening to dance. The late live band is a great new option especially for people who don't really care for the disco type music in Henri's in the evening. Good addition. The feature show was Ron Joseph who is a Vegas night-club style act. He is a regular on the Conquest and we have seen him several times and passed this cruise. I saw a friend I had cruised with on the Ecstasy on one of my solo cruises. It's always nice seeing old cruise buddies. We passed on the midnight shows and retired to the cabin.
Day Three -- Tuesday -- Progreso, Yucatan, Mexico Another very pleasant night's sleep. We arrived and docked early this morning. People were debarking before the 8:00 scheduled arrival time. I went up to the Cezanne for a custom 'western' omelet from the omelet station. Not crowded at 8:30 a.m. as it was after the early crowd and before the late people. We took advantage of the aft pool this morning and had it for ourselves for 30 minutes. People began arriving but we had an hour+ in the water to swim and later visit. It was Caribbean day in the 'Tastes of Nations' section featuring jerk chicken.
We took the free shuttle to town about noon. We stopped at the Mayan craft store run by Richard and purchased a few items for friends back home. It's authentic crafts made by Mayans from Yucatan and Guatemala and a good place to get gifts. We went to Le Saint Bonnet and made that our HQ for the afternoon. We had a very nice table on the restaurant side and enjoyed a very nice breeze coming off of the Gulf of Mexico. We were joined by some new Cruise Critic roll-call friends so that made it very nice. We ordered a few drinks, lunch, and some great guacamole & pico de gallo. We also purchased items from various vendors who passed. The first mariachi to approach recognized us from previous trips so there was as many mariachi's as we wanted for the afternoon. They had message tables set up on the bar side of the restaurant. The rate was $10 for 40 minutes. It was a very nice message and a great rate. Progreso is probably the pirated DVD capital of Latin America. Charges for a DVD run from $3.00-$4.00 on average per movie. We took the shuttle back to the ship and were onboard by 4:00 p.m. We watched sail away from the balcony and we left at the scheduled departure time of 5:00 p.m. Some very nice canapés were delivered to the cabin about 5:30 a part of the Platinum 'Concierge Club' guest program. We also received a stainless steel thermos as a gift.
As a break to the usual routine we had decided to eat in the Cezanne for dinner on the port days so this was our first night to do so. The salads are always good. They had Virginia ham again at the carving station, and a wide variety of desserts. There are a lot of people who eat in the Cezanne, as a confirmed dining room guy and a foodie it was many more than I expected. I really think that any-time dining is the future on Carnival, it just allows more flexibility for the guests. After dinner we strolled the promanade deck and listened to the group, Impromtwo, in Artists lobby. They were very good and there was a nice crowd. The production show this evening was Point & Click featuring the Carnival singers and Dancers. It is a good show and the theater was completely full. Having seen the show several times and no 'good' seats to be found we passed on attending and went to the cabin to watch one of the new movies we purchased in Progreso. We had a great day.
Day Four -- Wednesday -- Cozumel, Mexico Another good night's sleep. The sea was calm and very nice as we sailed around the Yucatan peninsula and into the Caribbean. I was up early and could see the lights of Cancun as we passed. I had breakfast in the dining room and DW had room service on the balcony. We arrived and docked on time in Cozumel at the International pier. The Enchantment of the Seas came in and docked next to us. We took a swim in the aft pool while most passengers were scrambling to disembark. Since we were at the International pier we had to take a taxi into town, so we went all the way to the Forum Shops the location of one of out favorite spots, Havana Blue. We got a table upstairs overlooking the beautiful blue waters of the Strait of Cozumel and enjoyed mojitos prepared by Jorge our favorite bartender in Cozumel. A few mojito refills and some guacamole made for an enjoyable afternoon. We walked back towards the town square and I stopped at Antonio's for a haircut. It's always good to see Martin, my barber. DW visited with our friend Nelly at her shop near the square. They have finally finished the reconstruction of the municipal building so all the temporary stalls have been removed. The square or zocalo now looks beautiful. The reconstruction of several of the side streets is also complete and all of central San Migel looks wonderful. We did stop at Mosricoz for some diet coke, margaritas, and mariachi's. I was spotted by two of my favorite mariachi groups. They know I will always request a tune or two.
The ship was scheduled tom leave early from Cozumel. Much too early. We were back at the ship by 3:30 p.m and ordered BLT's and a cheese sandwiches from room service. It was Mexican day in the 'Tastes of Nations' section, good choice. We went back to the dining room for dinner so our experiment with Cezanne for dinner only lasted one night. Dinner was good. I chose the tomato soup and two entrees: the Newburg style seafood and the grilled pork chop. I had two very good deserts: Tiramisù and the Bitter & Blanc. The feature show was Deja, The Diva of Deception. We were very tired after a big day in Cozumel so we skipped the shows and turned in to catch the end of the Sarah Palin speech at the RNC.
Day Five -- Thursday -- Georgetown, Grand Caymans Another good night sleep. We are traveling very slowly on our way to Georgetown. I had a very nice breakfast in the dining room. We arrived about 11:00 am. and anchored off shore as usual. The Freedom of the Seas is anchored very near us. DW enjoyed the aft pool this morning. We had a late lunch in the Cezanne and it was American day in the 'Tastes of Nations' section. There were tendering problems here with many passengers not getting ashore until well after 2:00 p.m. This was a good port to have our 'stay on the ship on a port day' tradition. I did make a quick trip over and back to Georgetown just to order some liquor but was back on the ship by 3:30 am. Our balcony was on the shady side of the ship and facing Georgetown so we had a great afternoon enjoying the views from the balcony. We were attacked by the 'Jolly Roger' pirate ship, saw a turtle swim to the surface below our balcony, watched several people snorkel near the harbor, and the tenders going back and forth from the Conquest to Georgetown. It was a very enjoyable afternoon. Dinner this evening was very good. I had the escargot, fruit plate, the chateaubriand, and Baked Alaska for desert. After dinner we went to the feature show. It was CD Jen and her Three Bears story. I had heard of her signature routine and it was funny. The comedian was Mark Hopkins, the first time I had ever seen him and he was very good, I enjoyed his show which included a lot of audience participation.
Day Six -- Friday -- At Sea Another great night's sleep and the sea is very smooth this morning. I went to the Cezanne and had a nice omelet from the omelet station. Not busy at 8:00 a.m. at all. I attended a seminar by Carnival this morning from 9:00 a.m. – noon. DW enjoyed swimming at the aft pool and salad from the Cezanne. I had lunch at Sur Mer and the bouillabaisse and fish & chips were excellent. It was also Indian day in the 'Tastes of Nations' section. This afternoon we met friends in Alfredo's for tea. It was nice with light snacks, sweets, an assortment of tea, and they also had chamber music. After tea we watched another of our 'Progreso' movies, SuperAgente86 de Pelicula. They delivered petit fours to the cabin that I assume are a part of the Concierge service for Platinum guests. Tonight was the second 'Cruise Elegant Evening' and dinner was very nice. I had Mushroom soup and two entrees: the Red Snapper and the Filet Mignon. The Red Snapper was absolutely fantastic, the best entrée served by far. I was very pleased with it.
The production show was Formidable which was written with the Conquest in mind. It is a series of French/Paris themed dance numbers and songs. My favorite dance is the cancan of course. This is the 6th time to see the show and it better than ever, much more of a 'show girl' production in addition to the dance and vocals. It had has a new dance team and the 'screams' in the cancan are back! It's a long show, about an hour, but the best show on the Conquest and not to be missed. The LAST Gala Buffet was held tonight in the Cezanne. It has been reduced in size over the past few years as fewer people have attended. Also a late 'R' show with Mark Hopkins which I heard was very good, so a lot of things this evening for those who are up late.
Day Seven -- Saturday -- At Sea Another great night's sleep perhaps the best of the cruise, but we were also up later the previous night. I went to the Cezanne for breakfast and had perfectly fried eggs from the omelet station. Yes they will do that as well. I had another seminar to attend from 9:00 a.m. – noon. I ate in the Monet dining room for lunch with friends. It was my best lunch of the cruise, but only time I had eaten in the dining room. I had the Neptune Chef Salad and the Pepper Steak.
I had cabin time after lunch and fortunately was able to watch my alma mater play college football on TV. There were quite a few passengers wearing Oklahoma colors on board and in the sports bar. A Funship Special and your favorite football team on TV while watching the beautiful Gulf of Mexico pass by outside. It doesn't get much better for a Saturday afternoon. The past guest party was this evening at 5:00-6:00 p.m. in the Toulouse-Lautrec Lounge. This is much later into the cruise than any other I have attended. Jen did a fun Carnival trivia game and they showed the same 'history' film just updated with the new Carnival CEO Gary Cahill. I sat upstairs and I did well with the tip your server strategy. We both attended the cocktail reception for my travel group held in Vincent's Lounge from 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Dinner was again good, my choices were Crab Cake, Prime Rib, and the Grand Marnier Soufflé for desert. We did attend the Carnival Legends Show after dinner. It was very entertaining. We returned to the cabin to pack following the show.
Day Eight -- Sunday -- Disembarkation We knew they would have priority debarkation for Platinum, but you have to meet at 6:45 a.m.. It's the smoothest and fastest way though as you are escorted off the ship first. Well we were almost first. We were in customs just after 7:00 a.m. and we walked to EZ Cruise and were in the car by 7:30. Gasoline was $3.34 at my favorite Galveston service station, not bad considering. We were home just after 12:30 p.m.
Ship/Crew The Conquest might be showing her 6 years, but the crew is always repairing and updating. The ship was very clean and you would always see staff cleaning during the day and night. I have always thought that the Conquest is beautiful. The French impressionist theme is wonderful. Try to see the video featuring Joe Farcus, the designer of the Conquest, on the ships TV while onboard. The Conquest will be going into dry dock in January. The Crew is top notch. Always willing to help, we were always greeted by name many times.
Cabin We had cabin 6441 which is a standard balcony on the starboard side. It is near to the aft stairs/elevators so easy to get around. It was our first time on Upper deck and is fine, just above the Promenade deck. Our cabin steward, Marco was good and he kept our small cooler full of ice all week.
Food Paul's Deli was great. DW's favorite of all food on the ship was the vegetarian sandwich with arugula, mozzarella cheese, peppers, and pesto. The Reuben sandwich is also very good. The Cezanne buffet food is good, but not great although the salads and fruit are excellent. The dining room food is good to very good and much better than the buffet. There are ice cream and yogurt machines in three locations on Lido deck. I had very good luck with the omelet station and not a long wait for service (I did try to time it right). Sur Mer was very good. I do love the big round tables in the center of the dining room and try for an assignment there if possible.
Needs Improvement The Carnival Capers were frequently wrong. It was more than the change in ports as it was consistently wrong. The TV menus still don't match the actual menus in the dining room. Jen, bless her heart, is not among my favorite Cruise Directors, she seemed as though she would be more comfortable as the CD of the Black Pearl or as a serving wench in a nineteenth century port side Jamaican pub. Bless her heart.
Final Thoughts A newbie cruiser may not notice, but to me this cruise seemed to be a 'half bubble off plum' all week. The production shows were done in reverse order, the repeat guests party was on the last day, the second elegant night was off a day, and several other things. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I do think it somewhat effected the performance of crew and staff. That could be the reason for so many errors in the Capers. We're on the Conquest again next month. Hopefully things will be a bit smoother. Overall, another great cruise. I have additional comments on the CruiseMates forums. Smile.
This was my family's first cruise and the experience did not start like we had hoped.
The boarding process was long (about 2-3 hours). We arrived by bus at the port in Galveston, TX about 12:30pm and did not get on board until 3pm. The line to get through security and then to get Sail & Sign cards took forever.
Once on board we were sort of mystified. There was no one to direct us as to where to go and what to do. We were left to our own devices to figure out where our room was and what to do next. Very unsettling! I will say things did get a better.
So, the beginning did not start very well, but the rest was fine (for the most part).
We found our room on Deck 11 (Spa Deck). It was great; a family suite with a floor to ceiling window. King size bed for the wife and I, and two twin beds (in a bunk style) for our two girls (2yrs old / 8 yrs old). Plenty of storage for our things. The only thing lacking was outlets. There isonly one 120v outlet on the dresser (so bring an extension cord if needed).
During the cruise the kids spent lots of time with Camp Carnival. This was at their request. They loved the activities and the counselors. I highly recommend the program.
Jamaica: (Sunset Beach) -- We did not do a ship-sponsored excursion. Instead we chose to go to Sunset Beach. Cab ride is about $3 per person over to the resort. $40 for adults, $20 for kids for the day. All you can eat/drink, and you get use of ocean, water park. Very enjoyable and away from all the bad elements of the island. Kids had a blast.
Grand Cayman Island: (Pirates Cruise) -- We did the 2-hour pirates cruise with the kids. Again, a very enjoyable experience. Kids got to scrub the deck and then everyone had the option to walk the plank and swim in the ocean (life vest mandatory).
Cozumel, Mexico: (Mayan Ruins of Tulum) -- WARNING!!! This is not a kid friendly excursion as advertised by Carnival. Long trip to the ruins (1-1/2 hrs), somewhat of a walk to the bus and then again at the ruins. Little legs will struggle with the distance. If you take your kids (younger then 5) bring a stroller! Some of the shop merchants are a little pushy. Ruins are great once you get there, and the ocean behind them is beautiful. Because out ship was an hour late getting into port and because of issues with our 2yr old, we did not get to swim in the ocean.
The rest of the trip was fantastic. We got back to disembarkation port early. A lot of people said to not put bags outside of your room the night before. But since we had time on Sunday we did. No issues, in fact it worked out great. Boat docked and began letting people off by 7:30. We were off the boat by 8:30, through customs and on the bus by 9:15. Got to the airport so early we were able to catch the 11:50 flight to Colorado.
December 9th departure with advertised ports of call: Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Spent a day and a half in port of departure because of light fog. Carnival dropped Jamaica from the itinerary. After spending two days cruising to Grand Cayman, they also canceled that port of call.
We did have a good day in Cozumel.
On the way back to Galveston they stopped in Progresso as a substitute for Grand Cayman -- what a dump, absolutely nothing to see or do.
Service on board was very poor, entertainment was marginal; a high school review would have had more talent.
The entire ship smelled of tobacco and body odor. Spent each morning removing someone else's cigarette butts and puke off of our balcony. This was the worse vacation we've ever had.
Carnival went out of their way to keep us in the dark about the changes in our itinerary, and their compensation for missed ports and delayed departure from Galveston was insulting.
I cannot recommend this cruise line unless your idea of a good time is sailing around the Gulf of Mexico for seven days surrounded by smelly juvenile acting drunks. All we couldthink about was getting off this prison ship and going home. We'll never sail with them again.
Ship was beautiful. Crew was frendly. Service was good.
Two major complaints: Food did not begin to meet the hype. Food in dinng room was -- well, mediocre is a kind description. I tend to grade on the curve. A meal in a downtown bus station is a differant catagory than a four star setting. This was four star ambiance with excellent service which only made the poor quality of the food really stand out. We ended up eating at the poolside hamburger line.
The other major complaint was the lack of understanding of the needs of the mature [senior] guest.
The ship was delayed 4 hours in docking. We arrived dockside at 4:20 pm instead of 11:00am. The line [four abreast] was unbelievably long and did not move. My wife had had bilateral knee replacements and another person in our group had had a knee replacement. No place to sit, no information, no water, no one to control the line breaking. We were at our physical limits by the time we got on board at 7:15 pm. We were given chits that directed us to open seating in the Monet Resturantstarting a 8:15 pm. We arrived at 8:30 and were greated by one of the crew who said the resturant was full and was closed, please come back in the morning. Did I mention this was a 50th wedding anniversary cruise. Wow, what a start! After that, the weather stepped in and we spent the next day in port.
For this trip to have gotten any worse, we would have had to sink. The apparent lack of coordination with the late embarkation left me with serious reservations about their abilities with regard to emergency preparedness.
I might add, there were any number of items that burden seniors and mature travelers. The public address system that kept explaining why we were not going to make scheduled ports and was used to give decks and room numbers of people who needed to come down to the lobby for debarkation, was very hard to understand and was intermittent in our cabin. We kept running out in the passageway to try and hear/understand the instructions. I felt very grateful that there were no serious problems that required the P.A. system for instructions. Oh! were the elevators were challenging also! Overall, this cruise had the charm of those two night/three day free trips where they explain the joys of "Timeshare Ownership."
Embarkation The ship was late getting into dock in Galveston. We arrived at 9:30 A.M. and had to wait until noon to board because the ship was not ready. This was a group of 10 cabins and 20 guests for an onboard wedding in Jamaica.
Once Onboard Dining Changes: We went to the Maitre D first to check on our dinner reservations. Our party of 20 had been scattered over all dinner times and different restaurants even though we had requested the same dining time with tables next to each other. (We were told the ship was full and they could not change the dining arrangements even though the error was Carnival's. They did say maybe some other openings would happen as other cruisers requested to have dining time changes. By Monday night after we threw a fit, they managed to get our dining situation right.
Locating Cabins: We then went to our rooms and most were ready. We met with Greg our cabin steward and then proceeded to the Lido deck to eat. We met some of our Cruise Critic friends and then went back to the room to start unpacking.Our luggage showed up at intervals up until the last piece arrived at 6PM.
Handicap Accommodations: We brought our own wheelchair and oxygen concentrator for my DH. It took us a very long wait time throughout the cruise to get on an elevator. The elevators ran slow anyway and when they got to our floor they were too full to let a wheelchair patient on. It would be nice to have one dedicated elevator for handicapped passengers only. It was hard to negotiate the walkways and halls. We had to move chairs, cleaning carts etc. out of the way. The staff would see you having a difficult time and they would just watch. This was not cool.
Dining: Overall, the main thing we were displeased about was the dining. From room service, to formal dining, to the buffet -- that the food was bland and reminded us of going to the local Denny's. The midnight buffet was a disappointment as well. We enjoyed the dining experience on the Elation and had high expectations here as well. The Point dining experience was wonderful. I was amazed at how the food could be so different on the same ship. The pizza was exceptional and because the main dining food was so bad, we ate a lot of Pizza.
Friendly Staff: All the staff were very friendly and made it a point to call us by name. It just would have been better had they gone out of their way a little to help me with my DH's wheelchair.
Wedding Experience: Our wedding planner, Monica, was the best. Everything went off without a hitch. The reception was held in Henri's Disco. It was beautiful.
Room Our room was very comfortable, however our heat and air in the room did not work for the entire cruise. There were many attempts to fix it but I suspect this is just a problem for this room. 7268. Mini Suite. Next time though, I will get on the odd cabin side of the ship. The sun setting made it uncomfortable in the cabin and on the balcony.
Sea Days The pools were cold. The hot tubs nice. The flow of the Conquest is poor. You have to change floors to get from one end of the ship to another. Level five went through so you had to keep going back to the elevators to navigate around the ship. Doing this in a wheel chair was the pits. The sports activities like basket ball and putt putt were on the top levels as was Carnival kid's camp. The winds are vicious up there and unless you were holding onto a rail, you could easily be blown over, no lie!!!!
Ports Jamaica: This was our favorite port! We were a bit apprehensive due to all the reading about Jamaica. We did the horseback riding excursion and loved it. We were back on board in plenty of time for our 3PM wedding.
Grand Cayman: I only went shopping there but others in my family took the jeep excursion and went to the beach. Everyone had fun.
Cozumel: We did the Chakanaab snorkel and had a great time and then spent a lot of time at Sr. Frogs.
Disembarkation This was a nightmare. Last time we did the self assist and it wasn't the best, so this time we decided to stay on the ship longer and have our bags taken the night before. When our "number" was called we proceeded to customs in the line that went on forever. The line for porters was long as well so I'm not sure if that would have helped. We are undecided on what to do next time. Debarking with a wheel chair made me think of never going on a cruise again unless it is solely for the handicapped.
Smoking Smoking was an issue throughout the ship. It would be nice if they made the atrium a non-smoking area. Even around the pools or decks it would be nice if they clearly identified smoking areas. Everywhere we went was smoke. This was hard on my DH because of his poor lung function. My eyes were constantly red and not even Visine could get the red out. Even where there were signs stating "No Smoking" folks still smoked and no one stopped them.
Entertainment Shows ranged from poor to exceptional. I think this is a personal preference issue.
Medical This department needs help. It is located on the zero level. The elevators are turned off going from 1st to zero level on port days. This meant that my DH had to leave his wheel chair on 1 and take the stares down to zero where the clinic was, and he had to fight the crowds going ashore. His oxygen was not strong enough for him to exert himself. His oxygen concentrarion reached a critical low level. I thought he was going to pass out. He had to keep sitting down on the stairs. The medical staff said they had addressed this problem with Carnival to no avail. Every employee on these ships should be trained in life saving skills. Basic CPR is a must. One passenger died after having a cardiac event, while waiting for the ship's EMS and Doctor to get from level zero to the 9th floor cabin. Having an AED located three to a floor would have saved this man's life. With 3000 guests and 1500 employees it is not unreasonable to anticipate frequent heart attacks and drowning.
Camp Carnival We had 2 in the 11-13 age group. Both kids hated the camp. The staff was grumpy and there was very little organized fun. THIS CAMP NEEDS HELP.
Overall We had so much fun even with all the shortcomings of this ship and crew.
My family and I sailed on the 7/29/2007 of the Carnival Conquest. About us, I am a 39 year old male, my DW is a couple of years older, and we are traveling with our six year old daughter. We were also traveling with a group consisting of two other couples, and one other family of five.
SUMMARY: This is a long review. For those that do not want to read everything, we had a great cruise, with some problems thrown in. It was great traveling with friends which really added to the cruise experience. We loved being with a group. The food, entertainment, the ship, and our cabin were great. The shore excursion desk on the Conquest is horrible. I strongly advise you to avoid booking Carnival Shore Excursions (read our experience in the shore excursion section of this review). We had a great cruise and would gladly do it again, but would book our own shore excursions.
ARRIVAL & EMBARKATION: We left our home in Brenham, Texas around 8:00 a.m. on the morning of the cruise. We met up with 2 of the3 other families that are traveling with us. We arrived Galveston at 10:15 a.m. we parked at Lighthouse Parking (pre-paid on the internet, $50). They treated us very nicely. We had a brief wait for the bus.
We entered the cruise terminal at around 10:45 a.m. When we entered, security checked our documents and sent us upstairs. They had just started boarding the wedding parties, guest with special needs, & VIP's. We waited in this line for about 20-25 minutes. Once they started our line, we made it through security, Sign & Sail, photos, and boarded the ship by noon. We were having lunch on the lido deck by 12:10. Our cabins were ready when we finished lunch. Note: if you arrive early, you can take great pictures of the ship before lots of people get onboard and block your shots.
THE SHIP: The ship is huge. There are some wonderfully beautiful areas of this ship, and then there are some areas that are a disappointment. The ship was very clean and was in great shape. They were constantly cleaning. The lido deck restaurant is very nicely decorated and well laid out. There were numerous food stations, buffets, drink and dessert stations, and lots of tables. We never once had trouble finding a table, nor were the lines ever impossibly long. I personally like the lobby with all of the art work and colorful features. The ships library is a disappointment. I have been on other Carnival ships that had stunning libraries. The Conquest library just seemed cheap and tacky. The Murano (sp?) Glass flower lamps that line the lobby and promenade are beautiful and fun to look at. The casino was a typical casino, nice but nothing special. I have read numerous complaints about the layout of this ship. I will admit that I studied the deck layouts in some detail, however, I found this ship simple to navigate and well laid out. The clubs and bars all had various special features that made them nice. I did not like the Degas Lounge. I am not exactly sure why, but it just seemed to dark, and just did not appeal to me. The sunflower atrium was nice and the large lit sunflower was pretty. The dining rooms were both exactly alike in décor, however I liked the Monet where we were assigned due to the large windows. I initially did not like the Toulouse Lautrec lounge, however as the week went by, I discovered I liked it more and more. It seemed to grow on us. Smoking was allowed in to many areas, it was not horrible, but I would like to see it more limited. Hopefully Carnival will consider following RCCL's lead on their smoking policy.
GYM/SPA: The gym was nice but was often crowded early in the morning and so it was hard to get a machine. One complaint here, the gym opens at 6:00 a.m., but the spa does not open until 8:00 a.m. therefore if you want a locker, you cannot get one until the spa opens. I did find a spa employee there early one morning who acted as if handing a key to me was a huge inconvenience. I did not receive a spa treatment (mainly because the prices were way to high), but a friend did and she said they were way to pushy trying to sell various products during the massage. Prices did get cheaper as the cruise week went by with various specials. Do not book ahead of time or you will pay to much.
OUR CABIN: We were in cabin 1031, a balcony cabin on the Promenade Deck, on the starboard side of the ship. We loved our cabin. It was great for the three of us. The layout was nice, the decorations were nicer than I had expected, and the bed was wonderful, on par with the Westin Hotel Heavenly Beds and other premium hotels. Our cabin steward (Mon) was awesome. He really took great care of us. The cabin was truly spotless when we arrived, and he kept it that way all week long. My only complaint about the cabin was the shower. We brought cloths pins, magnets, and did everything we could to keep from flooding the bathroom every time we took a shower. It still flooded. It seemed to drain slowly, and water ended up on the floor. Also, when people on this board mention there only one outlet in the cabin, they mean there is only ONE PLUG. The suggestions to bring a power strip saved us a lot of problems. Thanks to all who posted this suggestion.
THE FOOD: The food selection was vast. All of the buffets and lido deck locations were open including Sur Mer, the Chinese place, the sandwich place, and all desert counters. The food was fresh, well prepared, and well presented. I have read some complaints about this area, but my experience was good. It is a buffet, keep your expectations realistic and you will enjoy this area. The Gala Midnight Buffet and the Chocolate Buffet were very well presented and nicely laid out.
The dining room had great service. Our waiter (Alexjandro) and bus boy took great care of us. The food was very good, not 5 star, but very good. We were able to always find something good to eat. If my daughter did not appear to like her food, the waiter was always attentive and offered to bring her something else. Also, our Matre'd, Joesph Anthony, was very visible, came around to the table, greeted us each evening as we entered the dining room, and was even visible in the Lido area several times. This is the most active and visible I have ever seen a Matre'D.
THE POINT SUPPER CLUB: We dined at the point during the middle of the week. Awesome pretty much says it all. I did find the frequent comparison to a Ruth Chris Steak House to be wrong. The cooking styles and menu are very different. That is not to say it is bad, just different. The service was truly 5 Star, and the food was very well done. The amount of great food was stunning. The off menu items that kept showing up as "complements of the chef" were neat and very good. This is a "don't miss experience" and well worth the $30 per person charge. We dined with another couple who were traveling with us and had a great time. Great food, great company, great service, and a great environment, what more could you ask for.
ENTERTAINMENT: Overall the entertainment was very good. If you have sailed Carnival before, the entertainment will be familiar to you, and yes some of it can be a little corny, but it is still fun. There was always something going on, and there seemed to be something for everyone. The shows were generally very good. Point & Click was the best of the two production shows. Deja, the magician, was good but not great. Some of her tricks were obvious, bit again, we enjoyed most of her show (be realistic in your expectations). The juggler was great, and real laugh. Also the Mo Town show was a lot of fun. One of my favorite shows was the Carnival Legends show. Not only was the music good, but seeing fellow passengers dress up and perform was really fun. Some were awesome, and some were funny, but all were great in their on way. The Conquest Orchestra was awesome. It is worth going to the shows just to hear them play. They did a great great job.
CAMP CARNIVAL: I felt that overall Camp Carnival did a good job. My daughter seemed to enjoy Camp Carnival. A lot of the kids wanted to see more of Fun Ship Freddy than they did, but that was a minor complaint. One issue I did have is that there were times when they moved the camp about the ship and did not leave a notice telling you where they would be in case you wanted to check your child in. We are not one of those types of parents who simply want to drop our child off for the entire cruise. We enjoy having her with us, and letting her experience many things. However, during the times when we did need to drop her off, Camp Carnival could be hard to find. Overall, this is a good program, but could use some improved communication with the parents. This program has won awards for Carnival and I can see why.
SHORE EXCURSIONS This is where I had my biggest disappointment with Carnival. The cruise director (Mark Price, who we enjoyed) kept talking about how Carnival would be there for us (to protect us) in his shore excursion talks, but boy did they let us down.
In Jamaica, we decided to do our own thing. We took at taxi to Sunset Beach Resort, (which we could see from the balcony of our ship). The taxi only costs us $6 (make sure it has a red license plate). Sunset Beach was great. It was much cheaper than the excursions offered by the ship, and was all inclusive. Their water park was great, the food was good, and the beverage service was nice. The beaches were very nice, and the people were fun to be around. This is an older resort, but it appears they have added some very nice newer rooms onto the resort over time. This is a great beach excursion and much cheaper than the similar Carnival excursions ($100 vs. $300 with Carnival).
In Grand Cayman, we booked the Turtle Farm, Hell, and Sting Ray City Tour with Carnival. Our total group took this excursion and so there were 12 of us. Our bus driver was great and really informative. The Turtle farm was neat, but we were somewhat rushed. There was not much to see in Hell, but we can say we have been to Hell and back (haha). The real disappointment here was Sting Ray City. They crowded about 3-4 bus loads of people onto this boat. It was way to crowded. The guys on the boat were nice, but you were packed in like sardines. This also meant that once you arrived at sting ray city, you were in a huge crowd that did not get lots of one on one time with the Sting Rays. The people that I talked with who booked independently said that their excursions were much better. I noticed a Captain Marvin's boat at the sandbar, there appeared to be about 15 people on board, and they appeared to be getting much more personal attention and paid about the same price we did.
In Cozumel, I had planned to Scuba Dive. I had seriously considered booking a dive through another company but in the end allowed myself to be intimidated about the ship not waiting if we did not make it back in time. BIG MISTAKE! I ended up booking a 12:30 p.m. dive through Carnival with Sand Dollar Sports. I showed my dive certification at the time I purchased the tickets and asked if I would need them the next day. I was told no. They instructed us to go to the end of the pier and wait. We did. No one was there and no one showed up. I went back to the ship and asked questions and no one seemed to be able to tell us where we needed to be. I finally discovered that we should have been at the beginning of the pier (shore side), not the end (which was written on our tickets). Upon arrival there we were told that we were late and that we did not have our dive cards which we were told we did not need. The person from Sand Dollar Sports was very rude and short with us. He took us over to Carnival's Shore Excursion Assistan Manager. He informed me that he would only refund 75% of fee paid, despite the fact that Carnival was responsible for this problem. When I tried to talk to him he walked away from me. Needless to say I was VERY angry. I re-boarded the ship and of course no one from the shore excursion department was on the ship. I had to wait until 6:00 p.m. to talk to a manager. Upset is not the word for how I felt. Due to the incompetence of the Carnival Conquest shore excursion department, and the rude way we were treated by Sand Dollar Sports one of the things that should have been a major highlight our vacation is ruined. When I finally met with the Shore Excursion Manager, she was also very rude and patronizing, and would only return 75% of my money. She did promise me a letter to be delivered to my cabin with corporate shore excursion contact information, but of course it never arrived. I am disputing the remaining 25% that was not returned with the help of my credit card companny. I have also contacted the Carnival Guest Relations Department. They seemed interested and gave me a reference number. The lady seemed to think that my 25% would be refunded. We eventually took a taxi($15) to Paradise Beach (very cheap, $9 per person) where we had a good time. They had lots of activities and a nice beach. There were rocks and swim shoes are needed here unless you have really tough feet.
My best advice is to NEVER USE SHIP EXCURSIONS. You can find and book better excursions on your own so that you will receive personal service and will not be treated like you are on a cattle car tour. Carnival will not protect you and your satisfaction is not guaranteed.
CONCLUSION: This was a great cruise, not perfect, but still a great trip. If you are planning to cruise read everything you can on this board to prepare for the trip. There are truly some wise and experienced people who gave great advice that enhanced our trip. We are thankful for this board.
We sailed the Conquest to the Western Caribbean March 18-25, 2007 with our kids (ages 8 and 4). Our cabin was #7299, one of the Penthouse Suites on the Empress Deck.
We stayed at the Harbor House for two nights prior to boarding the ship. Left our car with them for the entire week for $20! Yup, $20!!!! Had a front row parking space so we had plenty of folks passing the car if something happened. They also have security and the police that patrol the area so we felt confident about parking with them.
We loved the Harbor House! It was pricey but the view we had was over the pier (under the cameras!!!) so we saw all the ships dock etc. Talk about views!
Sunday morning we decided to have a quick bite to eat and head for the ship. We were in line by 11:30am and the VIP line went quickly (aided in part I'm sure by the use of passports), we boarded and were in our suite by 12 noon! The kids and Dh put on their swimsuits and headed for the pool. I stayed behind tounpack etc. Our bags were at the door by 130pm.
Our cabin was very nice and quite. The bathrooms was large and the tub was wonderful! Hard to get in and out of but nice. We thought we might have the bunks for the kids but they had a sleeper sofa to share and it worked out fine. We were told the Conquest doesn't have bunks in their suites which disappointed the kids. We had plenty of storage space, 3 full size hanging closets and a set of drawers, plus the vanity in the bathroom dressing area. We didn't even use all the closet space! Everyone had two drawers which was nice.
Our cabin steward, Maria (from Romania) and her ass't Marco (from the Philippines) were awesome. They were so friendly and had fun with the kids.
We scheduled the early seating in the dining room and had the Monet upper deck. Our waiter and staff were the best! We never had to ask for a thing, they were on the ball from the get go. We hated to leave them behind :(
Headed for Camp Carnival's orientation meeting after supper and viewed the camp afterwards. The staff was pumped up and ready to receive the new batch of kids and there were a lot of them! Dd was in the 2-5 group with 3 counselors and Ds was in the 6-8 group with 3 counselors. They had a blast all week with lots of different activities scheduled.
Our second day at sea was rough (12+ waves) and ship was rocking from side to side. We had to make an emergency stop in the Caymans due to someone breaking a hip as a result of the rough seas. We were soon back on course headed for Jamaica.
Once we docked in Jamaica Dh and the kids headed to Rose Hall for a day of fun in the water. I stayed on board and read a book and took sunning breaks on the balcony. It was a cloudy day with showers every so once in a while but it didn't damper anyone's plans.
Our next port was Grand Caymans. We had scheduled an early morning swim with the stingrays but it was canceled due to rough seas :( We were all disappointed but got a full refund within the hour. We decided to head to shore (tender) and do things on our own. Had lunch as Senor Frogs and had a great time. Got some great t-shirts and rum cake of course!
Our last port was Cozumel. Beautiful weather, couldn't have asked for anything more. Our excursion here was the Dolphin Discovery, booked thru the company. Our original time was scheduled at 3:30pm but with the time change it wasn't going to work because we were operating on "ship time" and not Cozumel time. We called and they happily bumped us up to 2pm. Once we arrived and checked in we were scheduled for 12noon! GREAT, that left the rest of the day to play around! This was one excursion everyone should do. The kids saw a 1 week old dolphin, swam with a 3 mo old dolphin and met 2 mothers-to-be.
We didn't watch any of the evening shows due to having the kids with us. We were all asleep by 10:30 pm every night, loved being rocked to sleep!!! But we did play games during the day while they were at camp. Had a blast but didn't win the Ship on a Stick, sniff sniff.
Our last day at sea was very relaxed and nice. We were not looking forward to the cruise ending one bit!
The only thing that really disappointed us was the scenery. No one's fault except Mother Nature but it just looked like home. No palm trees to greet us at all, or if we saw some they were small. The hurricanes really did a number on these islands and it still shows. We were surprised how far every port has come in a little over a year, it's really incredible and a testament to the people.
As we were coming into Galveston I was awakened by our ship's horn blowing at 5am. I woke Dh about 5:15 and called him out to the balcony. It was very cloudy but we could see many ships in the water within close proximity to us. We knew something had to be "up". Sure enough, we were in the search party for the people that jumped ship off the Princess!
We finally docked around 7am. Disembarkation took forever! Even the crew said they didn't understand what the hold up was. We all figured it must be in Customs, maybe they found something in someone's luggage????? Our deck was finally called at 11:30am. We were back in our car after a short walk back to the Harbor House parking lot by noon. Headed home.
Overall, we really enjoyed our cruise, the staff made it special. We would love to take this cruise again in a few years to see how far the recovery effort has come.
Quick Conquest Review: The best cruise we have ever been on! The ship and crew exceeded our expectations. 5th cruise for myself and my wife, 3rd for my two boys, and first for son's girlfriend.
Now, for the Long Conquest Review;Sunday – December 31st, 2006
Parking/Embarkation New Years Eve! Myself, my wife, 2 boys (22 and 17) and oldest son's girlfriend are booked for the cruise. We are from San Antonio and decided to go a day early to Galveston. We stayed at the Ramada Limited on Seawall Blvd. The rooms were small but it worked great for one night and it included breakfast. (Bonus—You can see the Conquest from the hotel!) I had pre-booked with EZ Cruise Parking. It was easy to find and we arrived around 10:50. I was told all shuttles were only returning passengers from the cruise terminal until 11:30. Parking was available so I just drove to the terminal and dropped off the gang and the luggage. I drove back to EZ Cruise, parked the car, and walked the couple of blocks back to the ship.
By 11:20 we were in line and within 30 minutespassed through security and were holding our Sail and Sign cards. I think part of the ease was using passports this time. Very quick and easier than birth certificates other documents. They had already started to board the ship so we jumped in the short line, had our welcome aboard photo taken and was stepping onto the deck of the Conquest just before the noon hour.
Our Room We were on the Upper Deck in rooms 6454 and 6471. Room 6454 is an Aft Balcony room that allows 3 people in the room. We had plenty of room with the most amazing view off the back of the ship. If you look at a picture of the Conquest, the balcony spans the area between the R and the N in CARNIVAL. 6471 is an inside cabin on the same deck.
We were able to go to our room as soon as we boarded. The room was open and almost ready to go. Our room steward greeted us and told us to feel free to put our carry on luggage in the closet and close the room door. We did and headed off to the Lido deck for lunch. My youngest son and I went straight to Sur Mer for fish & chips. (Fresh, hot, and GREAT). Everyone else went to the buffet for a variety of pizza, pasta, and ice cream. After eating we went out on the deck and were surprised to see complimentary champagne being passed out to guests. (This was going to be a wonderful cruise;.) The ship was decorated for New Years. Lots of balloons everywhere! On the Lido Deck you could buy a balloon for a couple of dollars and they would give you raffle tickets to put inside. (Raffle was for entry tickets to win a free cruise) After blowing up the balloon and decorating it, you could toss it inside a giant net above The Studio Atrium.
The free champagne ended prior to the LifeBoat drill. We completed the drill and grabbed a drink of the day on our way to the front of the ship. The Conquest left around 5:15 and we all waved as she pulled away. The temperature dropped quickly once the sun started to set!
Our dinnertime was at 5:45 in the Monet dining room. We only had one other couple at our large table and they were like part of the family. We enjoyed dining with them. The HeadWaiter didn't seem to be overly friendly or want to talk much. Normally we find the HeadWaiter wants to know your name or a little bit about you. That was ok though, his assistant made up for it. The food was probably the best we have had on a cruise ship and perfectly cooked every meal. After dinner we were given party favors and noisemakers for the New Years party later that night.
We went to the welcome aboard show had a chance to see our cruise director Mark Price and a comedian Tim Harklewood. He was the first of 3 comedians we would have on board over the week. (Along with a magician, a juggler, and Las Vegas style shows) I was very impressed with the variety and amount of entertainers on board.
After the show we walked around the ship looking at everything and ended up in the Degas Lounge. The band was Blood Power and they really are excellent. Around 11:00 PM we went to The Studio Atrium for the huge New Year's Party. (It was moved inside due to the low temperatures on deck.) The free champagne was flowing again and everyone was having a great time. Waiters were carrying two bottles each and making sure your glass stayed full. Mark Price did a countdown at Midnight. Music played, balloons fell, and everyone cheered at the top of their lungs. Everyone was hugging and kissing, I have to say it was the most incredible way to bring in the year 2007
Day 1 Our first day at sea was relaxing. We became more familiar with the ship and enjoyed the activities on board. We started the day 1 with breakfast in the Monet Dining room. It was the only day we went to the dining room for breakfast, all other days we went to the breakfast buffet.
Today was the Captains Cocktail Party (Degas Lounge) and our first Formal Night on board the ship. The party was one of the best I have experienced. Plenty of seating, lots of staff serving food and drinks. The band Blood Power played on stage. Very well done!
The entertainment was Formidable in the main lounge and an adult comedy show at midnight with Tim Harklewood. Formidable was good but not great. A lot of talent and energy in the entire cast, but the lead singers didn't seem to carry the show as strongly as I thought they should. (Just an opinion!)
Tim Harklewood was fun and we chuckled about a few of his jokes through the entire cruise.
Day 2 Our second sea day at sea even better. The water was becoming more beautiful the closer we got to Jamaica. A lot of our walking around the ship seemed to always end up near the pizza or the ice cream. (I do love cruising!)
We went to the newlywed/not so newlywed game and truly enjoyed it. I almost died laughing when an older gentleman answered the question "If on a deserted island, who would you rather be marooned with. A hooker or a nun?" His answer, "A hooker dressed as a nun." That was worth two points in my opinion!
We received invitations and attended the Past Guest Party. Again held in the Degas Lounge and entertainment by Blood Power. Once again it was filled with waiters serving free food, and free drinks. We were full and tipsy as we walked to dinner!
Jamaica I was on deck with a video camera as we docked in Jamaica. A beautiful place! From our aft balcony you could see the Sunset Beach Resort, our destination for the day. We left the ship and went to get a cab. It was a bit congested but within a few minutes we had a cab for $2 a person. The ride is quick and check-in was a breeze. We paid $40 per person for Sunset Beach for the day. The front desk held on to my Sail and Sign card until the end of the day. The price included all food, drinks, waterpark activities, pools, snorkeling, and boating. (Paddle boats and kayaks). We did it all! The Jamaican Jerk Chicken was wonderful and the snorkeling was perfect. The day was well worth every penny we paid and we never felt nervous or hassled by anyone. We watched the sun set over Jamaica from the ship and then pulled away.
The entertainment for the night was Deja, Diva of Deception. I have to admit a couple of her tricks had me scratching my head and asking the family "ok;how the heck did she do that?!?"
The late night comedy show was Diane Ford. I laughed so hard and give her the top award for comedy act on the ship. I would like to see her perform again.
Grand Cayman We booked the first Stingray City Tour that Carnival offered. When we received our excursion tickets I noticed the show time was at 6:45 AM. That is very early on a cruise ship! We met in the Toulouse Lautrec lounge to receive priority tendering. It was easy to find our excursion leader in the crowd at Grand Cayman and we boarded a bus to ride to the small boat. There were about 45 people on the excursion and the boat didn't seem crowded at all. After about a 40 minute boat ride we arrived at Stingray City. The water was so clear you could see the little beasties come from nowhere and swarm the boat. Everyone got in the warm water and the stingrays immediately swam around your legs, between them, and if they thought you had food;.they would come out of the water for a closer look. There was food available to feed them and after a few minutes everyone was touching and petting them. By the end of the tour we all took turns kissing them goodbye. It was one of the most unique and wonderful experiences of my life.
Tonight was the second formal night and we dined at The Point restaurant. The service wasn't as good as I thought it should be but the steak was one of the best I have ever had in my life. Desert included the flowerless chocolate cake. The comment was made at our table "If there was a chocolate Heaven, this would be God". Truer words were never spoken.
Marc Rubben performed the late night comedy show tonight. A funny ventriloquist and we enjoyed the show. Only problem I had was a few of his jokes were being played on the TV prior to his performance. So if you happened to be watching the Carnival channel you might know the punchline prior to hearing it. That's ok... We still laughed!
Cozumel This was our third time in Cozumel. We docked and went shopping without any excursions here. In the past we have done power snorkel and snuba here and loved both excursions. This time we bought a few souvenirs had lunch in town and did some people watching. A very relaxing day.
Tonight's entertainment was juggler Manuel Zuniga and ventriloquist Marc Rubben doing his family act. Great stuff.
Sea day Very calm seas and beautiful sun. The weather was nice all week and this was a perfect day to relax before leaving tomorrow. The Chocolate Buffet was delicious and there were even milkshakes available. The dining room was once again wonderful. We ended our final dinner with the Chocolate Melting Cake. A dish of chocolate cake that is warm cake on the outside and warm liquid chocolate on the inside with a side dish of ice cream. Yumm
The show tonight was the Carnival Legends. Guests try out all week and audition to be a part of this show. We were entertained by Elvis, Madonna, Garth Brooks and more! Only on the Conquest could you find the King and have him perform one last time
Our Best Cruise Yet A wonderful trip that truly did exceed our expectations. The food was top notch both in the buffet and dining room. Pizza and burgers were also awesome! One thing I noticed this cruise, that I had not seen before, was in the buffet dining area there would be waiters pushing around drink carts to refill your glass at the table. You didn't need to go to a drink station for refills of tea, water, or juice. A very nice touch.
Normally my wife gets a bit seasick. This cruise she never felt sick at all. I'm not sure if it was the size of the ship or the stabilizers, only that she enjoyed every day without being queasy.
I'm not a big Bingo player but we did play the 5 games for $5. I thought that was a good deal, even though I didn't win.
Overall A perfect cruise. I would cruise this ship and with Carnival again without hesitation. You can find a few pictures of our cruise at: