BW, myself, and 2 daughters took the Carnival Conquest to the Western Caribbean from New Orleans on 5/9/04. BW (Beautiful Wife!) and I went to NOLA a couple of days early to let her have her first look at The Big Easy, and we stayed at Le Pavillon:---EXCEPTIONAL!!!! Daughters were each coming from different directions.
BW and I arrived at the Julia Street Terminal #1 early-about 10:15 AM. Don't want to miss the boat! There sat the Conquest--majestic, monstrous, dwarfing everything around her! Simply overwhelming! Passengers were still debarking from the previous cruise, and the "Sea Caps" were busy with off-loading passengers' luggage. So, we wrestled our 4 bags into the waiting area. Though we were quite early (boarding supposedly wasn't to begin until 1:30 PM), there were already a couple of hundred people there. Because of the ongoing debarkation, we were asked to take a seat in the first of several sets of "yellow chairs", just opposite the check-in counters. We were also handed a welcome letter, which said we would be able to board early, but to stay away from the rooms until the crew had a chance to make themup for us new arrivals. The letter also said the Lido buffet would be open for lunch after we boarded.
About 11 AM they began the check-in process, and we made our way to an open Fun Pass check-in position, baggage in tow as instructed. Our ID's and ticket were checked, and we were given our stamped boarding pass. Then, we were told to proceed to another desk to pick up our Sign & Sail card/room keys and take our luggage with us. After picking up the S&S cards, we were told to return to the outside waiting room until boarding, and that the Sea Caps would pick up our luggage there. While waiting, one daughter arrived and found us. Shortly afterward, the Sea Cap came to take our luggage; and, much to our delight, he was willing to take daughter's Conquest-tagged luggage even though she had not yet checked in. Relieved of the luggage burden, we went outside for picture taking and to just marvel at the ship.
Also, another great accommodation by Carnival: the two daughters were booked on the same ticket, though each was to arrive at a different time. First daughter to arrive checked in and asked if she needed to stay outside and wait for the arrival of the second daughter. They said "No, she's now in the system." When second daughter arrived, all she had to do was give her name, show ID, and she was on her way on board.
The three of us came back into the waiting room about 11:30, and passengers were already lined up to pass the ID/boarding pass check and gain entry to the next room, and set of yellow chairs. Carnival personnel directed us to successive rows of chairs as each row would fill up. Just about noon, security people told us to have our drivers' licenses or passports available for inspection; and, Carnival people began directing each row to the door, taking them in the order that they had entered this room. The next room, with the ubiquitous yellow chairs, was where we waited to have our boarding pictures taken. Again, Carnival people directed us in order, row by row, to the photographers' lines. I must say that all of this moving and lining up was handled very well and orderly, with no crowding, pushing, or people jumping line. This is a tribute to Carnival's efficient boarding procedures. After the pictures, we boarded!
Walking up the stairs and across the entry bridge was a total thrill! Each passenger had to put their S&S card in a machine, which checked it's validity, took a picture of the passenger, and registered them as "on board". BW's card was inexplicably "Not Activated"; but, a quick pass by the Purser's counter to our left, and in less than 3 minutes we were officially on board! WOW!!! What a view! You enter the ship on Deck 3, the Lobby Deck, where the first thing that greets your eye is the Atrium. One can look up along the 4 glass elevator shafts, to the 10th deck! That's 7 decks up, folks! And, this is a ship! A classical trio was playing in the lobby as we boarded. I joked and said "Please, not classical! Too much like the Titanic!" Yeah, I know: lousy joke. We grabbed lunch in the Lido Buffet, where second daughter joined us. Then, we were all off to explore the ship.
The Lobby Deck (#3) has the Purser's counter, tour counter, the Lobby bar, the lower level entrance to the Toulouse Lautrec theater, and the Renoir and Monet dining rooms. Deck 4 (Atlantic) houses the photo shop and gallery, and second level entrances to the theater and dining rooms. Also, Alfred's Bar and the Internet Café are on this deck, but more easily reached from Deck 5. Deck 5 (Promenade) has all the shops, the casino, most of the bars (7!), the coffee and sushi bars, and yet another entrance to the theater. The Lido Deck (#9) contains the Cezanne buffet and grills, pools, hot tubs, and 2 outdoor bars. Deck 10 (Panorama) has The Point--the extra cost 5-star restaurant. Deck 11 houses the Spa/Health Club, walking/jogging track, and basketball court. Deck 14 (Sky Deck) contains the entrance to the water slide. Staterooms are found on Decks 1, 2, and 6-11. The glass elevators serve Decks 3-11, and there are three banks of enclosed elevators that serve most all decks. Entry and exit to/from the ship in ports of call is accomplished on Deck 0, which is predominantly crew.
Casual dress was fine at dinner, as most had to wait for luggage. Luggage finally made it to our rooms while at dinner.
BW and I were on the Panorama deck (10), port side, 4 cabins from the front. Size of the cabin was about 185 sq. ft., with bed set up as king size. There was a sofa with cushioned back, which could become a twin bed if needed. We had a balcony, with 3 chairs--size was about 3 ½ ft. by 8 ft. Had 3 closets, plenty of drawer and shelf space in the desk/counter and under the sofa/bed, TV, safe, and luggage could easily be stored under the bed. The FREE (!) safe could be locked and unlocked by using a credit card, but they suggested NOT using your S&S card. It had plenty of room for wallets, passport, jewelry, and perhaps a video or still camera, but not both. Bath had shower (no tub-OK by me), shampoo and liquid soap dispensers with PLENTY of each, basket of goodies such as dental flosser, shower cap, and Rolaids! Plenty of towels. Girls room was almost directly beneath ours, port side, forward, but on Deck 1 (Riviera). It had same basic storage and bath features as ours, except it had twin beds. Had 2 portholes, but girls didn't look out for fear of getting queasy! They complained of pounding noises at night, which they thought was stuff being moved around. I suspect it was from waves hitting the hull, as they were fairly close to the water.
One comment about the balconies: there was a comment in some review about the "privacy" panels that supposedly prevent neighbors from peering around at your balcony, or climbing from theirs to yours. In truth, they are only 5 inch wide panels that run from the railing to the top of the balcony, and they would certainly NOT deter anyone from looking onto your balcony, nor would they stop a determined cat burglar. Matter of fact, the neighbors on either side of us looked around our panel and said good morning a few times. Certainly friendly, but blows the heck out of privacy. Also, we seemed to be right in the middle of a group that was cruising together. Those in the two cabins to our right knew each other and those in 1 cabin to our left. They frequently shouted greetings to each other in the morning. Could have done without that!
For those first timers who might worry about sea sickness: The Conquest is the largest in passenger capacity of the Carnival fleet. Though it is shorter than others in similar classes, it is a good bit wider. As a result, there was no pitch (front to back rocking) at ANY time, even though we had 6 ft. swells at one time (per the Captain). There was just a tiny bit of roll (side to side sway) when the ship turned (only natural, if you've ever been in a smaller boat, or ridden a motorcycle), and a couple of other times going in and out of ports. BUT, that was so gentle, it was hardly noticeable in the inner ear. One had to look out the windows to see it. I didn't notice anyone looking green or frantically running for the head (bathroom to you landlubbers). AND, no one hanging over the railing! After Cozumel, and Senior Frogs and Carlos and Charlies, there were a lot of folk unsteady in their gait, but didn't see any get sick.
Table service breakfast, lunch, and dinner were served in the Monet and Renoir Restaurants. Open seating for breakfast and lunch, assigned tables for dinner. Each had two dinner seatings, with the Monet starting at 5:45 PM and 8, and the Renoir starting at 6:15 PM and 8:30. There was NO class distinction between the two--your assignment was simply luck of the draw. Some reviewers felt the Monet was more desirable, as it was at the stern of the ship, and the entire back wall was all windows. However, I found it a bit dark. The Renoir was much brighter, as it was more amidships, and had windows along both sides. Our assignment was early, in the Renoir. We had a rocky start with our waiter "Arpy", ( Arpyana, from Indonesia), as he seemed a bit disinterested, and his service left a bit to be desired. For instance, he would serve perhaps 2 or 3 of a particular course at the table, and the remaining party would have to wait sometimes as much as 5 minutes for their similar course to be served. Though that might have been the fault of the kitchen, a good waiter would wait until all diners' food was ready, and served them together. (We know! Wife and daughters have owned restaurants and served for most of their adult lives.) One time he needed to reach an item that was at the farthest end of the table from him, and he simply pointed to the item, rather than asking for daughter to hand it to him. There was another (normally) head waiter named "Amelia" from Hungary, who was efficient, personable, and VERY professional. We mentioned to her that we would have preferred her to be our main waiter, expressing our dissatisfaction with Arpy; and, she showed her true professionalism, tact, and diplomacy by saying "Well, he has different qualities." I turned in a comment card expressing our dissatisfaction with him, and received a form letter of thanks for the comment. BUT, the following night, Arpy came on like a REAL waiter--a complete 180 turnaround from before. As we got to know him better, we learned what might have been his problem: seems he has to be away from his family for some 6 months, and he has a baby on the way. From that point on, we all warmed to each other; and, via the end-of-cruise comment card, I praised him highly, and voted him "Most Improved Waiter". Though I almost adjusted the automatic tip at first, I wound up leaving it in effect, and gave both him and Amelia a cash additional tip for their service.
As for food, I read a review somewhere in which a reviewer said the food was lousy. I couldn't DISAGREE more! The food was quite good, with a dizzying variety. Each evening's menu contained at least 2 meat entrees, 2 fish entrees, and a vegetarian entrée. Starters included gourmet cold soups such as Cold Cucumber, Zuchini, and Vichyssoise. GENUINE Caesar salads were served on several nights. Every menu had "Spa" selections in all three main courses that were designed for the calorie and fat-conscious. Of course, desserts did not make it on that list! One particular entrée that really pleased me was the "Essence of India"-a variety of Indian entrees, breads, and condiments. Wonderful! Portions of everything were adequate but not excessive. Needless to say, one could order as much or as many of anything that one could want: the girls frequently doubled up on desserts! The steaks were the only disappointment to me; the sirloin (not the best cut anyway) was a bit fat and contained more gristle than it should have. And, they and the prime rib were not as rare as I would have liked. But, face it: most folks don't care for rare beef. The chateaubriand and filets saved the day. We had talked about doing "The Point" on one night. But, they girls said "Hey, we're getting 5 star service every night. Why pay $25 a head for the same thing we get already-included?" So, we skipped that.
The enclosed, air-conditioned area contained 3 double-sided serving lines, and several separate dessert and beverage stations. One of the serving lines was designated the "Nation of the Day" line, and each day had specialties for the selected region: French, Caribbean, American, etc. Paul's Deli served corned beef, pastrami, and other deli fare. P. C.'s Wok served a variety of Oriental dishes. Outside forward was a station called The Broiler, I think, which was a miniature of the indoor lines, and an ice cream (soft) station. Outside aft was the Grill, which served burgers, dogs, and minute steak sandwiches, and The 24 hour Pizzeria, as well as another ice cream station. Though I seldom ate a full meal at the buffet, I did look a bit and sample the more interesting dishes. Carnival posted a menu at each serving line, and labeled the dishes with place cards on the glass in front of each dish. I've got to give it to Carnival: their buffets were NOT in the class of Golden Corral or Ryan's. They had FINE food, with interesting and tantalizing entrees. There was a carving station with roast meat for every lunch and dinner service. The salads were NOT the usual pasta, cole slaw, and potato salad one might expect: one in particular that piqued my taste buds was a Cold Smoked Beef salad. It consisted of julienne strips of smoked beef, with julienne strips of a somewhat crunchy white vegetable (jicama?), and a cream style sauce (mayo, sour cream?) containing a hint of horseradish. Not overbearing, but definitely tasty. I could have made a meal on just that! Even the standard old green salad station offered spinach leaves along with the iceberg lettuce, as well a large variety of other salad toppings.
The pizza was good--had some almost every night at midnight. Though I never had a burger or hot dog, I did have a minute steak sandwich one day. Same problem there as with the sirloin steak in the dining room: too much fat and gristle for my taste. I did have a combo deli sandwich, and it was great.
Each night there was a mini midnight buffet aft, around the Grill and Pizzeria. A dessert station was set up between the Grill and Pizzeria, but no other additional food was available. Of course, that was plenty! The Grand Midnight Buffet was held on Thursday night in the indoor area. Very fancy pate's, sandwiches, ice sculptures, and sculptures made from large blocks of cheese. AND, the most luscious desserts of the cruise! Had to partake of those. Oh, and on the last "Sea Day" (Saturday), the Nation line served a Chocolate Extravaganza!!!! That's the ONLY time I've ever gotten my fill of the food of the gods! Every kind of chocolate cake imaginable, hard ice cream, shakes, cookies, chocolate covered strawberries, truffles (YUM!)-and, I only gained 5 pounds!
A couple of reviewers somewhere posted negative comments about breakfast in the buffet, saying that there was only one omelet station. I didn't find that to be true. Each serving line that was open had two cooks preparing custom omelets: there were seldom more than one or two people waiting. Also, each cook could have 2 omelets in progress at the same time. In addition, the Broiler (outside, forward) had an omelet station.
The only negative I can offer is DEFINITELY NOT Carnival's fault. On the day that the "Nation" line featured Caribbean fare, I watched in horror as one lady, who had no idea what Pepper Stew tasted like, took the serving spoon from the serving pan, tasted it, and offered a taste to her friend, then put the spoon back in the pan!!!! I turned and walked away. No wonder there are epidemics of sickness on some cruises!!! That woman was a totally selfish, inconsiderate, thoughtless BOOB!! Certainly, Carnival (or any other cruise operator) can't prevent such idiotic behavior, short of stationing attendants to monitor all serving areas. May that wretch writhe in pain with ptomaine!!!
Spent a lot of evenings in Alfred's Bar. They had a jazz trio most nights, and it's the only place INSIDE that one could smoke cigars. They even sold cigars: Fuente's, Partiga's, Macanudo's, and other top lines, at $4 and up. Sorry, no Swisher Sweets! Waitress, Sylviyah from Bulgaria, remembered me and my drink order after only one visit. Very impressive! In the afternoon, they had a tea, with coffee, tea, and fine, small pastries, with the classical trio entertaining. NO SMOKING at the tea. The easiest way to reach Alfred's is to go aft on Deck 5, past the casino, past the coffee bar, and watch for signs pointing down to Alfred's and the Internet Café. The Internet Café was oddly named--never saw anyone eating in there. I did see a few souls willing to pay the high bucks to check their E-mail, but not this geek! Henri's was the disco. NOISY late at night. But, on a couple of evenings, they had 70's, then 80's music. Vincent's was the karaoke bar. A lot of fun, but awfully noisy. Rowdy young folks mostly. Only open about 3 hours each night. Blues was a fortunate find. It is a piano bar, with pianist "Joe", who is really a versatile and talented entertainer. Sing along with everything from country to Billy Joel. You gotta hear his rendition of Charlie Daniel's "The Devil Went Down To Texas". Degas Lounge was a large venue, the largest lounge on the ship. It had a good, live rock and R&B band every night, with dancing. Gaugin's Bar was just off the casino, and quiet except for the noise of the slots just outside. No entertainment, but TV screens showing news and other network fare all over. There was also a bar with a one-man band entertainer at the end of the casino. He seemed fairly good, though I didn't stay very long to listen at any one time. The Lobby Bar had a piano opposite that was used by classical pianist "Odeta", from Lithuania. She played each night for 3 hours, with hour breaks between each set. And, one afternoon, she played a special classical concert. She takes requests, too. Quite talented and personable. An island band (steel drum, guitar, etc.) played on the Lido Deck at the Sky Pool and Bar (forward) in the afternoons. They also played occasional evenings at the aft pool/bar. Latour was a wine bar on Deck 5. Never stopped there, so I can't comment about it. The Coffee Bar was disappointing, and all items are extra cost. Espresso was good, but skip the other specialty drinks.
Our cruise director was Stuart "Little". Very personable, and funny. I've always thought that Aussie's were the most fun-loving folks on the planet, anyway. Too bad he got saddled with having to do so much selling. But, his debarkation presentation was GREAT! Don't miss that on Saturday morning. I read a review wherein someone thought the shows weren't particularly good. He didn't think there was anything worth seeing. (Same guy that didn't like the food! Why the heck did that guy even go on a cruise?) Now, I lived in Phoenix for 30 years, and in 26 of those years I was a 4-times-a-year (or more!) visitor to Vegas. I caught (among others) Elvis, The Righteous Brothers, Tom Jones, Duke Ellington, and a lot of dancing reviews. I've got to tell you, the shows in the theater were every bit as good as the shows I saw in Vegas--on a smaller scale, mind you, as the theater and stage are smaller. But, the dancers are just as precise and professional, they have moving and rising stage sets--everything one would expect of production shows. And, variety--a great R&B singer, a magician, comedians, dancers. The stage band was great as well! Not the usual (for these days) 3 guitars, a drummer, and a tambourine. But, a full 17-piece band with brass, reeds, piano! They played 40's music (Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, etc.) a couple of nights for dancing, in the theater; and, they played behind other entertainers most nights. Really professional and polished. A pleasure to listen to.
Had no interest in these--I'm on a CRUISE, people! BW and daughters got off the ship, but did independently planned activities. Daughters dove in Grand Cayman, but did not book with Carnival. No problems with timing.
We were told to put our luggage outside our rooms by midnight Saturday night. Those with early flights were given special VIP luggage tags, and met at 7:45 on Sunday morning in the theater. From there, they were the first to leave the ship. (Daughters did this, and made their 11'ish flights without a hitch.) The rest of us were told that we would be called to leave the ship by luggage tag color (based, of course, on your residence deck), starting at 8:30 AM. We were NOT told that we couldn't take our luggage off ourselves, and I saw some that did just that. However, they did say that if anyone tried to board out of their order, they would be sent back. They preferred that we wait on Deck 3 or 5, or in the theater--they needed to get us out of the rooms so that the crew could make them up for the next sailing. The tag colors/decks were called in a random order: not top deck down, or any kind of priority scheme. The Panorama deck was not called until about 10 AM--no problem for us, as we were staying another night in NOLA anyway. Debarkation was a breeze-just had to show our ID once. Customs took our declaration forms, didn't even look at them, and hurried us on our way--no questions about what we were bringing back, or how much booze. Luggage was arranged in a huge hall by deck. It didn't take us very long to find ours. I enlisted the aid of a Sea Cap to wrangle our 4 bags and bunches of carry-off (the booze, you know!). He took us right to the taxi line, and we were away, MUCH TOO SOON.
I traveled all over the world for some 23 years, to Asia , Europe, Australia, and visited some 20 + countries--even flew around the world once. I particularly enjoyed the diversity of nationalities among the crew on the Conquest. I was able to meet people from countries I've never visited, and learn about their country. A great deal of my travel was in Business or First Class air; and, I've stayed in some pretty good hotels as well. I have to tell you that I have seldom been treated any better than by the employees of Carnival. Sure, there were some who didn't smile, who maybe had a bad day, or weren't as effervescent as others. But, most were very cordial and concerned. Even the people maintaining the ship were courteous and friendly for the most part. When you would meet a crew member in the elevator or a hall, most would smile and speak. Each question or request was met with a smile and a sincere attempt to answer or help. Yes, I would cruise with Carnival again, and I will as soon as I can afford it!
We arrived in New Orleans day day early. The city couldn't have been more friendly. We recieved a warm welcome from everyone. Toured the French Quarter in the afternoon and returned in the evening to enjoy mthe piano bar and hurricanes at Pat O'briens, Highly recommend it. The next morning (Our sail date) we hopped on the streetcar to explore the garden districit and for breakfast at the Camillia Grill. We requested a late check out and returned to the hotel and packed up to get to the pier. We took a taxi , about 14 dollars for the couple.
We arrived at the pier around Noon, lots of confusion. we made sure to get on the right line, which was long and felt un organized. After the long check in process of moving from yellow chair to yellow chair it was finally time to board. Yet, another line...to have our picture taken, I personnally can't stand those. Atlast we were aboard the Conquest we got to our cabin to find that we had been upgraded from a guaranted to a Main Aft cabin. Now I know what the big dealis about the Aft cabins ..great views, no balcony but a large window.
Not to get to get into every detail my opinion was this. We really disliked Mobay, Jamaica we took an excursion to Ys Falls and a boat ride down the black river. The drive was long and painfull. I would suggest that if you decide to get off the ship at all to enjoy any excursions, the ones that got rave reviews were the Horseback riding and the lazy river raft. They both don't require much traveling, I highly recommend that you keep from having to board a bus for longer than a half our, important if you suffer from cronic neck or back injuries.It's hard to say stay on the ship when you have been there for two days prior.
Our next stop was Grand Cayman. We booked a tour on our own, I had been there twicw before and knew were I wanted to go. We took a catamaran sail to stingray city and then snorkeled and had a VERY GOOD lunch. The Tour was with Red Sail Sport which is located at the Hyatt Hotel. It was a Wonderful day and we got lots of sun.
Cozumel, was a first for us. We enjoyed the island very much . People were warm and friendly and the port was also nice and clean. We took a cab to chanakab bay park. We had booked a Sera Lion swim online before we left, good thing we did it was booked up as well as Dolphin encounter. The Sea Lion swim was great we got lots of time in the water with sea lion and lots of hugs and kisses. We were even able to take our water camera with us. I recommend the Sea Lion encounter and the park. We rented snorkel gear afterwards and enjoyed the park we even sampled some local food which we enjoyed . It was a great day.
All in all we enjoyed our vacation. The things that we felt Carnival needed to work on was this . SERVICE, they lacked any attention to detail.I'am pretty easy to please. If my air condition doesn't work in my cabin and I alert you for 3 days I finally want it fixed by at least the 4th or 5th day. I quess I can't complain they did give us a fan. The Entertaiment was Okay, nothing to write home about, most of the time it bored us to sleep. We did however REALLY enjoyed the Blues club. There was a piano player there every night. He was excellent. He made sure we all had a good time, don't miss him. He played everything from Led Zepplin to Sinatra to Buffet. He salvaged our thirst for entertainment.
Food, was like the entertaimnet Okay, meat was never cooked the way you asked for it. The service was very slow. Our assistant waiter was awesome we liked her best. The one good thing about dinner was towards the end on some nights they would turn down the lights and turn up the music and the waitstaff sang and danced on top of the table it was very cute. The desserts were the best part of the meal, very interesting combinations. It's nice when you can try new things. Yes, Yes ,Yes the Pizza was good and so were the burgers. We did however goto the Monet Dinig room for lunch one day and had BBQ ribs...very tasty. They didn't mind that we had bathing suits on. they welcomed us in.
We had a wonderful time. Mostly we liked New Orleans...were planning a weekend back with friends real soon.
Entire trip was fabulous!!! Purchased my vacation for my 40th to get away from it all and it was well worth it!!!
The Cruise Director, Corey, and his staff did an excellent job of keeping us entertained, for those who did not appreciate the humor....get over it that's entertainment!!!
Oh... and if you still read these: Hey you from Fremont next time you skip school to come to my town let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for making my birthday. I can officially say I went to hell and back!
My husband and I sailed on the Conquest during the March 7-14, 2004 cruise. This was our 2nd cruise and 2nd on Carnival. We are both 28 years old. I am a pharmacist and my husband is a physician.
We arrived in New Orleans on March 6 and enjoyed the city. There was a cardiology convention in town and the city was booked solid. We stayed at the Embassy Suites. This was a perfect location for my husband to watch the 4am arrival of the Conquest since we were just across the street.
We headed to port around noon. There were no huge lines but there were tons of people in separate sections of chairs waiting. The embarkation process took around 1 ½ hrs. Finally, we were on the ship. It was beautiful. We were on the 6th floor with a balcony. You could definitely tell this was a new ship. I will add that our room attendant was terrible. I'm not sure if she ever actually did anything. She also made the same towel animal over and over. I expected better.
We had the 2nd seating of Main dinner. Our waiterwas wonderful. Only random couples showed up at dinner each night at our 10-person table. The food was good. The choices were adequate. Portions were small. The seafood selection each night was good.
The shopping talk was a big sales talk, which was quite annoying. My husband won a $100 gift certificate to a jewelry store in Cozumel. The sales clerk quoted us a price on a piece of jewelry of $250 without knowledge of the gift certificate. Once shown this he expected the $250 payment plus the $100 gift certificate. What a rip-off. Also, Carnival has a new vacation club, which they harped on over the PA all the time.
Ports of call: Jamaica-Very beautiful land. I don't feel this is a very safe port. We took a taxi to Margaritaville. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. Then we stepped back out onto the street to wait for our taxi driver. We found ourselves in the midst of some very threatening drivers who were mad because we would not ride with them. Once our taxi arrived we were whisked back to the ship and hopefully never to return to Jamaica. Very scary.
Grand Cayman-Amazing and beautiful. I would move here if it weren't so expensive. We took a private tour with Dexter's Undersea Adventures. We took a catamaran with 10 other total passengers to the Stingrays. Wonderful. Dexter fed us fresh fruit and juice. This was probably some of the best tasting fruit we had ever eaten. He also told us of growing up on the island and how it has changed with tourism. I would highly recommend.
Cozumel-This is probably one of our favorite places to visit. We took a taxi into town and ate at Panchos Backyard. The food is always excellent. We spent the remainder of the afternoon shopping. When we returned to the ship we hung out at the port in the hammocks alongside the dock. We left around sunset. Picturesque view.
The entertainment on the ships was wonderful. We really enjoyed both shows. We were amazed how the dancers could perform on a rocking ship.
The thing we enjoyed the least was the spring breakers. I was truly concerned for the safety of some of these kids. One girl passed out in the elevator from alcohol poisoning and had to be taken to the infirmary. The rowdiness of these spring breakers made the trip hard to enjoy at times.
This was a fun trip. The boat was beautiful. Service was lacking. We would go on Carnival again but not at spring break. We look forward to cruising again and trying to find a better fit with other cruise lines.
Background: we are late 40's and we are cruise addicts. We have cruised 14 times, including HAL, Celebrity, NCL, RCI, and now Carnival. We like active excursions like scuba diving and ecotours. We get the cheap inside cabins so we can afford to cruise more often. This was our first Carnival cruise. We feel that this was overall a good cruise and a good value for the deeply discounted price. I would recommend it to active younger cruisers who like to party, first-time cruisers, and those who pinch pennies (like me). I would not recommend it for those who want an elegant ship, fine family entertainment, and fine dining.
Good: Embarkation/debarkation, cabins, food at the alternative locations (pizza, deli, grill, room service food).
Poor: Entertainment, ship décor, dining room.
Embarkation was fast and smooth. The port of New Orleans is great. Parking was expensive at $84 per week. Debarkation was smooth and quick; everyone was off by 1045 a.m. I was impressed with how efficiently they moved the 3000 passengers on and off the ship at all ports. Inside cabin was nice and roomy even for all our scuba gear. Cabin steward wasgood and room service food was good. Ship was fairly clean and well maintained. There are many hot-tubs, a water slide, nice fitness center, numerous clubs/bars, etc. The décor is mainly French Impressionist; I found it gaudy and tiresome. There was nothing "nautical" about the Conquest; it's more like a hotel than a ship.
Passengers were great. All ages represented. A good crowd; mostly from Louisiana/Texas and the south/mid-west. Very friendly and accommodating to fellow passengers and crew. Very few children but those that came seemed to have a good time; the kid's program has a pretty good reputation. Personally I would avoid taking young kids to the shows; they're boring and a little too risque for my tastes. Food was OK in both dining room and buffet. Not near as good as Celebrity or HAL, but overall fairly tasty and well presented. DINING ROOM: Lots of interesting selections, but steaks were never done right, fish was mediocre, and soups were not hot. Dining room service was friendly but slow and inaccurate. Dining room was far below HAL and Celebrity. In our dining room, the staff performed nightly "entertainment" by dancing on the tables; I found it loud and juvenile and it only interrupted my meal and our table conversation. BUFFET: Food was generally good with different selections each day for lunch. ALTERNATIVE DINING: excellent. Pizza was very good as was the deli and the grill. If you are happy with "fast-food"; this is your ship.
Entertainment was unimpressive, except for a very good cruise director who was the best entertainer on the ship. Production shows were gaudy and loud and uninteresting, and entertainment was a little on the risque side. Secondary entertainers like the juggler, singer, poolside band and the bar musicians were below average.
Tipping: Carnival automatically adds their "recommended" tip levels to your on-board account. First of all I feel tipping is a personal matter; secondly I feel the recommended levels are a bit too high. I cancelled the tip charge when I came aboard and then tipped the staff myself with cash in envelopes (at a little less than the recommended levels.
Montego Bay Jamaica was disappointing; they've over-fished the reefs and the waters there are nearly dead. My dive-master said the country does not enforce fishing rules and everything that moves is caught & eaten. The port at MoBay is somewhat run-down. Many of our fellow cruisers who went downtown said they were frequently hassled by panhandlers and peddlers. Jamiaca is a beautiful nation run-down by economic and political problems. We will probably treat future stops there as "days at sea". Very sad, but reminds me how good it is to live in the USA.
Georgetown Grand Cayman. We shore-dived at Eden Rock dive center right next to the tender pier: beautiful coral grottos and lots of ocean life and clear warm water. I'm amazed at how quickly the ship moved all 3000 passengers ashore.
Cozumel: they were spectacular dives as always. I have dove here often and NEVER tire of it. Did 2-tank drift dive on Palancar reefs and walls. I can't imagine diving being better. 100ft+ visibility and tons of marine life and a mild current that makes drift diving effortless and fun.
Overall this cruise was fun and a good value. I'd do it again at a low price in a heartbeat.
My wife, my wife's parents and I sailed on the Conquest on January 25. This was by far the best cruise we have been on. Not sure if there is anyway to top it. Going to Try.
NEW ORLEANS We drove from the D/FW area of Texas to New Orleans. We wanted to enjoy a little time in the BIG EASY so we arrived a day early. We stayed at the Courtyard near the Convention Center on Julia Street. The hotel is located two blocks from the Convention Center, The River Walk Mall, and approximately 1-½ miles from the French Quarter. You can walk to the mall and see the Julia Street Cruise Terminal. Later in the evening we took a cab to Bourbon Street and went to the Chris Owens Club. Chris Owens the owner and entertainer of the club is a cousin of father-in-law. She has been entertaining at the club for over 40 years. Great Show! Stop by and say hello! You will be surprised to see a Lady in her 70s dancing and sing like someone half the age.
EMBARKATION Word of advise if you aredriving to the terminal in you vehicle, be early. We drove approx. 1 mile from the hotel to the terminal and were in line by 11:40 AM and were turned away from the parking lot by 12:00 PM because the lot was full. We followed the other vehicles to the front of the terminal and unloaded the luggage. I asked the porter if there was any parking near the terminal. He advised me to go to the Fulton Street parking lot and they would offer the same price ($84) as the terminal and a shuttle would bring me back. When I returned to terminal my wife hurried my into the building were my mother-in-law was waiting in a short line with the carry-ons. My wife was very excited and stated that we had been upgraded from a 6A guarantee to an 8D on Lido Deck. After checking in at the front decks we were moved to the next room and the "yellow chairs" that anyone talks about. After approximately 20 minutes we moved into the next room with more yellow chairs and another 10 minute wait. Boarding photos were next then security. No problems!!! We were on the ship in approximately 45 minutes from beginning to end.
THE CONQUEST AWESOME!!!!!! Not much else to say. Some areas of the main deck do get crowded at times, but not a big deal.
ROOMS The rooms were bigger then the last rooms we had on the Norwegian Sea. Queen size bed, sofa, table and chair. Plenty of closet space, even to large storage drawers under the sofa. The only problem we had with the room was the shower kept overflowing.
CRUISE STAFF I had read so many remarks about Cruise Director Corey Schmidt, but Corey was not on our trip. I believe Stewart Little had been promoted to Cruise Director. He did a wonderful job. The entertainment and activities were great.
SURPRISE Unknown to us when we booked our cruise so had approximately 840 guests from the Grand Ole Opry! Traveling with the group were 5 entertainers, Trace Adkins, Brad Paisley, "Whispering" Bill Anderson, Jeannie Seely, and Jim Ed Brown. Unbelievable!! We where unable to see them perform because the shows were for the group from the Grand Ole Opry, but we meet and saw them around the ship. We meet and had photos taken with Trace Adkins, while shopping in Montego Bay. We meet Brad Paisley and had photos taken while waiting on the tender boat in Grand Cayman. One night we went to the Point Restaurant to celebrate my wife's birthday and all the stars set at the table behind us. They even sang Happy Birthday with us.
PORTS OF CALL
Montego Bay Not the best place to visit, but we made the best of it. I would advise just take an excursion from the ship and skip the shopping in downtown. The venders are real pushy wanting you to by this and that and everyone wanting you to take their tour. We went shopping and then returned the ship to change into swimsuits for the Wet N' Wild Party Cruise. Good Time! We went snorkeling and to Margaretville.
Grand Cayman The ship had to anchor at Spot Bay instead of Georgetown because of the weather. We had booked a tour to stingray sandbar but decided to cancel due to the water conditions. My wife does not like to snorkel and is not a good swimmer. Instead went took a cab into town and went shopping. While in town we meet three other passengers of the Conquest, who asked if would like to take a tour with them. A guide Gloria Lopez was very nice. She took us by the Governor's House, Turtle Farm, The Rum Cake Factory, Hell, and Seven Mile Beach. Beautiful beach!! Great trip for $14 a person, plus we tipped her well because she took us back to the tender boat.
Cozumel We have been to Cozumel several times. We do the usual shop and eat thing. Go to the town square for some good deals on souvenirs. Carlo's and Charlie's is next. Go have a good time and dance in your chairs, or just watch everyone else.
DEBARKATION This took a little longer that excepted. But all was OK.
To top it all off my wife won the free Cruise Giveaway!!! We are now planning our next Cruise!
My husband and I sailed out of New Orleans on the Carnival Conquest, December 14-21. It was a wonderful trip, and we both had a great time!! This was not our first cruise, so our expectations were pretty high for this ship and its crew. Embarkation was relatively easy. We parked at a nearby parking garage for the same rate as parking at the cruise terminal ($84 for the week). The advantage to this was that our car was in a covered garage, as opposed to in an open lot. The shuttle from the parking garage dropped us off at the terminal. It would be wise to park before dropping your bags off, otherwise you must sit in traffic. Once we got into the terminal, about 12:00pm, we waiting in one short line to check in, one short line to receive Sail and Sign cards, one line to have our embarkation photos taken, had our bags scanned and got on the ship. The whole process took less than an hour. Once on board, we stopped by our stateroom. Weren't we surprised to see that we had been upgraded from a4A guarantee to a 6B?! We had a fabulous view of the ocean and the window really made quite a difference. The stateroom had ample space and was tastefully decorated in soft tones. Lots of pinks and wood. The bed was made up as a queen with two nightstands on either side. There was a sofa, a height-adjustable table and a chair, as well as a vanity built into one side of the room. There were several drawers, including two large ones beneath the sofa, three closets, and a few other little storage areas. The bathroom was done in green and chrome, very clean with little glass shelves. Overall, the room was very pleasant.
Décor of the ship and favorite spots The rest of the ship's décor ranges from funky and fun to elegant and peaceful. The atrium is very showy, but classic at the same time. The various lounges are perfect with the themes given to them. Both of the dining rooms are laid out well, and decorated in cool colors (blues, greens, purples). One of our favorite spots was the gym. From there you could see out over the front of the ship. My husband used the gym almost every day. Although the equipment was limited, he enjoyed having the gym available. Men and women each have steam rooms and saunas, as well as clean changing areas. There is a beautiful whirlpool in the gym area that has a waterfall! Another area we enjoyed was the Sky Pool. This area has a retractable roof, so it is warm and dry even when the weather is not. The hot tubs in this area are for adults only, and sitting in them, you can see the ships wake. We also spent quite a bit of time in the Talouse Latrec Lounge for the various shows. We never had trouble finding a seat and had good views from most places in the lounge. The only spot that we didn't like was on the main floor underneath the balcony as it limited viewing slightly. The Sun Pool was on Lido Deck, and this is where we spent lots of daylight hours. The pool here is large, and usually not crowded. Two hot tubs raised above and behind the pool are ALWAYS filled to the brim with screaming little kids (nothing against the kiddos!) There are lots of lounge chairs arranged in tiers around the pool area. On some days we did have difficulty finding even one chair to use for the two of us. One day we watched a pair of chairs right by the stage area that were only occupied by towels. After watching for over an hour with no sign of anyone, we moved the towels to the side and settled in. (We even asked a "neighbor" if anyone had been using the chairs, she said no.) After we'd been in the chairs sunning and reading for an hour, a woman came over, screaming that we were in her chairs. We calmly pointed out the signs with Carnival's "no reserving" policy and told her how long we'd been there. After calling us a few choice names, she moved on.
Food The food on the ship was incredible. We ate in the dining room every night and always loved it. Our dining room team (Joey and Rex in Renoir) were amazing and took great care of us. We were always able to sample as many items as we wished, and usually our table (3 other couples who were lots of fun) ordered some dishes just for sampling! I highly recommend all of the soups, especially the West Indian Pumpkin soup. It is so very good!! For breakfast, we usually ate at the buffet. The omelets were great, but if you do not want one, there are two grills by the Sun Pool that have everything else and there was never a line. We did order room service one morning, but service was very slow, and the selection was very limited. We tried most of the various eateries during the week for lunch. The buffet was usually only ok. The grill was excellent, especially the burgers and chicken sandwiches. The pizza and calzones were good, usually not too bad of a line. Sur Mer, the seafood place, was only ok. I would have been happier had there been more variety, but the fish and chips was good, just very greasy. We ate lunch in the main dining room a few times, and it was always excellent. On the last sea day, do not miss the chocolate buffet at lunch! It was unbelievable!
Service The service was always impeccable in the dining facilities. Every last detail was attended to, and we really enjoyed our dining team. Had we not been on a cruise before, we most likely would have been satisfied with our stateroom attendant. However, our expectations were high, and he did not meet them, although he did do a passable job. A note about service, having tips on your S and S card was very convenient. We loved it, although many did not and felt that Carnival was "tricking" them.
Entertainment Entertainment was wonderful in the main lounge every night. We saw two production shows, an illusionist, a bird show, comedians and the talent show. All were first class and very well done. The scenery and costumes rival things we have seen at full scale shows in the theater. Corey, the cruise director, was quite cheesy and reminded us of a used car salesman. We did not go to any of his talks, but would just keep them on tv as we got ready for dinner. I don't think we missed anything as those talks are basically long commercials. As to the other entertainment, games and such, we enjoyed them. I won a ship on a stick playing trivia, and we enjoyed the other events as well. I do wish there were some different things offered, perhaps some lectures on culture in port, ship building, etc.
Ports of Call Montego Bay We enjoyed Montego Bay. We chose not to do any shore excursions through the ship this time around and we had a great time. From the pier, we took a taxi to Doctor's Cave Beach. It cost $5 a person to get in, and the beach was gorgeous. There were several water trampolines and a huge snorkeling area. We just relaxed and swam for awhile. I just cannot describe the beauty of the water. After a few hours, we walked down to Margaritaville. It was only a short walk. The people along the way offered us marijuana (smoke, ganja) about a dozen times, but a simple no was all that was needed. Also, many people asked us to look in their shops, but a simple no took care of that as well. Once at Margaritaville, we ordered two drinks. It cost $15 for both, but they were good. We each went down the water slide and played on the water trampolines here. I saw a stingray! When we were ready to go back to the ship, we hired a boat to take us as it was the same price as a taxi. It was a beautiful ride. We shopped at the pier before boarding the ship, and my husband bought me a very large, pretty flower arrangement for our stateroom. The flowers looked great in our room all week, and they came in a neat bowl that serves as a reminder of the trip. The flowers only cost $10.
Georgetown Due to high winds and large seas, we were unable to tender in to Grand Caymen as they closed the entire port and the alternative port. Carnival, per their policy, issued everyone a $25 credit for the extra sea day. We were disappointed, but understood as did most people. Of course, there were some unreasonable people who had to throw a fit. I even overheard one couple demanding to be helicoptered off of the ship.
Cozumel The area around the pier has really been built up nicely. There is not much reason to go into town, although the prices might be a little bit better, not much though. There is a nice taxi stand with rates already posted. Rates are for the entire cab, not per couple or person. Do not let the cab driver try to fool you. If they will not comply with what is posted, get out and find another cab. We went to Chankanaab Park and it was great. The cab ride is $10, admission to the park is $10 a person, and snorkel gear is $6. You can also rent lockers for $3 for the entire day. There are very comfortable lounge chairs on the beach, and the water is pretty and clear. We saw hundreds of beautiful fish, many more types and numbers than when we did an excursion to a reef last year. There are also some statues on the ocean floor. We watched the sea lion and dolphin encounters, made me wish I had done it. The park is also pretty to walk around, and we saw several iguanas.
Debarkation This would have been easy had people been able to follow the rules. They had Friends playing in the lounge, so it was entertaining until your color was called. Once our color was called, the madness began. People were waiting in the lobby and in stairwells, although they'd been asked not to. Many people were lined along the corridor waiting until their color was called and blocking the way for those of us already leaving. Some people who were leaving had no concept of a line and just melded together in a mass, pushing past those of us who were waiting. This is not Carnival's fault. Their system seems like it would work well if everyone would follow directions. Customs was a joke and no one even asked to see a photo id as we left the terminal.
Overall, our trip was fantastic. The Conquest was a beautiful, clean ship. We would definitely cruise on her again.
Sidenotes I forgot to include: Most people were dressed very nicely for dinner every night. We dressed for dinner every night, and found ourselves to be in the majority. Formal night was definitely formal, lots of glitter and shimmer on most of the women. We saw maybe a handful of people in jeans in the dining room, and since so few people were dressed that way, they stuck out.
On the first night, they had a free liquor tasting. They had great prices, and we bought several things. The best item we got was a coffee and cream liquor called Sheridan's that you cannot get in the U.S. I suggest taking stock of your bar before you go, then check out prices at home so you can see how much cheaper things really are.
NEW ORLEANS After having Delta cancel flight from Philadelphia due to snow we hustled to Baltimore to catch another flight with Southwest. The flight crew was great and humored us the entire flight. This helped from the earlier frustration. Arrived New Orleans @ 6: PM. Great place for homeport. Arrived one day early to enjoy town. Stayed at Holiday Inn - Superdome because of cruise special. Room was $99. Plus free shuttle to cruise pier. They also provided shuttle into town. Took limo from airport as cost was better ($75.) than getting two cabs for the six of us ($13. ea.). Ate at Margaritaville and took in Bourbon Street. Many football fans were in town from Tampa this weekend. Everybody was friendly, especially Rick at the Hotel who wore his Saints jacket and teased all the visiting fans.
EMBARKATION Arrived at pier about 12:00 noon. Went through all the registration, pictures, etc. in good time (about 50 min.). Arrived on ship, ate and actually had time to go back ashore to River walk mall to do some last minute shopping. Since it was a bit cool outside and nothing was happening yeton board this time was well spent.
BON VOYAGE I have always enjoyed leaving port. I have to say that it was a bit disappointing as the 6 pm departure conflicted with our 5:45 early seating. I thought that this evening's dinner should have been delayed about an hour. Nonetheless we procrastinated on deck for about 25 minutes before going to dinner so we can get the feel of Bon Voyage! It was dark already and New Orleans looked good at night.
FOOD We had early seating in Monet dining room. Food was good and much to be expected as this was our fourth cruise on Carnival. We tried most everything usually ordering two appetizers and two entrees. Dessert was not up to usual standards as we saw no baked Alaska, cherries jubilee, or any other flaming goodies. I thing that there was a problem with someone getting burned on a past cruise ship and since that they got rid of the liability. (The waiters no longer carry flaming items on there head while doing the dance of the night). We ate at sit-down breakfast a couple times but did not make the sit down lunch opting for the Lido buffet. We us to like the soups at lunch but did not see anything on the lunch menu to warrant breaking up the Lido deck fun. Midnight buffet was the smallest we have ever seen on a cruise ship. Although they talked it up as magnificent, we found it lacking and not worthy of pictures or the wait to eat. What ever happened to the chocolate covered strawberries and mousse? We saw a lot of breads, salads, and an ice sculpture that looked recycled from previous weeks buffet. We don't expect a grand buffet every night but when they have just one they should make it worth staying awake for. This one was also at the Lido whereas past cruises it was in the interior dining room.
SERVICE Dinner staff was adequate. Our waiter (Petr), a nine year employee was usually a bit confused and his tables were always the last to get served. We were often the last few tables occupied during first seating. They really make you uncomfortable when cleaning up around you when they are getting ready for second seating. First the music comes on, then warnings from the Maitre'd that there's just 20 min. to go, and finally he sends an army to wait on you so you finish. I only ordered wine once at dinner. On this ship waiter serves it. He left me holding the wine list for 25 minutes while taking the dinner order from all his tables. Once ordered he never kept our glasses full. I did not think that he deserved gratuity for this so I deducted some bucks from his prepaid gratuity folio. Server did not remember to get the children drinks and the usual attention they give the kids was missing. We don't look for fancy service when traveling with kids but it is nice when they get attention from the staff. We did not see the Maitr'd all week as I don't think he left his post (computer). This was unusual as we have always received table visits on past cruises. Tips for the Maitr'd were not automatically deducted from your folio but recommended. We opted not to tip and only hoped that he would visit us on the last night of cruise. I usually speak up when asked how everything is. He didn't visit so "no harm, no foul" and to each his own.
Room steward was terrific and always available. Rooms were kept neat and requests were made promptly.
Bar staff and waiters were attentive. We especially liked the Lido aft pool area where kids did not overrun the hot tub and the waiters were able to give you more attention. With the retractable roof open the chlorine boiling in the hot tub does not burn your nose.
ROOMS We had two rooms on Veranda deck inside forward. We had purchased two interior cabins on the TBD list. We were upgraded from 4A to 4E which only meant that the rooms are on a higher deck. Room was small just the same. The Veranda deck was one deck below Lido which meant that we were close to the action. The room was not equipped with a radio and TV channels were limited, especially for sports. We had more selection on Royal Caribbean as well as more movies. Drawer and closet space seemed more limited than other ships in Carnivals fleet.
ENTERTAINMENT Broadway shows were good. The signature show "Formidable" was a bit of a yawn and not as good as "Point and Click" which we thought was entertaining and original. The illusionist Diva show was terrific and probably the most entertaining of all shows as it also included the dancers. The juggler and Motown singer were so-so fill-ins. Corey's bird show was a nice break from the usual stuff but his magic could be better.
CRUISE STAFF Corey Schmidt was great and seemed at home with his audience. This is our second cruise with Corey and he does not seem pretentious and has some fresh material. He is probably the best in Carnival's fleet. His assistant Stewart was good at game shows but came off rude and uncaring when approached with a problem we were experiencing.
ACTIVITIES YEA! Carnival finally put a basketball court and volleyball court on a ship. The only problem is that they don't have any staff to organize teams, games, etc. You had to go from the 12th deck to the 3rd deck, stand in line at the purser's desk, leave a 20 dollar deposit and then you can get a ball to play. Then you have to stand in line again to return it. STUPID! We suggested to cruise staff (Stewart) to have the towel person do it near the pool just below the courts. Stewart could not grasp why we were so confounded with their procedure and did little caring. On Royal Caribbean they staffed the game area and had organized teams and tournaments. Even Holland America has a staff and gets you involved in sports. It seems that Carnival promotes "couch potato syndrome" as their cruise staff hosts bingo, game show trivia, etc... There is enough of that to do already with lounges galore.
SHIP Ship was clean and beautiful. The French theme was alright. Halls were usually cluttered in public areas with photographers and tables selling jewelry and such. It was very smoky in hall at casino area as they do not partition the room from the hall. While ship was cruising we felt weird vibrations. Our friends were on Riviera deck and experience a lot of vibration near the rear of ship. I thought that there may have been a balance problem in the azipods or something as the ship shuttered at regular intervals. The water was smooth but the ship had weird vibrations. In the Monet dining room (also at rear of ship) it was noticeable. Our room on Veranda was fine and vibration much less noticed.
PORTS OF CALL
Montego Bay Poor choice to visit. Read many bad reviews and listened. We did Jamaica beach break excursion ($35.). We were bused to a beach club which normally costs $6. for entrance. We were given a drink voucher and found out it was only good for soft drink. Ordered a rum & coke for $6. and bartender measured shot of rum. I have not seen a measured shot on any other island. We played beach volleyball until d-jay broke us up to run some games. We would have rathered played volleyball as games were slow in developing and not well organized. Very little to do as water sports all cost money. Rest rooms were poorly equipped upon arrival and not well maintained. When bussed back to ship the tour guide stopped the bus at a small shopping center and would not leave for 30 minutes. All the shops were extremely pricey and we did not like being sequestered. We complained to the purser and were refunded 25% of excursion and given complementary drink on-board ship.
Grand Cayman We booked a stingray city tour on-line before leaving with Native Way Water sports. We were mat at pier and bussed to yacht club to take a 25 passenger boat to the sandbar. The crew was outstanding. They provided plenty of squid and made sure that each one of us had ample opportunity to encounter the rays. They picked them up for you and educated us. We also stopped at coral gardens where we snorkeled. Again the crew jumped in and pointed out a moray eel and octopus for us. They served soft drinks on board and were helpful in all ways. They reserved us space and responded to e-mails in good time. They did not require prepayment. ($25. paid during trip). Cruise ship charged $54. for similar trip with "Ferry" of about 100 people.
Cozemel We took taxi ($10.) to Chukanauub Beach where we snorkeled and scuba dived. This state operated beach is reasonable and well equipped. Beach service is good and prices very reasonable. $10. entrance fee, about $7. for snorkel, mask and vest. $50. for scuba gear. Food and drinks modest. No water sports.
We left to go jet-skiing at Mr. Sancho's beach club. This was located a bit farther down the road at San Francisco beach. Entrance was free but chairs, umbrella's, etc. all cost money. We did not care as jet ski was $50. for a half hour and drinks were reasonable. Beach was nice. Food and shops were also good. We would probably visit here again.
DEBARKATION We had early flight (10:45 am) from New Orleans. We got tags for early debarkation. We were worried that ship would arrive in port late as it did the week before and we would have problems. This was not the case and we left ship about 8:40 am. Baggage was sorted to a dedicated section for early birds and we got through customs with ease. We made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare.
My husband arranged this cruise for our 7th Anniversary. We have sailed on Carnival ships in the past and are going on our next cruise with Carnival in March of 2004. So we hope our review is helpful to those planning their first, or next, cruise:)
Our Cabin: we went all out with a Category 11 suite, complete with balcony and a jacuzzi bath tub! Cabin was huge and went beyond our expectations!!:))) We were able to board the ship easily, being we were part of the Skipper's Club. We got to bypass the long lines in the New Orleans cruise ship terminal. If you book a category 11 or 12 cabin, you get this added benefit:)
The Ship - the Conquest is huge and beautiful! It was kept extremly clean and the paintings and art work through out the ship were amazing! My husband especially loved the water slide up on the Lido deck! If the weather had been better, we would have spent most of our time at the pool and slide!
The Crew - the crew can make or break your sailing experience and we can say thatthis crew was amazing! We have a lot of people on board to thank for the great time we had!
First, thanks to Nigel for tracking down our luggage (which American Airlines left behind in Texas!!). He stayed on top of it all for us! Our bags arrived on a later flight and he made sure they were transported to the ship and delivered to the cabin for us! He literally saved our cruise for us, as all we had were the clothes on our back!
Jordan, our Cabin Steward was the BEST!! Our room was always clean and the towel animals made our nights! Everything from a stingray and snowman right up to a monkey hanging off our balcony door!! Jordan was always smiling and was always happy to help with whatever he could!
Waiter & Assistant Waiter - wish we would have gotten their names!! We had main seating in the Monet Dining Room and these two great guys took the best care of us! Even though they work 12 to 14 hours per day, with seldom a day off, they still greeted us and everyone with the largest smiles and the sunniest of personalities!
Cruise Director - while Corey is the cruise director (and he and his trained birds are nice) I have to tell you that Stuart, from Australia, easily won our hearts hands down!! His sense of humor kept us all in stitches and his grin is the best one we have seen! He was always around when you needed him and his smile and laugh were contagious!!! Our vote is for Stuart to be head Cruise Director!!!:)
Point Supper Club - this supper club costs extra (around 25. per person) but is well worth it! The attention you get there is unmatched and the quality of food is wonderful!!
Food - ok, speaking of food, every single place we ate at on board was Wonderful!!! Whether it was the formal dining room, the lido deck buffet, the deli, the point supper club, etc, we thouroughly enjoyed all the meals and desserts!!!
Complaint - one on board complaint for us was the fact that, when you use the soda fountain card, you are looked down on by some of the wait staff in the lounge and some of the bar areas. We found ourselves completly ignored by one woman in the lounge (I believe her name was Tiahana). Once she knew you would be using your soda fountain card, she would steer clear of you. They need to work on some of the attitudes concerning this.
Other complaint - we had to visit the infirmary once and, while the doctor was good, the staff behind the reception desk was not. They were cold towards everyone and offered no help, even to a woman who was limping back to the doctors area. No wheelchair or assistance was offered to her at all.
Ok, on to the ports and shore tours!
Montego Bay - skip it. Awful place, not the friendliest of people down town. A lot of people on the cruise were disappointed with this port. Also, do NOT waste your money on the so called Pirate Ship Cruise there as it turned out to be a small boat that might hold 15 people but they were trying to jam 35 or more people on to it. The only thing that even makes it a so called "Pirate ship" is the cheap tiny plastic pirate flag tied to one of the ropes on it! We got a full refund back on this tour as we refused to take it. We spent the rest of the day on board the ship at the pool and water slide.
Grand Cayman - Loved it!!! Take the Turtle Farm / Hell / Stingray Sandbar tour early in the morning!! Our driver was Elizabeth and she was fantastic!!!
We got to hold turtles at the turtle farm, sent post cards back to our family and friends from Hell and the stingray sandbar was amazing!!! Water was only about 4 feet deep there so, if like me, you can't swim well, don't worry!! You can still enjoy yourself there!! We got to hold stingrays, kiss them and even got back rubs from them as well!! Bought a great video of the trip, showing us in the water with everyone else, and it was well worth the price!!!
Cozumel - Love Cozumel!! Our shore tour left a lot to be desired though. We went on the Mexican Folklore Show & shopping tour. Starts off with being dropped downtown for half an hour of looking around. You then meet in the Havana Club for a free drink. We found out they don't like it when you order diet sodas!!
Then we all went in to a small room that felt like it had no air conditioning in it at all. Show was extremly long, no breaks in it for restroom visits so many people were running out of there near the end to go. They give you a voucher to use to get a cab back to the ship, as we docked at Porta Maya and need taxi ride back. The cab drivers do NOT like those vouchers. We actually had to pay double just to get one to take us back to the ship! Next time we will skip this tour and just grab our own cab to downtown and back to the ship!
Shopping in downtown Cozumel is great!! Lots of excellent deals there, if you know where to look! Viva Mexico and Fiesta are great places to start! Del Sol has awesome color changing items! Looks black and white or clear until sun hits them and then they come alive with colors!!
We ate lunch at Panchos Back Yard and, while it looks tiny from the street, it opens up to a huge patio once inside!! Food was great and service was good. Prices were about the same as we find at a Mexican Restaurant back home.
Bottom Line - While we would sail on the Conquest again, we would NOT sail on her end of November to beginning of December as the weather was bad and the water was extremly rough!
The Fascination, out of Miami, still remains our number one most favorite Carnival ship to cruise on!:)
We would return to Grand Cayman and Cozumel in a heart beat but we will never return to Montego Bay.
All in all, our cruise was wonderful, thanks to Nigel, Jordan, our waiter and assistant waiter and huge thanks to Stuart!!!!:))))))
Stuart, if you are reading this, you will remember me as being the Belly Dancer (who had lost 68 pounds) in the Guest Talent Show on Friday, Dec. 5, 2003! YOU made me feel so wonderful the entire cruise!! Thank you!!!!:)))
Well our cruise started with us arriving in New Orleans on Saturday afternoon. We stayed at the Shearton downtown a few minutes from the pier by car. New Orleans is nice but we were there the weekend of the Bayou Classic football game so there were an extra 100,000 people in town that weekend. The Sheraton doesnt offer transfers so you have to use a taxi or transportation company to get around. We used Patio transportation and the guys name was Moses Simeon I will give his phone number if someone wants it. he dropped us off at the pier(not easy to walk to) and we set up him picking us back up the next week and taking us to the airport. He charged us $12.00 a person and didnt charge for my 13 month old daughter. We left New Orleans a little late on Sunday because the ship was behing that day because of bad seas the last 2 days of the trip.(we watched the boat come in at 7:30am on sunday) when they are usually there by 4:30 am. Monday night we had some high winds that wascausing the boat to move but what do you expect on the ocean.
Jamaica was ok but not my favorite, it was raining a little when we got there so we took our time getting off and by the time we did it stopped. It was hot and sunny after that. We got on a bus in which the driver says since it was raining earlier that for $10.00 per person he would take us a 1 hour tour of Montego Bay making a few stops here and there to stores to buy things(I think he got a kick back) He then offered to drop us off anywhere we wanted so we went to Margaritaville. It was alright there but we couldnt stay long because of our daughter so we went next door to the beach. It was a nice place and it costs$5.00 a person to get in but was well worth it. The restrooms/changing rooms were in great shape and clean. We spent the day there before going back to the boat. Cayman Island the next day was a fun time. We booked a shore excursion with Captain Marvins for $39.00 per person where carnival charges $69.00 per person and with Captain Marvins you got to go to Sting Ray City plus 2 Snorkling spots where at carnival you only go to Sting Ray city and 1 snorkling spot. You only have a short walk from the pier to Captain Marvins and then they pick you up and take you to thier boat and bring you back after the excursion. Cozeumel is fun, you have to be dead not to have fun there. We booked a deep sea fishing trip online at home like in Cayman Islands and saved $100.00 per person by doing this and not going through Carnival. If any one has any questions please ask, there are things I which I knew before we left that I might be able to pass on now..