Excellent!! Without a doubt the most exciting adventure ever. And we've been on a number of them. Very high quality.
Any of you reading this that know of a cruise better than this one - write me and tell who/what it is - I'll sign up!
We had a balcony room on the 7th Deck. Would not do it any other way. Wouldn't get anything more - or less! Steward, Room Service, and Baggage Handling was, at all times, excellent!
Food and service was way beyond expectation - and plentiful. We always ate in the Renior at table 110. Beautiful dining and the detail to attention was beyond description. Would do this again tomorrow - just to see what the chefs can come with next.
There has to be something "not worth it". Our first stop was Montego Bay. We chose the Dunne's River Falls trip. A MAJOR disappointment. In fact, Montego Bay is not on my list of places worthy of a visit. The remaining stops were very, very good, however.
For any first time Sailors we strongly recommend the Conquest. Hope this helps in your decision making process. (But disregardany notion of the trip to Dunne's River. In fact, I wish I got a refund for that one.)
This was our 1st cruise, you just can't imagine how wonderful the trip was I got home yesterday and have already booked another cruise for next march, I can't wait to see Cory again, he was just wonderful.
Every show was just wonderful, I am glad Corey is getting a vacation so he will be ready to put on a great show next March, My daughter and our room steward became good friends her name was Karina, my daughter had to buy her a gift in Jamaica, that is how much we enjoyed our trip next year we have gotten 3 other couples with kids to go with us.
What a week! The only thing Carnival couldn't control was the weather and that, like the cruise, was near perfect.
Embarkation and debarkation went smoothly and neither took much time. The ID cards that are issued make leaving the ship and reboarding a snap. The cards also are a big help for security.
The staff, from the time you board the ship, is always smiling and greeting the passengers. Their attentiveness to even unimportant details is amazing. Our cabin sreward,Ketut, and our waiter in the Monet dining room,Adrian, made the week all the more enjoyable. The entertailment was excellent even though much was missed because there is so much. Diana Lasalla performs two nights. She was very good. She is also a great ambassador for Carnival. By chance, she was on our shore excursion in Cozumel and sang the praises of Carnival. She was also a lot of fun to be with.
Food, food and more food. All of the meals, snacks, etc. were high quality and delicious.
There were many shore excursions to pick from in all of the Ports of Call, but the Catamaran sail and Snorkel in Cozumel was thebest my wife and I have ever taken.
With all there is to do, I would be remiss if I didn't comment on the Conquest itself. She is a beautiful ship. The pool areas are spacious and arranged in such a way as to maximize the space available. The only negative comment I made to Carnival was that ceiling fans are needed by the main pool on the Lido Deck. The days are hot and there is little circulation for the tables. The bars and lounges are beautifully detailed and roomy.
If anyone doesn't enjoy their week on the Conquest, it isn't Carnival's fault.
I was hoping to be able to write this review within a couple of days of our return but my schedule at work made that impossible. Even though it's a week late, I hope future Conquest cruisers will still find it useful in planning their cruise. Please feel free to ask questions on any topic not covered by this review and I'll do my best to answer them. If I recall any additional useful information I will update this post as needed.
EMBARKATION: Originally we were a group of seven married couples and two single females. We range in age from 39 to 60's and we're all from Louisiana except for one couple living in Texas and a female from Wyoming. The ones coming from out of state flew in a day or two early so flight times were never an issue. One of the couples had to cancel two days before the cruise due to the wife being hospitalized with pneumonia and not being released from the hospital until Monday April 28th. Most of us had cruised with Carnival before so we had something to compare this cruise toupon its conclusion.
Five of the couples drove to the Julia Street terminal on Sunday morning in order to take the Carnival shuttle to Gulfport (the other couple and the two singles drove to Gulfport that morning). Even though Carnival had told us the first shuttle wouldn't leave until 11:00am, I had heard from previous cruisers that they were starting earlier than that so I advised everyone to try to get there no later 10:00am in order to catch one of the first shuttles. Two of the couples arrived at 9:30am and promptly boarded a shuttle. The two couples in our van and another couple driving their own car arrived at 9:45am and boarded another bus since the first one was full and pulling out. We left the terminal at 10:00 am and arrived in Gulfport by 11:30am. Our bus proceeded to the registration building at the Grand Casino and dropped us off. Our luggage remained on the bus and was taken directly to the pier where the Conquest was docked. Once inside this building, we got in the registration line in order to get our boarding passes and our Sail& Sign cards. The line moved quickly and by noon we were back outside waiting for another bus to take us to the Conquest. We had been given a zone number during registration, and our zone was called for boarding the shuttle to the ship within fifteen minutes of lining up outside. We arrived at the pier around 12:15pm and got in line to get our boarding picture taken and then to pass through the security scanners. The line moved steadily and we boarded the Conquest around 12:45pm. We proceeded directly to our room to drop off our carry-on luggage and agreed to meet in the hallway outside our cabins at 1:00pm to go have lunch in the Cezanne (Lido deck) restaurant. I must say we were pleasantly surprised with how smoothly the whole embarkation process was since we had read all the horror stories from the early Gulfport cruisers. The fact that the Conquest had arrived on time that morning I'm sure played a major role in our easy boarding process. By the time we finished lunch, our luggage was waiting outside our cabin.
CABINS AND PUBLIC AREAS: We had originally booked seven category 4A cabins on the Riviera deck about a year prior to this cruise. We chose these because we spend so little time in our cabins (sleep, shower, get dressed, then out of the room) that we didn't see a need to pay more for a window or a balcony. We would rather take the savings and spend it aboard ship or in the ports; however, I do not criticize anyone who would book a more expensive cabin. Cabin choice is a very personal decision and whatever makes you happy is the right decision for you. One of the couples in our group booked late and decided to go ahead and splurge on a balcony cabin and they said they enjoyed it tremendously. The rest of the group was upgraded to inside cabins on the Verandah deck (category 4E) and received a shipboard credit when the price of our cruise dropped significantly a couple of weeks before sailing. Even though we had already made our final payments, I asked my TA if there was anything she or Carnival could do for us since the price of our cabins had dropped so much in the last month. We were thrilled when she called back and told me about the four- deck upgrade and the significant shipboard credit. They also managed to keep all the cabins fairly close together on the same hallway section. Our inside cabins were pretty much the same as what we've had on other Carnival cruises and we found them to be sufficiently roomy and comfortable for the little time we spent in them. Our cabin steward, Lionel, was pleasant and efficient and always had our room made by the time we returned from breakfast or dinner.
The rest of the ship was surprisingly elegant (once again, the gaudiness level was not quite what we had expected based on previous reviews) and I found the Conquest very easy to get around in spite of its size. It helped that I had pretty much memorized all the deck plans from the Carnival brochure I had been looking at for a year, and the tips I got from others on CruiseCritic were a big help too. Other than the main show lounge, the Toulouse-Lautrec Lounge, I never felt crowded in any of the public areas in spite of sailing with close to 3,000 other passengers. A major concern that needs to be addressed ASAP before someone gets seriously hurt is the slippery flooring in certain areas of this ship. The floors in the Cezanne restaurant are very slippery early in the morning or whenever the humidity is high, and the flooring around the Sky pool deck area was as slippery as ice. I saw many passengers (including myself) slip when walking in these areas and I'm amazed that someone didn't fall down and break a bone in my presence. I spoke with other cruisers (not from my group) who expressed similar concerns about the slippery floors. I believe Carnival chose looks over function when selecting the flooring for these areas since a textured surface would have made a lot more sense than the slick tiles they chose. I stated my concerns on the comment card at the end of the cruise so I'm hoping if enough people mention it they will do something about it.
FOOD AND DINING Having sailed with Carnival several times before, we had a pretty good idea what to expect and were not disappointed. We chose the 6:15pm seating in the Renoir dining room because we like to eat dinner early (so we can eat more later!). This seating still gives you plenty of time to get ready after a day ashore or lounging poolside, and we find it to be a good compromise between the early 5:45 seating the way too late 8:00pm and 8:30pm seatings. Our waiter Jun and his assistant Andy (both from the Philippines) were excellent all week. Jun kept us entertained with his practical jokes (such as placing a very life-like rubber roach under my wife's bread) and his serenading of the ladies in our group. Andy was quiet but always had a smile on his face and kept our iced tea glasses filled and brought our cappuccinos after dinner like clockwork. Contrary to what I've read in other reviews, our food always arrived hot and there were enough different choices every night to please everyone. We left the tips that Carnival had automatically charged on our Sail&Sign account stay on the account plus we tipped Jun and Andy extra cash on our last night as a reward for their excellent and consistent service. For lunch we usually ate on the Lido deck. The lunch selection available in the Cezanne restaurant was superior to that of any informal restaurant on any Carnival ship we've been on previously, with up to ten serving stations open at one time. Sur Mer, the little seafood station on the second floor of the Cezanne restaurant, is a hidden treasure. Hardly anyone was ever up there for lunch, probably because the only people who seemed to know about it were cruise site message board readers, and the food was prepared after you placed your order. Be sure to try the Blue Point fried oysters and the Maui onion and calamari fritters. We usually ate breakfast on the Lido deck as well. The fare was typical breakfast food (eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, cereals, fruits, pastries) but I found that the hot items were usually cold by the time you got to your table, especially the eggs. I guess this is just unavoidable when mass- producing dishes to feed a couple of thousand passengers. Coffee, Tea, Milk, Juices and Lemonade were always available and there were quite a few beverage stations spread out around the Lido deck (inside and out). Saturday night we had reservations at the Point Supper Club since we had read that this a place not to be missed. It is definitely worth the $25.00 per person charge but the pacing of the courses needs to be improved. The appetizers were appropriately spaced but there was a huge time gap between the last appetizer and the entrée. We were seated at 6:30pm and didn't finish our desert until 9:30pm. That is simply too long for one meal, even a fine one like this one was, and most of the time was spent waiting for our entrees to be brought out. I would still recommend that future cruisers try it at least one night; perhaps the pacing might have improved by then.
ENTERTAINMENT First of all, let me say that we enjoyed having Corey Schmidt as our cruise director very much. Even though he told a lot of the same stories and jokes that we've heard before on previous Carnival cruises, his delivery and facial expressions made them seem fresh and original. I'm sure that a lot of first-time Carnival cruisers probably thought he was telling these jokes for the first time. If John Heald does indeed retire later this year as is rumored, then Corey Schmidt will probably inherit the title of Carnival's best cruise director. As far as the ship itself, there were enough lounges available for everyone to find the kind of music they liked. We especially liked the ship bands (Music Unlimited and TGIF) that played in the Degas lounge and Vincent's club. Their repertoire ranged all the way from oldies to current top 40, and they switched between musical styles without missing a beat. Henri's disco was colorful and high-energy as expected but it seemed that the later it got the more lewd and provocative the dancing became. Several women seemed intent on duplicating sex acts with each other on the dance floor almost on a nightly basis, and several times ship personnel had to ask them to tone it down. We also saw a lot of underage drinking going on in the lounges. Older siblings and even parents were buying alcoholic beverages for teens who were probably no older than fourteen or fifteen, and we never saw the staff ask for proof of age even when the consumption was happening in plain view. The comedians onboard this cruise (Al Ernst and Percy Crews) were very funny, especially their late-night adult shows. We also had Marcus Anthony (a Motown and R&B performer) on Tuesday night, and he was so good we bought his CD after the show. He was preceded by cruise director Corey Schmidt's bird show, which was also very entertaining. The welcome aboard show and the passenger talent show were almost identical to the ones on other Carnival ships and the same skits and jokes just keep getting recycled with different audience members. The most disappointing part of the entertainment were the two main production shows on the formal nights (Monday and Thursday)." Formidable" was very colorful and creative but I think a little too high-brow for some of the passengers. I never saw so many people in the audience yawning and falling asleep during a Carnival show on any ship as I saw Monday night during this show. "Point and Click" on Thursday was a little more down-to-earth but I still saw many bored expressions throughout the Toulouse-Lautrec lounge. I saw quite a few people on the second and third levels of this lounge get up and leave halfway through both shows. We had enjoyed the high-energy music and dancing in other Carnival shows before and were rather surprised at the low energy level exhibited by these two shows. I must say the costuming and stage props were excellent; now they just need to "kick it up a notch" and bring back the fast-paced, rocking shows Carnival is known for. The casino was good to several people in our group, their winnings ranging from $250.00 to $1500.00. I'm not much into gambling, and I was happy just to break even during the week.
PORTS OF CALL We had done this itinerary several times before so we knew what to expect and what we wanted to do. In Montego Bay we took a taxi to City Centre and shopped for a couple of hours. The wife bought another ring at her favorite store, Jewels &Gems (Crazy Larry), and we also picked up some of the t-shirts that change colors when exposed to the sun. We passed on the Blue Mountain coffee and Appleton Rum this time around. We then went to Margaritaville for lunch and music and spent the next couple of hours there.. I wanted to go down the street to Doctor's Cave Beach (one of my favorites) after Margaritaville but the rest of the group was hot and tired and wanted to go back to the ship.
In Grand Cayman we tendered off the ship early (around 7:30am) and went shopping for Tortuga rum cakes and flavored rums. We returned to the ship by 9:15am in order for the guys to go meet up with our scheduled Stingray City tour at 9:45am. The ladies then tendered back to shore for some more shopping while the guys went off on the tour. We had a great time during this tour, in spite of the fact that the seas were very choppy and the waves higher than normal. This is an experience everyone should try at least once, and I highly recommend it regardless of who you book it with (Carnival or private operator). We booked this tour at the last minute with Carnival due to the failure of Nativeway to confirm and acknowledge our reservations prior to sailing, and in retrospect I'm glad it worked out this way. Carnival took us out to the sandbar in a very large, stable motorized catamaran and when we arrived at the Stingray location we saw many of the smaller boats used by the private operators bobbing like corks in the choppy waters. Some of people on the Nativeway tour told me some passengers in their boats got very sick due to the motion and didn't even get off the boat to swim with the stingrays.
In Cozumel we got off the ship around 9:00am and shopped in the new Puerta Maya shopping area to the left of the pier. This area around the port has really been built up since the last time we were in Cozumel, with just about all the major stores in town having opened a branch at Puerta Maya. You would not miss much if you decided to stay in the pier area and do all your shopping there. After a couple of hours there, we took a taxi into town and walked the strip from the Forum Shops to Viva Mexico. In between we stopped at Palmera's restaurant and got some great nachos, salads, and drinks. For a little over six US dollars we got some huge daiquiris and margaritas that would have cost twice that in the US. We returned to the ship around 4:00pm with some rather tipsy ladies in tow.
CRUISE ENTHUSIAST GET-TOGETHER Prior to the cruise, I had invited all message board readers from CruiseCritic, Cruisemates, and Cruise-Addicts to an onboard get-together to put a face with a name. No one from Cruise-Addicts showed up. Paul Motter,President and Publisher of Cruisemates, was there; as were a bunch of members from the CruiseCritic Carnival message board. We met on Monday at 3:00pm at the Sky Bar by the rear pool. One of the things I think we all agreed on was how different we looked compared to what we thought each would look like based on our postings on the Carnival message board. We were represented by all age groups and were even nicer in person than online. I hope the friendships we created onboard will result in future cruises together down the line. Paul, Joan in Jersey, jpinnix, jnnifer01, gamalin, Sunchaser, RonieRedd, akamp01, Fireboy, and Ashley &Chuck; it was great meeting you all as well as your spouses. Good luck to all the newlyweds in your new life together and good luck to all in your future plans. I hope we meet again, preferably aboard a cruise ship.
SUGGESTIONS We found the pricing in the shipboard gift shops to be more expensive than in the ports of call. The exception was the Tortuga rum cakes, which were competitively priced with the ones in Grand Cayman. We found the price of jewelry and fragrances to be less in Jamaica and Cozumel than aboard ship. Even though the ship shops had a price guarantee, it was too much of a hassle getting a signed business card or invoice from a land vendor in order to get a price adjustment or price match. Avoid the hassle and just buy what you want ashore. Wait until the last day at sea to buy any ship t-shirts since they go on sale 2 for $20.00 on Saturday.
Here's a suggestion for those worried about finding open poolside lounges or chairs. Have breakfast on the Lido deck by the Sun pool midship or the Sky pool at the rear and just pick out a lounger nearby after you finish breakfast. We did it this way and never had a problem getting one. We did not abuse this practice either since we did go swimming in the pool afterwards, and we really did use our loungers. Once we were finished we picked up our towels so others could use the lounges and headed inside. No bogus lounge saving please! Be considerate of your fellow cruisers and don't tie up any lounges, chairs, or tables you're not really using.
Another suggestion: don't wait for the "ship has been cleared announcement" at the ports of call to begin getting off the ship. Call the information desk or security and ask them if you can get off the ship yet. We did this at each port and each time we were told that we could get off, long before any PA announcement was made. This is a great way to beat the crowds, especially when tendering in Grand Cayman (just go to the Toulouse-Lautrec lounge and get an early tender sticker to put on your shirt).
DEBARKATION Once again we were expecting the worst based on what had happened on some of the earlier cruises, but our fears never materialized. We went to the Purser's desk the night before in order to get "black" early-departure tags because we were taking the Carnival shuttle back to the cruise terminal in New Orleans. Our tag color was the second called around 7:30am and no one even asked for our US Customs forms as we were getting off. In spite of the fact that there were thousands of pieces of luggage awaiting in the pier warehouse, I found all our luggage quickly among the other black-tagged luggage and we boarded the Carnival shuttle around 8:00am. We departed Gulfport at 8:15am and by 9:45am we were back at the Julia Street terminal in New Orleans. We gathered our luggage and were picked up by waiting relatives for the drive back home to Metairie, Louisiana. We were home before 10:30am. The couple that had flown in took the shuttle that goes straight from Gulfport to the airport and made it with plenty of time to spare.
Overall, we were very pleased with this cruise. Carnival did a great job handling the embarkation and debarkation in Gulfport and made what could have been a stressfull experience a painless one. We had great weather the whole week, ate wonderful meals, visited beautiful ports of call, and spent time with old and new friends. Now all Carnival has to do is fix the slippery floors on the Conquest, rev-up the production shows a little bit, and bring the ship back to New Orleans to complete this wonderful experience. If anyone is hesitant about this cruise, DON'T BE! Keep an open mind, have a positive attitude, and enjoy the cruise. You won't regret it! We would like to try a Southern or Eastern Caribbean itinerary for our next cruise simply because we feel like we've seen all there is too see in Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. It's hard to beat the convenience of having a cruise terminal less than thirty minutes from your house, so it would be great to see Carnival bring one of their fast Spirit-Class ships to New Orleans so they could offer different itineraries. Let's keep our fingers crossed; I don't think Carnival has announced a permanent homeport for the Miracle yet!
Bon Voyage to all whose cruise is yet to sail this year!
Wow, what a trip!
This review will be long enough, so I'll leave out the details and color schemes.
New Orleans: We visited the French Quarter and partied on Bourbon St. after 10 p.m. The bars can get pretty crazy and crowded once the teenagers hit the streets but we still had a blast. The Ramada Inn in Metairie was very nice and offered free shuttle service to the airport and French Quarter. We took the Cajun Encounters swamp tour and had a great time. It's a bit of a ride from the French Quarter, but they offer a smaller, more personalized tour and hotel pick-ups. Our tour was rained out halfway through and they didn't hesitate to give us half our money back. Luca is the best swamp tour guide. If you can, ask for him. He's the guy without shoes!
Shuttle bus to Gulfport, Mississippi: The buses pick you up at the New Orleans port or the airport (you just call and let them know where you will be and what time). The buses are the large Greyhound type and very comfortable. Your luggage goes on the bus and they takeit straight to the ship. The Conquest was late getting into port because of high winds and surf. Although we got stuck in the Grand Casino for seven or eight hours, we had a nice time. Carnival had a lunch buffet all set up for us because of the delay. Remember that your suitcases won't be available until you get to your cabin. We didn't get our luggage for about four hours after we boarded.
Boarding/embarkation: Considering the delays and chaos, I thought this went smoothly. The buses picked us up from the Grand Casino in Gulfport and took us to the ship about half a mile away. First they took our pictures (they do lots of that around the ship as well). After figuring out where we were supposed to be, we got in line for our 'sail & sign' cards, then proceeded to security and onto the ship. Getting there early is the key to quick boarding. Some people waited in line for three hours. We waited only 20 minutes or so because we were the first group.
The ship: Very big to say the least! Plan on doing a lot of walking. Henri's bar was extremely cold compared to other areas on the ship. We would go outside to 90-degree temps and come back into 60-degree temps. But Henri's seemed to be about 20 below! The casino was pretty tight with the payoffs, so we didn't hang around too long. The drinks are plenty strong and readily available. Ali took real good care of us.
Entertainment was fantastic. The adult comedy shows at midnight are well worth the wait. Cory's comedy and his birds are the best!
Montego Bay: Watch where you walk! The streets are torn up from lack of maintenance. The people are too friendly. It feels like they are being aggressive but they are really just desperate for your business. They will try to drag you into their stores/shops. We found that a simple "No thank you" was enough. Just keep walking. I found MoBay to be very stressful. Once we got to Doctors Cave Beach we could relax. There's a fee to enter this area, which keeps the locals out. I won't go back to this port. Do not leave the local store areas! My husband had at least five people place a bag of pot in his hand! The tour guide (not a shuttle driver) that we found tried to take us away from the local area once his three buddies showed up. Very scary! We left him standing there and went back to the area where we started. Note: Dudley was our shuttle driver. He was there when he said he would be and he wasn't pushy like the rest of them.
Grand Cayman: This is a very nice area. Clean, nice buildings, nice cars, nice people. We felt very safe and spent a good deal of time walking around. We booked Captain Marvin's Stingray City tour through the Internet a couple of months prior to our trip, and are we glad we did! The day we arrived, the wind and surf were up and Carnival cancelled all the snorkeling/water sports tours. Since we booked directly, we were able to go. Captain Marvin's won't charge you if you don't show up. They didn't charge our credit card until we checked in. The stingrays are wonderful and huge! Those graceful creatures will swim right up to you and brush against you. You can pet them, pick them up (ask the tour guide the proper way to handle them) and feed them. Note: when the stingray sucks the food out of your hand you must let it go! If you don't, you will end up with a Stingray hickie. It really doesn't hurt, but you sure do pull your hand back to count your fingers! I will definitely go on this tour again and I'd be glad to pay double. An underwater camera is a definite must for this tour.
Cozumel: This area is also very nice and clean. The pier area has a number of stores. My husband bought me a Tanzanite ring here. It was originally $350 but we got the guy down to $215! They don't like it when you walk away without buying anything. No need to be rude with them either. Just say "I really like it but I can't afford that much." The nicer you are, the better the deal you'll get. Cozumel is the home of the Fiesta party boat. If you are into fun, drinking and dancing, this is the tour for you. Live band, games and all you can drink (tequila, rum punch, margaritas etc). They take you to another island that has jet-skis, para-sailing, water trampoline (12 feet in diameter) and a few other fun water goodies. You can also hang out at the beach where you're dropped off and do some snorkeling. I did the snorkeling and my husband did the para-sailing. We both enjoyed our time there. The party boat then loads you back up, fills you full of liquor, wears you out with all the dancing and fun games, and drops you off back at the pier. We decided that three gallons of Margaritas wasn't enough, so we hung out at Fat Tuesday's until it was time to board. You ladies will have time to spend more money while the gentlemen are busy getting drunk. The next morning, just tell him he approved it and he'll never know the difference.
1. Be back to the ship on time! I saw about 10 people miss it, and they didn't look too happy about it.
2. Bring a sunburn spray of some sort, or use a sunscreen. My husband got a bad sunburn and there wasn't a can of Solarcain anywhere. You can find aloe gels but they aren't that effective for a bad sunburn.
3. Bring a small alarm clock. You can set the phone to wake you up but it won't tell you what time it is. Missing the fun can be disappointing.
4. There is a small laundry facility on all the cabin decks. You'll find laundry soap and an iron there.
5. Our cabin (ocean view) had a hair dryer, disposable razors, shower gel and shampoo. Carnival, thank you for the amenities!
6. If you like to hang up t-shirts etc., bring your own hangers. There were about 10 in our closets but we could have used more.
7. Mark your luggage! I saw 8,000 black suitcases in one spot. We put 3" wide ribbon on ours and spotted them within a couple of minutes. Some people were using yellow gloves and other oddball items to mark their luggage. Don't laugh, it worked!
8. If you decide to be rude by saving your deck lounges (putting your towel on the chair and leaving it there for hours), beware! The crew will take your towels! Did I mention that these towels are $22 apiece? Please don't save a lounge chair unless you plan on using it within an hour. It was sad to see chairs saved all day long with nobody using them. The deck areas can get really full on hot days.
9. Bring a carry-on type shopping bag (or two) with you. While you're in ports, you may need it for suntan lotions, towels, water, camera, etc. If you like to do souvenir shopping, you'll have room for that as well. We ended up using two of these bags. The ship provides each person a towel. You'll use these towels in port too. We had towels x2, suntan lotion x2, PowerAde x2, a camera, t-shirts and other junk bought in port, extra film and sunglasses (while we were snorkeling) that we had to carry around with us while in ports.
10. Pack an extra duffel bag in your suitcase. This came in handy when we wanted to take the souvenirs home with us (don't forget, the Fun Ship special drinks come in those fancy plastic glasses and they take up a lot of space).
11. Please keep an eye on your little ones. I saw a number of seven to nine-year olds playing and running in the pool areas and many of them were falling. I also saw a wet five-year old in the elevator who couldn't seem to find her way to her cabin and somebody took her towel! This is not the place to let them roam unattended.
Background information: my husband and I are 50/55 and this is our 16th cruise. We have sailed Carnival for 4 day cruises but have never sailed them for 7 days due to poor reports from friends and fellow cruisers. Our preferred lines have been Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Princess. We sailed with with a group of 22 from work.
I must admit Carnival has won me over. Our previous Carnival experience was okay as it was what one would expect from a 4 day cruise on an older ship. The Conquest is indeed a work of art. She is easy to navigate. Nearly all floors have continuous thoroughfares and the floor plan makes sense. Cabin size was comparable with that of the other cruise lines we've sailed. To their credit Carnival has a coin-op laundry on each floor complete with iron and ironing board. We did not need to use it but it was nice to know it was there.
Food was not as good as some of the other lines but was certainly acceptable. The wait staff was fine but I found it tedious that they did a performance/parade of somesort every night. I thought this took away from the few specials nights I've seen it done in the past, not to mention really pushing the staff and detracting from after-dinner/desert service. But most people seemed to enjoy it.
Entertainment was about par. There was an adult comic who was really raunchy - of course it was advertised as such and we knew what to expect but this guy was really over the line in the way he attacked certain patrons in the audience. The magicians were okay and the dancers were their usual splendid selves.
We unfortunately boarded in Gulfport and this is only a temporary situation but I would advise Carnival to not even dream of putting a ship into this port permanently without major investment into a dockside facility and the widening of the ship canal.
Ports of call were the traditional W. Carib. (Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel). We usually don't get off the ship in Jamaica but did do a mountain rafting excursion this time and I am pleased to say that Jamaica seems to have cleaned up its act somewhat. I was told the same by others in our situation. I still think Jamaica - at least Montego Bay - is an awful port of call but it does afford one a great day of peace and quiet aboard a deserted ship (if you've never stayed aboard on a port day I highly suggest it)
I highly suggest to anyone that they swim with the stingrays in Grand Cayman. We did it years ago and love having dinner conversation with those who have done it for the first time. It is indeed a MUST DO.
Cozumel is our old friend - we honeymooned there before it was "discovered". The two port facilities are quite nice and from a shopping standpoint do away with the need to go into San Miguel (but then, how would you go to Carlos and Charlies?). If you are only there to shop you can find most of what you need in a nice array of duty free shops.
Our thing to do is grab a cab for Chankanaab. It's a national marine partk. Everything you need is there . The cab is about $4, entrance into the park is $10 and you can rent snorkel equipment for $5. Scuba is also available. In the last few years they have added a swim the dolphins program. there are two nice open air restaurants where I have eaten without problems.
There is a shower facility that is clean but only has cold water so beware! The beach is lined with comgy chairs and umbrella- no extra charge. The beach is rocky so don't plan on playing in the surf. there are several areas designed for entering the water for snorkeling but it's not a surfy kinda place.
The Conquest was a delightful vacation. And don't miss the steam rooms and sauna - they have one wall that is ceiling to floor glass looking out over the ocean - what a treat.
No complaints. A pretty good deal for the special price we got and when it returns to New Orleans it will really be a treat for those who've never experienced the "City that Care Forgot"
Gloria Louisiana Native
Let me start by saying the Conquest is an absolutely beautiful ship. It's brand new and the flamboyant taste of the Carnival decorating team has been tempered during the years. I traveled on the Sensation last year and the decor looked a bit like Las Vegas and Trump Tower mated and had a baby cruise ship. The new theme of art masters is a definite improvement and executed wonderfully through the use of marble and wood and paint.
I had a Category 11 suite, which is located on the empress deck, equally between the promenade (deck 5), and the lido deck (deck nine). The cabin was very roomy (around 275 square feet) with a king size bed, sofa, occasional chair, coffee table, writing desk, desk chair. The television came complete with a VCR. No tapes were available on board as far as I could tell. However, knowing in advance, I suppose you could take your own. The television had a few channels not dedicated to Carnival and there was a wide selection of pay-per- view movies. These were $8.99 each but if it's raining it may be worth the cost. Inaddition to the main room the suite had a separate dressing area with two closets (there are two additional closets and a built in chest of drawers in the main room), a vanity table and drawers with "Hollywood" lighting around the mirror. Through this room was the bathroom which included a whirlpool tub (big plus here!) and dual sink basins (another big plus!). There's open shelving storage as well for personal effects. The balcony on this room is larger than the standard balcony- 65ft. Compared to 35ft. However, unless your are having several people to your room there is little use for the extra space. The width of the balcony is the same as the other rooms making it very long. I traveled with a friend and we found ourselves always pulling our chairs across the balcony in order to talk and only using half of it anyway. The decor colors were soft with a darker stain on the wood moldings and crown molding. There is an inlaid wood entry way to the room (I believe it was actually a Pergo type of material and not genuine wood but still attractive) and the coffee table and basins in the bathroom had granite surfaces. There were lots of mirrors increasing the visual size as well. The ship was built in Italy and you can see Italian influences through-out the ship from the lighting to the bathtub. In the end I have to say I enjoyed the extra space of the suite but I believe the standard balcony rooms are a couple of hundred dollars cheaper per person and after viewing one I think they would be far more than adequate if cost were a consideration. Definitely the balcony would be spacious enough on the lower rooms
Food on the Conquest was quite good. Casual dining options were varied and many. There were seafood, deli, Asian, sushi, pizza and hamburger grill options in addition to the large buffets, ice cream and room service. The quality was better on the buffet there than on the buffets here in my hometown but keep in mind it is a buffet. I didn't really care for the breakfast buffet but lunch was good- not great but good. I never ate there for dinner. Nor did I try any of the midnight buffets including the Gala Buffet. I viewed the Gala Buffet however and it was quite beautiful. I liked the pizza and loved the sushi (big food plus!) and who doesn't like 24hr. ice cream! My friend commented that the deli was excellent.
The "Formal" dining room had great food. I would easily compare it to a four star restaurant. There were great choices from steak to quail and duck. The portions are considered small by some but were more than enough for myself. None of my tablemates left hungry either. The atmosphere is still pretty "Carnival" although pretty in it's way and yes- the waiters still sing and dance on the tables. Ok, I'll admit that is a little strange but it's also fun. Frankly I get to endure enough sophistication at home. It can be nice to have it broken up a little on vacation and the waiters aren't half-bad at dancing!
The Conquest includes a separate "supper club". It's an additional 25 dollars per person and you must make reservations. Take my advice and do so- early! You don't want to miss it. The food was definitely five star and the service was some of the best I've had anywhere in the world. The atmosphere is quiet and the tables are private. The restaurant specializes in steak, which melts in your mouth as you eat it but I had the duck and found it to be equally well done. From the salad to the dessert the meal was truly one to remember. Keep in mind however, the 25 dollars does not included wine or other alcoholic drinks (these items and colas are additional all over the ship). Also, at least during this cruise, the caviar appetizer was an additional 29 dollars. It was excellent however and worth the extra money. Treat yourself to this at least once during your voyage. You won't regret it!The entertainments were fairly standard. Huge Casino, three pools, seven hot tubs, a two deck water slide (big plus here!) ect. In the evenings you have a dozen different bars (cigar bar, piano bar, wine bar, lobby bar ect.) and a fantastic disco to choose from. The shows were good as well. I enjoyed both of them but not as much as the ones I had seen on the Sensation. The "R" rated comedy show was very funny but of course not suited for children at all. There's some decent upscale duty free shopping as well as cheaper "watch specials", "gold by the inch" ect. There's an Internet access room (a little hard to find as the entrance is tucked in the back of Alfred's bar) with several stations and a quick connection- almost as fast as my cable access at home. It's a little pricey but they have a couple of bulk minute plans. There will be several art auction opportunities that have free champagne but little other interest for me. I was quite taken with a couple of paintings there but could not bear the sales pitch that accompanied each auction. At one point the auctioneer even suggested buying a TV Guide that had included a cover similar to the painting being auctioned in order to leave it on the coffee table so your friends could see how famous and important the piece was. Not mention the almost nauseating and unending reference to the future value that was certain to spring from your purchase because another painting "almost exactly like it" had gone up in price. Frankly I finally had to leave the room and have no intention of returning on a future cruise.
There are three ports of call. Jamaica is a beautiful island- just so long as you don't stray from your tour group, beach or resort. Once your step one-foot from any of those places you are fair game. Be forewarned! I took a semi-sub boot/ snorkeling/ Doctor's Cove beach tour and really enjoyed it. The beach best of all in fact. The sand and water are perfect and there were a few food stands nearby with Red Stripe (yahoo!) and cheap sandwiches. A little gift shop is there as well. It was great. However, I stepped outside that small guarded place and found myself bombarded with numerous (yes, seriously numerous- like ten per block) approaches from the locals offering everything from hair braiding (I'm a man by the way with short hair) to cab rides to aloe to street singing to- yes, you know it's coming- marijuana. Even at the shopping mall next to the ship at the dock I was approached five times (five!) for "smoke". Now I could care less if people smoke pot or sell pot but for goodness sake just open a head shop or something and leave me alone! LOL Seriously like I would ever try to smuggle that stuff back on the ship anyway.
Grand Cayman is a little piece of British colonial paradise with upscale shopping and stingrays. I did the Stingray tour (which I did the year before with the same tour group as it turns out) and loved it. However, it has really gotten crowded with tourists compared to last year. I think they have almost reached the breaking point as far as human occupancy at that sand bar but go anyway. You'll never experience anything as thrilling as a stingray brushing up against your leg like a cat. Grand Cayman, as a warning, is very expensive. If money is a consideration buy a t-shirt and head back to the ship for lunch after your tour. We ate in town and two burgers, two cokes, two beers and five conch hush puppies were 50 dollars US. Watch out for things priced in Grand Cayman dollars. Still a lovely port for strolling around in. Cozumel was the port I thought I'd like least and in fact liked most. I set out walking from the dock toward town. There's a great new shopping/ eating plaza built out from the dock with more being constructed from what I could see. I set out walking for town. There are places sprinkled along the way. I stopped at a great restaurant overlooking the water. It was called "lobster" something and it was great so I wish I could remember the exact name. Anyway, if you see it stop in. The food was good and the environment was relaxed and the service was very friendly. From there I continued walking to the famous Carlos and Charlies. It's about three miles from the dock so you may want to take a cab but the walk was quite nice as the day was mild and there was a breeze. I love to walk so it suited me. Carlos and Charlies is everything you've ever heard it is if you've ever heard anything about it. Imagine an adult theme park where every ride involves alcohol and several include some form of groping. There's loud party music mostly retro and plenty of dancing and just a general atmosphere of cutting loose and carrying on. Just be careful not to cut loose too much as most of my party, including myself, did! We all took a cab back to the ship and by the time I reached my room the whole world was spinning and then I passed out not to wake back up for fourteen hours. I know, I'm ashamed but I don't drink that much and wasn't really aware of the slow climb to doom escorted by Ms. Tequila.
Debarkation and embarkation were standard. There was a bit of a wait both times but not much longer than standing in line at an amusement park. I of course had a wonderful time. The ship was unbelievable. The service was without flaw from the dining staff to the room steward. I'll be returning for another Carnival cruise on a similar ship soon. Truly the Carnival line lives up to it's promise of fun and the recent additions to the experience like the "supper club", better shopping, and abundance of choices for entertainment have only made it that much better. If you have any questions or would like more information please feel free to email me.
My husband and I just returned from our cruise on the Conquest. The ship is beautifully decorated. We had a room with a balcony and it was great. The ship does tend to rock quite a bit, especially at the ends of the ship. We noticed it the most when we were in the dining area (Monet). There was a delay getting onto the ship and we waited for almost two hours to do so. However, I understand that is not typical. We had wonderful waiters in the dining room (Dennis and Joel). We were paired with two other couples who were close in age to us and that worked out exceptionally well. The dining room food was very good and the pizza and the hamburgers were excellent. We enjoyed the breakfast buffet (especially the fruit and the omelets). The alcoholic drinks are expensive, but potent. We went to almost all of the shows and liked the comedy shows best (when they say R rated, they definitely mean it). The other shows were mediocre.
We booked our excursions through the tv in our room and that worked out very well. Also,we found the informational talks on the excursions, shopping, etc. to be quite helpful. As far as the excursions went, we did the Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica and the Bike & Snorkel tour in Cozumel. They were both very good, with the exception of the very long drive to and from Ocho Rios. If you like to shop for bargains, do so in Jamaica or Cozumel. The Jamaicans are unrelenting, so be prepared for that. We found the music in the disco (Henri's) to be fairly good until later in the evening and then they played more techno kind of music (not my taste). Also, it was very smoky. The piano bar was nice as well. We had fun in the casino, but only played the slots. We did use the gym and the equipment was in great shape. I got a facial and a massage and enjoyed them both. They do not do full- body massages as they are not allowed to do so. The spa is expensive, but the pampering is nice. The ship does have some excellent deals on alcohol and jewelery, especially as the week goes along. Disembarking from the ship was quick and smooth. I don't know if that was because we were scheduled for the New Orleans tour or not, but we didn't have any problems in that area.
All in all, we really enjoyed the cruise.
Well this was our 2nd cruise, first was Pride so that is what I compare it to. We took our 10yr old (her first) and my brother in law (first also).
Boarding: We got to the port around 10:45 and they wouldnt take our luggage because people were still getting off the ship. We went inside and a Carnival rep told us to bring our stuff in and go register so we did. There was no line and we checked in, went to another area got our S&S cards and then went back to the front and the porter took our bags and we went to the waiting area. There were about 50- 100 people already in there, dont know why they took there bags and not ours. Well we said there for a few minutes then moved to another waiting area for 10-15 minutes and then got in the line to have our Welcome picture made, then to the place you put your S&S cards in and take a picture. This is where it got messy. There were 3 lines and the line we got in and theone next to us the machines broke. We stood there for about 10 minutes and they finally started to let us filter into the 1 line that worked. When it was our turn, well we put the card in and it sounded that it was invalid. Out of 4 of us, 3 cards didnt work. Go figure the 10 yr olds card is the only one that work. They let us go on and told us to go to the purser desk as soon as we boarded. This happened to more than just us. We were on the ship by 12:15 and then went to our room. It was clean and ready. Dropped off our stuff and went to Lido deck to eat.
Room: We had room #2266 category 6B main deck 2. This was a quad room with the bed that comes out of the ceiling. The room was fine for the 4 of us. The guys would go to the spa and get ready while the girls used the room. The first couple of nights we heard this banging like something was hitting the railing above us. When we were in Montego Bay we saw them take down two of the life boats, well that must have been it because we never heard the sound again. The room was right off the front elevators and above us was the hallway into the Toulouse lounge and we never heard anything from there. We had a balcony room on the Pride and the window room on the Conquest was just fine. Wish we could have been higher up.
Service: Room: Dee our room steward was overly nice the first day but then we never really saw her again. She brought my daughter a special life vest and was a little confused when we asked her to take the stuff out of the fridge. She did it but then brought the stuff back on Thursday?? That was ok since we used up all we had in there.
Dinner: We had table #523 upstairs Monet late seting. Next time we will do early. First night was Super Bowl so not many people in there. Second night our other 5 table mates showed up - family of 5. They never came back. We had this big table and it was only the 3 and sometimes 4 of us. We did see them later on and found the kids didnt like to eat in there and the waiter was to pushy for them. We were in the back and one side of the table was in the dark so to see the menu you had to tilt it toward the light. Our server was from Indonesia and was very nice but also pushy. He always wanted you to get everything and one time brought me two different dinners because he saw me taste my hubbys. You could tell the wait staff must still be new because they would forget stuff and hard time keeping water and tea glasses full. Everything at dinner was GREAT, never had a bad meal. I think they broke something every night. In the Cezanne restaurant I heard something break every morning at breakfast.
Point Restaurant: We went here on Wednesday night and had a table for 4 at 7pm. We didnt make reservations till Monday night. It was $25pp and it was money well spent. I wish we could have ate there more than once. Hubby had the sushi, cezar salad, filet and the flourless choc cake (tasted like hot fudge sunday). I had the shrimp cocktail, regular salad, filet and the symphony of mouse. The desert I had was the same on the Pride. But the flourless cake was different than what they had on the Pride. Just remember to get the regular water, they charge for the bottle stuff. My hubby was so happy with the service and little extras we got that he gave an extra $10 tip.
This was the SUPER BOWL cruise and my hubby and brother in law went to watch the game after the 15 minute life boat drill. This was alot different from what they did at Port Canaveral on the Pride. My daughter and I looked around and went to the Lido deck to watch the ship pull away at 6pm, well we stood there for about 1 hour and watched 4 taxis pull up with late arrivals. I am glad we bought hats while we spent the day in New Orleans. It was COLD.... At 7:30 had to take my daughter to camp carnival orientation and then to dinner.
Day 1 & 2 at Sea were cold. I did make it out for a few ours of sun. Never got in the pool but did get into the hot tub.
1st Port - Montego Bay: Well remember the trouble we had with our S&S cards when we boarded?? Well it happened again. We put in the cards and beep- invalid. Had to go to another line and get them to correct it. It took us about 15 minutes to get off at this port. We took a taxi bus - loaded with people going to different places. It was $4 each and we went to Margaritaville and spent the day. The cab driver asked what time to we wanted to go back and to wait for him and he will come back for us. We stayed till 3pm. We sat on the balcony and watched the people go down the slide and play on the water trampoline. My daughter and hubby really enjoyed the slide, I didnt go down. I did join in sitting on the trampoline. We ate the nachos and they were really good. Had a few drinks and just relaxed.
2nd Port - Grand Cayman: This was our favorite stop. We had to tender here and it only took about 5 minutes to tender over. We booked the 1/2 day stingray tour with Captn Marvin and were to be there about 9:15. We got off the boat about 8:30 so we walked around a little and then went to his store. We paid, got on the bus and off we went. We forgot our snorkle stuff so we had to use theirs. The water was a little rough so my daughter and hubby only lasted a few minutes at the first snorkle stop. I stayed out as long as they let us. We went closer to the barrier reef and it was a little calmer (not much) and I got back in. I got to see an eel and alot of coral and fish. Then we went to sting ray city. There were alot of boats but they were leaving and it was perfect. We got our pictures made, saw a male sting ray and we all touched them. They were a little scarry at first when they all came swimming around you. Just dont get close to the person with the food.... We got back to Captn Marvins store and walked back to the pier, went to a couple of the shops and then got back on the tender to the boat. Again about a 5 minute ride. Oh, we had started to leave and we were turning and all the sudden a tender came flying to the ship and there was a boat full of people that had to get on. We stopped long enough for them to get on and we returned to turning before the tender even got out of the way.
3rd Port - Cozumel: Well we really didnt do much here. We got off the ship, walked around the ships there at the port and then walked down the road to where the other two Royal Caribbean ships were docked. We walked passed a few nice hotels and then came back. We just sat and watched the people and the boat. We saw our waitress from the Point out shopping. They were doing alot of work at the pier. But it was nice to just sit and watch. When it was time to pull away from port we went to the front and watched the long line of people that had gone to Carlos and Charlies ?? People running to get to the boat. That was so funny.
Last sea day was just COLD. The sun tried to stay out but the clouds won. I tried to lay out from 9- 12 and it was 64 degrees and wind was at 17 mph. Well at 12 I gave up and went to eat with hubby and daughter in the restaurant. This was nice to have other people to talk to since we didnt have dinner mates. Food was good and I enjoyed the change from the lunch buffet.
Sushi: Well we did have the sushi when it was on the buffet in the Cezanne restaurant but the Sushi bar that was open from 5:30-8:30 we only made it there twice and they didnt have what I wanted but my hubby had serveral things and it was very good.
Sur Mer : went up there a few time but never got anything from there. It was hard to remember it. You have to go upstairs from the Cezanne restaurant in the back so it was easy to forget about.
Interet Cafe: Well they had this hidden out of the way. You had to go into Alfreds and then around the bar to a door (someone must have slammed the glass door because it was broken). We signed up for the 100 minutes $55. The first day we used it was so slow and couldnt even get to the email. The guy in there was really nice and gave us back out minutes and told to come back later. The rest of the time it was fine. I think we even left with about 10 minutes left to use.
Camp Carnival: Our 10yr old had a GREAT time. I was a little nervous that she could check her self in and out but it worked out great. We had those two way radios but only used them the frist two days. My daughter knew her way around better than me almost. Some days she couldnt decide if she wanted to go with us or go to camp. She was in the talent show and we won the family scavenger hunt. She did go to one formal night with us and to one other dinner but otherwise she was at camp. They were open from 9-12 then 2-5 and then 6-10. She never stayed in the after hours from 10-3.
The last night we had a little scare. When we were turning into the Mississippi River we tilted hard. We were Vincents doing karaoke and the monitor slid to the other side of the room. Our waiter said that it never happened that bad before. They were in the middle of change over in the Monet and they had plates and glasses break. People I talked to that were in the gift shop said the book case fell and glass broke. We went to the Lido deck to look and there were plates from the pizza station all over the floor and the water had come out of the pool.
I didnt care for the restaurant in the middle of the ship. If you got off on deck 3 or 4 you had to walk thru the restaurant to get to the other side. I think they should have a walk around this.
On the Pride when they made announcements you heard them in your room. Not so on the Conquest. When (if) you hear the bell ring you had to go into the hallway to hear what they are saying. Also when we were on the deck by the pool outside you couldnt hear the announcements either. People were talking so loud and they had music playing of ther speakers. They also didnt have a band playing the cool caribbean music like they did on the Pride. There are things we liked about this ship better than the Pride but the overall experience is I like the Pride better. The ship is nice though.
I will also never go on a January cruise again. I like to sit out by the pool and soak up the sun.
Here is the link to our pictures. They are the ones that say Carnival Conquest 2003. If you have any questions I will try and answer.
Hi all just back from our first Carnival Cruise on the Conquest. The ship was beautiful and the rooms were large. Our cabin was on the second deck in the middle with a window. The staff was very nice and did a great job cleaning up after us!Over all I think they could have had more activities lanned and the food was a 7 on a scale of 1-10. The weather was bad the entire time and many of the shore activities were cancelled because of poor weather however on the ship thee were no activities planned while the ship was docked.
The Cruise Director Corrie Schmidt was fantastic very funny and very personable. This ship is large and you could tell there was a loss of quality because of the number of passengers. With 3000 people to feed the food has an institutional feel to it. In regards to the ports I suggest they DROP Jamaica it was really not very nice and most everyone we spoke with felt the same way. Caimen Island was very nice as was Cozumel. I do not think we would pick such a largeship next time but we would go with Carnival again.