I'm not experienced at all with writing reviews, so I'll just give an overview of my experience with the Carnival Conquest. I'm more than happy to answer any questions that anyone has. The ports of call were Montego Bay, Jamaica, and Grand Cayman.
I genuinely enjoyed the cruise much more than I thought I would. I felt the cruise director, Chris, did a great job with keeping guests informed while also entertaining. The entertainment staff did a great job as well, and kept the activities constantly going. Everyone is extremely friendly, and not only just staff. I guess it's because everyone's on vacation, but anyone you see will smile at you. It's a very feel-good atmosphere.
The food was consistently pretty good. We ate in the Monet dining room, and our waiters were very kind though a bit slow on drink service. I enjoyed all the food on the Lido, and thought the staff there were very accomodating. I lost my dental retainer, and they searched for it for a very long time and were very patient. Allbeit, we never found my retainer, they didn't show any annoyance with my persistence to find as some staff elsewhere might have.
Some of it is a tiny bit cheesy, but some of it's actually pretty good. I saw John Wesley Austin's general comedy show and also his R-rated show and enjoyed them both very much. Most of the younger teenagers seemed to be kept busy with Club O2, but I do think Carnival is severely lacking when it comes to activities for 18 year olds. There weren't any social activities for us, and places like Henri's were full of people old enough to drink...and thus, were drunk. That being said, I didn't go on a cruise to meet people...so I was fine with that. However, my brother who is also 18 did, and seemed a little disappointed with the lack of social activities for 18-20 year olds. I also met a few other 18 year olds on the deck who felt the same way. The dancing shows are average. If you don't know much about dance, you might enjoy it. I've seen performance art in Vegas though, so I will say I'm a bit snobby when it comes to that, lol. The costumes were very creative, though.
We stayed on the 8th floor in an inside stateroom. I was pretty pleased with it. I'm sure it'd be nice to have a window or balcony, but I'm just saying that you probably do not need one to enjoy your vacation. If you think it's worth the extra money, go for it. Our stewardess and her help were AMAZING. Her name was Salisha. Our room & bathroom was so tidy all of the time. She helped me with any questions I had, and was a real "get the job done" type of girl. You'll feel pampered if you're lucky enough to get her as your stewardess. The towel animals are too cute.
Ports of Call:
-Montego Bay, Jamaica:
Getting off the boat is sort of a nightmare. There's no need to rush down unless you have an excursion to get to. The process of leaving the ship at Montego Bay seemed really unorganized, but it was my first cruise..so maybe that's how it always goes. At Montego Bay, we did a Dolphin Encounter and Dunn's River Falls. I got some very cute "kissing the dolphin" pictures, but honestly you will not spend much time with them. The entire thing lasts probably 7 minutes. Dunn's River Falls...amazing! My brother and I climbed it and our parents climbed the trail on the side and took pictures. It's 960 feet of beautiful waterfall. It looks more intimidating than it actually is. I'm in good physical condition and was a little nervous upon first seeing it...however, there were women who were probably at least 50-60 with us, who climbed it. It's a really exhilarating experience, and it's a group of about 20 people who all work together. By the end, you feel like you've made really good friends and it's just generally a really nice experience. Our guide was Tamisha, and she was a very strong woman...you don't have to worry about not making it a few of the rocks..she'll just lift you if she needs to, lol.
Warning about Jamaica:
You'll meet some friendly types, and you'll meet some shady types. I would not go into Jamaica alone. Tourism is basically Jamaica's revenue, so the vendors are extremely pushy and some will even do sleazy things to try to get you to buy. The vendors weren't bad at Dolphin Cove, but the one's outside of Dunn's River Falls are another story. Also the drivers there are not kidding around, lol. It's pretty intense, so just be aware. And it's true that they WILL try to sell you ganja. Me and my father were both offered some on two separate occasions. It isn't that they're bad people, so there's no need to feel disrespect. The wealth is not evenly dispersed, so it's really just their way of life. Don't let it ruin your day.
Cayman is GORGEOUS. You'd be safe here going off on your own, with common sense of course. We did the Ray Runner Boat & Stingray City Snorkel tour& also went parasailing. Definitely my favorite excursion by far. You drive the boat yourself and there isn't a guide with you in the boat, you just follow them. My brother had a lot of fun with this..maybe a little too much fun, lol. The stingrays are beautiful and fascinating. The guides are extremely knowledgeable & take tons of pictures which are affordable. The snorkel tour is great as well. The tour guides are very lax; if you are a strong swimmer, you don't have to wear a life jacket. This enabled me and a few other swimmers to lose the snorkel and go completely underwater, literally swimming right over coral reefs. The marine life is beautiful...so many fish with neon colors, and the plant life is breathtaking. Not to mention the entire time, you go WAY out into the ocean and it's chest-deep, turquoise water. The most beautiful water I've ever seen in my life, by leaps and bounds. Now to parasailing...a lot of fun, pictures come on a memory card (about 150 pictures are taken, and you get to keep the memory card, for $25...not bad since a 2G memory card costs about $22 or so), but take TONS of sunscreen
. So many people got fried here. The winds make it impossible to tell you're being burnt, plus when you parasail, you also wait on about 8 other couples to parasail in your boat, plus 8 couples from another boat. Beautiful view, feels like you're floating in air. Definitely do not regret doing it, but probably would not do it over and over again personally as you parasail for about 7 minutes then watch other people parasail for 2 hours. Eat at Senor Frogs if you're the fun-loving type...amazing food, huge portions (the nachos are ridiculous), and a generally good time...tons of opportunities for free shots.
Embarkation/Debarkation: I guess it was okay as far as embarkation/debarkation goes haha. Obviously it's never fun. In the very long embarkation line while you're holding your carry-ons most likely, every single person in your group will be given a "health" form that centers around the swine flu. You won't be given a pen and there is no surface to write on, but you will be expected to fill it out by the time you get to the desks...have fun with that. Debarkation was slightly better. We got off the ship at least an hour earlier than we were even supposed to dock, and customs sent us right through. They said there'd be dogs, 1 in every 3 people would be checked, etc....I didn't see any of that lol. Not advocating any bringing of illegal things back to the US because 9 times out of 10, it might be there. That's just my experience.
A few tips I wish I'd known:
Simply put, there's "something" about the food lol. Several guests mentioned it. Plan on more potty trips than usual. They have little amenities like toothpaste, razors, tylenol pm, benefiber (lol), pepcid ac, etc, so you don't really need to bring them unless you just want to. Bring enough clothes because laundry is quite the ordeal that you just don't wanna put up with on your vacation. Room service IS free, but you should tip the person who brings it. I would bring more than one bathing suit so you don't have to constantly hang them up. I didn't think I'd ever wear mine, but honestly there are people of ALL shapes and sizes...nothing at all to be ashamed of (no one even thinks anything about it, it's vacation), so just bring it, wear it, have a great time.