So much to say about this trip. This was our fifth cruise and we have cruised Carnival twice. then Celebrity & RCCL. This trip was the best. The nicest ship, food on a par with RCCL, but more selection and definitely the most accommodating, friendly crew.
New Orleans is a great starting point. We flew in from Newark arriving at the downtown hotel (Queen & Crescent) around 1pm. This gave us a good afternoon/ evening in Norleans and then time for a long streetcar ride out to the Garden District to a diner for breakfast. We checked out the hotel at 12:30 and reported to the ship at 1:15.
I should say that we were with around 30 friends and their kids. The age range was 11 to around 60. My sons are 15 and 17.
The ship left the dock at exactly 6pm. This was true of all the ports. We arrived and departed right on schedule. Cruising down the Mississippi was an experience, it's a pity most of it was in the dark. It takes about 7 hours to traverse the 130 miles or so of the Mississippi to the Gulf.
The two days on the ship at the beginning of the cruise were great. Time to relax and explore- there's a lot to explore. It wasn't until the last day or so we found you could actually get on the decks right at the front of the ship above the bridge and walk out on the bridge 'wings' to look back down the side on the ship. What a sight!
On Jamaica some people ( me included) climbed the Mayfield Falls and some went horseback riding on land and in the surf. On Grand Cayman most went to Stingray City, some went to the beach, and some shopped. In Cozumel, some went to t beach club with one all-inclusive price for the beach, drinks and non-powered watersports and some went to the spectacular Myan Ruins at Tulim. I think the general consensus is that we could have done without the Jamaica stop and would have liked a day to recover between Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
The ship is spectacular. Lots of dining choices and well laid out. No expense was spared. Marble and inlayed designs are throughout the ship. The eight story atrium with it's large bar and string quartet were surreal. The health club was used a lot and was first class. The Sauna and stream room with their large windows overlooking the sea were good, as were the showers - I showered more in the club than the room.
We stayed on level one, in an inside room (Room 1372) and it was the best room we've had on any ship. The bathroom in particular was comparatively large for a Level 1 cabin. Their were the two of us plus our 15 & 17 year old boys in the cabin.
A great cruise on a spectacular ship, staffed by a first rate crew.
-The ship. No expense soared in its design and fitting out
-Dining options. Make sure you check out the 'Sur Mer' dining, the Chinese Wok counter and the deli's Bagel & smoked salmon. Oh, and the coffee shop's Late Coffees.
- Unbelievably with a little over 3,000 passengers, the ship did not seem crowded. Yes it got crowded around the pools on the sea days, but a deck or two above the pools, there was plenty of space.
- The food. Carnival has definitely listened to their critics and improved the food quality and the availability of other options. On the lobster night, one person at our table of 10 ordered lobster and steak. Two steaks were bought without asking so the others could share. Similarly on a night when shrimp were on the menu. Two extra plates of shrimp were bought so everyone could have some.
- The automatic tipping, which we were all going to opt out of at the beginning of the cruise, actually worked well for us and we tipped some special people more at the end of the cruise.
- Embarkation and disembarkation were the smoothest on any cruise we have been on.
- Internet cafe and the large game room. Wireless Internet access throughout the ship.
- The elevators. For a ship this size I have often encountered longer waits in hotels. The four glass elevators in the atrium were incredible.
- Quality of the drinks and knowledgeable bar staff.
- The launderette and ironing room on each level.
- The ship is cold! Bring a long sleeved shirt or a light sweater.
- The entertainment was a little below the level we have become used to on RCCL & Celebrity. It was adequate and some people liked it, but generally thought that there was room for some improvement.
- Lack of arranged ship's activities for the 16-18 year old age range. The younger kids liked the program, but several of us had 15 and 17 year olds and there was nothing arranged. We spoke with the youth activity leader about this.
That's it. If I have left anything out, let me know.
Just came off the Conquest myself.(August 24-30) This was our 25'th wedding anv. cruise. It was great.
Merkur is right, its a beautiful ship. Great service and helpful staff members.For all the cruisemates that are about to sail on her, Wish I could be there with you and do it all over again.Try to go to the Supper Club one night and eat. You want be disappointed.
The wife and I are already planning for our cruise in 2004.Eastern Carribean, here we come!