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Luanne Russo July 17th, 2006 10:05 AM

Conquest Cruise July 9th, 2006
Our cruise started last week, on the 8th of July, which also happened to be son # 1’s birthday. We left here around 7:30 in the morning. This was to be a very special cruise to spend time with Dad before he gets ready to go overseas for 6 months to a year. Cruising is the only place we can go, where the Army can’t find him for a few days. The first thing we did before leaving the driveway was to have a family prayer, to get us to Galveston safely. The boys are in the back seat and Hubby and I are in the front so we join hands, by everyone placing a hand on top of each other in between the seats. I also collected everyone’s cell phones. They were all turned off, and would have been left at home, but you have to be prepared to give cell phones back to teens, as soon as possible, when they have done without for a week.

Before we left town, we stopped by the police station to turn in our house watch form. If you are not familiar with this service, then check it out at your local station. You give them the info on what your house should look like while you are gone, and they put your house on a watch list, and make sure that everything you say should be is. Also, don’t forget to stop all the newspapers, and have your mail held at the post office. You don’t want your house to look like it is not lived in while you are gone. We have a special program here where the newspapers have a contract with the school system. If you want to, they will instead of saving your papers for you, donate the papers to the schools in your name, to help students with reading and current events projects.

Our drive to Galveston takes about 5 hours. That does allow for a few stops on the way. We are never in a hurry, so the drive is less stressful. I am a big believer in going to the port a day early for that reason. We use to go through the country to get to Galveston, but now take the interstate, which frankly gives me something to look at. You can only enjoy looking at so many cows. I am a city girl, and we live in a small town, so I get great joy out of seeing the different stores, we don’t see here.

Once in Galveston, we soon arrived at our motel. This time we stayed at the La Quinta. There are two of them, but the other is way down the beach, and not near a lot of the different things Galveston offers. A word of warning: If you are going to Galveston to spend the night, please book your rooms as soon as you can. Galveston has always been a great place, but with the Conquest in port now, it is bringing many people to the area, and the rooms book early. I booked 3 months in advance, and was limited to 2 motels. We had stayed in the other one before, so I picked La Quinta. Several weeks later I started reading the reviews for the motel, and was shocked at what I was reading. They were terrible. I figured I had made the biggest mistake. I spend days going back through the list of other motels, and not only were they still booked, but the prices had doubled, and in some cases tripled. I did the only thing a good southern woman could do, I e-mailed the motel and told them what I had read, and told them I was worried, not only for the cleanliness, but for the safety of my family. (I read that hookers would knock on the motel doors at night) (My teen boys, we disappointed that I was worried about it) I received the nicest e-mail from Sherry, General Manager of the motel, reassuring me that many changes had been made. She turned out to be correct. The staff was wonderful, and the rooms, although older, were very clean. We always reserve two rooms. They did not join, but were situated so that I could see the boy’s room, from ours.

The day that we arrived was my oldest son’s birthday. He turned an adult age of 19. In fact all my men had birthdays either that week, or in the case of my hubby, a month earlier, so I wanted to plan something special as a surprise. One day while on, I saw an ad about airplane rides over Galveston. I started e-mailing a man named Steve, and he helped me to arrange a trip for the boys. They say it was great, and really enjoyed seeing Galveston from the air. I stayed on the ground, because I get dizzy on a two-step ladder. The airport is located not far from everything there in Galveston, and is very easy to get to. After the boys plane ride, we went to eat at my sons pick for a restaurant. He picked Chinese. I remember for years trying to get him to try Chinese, and him saying yuk. Now that he has tried it that is all he ever wants. We have a tradition n our little family that the birthday person gets to pick the food for the meal, so even though Galveston has some of the best seafood, we had Chinese.

On the way back to the motel, we stopped to get a birthday cake, and a few extras we forgot, including sunscreen. I will tell you more about that later.

Once in the room, we settled in to watch a pay for view movie for all of us, and to watch the fireworks that Galveston had postponed from the 4th due to rain. We were able to see them from our room, so that was nice.

The next morning, we got up, and showered and ate the breakfast the motel provided. It was not special, but was good enough to hold us over until we could board the ship.

Check out was a breeze, and a short taxi ride to the port was quick.

You know, I have seen the Conquest before, not only being on it, but also many Sunday’s on the web cam, but I swear it has grown. The web cam does not do it justice. It absolutely takes your breath away……………

dina July 17th, 2006 10:24 AM

Your before day sounds real nice. What a great idea about emailing the motel. I can't wait to hear the rest of it.

izards July 17th, 2006 02:02 PM

I've printed so I can read at lunch...but from what Dina says, it sounds like there will be more to come!!! Almost like a book!!! LOL

Luanne Russo July 18th, 2006 09:10 AM

Getting on the ship was just as exciting as it was the first time. There is a special energy in the air. We got to the port at around 12:15 and it was very crowded. The good news was that the lines were moving pretty fast.

Although I didn't hear about it until after we got back from the cruise, I will go ahead and explain about our delay leaving the port. We were suppose to leave at 4:00, but was still sitting there at 5:00.

Remember as a child feeling the need to run away from home? Well this kid felt the need. He got all the way to the ship, before he was asked for his Sign and sail card. He told them that his parents were already on board and they had his card. We did hear the pages for his parents, but I thought maybe someones' credit card was not good. When it was discovered that there was no parents on board, they called the FBI. This info came from one of the Terminal people.

Once on board, we went to eat. We use to think that the only food was on the Lido deck outside, and was restricted to hamburgers and hot dogs, out on the Conquest, you can go inside and the buffet is set up. We were told that our rooms would not be ready until after 2:00, so by the time we ate, it was time to go and hopefully get our luggage in the room.

Our room was just like it was before, so it was like coming home. LOL We didnt get all of our luggage right away, but had enough that we didn't feel the need to panic. Santie our steward was there not long after we got in the room. He looks like the guy on Armageddon. The one who is big and mean looking, but cries, and displays his softer side. LOL You always knew when he was on the floor, because you could hear him. LOL

I always hate the muster drill. It is so hot with those life vests around your neck, and I hate having to think about what to do, if something happened. We also discovered that the kids rooms were far enough away, that they had a different assignment for the muster drill. We sent them to their assigned area, but later showed them where ours was, so they could meet us there in case of an emergency. In case of an emergency, we would have all been put on the same boat anyway, because we are family. Next time, I will take this into account when booking. There is no way I could get off a ship, not knowing if my babies were off as well.

After muster, it was time for dinner. We had asked for 6:15 but was assigned 5:45 in the Monet. The Monet is a beautiful dining room, and since this is where we were assigned last time, it also felt like we were coming back home. We were assigned a table for 4 and it worked out perfect. We were usually the first table served. Now I am going to say something that is just our opinion. They do have the new menus. I know there has been talk for months on the boards about the new ones, and how impressive it was, but we were not impressed. Don't get me wrong. The food was good, but I didn't see that much difference.

More later................

dina July 18th, 2006 09:54 AM

:shock: How old was the kid? I guess he REALLY wanted a vacation. On the other hand, its nice to know security is on the ball.

HAHAHA Nice to know you felt like you were coming home. *grabs popcorn and waits for the rest of the review*

Luanne Russo July 18th, 2006 10:56 AM

For the next several days were relaxing days at sea. They did anounce on the last sea day that we were making an unplanned
stop to Grand Cayman for a medical emergency. We were told that we would not change our plans as far as time goes. I was told that someone had miscarried, but do not know that as a fact. My prayers went to the family.

Our first real stop was Jamaica. I was here in December, but did not get off the ship, so it was really my first time. We planned to do the falls. Before I take us off the ship, let me explain something. I am white. That is not a racial thing but a fact about my skin. I hate sun. I am called the vampire in our neighbor, because I only come out at night. I know what you are thinking. Why cruise to the tropics if I hate sun? Because I love the tropics and air conditioning.

Okay, let’s get off the ship. I booked all of our excursions from home, several weeks before the actual cruise. I like having the opportunity to pick the ones I want, without having to worry that they are sold out. I also do not enjoy standing in line on the ship, to do something; I could have already taken care of at home. I am also one who books through the ship rather than through an independent agent. It makes me feel safer, and confident that if something happens, I will get an instant refund.

Okay, now I am ready to get off the ship. Jamaica is the only place on this cruise where you can dock. The others are tender. For those of you who are reading this and have never cruised, the first thing you encounter after getting off is a photographer. They take your picture, and it usually says where you are or has the ships name. Now I use to have ours made, because I thought you couldn’t get off, unless you had them made, but I now know that you can say no thank you and keep walking. Of course you don’t have to buy the pictures, but I am a sucker. I for one, realize how short time is, and if I see my men on a picture, I have to buy it. Finding your tour off ship is easy, because the tour group has a big sign that says your tour, so you just go and stand with them. It is a lot like elementary school.

Jamaica from the ocean is beautiful, but on shore it is sad. Lots of buildings that should not house people. Lots of trash. Bad roads etc. Not the type of place I am use to. I am told that the other side of the island is beautiful, and has beautiful homes, but sadly we were not docked on that side.

Our tour bus trip took what seemed like forever to get to the falls. It actually took 2 hours. I am told that many ships dock near the falls, and do not have a long trip.

Our tour guide did tell us a lot of interesting facts about the island, but the air conditioning was not working well on the bus, so it was hard to concentrate on what she was saying. (Oh no, Luanne and heat, that’s not good) We get there finally, and get off the bus, and start walking, and walking, and walking. It is getting hotter, and hotter. We get to the station where our tour guide picks up our falls tour guide, and we start walking again. You can sort of hear the falls, but just faintly. Oh, speaking of fainting. I did. One minute I remember walking down the stairs, and the next minute, I am on the sidewalk. I don’t remember anything. I was fine. I skinned both knees, and landed on the side of my face, so it was a bit painful, but other than that, I provided a bit of entertainment for the rest of the group.

dina July 18th, 2006 11:11 AM

OUCH!! Not good with the fainting. I've heard that about Jamaica but figure I would check it out anyway if I ever get the chance.

Elaine515 July 18th, 2006 11:59 AM

More More..........Excellent review thus far.... boy, if my boss knew I was reading this instead of working!!!

Thnx Luanne.... keep it coming....


reverendjeff July 18th, 2006 12:24 PM

I am sailing the Conquest in 18 days. Please tell me that your review will be complete before then. :)

Luanne Russo July 18th, 2006 12:29 PM

LOL LOL LOL Jeff, Don't count on it. LOL I am southern!!! LOL

The age of the boy was not disclosed, but the impression I got was that he was a pre-teen. Probably was told to clean his room, and decided to take a cruise. LOL


rescuedad July 18th, 2006 12:37 PM


Originally Posted by Luanne Russo
LOL LOL LOL Jeff, Don't count on it. LOL I am southern!!! LOL

The age of the boy was not disclosed, but the impression I got was that he was a pre-teen. Probably was told to clean his room, and decided to take a cruise. LOL


Probably was told he was getting all his school clothes at walmart this year!

Easy there REV be nice remember Luanne is a little, you know, slow :wink:

izards July 18th, 2006 12:42 PM

I'm with you Elaine...if my boss only knew.

And I, like Jeff, am sailing on the Conquest soone (July 30 to be exact) and also hope that you are finished before I leave. But if not, I will be happy to continue reading when I get back!!!! LOL

dina July 18th, 2006 12:44 PM

Slow isn't necessarily a bad thing. Look how we're glued to the thread. :D

Luanne Russo July 18th, 2006 12:45 PM

Are you guys making fun of me?

If you want the short version. I had a great time, the ship is great.
If you want lots of facts, and fun, stay tooned.

izards July 18th, 2006 12:46 PM

Absolutely....I mean, I do keep checking to see what is next. LOL Like I said yesterday, it is like a novel that I have to keep coming back to....very exciting! LOL

dina July 18th, 2006 12:48 PM


Originally Posted by Luanne Russo
Are you guys making fun of me?

If you want the short version. I had a great time, the ship is great.
If you want lots of facts, and fun, stay tooned.

I want ALL the facts straight up. I'm living vicariously through you at the moment.

I wanna go on another cruise. :cry:

cwr322 July 18th, 2006 12:53 PM


Originally Posted by Luanne Russo
Are you guys making fun of me?

If you want the short version. I had a great time, the ship is great.
If you want lots of facts, and fun, stay tooned.

Absolutely not!! I want to hear every detail, (well, maybe not everrry detail) but you know what I mean. If I can't go cruising right now I need details from everyone else to help me survive until I can go again. So keep on writing!!

Luanne Russo July 18th, 2006 01:02 PM

Oh you don't have to worry about those details. Wait until I get to Grand Cayman, and you will know why this was not a x rated cruise. Poor hubby.... He wants to sue the makers of sun screen for loss of affection. LOL LOL LOL

rescuedad July 18th, 2006 01:33 PM


Originally Posted by Luanne Russo
Oh you don't have to worry about those details. Wait until I get to Grand Cayman, and you will know why this was not a x rated cruise. Poor hubby.... He wants to sue the makers of sun screen for loss of affection. LOL LOL LOL

He should have taken care of that business while you were passed out!!!!

Luanne Russo July 18th, 2006 01:49 PM

Okay, After I picked myself up off the ground, and checked for anything broken, we continued on down the hill. Finally, we reached the falls. They are beautiful, and seem to come right out of the mountain. We had to start our line in the ocean, and work our way up. Everyone, even if you don't know the person in front of you or behind, holds hands. The person in front pulls you up, and you pull the person behind you up. It is really cool. When I say my line, I mean the one I was in. They try to start with at least two lines, and in some places, we could do three. (Remember, you need to bring shoes. The ones that work the best are the ones where it covers your foot, but has holes, so that the water can run through. They also rent them at the falls, and they sale them on the ship) The water was sooooo cold. You climb in water around your shoes, and then drop down into water up to your waist. In some places, you have to walk into the falls to climb, and then you pretty much get wet all over. If you decide you don't want to do it any more, you can get out and walk along the falls. (The rocks with dark spots on them are slick)

Some people will tell you to go with a private tour, because they usually go when the falls aren't so busy, but I loved the fact that there were so many people to interact with.

After the falls are over with, you go back to the bus. We were tired, but wanted to stay at the falls, instead of getting back on the hot bus.

On the way back to the ship, we stopped at a stand to get drinks and food. This was my first jerk chicken. Yummy....

dina July 18th, 2006 01:59 PM


Originally Posted by rescuedad
He should have taken care of that business while you were passed out!!!!

HAHAHA Only if you have a walmart bag on you is it permissible.

Luanne - At least the fainting didn't ruin your tour. Maybe walking though the water helped. :D

RobRen July 18th, 2006 04:06 PM

Hydration, hydration, hydration. It's so important, especially in hot, humid climates. Always make sure you have water on hand and use it!!!

I know mom's tend to watch out for everyone else and end up forgetting about themselves. On our last cruise in Grand Cayman, I was so concerned about my son getting burned while snorkeling (he's got blond hair, blue eyes and the light skin to match) that I completely forgot about putting sunscreen on my back. My son was fine, my husband was fine, but my back was lobster red! Ouch!!!

I'm so glad that you didn't really hurt yourself and ruin your trip.

Thanks for your stories. I'm really enjoying reading about your daily adventures. It makes me remember all the small details about our cruises.

Luanne Russo July 18th, 2006 05:04 PM

Okay, we get back to the ship, after stopping in the port gift shop for some tee shirts, and me a spoon. We had about an hour before sail away, so all took a shower(Not at one time) LOL We also decided to stay in our room for sail away, because we had the balcony. We waited and waited, and nothing. We did hear people being paged several times. Finally we took off for Grand Cayman, again. Remember we had just come from there, because of the medical emergency. It seems the missing people took an extra excursion. They went to jail. Darn drug dogs. Darn stupid people.

This was the night we decided to skip the dinning room. We didn't realize that we would not go back at all. We just wanted to eat later than our time.

We also didn't go to the usual shows. I'm not sure why. Maybe because we have cruised so much in the last year, they all seem the same to us. That is not saying anything bad about the Conquest or Carnival. We just have changed as far as needs are concerned.

I also did not drink booze on this trip. I am not suddenly off the sauce, or anything like that, but it just didn't seem necessary. I am not much of a drinker anyway, and make a cheap date, because I can usually only drink one. LOL

The next morning we were circling Grand Cayman. Now I have and haven;t been here before. Last Christmas we were there, but never tendered because of high seas. I had been worried that the same thing would happen, but we had the best weather the whole trip. Twice we saw lightning in the distance, and it rained for a minute or two, but other than that, it was perfect.

Grand Cayman What can I say, except it is a beautiful island. The land of money, banks, big houses, and more money. Today, I was going to bravely get in the ocean in a bathing suit with sting rays. I don't know which is the more scary. Probably me in a bathing suit. LOL

This excursion was booked with Carnival, and the bus was air conditioned. yea!! I had a choice of two times for this excursion, and I picked the early one. Not a bad thing, but on a ship, you don't realize how late it is, and you end up going to bed late. We arrived on shore on time. Tendering was not a problem at all, but the tour people were late... 45 minutes late. With us standing in the hot sun..... Me and this hot sun....... I was fine, but thankfully we had others on the bus, that were very vocal, if you know what I mean. This caused everything else we did all day rushed. First we toured Grand Cayman. Did I mention they have money? LOL We then went to hell. When the tour guide said where we were going, one of the vocal people on the bus said, "We have already been there." I think she was referring to the standing in the heat waiting. LOL Hell is what I was told it was. It is a gift shop, closed post office, and some strange rocks in back. But, if the real hell is this expensive, you sure better go with your credit card. LOL Three tee shirts a bag of chips, and three cokes =$ 63.00 Then it was on to the turtle farm. Now I love animals, and turtles on cartoons are cute, but this was boring. They don't do anything. I don't know what i expected, but I was glad to leave. By the way, very expensive food there too.

Okay, on to the rays.......

Luanne Russo July 18th, 2006 09:26 PM

The rays were great. The boat ride out was great. The boat driver was great. The driver was one of two brothers. One looked just like the "Rock" Does everyone know who that is?

On the way out to the sand bar, we decided to use some sun block that I saw advertised on TV. It's spray on, that doesn't require a lot of yuky stuff. I DID NOT read the directions. What I did was spray it on and then rub in. WRONG You spray on all over the place. No rubbing.

We got to the sand bar, and it was like a parking lot. We had to wait for a parking place, which didn't take long. Most of us got into the water, and it was the best experience I have ever had with a fish. LOL It was like playing with a dozen flat kittens. LOL I could have stayed out all day.
We did finally have to leave, but that is one memory I will never forget.

Getting back on the ship wasn't a problem, and once again we took our showers. Remember those places I sprayed and then rubbed in. Well the stuff works only for the places you spray, not the rub. So I had circles all over the place, and the rest was beet red. LOL I was planning to wear a pink dress that night with white polka dots, and the first non family person I saw, said, " Oh how cute, you tanned to match your dress" I changed clothes. LOL The redness was gone by the next morning, but the soreness stayed for a couple of days.

Our next stop was Cozumel.

David West July 18th, 2006 09:58 PM

Doing great Luanne :!: Keep it coming :!:

Happy Cruising to all; :D

cruisecrip July 18th, 2006 11:08 PM

Louanne, I'm lovin this trip report.
8) Keep it comin.
I'm glad you had a good trip
Shirl :roll:

Tompo8190 July 19th, 2006 12:52 AM have an excellent memory. I would never be able to remember all the details if I didn't keep a journal. You would be an excellent journalist. I am enjoying your posts so much...keep it coming. Can you tell me more about the menu change? Thanks.

Sorry to hear you fainted, I can't believe you got up and still climbed the're a trooper!!

BW July 19th, 2006 07:02 AM

Great review Luanne.

Looking forward to Cozumel.


dina July 19th, 2006 08:47 AM

HAHAHA Flat kittens... I HAVE to try this. Also thank you on the spray on no rub tip. I'm lovin the review. keep it coming please.

Luanne Russo July 19th, 2006 09:42 AM

Cozumel- For this excursion I picked something separate from my guys. Up to this point, we had done things together, but to pick something they like, I have to pick action, adventure, and the ATV's were it for Coz. They loved it, and I am still trying to get the clothes they wore clean. This is a dirty excursion. You ride ATV's on the beach, and down country roads. I had also booked it for myself, and then realized what I had done, and changed it to Highlights and shopping. Besides the ATV ride, it also included snorkeling. They had to get up and off the ship early, but mine was later, and it was nice not to have to rush.

Let me back up a bit, and tell you more about Cozumel, and then I will tell you how my day went.

This was my fourth trip to Coz. Once last summer, on our first cruise. At that time we went to Paradise beach for the day. Easy taxi ride, to an absolutely beautiful beach. It was almost brand new then. During that cruise, we docked and walked off the ship. Everything was green and tropical.

Our second and third time in Coz was in December. We did back to back cruises. We got on the Conquest and spent seven days then came back to Galveston, stayed in a motel for the night, and then boarded the Elation for 5 more days. During these two cruises, Coz was all torn up. The piers were gone. The greenery was gone, and many buildings were gutted.

I am happy to say that this cruise showed us how very much improved Coz is now. We tendered closer than ever before. (Close enough, that if you had to , you could swim the distance) I am really happy for the folks at Coz, who have worked very hard to get things back in order.

Okay, now to Highlights and shopping. I would have been just as happy with the highlights. I am not a shopper. I am a get in there and get out kind of girl, but it was included. I guess for comfort, Coz is my favorite island. It is very much like going to Florida. The shops, the food, the beaches. I also feel very safe in Coz.

After we did a very short tender which was very comfortable. (In the big tender boats, go down to the bottom of the boat when picking a place to sit. Down there are very comfortable Captains chairs, air conditioning, and a bar.) The largest of the tenders holds 500 people. These are normally used to ferry people from Coz to the mainland. If you are standing on your ship, and Coz is to your left, if you will look to your right, off in the distance is mainland Mexico. What you can see is Playa de Carmen. You might have only heard about it, but not been there. From there on around is Cancun. Both have excellent beaches, and they have tenders going that way, if you would like to do something else besides Coz.

Okay, Now finally Hightlights, but in a minute........

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