First time on the Conquest. Seventh time on Carnival. Found the ship's layout to be very much like the Carnival Triumph.
This was a good experience overall but it had its moments!
Embarkation was a breeze. Easiest ever! We arrived a bit later than usual so that was probably the key. I have come to dread embarkation so this was refreshing! We got on faster than the VIPs!
We parked at Fulton Place Garage. Saved $28 but not sure it was the best thing to do. When you arrive they tell you to go to level eight (the top, I think). Level eight will have you circle around inside the deck SIXTEEN times as you climb up. We gave up at level six and parked there. Took the elevator down to the ground level. There was a big bus to ride to the terminal. It took about 40 minutes from when we boarded the bus until it left. BTW, when you get back to the garage after the cruise, they will NOT let you take any luggage on the elevators (too weak, they say). And they mean it. Someone asked why it had been ok to keep our luggage when we had arrived a week before? They said it was because we were going down in the elevator, not up. The ship's elevators evidently are much stronger than the elevators in the Fulton Place parking deck. So, you ride up the elevator, get your car and circle round and round down to the ground to pick up your luggage and the person(s) who stayed behind with it. And you jockey for a place in the street to load the luggage, competing with buses and the other cruisers who are all having to do the same. Have never tried parking at the port so can't say if it is better or worse.
We had a coveted Aft Cabin with the great view and the deep balcony. Cabin 6456. Enjoyed the balcony and the view. Spectacular. And the aft balcony layout makes it easy to visit with your neighbors. But watch out! These cabins sit right on top of the Degas Lounge and the noise from below is incredible! Floor-vibrating! Like OMG loud and it would be funny except that it is your home for a week. The worst was during karaoke and you could hear every song in detail. "Who let the dogs out??!! Boom, Boom Boom!" The comedy shows were not as loud but we could hear the jokes without having to leave our cabin. Maybe we should call that a convenience! This all quieted down by 12:30 AM or so. The ship is ten years old so you know Carnival knows about this noise issue. They could mention it, like they do with Obstructed View cabins. Call it Obstructed Peace. But it's as if they say, "Let's put the guests in there. Maybe they won't notice." And I'm sure some guests are out late anyway and don't notice. When we first complained Guest Services gave us earplugs. I'm not kidding! They said they would move us but were unable to as the ship was full. Later in the week they made it right.
Food was good most everywhere. Monet dining room especially. I do believe everyone in the state of Arkansas had come down and was on board. We met a great couple from Arkansas as our table-mates at dinner. Would have bought more photos but they were priced too high! $22 for one 8X10. Caution: we had to pay sales tax because we waited until the last night and were back in the Mississippi River when we bought our two photos.
Montego Bay -- We did the Hilton Jamaica-for-a-day excursion booked online. With transfers. Good thing -- transfers in advance are much less expensive than taxi. The MoBay terminal was a Mad House and we had to wait forever for a bus. Tempers among the drivers and port people were flaring. I loved when they said to my group, "Here. Stand behind this (idling, smoking, smelly) bus for a while." Two places for ships to dock here and Carnival Magic got the good spot -- the one within walking distance of the terminal. We Conquest folks had to ride buses back and forth from the ship to the terminal. The Hilton was great fun. Be sure to get there early if you want one of the few lockers! All inclusive -- food, drink, pools, lazy river, beach, kayaks, catamaran, restaurant inside and outside. Super nice place!
Grand Cayman -- We did the Stingray City/Turtle Farm tour booked through Carnival. We were on the first tender. Five ships, I believe, were anchored in port. Stingray City was fun. It is BEAUTIFUL out on that sandbar. Only problem would be that it is VERY crowded, tons of boats and tons of tourists in the water competing for the Stingrays. I would do it again. Going later in the day might be better than the mad rush early in the day. Turtle Farm. The little buses took us there. We had a "tour" of the place. Our tour guide was not the friendliest chap, but it was educational. The buses had left us there to eat and shop in the gift shop. A few of the kids swam with the turtles. We felt a bit stranded while we waited for the time to pass. You are a long way from the ship here. The buses were about thirty minutes late coming back to get us. Tour guide had reappeared and announced, "Buses will be here in 8 minutes tops!" Fifteen minutes later tour guide said, "Buses will be here in 5 minutes tops!" You get the picture. Which leads me to...
When we got back to the Grand Cayman tender terminal the line to the Conquest tenders was blocks long. OMG! I am not exaggerating. All wound around like a snake. A confusing mess. No one could even tell where the end of the line was or which line was which. The line for Conquest got longer and longer and longer, rarely moving. Curiously, there was no line at all for Freedom of the Seas tenders. The tender line for Carnival Magic moved right along. Meanwhile we Conquest people stood in line in the hot sun for about an hour and a half (no joke!). I asked some of the security people about it and they said it is like that every day. Hearsay, I don't know. But I do know there were a lot of Cranky Conquest passengers by the time we finally got back to the ship. Much grumbling was going on in that line. Rightfully so.
One couple we know had taken the Carnival excursion to Seven-Mile Beach. He tried to rent an umbrella and was told there were none and then there were and then there weren't. He protested and was told by the woman who worked there, "Careful! You are not in your country!" This said to a non-threatening man in his 60s.
Cozumel -- We had booked the Bar Hop online. Don't know if it was good or not because we missed it. Supposed to take a cab to town and meet at Starbucks at 10:45. We ended up trapped in a long hall on Deck 1 in a line that never moved. By the time we finally got off and got to the line to wait for a taxi, well, I finally scrubbed the mission at about 11:15. Heck, we hadn't even made it to a taxi yet and we still had to ride seven miles to town in all the traffic. So we missed that excursion and lost our deposit. Ended up renting a car and driving around the island. Which leads me to...
In Cozumel we were parked alongside the Carnival Magic. Conquest was scheduled to leave at 5:00, the Magic at 5:30. Got in a long line about 4:00 to board the Conquest. I noticed there was no line at all to get on the Magic. Our line got longer and longer, eventually stretching around the bow of our ship. A line well over a block long with people standing 2-4 across, so not single file. Once finally on board I watched and the oddest thing, there never was a line at the Magic. Both ships were operating two gangways. I don't know why such a difference, but it sure looks like the Magic has figured out how to get passengers on their ship much more quickly than the Conquest. We left Cozumel about an hour late, evidently because of people getting back late from a Carnival speedboat excursion, this according to a passenger who was trapped beside me in the elevator lobby during debarkation. The Magic left late as well.
Debarkation was tough. We chose self-assist and ended up trapped again in an elevator lobby for over thirty minutes. Like sardines in a can. People streaming off the elevator and down the stairwells until there was no place to go. I really wished I could get back to an elevator and get the heck out of that mess but it was impossible to move in any direction. Hope you're not claustrophobic! There were lots of people who were not self-assist who were sneaking off early. I know because I later saw them looking for their bags in the terminal before customs. Once we finally got off the ship we breezed through customs.
Masses of people trapped inside the ship in hallways, elevators lobbies and stairwells. Each time as I stood there, I couldn't help but wonder, how is that not a Big Giant Safety Issue??
Years ago there was a railroad company called the DL&W railroad, which eventually became Conrail. It was nick-named Delay, Linger and Wait. I thought of this often while on this particular cruise.
Saturday - the next-to-last day - when we finally got to use lounge chairs by the pool (too many chair hogs and it didn't seem like Carnival ever enforced the 30-minute rule!) we were listening to the reggae band. Noticed a song evidently by someone called Jamesy P. "Looking for some Nookie tonight. Juicy Juicy Pussy Wussy." Full lyrics can be found on the internet. Or youtube. I wonder if that's appropriate for the kids on a family cruise? Ironically, on John Heald's blog today when he was asked if Carnival would ever have a singles-only cruise he answered, "...I doubt we will ever do this. After all, We are proud to be a family cruise line..."
Reported that the shower drain was slow in our cabin and water would run over onto the floor. No one ever came to check on it so when we left, the water was still running over onto the floor.
Elevators. I've noticed this on several Carnival ships. The elevators can be nutty sometimes. For example, when you are in the atrium area and it is not crowded and there are TEN elevators and you still have to wait a long time? Some are resting and never move. Some skip your deck. Saw that a few times in the aft elevator lobby as well. But other times there would be only a brief wait. Go figure.
Of course there were highlights. The captain instilled confidence -- once spotted him walking about the decks incognito in his jogging clothes. Our head waiter was very good, we enjoyed the view from the aft cabin, the Comedy shows were great, especially Mutzie! The Maitre d' did a good job and was entertaining to boot. We were greeted by name by many of the Carnival staff. Beautiful weather. Gorgeous sunsets. We met lots of great people from all over the world. Heard lots of funny stories about the perpetual sneak-liquor-on-board-wars. It was spring break and all the high-school/college kids were extremely respectful, once even kindly offering us their seats. Many of the kids would say, "Hey Dad" when we passed on the ship. Hey, I'm glad I'm still young enough for it not to be, "Hey Grand-dad!" Guest Services handled the situation with the noise in our cabin very well. A pleasant experience, actually - not confrontational at all. Very professional. The ship is well-kept and clean. We heard a lot of passengers were left behind in Jamaica and Grand Cayman, and that 12 people were in the brig at one point. Again, hearsay. I don't know for sure.
Overall, a fun trip. Would go again. Biggest problem was the endless delays and lines.