This was a surprise wedding anniversary for my parents, although they thought is was a family vacation. Big Surprise.....more like Shock!...LOL We were a group of 18. I use to live in Metairie and I hadn't been back to Naw'lins since Katrina so this was bittersweet for me. Many in the group had not been to Naw'lins before, so this was a party that started on Thursday,for some, Friday and Saturday arrival for others. Conquest sailed on Sunday,28 October 2012.
We booked the Embassy Suites on Julia Street for pre and post cruise accommodations. The hotel is old. but clean and comfortable and within walking distance to anywhere you want to go in the Quarter and the ship terminal. The Riverwalk Mall is scheduled for renovation,so there's not many stores open.
For those of you who have never been to Naw'lins before, let me introduce you to my city.....looking for places to eat.....Mulate,Grand Isle,and Ernest are located around the corner from Embassy Suites. Acme Oyster Bar, Red Fish Grill, Drego,(the best smoked oysters you've ever eaten). My personal favorite,Pralin Connection on Frenchman Street. Po'Boy and Muffulettas, messy but good (Central Grocery,) on Decatur Street. The BEST coffee is NOT Starbuck or Cafe Du Monde, but Community...yes,that's the name. There is a grocery store on Julia Street approximately six blocks from Embassy Suites. If you stay at this hotel, turn right as you leave the hotel entrance and keep walking. Everything else turn left. For those of you who can't do without Wal-Mart,and you don't have a car,take the number 10 Tchoupitoulas bus.
The embarkment was easy and quick. We were late leaving, 6pm, because there were so many bags. No problem, the cabins were ready as soon as we boarded, food was hot and plentiful, and the bars were open. I had an aft cabin , which I love, and the party steam boats came close enough while we were docked that we could party with them, listen to their music, wave and have a seriously good time. I didn't hear anyone complain about the delay.
The food was excellent EVERY night and the Point Steak House is a MUST. It's worth the money. Our wait staff, Monet Dining Room, was a hoot. Made(Ma Dee) and his team were the best. We had so much fun with them and Made is a great dancer. For a change of pace, some of us went to the Renoir Dining room for breakfast and the Punchline Comedy Brunch also in the Renoir.
The "Tea Party held on sea days was a disappointment. Nothing like I experienced on Celebrity. Their tea is very posh and worth the 25 dollars. White tie and tails, white glove silver service, bone china and live classical music. Compared to Celebrity Carnival's Chocolate Buffet was pitiful and sad Celebrity's presentation,tablescapes and ice carvings took your breath away. Unbelievable!!!
In Jamaica we went with an independent tour company knowjamaica.com. If you want to get away from the usual knowjamacia is a must. The tours can be customized to you needs and interest. You actually get to experience local foods language and customs. Wednesday is traditionally market day. Rose Hall Plantation is a Must see. Annie Palmer was a real piece of work. Marva Shaw and her son Javia take you on a journey most tourist don't experience. They are the best. I HIGHLY recommend them. You won't be disappointed.
FYI don't but liquor in Grand Cayman. Carnival may or may not accept deliveries from the local merchants, but that's another story. One of my favorite eateries in Grand Cayman is Paradise Grill. In Cozumel, Carlos and Charlie's and Senor Frog located downtown, is party central. Margaritaville is another hot spot. Fat Tuesday is in the port village. Like Naw'lins, everything in the islands is laid back, hurry up and wait. Be patient, take a chill pill and relax.
There were some thing on the ship that were left undone,and perhaps two weeks was not a realistic time frame, but what was done was amazing. Four people in my group had grand and ocean suites, I was impressed. I we had a suite on Celebrity 2010 and it wasn't nearly as nice as those on Carnival. Lots of appointments storage space and whirlpool bathtubs and separate dressing rooms! very well done.
Last but not least, and this is a REAL problem for me, I wish Carnival would adhere to the rules of their dress code for dining. Baseball caps flip flops, tee shirts should not be worn at dinner. Elegant night was a joke. I encountered the same problem on Celebrity. Either people don't understand what elegant means....it is NOT jeans and a polo shirt, a skirt up to your naval and a halter top too small for your breast,or they have confused elegant with TACKY! I put this on the same par as tipping. If you can't afford to tip appropriately, then you can't afford to dine. Dining is an experience. Eating out is going to the all you can eat buffet.
All in all it was a great celebration for my parents and for the first time cruisers among us, they now have a serious case of cruise fever...LOL From beginning to end I was pleased EVERYTHING went so well. This one was for you Mom and Dad Happy Anniversary.
If anyone wants more info about Naw'lins feel free to ask. Oh yeah, we gave our wait staff and cabin steward(s) gift bags of halloween candy, the good stuff, it was a big hit and greatly appreciated, in addition to a little something extra at the end of the cruise.