We booked through Carnival for the February 3, 2013 departure from New Orleans on the Conquest. Only until after I went on Cruise Critic did I realize that was also Superbowl Sunday and Mardi Gras was going on. Figuring the traffic would be terrible since the port is very close to the French Quarter and the Superbowl happening, we left very early for the port. I don't know what other people experienced, but we had zero delays. We arrived at our off-site parking garage, Machu Picchu around 9:00 AM, and within five minutes were loaded into their shuttle and on our way to the port. Five minutes later we were unloading at the door to the terminal and porters took our bags immediately. We went into the terminal and everyone we encountered with security and especially Carnival employees were efficient and friendly. We were through security and then up the escalator to wait in line for our sail and sign cards. That process was quick and by 9:30 we were sitting in the terminal waiting area in Group 4. Carnival did a fantastic job of getting the previous passengers off the ship and by 10:45 we were walking to the ship.
We went straight to the Lido deck and had our first of what would be several burgers (during the week) from Guy's burger joint. You don't want to miss this place.
A big party was going on in preparation for the superbowl that they played on the big screen later that night.
They announced our rooms were ready at 12:30. Our luggage arrived by 2:30 PM and we were completely moved in by 3PM.
Since I booked so late, my balcony room ended up being on a direct shot to the elevators. In other words, when you turn the corner off the elevators every passenger would walk directly toward our stateroom door. I had heard from other reviewers that this would be a very noisy area to be in. And yes, there was a little noise of people talking and the dinging of the elevators when they arrived, but it was not disturbing.
I had taken a bungee cord to hold my balcony door open but found the balcony doors have a stop in them that allows them to stay open. That was nice. The tv is a flat screen and worked fine. I wished it had the same set-up as the Magic had. On the Magic they had a channel that would show your location on a map, your speed, the temp, and the wind. It's a small thing, but was nice to see. The cabin was nice and comfortable and our room steward kept it clean and freshened and towel animals every night along with chocolates.
MEET & GREET
I had signed up for the meet & greet/meet & mingle through the roll call I found here on Cruise Critic. I encourage you people reading this to go the Forum section and sign up for a Meet and Greet/M&M for your upcoming cruise too. Cruise Critic member Hellicap organized this one. We met on Monday afternoon at the Alchemy Bar. About 24 people showed up. For this one everyone brought a $ 10.00 gift with something from their hometown or state and a little note inside the bag with something interesting about themselves. We drew numbers and picked bags and then read aloud the note and had the person introduce themselves. It was a good icebreaker and you found yourselves saying Hi to these new friends all the rest of the week. Thanks again to Hellicap.
We ended up assigned to late dining (8:15) in the Monet Dining room. We never had a bad meal our whole cruise. Our head waiter was Jayson along with his team members Henry and Hendrie and they took very good care of us. I had decided on this cruise to try and sample every food area on the ship and I almost succeeded. I had a Rueben from the deli. We had cooked to order omelettes several times on the Lido deck and I tried the fish and chips. One place that really stood out was the Blue Iquana food bar. This in located on the Lido deck near the midship pool. They custom make burritos and tacos. The tortillas are fresh cooked and hot with your choice of chicken or pork filling. The condiment bar has everything you could possibly want to add to it. We also went to "The Point" which is the steakhouse. There is a $ 35.00 per person upcharge for this. The food and service here were very good and worth the cost. The biggest thing I noticed was how quiet it was in there. After eating in the main dining room and lido decks with all the music and other noise, it was nice to be in a quiet place. Down on the promenade deck (deck 5) there is a place called "The Taste Bar". Everyday around 4 or 5 PM this place would open and serve very small sample portions of food found at the other eating places. This was a real nice deal and we enjoyed getting these small appetizers on our way to the dining room. The only placed I missed out eating from was the Pizza. Can't believe that happened since it is open 24 hrs. But every time I thought of it or came by, I was already full. So, next time.
In the main theatre there were 3 music/dancing shows for the week. We enjoyed all of them. They use an electronic board at the back of the stage to project sets and scenery. It was very interactive and the singers were very good. I missed not having a live band backing up the singers like we had on the Magic, but the music was still very good.
There were three bands playing just about every day on the ship. They would move from venue to venue so you would see them in different places. They were all good but the best for us was the four piece band with the girl singer. She has an incredible voice and can sing anything. She really tried to get some excitement in the performance. The only suggestion I would give would be for the band to be a little more energetic. They are very good musically, but they're not having fun anymore. The lead guitarist is a super picker but never seems to enjoy it. The bass player keeps his head down the whole time looking at the music. There's no question about these guys' abilities, because they were fantastic, they just seemed a little tired or bored.
There were three other single guitar/singers on-board and they were very good. One guy sang about 5 hours straight one night so I know they all work hard.
I have never seen Karaoke draw a crowd like it did on this ship. We went to one of the clubs one night and couldn't even get in. We did on another night and then saw it several times at the Casino area. It was the usual collection of people that were very good to fair. The large audience was very kind to all of them. It's time the ship buys a rolling stand for the Karaoke monitor. Instead, they would set a little flat screen on a music stand and the poor singers would have to cock their head to see it. Also, it's time the ship invest in a digital karaoke system. The poor DJ/KJ had her hands full trying to find CD's of requests and then load them in the machine. There was a fair amount of lag time between songs because of this and the song selection was limited.
We arrived in port at 5:30 AM. We were in Zone 12 and were schedule get off the ship about 9:50. But things moved pretty fast and we were off by 9:15. We picked up our bags quickly and moved through customs quickly. Our shuttle to the parking lot arrived in less than ten minutes and we were back there, loaded our luggage and back on the road by 10AM. This, in spite of what we had been told would be lots of delays due to Mardi Gras parades. Our debarkation was flawless.
This was overall a great cruise. The Cruise Director was fine. He was not too obtrusive with constant PA announcements. Food and service were great. Entertainment was great. Embarkation and Debarkation was very good. The people in New Orleans have their act together. Machu Picchu parking was great and was $ 100.00 for the entire week with free shuttle.
I'm ready to go again!!