Our recent voyage on the beautiful Carnival Conquest was definitely one to remember. From the moment we stepped on board, we were greeted with hearty smiles and greetings. There are several things that I would recommend doing both on board and in port to make your cruise better as well as avoiding others.
The number one thing I recommend doing on board is going to the Supper Club (located in "The Point" restaurant) for at least one evening. The food was absolutely exquisite. There is a nominal $30 charge per person but the quality of the dining experience is worth far more. I would have expected to pay well over $100 a head for a meal of this quality. The comedy shows are very entertaining, particularly the "R-Rated" comedy for those traveling without children. The sushi available at "Sushi Japonnaise" which is available from 5:00 - 8:30 pm is definitely a plus for sushi lovers as well. Free room service is available 24 hours a day as well, which was quite a luxury.
If your cruise is heading to the Western Caribbean, the #1 shore excursion I would recommend is swimming with the stingrays in Grand Cayman. It was such an amazing, rewarding experience that I can not begin to put a price on. If you do choose this excursion, select the EARLIEST possible time. The inconvenience of leaving at 7:00 am or so will be highly rewarded with being the first ship to sea and 30-45 minutes alone with all of the sting rays. At about 9:00 am, dozens of ships arrive and the sting rays scatter amongst them all. In Cozumel, we took the Sail, Snorkel, and Party Boat excursion. It was approx. $65 per person but included snorkeling, a boat tour to a private beach, and free beer and margaritas on board. It was a great excursion, especially if you are a young couple or family.
There are a few things I would suggest straying from if you decide to take this cruise. The Vegas Style shows were average at best. It was a little annoying seeing the exact same two vocalists sing every single song of every show. There was no variety in the dancers either, although they were entertaining at times. I would also recommend monitoring your Sail and Sign account regularly, especially if you are purchasing alcohol. Carnival charges a 15% gratuity on every drink purchase, which adds up rather quickly. Because of this, your bill at the end of your cruise might be frightening, especially if you like to drink.
Montego Bay (Jamaica) was our least favorite of the three ports. Mainly the fact that it is very impoverished and, therefore, money hungry causes people to pester you for sales. We didn't take a shore excursion in Jamaica, but if we go on this cruise again, we probably will. Taxi drivers in Jamaica tend to overcharge what I would consider to be a reasonable taxi cab fee as well. If you are just looking for a private beach to relax on, I would most definitely recommend Negril or Sunset Beach. There is a nominal fee to enter the beach but you will not be bothered by salesmen either. At all costs, I would avoid going into the markets unless you do not mind being constantly approached for your money.
Overall, this cruise was a great experience that I would love to do again soon! If you have any more questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.