Nothing is quite as inviting as when you pull up the cruise port and see the ship your preparing to board, sitting calmly in the water. This cruise, we used a new feature for Carnival called "Faster to the Fun" for $49.95. We love arriving on the ship and I have my pre-cruise ritual of unpacking, ironing, and preparing for the trip. We purchased the faster to the fun a week before boarding. We were in the first 100 to board the ship and went straight for our cabin to unload our carry on. When we arrived to the room, our luggage was already sitting at the door.
After a quick lunch and my rituals, we began touring the ship. We were on Conquest last year prior to the conversion to the 2.0 Funship upgrades. The ship looked great and we settled down as the Conquest began down the Mississippi and the Gulf.
The food aboard the ship was great. For the first time, I went an entire cruise without eating pizza, which is my favorite. Guy's burgers were a great surprise. The burgers were tasty and the fries even better. The evening dinning was also top notch. Our servers, Wiranata and Komang were the best. We didn't miss a dinner and they made sure our time was not wasted. The deli created a tasty rueben for a quick lunch. With the multiple ice cream stations, coffee stations, buffets and the addition of the rum and tequila bar, a person could easily find a taste to meet their needs.
During the cruise, there were four comedians that had everyone rolling in the aisles. The stage shows from last year to this year was a bit disappointing. Last year, the featured performers were good, yet they lost the strong performer and added three singers that were strong, but wanted to out perform the other. The new comers sang well, but at times sang off key to the music and with other performers. The Hasbro game shows were spirited and fun. We actually were trying to answer questions to go onstage to compete by the end of the cruise.
The ports we visited were Mahogany Bay, Belize, and Cozumel. We procrastinated and didn't purchase an adventure and settled on zip lining and the local beach. This appeared to be one of two stops that were geared by Carnival to control the experience. At Mahogany Bay, there were a limited number of nice buildings adjacent to the overcrowded beach. There were two ships in port and if you weren't on an excursion, you had nowhere to go. I would estimate at least 3000-4000 people on the beach and shops at one time.
At Belize, we managed to find an excursion to an isolated beach. The beach was clean and secluded. We didn't purchase lunch, but the area appeared to be clean and the aroma was tempting. We returned to the ship mid afternoon and with the rain, decided to skip the tender to Belize City. In hindsight, this was probably a mistake, but next time we will head that direction.
In Cozumel, Carnival now has their own pier. The pier opens into buildings much like Mahogany Bay. One of our favorite places to eat in Cozumel is Poncho's Back Yard. We knew the area had changed, but after awhile, we knew the port wasn't the same. We took a cab to the downtown area and shopped. The prices were better off the beaten path and the feel of the culture of Cozumel was strong.
The Cabin we stayed was 8461. The cabin was on the back of the ship with an extended balcony. The view while at sea was breathtaking. Our cabin steward was Nanthakan. She was absolutely the best we have ever encountered while cruising. She was there when we needed her and the room was always in order. Outstanding service.
We chose not to have the tips charged to our room. We tip well and the three we mentioned received our appreciation. Others were tipped accordingly. The drawback with this cruise and the previous cruises were with company policy to create lines. Each time, going into the comedy club, the crowds were so large Carnival emptied the room to allow others a chance to see a show. We were actually first in line for an evening show and was moved to the end of the line because we were too close to the door. That didn't matter much, but we didn't get one of the seats we wanted because a few hundred of the patrons that left the previous show to loiter in the lobby, didn't get in line, and entered the room before several hundred that were actually in line.
The "Faster to the Fun" also allowed us to leave the ship with the first wave of cruisers. With the long drive and work the next day, it was better to get off the ship quick. I would recommend this option to anyone that don't like waiting. Absolutely a great idea. However, the line issue began again. We entered the room and went to the end of the line. As time passed, more people entered the room and began standing in the aisle so others couldn't get to the back of the line. A Carnival employee actually came into the room, approached the people at the front of the line and asked them to go to the back of the line. They had been there an hour before many standing near the door. They refused and again, many people that were there much later than others were off the ship before the early risers. Outside of the line issues, this cruise was outstanding.
My wife and I look forward to our next cruise and meeting more cruise critic members during the meet and greet. Happy sailing!
Port moved 3.5 miles north. Pier is private and controlled by Carnival.