Carnival Conquest: Sail Date: 12/7/03 Cassy & Larry Epps Our cruise was fantastic!! This was our first cruise and well exceeded our expectations. We arrived in New Orleans on Thursday, December 4 and to our surprise it was cold! We walked all over Bourbon Street looking for winter wear. We finally walked over to Canal street and found some sweat shirts-my husband Larry even bought a hat!
We love the architecture of NOLA. We bar hopped like teenagers and listened to jazz music and ate raw oysters everyday at the Desire restaurant (green awnings-part of the Royal Sonesta Hotel. The line to Acme Oyster bar was too long. When we discovered Desire-we were hooked. Kentrell opened up the biggest and the freshest oysters! We loved it.
We met a great couple-Ken & Cindy from Wisconsin in a NOLA grocery store-we mentioned that we were going on a cruise. I kept telling my husband Larry-they seemed so nice-I hope we meet them on the boat. He said that would be impossible-3000 people on the boat.
The next couple of days in NOLA was spent walking around that town. What a fun place.
Embarkation: very smooth. We had no idea just how large the boat was. We had a surly taxi driver who complained all the way to the pier. Thank God we came- early. We went on line, presented our tickets & proof of citizenship, Larry checked our luggage with a porter, then we went to another line to collect our sign & sail cards. Then we went to another holding room where we had to sit in bright yellow chairs. Guess who saddled up right next to us? Ken & Cindy!! That was the icing!! We knew instinctively that we would be friends. They are such a funny, warm and kind couple. We are blessed to know them-they made our trip even more enjoyable.
When you first get on the boat-you will be amazed at the level of detail and care Carnival took with their design of this fabulous ship. We were awestruck. The atrium was bedecked with pretty Christmas dEcor and we four sat at the bar and just watched all the people come on board. It was great seeing their reaction to the atrium. There was a lovely quartet playing light classical music.
We walked around a bit-still dazed by the grandeur of the boat. We found our rooms. And I was in for a surprise-it was very spacious and had so much room for storage. I had selected an aft balcony for our first trip. That was probably one of the best decisions I made. Our cabin was on the Veranda Deck and we were sandwiched between two really nice couples-Sparky & Jane on our left and Bob & Connie on our right. What a wealth of information and fun! Our location was ideal. The wake from the boat is calming and the breeze delightful! I unpacked, and our room steward made his way to us-a dignified man from Indonesia. His name was Vatachara-not sure of the spelling. I must say that our room was kept spotless. Anytime we walked away from our room-we returned to find it immaculate. Fresh towels, bed made, cute towel creatures, fresh ice cubes. We were so pleased, we tipped him in addition to the amount on the sign and sail card. We met a lot of interesting crewmembers. We asked them about their countries, what bought them here on this boat and when do they get to go home. I now know how to say hello and thank you in Romania, Latvian, Indonesian and a host of other languages!
The days at sea were a whirlwind of activities. I enjoyed Cory our cruise director. He was funny and his birds were amazing. I have read other reviews from folks who said that his jokes are repeats-but for us they were brand new. The Lautrec Lounge was very nicely laid out but get there early to get a good seat for the shows. The Las Vegas Style shows were nicely done although appealing to older guests. Henri's Disco was a blast. We went every night and the DJ was great!! We did not expect good music but was surprised. We love 80's night-we are children of New Wave & Disco.
The food was better than I expected. The Point was a great experience. The service was exceptional and the food was excellent-well worth the additional expense. Even the Lido deck lines were not bad and their food was surprisingly tasty. Well seasoned and a nice variety. Room service selections were very limited but it was nice to get a pot of hot coffee to our room and drink it on our verandah. The dining room selections were well portioned and tasty. Some stuff a little too chichi even for us New Yorkers (we now live in Maryland but we are from Long Island, New York). The service was quick, polite and professional. Our waiter was Bernardo- handsome but of little words. Our table mates: Tim & Angie and Cliff & Canna were funny & friendly and made dinner a much awaited experience. The sandwich and grill areas were also decent. The pizza was also pretty good. Food was everywhere.
The shore excursions were fabulous. Jamaica-was an experience. We were pressured to purchase things but our time simply did not allow us to browse. We hopped on a bus-very nice bus driver and our bus mates were very kind in letting us tag along. One of them-Jean, appeared on the Talent Show with her sisters. We went to the Dunn's River Falls-pretty park but they really grab you when you go through the exit. We docked 2.5 hours away from this excursion and were fearful of missing our ride back to the boat. I understand the level of poverty there and I have a lot of Jamaican friends and I was born in a Caribbean island. But I was not in a mood to get insulted and I don't owe anybody anything. We were polite and said no-thanks-we are in a rush to get back to our ride. I couldn't wait to get back on the boat because I would have been in a fight and my husband would have had to bail me out. Our bus driver took us to a little bar that sold t-shirts and we spent a nice amount there. We just made it to our boat.
Cayman Islands (our favorite) was a different story. It's obvious that the standard of living there is much higher-hence the lack of a hard sell. We are going back there for sure for a week. The Stingray & Coral Reef excursion was awesome. I squealed and laughed my head off! It was expensive-but to me, I'd rather pay more and be left in peace. The people were very nice. I would have liked to stay longer.
Cozumel was a fun and pretty island. They bugged you a little but did not give you a hard time if you said no thank you. We took a cab to ChanKannab Park-great fun snorkeling, good margaritas and fresh salsa. We then took a cab back to Carlos & Charlie's for the obligatory mind numbing tequila shot experience. That was loads of fun. I had fried shrimp there and it was very good. We did a little shopping-just T-shirts for our daughter. She's a soccer player and when I showed her soccer pictures to the store owner, he gave me a nice discount!
Embarkation-we waited until the last minute to leave our rooms. That was a good idea. We strolled out the boat, found our luggage; found a porter then got into hell on the dock. What a disorganized crazy pier! They did a lousy job of organizing this process. Its not the ship's fault. When we finally found a cab-he was surly too! Fights were breaking out on the pier. It would have been funny-but seeing those tired looking parents and their wide-eyed kids was sort of sad. We met up with Ken & Cindy and hung out with them before we flew back to Maryland.
This was by far the best trip we have ever had. The boat was wondrous, the service was polite, we made new friends, the food was plentiful and the activities were numerous. We sampled everything. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to email me! Cass