Carnival Conquest - Western Caribbean: Carnival Conquest Cruise Review by Stevepse
Overall Member Rating
Carnival Conquest - Western Caribbean
Destination: Western Caribbean
Travel to Port: We left on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and drove down I35 to I45 to Galveston. Total drive time about 6 hours for 322 miles. We hit Houston around 2PM and got caught in the Thanksgiving Shopping traffic from Conway to just north of the bridge to Galveston. It will help once the construction north of Houston is finished.
Hotel Info: We booked a night at the Hawthorn Suites at The Victorian Resort & Conference Center and the price covered the room, week of parking and transportation to the pier. Room was nice, close to restaurants, and room had view of the Gulf of Mexico. Transportation is a converted blue school bus and takes people from both More the Victorian and the Comfort Inn. The next time that we go out of Galveston, going to take advantage of hotel a little closer to the pier and Light House or EZ cruise parking (more later)
Embarkation: The bus dropped us off at 12:15 and porter took our bags right in. With the DW's present condition, we asked the Carnival rep if there was someplace that she could sit while we were waiting to get through the metal detector/x-ray machine line. He pulled us out of line and sent us through the VIP line and then onto the handicap check in where she could sit down. Once we got out S&S card, we got our picture taken and were on the ship having lunch in Sur Mer by 1:30PM. The only thing I would suggest to the port authority and/or Carnival is that they need more than 3 lines to get people through the metal detector/x-ray machines.
Stateroom: We were on the main deck, room 2301 ocean view. We like saving money on our cabin, but like to be able to see outside. Our room was mid-ship just aft of the forward elevators. Great location to get to the lobby and off the ship when needed. Our room steward Mohamed was great. He made sure to come in and introduce himself and make sure he knew our names. We asked him for four extra pillows, and in a blink of an eye, he was back setting them on the bed. He and his assistant were always there to make sure that the room was clean and that if we needed anything, they took care of it right away. We asked Mohamed to unlock our refrigerator for our water we brought on and he took care of it as soon as we got out of port! The only issue we had with our room was the interactive TV menu option to check out S&S balance. It seemed to work for about 15 minutes after we unplugged it and plugged it back in. Mohamed put in a maintenance request, but do not know what happened.
Dinning: I am going to start out by say that Ser Mer was great! Edwin the chef out front did a wonderful job of making sure that we got our entire fill of sea food. Ser Mer is located on Deck 10 above there rear part of the Lido Buffet dinning area. Best way to get there is go to the back dessert area and go up the stairs on right along that back wall. They are open for lunch which is 12 3pm. As stated earlier, the 1st place that we went after getting on the ship and dropping off our bags and getting dinner seating taken care of (see below) was to try the place out. We had fish and chips, fried oysters, Seared tuna on watermelon, Bouillabaisse and a calamari fitter. All were very good and not at all greasy. Except for the seared tuna, everything else was made on the spot; the wait was well worth it.
Main seating dinning was good. We had originally asked for main seating, large table in the Renoir dinning room. Our S&S had us in the Monet Late seating. We went straight the maitre d' Jean Paul and he sat us in the early seating in the Monet. We were only able to get a table for two and we thought we would give it a shot. We were in the back of the dining room, 1st floor and the vibration was more than my DW could handle (Remember she is pregnant) I went back to Jean Paul and explained our situation. He got right on the phone and spoke with the maitre d' in the other dinning room and got us a main seating with another couple (Joe & Cathy) on the second floor of the Renoir and two great wait staffers in Hillarie and Rachel. Both of them took extra good care of our table and made sure we had all that we could eat! There was a nice selection of new items every night and also a selection of items that was always available. Do a search on menus and you should see what I mean. It was nice to be able to order a steak or salmon if the New items for the day did not strike your fancy. Deserts, with the exception of one item (see below), were good. The Chocolate melting cake was my favorite. We also had great ring side seats next to the best bunch of cowboys anyone could ever ask for. DW said that they were more entertaining than the ships shows.
We ate breakfast in the dinning room, lunch at Ser Mer, the Pizza station, or the Asian station. We never ate at the buffet as DW was concerned about getting sick. Love the Lido deck ice-cream machines. I must have eaten my weight in ice-cream cones. If you like sushi or want to try it out, go the Promenade deck (deck 5) and try it out. Nir was the sushi guy and had four different offering every night. All the fish is cooked, so nothing raw other than the vegetables used in making the sushi.
A word of caution on deserts; do NOT ask for the pumpkin pie. The only way to describe it is: editable rubber with a very slight taste of pumpkin spice. The three of us that tried it would rate it as horrible. The fourth person that tried it almost spit it out and made a face. I will not rat out the person that it was as they could get in trouble ;)
Activities: There are a lot of things to do on the ship: games, swimming, shopping and listening to music. DW and I did the Music trivia and the TV theme song trivia. DW came away with a ship on a stick and a gold medal. She became the song lady! We will highly recommend going and seeing Blood Power. These guys are great! As for the shows, we did not get a chance to see any other than the 1st 15 mins of Deja the illusionist show. Did not think too much of it and left. All of the Vegas style shows have a warning printed in the Capers about the suggestive costumes and choreography.
Shore Excursions: Jamaica we did the sightseeing/shopping tour. You hope a Toyota air-conditioned bus outside of the terminal and off you go to a craft village where for 30 minutes you are continually asked to look in there shops, no charge and make an offer. We got a nice straw bag for $10 (better that $35 asked for). Next we were taken on a 30 min ride around Montego Bay into the hills then back to Margaretville. Neat place, but nothing like the one in Key West. Then off to the Central shopping area. Found some T-shirts, table cloth, and some nice pearls. Went they took us back, the driver drops you off just outside and you follow the Yellow line back to the cruise ship. Of course you get to walk by a number of shops asking you to come in and take a look. This was also the only place on the entire day that I got asked if I wanted some Smoke. Do not do it, chances are the guy was a cop looking to catch some Yankee tourist doing something that is against their law. The DW did get a bargain. All over the place, there are these nice bags that have a tropical Jamaica print with a vinyl lining. One of the ladies in our group got one right on the dock for $8. DW saw one she liked, lady said $25; DW said other lady got hers for $8; DW starts walking away and lady sells bag for $8. Walking away great tip!! Next time will grab a cab and go straight to the central shopping area for souvenirs and/or go to one of the beaches. There are a large number of JUTA cabs around, make sure you get one of those!
Grand Cayman - we did the island highlights tour. Prior to boarding our Toyota air-conditioned bus (yes they are same type as in Jamaica) we did our shopping. GC is a tender port and the tenders drop you off right in the middle of the shopping area. There went into hard Rock, Margaretville and did some more shopping and got it all done before our tour. Big difference in infrastructure and attitude of the people. Would have loved to spend a few days in GC. We went to the Tortuga Rum Factory, the turtle farm, and Hell. DW got to hold a turtle and thought that they acted like cute puppies. Hell was different. Did the tourist thing and sent a post card to my parents. Interesting note: iguanas are all over the place. I think that they are the armadillos or possums of GC. Seems like they are walking out in the middle of the road, got some great pictures of them in Hell. Just remember that the GC$ is more that the US$, so things can cost a little more (food and drinks). Just ask and they will let you know how things are priced. Did not get a chance to go to see the stingrays, but will next time.
Cozumel We did not book any tours here, just wanted to do some shopping. We were able to dock and catch a cab for $6 for the 4 of us to take us to the Forums shops. We started walking back shopping as we went. Great place for Mexican items, blankets (we got 6) and jewelry. DW found some great loose Topaz stone 4 carets total and had them set for $120.
Best advice on shopping I have is take advantage of the recommended shops. I know that they have a kick back to Carnival, but Neil the supper shopper steered us right on all the things we were looking for and helped keep us from going into places that might have ripped us off!
Disembarkation: Due to the new traveling rules, please be sure and go to the Disembarkation talk. Ryan the CD made it simple and was entertaining. Because of the DW's present condition, we went to the Pursers Desk and asked if there was any way we could go off in the 1st group after the self-assist group. Purser Jolly once again came through and took care of us and we got out in the 1st group and were looking around for our shuttle back to the hotel by 9AM. We asked one of the Carnival reps if they had seen the Blue Bus, said he did, but we had just missed it by about 10 mins. We grabbed a cab and for $12.50 we were whisked back to our car at the hotel before the bus even got there! If you need to get off the ship early, pack light!
Summary: We had a great time and met a bunch of wonderful people. Will go Carnival again and will sail out of Galveston again. Wish Carnival would go someplace other than Jamaica on this itinerary. This had to be the best cruise for us to get to know new people and have them remember you and say high all week long. Also remember that 6 nice Mexican blankets weigh a lot. Less
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