I have never had a bad cruise and this one was no exception. Here are the basics of our October 21-28, 2007 Conquest cruise:
Two of us were in Cabin 7446, Empress Deck 7, located at the stern of the ship. We had dining at 8 pm in the Monet dining room at table 521.
There were 12 of us cruising in 6 balcony cabins. Three of the cabins (7444, 7446 & 7448) were at the stern with "extended balconies", two were starboard, aft, and one was on Deck 2, inside. Each cabin had 2 pax max. Cabins 7444 & 7446 had door that could be opened to the balconies on both sides. However, we were very disappointed that 7448 did not have this feature. We surmised that was because it was in the center of the stern and that structurally it would not be sound. Cabin 7448 was smaller and did not have a sofa, but had a chair instead, whereas 7444 & 7446 had sofas. We got to take a look at the corner stern cabins that had very large wrap balconies, and they did not have sofas, either.
Background: 11th cruise; 6 Carnival (2nd Conquest); 3 Royal Caribbean; 2 Norwegian
Precruise hotel Friday and Saturday: There was a two night minimum at the Harbor House that weekend at a per room cost including taxes of $202 per night plus $10 per night parking; 1 week cruise parking for $20. (If you book early enough you can get a substantial discount using the Entertainment Card if you have one.) This is the second or third time to stay at the HH in a 2 bed room with sofa, TV, small fridge, and view of the pier where the ship docks, and it included continental breakfast. This time last year it cost me about half of what I paid this time and there was no 2 night minimum. It was great to see the Ecstasy arrive and depart on Saturday, and the Conquest arrive on Sunday. The weather Saturday was absolutely perfect and the dolphins were swimming all around the pier and marina area in front of the two restaurants between HH and the Ecstasy early that morning.
Precruise get together Saturday: Several of us on the Roll Call met at 3:45 PM at Fisherman's Wharf for drinks and food and to watch the Ecstasy depart. I would suggest reserving some tables on the outside deck in the shade a week or so in advance or you may end up having to sit inside like we did. We still had a view of the ship, though, and thoroughly enjoyed meeting our lovely Roll Call friends.
Precruise dinner Saturday: The four of us ladies staying at the HH opted to have only appetizers at FW because we wanted to eat dinner at Stingaree on Bolivar Peninsula where we had hoped to watch the water fowl fly in and nest at sunset on the intercostal canal. Unfortunately, for some reason there was a 1 to 1 1/2 hour wait at the ferry and by the time we arrived it was already dark. We did enjoy the food, though. The ferry wait returning was only about 10 minutes.
Sunday, Oct. 21st, EMBARKATION DAY- I was up to watch the Conquest arrive, turn around and dock somewhere around 6 am. The weather was cool and overcast most of the day. We were up and hauling our stuff to the car by 10:30 am. By the time I dropped everyone and all the luggage off, returned to HH to park the car, and walked back to the cruise terminal it was nearly 11 am. The check-in process was fast and we waited in some metal chairs until they let us board about noon. We walked straight to the purser's desk and waited in line behind those with wheel chairs and others requiring medical accommodations. We asked the purser to remove the door between our adjoining balconies, to punch holes in our S&S cards to put on wrist key bracelets and lanyards, etc. I also checked in concerning the Open Bar Cocktail Party that I had arranged for our Roll Call that Carnival had scheduled for Thursday.
The 4 of us took our carry-ons to the Lido deck to have some lunch. We took turns watching the carry-ons while others went through the food lines. I walked up the stairs to Sur Mer and there were about 5 people waiting in line ahead of me. I chatted with some of the folks in line and they said that they were travel agents who where allowed onboard until 2pm to check out the ship. I had wondered how the ship could be so crowded already when I was in the first group to board. I ordered the fish and oysters. There were only 2 oysters and they were flat and overcooked. There was one fried fish fillet that tasted pretty good with the malt vinegar. I was not impressed enough to go there again on the cruise.
After dropping off our luggage in our cabin at 1:30, we headed to the Spa for a tour and several of us made appointments. The Spa and the gym are very nice and we spent much time there.
Bon Voyage Party- Close to 3 PM we arrived at the Sky Bar/ Pizza area for our Roll Call's Bon Voyage Party. There were about 25 or so of us there and we had a great visit until the announcement of the Life Boat Drill/ Muster. It was so good to meet everyone in the flesh after messaging so frequently for so long.
After the muster we made it back to our cabins so that we could enjoy the sailaway and party from our stern balconies and meet some of our neighbors. It was lots of fun but we were disappointed that our adjoining balcony doors remained closed all of Sunday.
Our group enjoyed their 8 PM dinner in the Monet. Unfortunately I missed it and the Welcome Aboard show due to a migraine. I was glad I had gotten a bite to eat at Sur Mer earlier.
GYM Most mornings I was up early to go to the gym, which opens at 6am. It is very well equipped and not crowded from 6 to 7 am. In addition to the resistance machines, there are recumbent bicycles, stationary bicycles, spinners, tread mills, stairs steps, elliptical, and weights. I was happy not to have lost any ground when I got back to my gym after the cruise.
SPA I made good use of the dry and wet saunas and the showers almost every day and there is no charge for using these facilities. I also enjoyed a massage and facial on our first day at sea which I booked when we did the tour.
FOOD Breakfast- We usually ordered coffee, juice and fruit on the door hanger form which we set out before going to bed each night. We enjoyed this in our cabin as an early wake up call and while getting ready for a breakfast of eggs in the Monet later in the morning. It was good. I wish room service served hot food, though. Lunch- Sometimes we did the Monet, sometimes the Deli on the Lido Deck, sometimes room service. The Reuben sandwiches at the Deli were a favorite. Dinner- I ate every dinner in the Monet except on embarkation day and on Thursday. We all regretted not eating in the Monet on Thursday because it was hard to find food that night. The burger grill closes at 6. The normal buffet on the Lido was not open due, I suppose, to getting ready for the big buffet late that night, which was too late for us. We ended up with Reuben sandwiches and envied our friends who described the wonderful beef Wellington they had in the Monet. Thursday is not the night to skip the main dining room. BTW, the famous Chocolate Melting Cake was as wonderful as everyone raves about. The Point- We had dinner at the Point on Saturday evening at 6:30 to celebrate my sister's birthday. It was wonderful! We all agreed that it was the best meal on the entire cruise and well worth the $30 per person charge. Most of us had the surf and turf, BIL had the 24 oz steak and one had the NY Strip.
MONTEGO BAY- Wednesday We left the ship early and took the shuttle to Doctor's Cave Beach. We paid $12 each for the shuttle use. DCB charges $5 admission, $5 per chair, $5 per umbrella (2 can share), and $5 for a float. The water was clear and you can swim out to a reef if you are so inclined. Next time I will take my snorkel. By 11 AM it was threatening rain so my cabinmate and I took to the showers, rinsed off and walked a few minutes back to Margaritaville. The rest of our group straggled in and we enjoyed drinks and snacks while it rained. We took the shuttle back to the pier and did some shopping at the cruise terminal and in the stalls near the ship. BTW, my cabinmate got very sick about midnight and had to be taken in a wheel chair to the infirmary. They gave her a shot and some meds for the vomiting and she was quarantined to the cabin for the next 18 hours until they determined that it was not contagious but most likely something she ate. She thinks it was some shrimp she at while in Mobay.
GRAND CAYMAN- Thursday We were up early to get a tender ticket to meet our Nativeway Rep for our Rays, Reef and Rum Point excursion. When we got to the lounge to get the tender tickets and were told that due to a storm coming this way, the ship would be leaving at 2:00 PM and we needed to be back by 1:30, and all afternoon ship excursions were canceled. We were pretty disappointed but felt that we needed to go tell the Nativeway people what was going on so we would not be charged as "no shows". When we found the guy with the sign at the pier, we explained what was going on. He said that he would check with the office, left and returned, saying that Nativeway would move the excursion up, leave ASAP, and return us to the pier by 1:00 PM. We were thrilled! Our guide was Sheldon and he was wonderful. He even let us drive the boat. We held and kissed the rays and took lots of pics. We got to snorkel at The Aquarium near Rum Point and saw lots of fish and coral, a large conch, and a large star fish. At Rum Point we had the catch of the day, which was very good. We had a wonderful day and were back to the ship on time, with plenty of time to get ready for the Roll Call Cocktail/Open Bar Party. It rained that night on the ship.
OPEN BAR PARTY FOR ROLL CALL- Thursday Through the Carnival Wedding Dept. a couple of months before the cruise I had prearranged for a one hour cocktail party with an open bar and dry snacks at a cost of $11.44 per person. Carnival said that the only time they could do it on this cruise was on Thursday from 4:30 to 5:30 at the Blues Piano Bar. A total of 29 from our Roll Call prepaid to attend, and 26 showed up. Carnival had 2 people coming by our tables to take drink orders. They showed up initially with trays of premade drinks like you would find at the Captain's Welcome Party but we told them what we wanted to drink and they came back with it. The dry snacks that were provided consisted of potato chips. A good time was had by all.
COZUMEL- Friday We had 2 things to do here- Nachi Cocom Beach and the Royal Dolphin Swim at Chankanaab Park at 2 PM. Both of these were wonderful. Nachi Cocom has been my favorite spot for a long time and it did not disappoint. Ten of us prebooked it as an all inclusive for $49. However, one couple in our group showed up without reservations and bought a smaller package for $20 each. My cousin and I hated to leave at 1 to get to Chankanaab for our Royal Dolphin Swim. However, we were both thrilled with the dolphins. There were 6 of us and 2 dolphins. We held and kissed them and they pulled us through the water as we held on to their dorsal fins. They also pushed us by our feet so that it looked like we were skating on them on the water. We got to pet them, too. They were really adorable. We took pics with our disposable water camera.
Disembarkation We were assigned to section 16 and did not get off the ship until close to 10 am, but that gave us time for one last breakfast in the Monet Dining Room. The lines by then were not as bad. We got a porter to cart our many bags and get us through customs speedily- well worth the money.
We all agreed it was a wonderful cruise. And having my Roll Call friends to anticipate the cruise with and to finally meet made it all the better.