My wife and I (60 and 64) were booked as part of an Air Force group.
Embarkation: the ship was late arriving in Galveston due to port being closed for weather. After seeing it had arrive via the port cam at our hotel (Quality Inn) we left our car there for the free parking and took a cab to the ship about 10:00. With our Fun Pass and filled out Sign and Sail card we breezed right through registration and were about 6th in line in the waiting area. Had to wait until ALL (by custom/immigration regulations) passengers were off the ship. they then boarded the 4 or so wedding parties and then started boarding us by our arrival time so we were on the ship around 1:00. Thought their embarkation was very smooth considering how many people had to be accommodated in the waiting area due to the ship being late.
On Board: We made our way to the Lido deck for some lunch and then to aft pool ares where had arranged to meet our Roll Call CC'rs. Around 3:00 we went to find our More
cabin, an 8C balcony just below the Lido deck. Ours was just under an eating seating area so people sliding chairs on the wood deck sometimes sounded like a bowling alley overhead. Only the one night of a deck party did the noise last much pass 10 and then only until about 1:30 that night. The cabin was roomy and as soon as we met our cabin steward I asked that the small refrigerator be cleaned out of the Carnival stuff so I could put the 12 pack of soda I brought in there, which he did that evening putting Carnivals sodas/beer into a cabinet nest to the fridge. No problem with that as storage space was ample. There are two robes in the closet and a pair of beach towels in the room. (neither of which we used) The Air Force provided embarkation gifts of chocolate strawberries and a Carnival picture album the first day, a bottle of champagne the second and a $50 cabin credit the third, none of which we were told about in advance so that made for a nice surprise.
Dining: We had the 5:45 seating in the Monet dining room which we had requested. We were seated with six others with this Air Force group (although they were all civilians with not connection to the military. Our waiter, actually waitress, was from Thailand and new to the ship and head waiter position. Although she and her assistant tried their best with two full tables (looked like the other table was a 'demanding' one) they fell short of what we have come to expect on a cruise. The fourth night we switched to a nearby table that had two openings and usually just one couple at it who we new from the roll call and he was active duty Navy. the waiter "Sammy" and his assistant were absolutely perfect. We found the food to be very good and not at all "bland" My wife has several of the fish and was delighted with them and I had mostly the beef and never had a bad or tough cut at 'medium well' even though at least one person at our original table had a tough 'medium rare' sirloin the same time as my 'medium well' wasn't tough. Go figure! The four buffet lines on the Lido deck offered two different choices at lunch. Also their burger and hot dog grill was good, pizza okay, and the omelet stations good. Carnival is still one of the few lines to have softserve ice cream or frozen yogurt machines. Also the Coffee in the Buffet area is brewed from Ground, not syrup as some have said. Saw them refilling the hoppers several times at different stations.
Shows: Typical cruise fare shows, we enjoyed them all. The theatre was not overly crowded at the 8:45 shows.
Activities on board: My wife used the gymnasium and steam room and said they were good. They have separate changing/shower room for male/female. I went to the first Art Auction for the free champagne and the "free art" drawing they had left a ticket in our room for. Also they give everyone that attends and stays until the end a free small (9x11 or so) art print. They drew my number so I got to pick from 5 art prints (24x30 or so) Went to the rest of their auctions and the next day they drew my ticket again, so ended up with 2 of the large free art which they ship to us (for $35) and 6 of the small which we carried off. The captains cocktail party and former guest party were both okay. Couldn't stay long at either due to our early dining time.
Port activities: Montego Bay, Jamaica we had signed up for rafting on the Martha Brae river through Carnival. When we got to the terminal we were told they had to cancel the Martha Brae due to a problem of some kind. They put us on Great River rafting instead. It included the same as the other, just a little shorter ride on the river. Later, when checking our account on the interactive TV in the cabin found they rebated $6 apiece for the excursion. The rafts are made of bamboo with a bench seat at the rear for two persons and guide who poles the raft down the river and describes the sights. We had a great guide who knocked down a caster bean (where they get castor oil from) to show us and stopped by some boys spear fishing for their dinner to show us the mud fish and freshwater lobster they had on their stringer. The bus guide to and from the river was also very informative and we were happy with the tour even if they hadn't rebated the $6. (of course there were some loudly complaining it wasn't "exactly" the same) Grand Cayman: We had presigned with Cap't Marvins for their Stingray City and two snorkel stop half day tour. I had also reserved a vision corrected mask as I am very nearsighted. Neither my wife or I had snorkeled before and this was not the place to learn! Although they gave us some instruction the first stop was a snorkel stop and I thought it was stingray city where you can stand up. Getting off the boat I found myself in over my head and due to the current already 30 feet or so from the boat. Trying to swim back there and trying to use the snorkel for the first time did not work out, so just got back on the boat and enjoyed watching the others. At Stingray City it was great, you were suppose to keep your feet on the bottom so as not to stem on a stingray but was able to use the mask/snorkel a little to take some underwater photos. Also did the stingray holding, kissing, having back massaged. On the way back our boat pilot pointed out Captain Marvin who was one of the two original stingray city founders. In his 90's and still takes out one of the tour boats about once a week they told us. Cozumel: We were looking forward to this port as all we had done on our previous two visits was shop and play the miniature golf course. We had decided along with two of our roll call couples to go to Paradise beach and Parasail. The other two men had parasailed there last time and their wives wanted to do it this time also. My wife and I had never Parasailed but had seen it before. It was GREAT! The harness on this particular boat had us sitting in sling type harness with behind and a little above my wife. They reeled us out and it was so calm and quiet. On the reel down, as we had requested they let us dip into the water (about up to my wife's waist) then back up and reeled on into the boat. Probably only about 6-10 minutes in the air, but well worth it. ($55 each)
Disembarkation: Went to the disembarkation briefing just to find out about self-disembark. Heard that the people with early flights (before 3:00) should come down to the theatre at 7:00am. He also said this was on the honor system so we were down there at 7 (had to drive to Oklahoma City for a 5:00 dinner engagement)and off the ship, taxied to our hotel, and driving out of Galveston before 8am.
This cruise was so nice that we are really looking forward to our Air Force group cruise on the Carnival Victory out of Miami in January!! Less
Carnival Conquest Cruises to the Western Caribbean