Review of Carnival Conquest - Cupid's Cruise Critic Group Cruise
February 10, 2008 - February 17, 2008
Staff: Captain Massimo Marino, Cruise Director Mark Price
The Ship: Carnival Conquest takes a little getting use to the flow of the ship and her decks and how one connects to another but once you have figured that out she is pretty easy to get around and never felt crowded. She is decorated in the French Impressionist theme with beautiful artwork at every turn. She is well maintained and very clean...the crew is obviously very proud of their ship. DH and I will definitely consider sailing on her again.
History: This was mine and dh fifth cruise and second on Carnival. We are "young" seniors and newly retired...=) This is our first ever Cruise Critic group cruise which we joined in November 2006...and been watching the Conquest sail away from Galveston almost every Sunday since (and that is 4:00 a.m. California time). Our group leader was Cruisin Dave who took over after our original leader had to drop out due to an unexpected change in work schedule...and CD did a great job...thank you Cruisin Dave.
Our group name is Cupid's Conquest and a wonderful group of people...we all felt like we already knew each other by the time we sailed...I will always fondly remember each and every one of them...and hoping to cruise with them again.
DH and I flew into Houston on Thursday, February 7, 2008 arriving at the Harbor House in Galveston at 4:00 p.m. Almost our entire group of 35 people stayed at the HH and we were very pleased with the hotel. The rooms are very large, clean and with friendly staff....and a big plus is that you can see the port where our beloved ship would be docking (the hotel has undergone a very nice renovation recently...with more planned)...what a treat to see both the Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Conquest and Voyager of the Seas arrive in port... A great hotel to stay at.
By Saturday, February 9, most of our group were in Galveston and we all met at The Spot restaurant at 11:00 a.m....and by what we were hearing from friends who were not there we were directly under the Spot's web cam camera... =) Now everyone wanted to have their picture taken standing under the camera...so we went through that ritual and everyone got their picture taken. We stayed there until abut 3:00 p.m. when the "FOG" started to roll in...however it didn't stay long and we made it back to the HH in time for Carnival Ecstasy sail away...we were having a great time.
Sunday Morning...yes we were all up at 5:30 a.m. to be sure not to miss the arrival of our much loved and long anticipated live "Dance of the Conquest"...we wanted to see her do her now famous turn-around live...one of our members (thank you ABK10) made large individual letters that spelled out C-U-P-I-D-S so some of us held them up for the HH camera...and another member of our group (thank you SherMar98) painted "Cupid's Cruise 2008" on a white sheet for us to hold up to the camera as well...we were having a great time (oh I think I already said that...oops)...=). We could see the Conquest arrive way out and then almost immediately there came into view the Voyager of the Seas...yea a double treat. Our Conquest did not disappoint...she did the dance so gracefully and beautiful...people on board that were awake were taking our pictures...we watched the entire docking process...we were having a great time... =) In our cabins we also saw ourselves on the ship television standing in the dark on dock waving like crazy... =) I hope people were not trying to sleep...??????
Embarkation: DH and I got a ride with ABK10 to the port with our luggage at about 10:00 a.m (I know we were eager)....where we saw several of our Cupids already there and in line...but not too far ahead because we were really early as well. =) Embarkation went rather smooth I felt and we were on board having lunch before 11:30 a.m. Did I say we were eager??? Oh I see that I did...we were having a great time.
We were all going to meet right after muster behind Sur Mer for sail away...well guess what the "FOG" rolled in and really thick...so we did not sail away and some of us missed this meeting...dh and I missed this...sorry Dave. I went to the Spa for a manicure at 6:45 p.m. and just as I sat down I felt a rumbling under my feet and sure enough we were starting to sail away...yea...so we were only three hours late leaving and did not miss any ports. =)
Two Days at Sea: Monday dh and I slept through breakfast...then wandered around the ship...bumped into other Cupids just starting their day and cruise...we were having a great time...resting and relaxing...and visiting with Cupid's that we saw...This is the first formal night and Captain's Welcome Aboard party.
Tuesday we had a lot of group activities planned…it started at 10:00 a.m. with a white elephant gift exchange and almost everyone showed up for that…lots of laughs with choosing, steeling and retiring gifts…the most popular gifts were a "flying dolphins" figurine and a clear plastic MicroSoft mug…these two gifts were retired early in the game…dh won the dolphins and ABK10 won the mug…we were having a great time. =) Then at 1:00 p.m. we had our Cupid's cabin crawl, door decorating contest and poker run. The coveted first place door decorating prize went to SherMar98 (beautifully decorated door I might say), the poker purse of $150 went to H20Watson's mother…we were having a great time. =) (something to ponder….just imagine trying to navigate those hallways around 35 people laughing and talking wearing weird red t-shirts that said "Cupid's Conquest Cruise" on them.)
Our Cabin: DH and I were in cabin number 7435 starboard aft and were very happy with the room. This is our third balcony and yes we have become balcony snobs…love having coffee on our balcony or just sitting out there watching the beautiful ocean go by…very relaxing. Our room steward was P.J. and his assistant was Agung…both very good at what they do. Out cabin was always spotless and kept that way the entire cruise. Thank you P.J. and Agung…we are grateful to you and your hard work.
Dinning Room: DH and I were in the Monet upper level for late 8:00 p.m. seating, as was most of our group. This is where I think Carnival really excels and that is the food in the dining rooms..it is very good…especially when you have so many people to feed at the same time with the "kitchen" so far away. Our servers were Jimmy, head waiter, Ferdinand, assistant waiter and they both were great…We were happy with all of our meals there. And yes the Chocolate Melting Cake is as good as described…we had it more than once…and especially on the last night. DH ordered two extra desserts for our waiters…and they got a kick out of that.
Buffet: The buffet food was typical buffet food…we only ate breakfast and a couple lesser meals there…but the lines moved quickly and smoothly…no complaints here either.
The Point Restaurant (Supper Club): DH and I had dinner here on Wednesday, February 13 with our group leader Cruisin Dave and his lovely wife Bettie. We had heard so much good stuff about this extra charge dining room that I was afraid we would be disappointed…but not to worry…the food is fabulous and can compete with the most elite restaurant anywhere. DH had the prime rib and said it was excellent and cooked to perfection, he had the chocolate tort for dessert and it also lived up to its reputation. I had the filet mignon and citrus cheese cake and both were delicious. Well worth the extra cost. It was fun having dinner Dave with you and Bettie and we now have two new wonderful friends….
First Port of Call - Jamaica: After reading so many negative reviews of this port I have to admit that I was a little more than apprehensive…and even considered staying on board while there. However, I am so glad that we decided to visit the island…we had a great time there. DH and I did the "rafting on the Martha Brea" with now good friends DALSAL (Dot) and her husband Steve…the Jamaican people were so friendly and gracious…our tour bus driver did mention the "craft market" where vendors can get pushy…he said "they are practicing their marketing skills"…the river was a little crowded because between two ports there were 5 ships at the island…but we had a terrific time floating down the river…watching the Jamaicans talk to each other and sing their Jamaican songs…the views were breathtaking. Because it took us so long to get on the river we did not have time to stop at the craft market…but did get some shopping done at a small mall on the way to the river and at the port…so we did get our Jamaican rum and Blue Mountain Coffee…all in all I thought Jamaica was a beautiful island and will definitely go back there.
Second Port of Call - Grand Cayman: We did the Stingray City tour with Native Way which our wonderful group leader Cruisin Dave put together and most of the Cupid's went on this. The Stingrays are amazing creatures…and I saw one "ray" go up to one of our crew members like a long lost friend…and it was obvious they knew and liked each other a lot. DH and I didn't get in the water but will the next time…it was so beautiful there the water is an emerald green and crystal clear. After the stingrays we did some snorkeling where there were a lot of starfish and another place where the coral reef can be seen…everyone was having a great time. We could see five ships anchored here, Mariner of the Seas, Carnival Valor, Ocean Village, HAL Westerdam and of course Carnival Conquest. The US Coastguard was docked here and we waved and shouted welcomes to the sailors standing at the railings. This was our second formal night and Valentine's day…=)
Third Port of Call - Cozumel: Here DH and I did the Mayan Ruins at Tulum as did several other Cupids. This is definitely and all day excursion…so we did not see Cozumel at all and we will definitely go back for that as well. However, the ruins are spectacular and words fail me to describe them. Just to imagine that hundreds of years ago this place was a thriving and sophisticated port city…DH has done a lot of studying of their history but this was our first time seeing any of the Mayan ruins and enjoyed it quite a lot. We had to take a "ferry" across the channel to Playa De Carmen which was very "bumpy" and everyone on board took a plastic bag just to be safe…but we made it over and back safely and still in one piece. We arrived back just in time to board our ship…in port that day with us was the HAL ship again, Ocean Village and Norwegian Spirit. We missed dinner in the dining room this night…we were all so tired…but our fellow Cupids who did not go to Tulum kept the fun going in our absence. Just know that you will miss Cozumel for this excursion…but it is a very rewarding trip…we shopped at a little village just before Tulum and I purchased a Mayan stone set in silver as well as a silver choker to go with the new stone and one that I purchased in Ensenada last fall on another cruise. We were having a great time. =)
Weather: The weather was excellent in all ports not too hot and not too cold. It rained most of the day in Jamaica (but we missed it because we were on the other side of the island at the Martha Brea)…
Last day at sea (Saturday): Slept a little late…but not too much. Caught up with some of the Cupid's and had breakfast…then bummed around the ship…shopped and bought photos…picked up our group picture. Had our last dinner with the group in the dining room took more photos…finished packing…visited with some of the Cupids who had cabins close to mine and dh…great evening…sad tho'…but tired and full of terrific memories…talked about our next cruise…and then to bed one more time to the softly rocking ship….
Disembarkation (Sunday): Woke up early…we were still out at sea…but could see oil platforms…it was cold and a little damp. Then I could see Galveston come into view and slowly our beautiful Conquest make her way into the Galveston channel and she did the "dance" for us one more time…and this time she did a full circle…amazing what can be done with those huge ships in such a small space…I love it all.
I thought the actual disembarkation could have been a little smoother…but in reality it was quick and I believe most people were off before 11:00 a.m.
Texans: DH and I are from California (dh a native - me born in Seattle raised in California). We were very impressed by the friendly and hospitable reception by the Texans…we loved every minute of "y'all" and "mam" or "sir"…we heard these terms a lot growing up but have almost forgotten how beautiful these words sound when spoken…way to go you guys…we really enjoyed our few extra days in Galveston before we cruised.
What a wonderful vacation….. =)