We started our trip on Sunday leaving from the Detroit Airport early. I sat in first class (hot husband graciously gave me his upgraded seat) while hot husband and mini-meatball sat back in coach I was served breakfast and hot husband and mini-meatball split a snackbox. Our flight left on time but had to take an alternate route in the air thus getting us into Houston about 15 minutes late at about 1:00 pm. When we landed we easily spotted the Carnival Reps who checked us off and told us to come back when we got out luggage. Our luggage all arrived fine (including the special bag) and we met up with the carnival rep. We then got tickets for the shuttle and were told to wait because there was another shuttle that was leaving before ours. We found out before we arrived that the shuttle would be on a bus which was nice because it allowed us to leave the booster seat at home. We ended up getting on the bus about half an hour later and we left the airport about twenty minutes later. We were seated behind loud packers guy and his embarrassed daughter whom I talked to for a while. The bus ride was about an hour and a half long and thankfully mini-meatball slept the entire way.
We got to the terminal and waited in lines for security and registration which took about an hour or so. There were about 50 people in line behind us. Before we got on the ship we were ushered into an ultra cheesy photo set which we never went to go look at. We finally arrived on ship around 4:00 and were on the ship long enough to find our rooms and go to the lido deck and get my drink of the day before sail away. Unfortunately the buffet had shut down so there was no lunch for us. Sail away was about half an hour later and the muster drill was called about five minutes after sail away. The muster drill was fairly painless, I hadn't eaten in seven hours and it was a little warm (yay! Warm)so I sat on the floor and entertained mini-meatball so the crew wouldn't have to deal with any fainting spells. We saw a couple other small kids at the muster drill but mini-meatball was too shy to play with them. We then went to our room and found that our luggage had been delivered so we started unpacking. The special bag (containing a case of beer and a dozen water bottles) arrived fully in tact after a long ride from MI.
We left for dinner (5:45 seating) later than we should and got a huge tour of the ship trying to figure out how to get to the dining room (not helped by bad directions given to us by a carnival employee). We finally found the dining room and were about ten minutes late for dinner. The three of us were seated at table 372 which is a booth for four. Our waiter seemed to have quite a few tables and wasn't perfect but we had much better service than we ever get when we go out to eat at home (the cost of having a small child). Hot husband ordered the fruit for his appetizer and the shrimp for his salad (which the waiter smartly brought in opposite order). I ordered the shrimp and a ceaser salad. The shrimp was good, a nice small serving and we both enjoyed the salads. My ceaser salad was about the level of a ceaser salad that you'd get at a typical chain restaurant like Ruby Tuesday s. Mini-meatball ordered the PIZZA and it was brought around when our salads were delivered, it was huge and she loved it, there was too much time that she wasn't eating and I decided that we needed to order other courses next time. We both ordered the steaks for our entrees, mine was cooked a little more than I usually like but hot husbands was perfect, I noted to next time order mine medium and not medium well. For desert hot husband ordered some sort of cake which he thought was terrific and disappeared from his plate in about 6.2 seconds. I ordered the warm chocolate melting cake and it was good (although didn't come with enough ice cream or enough cake), hot husband decided that he needed to finish mine because I wasn't describing it well enough. Mini-meatball ordered chocolate ice cream and finished it. When mini-meatball stuck her butter knife in her mouth (and then whined because she didn't understand why it wasn't ok to eat butter right off of the knife) we decided that it was good that we were eating alone. People in the dining room were dressed anywhere from sundresses to t-shirts to shorts. We saw loud packers guy in the dining room and he was wearing a packers jersey. Hot husband predicted that he would wear the jersey to the formal dinner the next night.
We then went on a long trek looking for the camp carnival orientation. We first went to camp carnival (because we stupidly thought that the camp carnival orientation would be in camp carnival). We then asked someone outside the spa where the orientation was for camp carnival and they sent us through the locker room to the gym, unfortunately that was the orientation for spa carnival. Then we asked another carnival employee who then sent us to Henri's. Henri's was empty (apparently there was a camp carnival party there later that evening) so we asked another employee who finally sent us to the lounge where we were supposed to be. Searching for dinner and camp carnival while bypassing the elevators because they were busy helped burn off all the calories from our dinner. The camp carnival orientation consisted of filling out paperwork and a employee talking to mini-meatball about how much fun she was going to have. Mini-meatball was now all excited about going to camp carnival but we had to tell her that she couldn't go until the next day.
We went back to our room and our couch had been made into a bed and there were chocolates on the bed along with the next days capers. Mini-meatball felt special because of the chocolates. We then turned in because we were exhausted from a long days traveling.
Mini-meatball woke up on Monday at 6:30. We slowly got ready and left the cabin about 7:30. We wandered around the ship trying to figure out the layout and went up to the top decks. We checked out the kiddie pool (which is in an area that's too windy for my little one to be comfortable standing much less swimming) and peeked in camp carnival. We then headed down to the dining room for breakfast. Mini-meatball ordered French toast and had OJ and a cinnamon roll all of which looked delicious her French toast was very large though. I ordered eggs Benedict, OJ and a croissant. The hollandaise on the eggs benedict wasn't liquidy like I generally see but was delicious. The croissant was flaky and delicious. Hot husband ordered turkey bacon (not sure why he just ordered turkey bacon for his entree, when the waiter brought out his turkey bacon and nothing else I just giggled) and had a muffin. We all also had fruit which was brought out before our entrée. He then decided that he had to finish my eggs Benedict so the waiter wouldn't be insulted and think that I didn't like it. We were seated at a table with a guy that seemed to be still drunk from the night before and a set of sisters one of which was brazil and the other was from NY. When I inquired weather early morning drunken guy was going to go to Margaritaville in MoBay he said (whilst drinking his mimosa) that he preferred to drink on the ship where he knew he was safe. I wondered if he was friends with loud packers guy. After breakfast we wondered around the ship for a while waiting for camp carnival to open while hearing every two minutes, can I go to camp carnival now, can I go to camp carnival now. We dropped mini-meatball off in camp carnival and she seemed a little unsure of herself in the new place but wasn't unhappy. We were given a beeper and instructions on it's use and the horrible fines we'd have to pay if we lost or broke it.
We then went down to the lounge and played a trivia game which we were horrible at which we followed up with turbo trivia in the theater which we again were horrible but we had a lot of fun. Then we went upstairs to the lido deck and sat by a table and watched the water for a while before picking up mini-meatball at 11:00. The plan was to pick up mini-meatball at 11:00 eat an early lunch and then put her down for a nap so she could be up at 1:00 for the build a bear. We picked up mini-meatball and she was very upset at us because she was not done coloring her shirt and wanted to stay longer. We told her that she could come back later after lunch. We then realized that lunch at the buffet doesn't start till 12:00 (a trend that would continue to annoy us early lunchers all week) which drastically cut our options. We got lunch at the pizza place, a ceaser salad for me, pepperoni for mini-meatball and goat cheese for hot husband. Hot husband then decided that the guy who ran the sandwich place would be terribly sad if he didn't try one of his sandwiches and he came back with a roasted pepper sandwich that looked awesome. We then went down to our room and mini-meatball had quiet time. No nap as she was too excited. I then went up to meet the cruise critic gang and hot husband took mini-meatball to do the build a bear. Hot husband and mini-meatball had a terrific time doing the build a bear and hot husband thought it was more fun than the store because you got to stuff it yourself. The bear was named Helperbear Tivoguy by mini-meatball (Helperbear tivo guy is a girl bear). We then brought Helperbear-Tivoguy back to the room and went back to camp carnival so mini-meatball could have a great time. Hot husband and I then walked around for a while, stopped at the buffet for some nachos and a drink (a Yellow Bird which was the Monday drink of the day) and then came back to the room to take advantage of mini-meatball being in camp carnival. Hot husband then got mini-meatball from camp carnival (complete with crown and fruit loop necklace) so we could get ready for formal night. We got dressed up and wandered around for a little bit waiting for the Captains party where we had drinks (beers for hot husband whisky sours for me) and hot husband and mini-meatball tried the meatballs that were being passed around. Mini-meatball liked the meatballs ? The party was fun, they had music and dancing (mini-meatball endeared herself to the entire grandparent crowd by dancing with Daddy and Mommy in her pretty dress) and you can't beat free drinks. We then headed down for dinner.
For dinner hot husband and I both had the shrimp and mini-meatball had the cold strawberry soup (which she loved) I had fruit for the salad course and hot husband had the wilted spinach salad, the waiter brought mini-meatball a basic garden salad for her salad course which she then proceeded to treat like a dipping plate dipping her spinach in the ranch and putting it in her mouth (which we allowed because really do you ever complain about how your four year old is eating spinach). All three of us ordered the lobster and shrimp. Mini-meatball didn't like the lobster and was happy just eating her salad so Hot Husband not wanting to insult the waiter finished hers off. The lobster wasn't great, it was served without lemon and the butter did not seem to be real butter. My husband compared it to the lobster that he had in Iraq. However, even not great lobster is better than no lobster, so we were happy. I ordered the baked apples on puff pastry for desert which were good, hot husband had the melting cake and mini-meatball had a banana split. Hot husband again, not wanting to insult the waiter finished my desert. We then went to hang out in the lobby and wait for the show to start. Mini-meatball got some dancing in with Daddy in the lobby and danced with another girl that she saw there. We then went into the theater and waited for the show to start. I was cold so I came back to change into jeans. We stayed for a little bit of the show as mini-meatball fell asleep. The costumes were very small but not horrible, I was however glad mini-meatball fell asleep before the can-can because I'd spent the morning telling her that princesses don't kick their legs up in the air and show everyone their underwear. The show was very cheesy (but entertaining) and part of the reason I'm glad I didn't decide to be a performer as I think it would be torture to have to perform that over and over again. Mini-meatball was strangely upset that we left the show because she wanted to stay later even though she was sleeping when we left. We came back to a towel bunny in our room and a smiley face cookie that mini-meatball was super excited about (even though we made her wait till lunch the next day to eat it).
Mini-meatball woke up on Tuesday at 6:45. Yawn. We got up and wandered around the ship again and went to the dining room for breakfast. I ordered eggs benedict again, mini-meatball ordered waffles with blueberries and hot husband ordered scrambled egg substitute and chicken sausage (not sure what was with the chicken sausage). Mini-meatball got a kids portion today and loved her waffles, she liked the blueberry sauce for dipping, hot husband said his chicken sausage was a little sweet. Mine was the same as the day before and hot husband again finished mine. We then went for a walk and to check mini-meatball into camp. We participated in the treasure hunt in the morning which was fun and took us all over the ship. We then went to the shopping lecture and left after fifteen minutes because all the guy was talking about was how to not get ripped off if you are going to buy jewelry. As I was planning on buying other things and want to play the barging game I decided that his type of shopping wasn't for me. We then went upstairs to sit by the window. Hot husband answered a few e-mails while I sat and had some juice. Unfortunately, blackberries with international service activated work on cruise ships. I was excited for the cruise because I thought the crackberry wouldn't work. I should have realized that if it works in Iraq it'll work on a cruise ship. He also used the phone to make a couple calls, so it worked also.
We picked up mini-meatball for lunch at around noon and she had made a cute handprint art project. We went over to the lido deck and got some lunch. We had wontons, noodles and chicken from the asian place (mini-meatball loved the asian food and even managed to use the chopsticks according to my husband) fish and chips from sur mer and some food from the buffet. The asian food was good, the fish was super greasy and the other buffet food was fine. We then headed down to take afternoon naps. Mini meatball fell asleep right away and hot husband left to drop our treasure map off in the lounge. Mini-meatball woke up and I dropped her off at camp carnival. They weren't happy with me because I forgot the beeper and hot husband had to call and give them the number when I met up with him in the theater. The Newlywed, Not so Newlywed game was funny although it would have been nice if it was more interactive. Dinner that night was in the dining room. People were fairly casual, packers guy was wearing a sleeveless t-shirt and there were several older couples fancily dressed. For apps we got French onion soup for me (mmm good), Quesadillas for mini-meatball (too adult for her, she switched with hot husband) and a fancy sounding pasta for hot husband (which mini-meatball and hot husband loved). For salad hot husband got the ceaser salad and mini-meatball and I got the chopped lettuce salad (which was a garden salad in different piles). For our meals Hot husband and I had the Jerk pork tenderloin which was delicious and super fancy and mini-meatball had the grilled chicken breast (which she didn't like probably because she finished the pasta). Ordering off the adult menu for the kids really is the way to go, if you order them a ton of courses there will be something that they like. I didn't eat all of mine and the waitress asked if I wanted something else. I told her that I was just saving room for desert. For desert hot husband had the cheesecake and mini-meatball and I both had the melting cake. Mini-meatball really liked the melting cake. We then sat a bit waiting for the show in the dining room. Mini-meatball wanted to dance along with me as the waiters did their dance to Mambo number five.
We then went up to the Lido deck to watch the Karaoke. It wasn't that great as there wasn't a lot of participation and every other guest ended up singing Crazy. The smoking bothered us also. We came back to our room for bed.
Wed mini-meatball woke up at 6:45 again. We could see Jamaica outside the window! We got our selves ready, sunscreen for everyone today. Then we went up to the lido deck to try out the buffet breakfast. The omelet guy was terrific but nothing else was exciting. We then dropped of mini-meatball at camp carnival (they checked to see if we'd be picking her up for lunch and wanted us to check on her right away when we got back on the ship). We then went back to the room and got ourselves ready to go, our excursion was at 9:00am. We looked though the shops in the terminal and got in line for our excursion to the zip line. We had a bus ride of about an hour and a half to the Chukka Adventure Tours headquarters and our bus driver was entertaining. The Canopy tour was really fun, lots of steps and heights but not terrifying. I have issues with rollercoasters but this wasn't too much for me. The views as I was sailing across the lines were awesome and going from tree to tree was really cool. After the tour we were able to buy Jerk Chicken and Redstripe after the tour. I got pineapple soda because it looked weird, it didn't taste that different though. The Jerk Chicken was delicious. I was sad that they were out of pork. We also saw the river tubing and 4X4 excursion people there. The river tubing looked calm and the 4X4 looked kind of boring, the couple we talked to that went on that said it was bumpy and not too exciting. After the excursion we had a bus ride back to the terminal and the driver said he'd take us anywhere we wanted to go for $5 a person. He dropped us off at the City Center and we walked from there to the Craft Market. We had a good time in the craft market bartering with people. We bought a dress for mini-meatball for $5, a straw purse with her name sewn into it for $4, a pound and a half of coffee for $25, a red stripe beer for $2 and a wooden bird for $6 (I'm not sure why we bought a wooden bird other than my husband though we got a fantastic deal). We then got a taxi back to the terminal. In the terminal we got some Jerk Spice and some Jerk marinade. We at no point felt unsafe or obsessively harassed in Jamaica. I've been to other places and felt far more uncomfortable. I think the people that complain about Jamaica being scary have never been in an inner city and or are huge wimps. It's daylight and there are lots of people around, not a problem mon. I've felt far more uncomfortable in DC, NYC, Detroit, Baltimore downtowns. I'm sure there is crime and yes some people were irritating and or pushy, but if you avoid eye contact, say no thanks and keep moving you're going to be ok. I wouldn't have taken mini-meatball into the shopping areas because she wouldn't have understood the bartering concept and the area would have overwhelmed her. Jamaica is a good place to do an adventure tour and leave the kids on the ship.
We came back to the ship and checked in on mini-meatball who didn't want to leave her activity in Camp Carnival to say hi (she waved at us because she was busy). We went to the Lido to eat lunch (the jerk chicken we got earlier wasn't enough food). Half of the buffet was closed which wouldn't of been a problem except that there was a group of Jamaican teens (I think they were on a field trip) in line followed by several slow elderly passengers. This made it take a while to eat. The food was yummy once I got it. Hot husband got pizza with anchovies and capers which looked gross but he said was delicious. Hot husband then picked up mini-meatball and they went off to play mini-golf (which is much better in port) while I stayed in my room and read. At sail away they had a mohito special and they were delicious.
For dinner that night mini-meatball had the cherry soup (which she didn't like) and the fried cheese (which she liked) and pasta with peas and turkey for her main course (she didn't like that either). I got her chocolate melting cake for desert. I had the fried cheese, won ton soup (MMM) and a burger. Hot husband got a seafood appetizer, a salad and a seafood dinner. For desert I had melting cake and hot husband had the tiramisu. We had service problems with this meal as nothing really came out hot and the waiter brought us our meals at the wrong time and seemed totally confused. After dinner they had a conga line through the dining room which mini-meatball thought was fun. We went right back to the room for bed after dinner so that mini-meatball would be ok for the cayman islands the next day. Thursday Mini-meatball woke up early again, before seven. We ate breakfast at the buffet all ready to go explore the ocean. We had no problem tendering (we went up to five to get our tender number and were told to go right to the tender) and left right away.
When we arrived in Grand Cayman we walked to the Royal Walter Terminal to meet up with Moby Dick Tours for our Stingray and snorkel trip. We checked in and were told that we would be on the 9:30 tour. So we walked around the area for a while, saw that everything was outrageously expensive and came back to meet our group. Our group was put in a couple of shuttle vans and taken to the boat. We lucked out because the moby dick boat was full so they subcontracted us out to a guy who took us on his catamaran ( stingraysaling.com ). There were around 30 of us on the boat and Hot Husband grabbed us fantastic seats. The boat was great and mini-meatball loved every bit of the boat ride out to the stingrays. When we arrived at the stingrays mini-meatball was one of the first off the boat (attached to Hot Husband) and loved swimming around in the ocean and looking at the stingrays that would run up our legs. I was amazed at the size of the stingrays and the little ones were the size of big ones that you'll see at aquariums. They were soft and friendly. After we finished with the stingrays they took us a little farther away for some snorkeling. I'm not really a swimmer so I stayed back on the boat while hot husband and mini-meatball took off snorkeling. Mini-meatball wasn't scared at all and told me of all the fish she saw in the water (she didn't use a mask and could still see them from the top of the water), Hot Husband said that he saw lots of fish when he used the mask. He also got quite a workout making sure that mini-meatball was ok during the swim to the reef.
We came back to the boat and the captain raised the sail and we had a nice sail back. All the kids on the boat had nice naps. Luckily we covered mini-meatball up with a towel so she didn't get much of a burn. I however wasn't so lucky (reapply the sunscreen, reapply!) and ended up with a nasty sunburn. We reapplied our sunscreen once we noticed that we had a problem. The shuttle driver then dropped us all off at Royal Palms beach where we ate lunch (remember it's Cayman dollars, not US dollars). We got a couple braids in mini-meatballs hair. Then we hung out on the beach for about fifteen minutes before we had to head back to the ship. We got a shuttle back to the terminal and waited in line (about 15-20 minutes) to get our tender back to the boat.
Once back on the boat mini-meatball and hot husband headed upstairs for a quick game of golf and then we examined our sunburns and got ready for dinner. We went upstairs for drinks before dinner and watched the water. For dinner mini-meatball had cherry soup (she loved it), I had lobster bisque (Delicious), and hot husband had some salad with seafood. I had a ceaser salad, mini-meatball got the fruit cocktail (which totally rocked) and hot husband got a Caesar. For our entrees hot husband had the beef, I had the chargrilled chicken and mini-meatball had the salmon. Mini-meatball then had the baked Alaska, and hot husband and I had the melting cake. One of the waiters made mini-meatball a napkin that looked like a mouse which she toted along with her for a while. Our room wasn't ready so we went and looked in the shops and did some dancing in the lobby. We came back to our room to find a towel monkey hanging in the room.
The next day was Cozumel. We woke up to find that the ship was still sailing with no land in sight. We ate breakfast in the dining room and took mini-meatball up to camp carnival. They cross examined us as to whether we'd be back to pick her up for lunch and when we said no they proceeded to ask for our tour tickets. We found this odd as we hadn't had our tickets examined when we left her to go into Jamaica. We went down to our room to get ready for our excursion The Race Fantastique which we were excited about as I'm a huge Amazing Race fan. We still however had not docked in Cozumel. For some reason people were piling up in the first floor lobby to get off the ship even before the docking occurred which we felt was odd. We went up to the lido deck to watch the ship pull in. When the ship pulled in (at about 10:00am) we went down to our room on the first floor to see that there was a huge line of people spilling out into the hallway. We went in our room and stuck our head out every couple of minutes to watch the line get larger and larger and then smaller and smaller.
After the line went away we headed off to our tour. We met the leaders of the race on the end of the pier. We waited a while for a team that never arrived before we got started. The race was a lot of fun, we raced around the city doing tasks and looking for clues including a trip to a museum, a henna tattoo and a scuba dive to a sunken pirate ship. We found that we are horrible at spotting the race flag and figuring out clues that are fairly obvious. We had a lot of fun though and ended up getting third place (out of three teams). The race ended at a restaurant that we never would have gone to had we not been on the race. I ordered pork tacos which were awesome and hot husband ordered octopus which he said was delicious. We also had chips and cheese. We got four drink coupons redeemable for beer or soda at the restaurant which Hot Husband used for beer. I had a delicious margarita which had far too much tequila. We headed back to the ship and looked in the shops on the way back but didn't find anything we wanted at a price we were willing to pay. When we got back to the ship I headed in to sleep of my margarita and hot husband picked up mini-meatball to take her to see Mexico. They were gone about an hour and came back with a bracelet with her name on it. She was worried that the ship would leave without her because everyone was getting back on the ship when they were getting off.
We then headed to dinner. I ordered the tomato and mozzarella, and the fried shrimp. Hot husband had the pasta which he said was good and the ceaser. We both ordered the veal parmesan. Mini-meatball had the chicken soup (which she didn't like) and a salad and the pasta. I had the almond cake for dinner, hot husband had fruit and mini-meatball had melting cake. While at dinner I got a great show "the adventures of salt and pepper" We then dropped mini-meatball off at camp carnival (it was Dora night) and wondered around the ship. We went to the jazz bar and people watched outside the casino. When we picked mini-meatball up at camp carnival she was very upset. She didn't get to finish coloring her picture (and really in general they didn't give them enough time to color when they had a coloring activity).
We then came back to the room for bed. We couldn't figure out what our towel animal was supposed to be. we were woken up early again. Mini-meatball wanted to wear her new Jamaica dress. Mini-meatball and hot husband went to walk around the ship and have breakfast while I stayed back in the room to read.
Then we dropped mini-meatball off at camp carnival. We went to the towel folding class which was fun. We made dogs and elephants.
Then I ditched hot husband for a good book. Hot husband picked up mini-meatball up for swimming. They went swimming while I read some more. I then went up to lunch (a burger) then I tackled the Desert buffet. The desert buffet was good, lots of choices, milkshakes and ice cream and cakes and cheesecakes and candies. I had a bite of everything.
Then it was time for mini-meatballs nap so that she'd be all ready for the camp carnival talent show, we heard they were doing a penguin dance.
We woke mini-meatball up for the talent show and headed towards the lounge. She told us that she was doing a dance. When we got to the lounge they called the names of a bunch of the kids. One of the kids they called was mini-meatball. We thought that was odd, because they didn't call any other little bitty ones but figured it was just because we'd told them earlier that she'd be there. The talent show was a typical talent show. Kids singing Hannah Montana (over the regular track) kids dancing the Macarena, kids doing jokes. The older kids did their dance (the Cha Cha slide). Then they had one of the five year olds get up and sing the ABC song. Then they called up mini-meatball. I'm completely shocked when she gets up to sing alone. She sang twinkle twinkle little star. I'm a music teacher and singer myself and seeing my little one up there singing by herself without any warning completely floored me. I bawled my eyes out. It was totally fantastic and even if the entire cruise had sucked seeing my daughter sing would have made it a good experience. Then they called up all the 3-5's to do the penguin dance. The dance was very cute and far more original than the cha cha slide, they need to find one for the older kids that's better.
We went back to our room to do some packing and then picked up mini-meatball from camp carnival. She'd had a terrific time.
When we came back to the room we finished packing our things to put out for the next night. They took the robes that night which was irritating as we'd packed as much as possible.
We then ordered room service. We got a few sandwiches (the roast beef was delicious). We also set our order out for the morning (adding some extra cereal for snacks on the plane).
We stayed in our room in the morning until we were kicked out. We were one of the last groups to exit the ship and the customs line was way to long, we were in line for about an hour.
We then went to the transfer booth. We were asked for documentation that we'd purchased the transfer. We then got on the bus which left right after we got on.
The bus stopped at Hobby which was annoying as we'd all been told that they didn't go to hobby. Not sure how much longer the detour took but we didn't have any risk of missing our flight.
When we got off the bus at the airport we realized that we'd left mini-meatballs favorite brand new monkey (a stuffed "towel monkey") on the bus she was heartbroken. We turned on the laptops in the airport and searched obsessively for one on the internet but couldn't find one. If anyone knows of where I can get one mini-meatball would be very happy.
We flew home and arrived home about 9:00pm. We were delighted by the work the contractor had done on the house but not happy that we had to be up early in the morning. Arriving home on a Saturday would have been better.
We enjoyed our trip on the conquest. I think a cruise is a great vacation for parents with young children because you get to do things that you usually can't do because of the kids. If we'd been traveling alone we would have liked a traditional vacation better. We did get a little stir crazy on the ship the last day although the itinerary may have been part of that. I would have loved a day to relax in between the ports.
Dining: Breakfast was delicious in the dining room and the buffets were also good. I would have liked the dining rooms and buffets to be open earlier as we generally had to wait before we could eat breakfast.
Lunch was varied and there were quite a few options. However, lunch did not start till noon which is a problem when you're used to eating before noon or you're from an earlier time zone. This was an irritation; I wish they could have opened the lunch options at 11:00 leaving one line open for late breakfasters.
Dinner was delicious every night. More desert options would have been nice (just two non diet deserts plus the cake). There was a nice variety although by the end I'd had enough fancy food and just wanted some buffalo wings. Our waiter was a total mess but always polite, I think being at a single table was part of that.
Decor: Man was the ship tacky. There were areas that were nice looking (the lobby) but generally the designer took everything about two steps too far. For example the carpet which was yellow and pink and blue. EEK! The decor didn't affect my cruise experience though and there were things that were pretty cool (the giant sunflower).
Cabins: Our cabin was nice; they did a good job setting it up so that the space was used efficiently. We loved the window and it looked much nicer than the portholes we saw on the other ships. You can even set little ones in the windows to look outside. We were in room 1336 on the first deck and liked our location. While it took us a while to get places it was very quiet and we never had noise problems even though we went to bed early.
Camp Carnival: Mini-meatball really loved camp carnival. She asked repeatedly to go back and was disappointed when she had to leave. The activities were perfect for a four year old. I did see some things that could have been done better. The art activities didn't generally allow the kids to participate as much as they should have. It seemed like the teachers made the projects and then allowed a little input from the kids. The younger kids often were not participating with the group and the councilors didn't like when that happened even though it was completely appropriate for their age. Having free play and an activity would have been more appropriate for the twos and threes. The fours and fives loved the activities though. The night time activities were also a problem because they were keeping them active. I would have used camp carnival in the evening if they'd had movie and rest time for the kiddos after 8:00. Kids in the 2-5's should be sleeping in the evening so they're not a terror the next day. All in all it was fantastic though.