Arrived in Galveston the day before...stayed at the Best Western Beachfront Hotel on Seawall Blvd. This was a great place to stay, as they allowed us to leave our car there for the week, free! It was also in back, under covered area! Book early, as it is on the ocean, so it fills up I'm sure. We chose to take a cab the next morning to the port. Cost was about. $17, including tip. Far cheaper than paying for parking. Left hotel at 10:30 am, arrived at terminal by 11:00..we were in the first group to board ship, as we were on before noon!
Boarding early allowed us to beat the crowds..and it gave us time to explore the ship. TIP: Only carry on what you want to keep up with as rooms were not ready until 2 pm. We wished we had just taken our backpacks with needed items an no extra at that point. I will also take a fanny pack next time...very handy to carry small amount of money around,etc.
Go by the casino and pick up a bungee cord for your sail and sign card...it was a great way to wear it all week and really came in handy!
MISTAKE # 1: Since this was my first cruise ever...I tried to see the WHOLE ship within the first 24 hours I think!! My feet hurt so bad by bed time! you do not have to do it all the first day, I promise!!
The Conquest was a beautiful ship, staff was VERY helpful and friendly and catered to our every need! The food is unbelievable and you really do eat all the time! The ice cream machine just grabs you as you walk by...anytime of the day or night!!
MISTAKE # 2: Took TOO many clothes! Please listen to what people tell you! I took much more than needed! Most of the time you are in swimwear and shorts,even on the islands. Dinner wear is only formal 1 or 2 nights, depending on the length of your cruise. Formal does not mean it has to be a tux and formal. Most people were in Sunday casual. You will see all types of dress and it is ok. Just be comfortable and enjoy! For women, capri pants and tops are great for the evening meals. The dining room can be a little chilly at times, so a sweater is nice to have. In a nutshell..bring more than I swimsuit and have comfortable shoes!
EXCURSIONS: We booked one at each port. Next time I go, we probably will not do that.
At Grand Cayman, we did Turtle Farm, Hell, and Snorkeling with Stingrays...it was one tour. Even though it was great..we had no time to shop or look around at the pier area. I would suggest booking excursions that begin as soon as you dock. That ensures you will be one of the first off the ship and you may have more time to visit pier area or see some other parts of the island.
At Cozumel, my husband and 21 year old son golfed at Cozumel Country Club. They LOVED IT! I spent time shopping and browsing the stores near the pier. Was very safe there and I had no problems...just tried to stay with a group, which was not hard to do.
We were the group who did not get to Jamaica, due to illness of a crew member. I have not mentioned this prior, because it was an unfortunate event, but a decision that had to be made at the time. Yes, we were disappointed, but watching the helicopter try to get in and get the employee made us realize that a life was at stake. The captain and others had to do what was best. SO, we just booked again when we got home, and we will try again next summer to see Jamaica!
ROOM: We had an ocean view cabin for 3 of us..plenty of room..rooms have lots of built in cabinets for storage. You really aren't in the rooms that much, anyway!!
SEASICKNESS: We had no problems with this! We took patches, but never got them out of the package!! Seas were a little rough one evening, due to the wind, but not enough to make us sick.
MONEY: We took small bills as suggested by our travel agent. Worked out great. We would leave all in the safe in the room, and only take with us what we needed each time we left the room. It also keeps you from losing it all at the casino! (Well, maybe!!) On the days at sea, it is hard to stay out of the casino for some..so beware...you will wish you had that money at the end of the week, when the ship puts many things on sale!!
Overall, the week was better than we even imagined! We met many nice people, ate, relaxed, tried to see and do as many of the activities as we could, ate more, and ate more!
Sadly, we had to debark the following Sunday. We chose to eat first and let all the people who had flights and longer drives, go first. By 8:30 or 9:00 am, we were off the ship. We waited in line to get through customs until 10:15. We discovered later, we could have asked for help with our bags, and gotten a porter. Those people who did were taken to the front of the customs area and through the line quicker. Live and learn. That was the longest lien we had all week, so it was ok. Caught a cab back to the hotel and we were on our way home by 11:00 am.
Would I do it again??? I could have turned around and gotten back on board the same day!! We truly loved it. Came home, booked again for July 2009. Going though a travel agent friend allows us to pay it out...great way to do it!!
HOPE THIS HELPS!!