This was our third cruise with Carnival, and the 2nd on the Conquest. It's a beautiful ship and laid out really well, so we decided to go back to the Western Caribbean and see it again. I mean, how can you get bored with Jamaica and Grand Cayman? Mexico is another story these days, but I'll get to that later. This cruise was a freebie thanks to the Seamiles Mastercard we got on our first cruise. 100.000 seamiles earned us a free 7 day cruise. We embarked out of Galveston. We drove down from OKC the night before and stayed at the Baymont Inn, which I do not recommend. (See my review on Hotels.com) We had our traditional oysters and cobb salads at Fishtales in Galveston, a great place to eat! Anyway, we got to the terminal about 10:30 am on Sunday morning and parked at the Lighthouse parking, not the Carnival cruise parking Lighthouse is family owned and operated and secure, and (bonus) $20 cheaper than the cruiseline. They have very nice shuttles, are friendly and will take all your bags over to the porters for you. Porters at Galveston are the best bargain on the cruise, especially if you pack like my wife, and take everything you own. We checked in quickly, got our Sail and Sign cards and sat in the waiting section until about noon, when they let us on the ship. We stayed on the 10th deck, just under the spa, which we love because its near the fitness area that we use every morning. The 10th deck also is very calm, you feel virtually no movement. Our bags arrived at the room by about 4:00 pm, and we met our cabin steward, Roy. We were a bit disappointed in him, because we have had such friendly stewards in the past. Oh, the room was always clean and the beds were made, but he forgot our Carnival Capers daily itinerary a couple of times and his attitude was not the best. He was just..."OK." Not real impressive, and he was tipped accordingly. That was the only thing that was just OK, however, everything else was fantastic! We were seated at a wonderful table with 3 other couples, all of which were very fun, and we usually had to be chased out of the Renoir dining every night we had such good conversations. "Fun days at sea" were typically, well, fun days at sea. Lots of music, food, dancing, shows, games, and drinks. I recommend sticking with wine or beer myself, as the fruity rum drinks can get real pricey real fast. There were lots of places to sit in the sun or the shade, and lots of places to be in the crowd or be alone. Carnival has that down to a science. You can have the type of cruise YOU want without going broke, and I like that about them. Carnival cruises, however, are the FUN SHIPS for a reason. Disclaimer: Don't go expecting quiet, retirees playing bridge on Lido Deck. If you want sedate, pick another cruise line. Carnival attracts younger, energetic types, that like to have F-U-N. If you know that going in, you'll have a great time. Formal nights on the ship are really great. Everyone gets all dolled up and gets lots of photos taken before and after dinner. Some of the best pics of my gorgeous wife have been taken on these cruises. Plan on about $200 -$400 for professional photos, cause you WILL want them.
Jamaica was our first port. We like to snorkel, so we did the catamaran/ Doctors Cave beach tour. Very nice, but here's a tip. Buy your own snorkel gear, and take a cheap cab to the beach. The barrier reefs are out in the water off the beach, just beyond the trampolines that are in the water. Its a LOT less expensive than the tour that way, and you get more beach time. Pay the guy $15 at the beach to rent an umbrella and chairs and have them set it up for you right at the water. The waitress will take your lunch order right from the beach. There is a great little bar where you can get Appleton rum for $2.50 per 2 oz shot. A GREAT day for sure, then take the red tag cab back to the cruise port. Buy your bottled alcohol on the ship, however, its a better deal. You get 1 liter bottles instead of 750 ml. and they are less expensive! 10% off also if you buy them on the first day.
Port #2, was Grand Cayman. THE BEST snorkeling ever!! You wont regret it, but take the cruise excursion on this one, because the reefs aren't accessible except by boat. You'll see stingrays, tons of beautiful tropical fish, and maybe a barracuda or two. The water is awesome!! We don't really shop in the Caymans, its too expensive. We went back to the ship afterwards exhausted from 2 days of intense snorkeling. We had tickets to Playa Mia beach resort in Cozumel, but we were so wiped out that we gave them to our waiter Gus to use when we found out the staff was getting off the ship in Mexico for a while. He was thrilled, you could have seen him smile 10 miles away. I heard he had a great time, as did the others that went, we were just too darn tired. We decided to shop in Cozumel instead, and let me just say Mexico ain't what it used be! The locals were incredibly rude, pushy and the greediest I've ever seen in my life, and I've been going there for 20 years. Thanks, NAFTA. We won't be going back to Cozumel, ever, and I don't recommend it anymore. Horrible, angry people living disgustingly pathetic lives.
I won the audition for the Frank Sinatra part in the Carnival Legends show for the last night of the cruise, and I sang "My Way" to 1500 people in the finale. My beautiful assigned dance partner did a great job making me feel calm and prepared. It was great, especially since it was my 5th wedding anniversary. My stunningly, amazingly beautiful wife was so thrilled to hear me sing to her at the show. There were two wine tastings on the cruise that were held in The Point (upscale dining). They were excellent, and I highly recommend them. Lots of fun theme parties every night, as well as great shows. The buffet food is very good, as are the delis and sushi bar. And DON'T miss the Fat Chocolate cake at the coffee shop! It's addictive! I don't gamble, except in the stock market, so I cant speak about the Casino, except to say that its very pretty. The cigar club, Henri's, is also a nice retreat after dinner if you want a quiet drink.
Highlights: Sunsets on the Caribbean- don't miss them! Schedule your evening around them! Set an alarm. They post the sunset times on your TV. Did I mention the sunsets??? A word about disembarkation: If you are going to do the self assist checkout, get a porter when you get down the ramp into customs. They'll put you into an express line and whisk you through US Customs, which is the only place that ever checked our passports on the entire trip. All in all, this was the best cruise we've ever taken, bar none. I like Carnival, and I love the Conquest, and I am absolutely addicted to cruising!!!