Alrighty folks, here it is. Everyone elses reviews helped me to plan our cruise and had some very useful tips, so I hope that we can return the favor. My husband and I sailed on the Carnival Conquest around the Western Caribbean in a group of 10 friends (ages ranging from 7 years old upwards to 50 ish maybe. My husband and I are both 27 and had 2 similar aged friends that we were with.
We live in the DFW area of Texas and so we flew from DFW to Houston where our friends live. Unfortunately the day before our cruise, we got into a car wreck (rammed from behind by an idiotic woman on her cell phone who was not paying attention...). Thankfully no serious injuries, except for our friend's truck...it looked a little sad :(
We drove from Houston to Galveston the next morning and got in line about 12.45pm ish. Went through the first security point then got inside the terminal building and seen a huge long line. seen a sign for non-US citizens and as I am a Green card holder (moved from Northern Ireland 3 years ago), we migrated towards the desk indicated. In less than 3 minutes we were boarding the ship. That was awesome skipping that line!!!
We boarded and immediately went to leave our back pack in our cabin and then put cash on our sail and sign card at the Pursers desk. This proved to be smart doing it fast as later there was a line as far as the state line of Texas!
We then headed straight for the buffet and got lunch. Our luggage arrived about 3 hours after we boarded the ship. ooh another first thing we did was go to the Spa and booked my hair appt for the Formal night on Monday. The first night we found the impressions bar and stayed there before migrating to Henri's club. I think that our group closed the club each night (errr..morning...3.30am ishhhh?)
The first few days were nice and relaxing at sea and we sunbathed, attended the art auctions (a MUST and i don't even really like art that much).. Free Champagne and watch out for the surprise pieces. They had well known pieces by Peter Max go for way less than what they would sell for.
Formal night was Monday night. We got great professional pics taken that night and bought a large canvas which is now in our hallway. Got my hair done ($70) by Jemmel the gay hairdresser..he rocks and did a great job. I brought my own wee hair spins so I had glitz too. We had a great dinner in the Monet dining rm (late seating). Imagine Duck and Lamb in the same night!! My two favorite meats that are hard to come by in Tx. Unfortunately they made a 2nd appearance later that night...slightly rough seas coupled with wayyy too many shots (we were inventing new ones with Maria the bar tender in Henri's... ask her for a sarasota sunrise) resulted in me worshipping the porcelain bowl :(. I think I met Wee Jimmy that night too and he put his arm around me when he heard my accent. We got chatting about our old haunts in Glasgow actually. He was pretty alright. P.S Hes not a "real" scot under that kilt! That night, I also figured out that Dramamine was a pretty good drunk cure.
I surfaced the next day about 1pm (I think) and we had an easy day sunbathing and I think I ate a banana that day. Even though the buffet was closed at one point, I still needed food in my dodgy tummy and I asked and the buffet staff complied.
Jamaica: Well my husband had been on a cruise before and said that he hated Jamaica so I was prepared. I was very pretty but sooo very poor. The houses are half built as they cannot afford the completion. We did the Chukka horseback ride and swim which was great!!!! Sooo much fun. We did a trail ride first through pretty country side, then changed horses and took our horses into the beautiful Caribbean sea. The horses get so excited and being on a swimming horse is just an indescribable experience. Its just great!! We had time to shop at the port in Montego Bay and I will say that you have got to be careful as they are super pushy. The men are super sleazy too. One told me that I had the body of a dancer and said I could come back to his house and dance for him....in your dreams dude! I bought jewelry from them, and alcohol at the terminal but that was it.
Grand Cayman: What a BEAUTIFUL Island! I want to go back and spend a week at Grand Cayman. We went and played with the stingrays at stingray city. This is a must-do experience. We went on the Allura catamaran and they are great people (british dude is the captain). The water is sooo beautiful and we were able to snorkel too and see some fishies. Watch out for the stingrays giving you a hickey kiss! The females are very friendly.
We shopped also in Grand Cayman and bought jewelry, Hard rock Cafe merchandise and alcohol.
Cozumel: We did the Playa Mia beach thing. Unlimited drinks and a pretty beach. Get there early to get a spot in the shade. Great daiquiris! We went on a wee boat and went snorkeling to a reef ($30). It was so darn rough though i the sea that we found to hard to relax. Seen some fishies and a Barracuda and that was enough for me. The waves were just crashing over us that even the guys in the group found it hard and we are all very athletic people. i swallowed so much salt water that I near puked and the guy did NOT keep the group together (6 of us). Every time I looked down to see fish, he had fricking moved away again! Arghh!. We got back to shore and I was exhausted. Had a virgin strawberry daiquiri and nachos and we then left to go to town. Ooh yeah we had a taxi that we paid 410 each and he took us where we wanted to all day. Went to town and had a great time haggling with the locals.. Got a gorgeous Tanzanite and Opal ring for $60 and he was looking for $280 originally. Bargain!!!! Go to the store beside the cigar shop in the big mall and they will look after you. Also got more alcohol (see a trend here!) and the famous Tortuga rum cakes (key lime and orange are the best!!).
Our last day on the boat was spent leisurely in the casino ( i suck at gambling but the 25 cent drop machine made me feel good when i got one coin drop down lol! I also went to the spa and had a great massage (back, neck, shoulders, scalp, feet, leg), facial, sauna and steam room plus a free toner. Look out for deals on the ship for the spa. they are verrry good and reduce prices towards the end of the cruise. My little trip was a mere $99. Can we say BARGAIN!!! :-)
Debarkation: We had a flight to catch at 11.50am from Houston so we had to get up at 6am and queued from 7.15am to do self assist early debark. We queued in the Toulouse Lautrec lounge and there were quite a few people. This is poorly organized as people started to jump over chairs despite chicken littles attempts to keep the peace and we seen a near fight break out. Crazy people! Anyhow we got off and waited about 10 mins for customs and immigration and were out by 8am and back to our car in another 15 mins.
you can take off as much alcohol as you want because they don't check it!
All in all, I had a great time but feel like I need a vacation to get over it as it was not exactly relaxing. Gripes are that the pools were small and the food variety at times was not great. On the last breakfast day they limited the items so it was like they were saying we have your money, now get off...that didn't impress me.
We didn't catch any shows, so can't comment. We were usually eating or t the bar. Would have liked to catch shows as we heard they were awesome.
Our room steward was Keethri. He was awesome. He got an additional big tip on the last night as he greeted us by first name and made our room up 2-3 times daily. The Maitre D got zero (table was 444). The service in the main dining room was awful. I didn't get an order correct on one night at all .
Book your shore excursions online before you go. We booked 2 months before we went and it was cheaper and we were assured of getting a place.
I am mad though that my I-pod was stolen while I was on the slide. It was covered under my sun lounger and some bugger who will get their karma stole it. I think thats all that I can think of for now. Overall was good but my husband prefers Royal Caribbean. Would definitely cruise again, but perhaps not with Carnival.