EMBARKATION - After several sailings from the Port of Galveston, I always found parking at the cruise terminal to be a total pain. This trip, we used Lighthouse Parking. I made the reservations in advance. The location was easy to get to and the staff was awesome. This is a much better option that parking at the cruise terminal.
After a short wait to enter the cruise terminal building, we were expedited through security and boarding based on our VIP status from Carnival Vacation Club. Although this was a nice perk, the cost of the CVC was outrageous and Carnival is no longer offering this service.
The boarding process was quick and efficient. Our cabins were not ready when we boarded so we hit the Lido Deck for drinks and lunch. Our group of 7 are experienced cruisers so we staked out a table and everyone headed off for their preferred lunch...pizza, Asian cuisine, buffet and of course some ice cream.
I purchased Soda Fountain Cards for the group as we were good to go. If you are a soda drinker, then I highly suggest purchasing this card. Soda by the can is $1.75 plus 15% gratuity. If you drink 3 sodas a day, then the card pays for itself. Carnival serves Coke products.
Recommend first time cruiser pick up a lanyard before boarding... it is a convenient way to carry your Sail and Sign card.
Cabins were ready at about 1:45 pm. We had one 8C and two 4E cabins on the Veranda Deck.
We enjoyed the first 2 days at sea by finding a great spot at the back of the ship on the port side that was playing oldies music and did not have much foot traffic because it was away from the pool. It was totally relaxing!
FOOD - with a group of 7 guests, including a 7-year old, a 'tween and a teen plus 4 adults, we were always going in different directions for breakfast and lunch. We enjoyed breakfast in the dining room one morning but decided we preferred the buffet in the Cezanne.
My personal fav was the Asian cafe, P.C.'s Wok. It was great!
My teen even talked me into eating pizza one evening. I am not a pizza fan, but it was good. She was such a regular at the pizza place, the young man would just say "the usual" when she stepped up to the counter.
My 'tween loved the fish and chips at the Sur Mur. It is upstairs from the Cezanne. Go to the back of the Cezanne and go up the stairs. Tip: If there are no tables in the lower level of the Cezanne, head upstairs! There are always tables available up there!
My husband loved the burgers and hot dogs from the Lido Deck grill.
Our family enjoyed the early seating in the upper Monet each night. Assadee was a lovely waitress, giving our daughters special attention. Loved everything but the Strawberry Soup...too much mint.
My entire family loves the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake! I even got a copy of the recipe.
ON-BOARD ENTERTAINMENT - was almost the same as we saw on our first trip on the Conquest in March, 2007. However, we enjoyed the shows. Especially the ventriloquist and juggler.
My daughter was thrilled to win a $200 bingo jackpot!
SHORE EXCURSIONS - We opted for the Dunn's Fall and Dolphin Experience in Jamaica. Our bus driver was pulled over for speeding by cops that were armed with some heavy fire power. It was a bit unnerving. Dunn's Falls was way more physical than I imagined. 3 members of our group had to bail out before reaching the top. The dolphin experience was just OK. I expected more for the price. Of course, the pushed the DVD and pictures on you and lunch was cold and they were short on drinks.
We enjoyed Boatswain's Deluxe tour in Grand Cayman. My group snorkeled in the salt water lagoon and the other group enjoyed the pool. I got a huge kick out of tickling the turtles at the Turtle Farm. Our bus driver was nearly 40 minutes late in picking us up. This was the second time that we have experienced transportation issues in Grand Cayman. Needless to say, no tip for that driver.
We had a blast at the Playa Mia Deluxe Beach Break in Cozumel. The kids enjoyed the beach, snorkeling, paddle boats and pool. I enjoyed a massage (for a fee)and the buffet was good. Open bar was a nice perk, too.
DEBARKATION - Is always a pain. We were in group 1 but we debarked so early there was a shortage of porters. Back to Lighthouse and on the road home by 9:30 am.
We loved the trip so much we have already booked trip #3 on the Conquest!