We sailed from the new Bayport Houston port on the 2nd Conquest trip from this port (9/28).
As reported on other threads, the prior trip had customs problems and debarkation lasted until about 2pm delaying our embarkation. This in turn delay the muster drill and leaving port until about 5 or 5:30. Our debarkation 1 week later ran smoothly and we were out in 20 minutes from when our floor was called for self-assist luggage exiting, so the customs problems appear solved.
Transportation is still an issue with this new and isolated location. Trips to the airports ($25 to Hobby, $40 to Bush) via bus are the easiest. Finding cabs and limos from hotels are spotty and vary in price.
Having only 1 other cruise to compare (Carnival Pride - Mexican Riviera - 07/07), we were disappointed with several features and services on this ship. The food, both in the dining room and the buffet were below average. Service was average in the dining room - hard to get More
followup service such as more water, butter, etc. The specialty food was good, the deli, pizza, grille, chinese and sushi locations all sparkled.
Cabin service was OK, the service in the buffet area was better. Deck staff did not speak much English so specific requests were tough. Casino was smaller than Pride, but enough space for the number of gamblers. Shows by Carnival dancers were not very good, but some of the individual entertainers faired better. The art auctions were a good time as were the Past Guest events.
Port excursions were good with us taking the Dreamers catamaran (with reef snorkeling) in Jamaica (free booze the entire 3 hours with a stop at Margaritaville), the Reef and Rays catamaran in Grand Cayman (with reef and stingray snorkeling - not sandbar stingray feeding) and the Mayan ruins tour in Tulum (via Ultramar - but no time left to shop in Cozumel). Warning, you must take a tour to leave Cozumel, no independent way to reach La Playa, etc. Grand Cayman provides the best variety of shopping.
Ship layout has many deadends and makes reaching locations a challenge even once you have been around a bit. This ship drydocks in January for upgrades (even though it only launched in 2002) which will add an outdoor theater and refurbish the rooms a bit include new mattresses.
All in all a good relaxing trip, but better food and service would overcome the poor ship design problems. We reallocated tip to the buffet staff more than the dining or cabin staff. Less
Carnival Conquest Cruises to the Western Caribbean