Ok, here it is. My 2nd review of a cruise I have taken. I never understood why people cruise and why so much, until last year when I took my first cruise with my wife(maria). The reason I took a cruise was because when I would visit my mother in NY whose health was deteriorating last 3 years, she always told my wife and I to stop using our vacation days to visit her in a hospital but instead take a real vacation like a cruise. I always thought that cruising was for the retired and people with money. I WAS SOOO WRONG. We loved it so much that on January 2008 we booked a cruise for 9/21/08, which coincides with the anniversary of my mother passing away (9/22/06). It is my way of telling her thanks and her way of seeing me & wife have so much fun.
Since our cruise in 2007 all my wife and I did was talk, talk, talk about this cruise. We talked so much that my 24 yr old son (Michael) and his girlfriend came with us. My wife and I paid 50% of Stephanie's cruise because we like her and she gave me my 2 pomeranians. About 1 week before our departure hurricane Ike hit Texas and our worries turned to our safety and our house. We suffered slight damage but were left with no power and not knowing whether our cruise would be cancelled. Instead the Conquest would leave from Bayport terminal which is 20 minutes away. We arrived at the terminal at 9:30 and were on the ship by 10am . I still remember the look on my son and his girlfriend's face when they boarded the ship, it was the look my wife and I had last year.
We headed to the lido deck to purchase a soda card which was the smartest purchase we made those 7 days. We must've drank about $100+ in sodas for the $40 or less we paid for the card. We walked around the lido deck and came across Mark & Becca (CRAZIES) who were on their honeymoon and we finally met LAMBIE. We exchanged hugs and promised to meet again. My wife and I gave Michael and Stephanie the tour of the ship and showed them the beautiful balcony that would be their living quarters for 7 days. I think the excitement was too much because on the 1st night we had to escort Stephanie to the infirmary. Stephanie was vomiting, sore all over and had a fever. The pursers desk told us to take her from our cabins on deck 8 to deck 0 where the nurse will be paged and will be there in 15 minutes. We arrived in 20 minutes and waited 55 minutes, even the off-duty crew on deck 0 were calling the pursers desk every 10 minutes to ask why the delay.
The nurse finally arrived and berated us for not being there on time. When we tried to explain why we were late (elevators), she did not care. The nurse was a Helga House of Pain nurse who I would've taken care of, but at more than 6feet (I'm 5'4"), I did not want to risk being injured. Finally the doctor arrived and gave Stephanie a penicillin shot, which saved the remaining 6 days. The cruise director was Ralph Valente and he and the crew did a very good job in making those 7 days the most relaxing and fun days we've ever had. Ralph was energetic and had a very good sense of humor. My wife still likes Butch from the conquest last year but for me, Ralph did it. The crew always had a smile on their faces and whatever you needed, they were there. From the room steward to the dining room staff to the crew around the ship, they all performed beyond our expectations. OK, except the nurse.
My wife and Stephanie both played the slot machines and won more than they spent, which is good news for Michael and I. We thought Michael and Stephanie would buy a lot of the pictures that were taken after formal night or the other nights, but it was my wife and I who purchased more pictures. The pictures came out so good that we had no choice but to purchase them. We'll use some of the pictures to order Xmas greeting cards this year. The food? We mostly ate in the Monet dining hall and it was good. All 4 of us enjoyed the NY Iron steak, grilled chicken and I enjoyed the tiger shrimp. Many nights I had the chicken, shrimp AND steak in one seating. Why not? My wife and I are still not fans of the melting cake, as others are. My wife loves the burgers/fries on the lido deck and so did Michael and Stephanie. We attended the game show trivia, famous faces trivia and wife and son caught the comedian who performed in the late evening. My wife and I loved to get up early and have breakfast in the Monet dining hall. We would both have ham/cheese omelet, bacon, pancakes, French toast, juice, coffee and sometimes we would have seconds. Yes, it was that good.
The dining room staff would perform their song/dance routine which we loved and you can tell they took it serious and wanted it took come out right. I read a review last week that criticized the entire cruise and the waiters for their dancing. How can you? If you don't want "fun" stay off the carnival ship. Really, stay off the conquest because that is all you will have......FUN ! Each night we made an effort to tip the bar help and head waiter's ass't a couple of dollars and we still tipped all 3 extra on the final night because we appreciated how they treated us and made those 7 days enjoyable. Heck, we tip barbers and hairstylist more and the personal attention is a lot better on the ship.
On Tuesday morning the day before we arrived to Jamaica , the cruise director made an announcement at around 4am that they were paging a female passenger and her husband was looking for her. The announcement grew louder and more often until 6am when it was announced that a cabin to cabin search would be conducted. Many feared she had fell over or was injured. I was on the lido deck taking video of the sunrise when I decided to go back to my cabin on deck 8 and wake my wife, son and his girlfriend and prepare them for the search. As my wife and I were knocking on the cabin of our son, we noticed 5-6 security guards running by us to a cabin that was 3 doors away from ours. We knew 2 males were occupied there, but did not know that on this particular morning a woman was going to be escorted out by security. Yes, the "missing" passenger was found and I overheard her say "oh, my GOD". Probably the same 3 words she repeated the night before. Following her, security was also escorting one of the males. She was in her late 40's and he looked also in his 40's.He was released 15 minutes later, so I guess she "explained" everything.
The funny thing is that afternoon we overheard people saying that the she was "found" asleep on the lido deck. Perhaps to save her marriage she begged security/crew to use that story. Now, that's what I call the "Funship". The night before we would arrive to Jamaica is Mardi Gras night and as members of the red team, my wife and I knew this night was going to be one exciting night. My wife has NEVER danced until mardi gras night in our 2007 cruise. On that night she danced, did a conga line and did not retire till 2am . This night she got my son to dance and he never dances. It was her, my son and his girlfriend dancing away to the lido deck. I started dancing but got tired by the time all 3 teams reached the lido deck for the battle to see which team was the loudest. RED TEAM WON !
The next morning we arrived at Jamaica and took a cab to Sunset Beach Resort where we paid $40 per person to enjoy the resort facilities. What do you get for $40? You get the beach, swimming pools, free towels, free water rides, free drinks (strong pina coladas) and free lunch. The resort also has a water park with very tall slide, giant hot tub, and massages (extra). We enjoyed it very much, were not bothered at all and very close to terminal. The cab ride was $12 each way for all 4 of us and we enjoyed the cab ride to the resort where the cab driver returned to pick us up 5 hrs later. We returned to the Montego Bay terminal where we purchased souvenirs and also walked through a flea market that was outside of the terminal. Stephanie purchased Jamaican coffee, rum cakes and my wife and I purchased little trinkets. We boarded the ship and waited for the marching band of students that bid the Conquest good-bye, while passengers throw money at them from the balconies and decks. Jamaica is so beautiful and the pictures that we took from the ship are remarkable.
At the Grand Caymans my wife and I booked the Allura Catamaran sail to Stingray sandbar. Last year we booked the excursion that took us to the turtle farm, HELL and the stingrays and this year we wanted to just relax on a catamaran and only swim with the fishes. It was worth it. We got in the water, swam, touched and kissed the stingrays. The nice crew took pictures of us and sold us a cd with the the pictures and additional pictures of stingrays and beautiful water. We got 6-7 additional photos, well worth it. My son and his GF decided to do some shopping and buy rum cakes for family back home. Son purchased a very nice bracelet for a very good price.
Our final stop was Cozumel Mexico, where my wife decided to do our shopping. I was looking for a 3 stone diamond ring for my wife but could not find the right one at the right price. We purchased shirts and other souvenirs and hit Senor Frogs, where we got blasted. My wife and I do not drink, I've never tasted beer and only drink mixed drinks or Pina Coladas. We got the big 2 feet cups they serve and it really hit us. I had to make sure wife ended back on ship and not off the pier. Our son and GF took the XCARET excursion where they visit the natural theme parks and for an extra fee swim with the dolphins. They loved it and you can tell they really do not want this cruise to end.
Overall this 2nd cruise was better than the 1st one, which I cannot believe it is. I guess having my son and his GF with us made it more enjoyable and interesting. The Carnival staff was great and Ralph the cruise director made each day unique. When I read other recent reviews and see how much some cruisers have not enjoyed the conquest, I wonder if it's a different conquest with a different cruise line. You need to board the ship with an open mind and a desire to enjoy the cruise no matter what. How can anyone complain when you are paying $125 or less per day for all the food you can eat, free room service, entertainment, a very, very comfortable bed and a carnival crew that is always smiling and will assist you with any request you have.
For those that do not like carnival or the conquest and had more complaints than enjoyment, please do not book a cruise on 9/20/09. This will be the CRAZIES cruise and we will overdose with fun. My wife and I are already booked on the crazies cruise and want to take a cruise in March/April of 2009. How do we pay it ? Think of all the stupid, ridiculous,frivolous things we have all spent our tax refund or bonuses on? Don't worry.....I'm waiting......? My dear mother is smiling from heaven and telling me.....ENJOY IT !