We drove 5 hours from Louisiana to Galveston Sunday morning. We have taken two cruises out of New Orleans and two out of Mobile. We needed a new ship and new ports, so Galveston was the next nearest. Locating the port was easy, parking and getting to the ship were not. Before the cruise date, I called the port in Galveston and asked about parking since both the Carnival and RCCL had ships leaving port the same day. They said there was plenty of parking. Good thing we got to the port at noon. It took us two hours after dropping off luggage at the terminal to get back to the terminal after waiting in line to park, then wait in the parking lot for a shuttle back to the terminal. The parking is not near the terminal.
Once we got inside the terminal and to Carnivals greeters, things began to go smooth. Only took 20 minutes to get onto the ship once we got off the shuttle. No lines inside, I guess due to all the people waiting in the parking lot! By this time it was 2:30pm and we were able to go straight to our rooms.
I can use plural due to family members. We had three cabins, two interior and one balcony. I was in room 6298 with my wife and mother-in-law. My two sons were in 6287 and my brother and his girlfriend were in 6288, the balcony. It was funny, when I got to our room, there were no fold-down bunks, which I was used to on the Holiday. I immediately went to the pursers desk and inquired how was the mother-in-law going to sleep? On the floor? She told me that the bunks were hidden in the ceiling! Very clever. However, there was not enough floor room for two people much less three. Oddly, our sons room had way more floor space, but had no overhead bunks! Anyway, we book interior rooms due to the fact we are only there to sleep, and this trip was no exception! We can rest when we get home!
The ship was beautiful! Some wear in the room corridors due to steward carts hitting against the walls. Small corridors means that carts and people are cramped. No other damage or wear seen. I did not care for the view from the fore decks or aft decks. I like to see over the edges while at sea and these huge ships use all the available decks and there are not many overhangs. The Conquest is about to go to dry dock and it could use some painting at the water line. The Carnival Triumph was parked next to us at Cozumel and the blue water line paint was new. The Triumph, very similar to the Conquest looked shiny!
The food on Carnival ships are way better than I remember since the first 2006 cruise on the Holiday. I am not a seafood eater, and there was meat selections most nights. If not, I could get the old standby, the Flat Iron Steak. Breakfast is my favorite meal, and loved the buffet. The hashbrown cakes were dry and stale, but when they had the chopped potato hash browns, these were better. My brother and his girlfriend had dinner one night at The Point, an extra cost restaurant. He said it was the best steak he has ever eaten. The wife and I will have to try it on the Triumph Dec 2009! The best thing on the ship in my opinion is the hamburgers from the grill! You can get these from the lunch dining room and are very tasty! The hot dog chili is better than most spaghetti sauces! Yum! The shoestring french fries finish off the great burgers! And don't forget the ice cream! We got to tour the galley and it is HUGE! Very clean too!
Carnival shows have been the best of all the cruise ships we have sailed on. RCCL is second and NCL is the worst! This was no exception. The dancers are talented and the singers also. Carnival has great cruise directors, and Ralph was great! The karaoke was great due to Jay the host. Great guy to be a karaoke host. The wife and I like great live music, but hate the smoke, so we missed out on most.
Service was better this cruise ship than Fantasy. When we ordered drinks, they were delivered. Our room steward, Nengah, always smiled and asked how we were and what were we doing today! When my mother-in-law was not feeling well the last day, he asked about her and made her comfortable in the room while we were out on the ship. Victoria our waitress was great as was our bar waiter. I don't know how they can remember what bread I like and what drink I order for dinner. And everyone else at our table.
We carried all our luggage off and was out of the ship and to the terminal in 20 minutes. No lines at the customs, due to Carnival's disembarkment procedures. Calling one floor at a time. I don't know about later, when they called for baggage numbers, but when taking your luggage with you, you save time.
We have cruised Carnival, RCCL, NCL, Carnival, and this Carnival ship. Prices are similar, due to the time we travel. RCCL (2006), NCL (2007) and this cruise were all in the second week of December. What we have found was that Carnival has the best entertainment and the food has improved with each cruise. Location of port from home is another factor. All three Carnival ships have ports within 250 miles from our home. We enjoy cruising due to the fact that for the money, it's the best vacation value. Seven nights, plus food (a lot of food), fuel and accommodations, entertainment all for under $600 per person! We could have let the parking fiasco ruin our vacation, but that was not Carnival's doing. We could have complained about the cancelled Stingray tour, but Carnival's was concerned about our safety. If you look for problems, you can find them. But for our family, we don't look for the negative, we are on vacation that we saved for all year, and we enjoy every second of it! No traffic, no customers to take complaints from, nothing to worry for. Like the tour guide said in Jamaica, NO PROBLEM!