I am 33 and my gf is 31. We are from NE Oklahoma and we left on Sunday Sep, 7th (a day early) and flew out of Tulsa to Tampa. We had a room booked at La Quinta about a mile from the airport, with one call from the baggage area they picked us up. The driver was very friendly and the hotel was ok. It was far from a five star but I was just looking for something close to the airport with a fair rate. I purchased Carnival's transportation to and from the airport so we had the hotel take us back to the airport which was complimentary so that was good. I did not realize that the hotel offered a shuttle to the cruise terminal and it was cheaper. Had I known that I would have went with them but oh well, lesson learned. Ok so now that was all the pre-cruise. What I want to do is try to answer questions many have before taking this cruise and make it objective as possible. I read review after review with nothing but pure opinions and letting their personality take over. It does seem that certain types of personalities do enjoy the cruise very much and others do not. You may want to read several reviews written by people that seem to convey your same type of characteristics. This may help, I am not sure however, lol. I will admit I had a great time and nothing really upset me and things that did I overlooked them quickly and maintained my positive cruising outlook. But that is just me, I am not one to stare at every part of the ship looking for cracks and rust spots.
Ok so we arrive at the airport baggage area and immediately spotted carnival representatives because they were wearing name tags and dressed in carnival attire. The gentleman smiled, asked me for my receipt, showed me where to wait and told me and my gf to have a great time. We waited for about 20 minutes and the big Mears bus arrived. We loaded up and went to another area of the airport and picked up more people. The bus was totally full and in fact one person extra. The bus driver then began to drive to the port, explaining sights along the way and giving us some information on what to expect when we arrive at the peer and how to embark quickly. The porters took our bags and off we went into security. Same security as in the airports, except I don't think we had to take our shoes off. Oh let's see, I think we got to the port about 1230. So we began to walk to the area where you get your sail and sign card and all and everyone was handed a little survey asking if we had any signs of swine flu. I checked every box yes and I wasn't allowed on the ship so here is the end of my review. I will remember next time not to joke so much, lol. Totally just kidding. So we got in line and it took about 15 minutes to be waited by a lady behind the counter. There were so many people working back there that it didn't take long. At least to me 15 minutes isn't long. I would say no more than ten minutes with the clerk then we were told a number and to start boarding the ship when they called it. It was 5 minutes and we handed someone our sail and sign card for confirmation then we walked almost onto the ship but we stopped at a place where they asked if they could take our picture with a backdrop of the ship. Then we got on the ship.
So now on the ship, we were told it would be about 130 when we could go to our stateroom but there were buffets to get some lunch. We went and got a burger and some fries, there were other items to choose from such as hot dogs and all kinds of food. Then there was a choice of water, tea or lemonade to drink. We ate and then went around and took some pictures of the bay and the city and some of our ship. While we were doing that a carnival photographer came and took our picture. All the pictures they take of you are available on the promenade deck by the casino. We did eventually buy a couple of pictures and frames which came to 45 dollars approximately. There are different frames at different prices. Ok so when 130 hit we did go check out the room. This was my third cruise, my gf first. It was the same size as the other two I had been on, but she wasn't expecting it to be smaller than a hotel room. We did not like the temperature in the room, we always felt it was a little bit warm. I asked a few other couples I had met throughout the cruise and they didn't have any problems. I really think since me and her are hotblooded and overweight we don't cool down as quick. We wear shorts further into the fall than many others. If we would have spent more time in the room than to just relax and sleep, I would have been more upset. The first two cruise I took were inside cabins, this one was an ocean view. I will never cruise without at least a window again. It was nice being able to look out, and one time it stormed and the lightning across the water was something me and my gf enjoyed watching.
The weather in Oklahoma had begun cooling down so we were getting beat down with the southern heat. There is one pool on the ship, I do not know the dimensions. At times where it was really hot, the pool was full with everyone just being able to stand in one spot. There is no pool with the slides or with the other portion of the water works. There is about 4 flights of stairs to get to the slide that winds around a few times. They also have two racing slides that is one deck high. I had fun on the racing slides and the swirly slide. There was always pizza available since it is 24 hour, along with the ice cream. There is a deli by the pizza stand that is open until 11 pm. The room service is also 24 hours. I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich each night on my cruise. About 3 times they did not get the order exactly right, like not getting pretzels instead of chips or only one tea when ordered two. We went to the mardi gras dining room each night. There were about 6 selections of meat each night. Two I believe were the same each night. There were several starters each night and several different desserts offered each night. On the captains gala night, lobster was offered and so was prime rib. Every night I had the warm chocolate melting cake and most often the people I ate with ordered that as well. We opted for the anytime dining. We went down at a different time each night and were seated almost immediately except for the first night when we waited about 20 minutes for a table for two. The table for two people are spread about a foot apart from the table for four people.
For the casino, there were about 50 or more slots. About 10 tables in all as well. I am totally throwing a guess at these numbers but you can kinda get the idea here. The casino is on the promenade with several bars. My gf sang karaoke 3 nights and she was totally a star in her mind and it was great for her to have such a great time singing. There were many people singing and just getting up and acting funny. There was not an hour or half hour where there wasn't some kind of activity offered somewhere on the ship. We did a salsa class where we got to learn a little salsa dance, we actually all got to get on stage and do it. Other activities included ice carving session where you could watch someone carve something out of a block of ice, they had a hairy chest contest, bingo several times and a drawing to win a free cruise. For 20 tickets it was 20 dollars to enter the raffle. Each time there was a bingo session, one card was offered for 10 dollars or a 3 card sheet for twenty dollars. There was a broadway style show that included dancing and singing and some humor. There was a comedian, we watched the pg13 version but didn't go see him when he did his R version. I laughed several times and it was often you could hear the audience laugh as a group.
On debarkation day we got up at 6 and about 7 we went up to the Lido deck and had breakfast. About 745 they announced that self assist would begin soon. Me and Kandace went down to our room and gathered our things. At about 8 we preceded to leave the ship, we had to give our sail and sign card to a staff and they put it in a machine and then gave it back. We were allowed to go down the escalator because we had a free hand to grip the escalator. People that had their hands full or could not put a free hand on the rail had to wait for the elevator. We were off the ship by 820. We got to the airport so soon we were able to fly out at 955am instead of our scheduled flight that was going to leave at 430pm (long story). We got back into Tulsa like at 300.
Now for the subjective area of my review (yeah I know I slipped at times in my review). We had a wonderful time, we met great people from the cruise critic roll call and they were an absolute delight. It made the experience even that much better. I enjoyed all the activities and all the food. Taking the tender to Grand Cayman stinks and is not for the impatient. We were shuffled around although we had an early excursion, but it wasn't booked with carnival. Carnival booked excursions were allowed to leave the ship first. I am not going to write about the ports and all. You can always write me and ask if you would like. I did love the stingray tour I did and all the people we did it with. WOW what a great time. I can't wait to go on the Conquest next year.