I have cruised before but this was the first for the other five people traveling with me. I paid ahead of time for the cruise parking provided by the port. I dropped everyone at the terminal with the luggage and rode a shuttle bus back from the parking lot. Getting on the ship was pretty painless. Outside the terminal was extra busy though because there was a Royal Caribbean ship leaving the same time as us. We arrived at 10 am and were onboard in an hour or so.
Galveston: I don't recommend leaving Galveston during the winter months. We were prepared for a little cold weather until we got out of the gulf and closer to the Caribbean. Unfortunately, about three of our days were ruined by high winds, cold and rain. You literally couldn't go outside on the deck for anything because the crew had it roped off. That issue made for more crowds inside the ship at key locations.
State Rooms: This time we booked interior staterooms. I have stayed in a balcony cabin in the past but never went outside to use the balcony. We decided to save the money and take the interior rooms. Since there was some bad weather on this occasion, it was a good choice. The cabins were sufficient and the cabin stewards excellent. My only complaint was that the drop down bunk in our room kept rattling as the ship moved about. Nothing much could be done about it though.
Dining: The food onboard was pretty good but the buffet lines did have some less than desirable dishes. Overall though, pretty good food. Of course, the food in the Renior Room was outstanding, along with our service team. I can't recall ever getting better service at a restaurant. What the buffet was lacking could easily be avoided by visiting the other food establishments available. What do you want? Pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs or stir fry? You can't go hungry on the Conquest.
Entertainment: We only went to shows in the main lounge. The shows there were entertaining but could use some improvement. I guess it all depends on individual taste but we actually walked out on Ron Joseph the Motown performer. On the other hand, the juggler was amazing. Believe me; calling the guy just a juggler is shortchanging him. His show was fantastic. Point and Click was ok but bored us a bit. The other shows were pretty good. I don't recommend skipping anything though. What didn't work for us may be right up your alley.
Montego Bay Jamaica: I think this port is intimidating to most people because of some trouble that has occurred in the past. Because of the potential for trouble, people don't really let their hair down and check out the area. I don't blame people but sometimes too much caution can keep you from having a great time. We visited Lethe Village and listened to the Banana Man teach us about a plantation. We sampled some pina coladas and, of course, rum. It wasn't high charged action but we had fun.
Cayman Islands: We used Captain Marvin's Tours and they were fantastic. First we toured the island visiting the main attractions. Next we visited the Turtle Farm and Rum Cake Factory. After the island tour we boarded a boat and went out the coral reef for snorkeling. One of the crewmembers (Keith) got into the water and individually taught four people in our group to snorkel. I can't say enough about our boat crew and Keith, they were great. After snorkeling, we went on to play with the stingrays. If you visit Grand Cayman, the stingrays' is something you can't miss. I have visited the stingrays on both of my visits.
Overall: Even with the bad weather and other small negatives we loved our cruise. Come on, it's a cruise. It beats staying home and working. Speaking of the negatives, Carnival left the opening for us to try a different cruise line in the future. We had some mishaps during this cruise that weren't handled very well by Carnival. First, since it was the beginning of a new year, we had difficulty booking shore excursions. I started calling them months in advance to inquire. Carnival's rep. Edwin Garcia just kept telling us the excursions would be released soon. Well, the excursions were never released and we had to go outside Carnival to book. I just wish they would have been more honest from the start.
Last, prior to the Point and Click show we were introduced to our shopping specialist for Carnival named Moria. While she spoke on stage she seemed like a very sweet and lovely young lady. Unfortunately, she was assigned to work the gangway on mornings we visited a new port. Better watch out! This lady turns into a prison guard with a big thirst for authority. She rudely yelled at my wife and me and continued to bark orders to everyone. When I finally called her on it, she confronted me and began a confrontation she wouldn't back down from. I just want to enjoy my vacation with my family, and here's is this witch hassling me. She simply wouldn't let anything go. I reported her to Guest Services and asked them to allow a different person to deal with us. But, the next morning this Moria lady came from across the room to insist I apologize for being rude to her the day before. Three mornings I had to deal with her poor guest relations and Carnival seemed unwilling to do anything about it. I certainly didn't save my money and book a vacation to be hassled. As I previously mentioned, we are going to give a different cruise line a chance next time.
Our Conquest cruise was good but it could have been much better. It's funny how the little things can add up and one lady with a big mouth can ruin things for thousands of other crew members doing a superb job.