SAILING DATE: January 24th
CRUISERS: Me - 34yo, DH - 40yo, BIL - 50yo & his wife - 50yo
BACKGROUND: This is our second cruise, first on Conquest and first with a balcony. Our other cruise was on the Ecstasy in November 08 in an inside room. Our vacation purpose was to have some much needed adult only time, away from work, kids and everyday musts like cooking, cleaning, etc. We were game for anything thrown at us.
EMBARKATION: We left Waller, Texas via car around 9:45 am, arrived at lighthouse parking at 11:15 and were on the lido deck for lunch at 1:00. We did not have to wait long at all for our parking shuttle to the cruise terminal. The line for security and thus registration seemed intimidating, but it kept moving quickly. We never stopped moving for one second, nor did we ever have to sit anywhere. All the staff was friendly and welcoming. We headed down to our room at 1:30 and everything was ready. We did not receive our luggage until around 5pm. We thought that was a little too long.
MUSTER DRILL: This was smooth as well. Security checked all the rooms and everyone was made to go (our cruising partners tried to skip it). We did not have to wear life vests. Unfortunately, sail away occurred while we were at our muster stations and we missed it.
CABIN: 8C, 8420, Port Side aft, standard balcony room.
We LOVED our cabin. Our cabin was sandwiched between the empress and lido decks. We were directly below the sky bar and right around the corner from the aft elevators.
The location was so convenient for our most visited public areas - buffet on lido, adult only pool/whirlpool on lido, late dining in Monet DR, Degas lounge, piano bar and Henri's disco. These were all just an elevator ride away.
The only other places we visited, which involved actually walking, were the main forward lounge, lobby (afternoon activities), and casino (mid ship).
Notable positive features - LOTS of storage space - hanging racks, shelves, drawers, both in the room and bathroom. Our stuff was always able to be hid from sight. The location to public areas. Very spacious layout. Note - Balconies & ocean views have the couch with drawers for storage, but the inside rooms do not.
Notable negative features - although this would not keep me from staying in this room again, you could hear chair scrapping from the lido deck when your balcony door was open. Otherwise, I could not hear it. The sound did not prevent me from sleeping or wake me up too early. The bed was VERY uncomfortable, too hard. I found myself tossing and turning a lot. The lack of an actual shower door. The lack of TV channel variety for those times when you want to veg.
SERVICE STAFF AND FOOD:
Room steward - This was my biggest complaint of the cruise. It was downright terrible. Of course the typical things were done like pick up towels and make the bed, and remove dirty dishes, but that was it. First of all, we did not see our steward until 9pm that night because he was new and had to do paperwork. The fill in asked us to save questions for when he comes on. Our biggest "must do" was to keep our small cooler (my DH brought some soda) iced down and ice in our bucket fresh. My DH had to get ice every time he needed it. Even after we complained, the ice was still not taken care of. Then on the last night our robes were taken out of the rooms they say for inventory. It was 45 degrees outside and they refused to let us have them back. Although, our cruising partners had theirs still. We had housekeeping tips completely removed from our sail and sign.
Dining room - we had late dining in the Monet (aft dining room), table 353. Our waiter was Ivan. He was WONDERFUL. Definitely made up for our room steward. He was very interactive. This was his first time in the Conquest main dining room. He used to work in the Point Steakhouse. He made going to dinner wonderful. He always offered a suggestion for dinner and he was usually right about it being good.
I personally am able to attest for the Mahi Mahi, lobster, prime rib, salads, soups (potato & lobster bisque, tiramisu, warm chocolate melting cake, baked alaskan and diet apple pie. There were all REALLY REALLY wonderful. We missed out on the dining room twice because our ports of call made us tired, but we did make it on both formal nights, in which lobster was on the 1st and prime rib on the 2nd.
We never ate lunch in the dining room, but breakfast was wonderful. I had the eggs benedict. We did not much care for the bacon or sausage, unless it was in the omelet. Breakfast on debarkation day was horrid. The waitress never spoke a word and all of our orders were messed up.
lido dining - I mainly stuck with fresh omelets danish for breakfast, which were delicious. The deli had wonderful sandwiches (only available during lunch). The sides, which included self serve carrots, cauliflower or some kind of nasty coleslaw, were not good. I tried Sur Mer (only available during lunch on sea days) and it was WAY to greasy for my taste (fried seafood on deck 10). I never tried the burgers, pizza or wok (the wok is only available during lunch on sea days). My DH said the pizza was delicious. The drinks available without additional cost is water, tea, lemonade, and coffee. The water is not bottled, but is filtered. Juices are available in the dining room during breakfast. Note: the mugs and cups for your drinks are VERY small; bring your own spill proof coffee mug and water bottle. This will reduce frequent trips back to the lido deck fountains. Plus, I filled up my water bottle on port days and kept it in my backpack to keep me hydrated.
Room service - did breakfast every day which included danish, orange juice, coffee, skim milk. They always arrived within the given window. This was always my morning wake up call, since there were no alarm clocks.
I did a late night room service once (around 10:30). It arrived in around 20 minutes. The menu is really limited to a few salads, sandwiches, desserts, but they are good.
Bar staff - In my opinion the ones that meander through the crowd were always so pushy. I had the same one ask me about 5 times (each time was a no) if I wanted a refill. Otherwise the ones behind the bar were very attentive and quick. My favorite drink are the daily drinks of the day. That and the water from the lido deck is what I drink all the time.
PUBLIC AREAS: Areas we visited on our trip - Forward lounge (deck 3, 4, 5, but bar service only on 3) for the evening shows and daytime games (newlywed game), dance classes (Austin Power) and bingo.
Lobby (deck 3 forward, which extends up to deck 8) for daytime games and trivia (name that tune, bean bag toss, in the bag) and dance classes.
Degas lounge (deck 5, aft) for karaoke, games, farewell party, comedy shows
Piano bar (deck 5, aft) for nightly piano sing a longs (smoking allowed)
Alfreds bar (cigar bar deck 4 aft) during the day on sea days for team trivia; did not actually smoke cigars
Casino (deck 5 mid ship smoking allowed)
Sushi bar (deck 5 mid ship) between 5 and 8pm for free sushi
Sports bar (deck 5 mid ship) this place needs an upgrade of new TVs. They are horrible - some purple shades, green shades, some do not work, and some blink. (smoking allowed)
Lido (deck 9) for poolside fun...cant miss that hairy man chest contest...what a hoot. (smoking allowed mid ship on starboard side) Aft pool/whirlpool is adult only
All the public areas are well kept (except sports bar, see comment above) and well staffed. We loved the big screen up on the lido deck for nightly movies and daytime announcements.
There were many, many wonderful interactive trivia, games and activities on board. The entertainment staff consisting of Nate, Christian and Stitch were hilarious fun. The Cruise Director Chris Jefferson is so funny. There was plenty of both family and adult only activities including karaoke, comedy and games in the Degas lounge.
EXTRA INFO: The two formal nights are 1st sea day (Monday) and second port day (Thursday - Grand Cayman).
Captains cocktail reception on first formal night - takes place in the lobby with $1 off drinks. They are no longer free. Did not attend. Instead I was in the spa for a vacation relaxation treatment, which was wonderful!!!
Past guest party - second sea night (Tuesday) in the forward lounge 5:00 to 5:45pm. Free drinks and h'orderves. It is so crowded that it is hard to get your server to come back with more drinks. We tipped and were able to get a few at a time. It consisted of a film about where Carnival has gone, where it is now and what the future holds. Plus a drawing for a seating for two at the point.
Deck party - second sea night. Sorry, but I missed this one, but according to the fun ship video, looks like everyone had a good time.
Farewell fun - Degas lounge 5pm to 5:45 pm on last evening aboard. Free drinks. A small speech from cruise director, then lots of music and dancing. The director and entertainment staff circle the crowd for pictures.
DEBARKATION: We did self assist. Ship started calling deck 1 self assist around 8 am. We self disembarked when deck 8 was called. We went down to deck one via the aft elevator, with no wait at all. Then walked to forward stairs and walked down one level. No wait to get off and a very very minimal wait through customs. Lighthouse was waiting for us when we got there. We were in our car leaving lighthouse parking lot at 9:15 am.
This was a WONDERFUL CRUISE and I would go back, no questions asked. My most memorable moments are the cruise director and entertainment staff. My worst experiences were with the room steward and housekeeping.