Let me start off by saying that a vacation is what you make of it.
I'm tired of reading reviews of the Conquest by people who can never be satisfied and think that the "world" should be perfect all of the time. Ask yourself this question as you read through the reviews for the Conquest. "Should I believe a person's negative point of view when they can't even establish the proper use of the English language in written format?" Seriously folks, if you're going to post a negative review on this board, you may want to use correct grammar. Most people won't believe a person who has a hard time spelling words and using incomplete sentences.
Preface: I'm 26 years old. I traveled with three buddies all of which were under the age of 30 but not younger than 26. The cruise set sail on September 5th, 2004 and we were being chased by Hurricane Ivan after each port. (we were ahead of Ivan by approx. 1.5 days)
New Orleans - If you've never been to New Orleans before I recommend arriving a minimum of one day early. Try to stay near the Central Business District or in the French Quarter. We stayed at the Double Tree Hotel and it was a perfect location. The Double Tree was only 3 blocks from the French Quarter and only 1.4 miles away from the Cruise Ship terminal. For all of you party goers, my buddies and I highly advise you to visit a bar called Razoo's on Bourbon Street. Razoo's is a High Energy, Sing Along and Participate in many "wild" games type of place. The music will get anybody's head bobbing in no time flat and is sure to spark some public arousal if you know what I mean. Chicks dig this place...
Embarkation - We partied until the early morning hours the night before we embarked so believe me when I say this. "Even on a hangover, Carnival's embarkation procedures were painless." I'm not kidding! If you're organized the boarding process is a breeze. It took us about 45 minutes to get on board and we arrived at noon. Just make sure to keep your ID handy and fill out your information before hand.
1st Night - After a short nap and the muster drill my friends and I headed to dinner in the Renoir dinning room. (Table 232, Waiter = Rueben) NY Strip, Roasted Chicken, Atlantic salmon and other misc. entrees were featured the first night. Folks, if you haven't been on a cruise before, don't be shy. Order several appetizers, several entrees and several desserts. You paid for it!
We sailed down the Mississippi river for what seemed like hours. Night fell and it seemed like we'd never get into the gulf. We kept seeing lights which we assumed were houses and buildings on land. Don't let this fool you. We found out on our return trip that the lights we were seeing weren't from land, but from Numerous Oil Rigs lined up like miniature cities for mile after mile. (Very interesting)
The 2 Days at sea were filled with Volleyball, Gambling, Eating, Drinking, Sunbathing and one special treat. (Ping Pong) Ha ha. That's what I typed. Ping Pong turned out to be one of the best things for our group. It was a blast trying to keep a decent game going while the wind was playing tricks on the ball. You think I'm crazy? Give it a shot and you'll be addicted. I honestly think we logged a minimum of 15 hours playing Ping Pong during sea days.
Montego Bay - September 8th - My Birthday. My friends and I booked a golf game at the Famous White Witch course. Supposedly White Witch is one of the best courses in the entire Caribbean. We wouldn't know because when we got there, our golf pro Jamie stated that the course was being aerated. So he knocked off 15 bucks and took us to another course Cinnamon Hill. This course was a blast and was really beautiful. Montego Bay itself holds up to everything you've ever heard about Jamaica. There's a lot of poverty, but don't let the ignorant reviews from other folks ruin this port for you. We took a cab ride into the heart of downtown Jamaica and we found that everyone we encountered to be VERY VERY Nice. Heck, I've never been waved at and smiled at that much in my entire life in the United States...and I live in Kansas. Ha ha. Seriously these folks aren't that different from you and me. Most of them seem honest and hardworking. They're just playing the cards they were dealt. If you have this appreciation ahead of time, it will make your trip to Montego Bay more enjoyable...but like any place take your normal precautions and use your judgment wisely. God Bless the People of Jamaica. (Oh don't forget to buy the Busha Brown Caribbean Jerk Sauce at the gift stores. It's the best!)
The Grand Cayman - We decided to book a deep sea fishing excursion on the Black Princess Charters. You can easily find them on the internet through the Google Search engine. Captain Chuckie picked us up from the dock and headed to his 38ft. boat. We had a blast. We fished for five hours. Capt. Chuckie was a riot. He had some great stories. Well worth the $540 we paid him. Georgetown itself is a Very clean, Very modern little port city. Unlike Montego Bay, this island is VERY flat. In Fact, the Cruise ships are the tallest things around. We could see the ships from completely on the other side of the island. Shopping is really expensive on this island. I suggest you take a tour and save the shopping for Cozumel.
Cozumel - This port city was absolutely brilliant. I find the Mexican culture to be fascinating. There's tons of shopping in this port and you can haggle until you're blue in the face. This port city by far has the best excursions. You really can't go wrong booking any of them. There's a ton of things to see and do. Every "Vice" can be satisfied in this city.
Last Day at sea - By this time most folks are worn out from the marathon they've just ran during their three days in port. We just chilled in the bars and watched football all day and slept. Trust me..you'll be worn out.
Debarkation - We had dark green luggage tags. (Upper Deck Aft) Our group was called second to debark the ship. This whole process took about 45 minutes. The only complaint I had is that the whole luggage retrieval process is a bit unorganized. Mass Chaos as several hundred folks hurriedly search for all of their bags in one big room. Oh well. Roll with it.
In closing I'd have to say that the itinerary for this cruise is the selling point. The ship was always clean and the crew was extremely friendly. The food varies from day to day but it's still above average. The entertainment needs a bit of help, but as I stated earlier, a vacation is what you make out of it.
Some folks will tell you that the Carnival Conquest is like a floating Las Vegas and that the ship isn't very classy...To heck with them. I don't remember Carnival advertising Five Diamond Accommodations and a Wolf Gang Puck Menu. Do you? The truth is, you're on a ship. Marvel at its ability to float and serve its 3000 guests every week. Best of luck in our your Travels and email me if you have any questions - Troy