This was our third cruise in September. We go to the Pasadena TX Livestock Show cook-off, then go get on the boat and celebrate our wedding anniversary. Never had a problem on the last two but Mother Nature had other plans for us this time around.
We started on Wednesday when we picked up the kids at the airport in Houston, took them to the County Clerks office to get a marriage license. That done, off to the cook-off and four days of serious cooking and a few adult beverages.
Sunday morning, the day of the wedding. DW was a total wreck, DD was a total wreck, Sis was a total wreck, Auntie was a total wreck, and I needed a beer. Off to Galveston and the wedding on the beach. It was a beautiful day, we couldn't have asked for better weather. We found the preacher over on the Ports/Galveston section of the Cruise Critic website. She truly did a magnificent job, DW cried at all the right places and the kids were married. Thirty minutes for pictures and off to the boat.
We got to Lighthouse Parking about 1300, and were on board dropping our stuff off in the cabin by 1430. Off to the Lido for lunch and ready for sailaway. Have to say that the crew in the buffet sure seemed like they were tired, no smiles, nothing but scowls and bad attitudes. Seemed to lighten up as the week went on, but I mention it because it was such a contrast with the rest of the crew.
We had two inside cabins and an aft balcony on the Empress Deck. No complaints at all with the rooms, everything clean and odor free. We had a smoker on the adjacent balcony which ticked DW off a little, but he wasn't out here very often. John was the room steward, stopped by and introduced himself. Asked him if he would keep the little ice chest full, a few dollars changed hands, and he took great care of us.
We had the any time dining, I was a little worried about this since there was seven of us and I could see long waits. I couldn't have been more wrong. We went at seven every evening, I don't thing we ever waited more than ten minutes, we had the same table every night, and of course, with that we had the same wait staff.
Alex, Richard, John and Allen made every meal such an enjoyable experience, without a doubt the best team we have had on any of our cruises. The food was always good, bear in mind they are cooking for 3,000 people so there's no way it's four star cuisine, but I had no complaints.
DW and the others did breakfast in the MDR a couple of mornings and really enjoyed it. I hit the buffet for breakfast and lunch every day, never had a problem finding something interesting, the deli always had something good. DW tried the Mongolian place one day, she said it was overcooked and overspiced, she didn't go back.
We skipped on the big shows in the main theater, we watched some of the game shows, and I watched two of the comedians, the lady was funny but very raunchy, the ventriloquist was not very funny. When all else fails, there's always the piano bar, Milburn always puts on a good show.
Ports of call, well, there almost weren't any. I had checked the weather before we left on Sunday and the only storm was moving away from were we were going to be. Tuesday afternoon, the weather wasn't looking too good, and at some event where the captain was in attendance the cruise director mentioned that the vessel was altering course to avoid a tropical disturbance.
Wednesday morning woke up to rough seas and pouring rain, no sign of Jamaica although we should be just off the coast. We couldn't have been more than a couple of miles off before we saw Montego Bay. The Captain tried several times to get in but the wind was to strong and finally they announced that they were going to give up and head for Grand Cayman.
As we sailed away at slow speed the weather got steadily worse, the winds were blowing at Force 8/9 with a heavy swell. Cleared the decks very quickly, we lost two of our party to Mal de Mer. I remarked to DW that if the weather didn't improve pretty quickly we were not going to make it to Grand Cayman the next morning.
Sunrise the next morning found us heading into Grand Cayman, but that swell was still running, and you could see waves breaking over the sea wall. So much for the snorkeling. Before we get up to the anchorage the Captain came on and told us that the Port Authority had closed the port because of the swell and we were going on to Cozumel.
I found no criticism of the decisions at either port, what was done was for the safety of ship and passengers. Seems not everyone saw it that way and a lot of people took it very personally. I was down in the lobby about 1030 and there was a line for the guest services, people turning in letters of protest and pulling the pre-paid tips off of their Sign and Sail accounts. Probably the first in line to sue if someone broke an ankle trying to get off the tender onto the ship.
About 1200, Carnival sent a letter round apologizing, told us they would give us a 20% discount on a future cruise, and the bars would be open from 1630 to 1800. Seemed very reasonable to me. That open bar was a sight to see. The ship put everyone they had behind the bars and passing round trays of drinks, alcohol everywhere. Seemed for some people it was an early night.
Friday morning, Cozumel on the port bow and it looks like we're going in! Since we've missed the previous two ports they took us in early and we're alongside just after seven. Everyone has three days port money in their pockets and they are going ashore to spend. Some of the people coming back seemed to need a considerable amount of assistance getting back up the gangway.
We went snorkeling at Chankanab, it was a little rougher than I like it, but still a great time. We went to one of the restaurants in down town afterwards, great meal and then the ladies went to do some serious shopping.
On a side note, we had a catamaran trip booked in Montego Bay. We had paid through Paypal, with a money back guarantee in the event of bad weather. About a week after we got back I received an email from Denise asking if we wanted to reschedule or wanted a refund. I told her that we would not be back until next September, and the refund was back in my account the next day. Definitely next year.
Since we were on the ship with the Cruise Crazies the Meet and Mingle was probably the best we've ever done. We went to their cocktail party on Tuesday, right after that was the past guest party. All good training for the 4:30 swill on Thursday. Pleasure to meet all those great people, especially Host Mach and Stitch.
Summing this up, even after missing the two ports this was the best cruise we've done. I have enough sea time under my belt that another day at sea doesn't bother me, the Conquest is my second favorite ship (after the Ecstasy), great crew excluding the CD, and a great vacation.
Back into Galveston on Sunday morning. Off the ship was not a problem, everything went smoothly until we got to the bus and realized we'd left the garment bag in the terminal. DW went back, was passed down the line of Carnival employees until she found the man who was standing over the one bag that was left. Thank you guys for helping us out.
And then a week later we get a call from Guest Services lost and found department in Miami. Seems SIL had left his brand new wedding ring in their cabin. They mailed it to us and we sent it on. Last I heard his injuries were healing up after DD got through with him.
Already getting ready to go platinum on the Conquest next September. Can't wait.