We just returned from the July 10th sailing about the Carnival Conquest. This was our 6th cruise with Carnival.
We arrived at the Galveston ship terminal about 10:30 a.m. We dropped off our luggage with the porters and then we went to drop the car off at Galveston Park & Cruise, who I highly recommend. I love that our car was inside and secured during our sailing. After walking back across the street, we proceeded through the first security check point very quickly and were then put in an area to wait to screening and processing. We waited there about 30 minutes and then we were off to go through the metal detectors, x-ray machines. Since we had brought water with us, the security guard had to check every bottle (which was fine) and once it was cleared, we moved on to process. All of this took under 10 minutes. We were then taken into the terminal waiting area. We sat and talked with fellow passengers and then after the two wedding parties boarded, we boarded the ship at 11:30ish. Galveston really has the boarding process down!
Once on board, we went straight to the Guest Services desk to place our cash on our Sign and Sail account and then headed straight to the Sky Pool & Bar. There was no one else there so we found our chairs and then enjoyed the atmosphere of being back on board! It was quite awhile before anyone else ventured into this area, so we enjoyed having the pool and deck to ourselves. After a few hours, we got some lunch and then returned to our spots by the pool. On that note, I will tell you that this pool/spa area is for ADULTS only. I say this because no where in any reading I had done about this ship did it advertise this. I had heard that it was, but couldn't find reference to it on the Carnival site. We watched as family after family was ejected from the pool by the VERY attentive pool staff. Yes, some people acted upset but others took it in stride. The staff was always very nice even when the children were alone, but they were on top of this the WHOLE week. Honestly, I've been on "Serenity" decks where this was not enforced as well as it was on the Conquest. I applaud the staff at this pool for staying on top of this because I can honestly say that if we hadn't of had this "kid free" zone, the cruise would have been miserable. (More on that later).
Around 2:15, we went on to our cabin and our bags had already arrived. We unpacked and then rested in time for the safety briefing/drill. I can say this was the most disorganized safety briefing we had ever attended (and the shortest). There were other passengers that talked and goofed off during the whole thing. Once that was done, we went up to the front of the ship for sail away and enjoyed watching a pod of dolphins performing for us as we left out of the port. It was rather exciting and there were probably 15-20 of them out there swimming and jumping around in the water.
We had been assigned Any Time dining which we weren't thrilled about, so my hubby did go and talk to the maitre d' about switching to late seating. He felt sure we could be accommodated but it would be the next night before it could be done. So, we decided to try the Point steakhouse on the ship that night. We had tried the steakhouse on the Legend and we were very disappointed in it, but had read good reviews on the Conquest's steakhouse so we gave it a try. We were so glad we did! The food was beyond awesome and the service was top notch. We liked it so much we decided to eat there again on Friday night. Second time was just as good.
Back to the dining situation, we were assigned a table in the Monet Dining Room for the second night. It was a two person table, not our favorite but we were okay with it. However, it was like being stuck at Chuck E Cheese's for dinner. We were surrounded by tables of very unruly children who were running around the tables, throwing things, pushing their chairs back into our table and chairs, all while their parents just basically sat there and did nothing. To top it off, it was like our table was an afterthought for the waiters. Mind you, I'm really not blaming them...they were dealing with very large parties and unruly children but on our second night in the MDR it was 1 ½ hours before we got our main course. I'm sorry, but that is really unacceptable. As we left that night my husband spoke with Marketa, the hostess, and she said she would speak with the maitre d' and see about finding us another table. We really hated to ask to be moved again, but honestly we were miserable. The next night we were seated at a booth upstairs and it was like night and day. Our wait staff was superb and we must commend them for a job well done. By the end of the first night, they knew our names and we knew theirs something that hadn't happened with the staff downstairs. Efraim (our head waiter) and Gerald and Joseph, his assistants, were really on top of things and made our remaining experience wonderful.
Unfortunately, we didn't see hardly any shows while on board. We missed a couple due to getting out of dinner so late and one we missed because we were too tired after a long day in Grand Cayman. We tried to go to an adult comedy show one night but we arrived 30 minutes prior and there were no seats to be found, so we left. We did enjoy the musical group Rendezvous almost every evening and Play That who performed in the Lobby quite regularly was also good. I also have to give a shout out to Kim, the karaoke host, who joined the ship when we were docked in Jamaica. He was awesome and I understand he is new, but he is going to be a great host! He is also very talented and we enjoyed him very much. We tried the piano bar one night but it wasn't our thing, so we left.
The Cruise Director was Paul Santley and he was quite good. He was funny and has a wonderful singing voice. We enjoyed talking with him a few times and he left us in stitches. He didn't blast us all day long with announcements and when he did there was usually some funny bit to go with it.
I cannot say enough good things about our room steward, Karolina. She was simply the best we've had. We had a small cooler with us that she kept full of ice every day. We'd leave in the morning for breakfast and we'd come back and our room had already been serviced. She made us terrific towel animals and left them as we adorned them with glasses, hats, and bows. She was always friendly when we saw her in the hallways and extremely helpful. I do think she will probably never enter a room without knocking again, let's just say she got an eye full and as my husband said, he's too old to go diving into a closet!
We were very lucky weather wise and while we had a few showers at all of our ports, they didn't last long and didn't upset plans. We actually didn't venture off the ship except in Grand Cayman where we did a SeaDoo tour out to Stingray City with Fat Fish Adventures. It was honestly a wonderful day and even though we were tired (and a bit bruised after rolling over twice), we highly recommend it! It was a very small group (7 participants and 2 guides) and 3 hours long! Awesome! The days we didn't go into port we enjoyed a very empty and quiet ship.
Now for the bad and ugly, after cruising this time, we will never cruise when school is out again. I was amazed at the amount of children that ran free throughout the ship day and night without any parental supervision. They were running up and down the hallways, knocking on all the doors, playing in the elevators, being very loud and obnoxious. The sad thing is this wasn't the teenagers nope this was the 7-10 year old group! I felt sorry for the poor security staff that had to deal with them all week long. It seemed like every day we'd pass a security guard who was talking to a group of them for doing things they shouldn't be doing. The other thing that bothered us was that even when something was listed as "adult", there were children in there. I guess there will always be those people who don't think the rules apply to them or their families. I honestly have no problems with kids. I work with children and spend a lot of time with them. The problem came with the parents who allowed their children to roam unattended and be unruly in the MDR. Like I said, had we not had the aft adult only pool area this would have been a miserable cruise for us. It's a live and learn thing and we won't sail again this time of year.
The other area that was really bad on this ship was the photo gallery. Well, the photographs in general. The photographers on this ship did not do a very good job and while we usually purchase several photographs, we only purchased 2 on this trip. When we did purchase there was only register open with one person working and usually 5-6 people waiting to buy. This is the first ship we've been on that there hasn't been more than one register open in this area. It just seemed chaotic and unorganized.
Disembarkation was uneventful, we were zone 16. We were off the ship by 9:45 or so and on our way.
Overall, we enjoyed our cruise. We made the best of it. I don't really care for the layout of this ship. I found the public areas to be quite narrow and small. The buffet at lunch was disappointing most days, but I've just come to expect that. I do want to make sure that Carnival knows how much we appreciate the staff at the Sky Pool & Bar for making sure the area was kept "kid free". They did an awesome job and deserve a big pat on the back for that. Looking forward to our Magic cruise on Nov. 14th! Can't wait!!