The start of an addiction
Our first cruise- I am the nerd of our marriage so I had done tons of research, joined the chat rooms, and did a lot of trip advisor shopping.
That being said we for a month and a half tried to decide what cruise line to go on, what port to go out of and duration. We chose Carnival, we wanted to go to Cozumel and were on a budget so the rest settled into place. We booked our cruise in January for September sailing. In April a couple decided to join us. Then the real research and waiting began. I have to say all my research panned out very well and helped tremendously. We got to Galveston early about 10:30 and were on the ship by 11:45. Zone one boarding and an empty ship to mill around, take pictures and get acquainted with our "dream boat". We had some complications and were not able to leave port until 11:15 during our sail-a-way show. This made us a little late in Jamaica which I will explain later. The first full day at sea, we did the spa tour, the CC mix&Mingle and More
secret door tour and a cabin crawl. Got to see a lot, but was never got to see a balcony room. I have seen pictures so we are ok.
The second day we did some shows, did a private training, soaked up some rays and just enjoyed the ship life.
Third, fourth, and fifth day were excursion days and I will address under those topics. The fifth day, we had to turn around and head back to Cozumel due to a elderly person getting sick and needing more attention than the ship doctor could give. This turning got a little rocky and I got motion sick. Threw up once, took some motion sickness pills, laid down for about an hour and was back on the Lido for the deck party.
Six day we slept most of the day trying to recuperate from Cozumel snorkeling and sun. We did get in the pools finally and sat in hot tub. Seventh day was our last so we made it last. We stayed out as much as we could and made sure we did everything we could before packing our luggage.
Our ship the conquest was a big ship, a little bit older, but it really served us well. I was surprised, being my first time on a ship, with the size of the pools and lack of slides. I was also disappointed with the disco dance club because they did mainly older type music. The ship closed down at midnight every night with the only thing to do is eat pizza or go to the lame disco club. I was also wanted more time at the ports especially since we were late to our first and I really think we should have made it up there or at the second one. Now I said all that to note the following: 1. It is an older ship, before all the newer attraction on deck. 2.I have been told the longer cruises are aimed at the older crowds which were reflected in the crowds on the ship. 3. A cruise is not a water taxi and I am sure they wanted their passengers on the ship spending money and drinking, rather than at a port doing so. 4. I was a cruise virgin and not experienced with reality versus advertising.
Our service was fantastic! Our room steward "Lee" was awesome. He was always outside in our hallway working when we came out in the morning to ask us how we slept, and in the evening to wish us a good night. He made sure the extra touches were done for us (for example on last night he put our refrigerated stuff in our cooler with ice) and we made sure we showed him our appreciation with a private tip. Our waiter was a little cold at first but after getting him to warm up to us became a great server. his assistant was our main waiter and he remembered how many pieces of what kind of bread we wanted and what we drank. It was great. I was also amazed that no matter who you talked to in an elevator at a buffet, or wherever the cruise employees were always friendly.
The food was unbelievable. We truly ate like kings. Most nights I ordered 2 appetizers, 2 main courses, 1 didja and 2 desserts. I always ate more than my share at the Lido breakfast buffet and lunch seemed to be a constant grazing from 11am to 4. I know over-indulgence but it was all so good and I knew at the end of the cruise I was back to my regular diet.
Overall we loved the cruise, loved the ship and already planning our next cruise. It was the first time in 9 years (since our honeymoon) that my wife and I had been away from the kids for more than 2 nights. It thoroughly relaxed us and I came back to work with a noticeable new outlook. Less
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Cabin review: Carnival Conquest Interior Riviera 1337
Our cabin was just right for two. It had 3 closets, 4 drawers. The bathroom had shelves for our stuff and enough room in the shower to get the job done. The room was clean and efficient. Since it was an inside cabin, it got real dark once the lights were off. When someone walked by you could hear them talk but never heard the neighbors except the toilets! Our friends had the same room but with the bunk-bed option in the ceiling. I think it would have been cramped with 4 people in it. Next time we would like a window, just to say we have done it, but the value of the inside cabin might change our minds.
Port and Shore Excursions
In Cozumel we booked outside Carnival as well saving a little. We booked an excursion to Nochi Cocum. They had promised a lunch, beverages, private beach with only 100 people and a pool. We took a taxi there (would have likes to rent little scooters but didn't check into it.) cost was $15 for 4. When we got there the excursion was booked incorrectly and we owed an additional 26 dollars. A little disappointing as well was our first impression with the place. The help was not very friendly and gave us a sour impression. We were given our lounge chairs which were behind others (we got there too late for front row seats) and I asked about the snorkeling. He told me we could rent some equipment but to wait because an outside company took snorkeling trips and if we went with them, we would get the snorkel gear for the rest of the day for free. I tried to bargain, but did not get anywhere. Our friend had his own snorkel gear and went to check out the free beach. There was no coral or any real fish at our private beach so if we were going to see any fish we had better take the snorkel trip. The snorkel salesman came over and was very cheesy. The price was $35 a piece. I gave him a $100 bill for two and he said he would have to come back with the change. Our boat was leaving in an hour. It took him 45 minutes and me having to track him down to get my change. Once on the snorkel boat our captain and snorkel guide were very good. the boat has a glass bottom and within minutes we were beyond our private beach and in some good reefs where we could see life and coral. The day just took a good turn. We were given masks, a breather and fins all in good shape and soaking in a disinfectant solution. Once in we saw all kinds of fish (2 reef sharks, lots of barracuda, a lot of Bermuda fish that would swim right up to you and tons of coral fish vibrantly colored.) This was what I was looking for. We went to two reefs and were shown 2 stingrays, He let us hold a starfish before putting him back on the ocean floor. He had a genuine concern for the wildlife and instructed to observe but not interfere. A great time. We came back and ate lunch. It was pretty good and we were hungry. Afterwards we went in search for empty sea shells to bring home. My wife stepped on a shell puncturing her foot. The medic cleaned it, sterilized it with Iodine and inspected for fragments before putting on a band-aid. He spoke no English but was translated through another employee. We had enough so we went back to dock, to do a little shopping. The shops here were not really into bargaining, but they did have some good deals that we took advantage of.
At this port, we didn't have planned out. We thought we would go see the stingrays, or go snorkeling. Our friends went scuba diving for the first time and loved it. Instead we just took the day for us and shopped, visited Margaritaville, and just had fun together. It was awesome. Grand Cayman is a higher end port with a lot of jewelry stores and clothing stores. The town is safe to walk around in and we were never at an ugly part, even though we left the main strip in search of good deals. The prices were not negotiable and all prices were not in US dollars (US cost more here). The port was very nice and we had a good time.
We booked the Mystic Mountain Sky Explorer/Bob-sled/Zip-Line excursion outside of Carnival through Jaital (saving $35 over carnival). They handled everything smoothly and even helped us with a booking mistake. They answered all phone calls and emails quickly and were very helpful. We were going to be docking about 3 hours later than before so I called the day before and was assured that they knew about it and would be waiting for us when we got there. Getting off the ship was easy, but once we came through the port building, we were bombarded by companies wanting us to go with them. They assured me they could take us to Mystic Mountain, but I insisted on looking for our driver and was finally directed to him by a port guard. Our driver Nicholas was fantastic. His Jamaican charm showed the entire time. He was always mindful of our schedule and made sure we felt welcome the whole time. We landed in Montego Bay but had to drive 1.5 hrs to Ocho Rios. The drive gave Nicholas an opportunity to show us through Jamaica filling our heads with useful information and funny stories about his homeland. The drive sometime was a little crazy but he assured us he was under control and would protect us like his own children. When we arrived, he got his payment from us and then checked us in. We went up the sky Explorer to the top of the mountain. What a view! Ocean on one side, jungle on the other. Breathtaking. Very high up and they had to stop it sometimes to load passengers or cargo. But the view kept me captivated. Then we went down the bobsled. A very fast ride. It was fast, but I could have gone slower with the brake if I had wanted to. My wife and I went tandem and had a blast. Then back on the sky explorer back to the top. Their we went to the zip-lines. Very little instruction, but we were safe the entire time. These guys knew how to have fun and to keep us safe. We enjoyed the zip-lines which included a vertical drop as well that took our breath away. They stop you with a brake and I never once had any worries. Then we went back up the sky explorer to the top for a little shopping. Prices were good. They also had a pool, slide and lazy river as well, but we didn't have time for this or to eat at the restaurant. When we came down the mountain Nicholas was waiting. He took us to a store to get some keepsakes and then got us to the port with 15 minutes to spare. A full day and well planned and spent!