Carnival Conquest Christmas Review
December 24 -- January 1, 2012
We really enjoyed our vacation. We needed to get away, and I believe we would have been happy about anywhere we were able to relax.
My husband is a high school math teacher so we have no choice but to cruise when kids are out of school. His job is very stressful and he really, needed a restful vacation. We are in our late 40's and have cruised many times before on Carnival, NCL, Princess and HAL. We have to admit our favorite cruise line is HAL.
I apologize in advance if my review has no rhyme or reason. I write as things pop into my mind.
We stayed in New Orleans pre tour for one night at the Marriott Convention Center hotel. It was a nice, clean, friendly 4* property. It was right across the street from the Cruise ship terminal. All we had to do on the morning of the cruise was walk across the street with our bags. No taxi needed. This hotel is not in the French Quarter. It is about a 4 block walk to get there. We might have liked to be in the French Quarter however this hotel was quiet and peaceful and so convenient to the cruise ships. The Riverwalk mall is right across the street also. Where there are lots of shops and restaurants.
We ate at Mulate's for dinner. It was only a half a block walk from the hotel, very close. It had wonderful New Orlean's food. Our dinner here was awesome. Huge portions, with a casual atmosphere. My husband had Alligator and loved it. I had the best seafood pasta I have ever had in my life. It was loaded with seafood. We can't wait to go back to New Orleans just so we can eat at this restaurant again!
The next morning after a walk thru the French Quarter and Riverwalk mall we checked out of our hotel around noon. We bought some wine as we were allowed to take two bottles on board. We made our way across the street where there were lots of staff telling us which way to go. The terminal was a mass of people as usual, however, there were lots of staff telling us which way to go, where to line up etc. We had a very short wait perhaps 5 minutes to check in. The line to get on the ship was very slow and long. This was the fault of the photographers and only having two entry ways onto the ship where they scan your card. This really slowed things up. Upon boarding, we went to lunch, as rooms were not ready yet. We could have gone to the dining room (it was open) but found ourselves at the Fish and Chips place. We were starving, we each ate two orders of Fish and Chips. It was very good. On our way to lunch we found a bartender who offered us free champagne. What a nice touch. While we were eating a man with free champagne came around twice more. After three glasses of champagne I'm surprised we were able to find our cabin. ;-)
After lunch we went to our cabin. It was an outside cabin on Deck 2 port side aft. It was a cabin that was turned sideways. We really enjoyed this cabin as it seemed to have much more room. The only complaint about our cabin was our window. It was so dirty and clouded with a crusty sea water film, we couldn't see out of it. The cloudy, film on it distorted everything. I don't expect a crystal clear window but I do expect to be able to see out of it. I went to the pursers desk and asked if the windows are ever washed. I was told "Oh yes, we are constantly washing windows" I asked if I could get my window washed. He said it was impossible until we were at a port where our window faced the pier, but would try. After that he dismissed me by saying "Have a good day". I had to ask him, "Don't you want my cabin number?" Our cabin window couldn't have been washed in months and I am sure it is probably in the same condition now. I knew the purser had no intention of getting my window washed. He just wanted to get rid of me. If Carnival wants to sell an Ocean view we should be able to see out of the window . If not, I should have been charged for an obstructed view which is really what we had.
Over night our toilet got plugged and it flooded our bathroom. Yuck! We realize we are on a cruise ship and they are often plagued by these kinds of plumbing problems. I went to the pursers desk and told them early that morning. I talked to the same man who told me he was going to get my window washed. Our toilet was finally fixed very late that afternoon. It was a pain to have to wait all day and have to find public restrooms elsewhere. After this we didn't have trouble with our bathroom again.
We had a lovely room steward by the name of Ing. She was a darling. She had a tough job of cleaning our cabin as we are most always relaxing in our cabin, except on port days of course. However, after being gone from our cabin for a short while our cabin would be made up. She must have been hiding around the corner just waiting for us to leave. She did an excellent job.
I so loved the entertainment on Carnival. The productions shows were excellent. I just love those dancers being able to dance on a moving ship. We also loved the comedy club. We went to an early family friendly version. I thought it was going to be poor at best as it was going to be geared towards kids. I was wrong. It was so funny. It was clean and had great laughs. We also went to a later adult only version. We didn't like it at all. It was just an excuse to use the F word in every single sentence. Also, all the jokes were about sex. The family friendly version was so much better.
We went to the repeat Carnival cruisers party. It was fantastic. They waited on us hand and foot. The appetizers were everywhere and they kept coming around offering them again and again. Oh, and the drinks. They had anything anyone could want. Beer, red wine, white wine, champagne, whiskey sours and so much more. And just like the appetizers they kept coming around offering us more and more to drink. I think I had 5 whiskey sours and then took a glass of white wine back to my room for later. I am used to the Princess repeat parties when you are lucky if you get any appetizers and you might get one drink. I was so impressed!
Our cruise director was Paul. He was friendly, had the same old cruise director jokes but I liked him. I met him at our Meet and mingle party and told him my name was Linda. When entering the repeaters party I said, Hi Paul and shook his hand. To my amazement he said, Hi Linda, how are you? He saw me one time before and remembered my name. What a surprise. Our Room steward, Ing called us by our first names. Our dining room waiter never called us by name. He didn't talk to us hardly at all.
One thing we had no lack of was food. Fish and Chips was always great, the Grill was wonderful, I never did eat at the buffet as I always chose the Grill instead. We never did make it to the dining room for Breakfast or Lunch. We enjoyed the food in the dining room at dinner, however service was an issue. We had a table for two. We would have rather had a large table where we could have met others, but we accepted our table for two. Service took way too long. We would pick what we wanted and wait for 10 minutes until they even took our order. Then we had to wait another 30 minutes for our appetizers to arrive. Then came the wait for our main entrees. That took another 30 minute wait. One night we stayed for desert and coffee and that took at least another 45 minutes. We learned finally to skip desert and coffee. Perhaps if we were at a larger table, time would have passed quicker visiting with others. Since this was a Christmas cruise we noticed most everyone sat with their families. We thought the waits in the dining room were way, way too long. I must admit dinner was not relaxing in the least. The volume in this room was deafening. People talking loudly, things falling and silverware clinking etc. On New Years eve all the tables had hats and noise makers, horns etc. Who ever thought of that should be shot. All thru dinner people (adults and kids) were blowing their horns. We couldn't wait to get out of there.
I loved, loved and loved the soft serve ice cream. The kids made this area a sorry mess but the staff tried their best to keep the area clean. They had vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and twist. They alternated flavors each day.
I liked to get room service for breakfast. They had a card in your room that you filled out and hung on your door at night. It was only continental breakfast with things like coffee, juice, bagels, toast, danish etc but that was fine with me. However, something was always missing in my order. One morning it was the juice the next it was the Jam for my toast, the next it was the butter for my toast, then they would forgot the cream cheese for my bagel. Every morning it was something. I had written it on the order card but they always missed something. I would call down to room service and tell them what they forgot and in a few minutes I would have what I needed. They would then make me sign the card I had filled out the night before. They did deliver the food on time except for once. I ordered breakfast for 6:30am. I waited patiently but finally at 7:30am I called them and that seemed to do the trick. I finally did get it but as usual something was missing from my order. I can understand this happening once or twice but every single morning? We did order room service in the evening once but delivery took over an hour. Also the room service menu was very limited. So we never did that again. The buffet closed at 9:30, they did have a late night snack around 11pm for one hour with grill type foods. The deli and fish and chips place had limited hours. The pizza place was open 24 hours. You had to take whatever kind of pizza that was ready. If not you would be waiting at least 20 minutes for the pizza you wanted to be made and then baked.
Our cruise critic group did have a meet and greet, however, there was some sort of mix up. The room that we were supposed to have our meeting in was full of kids doing some sort of craft. We contacted the staff asking what to do. We waited and waited. Finally the assistant CD showed up and got the kids moved out. In the meantime we had lost some of our group as they refused to wait.
It was a sea day so what did they have to rush off to do? I didn't mind waiting. So finally we got to go into the room and visited. Then finally a bar host came to take our drink orders.(we had to pay of course) 15 minutes later the CD Paul came to apologize for the mix up. I was glad for the mix up as Paul wouldn't have come otherwise. We had a nice time visiting with him. I had so much fun visiting with and meeting our fellow roll call members.
Before leaving on this cruise I asked John Heald how many children were going to be on this cruise. There were 808. We were prepared as we often take Christmas cruises and know that lots of kids travel during Christmas. Since my husband is a teacher, we have no choice. We have some stories about misbehaving kids that would make your toes curl. However this was on Princess during Christmas cruises. We were thinking we would have a terrible time with kids running down the halls knocking on doors, yelling, screaming, fights on deck and destructive behavior. (Yes, we had all of this and much worse on Princess) We were pleasantly surprised on this cruise. Yes, the pools and hot tubs were filled to over flowing with kids but they were the family pools and had every right to be there. We did see one child getting an ice cream cone and then immediately throwing it over board, then we witnessed another that decided they didn't want their ice cream cone they made and just dropped it on the floor beneath the machine and walked away. We encountered some kids riding the elevators with all the floor buttons pushed but we had no where to go in a hurry so just waited patiently as the elevator stopped at every floor. Then the kids would say they pushed them by mistake. Sure, they did. lol They mostly did this in the glass atrium elevators.
I think Carnival either kept the kids busy with camp carnival, the parents were doing their job or we were just lucky. There was an adults only pool and hot tub at the very back of the ship. There were many kids in this area (probably because that is where the pizza place was) however, we never saw any kids in this pool or hot tub.
Our ports of call were wonderful. Belize, Roatan, Cozumel and Progresso. The weather was warm in all ports but it was overcast. I sure didn't mind this as I am a redhead and burn easily. I appreciated the extra protection of the clouds. In Belize we went outside the port area into Belize city and just took a long walk around town. It was crowded with small houses and very dirty. Garbage was just thrown anywhere and everywhere. After our long walk we shopped around the port area (that was neat and clean) Then we sat at a bar and had a beer listening to some nice music before tendering back to the ship.
Roatan was the best day. We took the Tabyana beach excursion. This beach was around a 30 minute drive from the port. This was only a bus ride. The drivers didn't say one word to us on the way there or back. I think it would have been nice if they could have had some narration or told us about their island on the way to the beach. The beach was fantastic but quite crowded. The snorkeling was the best!!! I am a snorkeling fanatic and have snorkeled all over the Caribbean, Mexico and Hawaii but this was the best snorkeling ever. The reefs were gorgeous. I have never seen such beautiful coral in my life. Fan coral, finger coral and brain coral just to name a few.
Excuse me as I rant a bit. I was so mad at the ignorant people who walked and stood on the coral. This breaks and kills the coral but people didn't seem to care. If you need to adjust or have water in your mask, don't stand on the coral while fixing your mask. If you can't get the water out of your mask or adjust it with out touching the bottom you have no business snorkeling. You can do this while treading water. If not go back to the sandy area and stand there. If you can't swim well and have to walk or stand on the coral you have no business snorkeling either. People just don't understand how they are killing the reef and coral and once it's killed it's gone. This behavior made me so mad. Okay, back to the review.
Security guarded this beach with an iron fist. They wouldn't let the people selling crafts to stop on the beach at all. The minute they stopped to try to show tourists their wares these security guys would come running and tell them to go away. We watched this all day. Apparently, these sales people are allowed to walk the beach but are not allowed to stop.
In Cozumel we rented a car. The car rental place was right at the pier which made it so convenient. We rented the car because it was less expensive than a taxi believe it or not. The car rental was around $35 and a taxi round trip was going to be $60. We made our way to Planacar beach. A pretty little beach with horrible snorkeling from the beach. You have to take the snorkeling boat out to the reef to get some good snorkeling. I booked this on line before leaving. It was $30pp. It was nice, we saw 3 turtles, sting ray and many fish but it paled in comparison to Roatan. No one here was able to stand or walk on the coral as the water was too deep. After the boat trip I snorkeled around the beach area but there was nothing to see. We got some lounge chairs, some drinks and lazed around the beach and enjoyed the rest of our day.
In Progresso we had no plans. So we got off the ship and waited 30 minutes for the free shuttle down the pier to the city. The pier here is 5 miles long so no walking this pier. They drop you off at a little shopping area. At this area they have a double decker bus that will take you around town on a little tour for only $3pp. It is only maybe a 7 minute tour but still fun. We liked it so well we took it twice. Once on the bottom of the bus and once from the top deck. We liked the top deck the best. You barely missed getting beheaded by the wires overhead. Lol They stop at little bar where coronas were only $1. You could also get soda and water for $1 too. My husband bought 2 beers and we sat enjoying our tour with an ice cold beer. The sea is much different here. It is green water and the waves were much rougher. Things were very cheap here. Like beer, food and nick knacks etc. Also, they had the best prices on massages. 30 minute massages were $10 and 60 minutes were $20. I would have had one but it was in a big open room with no privacy. They just had all these beds lined up next to each other. They had no place to change. This was just fine with the men. Some woman who had bikini tops on didn't have much trouble either. However, I was fully dressed. I also felt too uncomfortable to have this done in the open.
At our ports there were lots of other ships. We were parked beside the Carnival Magic a lot. It was so fun to wave good bye to each other from our ships and then the ships would say goodbye to each other by blowing their horns. I loved sail aways.
I did have a massage on the ship which was very nice. It was $150 for 75 minutes, which is much too expensive, but I splurged. I didn't have too hard of a time turning down the $400 worth of potions that the staff member was sure I couldn't live with out.
We spent our last day at sea just lazing around. This was New Years eve and staff were busy planning a big celebration in the Atrium and on the Lido deck. I went to the lido deck at around 11:45pm. What a zoo. It was so crowded. The free champagne was very plentiful again. Many people were drunk and bumping into you. I couldn't believe all the broken glasses on the deck. It was a mess. At midnight we had a countdown and then the ship blew it's whistle loud and long. I had never experienced New Years at sea before and I enjoyed it.
The next morning was the end of our cruise. Where the week went I have no clue but it was over far too soon. We did self assist. This is where you carry your own bags off the ship yourself and get to get off first. Customs was short and easy. We disembarked at 7:30am and got thru customs and thru the terminal, we were curb side by 8:00am. We thought we were going to have to take a taxi to the airport but someone pointed us to a bus that was going to the airport for $10pp. A taxi is $33. We had to wait around 30 minutes for the bus to fill up but we had lots of time as our flight didn't leave until 11:30am.
Despite some minor disappointments on this cruise we still had a wonderful time. My motto is "There is no such thing as a bad cruise".