I accidentally typed this all in on a message board - SORRY! Long review. The best time of my life except for the travel.
Sadly to say, we have been home for 12 days and many of my thoughts are of "myship" and the great time the 38 of us had on this group cruise. This post will probably be quite long with little notations along the way of each day and some hints I learned while there.
The trip to NO went well except when we arrived we were missing a piece of luggage which had Davids jackets,polos and sandals...and one of my formals and black shoes. That started us out not well AT ALL. (Our flights and travel was arranged by Carnival and we flew with Delta). The "coach ride" that was included in travel plans to the port really stunk as one man loaded all of our luggage which took over 30 minutes as we sat crammed in the bus. We made the decision at this point that the next time we would arrive the previous day or else take a cab by ourselves to the pier..we would have arrived so much faster. Happy as all heck when we were getting on the ship, waiting in line etc. It was painless and total time of around 30 minutes. Not bad.
FOund our room, changed clothes and decided to just have fun even tho we lost luggage. Ran into some friends on Lido deck as we did a little tour. Then we had Muster..painless also and then we went to the Pursers desk where we thought the day could NOT get worse. We reported our luggage and proceed to take care of our Sign and Sail account. We had taken three $500 MasterCard giftcards from our bank account to use for our Sign & Sail...well, we were told we could NOT USE THEM as there was not a name attached..we were furious as this was the money we were supposed to use for S&S. Now we had to take $500 in travelers checks and $1000 MORE out of the bank account to attach so S&S. We were furious about this but our German female purser was able to get a little smile when she suggested we go have a vodka after our awful travel plans and now the money..we were not nice to her at first..but it was not her fault I suppose. DO NOT BRING GIFT CARDS TO USE FOR S&S unless your name is on them.
Dinner was great the first night and we sat at table 308 (our motto became "308 is great" for the entire week). Helen and Marcos were our head waitress and team leaders...we loved them to pieces..Aleksander was our bar waiter for dinner and he was only on his second week...by Friday he was doing much better with us. Lots of fun first night- explored the ship. Piano bar at 8:30 that night where we met Damien who was playing the Blue piano for the first time...he had never played ont he CONQUEST. He became a great friends and we enjoyed him soooo much. We missed him on our last night as we did not feel well - probably because we were going home. SO if anyone is going on Conquest soon, PLEASE do me a huge favor and stop at Piano bar and tell Damien the Group from Rochester NY says hello and give him my email address as we are thinking of him and now are having a piano bar night on April 30 at our local Elks lodge. He will remember the group from Rochester as we were there every night and one night all 38 of us were there along with friends we met from Memphis, Missouri and of course the "PAYCHEX girls" from right here in Rochester.
Damien is from New Zealand and if you like the atmosphere and sing along, then you will love Blues Bar. Christina and Lin are your servers. If you drink beer order buckets. Pizza at 1:30 am and it was fabulous so were the calzones. Bed by 2ish and I was up by 5ish. the view from our balcony room 6343 could not be beat. Coffee and fruit delivered EVERY morning..sometimes a bagel. ORDER BUTTER, CREAM AND/OR SUGAR WHEN CALLING ROOM SERVICE or else it will not be there. I had read this before on this site and forgot the first time as we received a dry bagel. Also bungee cord we brought was used every morning and every afternoon to hold door open. We kept it open all night a few times and the sounds of the water are wonderful. We also decided that a MUST have again will be a room with balcony. It cannot be beaten.
Monday night was Captains Cocktail party...order yourself an extra drink before you leave to bring to dinner. The hors d'oeuvres served were not the greatest so we opted to grab a drink and go have some sushi before dinner. This became somewhat of a ritual for us and we probably had sushi all but one night on the ship. Dinner was lobster tail and it was FABULOUS. Tammy and I each had 3 tails!!!! Yummy. Everyone so happy. Piano bar and casino at night. Great sun..I found people on the Lido saving chairs before 7am when I would go get coffee. Didn't like that. We were able to lay out on Monday and Tuesday but constantly would see ppl from our group looking for chairs together. Lots of fun.
Pursers desk sent me 2 free tuxedo rentals due to the luggage being lost...I told them I had already ordered tux on line for $75 for the week...so they did nothing. No credit, no nothing. Also on Montego Bay the luggage was in port. We had to get off and go thru customs etc..pick up our ripped apart luggage and take it back on the ship ourselves and to our room and then get back off the ship and thru customs again. We had to tip some guy $5 to bring our luggage to the ship...he told us "THEY" meaning Carnival would deliver the bag to our room. This was not true and a pain in the butt for us as we did not have much time to spend in MOBAY as we were standing up for some friends of ours in a wedding this day.
DO NOT SHOP in the fenced in area to the left of the blue roofed Carnival building - nothing but harassment every 5 seconds. I wanted to get out of there and there seemed no way out..at this point I was ready to get back on the ship. We instead caught a small bus to St James Sq (around 2 blocks away from Margaritaville) we did some shopping - coffee, spices and hot sauce - beach bag, wooden vase. It was fun and our bus driver stayed with us until we walked up to Margaritaville. A lot of fun. Jim and Jean were married by pastor from MOBAY - Carnival did a good job here with ceremony, cake, flowers etc. It was a nice day. Glad we were on the ship early as the late lines in the afternoon seemed to last for hours as everyone had to go thru customs. Dinner again delish.
Thursday was GC and probably the best day of my life. Highly recommend CAPTAIN BRYANS - it was fantastic. Javid our private Capt told us some nice places to eat afterward and the 6 of us went to the Paradise Restaurant and had 2 plates of nachos and some great tropical drinks. We had fun and all of us thoroughly enjoyed this nice day on a great catamaran with wonderful hosts. Here is the POST I typed on laptop on Friday morning: It is Friday, February 26 and we are on our way to Cozumel Mexico. We should be arriving in a few hours. I am sitting on our balcony with my coffee and laptop enjoying a spectacular view…there has been nothing like waking up and having room service delivered and sitting outside of our room and watching the waves roll by.
Yesterday was SPECTACULAR !!!! We woke early to shower and have a quick breakfast before we took the tender to Grand Cayman and embark on our snorkel and stingray tour with Captain Bryans. 6 of us met in the lobby before 7 and had to go to Lateuse Latrec lounge to get our tender ticket to go to shore. It was a nice ride to the banks of GC and the view Was spectacular. We were the first of ships to arrive. Capt Bryans was a short 2 block (less than minute) walk from where the tender let us off..the scenery was wonderful and there was no harassment by the habitants like there was in Montego Bay. The town was impeccably clean and everyone was so friendly.
At Capt Bryans we signed in and paid our balance and left his office with a total of 22 people and our own Capt - JAVID!! When we came to the Hannibal he made jokes about other boats that were ours, but our catamaran was great and had plenty of room for all with hammocks in the front, water, ice and break. We had a 20 minute ride to the barrier reef where we were able to snorkel and see some wonderful fish. Dave was the FIRST one in the water..I soon followed but did not make it to far in front of the boat before I had to turn around..it was too much work. Robert was our water guy and he was fantastic as well. I did not make it to the reef as the waves were too much. But Nancy, Dave, Steve And Jean made it out there and said it was spectacular.
But for me..the stingray sandbar was the best. We were in a secluded area away from the other 8 boats and 100s of ppl…… When we anchored it was amazing to watch the stingrays come towards us in swarms….many looked to be 4- feet wide!! I was in awe and spent more time than anyone of our 6 with the stingrays. There was one grey female that I held for a few minutes and after holding her the first time, our instructor Robert would ask me to hold her at least 3 times while he helped others with feeding. Etc. I held 2 different stingrays, but this grey female was the best. She loved the attention and was so soft on her underbelly. She seemed to just float in my arms as I held her, rubbed her an kissed her. This was the most amazing experience of my life and was saddened to get back onto the catamaran to head back to the island. I became teary eyed as this experience ended up becoming the BEST day of my entire life. Yes, there was a little fear at fist when they all come towards you….but they just rub against you and would never sting you. OU guide Robert had never been stung once and he has done this hundreds upon hundreds of times. Dave and I both fed them and I did get a little suction pinch from one of the females, but it did not cut me and it did not hurt..it just shocks you a little bit if you have never experienced this. I WILL do this again and I will be sending Capt. Bryan an email and will highly recommend this tour when we get back home to future cruise members. It was the best day of my life like I said.
Dinner again was great..and my baby looked so darn handsome in his tux that I could not keep my eyes off of him!!! I love him so much!! He gave me permission to plan our next cruise and already 6 of us will be going next year in March….I am so happy and I love this ship!!! Dave and I went to the casino after dinner with 125 each and came home with a couple hundred extra…he hit an inside straight and more and I hit a full house, a straight and a three of a kind. The casino has been kind to us wed and thurs night..but not so kind the previous nights. It was an earl;y night for us…Dave came back to room at 1040 and I was back here by 1105. Dave hung on the deck and talked to Dave s for awhile on the balconies…it was nice..all of our rooms were close. Shrimp was a great dinner last night. Dave tried the taste of India and the chateaubriand for dinner..most of our table had the beef and just loved it. Dave has had multiple dinners each night and one night our wonderful serves of Helen and Marcos brought him 3 dinners…. They have been the best and r wonderful fun table of 308 is so much fun. We get an extra dish or two and we pass it around so everyone can have a taste. Helen brings us now an extra dish without us asking and our coffees and cappuccinos arrive without us ordering. Last night Helen told my David his steak was medium rare…he had only told her once and she remembered.
Christina and Lin in piano bar. The best. Bonjong - is our room steward and we have given him $15 extra so far - I left him note and told him that if he would make me a towel monkey then I would buy the Towel Animal Book….and he did dog, pig, monkey and snake…we are buying the book on towel animals. That is all for today…do not want to spend too much time typing when I can enjoy the view. I just passed some coffee over to our neighbors as we had a pot delivered with our fruit salad and bagel. What a way to start the day. Adios for now and Mexico here we come!!!!!!!
PS I DO NOT WANT TO GO HOME
Friday was Nochi Cocum Beach Club. 11 of us went and had the times of our life. $32 pp with open bar, Mexican buffet and beautiful beach. Our private server "Willie" set us up 11 chairs with 6 or so in the shade. We had a great time and this excursion we took outside of Carnival proved to be the best one any of our group had. The pictures will tell the story. 14 of us at ate the Point tonight and same as above, the pictures will tell the story.
Food must haves were: Pumpkin Soup, flourless chocolate cake, any beef products, lobster in dining room. Omelet station in Cezanne restaurant I had almost every day with fresh grapefruit, bacon and coffee....greta views for breakfast up here. Pizza, calzones were great at night or for a prelunch snack...fabulous and my favorite was the mushroom and feta while Dave said the calzones were delish. Sur Mer seafood was very nice too..it is kind of hidden as it goes up 2 separate stairways near the dessert tables in Cezanne- fried fish, blue point oysters, octopus salad and other things like French fries. It was nice and we ate there once as I read it is a must try on this site. It was a must try and we were glad we did. Views from this restaurant are fabulous. All the food was great and on my last night I was treated to a covered dish from Helen as my final dessert and when it was uncovered I was presented with the Carnival cookbook signed by the head chef, Helen for Thailand our fabulous waitress and Marcos the happiest team leader and assistant to Helen. We loved them and they took such great care of us. Three of our tablemates of Bob, SHerry and Rich bought me the book. Dave had bought it for me the day before in a package with a cocktail book, chef secrets and the cookbook for $25. It was a great moment as I had my favorite dessert of them all - under the Diet Dessert choice was an Espresso ice cream cake/pie? it was the best and did NOT taste local. It was then quite sad as we said our goodbyes to our new friends and Tammy and I toasted our time on the ship with sadness. Saturday after dinner - - pack stuff up and get things ready to go out the door. Our piece of lost luggage had been in the pursers office for 3 days as it was so torn up that we could not pack anything in it. It was returned to our room by 6pmish..it looked like a good job, but needless to say the travel home was worse than the way up and the seams came apart that they had repaired on the ship...we will never be able to use this piece of luggage again. We had to buy a Small Carnival carryon (which we packed and checked - had to pay an extra $40).
Saturday the boat was VERY VERY rocky..I felt great the entire cruise but this day I took one Bonine. Sunny in the early morning and then no sun all day..it even rained. Pretty much just a casino, food get ready to go kind of day. Did not make it to see Damien this night....and we were giving him our email today so we cold stay in touch. On Tuesday night the Piano bar is closed and Damien and my David sang together New York, New York they did a great job. Dave sang a few songs during the week and became recognized on and off the ship....he should have entered the talent contest which he would have won hands down. Next time...if there is a next time he WILL enter for the heck of it.... It was sad knowing we were going home and with the weather so bad we knew vacation was over.....
Sunday SUCKED totally..besides having to leave the ship this day we encountered tons of travel problems and although Carnival did take care of our travel plans and we paid for ROUND TRIP from NO to Buffalo...it did not go as planned. We were downstairs in lobby by 7ish with coffee and luggage in tow. One person from our group had to stand in line at pursers desk because his account was over 2.36 ..olne other guy was over 2 cents.....try not to be over as the lines were LONG. When the VIPS left the ship we were sitting at the lobby bar and we were first in line to get off...it went well. We left NO aty 1:22 and Delta KNEW when we left that our connecting flight from Atlanta to Buffalo had been canceled. No one told us - we found out from other passengers we met from ORchard Park NY (they lost all their luggage on the way down) - they were TOLD the flight was canceled and that we would fly into Pittsburgh. Needless to say - we flew into Pitt and had to take a taxi from Pittsburgh airport to Buffalo Airport - almost 5 hours in a cab. We were furious. Delta should have/could have put us up for a room in either NO or Atlanta and save the $1000 cab fare it cost them. We would have been home to Rochester by 9pm if our flight had not been canceled and we found out that no other airline canceled to Rochester or Buffalo..some were delayed but not canceled Instead we had to tip our cabbie $50, pay an addition $80 for hotel and have our house watcher stay an extra night with the dogs..Not fun. We arrived by taxi in Buffalo at 1am exhausted an hungry.
Well the cruise is over and there are 40 of us so far that want me to look into another vacation for March 2006..not sure if we will do the cruise again (may look into an all inclusive in Cozumel). Loved the ship more than anything and all my prior research helped our entire group on the ship. Our travel plans before and after were awful and had the money problem thing with the gift cards. We WILL travel Carnival again but may wait until 2007..although I found a Conquest booking for sale on ebay for 2 ppl for 1200 for April 4. I am soooooo tempted to get back on........ please check out the pictures here as they explain so much.
there are around 7 albums or so..great food photos- I have more to add down the road but most are now in. Enjoy...
Post-its and power strip were a must. I did not need to bring laptop (extra to carry around) and did not use clothespins. have a great cruise and wish I was there...... I miss MY SHIP.