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1,389 Carnival Galveston Cruise Reviews

This was my second cruise and the first for my partner. I had previously cruised on RCCL Empress of the Seas. We were part of a group of 41 family and friends on this cruise to celebrate my partners grandparents 50th anniversary. We had ... Read More
This was my second cruise and the first for my partner. I had previously cruised on RCCL Empress of the Seas. We were part of a group of 41 family and friends on this cruise to celebrate my partners grandparents 50th anniversary. We had two days at sea and our ports of call were Progreso and Cozumel Mexico. We had an inside stateroom that was clean and well maintained. The cabin steward made up the room, changed towels and refilled ice at least twice a day. He was efficient and friendly. The ship is well maintained with very few signs of age. Even the carpeting is spotlessly clean and appears to be new. The Tiffany dining room shows signs of wear and could use some upgrading. We used the fitness center twice and enjoyed its location at the front of the ship which makes for a great view while doing a workout. A few of the pneumatic fitness machines were broken but I was able to have a complete workout using free weights. The locker room and shower area were immaculately clean. Although the food in the Tiffany buffet was, well....buffet food, every meal in the dining room was exceptional in terms of variety, quality and service. To my amazement, individual lemon souffles were served for dessert one evening. I thought it an amazing accomplishment to produce a few hundred of these served fresh and hot out of the oven. The table captain and waitstaff were attentive. On the last evening the whole dining room staff lined up in the middle of the dining room and performed a rendition of "Leaving on a Jet Plane" using the words, "so you're leaving our funship...". It was a nice touch and a sentimental way to say good-bye. The sushi bar, open each evening, served exceptional sushi. There was usually a waiting line. The entertainment was good and the cruise director, Jorge, was over the top in terms of his humor and friendliness. He definitely made a difference in the overall cruise. We were content to lay on the sun-deck on the sea days, but there We kept so busy on the sea days that we really didn't find sufficient time to just be lazy and lay out on the sun deck. We had to use tender boats to go into Cozumel because their piers had been destroyed by the hurricane. We decided to have a leisurely breakfast on ship and then go down to the tender after the rush. This saved the time we would have spent waiting in the initial line for the tenders. We found the liquor prices on the ship to be cheaper than anything we found in the ports. Overall, this was an exceptional experience for us. The others in our group also had only rave reviews for this cruise. Although I have limited cruise experience, some of them are retired and frequent luxury cruisers so I have to put a lot of credibility into their opinions. I highly recommend a Carnival cruise because of the cleanliness, the friendliness of the crew, the activities and the quality of food. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
We had a good time on the cruise. The Conquest is a huge beautiful ship full of art and beautiful colors. I was in awe when I walked in, as the CD said in the Welcome Aboard show, I walked in, stopped, and went (insert Forrest Gump voice ... Read More
We had a good time on the cruise. The Conquest is a huge beautiful ship full of art and beautiful colors. I was in awe when I walked in, as the CD said in the Welcome Aboard show, I walked in, stopped, and went (insert Forrest Gump voice here) Wow this is a big ship. It was kind of disappointing because some of the staff members were rude (we asked one of the photographers if she was open to take pictures yet (It was still early) and she replied back Well, I am not standing here for my health). Some of the staff never smiled and seemed like they just did their job. Our Room Steward (I Made) and Dining Room Team (Joey and Christopher) were wonderful. The Lido buffet area was a little disappointing with selections and their hours of operation (close at 2:30 for lunch, 9:30 for dinner and then all you have are Pizza or the Deli). As usual all the food was wonderful. The Chocolate buffet was to die for. In Jamaica we did the Rose Hall Tour. Wonderful tour and a beautiful view. In Grand Cayman we did the Stingray Sandbar, Turtle Farm, and Hell tour. Well worth the money and very informative and fun. The guidebook says it is a 3 ½ hour excursion, but it was more like 5 hours which was great. The only bad part of this excursion was the family that was yelling at the boat driver (?) that we need to hurry up and anchor because they had to be back at the ship soon (They were on another Carnival ship that left after we did, and this was at about 11:45). These people kept getting louder and louder and then their children got involved. They then had the nerve to complain to the boat driver that he parked in the wrong spot because the water was too deep for their kids to get off without it being over their head. In Cozumel, we did the Folklore show and Shopping. The show was spectacular (better than the ship shows in my opinion which is saying a lot because I loved the ships productions). Cozumel is rebuilding and coming along good. The locals seem very genuine and welcoming to the tourists. I probably spent more than I planned there, but they need the money and I needed the souvenirs : ) Our Cruise Director told us at the Past Guest Party that the Conquest will go back to NOLA in 2007 and the new Carnival Freedom will sail from Galveston in the winter months and do the Med in the spring/summer. Speaking of that, the Cruise Director, Todd Whitmer, was wonderful. He kept everyone rolling in the isles and had great entertainment lined up and wonderful activities. They had a huge deck party Tuesday night that was lots of fun and showed the Rocky Horror Picture show on Thursday complete with Todd and his assistant dressing up in the parts. They also did their Christmas show on Saturday and that was great. The Captain even took part and sat on the floor with the kids during part of the show. Very classy if you ask me! The most touching moment came when the staff came out with candles and sang Silent Night. That gave me goose bumps. Embarkation was very easy. 30 minutes from the time we parked until we got on the ship. Debarkation was OK. Our color was called about 10:00 off by 10:30 and on the road by 11:00. Will I do another Carnival cruse, well, umm, uhh, You better believe it! Even though there were some bad points, the good far out weighed the bad, and I am one that believes not everyone has a good day every day. I do think I like the Fantasy class better than the Conquest class (this was my 2nd cruise and first on a big ship). But then again, a bad day on a cruise is better than a good day on land! Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
There were 21 of us who had booked a group cruise through Carnival's Group department. Overall, we had excellent service from this department. We were 15 adults and 6 children under 10 years of age. This was our family dream reunion ... Read More
There were 21 of us who had booked a group cruise through Carnival's Group department. Overall, we had excellent service from this department. We were 15 adults and 6 children under 10 years of age. This was our family dream reunion cruise and most of our children and grandchildren were able to join us. Other than the effects of Hurricane Wilma and the change to Galveston from New Orleans, we were not disappointed. Pre Cruise & Embarkation: Most of us came in one day early, rented Enterprise cars & stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Beach. Others flew into Hobby the day of the cruise & hired a limousine to get to the ship. Embarkation was easy and efficient. We were on the ship in probably 30 minutes. Our cabins: Our sons & DIL's who had 3 children each had cabins 2300/2304 and 2332/2336. The parents were in one room and a door opened to the children's room with 3 beds. Their steward made a different towel animal for each room each night. He left large cookies with M&M's for the children. They were very pleased with the rooms. Two of us had 9A's. Our daughter's room was 8449 and was very spacious. Ours was smaller & the balcony was unbelievably super long. All the other rooms, insides and outsides had couches. Our 9A's didn't & that was disappointing especially for the added price we paid for the rooms. Food/meals: The food and service was wonderful! We had outstanding service in the Monet, at the buffet on Lido deck, and at the seafood cafe on deck 10. We tried the daily sushi bar, the grill, the ice cream/yogurt bar, room service, etc. In fact we ate too much. We loved the entertainment by our wait staff. We found the dining room atmosphere a lot more congenial than that on Princess but we love Princess, also. Entertainment: The children loved Camp Carnival. The Christmas/Holiday Program with our grandkids on stage was the highlight of our trip. The captain, Todd & his staff, the singers, the Carnival dancers & the appearance of Mr. Claus was just magical. The only complaint we have is that the 10 year olds should not be allowed to check themselves in & out of Camp Carnival. This should only be an option with the approval of their parents. Also, the uppermost deck forward was very difficult for the children during the rough day at sea. They complained about motion sickness and I would suggest that they should be moved to a better location on those days. Ports: 16 of us had a private tour with A&Z Jamaica Planners to the Appleton Rum Factory & to YS Falls. It was a very long day. Georgeen, our guide was great & so were the falls. The other 5 went on Carnival's Canopy Tour & raved about it afterwards. In the Cayman Islands, all 21 of us had a private charter with Moby Dick Tours to the Coral Gardens and to the sandbar at Stingray City. Everyone agreed that this was absolutely the best shore excursion we have ever had. In Cozumel, everyone went their separate ways. Most booked with Carnival. Seven of us spent the morning at Paradise Beach and had an absolutely grand time. We even met Paradise Beach Tom. We highly recommend the beach for the water toys, wait staff, beach facilities and food and drinks. Disembarkation: Two of our family groups chose to self assist and were off in no time. For the rest of us it was a very long process! Those of us on deck 9 had to wait hours for deck 2 to disembark. Thus was very difficult on the children. I feel that family groups should be able to disembark at the same time. Would I book with Carnival again? Absolutely!! And we already have another Carnival cruise booked for 2006. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
This was my first cruise, and I was a bit skeptical after reading some of the previous reviews. However, after taking the cruise, I can't help but think that anyone who writes a less than wonderful review of the Conquest is the ... Read More
This was my first cruise, and I was a bit skeptical after reading some of the previous reviews. However, after taking the cruise, I can't help but think that anyone who writes a less than wonderful review of the Conquest is the complaining negative type who is never pleased. The embarkation process was extremely quick. We arrived early at 12:30pm and basically walked on board. They said rooms would be ready at 2pm, but we were in our rooms at 1pm. We had plenty of storage and the room was terrific. We were on the Panorama Deck, and our steward was awesome. Always friendly, and every time we returned to the rooms the bed was made and room cleaned. She never knocked on the door while we were in the room once. Please tip your steward more than expected, they work hard. Room service was the only disappointing part of the cruise. We had ordered champagne and food tray for the day of arrival, and they didn't come until the 2nd day, and separately. However, we expressed our disappointment, and the Dining Manager sent up a complimentary bottle of Dom Perignon and chocolate strawberry's as an apology which was great. We dined in the Monet, and our server was terrific. The food was exceptional, and the dinner staff was the most entertaining part of the cruise. Definitely recommend dinner in the Money every evening possible. Dined at the Point the last night, and it was definitely worth the money. The casual dining on Lido had a lot of options, and they definitely try to offer variety each day. The lines were long at times, especially midnight buffet. We used the spa for several treatments, and the service was great. However, wait to book treatments after departure as each day offers different spa discounts. We traveled without kids, and tried to avoid kid traffic areas, however, the ship definitely had great options for kids if you have some of your own. The ship was a little rough a few nights due to bad weather, and we actually missed our port in Grand Cayman due to bad weather. I was sick the first 2 days until I got Meclazine from the infirmary, then I was great. However, I get motion sickness easily, and other passengers didn't seem bothered at all. I could go on and on about the huge list of daily and nightly activities including the casino, but there's too much to write. If you're looking for friendly service, variety, lots of room, great food, and lots of activity, then the Conquest is an awesome ship. If you're looking for an ultra-luxurious, quiet and peaceful retreat...then this isn't the ship for you. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
This was our first cruise with Carnival, and we have already planned another with our parents for next year. We flew into Houston Saturday night and rented a car. Because we were traveling with 2 friends, it was about the same cost to ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Carnival, and we have already planned another with our parents for next year. We flew into Houston Saturday night and rented a car. Because we were traveling with 2 friends, it was about the same cost to rent a car for the week and park for free at the Hilton in Galveston as it would have been for taxis or shuttles (we came in on Christmas Eve). The Hilton provided a complementary shuttle to the port on Sunday morning. We arrived around 11:30am. Our luggage was collected by Carnival and we proceeded inside. There was a short line, we were processed through, and found ourselves on the boat drinking complementary champagne by 12:30pm. By 2pm we were able to check into our rooms and our luggage had arrived. The staff were friendly and helpful in quickly providing me with non-feather bedding (I will know to request this in advance next time). The room was clean, and stayed that way the entire cruise with clean towels and adorable towel animals each day. Dining: I am not a high society eater, so I found the variety of food to be exciting. I love having lots of choices, and the ability to try everything I want. Breakfast was plentiful, the same each day, though I found the inside buffet to keep the food hotter. Lunches provided a variety of options - each day, one buffet sampled a particular country's cuisine, while the other had salads and hot entrees. Pizza, the grille, Chinese, and sandwiches were also available each day. Dinner was great - we were especially lucky to have two holidays while on our cruise where the chef provided special recipes. We chose the later dining time, and unless you have young children, I recommend this option. We were able to enjoy the sunset and take our time getting ready for dinner instead of rushing to get seated at 6pm. My one complaint with the food would be the sushi bar. I was excited to read about this amenity, and found myself disappointed with the service and selections each day. The sushi chef was often late, which led to a huge line down the hall. He took his time setting up and also tended to clean up early. Entertainment: The comedians were great. The first Vegas show was so bad we skipped the second one. The magician was so-so, though I heard she messed up in the second show. We had a juggler who was funny as well. Ports of Call: Jamaica - We chose not to book an excursion and instead went shopping and to Margaritaville. I don't think I'll ever take a cruise where we stop on this island - I didn't enjoy it at all. The only good thing was we didn't have to tender at this port. Grand Cayman - Thank you to everyone who recommended Captain Marvin - I'll do the same. The staff was great - the price was right - I will definitely use them again. We also did a little shopping and wished we had more time for that as well. The tender line to get back on the ship was a bit long. Cozumel - We went through the cruise ship and did the Mexican Cuisine excursion at Playa Mia. Great time with the cooking and tasting experience. All we could eat and drink as well as time to lay on the beach. This was the only thing we didn't like - we'd have preferred to have more time to go shopping back downtown before we caught our tender back to the ship. Staff: The dining room staff was great - we met a new couple our second night on the boat and the dining room staff were helpful in switching us to a new table with them. Our waiters, Shaun and Yona were fantastic and entertaining. Out room staff were great as well. The bartenders were friendly for the most part. I will say, it gets confusing as to what the drink specials are each day, and most of the staff don't know. I also felt the excursion staff and the information staff could have shared information better. Todd was a fantastic cruise director. Getting off the boat was not so easy, but not all Carnival's fault. We decided to check our bags because we were told we'd be off the boat by 10:30, and our flight wasn't until 4pm - plenty of time . . . until we heard an announcement that we'd be docking 5 hours late because of a thick fog. Carnival unloads in the following order: 1. Non-US Citizens 2. Express People (kept their bags to carry off themselves - we'll be doing this next time) 3. VIP/Carnival Vacation Club Members 4. Random order by floor - other guests However, after step 3, because of the 5 hour delay and many unhappy customers, Carnival allowed everyone waiting in the large lounge to get in line to leave the ship. We happened to be standing there and were able to leave the boat within the hour. Our Hilton shuttle was waiting to take us back to our rental car. We managed a small miracle in that we returned our rental car, checked our bags at 3:38, and were able to catch our 4pm flight. Thank goodness Hobby is such a small airport! Overall, this was a great vacation! I am looking forward to cruising with Carnival next December. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
EMBARKATION -- We really didn't know what to expect for embarkation. We arrived at 11:00 though and were in our rooms by 11:30. It was completely a non-issue. We had also been told that our luggage would not be delivered to our rooms ... Read More
EMBARKATION -- We really didn't know what to expect for embarkation. We arrived at 11:00 though and were in our rooms by 11:30. It was completely a non-issue. We had also been told that our luggage would not be delivered to our rooms until 7:00 or so that evening, but we had everything by 4:30. CABIN -- Our cabin was really great. We had a balcony on the Panorama deck and it was much larger than I had imagined it would be. The closet space was "eh" to "okay". Everything fit, but it was a little tight. There are some built in shelves which help with folded clothes as the drawer space is a little limited, too. All in all, the best word to describe space was "adequate". The bathroom was very functional. Water pressure in the shower was very good, and we never ran out of hot water. Getting used to the loud vacuum sound when you flushed took some time and was a source of many laughs throughout the cruise. Plus, there was a tile with a creepy picture of a shawled old lady right above the toilet which was a little off-putting. Our cabin stewardess was very nice and took fantastic care of us throughout the entire cruise. SERVICE -- Our service was mixed. Room service was horrible to say the least. I had ordered a bottle of Dom Perignon and a tray of canapes to be delivered at embarkation. When I called to ask about it I was told that the port of Galveston didn't allow alcohol to be delivered and that I would have to wait until "maybe the next day" which was a clear lie. Of course there were still the canapes that I had ordered to go along with the champagne...when would I like those delivered? There were at least 4 calls to clarify that I wanted them delivered WITH the champagne. The next day I was called to be notified that the canapes were ready to be delivered. When they arrived, they came with a generic $40 bottle of champagne which was a far cry from the $140 bottle of Dom that I had ordered and paid for. The champagne, when delivered, was delivered without an ice bucket and without glasses. The room service staff seemed put out I asked for glasses. Our second real incident was that on the second night of the cruise (the first "formal" night), my partner was too sea sick to stay for dinner. He went back to our stateroom to rest and ordered room service, which never came. On another incident, I had gone to the cigar bar to get a cigar cut and to retrieve some matches. The bartender told me that they were just finishing up tea service (the cigar bar is also where high tea is served...go figure), turned around and walked away. I guess in his mind, that was that and nothing else needed to be discussed. Now, in Carnival's defense, when I notified the Purser's desk about this (in writing, which I also e-mailed to Carnival from the internet cafe), they sent a letter to my cabin apologizing for our poor service experiences and sent a bottle of Dom Perignon as an apology. As for the remainder of the ship...service was great (except the one incident at the cigar bar I mentioned above). I had sushi every afternoon as a pre-dinner appetizer, and it was really very good. The coffee bar made excellent lattes and had some amazing looking deserts which I never tried. The bartender at the wine bar was very friendly. The casino staff was also very friendly, even making conversation at the table games. If you don't know how to play a game (I learned how to play Caribbean Stud Poker on this trip and won quite a few times) they are very good about teaching you without making you feel like an idiot. The staff had a great sense of humor and were good natured (I even joked with a few of them about being a "cooler" when I started loosing after a change of dealers). I highly recommend joining into the slots tournament - I won $500 on a $20 entry. Our service in the Monet room was fantastic! The waiter and assistant waiter for our table was hilarious and we made friends with them both over the course of the cruise. His honesty about certain dishes was very refreshing (made a sour face if we asked his opinion about something that he didn't recommend), and had our drinks ready for us at our table before we ever even arrived for dinner. I found the service at the Pinnacle restaurant (the on-board supper club) to be great, but in all honesty, not that much better than the Monet - probably because our service in Monet was just that good. FOOD -- The food on the cruise was very good in my opinion...and I'm kinda a food snob. We typically had breakfast each morning in the Cezzanne which is the Lido deck buffet style restaurant. Nothing over the top here, just your average fare. Eggs, breakfast meats, omelette bar, fresh fruit, blah blah blah. The pastry chef on board was great and made some really good breakfast pastries. I had breakfast one morning at the Monet which is a full service breakfast. It was fair. I had eggs benedict which were almost flavorless and a little cold. It wasn't terrible though. For lunch I would at least try Sur Mer which is the seafood restaurant on the Panorama deck, aft. The bouillabaisse was really good as was the seared ahi tuna and ceviche, both of which were very small portions. All of the fried foods were pretty bad in my opinion. The "fried blue point oysters" were a lot like a crispy pancake of fried batter with a couple of oysters hidden in there somewhere. The "fried calamari" reminded me of a giant hush puppy. The pizza was good, but not fantastic. The burger station was the same. Dinner was always very, very good. Caesar salad dressings were made from scratch (yes, there are real anchovies in there). The only entree that I had that was remotely "average" was a dover sole which I found to be small in portion size and dry. Everything else was excellent. Dinner at the Point was also excellent and worth the $30 per person cover charge. I had the porterhouse which was so large I couldn't finish it. While I would like to be able to comment on the chocolate buffet, I can't. From the size of the line to get to the deserts you would think that those people hadn't eaten in months. What I can say is that the deserts looked good...just didn't try them. PORTS -- Jamaica -- I could live the rest of my life without ever going back to Jamaica again. That said, I'm sure that we just didn't see the pretty parts of the island. The port, and the area around it, seem to be in a really impoverished part of the city. When we got off the boat we had a couple of hours to kill before our scheduled excursion, so we found an approved taxi to take us to a shopping area. Our driver was very friendly and we got his number for later in the day. We went to the city centre market area which was pretty scary, and smelled. On top of that, the shop owners were very pushy about getting you into their stores and getting you to buy something. You had to be pretty forceful about saying "no". We got out of there pretty quickly, called the driver who had taken us there to pick us up and went to Margaritaville. Margaritaville was great - had to have a "cheeseburger in paradise" and margarita. Picked up some souvenirs and went back to catch our excursion. We did the catamaran/snorkel adventure which was really fun. Once again, though, some of the crew was being very aggressive about trying to sell you things. We had a slight confrontation when my partner politely said that he had purchased some of the items she was selling "yesterday" instead of saying that he wasn't interested in her items. The staff member said - "you're on the Conquest right? They just pulled into port today". Grand Cayman -- We didn't get to go into Grand Cayman. The waters were too rough to tender us in and the port was closed due to safety concerns. Regrettable, but understandable. We steamed on to Cozumel. Cozumel -- I knew that there would be damage to the island, but I can't even begin to describe how much devastation those folks endured during hurricane Wilma. Even with all the devastation, the residents were incredibly nice and very happy to see Americans with hard currency to spend. They are working very hard to get the island back in shape, but they weren't quite there yet. All that being said, our excursion (Beginner's Scuba) was fantastic and we purchased the majority of our souvenirs there. While I would have tried to barter for price under normal circumstances, I just couldn't bring myself to do that this time and paid whatever price was marked. Also, we opted to have breakfast in Cozumel that morning rather than on the ship. There is a open air restaurant right across from the dock where the tenders land...it was awesome, cheap, and more food than either of us could eat. OVERALL -- Would I take this cruise again? Absolutely. You really get more than you pay for which makes it an incredible value. The accommodations were spacious and comfortable. On top of all that, it was incredibly fun. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
Ive been very busy since returning from our December 11 Carnival Conquest cruise. Christmas, New Years, and now back to work. If I dont write this review now I never will. I always appreciated people taking the time to write a review and ... Read More
Ive been very busy since returning from our December 11 Carnival Conquest cruise. Christmas, New Years, and now back to work. If I dont write this review now I never will. I always appreciated people taking the time to write a review and want to do the same. On December 10 we flew from Oklahoma City to Bush International and arrived to chilly, damp weather. But that was okay because we were on vacation. We had arranged for Galveston Limo to pick us up at 12:30 and were told it would take 2 hours to make it to Galveston. We were picked up by a large transportation bus. By the time we made 3 more stops to pick up additional passengers and drop them off at various hotels, it was 4:00 pm before we made it to our hotel. I was not very happy with the discrepancy in transport times. I believe you should be told it will take several hours due to picking up additional passengers and dropping them off. We probably would have made alternate transportation plans to get us to Galveston. We always fly in a day early because you never know what the weather may do or what delays may come up. We stayed at the San Luis Resort. It was beautifully decorated for Christmas! The staff was very cordial and helpful. They have a fabulous pool area, which was heated. If it had been a bit warmer I am sure we would have enjoyed using it. We walked across the street and ate dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. There were several other places to eat but we were tired and just wanted something close. We enjoyed breakfast at the IHOP the following morning. Wonderful place to stay. Cost was $139/night. Sunday morning brought sunshine and warmer weather. The hotel provided transportation to the pier. We had arranged for a 12:30 ride but were able to catch an earlier bus around 11:30. Due to receiving a wonderful upgrade to a penthouse suite, we were able to bypass the lines and go to the Skippers Club to check in. But I did check the lines and they werent very bad. So after a quick check-in, we got a picture made and went quickly for our ID pics on our Sail & Sign Card and it was on the ship and to our cabin. As I mentioned, we had been upgraded to a penthouse suite. I dont know how it happened or why but we were truly thankful. It was a beautiful stateroom. There were 3 full closets with plenty of storage. The living area had a large curved sofa (that would open to another bed), table and two chairs. There was a desk area with shelves that had several different bar glasses to use. Small frig that we didnt use at all. We were brought ice twice a day. We had brought some things from home and enjoyed an evening cocktail. The balcony was fantastic with two lounge chairs, two regular chairs and a small table. I enjoyed some time there reading and loved to look out at the wake at night. Just lovely. There was a dressing area with a large vanity area, including a sink, outside of the bathroom. I spent a lot of time there. The bathroom was great with two sinks, toilet, bide, and Jacuzzi tub with a shower. It was quite a treat for us. Of course there was a TV, and several channels that we enjoyed. Three channels had recent movies playing on them. Ship Info It took us a while to learn our way around the ship. You just had to pay attention to the signage and it wasnt too bad. You had to cut through the dining rooms quite a bit to get around though. Oh well, no big deal. The Lido Deck (Deck 9) was great. There were lots of lounges and some really cool big, blue plastic rockers. Of course the lounges closest to the pools were always taken up first but that normal. We had close lounges one time and the next time further away. The kids, and some adults, enjoyed the water slide, which was right next to a pool. There were two other pools, one which was busy with all the deck activities and the other one was quieter and covered. Both of them had two hot tubs nearby. There were several different eateries  Basic buffet line (didnt care for the setup. It took too long to get through. I would suggest look at the way Princess and Royal Caribbean does their buffet.) The seafood place above the buffet dining room, the deli (which had great sandwiches), sushi place (which we never tried), 24/7 pizza (pretty good), and the hamburger/hotdog grills by the main pool area (good stuff). There were soft serve ice cream and yogurt machines in two locations (which we frequently enjoyed). We enjoyed the dining room food at dinner, except for the sweets. No complaints there. The staff was friendly and efficient. ¬¬Entertainment We enjoyed the shows. I had some read complaints these werent up to Vegas standards. These dancers put on a different show each night, with a smile on their faces. They obviously worked hard. The costumes were bright and colorful and choreography was good for a small stage on a moving ship. You will get no complaints from us. The ventriloquist was okay, the female magician very so-so, the juggler fantastic. There was the usual bingo, and various other games to keep people busy during the day. I felt there was a variety of things for all ages. The Henri disco was quite busy most nights. We went about 3 times. Each time a different experience. I guess I am getting old (46) but some of the dancing we saw was degrading to women and sad to see. But if you allow yourself to be degraded thats your business. (Off my soapbox now) Excursions We went to Sunset Beach Resort in Jamaica. $40/pp $5/taxi to get there and $5to return We loved it. It started out a bit cloudy so we left the beach and went to the lazy river pool area. Got much warmer. Spent a lot of time there floating around. There were 2 water slides that children and adults both enjoyed and another pool close to swim in or relax by. The drinks and food were included in the daypass price. There were areas we didnt even get to explore but weve already booked our cruise for next year and plan to return. $90 for the day felt reasonable to us. This was not a ship-sponsored excursion. In Grand Cayman we swam with the stingrays. Lots of fun. Everyone has to try it. We didnt have time to shop there but plan to next year. This was a ship-sponsored excursion. In Cozumel we shopped. It was our first time there so we couldnt compare it to pre-hurricane status. The day got a bit rainy so we came back to the ship and relaxed. Our last day at sea was rainy and we encountered a squall. That was a bummer but no ones fault. I think lots of people got a bit seasick but fortunately we were fine. Disembarkation We had an early flight (1:38 pm) and were able to get tags to be called early. We did not self-assist. We had 5 bags and didn't want to try that. Passengers are given specific directions on this process and of course there is always someone who doesn't pay attention. There was a delay because someone left before they were called and customs help them up. We got off about 9:40 am and it was painless from there. We made it to the airport in plenty of time for our flights. I tried to be thorough in my review but know Ive left out plenty. I hit the main areas and am free to answer any questions. Please list Conquest in the subject line because I dont open e-mails from strangers. We loved it and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. Next year we will be sailing on the new RC Freedom of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
We just returned from the Elation 5 night cruise to Progreso and Veracruz. What follows is a review of the ship, activities and ports. First, this was originally booked as a return cruise aboard the Ecstasy. Hurricane Katrina and the ... Read More
We just returned from the Elation 5 night cruise to Progreso and Veracruz. What follows is a review of the ship, activities and ports. First, this was originally booked as a return cruise aboard the Ecstasy. Hurricane Katrina and the events of FEMA changed that, so Carnival put the Elation in service for the Ecstasy routes. The Ship The Elation entered in service in the late 90's and has a 2052 guest capacity. The Fantasy-class of ships are all slab sided with few balcony staterooms. This ship represents a major step up in dEcor, quality, maintenance and value versus the Ecstasy. The atrium is tastefully decorated, and the color theme is much more subdued than the bad 80's disco the Ecstasy radiates. We had an outside cabin on the Main Deck, and with a family of three the room was adequate in size. Our cabin steward was not visible after the first day. The room was clean, the shower and bathroom area large enough for our needs and well stocked with sundries. The shower was my favorite, and when turned up felt more like a pressure washer than a shower. Be careful with small kids and the hot water, it's enough to hurt sensitive skin. Carnival still cannot get the windows clean on the port side, and we had a view similar to a soapy glass shower door. Tiffany's casual dining is the second much improved area over the Ecstasy, and the food choices were good, hot and the lines were never long. The only time they were more than five minutes were at sail-away and breakfast. If you don't want an omelet then step around the line. This caused confusion on a few mornings. Also, the Lido Grill served breakfast as well, and the choices were the same as Tiffany's. As noted from the Ecstasy last November, Carnival still puts a tub of ice in the drink stations at peak times. This is an invitation for people to drag their cups and hands in the ice for their fellow guests. Note to Carnival; consider the Norwalk virus and other disease threats and stop this. No excuse exists, if something is broke with the ice dispenser then take my money from the cruise and fix it. The cruise staff members were funny, full of energy and very cordial. We enjoyed the trivia contest, name-that-tune, bingo, game show and not-so-newlywed games. All were entertaining. A couple of things missing from these events were audio clips introducing the shows and music. It seemed somewhat sterile (versus the ice tubs above.) While on music, the Lido Deck pre-recorded music choices were bad. The volume level was low enough for the songs to be unrecognizable. The music one deck below on Elation Way was better, at adequate levels and should be switched to the Lido. The show theatre remains a Carnival mystery to me. The layout had poles in sight lines and chairs with obstructed views. We did enjoy the round lounge table seating, as six were in the group traveling together. If you want one of these seats you'd better finish dessert quickly. All three of the production shows were very good, with Spin being the best. The Elation has DMX lighting (for the tech geeks) and the digital effects and programming of these were perfect. Dining choices reflect a Carnival tradition with 24-hour pizza, snack buffet's, Tiffany's and the two dining choices. Our group was assigned the Inspiration Dining Room and Pierre the singing Maitre D' was a great addition. The food choices reflect significant improvement, and were quickly served and hot. The lobster was great! Observations from our group were the shortage of dining staff, as they had more tables that we've seen on cruises past. The wait staff was nearly running to keep up. Also, even with an evening that was past sunset the curtains were closed. This made the room darker than we've experienced on past Carnival cruises and other cruise lines. Three in the group choose the Soda Card, and found ample bars and beverage service in all areas except the dining room. I had to look for the cocktail waiter on thee of the five nights for a soda. While on the dining room topic, several reviews discuss dress at formal dinner. This was a cruise with many families, and my unscientific guess would place less than 10% of the men in tuxedos. A large number selected polo's and khakis for dinner and the greatest number wore suits or a sport jacket. I could care less what someone wears to dinner, and even if my tablemates came in feathers it would not change the quality of my entrEe. I cannot comment on he quality of alcohol aboard the ship, as none in the group drank. This was a good choice on the evening we left Progreso, as the seas turned rough and many retreated to their cabins early. This was our 11th cruise and the first to see seasick bags at the elevators and public areas. Onboard shops were not as large as some of those on other ships and were well stocked with the usual logo merchandise. The watches and jewelry prices were no more competitive than the local Sams Club or Costco. The Ports We were scheduled to visit Cozumel, and with the effects of Hurricane Wilma this was one of the first ships to return to that Mexican paradise. A late season tropical storm made that not a safe choice and the captain had a letter delivered to the cabin the first night informing us of a substitution being Veracruz. Veracruz is a city full of history, civic pride and friendly people. At least 500 of the locals came to the downtown dock to watch us sail away at 8:00 pm that evening. What Veracruz lacks is the clear water for snorkeling, and a shopping list of shore excursions cruise ship passengers have grown to expect. We ventured on our own to the aquarium and shopping area, and were in the middle of a safe, friendly environment. After the aquarium stop we shopped at the local merchants along the waterfront. As mentioned above, this city is rich in cultural history, and with more time to spend we could have seen more. Progreso was our first port, and the pier is isolated from town. A cab or shore excursion is required if you desire to venture past the few shops along the waterfront. We selected the Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins & Mexican Rodeo Show and had a great time. The bus ride to the ruins was short and comfortable. The ruins are an impressive tribute to the Mayans and their architecture, culture and religion. The teenagers in our group were as impressed with the tour as the adults. The second stop was the Mexican Rodeo Show. This event included a fresh cooked lunch and native dancers. The entertainment was traditional Mexican ceremonial dance and fun to watch. The rodeo show was in an arena next to the gardens area. The show was not a rodeo as we know in Texas, but a riding and roping exhibition. The ceremony included a flag display, roping tricks and a narrative of the traditional Mexican cowboy or vaquero. Comments The Elation is a welcome substitute for the Ecstasy. We live within a 40-minute drive from Galveston, and with a school age daughter this agenda has reflected a fun Thanksgiving break for three years. In that time we've sailed aboard the Celebration, Ecstasy and now the Elation. Age and architecture design contribute to the quality of experience, but the Carnival staff on all three ships made our vacation fun. As with cruises and all vacations, you get what you pay for. Galveston is a drive-up port, and with 4-5 day cruises the ships are not the newest, not the most glamorous and offer ports limited to sailing distance. We miss Cozumel! And we hope that those people that depend on US tourism return their wonderful island paradise to its original beauty. We'll be there in March aboard the Splendour of the Seas, and I'll report back then with what we saw. Life's Short, Enjoy The Ride. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
First of all this was my second cruise and I was very impressed. Keep in mind I booked this cruise on a Friday and left on Monday. It will not be so easy in the future since everyone will have to have a passport regardless of where you are ... Read More
First of all this was my second cruise and I was very impressed. Keep in mind I booked this cruise on a Friday and left on Monday. It will not be so easy in the future since everyone will have to have a passport regardless of where you are going. I was only required to have a birth certificate and my drivers license. The first ship I cruised on was very small, thank God it was my first cruise because I didn't really know what to expect. Getting on the Elation was very easy. I dropped my luggage off at the drop off location with a lot of assistance from the Carnival luggage guy. He asked me what floor my cabin was on and I told him I had no clue, I only had the printout that was emailed to me from when I booked the cruise on the phone three days before. He looked at the printout and told me where I would be and said that I had a very nice cabin, I thought to myself, wow he knows what my cabin looks like that is pretty neat. Now I think to myself, he had no clue what it looked like he was just working for his tip and did a pretty good job of it. Since it was fairly early and I was getting dropped off I asked if I had to stay with my luggage and he assured me it would be taken care of and would be waiting in my room later. After dropping my luggage off I went to have lunch with my parents and was then dropped off again. Since I live so close to Galveston my parents offered to drop me off to save a few extra bucks for parking. I am starting to get a little nervous boarding the ship since I am going on this trip solo. I managed to make my way to my cabin, get my luggage unpacked, touch up my makeup and make my way back down for the lifeboat drill (or whatever they call it hehe). Since we are still in Texas and it is only November it was very warm up on the deck with life-jackets on standing very close to other cruisers but I managed. I still have some butterflies in my stomach but they are getting better. I went back to my cabin and grabbed my camera and made it back up to the deck right when the sun was starting to go down and was able to get some awesome pictures. I pretty much keep my itinerary with me to know when and where I need to be for what is scheduled, there was a lot to do so I kept it close. I guess the next event was Jorge (btw he was awesome) and the welcome aboard show. After that I found my way to the late seating at the dining room and sat down with what I thought was going to be all men. Thank God out of nowhere this angel appeared. Come to find out everyone at the table I was seated at was solo cruisers. The angel I was talking about was Rhonda and she sat down next to me and we started talking like we had known each other our whole life. From that moment we hung out pretty much the whole time. We went to the late show that night and then went and hung out at the Jekyll and Hyde Club. We met some other cruisers. It was three guys that were together and they were in a group of I think about 11 people. We would stay up late every night and I don't really know about them but I took advantage of being on vacation and slept in. Well to be honest I got up 2 mornings at around 6, got dressed, put a baseball cap on and made my way down to Tiffany's for breakfast. After I got my belly full I went back to bed til after noon. We kind of got screwed up on our port of calls so we really didn't know where we were going til the last minute. After I found out that we would be in Meridia (might be spelt wrong sorry) many people told me not to even bother getting off the ship. I took their advice and woke up just in time to see Meridia as we were sailing off. My friend that I met told me she had got off the ship and walked around to a couple little shops but didn't see much. The shows we saw were pretty neat and the live Philippine band at the Romeo and Juliet Club were amazing. One night Josh aka "Big Sexy" sang with them and boy he really amazed me with his voice. Oh and one of the main girls at the shows sang a few times in between the band taking a break and she also had an excellent voice. I have to fill you in on this too.........The boat was very rocky in the last few nights. While walking I had to brace myself more that once and I noticed I wasn't the only one. That made it bad when I got off the ship because I felt as though I was still on the ship for days after that. One more thing and I will stop........I promise........I happened to be getting on one of the elevators after being on the ship for only about an hour and met up with someone that looked familiar. Come to find out I work at the same place her daughter works (what a small world). One of the ladies she was with owns a limo company and told me I could ride home with them. I have to say my parents were very pleased that they didn't have to come pick me up. I am pretty much certain had I went on this cruise with another person I would never of had as much fun as I did. I made a friend for life and also met someone that I plan on seeing very soon. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
This was my first cruise and the first time my husband and I had gone on vacation together without kids in our 20 years together. We loved every minute of it, with the possible exception of one day when the seas were a bit rough. I ... Read More
This was my first cruise and the first time my husband and I had gone on vacation together without kids in our 20 years together. We loved every minute of it, with the possible exception of one day when the seas were a bit rough. I expected to get seasick, as I sometimes get carsick. My doctor is a frequent cruiser and gave me "the patch" but told me not to put it on unless I started feeling bad, as most of the time it made you feel bad to start with. I never even opened the package. Due to Hurricane Wilma, we docked in Progreso and Vera Cruz instead of Cancun and Cozumel, which was just fine with me. My husband and I both grew up on the border of Mexico and expected it to be just like we were used to... boy were we surprised! Neither town was as dirty or "touristy" as we were expecting, and Vera Cruz is lovely. Our tour guides to Dzbilchaltun Mayan Ruins were fantastic (Progreso), and in Vera Cruz we just hired a taxi driver who drove us all over town on an impromptu tour of his own, took us to the Aquarium (and waited for us) and then returned us to the ship for $30. I'm sure it helped that we spoke Spanish. The souvenirs on the dock at Vera Cruz were reasonably priced and there was A LOT of armed Mexican Coast Guard officers patrolling to make sure the tourists were safe from pickpockets or other nuisances. The food was good and I highly recommend the "formal" dinner option for those who don't get to try a lot of variety of foods. We're from rural Central Texas, and it was a treat to us to try new things. Our wait staff was very accommodating. We even enjoyed eating in the formal dining rooms for breakfast as we met so many new people each day at our table. Our only unpleasant experiences were with other passengers -- one lady at our breakfast table was upset that she had to sit next to a stranger -- and another lady was attempting to obtain signatures on a petition to get her money back on her ticket because she didn't get to go snorkeling due to the hurricane. We returned to Galveston on November 5th. On November 9th, my husband of 20 years died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack while at work. I will treasure my Carnival experience because I got to share a last dance with him and have our pictures taken together -- just the two of us. My only regret is that when he finally convinced me to sing Karaoke to him, I sang what I wanted and not what he asked me to sing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
We drove down to Galveston from Memphis the night before our cruise departed. Stayed in a clean, affordable hotel on the seawall and spent the next day doing some sight seeing around Galveston. We parked our car at the hotel free for the ... Read More
We drove down to Galveston from Memphis the night before our cruise departed. Stayed in a clean, affordable hotel on the seawall and spent the next day doing some sight seeing around Galveston. We parked our car at the hotel free for the week and took a cab from the seawall to the port of Galveston ($10 plus tip). We arrived at the port at 1:30 and encountered absolutely no lines. We never had to sit in any chairs, we breezed right through from security, to a Carnival employee who took our documents and gave us our Sail and Sign card, then onto get our photo, no line there either. We were in our stateroom by 1:45 -- a real breeze. Our stateroom was clean. The bathroom was efficient, small, but certainly usable. We never met our room steward the entire week, but our towels were always replenished and the bed turned down, our capers and chocolates on the bed. The only complaint with the steward is that he/she was very spotty with providing ice on a daily basis. At least two days, the ice bucket was never filled. This was our first cruise, and honestly didn't feel like ringing up the steward to tell her/him that we needed ice, so we went to Lido deck and filled it ourselves. As a non smoker I was concerned with the possibility of smoke odor in the stateroom, but absolutely none was evident and I'm pretty sensitive to cigarette smoke. The bed was comfortable to my husband who likes a firm mattress, I on the other hand woke up with a back ache every morning, I prefer a softer mattress. The ship was immaculate. We always saw someone cleaning something. The exception was the windows which were pretty dirty. Although I imagine that it would be difficult to clean the windows while at sea. There was no evidence of deck chair saving and hogging and always seemed to be plenty of seating on deck for everyone. The weather was perfect and the decks were full, but not crowded. I thought the pools were small, and we didn't utilize them all week. They were also filled with salt water, this may be common on a cruise ship, but not desirable to us. There was not an excessive amount of cigarette smoke anywhere on ship with the exception of the casino, where I would expect it to be pretty smokey. The food was hit or miss. We dined in the Renoir (6:15) and had some items that were outstanding (Chicken Carnivale, Flourless Chocolate Cake, bread pudding, Tilapia). However some items were not very good at all, for example, no matter how I ordered my beef dishes they always came back to me well done. We could always find plenty to eat however and never left hungry. The salad was always fresh, the bread always plentiful. Our wait staff was outstanding, they truly made dining a delight. The Lido deck buffet was again hit or miss. Cool to lukewarm at best. Some items were good, some not. Lots of fresh fruit and fresh salads and bread so can't complain about being hungry!! The breakfast buffet was monotonous after a week. They need to work on switching it up a bit. The omelette station was good and served hot omelettes on a consistently good basis. The alternative dining choices were all quite good. We tried the Grille, PC Wok, Sur Mer and the pizzeria. All were hot and quite good. We also dined at The Point, Supper club. This was outstanding. My filet was cooked to perfection, my husband's surf and turf was outstanding. The baked onion soup was delicious beyond any I've ever tried. The Chocolate Tarte for dessert was a meal unto itself. I would highly recommend The Point, make reservations early. Well worth the extra $30 per person. In addition, ice cream is available 24 hours as is room service and pizza. Although we did not try room service. The shows were entertaining although the production numbers lacked enthusiasm and professionalism. It was almost as if they thought dressing the girls up in thongs would distract the audience enough not to notice the bad dancing. It must have worked, my husband enjoyed the shows more than I did. The professional talent, Ron Joseph, Phat Kat, Deva of Deception, were all outstanding. Highly entertaining. There were always activities onboard to participate in if you desired. But also plenty of places to find a quiet place to read and lay out in the sun if you chose to. Ports of call were Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Playa Del Carmen. Our excursion in Montego Bay was the Appleton Estates Rum Tour -- a long drive up into the mountains. Don't do this tour if you're prone to getting car sick. Grand Cayman swimming with the stingrays was amazing, also snorkeling a coral reef, truly wonderful. There were seven ships in port that day however, and shopping in town was next to impossible. Tendering in was a lot easier then we had thought as was catching the tender back to the ship. Flawless, no lines at all. I think a lot of people chose to stay on ship because of the 7 ships in port. We stopped at Playa Del Carmen instead of Cozumel, courtesy of Hurricane Wilma's visit two weeks prior. PDC was wonderful, beautiful despite the evident damage from Wilma. We toured the ruins of Tulum and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in Mayan culture. The tendering to and from shore was efficient and comfortable. No problems. Debarkation was also a breeze. We did self assist, left our cabin at 6:45 and were through customs, off the ship, and back at our car at the hotel two miles away by 7:30. Overall a truly enjoyable trip. I'd highly recommend this cruise to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
Embarkation was extremely easy. We arrived at the port at 12:30 pm and were in our cabin by 1:10 pm. We never even had to sit in the blue chairs. The ship is extremely beautiful. The decor is lovely. The meals in the dining room and at ... Read More
Embarkation was extremely easy. We arrived at the port at 12:30 pm and were in our cabin by 1:10 pm. We never even had to sit in the blue chairs. The ship is extremely beautiful. The decor is lovely. The meals in the dining room and at the buffet for dinner are both of equal quality. Some days the food was excellent, some days it could use a little help. Our cabin was extremely well kept and the room stewards were very friendly. One thing we did notice by the buffet line. Someone spilled some water and it took about 10 workers to decide who was supposed to clean it up. It was rather funny to watch each one of them walk by (mostly men) and tell someone else to clean it up. Finally, one of the young girls came with a mop and cleaned it up. The excursions were nice however there were 6 other ships at Grand Cayman and the crowds were unreal. Also a lot of the islands still had storm damage, which cannot be avoided. It would be better if there were fewer ships at Grand Cayman. The shows were nice except I was on this ship 2 years ago and they all were exactly the same. I was hoping some of them had changed. The on board entertainment by the pools was always entertaining. Disembarkment was also excellent. We chose to self disembark and were in our car by 7:10 am. This is a wonderful cruise even the second time around. I would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
This was our first cruise. We are in our 30s and left the children at home. My sister-in-law and her husband also came who stayed next door. Overall, we had an awesome time. We flew in one day early as part of our package and stayed at ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We are in our 30s and left the children at home. My sister-in-law and her husband also came who stayed next door. Overall, we had an awesome time. We flew in one day early as part of our package and stayed at Hotel Tremont in Galveston, TX. The Lone Star motorcycle rally was going on that weekend. Except for having to deal with the extra traffic, the rally was an experience. We had never seen so many motorcycles in our life. Hotel Tremont was staffs was polite, but acted "stuffy". Embarkation: We were dropped of by our hotel van about 12:30. The process was pretty painless. Crowd control was great. Lines was smooth. We were eating lunch at the Lido deck by 1:00. We were told that our cabins will be ready by 2:00, and it was. Room service: 24 hour service via simple telephone. Rated 90% for accuracy, 98% for promptness, and 100% for service with a smile. Limited menu only, mostly sandwiches and snacks. Be sure to order double of cookies and brownies, because the portions are very small. You tip at the time of delivery, usually 1 dollar. Cabin staffs: Very friendly and very accommodating. Our cabin staff was very quick with our request and our room stayed very clean. He gets and A+ and rated 100%. Supper Club: We did not have a chance to use this service. Book early if you want to eat at The Point. By the time we wanted to try it it was too late. There is an extra $30 pp. Casino: We enjoyed every moment we lost our money. Atmosphere was okay. It was a bit crowded in the evening. Staffs was cheerful while they take your $$$. Expect to loose, winning is rare. Rated 90% for entertainment purposes only. The casino is closed while at port. Spa and Fitness Center: Did not use. Plenty of ways to exercise by walking and using the stairs. Not rated. Camp Carnival: Visited the facility for future references. Left the kids at home, ha ha ha. They looked like they were having fun. They had their own private area. Looked clean and organize. It was announced that there were over 500 children on board. We hardly noticed any children, they must keep them busy. Not rated. Renoir Dinning Room: We had early seating at 6:15 pm. We had met some new friends from our tables. It was setup with 2 couples per table with 3 tables together. We had a blast. The service was perfect. Our headwaiter was Rommel and his assistant Chalinee for table 136. We could have not asked for a better service. They were personable and very professional. After the first night, they called us by our names and knew our favorites. Accuracy was A+ 100%, Attitude was A+ 100%. Tip them nicely, they work very hard. They also perform dances and singing right before dessert. It was marvelous. The food was rated 94%, many choices available. Food had great presentation, bland at times. Seafood was excellent. Don't be afraid to ask for extra of something if you like, the portions were small. The breads and desserts were A+, 95% for the bakers. I cannot say enough for dinning experience, we looked forward to it every night. Monet Dinning Room: We ate there for breakfast. No reservations required. Be ready to be seated randomly with people. Food was good and service was good. They were not as friendly as staffs at dinner. We met some older folks who had cruised 20+ times. They said that the Conquest is one of their favorites. We only tried eating here once. Never tried it for lunch. We were much too busy. Other foods: The sushi bar was open only on certain time, it was good. The sandwich restaurant was better than "Subway". The seafood fish and chip located on the top deck was good, only got to try it once. The oriental restaurant had some very nice staffs, food had limited menu but taste was great. Did not try the specialty coffee shop, it cost extra. The piano bar had afternoon tea with various desserts, try at least once, it was excellent. The lido on the ninth floor is where the most food are! You gain a pound for every hour you stay on this floor, and no I am not kidding. The grill had great steak sandwiches. The pizza is served 24 hrs a day, try the calzone it is worth the wait. Soft serve ice-cream 24 hrs availability. Entertainment: The cruise director Todd was SUPER!!! He was full of energy and exceptional. Todd and his helpers Sarah and Jen had given us memories to last a lifetime. The comedy shows and magic show was A+ 99%. Comedy show was kind of "risque" at times, but they warn you at the begriming and only happens at night. The Conquest dancers were young and some seems very inexperienced. The dancers gets B+ for effort. Don't miss the ice carving in the lido deck in the afternoon on the first formal night. They also had a hairy chest contest that was so funny I could not contain myself. There was so much to do! If you get bored, it is your fault. Todd and his helpers gets A+ 100+. The Captain: Got to meet him personally on first formal night's cocktail party. He seems very nice. He was Italian. I loved his accent. The captain and his crew did a great job "manning" the ship. Very little movement noted, smooth sailing 99% of the time. Ports of Calls: Montego Bay, Jamaica was kind of scarry with too many people approaching you to take their Taxi. The people was very pushy. We went to Doctor Cave Beach and Margaritaville. It was fun. Try to go the bank across the street and take home some Jamaican money for souvenir. Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands was rushed. We took a tour through Carnival. Turtle farm received some damage from hurricane Ivan and still under construction. The "hell" stop was very rushed and not much there, be sure to send a postcard to your preacher that you had been to Hell and back, he he he. The sting ray was my highlight of my vacation. Swimming with the sting rays was an experience we will never forget, don't forget your water camera. Playa Del Carmen, Mexico not as much bargain as I thought. Don't fall for the timeshare spill they offer you. They tell you that there is food and refreshments and "free stuffs". Just skip it, you will waste 2 hours of your precious port time. Just say Nooooooooo way. We wished we were able to go to Cozumel : ( , maybe next time. Disembarkation: We had VIP tags due to immigration process (I am a Filipino Citizen) Overall it was organize. We met in a nice lounged and they checked off our names and off we went to be checked out together. Summary: The ship was beautiful and huge. The staffs was great. I will go on this cruise again. Thanks to Carnival! Thank you Todd. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
This was the first cruise that I have been on as a gift from my mom. I had no idea what to expect. My mother had sailed with Carnival in the summer and had a great experience, so all I had to go on was what she had experienced. The ... Read More
This was the first cruise that I have been on as a gift from my mom. I had no idea what to expect. My mother had sailed with Carnival in the summer and had a great experience, so all I had to go on was what she had experienced. The Conquest more than met my expectations. It was elegant and beautiful and I am absolutely hooked, addicted even, to cruising!! Todd Whittemer, our cruise director was hysterical, must have had a coffee IV, I don't think he ever slept!! The activities were great, no excuses to be bored. So much to do!!! The ability to relax, kickback, whatever was super! Left the kids at home with my hubby!! The food was great, loved the Monet Dining experience. Our servers Nat and Petcha were great and met all our needs. Our room steward was super. My favorite thing to do in the evening was going to the piano bar to see Damian. He was awesome!! Funny, talented, entertaining....even had the pleasure of seeing our cruise director, Todd sing a few songs!! What surprised me the most was the talent on the ship. Everyone was an entertainer!! I would recommend the Conquest to anyone and cannot wait to take my husband!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
This is my review of my first cruise, aboard the Conquest for Thanksgiving week. It will be long and detailed, so I will break it up into sections. I was still on that beautiful ship just nine days ago, but it seems like forever! Here goes ... Read More
This is my review of my first cruise, aboard the Conquest for Thanksgiving week. It will be long and detailed, so I will break it up into sections. I was still on that beautiful ship just nine days ago, but it seems like forever! Here goes Day One... Embarkation was an absolute dream, after the expectations I had from reading the negative experiences of others. We arrived at EZ cruise at around 11:45, after dropping our luggage at the pier and, of course, tipping the porter. We took our time walking back to the pier, and arrived at about 11:55. The Skippers Club benefit of priority check-in was great! With no waiting beforehand, we got our S&S cards while sitting in an office off to the side of the long line of passengers waiting for regular check-in. When we asked if the other members of our party could check in with us, Carnival staff cheerfully cooperated, and the people in the two cabins that were not suites were given the Skippers Club priority boarding as well! All six of us had our S&S cards very quickly. We were given the option of skipping the embarkation photo op, and thereby the long line to board, and we readily agreed. We were then escorted by a uniformed Carnival rep past the lengthy line of folks waiting for their photos to be taken; through the velvet rope barriers that he unhooked to let us pass. Boy, did it make us feel like VIP's! We were aboard the ship by 12:15...it was a breeze! Following advice I received from fellow CC'ers, I went to the dining room immediately upon boarding to request a change in our dining assignment. (The 16 in our extended group had linked our bookings together and had all requested early dining, since we had a three year old and a six year old amongst us. However, we were assigned 8:30 in the Renoir.) I was told that the Maitre d' would not be available for dining assignment change requests until 4:30, so I rejoined the two sisters of mine who were sharing the cabin with me and we looked around the ship for a few minutes. The ship was awe-inspiring for us newbies, as I am sure it is for most first-time cruisers. The lobby had the air of a grand hotel; very elegant. There were lovely garlands and wreathes hung for Christmas, and several decorated Christmas trees were located throughout the public areas. Nice backdrops for photos! We were naughty...it was not even 1:00 and we went straight up to our cabin, #7273 on the Empress Deck/Deck 7, to see if it was ready, though we had been instructed to refrain from doing so until 2:00. Our wonderful room steward, a young man named Dave from Trinidad and Tobago, greeted us warmly and showed us where we could stash our carry-on luggage so that it would be out of his way while he finished preparing the room. We took this opportunity to tell him that we wanted the twin beds configuration rather than one queen, as three adult women would be sharing the cabin. We also asked Dave to keep our soft sided cooler filled with ice. We gave him a nice tip and said that we looked forward to a wonderful cruise. Then it was up to the Lido deck for a Funship Special with the prerequisite umbrella...our cruise experience was finally beginning! We enjoyed just walking on the deck sipping our drinks, occasionally pinching ourselves just to be sure we weren't dreaming. Then we hungrily hit the grill for lunch. More details on food and dining later. Next we returned to our room, which had been prepared as requested with the twin beds. Our cooler was full of ice, as well. Most of our luggage had arrived at this point, and we had a boat-load of it, pardon the pun. Between the three of us in our cabin we had seventeen pieces. But in our defense, at the end of our trip it was down to nine pieces. More on this later too. We had agreed to meet the rest of our friends and family, an extended party of 16, as well as fellow CC'ers, at the Skypool Bar at 4:00. I didn't plan this very well; we CC'ers should have agreed to wear something identifiable or found some other way to know who each other were. I resorted to just walking around the area like some silly town crier, inquiring, "Cruise Critic? Cruise Critic?" Met a couple of fellow CC'ers that way, but we didn't really get to know any of them during the cruise, though they seemed very friendly. I am sure that having such a large group of our own family & friends did not lend itself to meeting & getting to know new friends. But there's always next cruise for that... I left the Skypool area to head back down to the Renoir for my chat with the Maitre d'. He told me that it was unlikely that they could accommodate my request for our party to change to early dining, due to it being Thanksgiving week and having such a large number of children aboard. He said I would be notified the next day as to the result of my request. (Next day, I got a call in my cabin to inform me that it would not be possible to change our assignment. Oh well, I tried. My poor little three year old niece was asleep in her macaroni and cheese by the time the main course arrived, every single night!) Up to the room to meet up with my sisters and grab our lifejackets, as the muster drill was scheduled for 5:00. Following CC advice we waited until the last minute to report to our station. Fairly painless, lasted only about 15 to 20 minutes, then we were first out because we were last in. Back to our rooms to drop off the life vests. All of our luggage had arrived, save one piece, so we all unpacked. I am pleased to report that my, ahem, creatively filled soda bottles, ahem, arrived just fine! Let me tell you, Category 11 Suites on the Conquest leave nothing to be desired in the storage department. Three women and seventeen pieces of luggage...and we still had more than adequate room to unpack all of our things and stow all of our luggage out of sight. There are drawers, cupboards, and closets everywhere they can find space to put them. We had a few cupboards that we did not even use, and I am a shoes and purse freak! Plus we had eight of the seventeen pieces of luggage still packed (with donations for a Jamaican orphanage) so they could not be placed inside one another before stowing underneath a bed or in a closet. The over-the-door shoe holder was a great organizer; I'll never cruise without it. The duct tape came in handy several times, especially for the balcony decorations I put up. I hung a red, white and blue banner across our balcony above the door that had triangular flags with stars and stripes. Also taped a Texas flag to the balcony, but the flapping bothered one of my sisters so that came down. The banner stayed for the whole cruise, though, and it was great, because we could spot our cabin while tendering and in ports. I also brought magnets and ribbons for door decorations for our group's cabins, so I decorated our door and delivered decks to the others' cabins. Sure made it easy to find our group's rooms, since we were scattered on four decks! If any of you who were on our sailing walked past rooms with "Crazy Sister" decorations on them, you know what I mean. We wanted to be up on deck for sailaway, but if there was an announcement or other sign that we were about to sail we all missed it. Thank goodness we had a balcony, so at least when we felt the ship begin to move we could step right outside and hear the ocean sounds as we sailed out of Galveston Bay. Luggage unpacked, balcony and door decorated...what to do now? We planned three surprise celebrations while onboard and I ordered a total of five cakes for them. The first celebration was a birthday party for our oldest sister, so we went ahead and wrapped her gifts and decorated our suite for the party. The cake I ordered from Carnival for that party was waiting for us when we first arrived in our room, as I had ordered it to be. However, the cake read only "Happy Birthday" rather than the custom message I requested. Strike one on the cakes I ordered. Party preparations handled, we used the remaining time before dinner to explore the ship, another Funship Special in hand. After preparing for dinner, our large group entered the Renoir and had the pleasure of meeting our wait staff, Claudia and Svetlana. Claudia, from Romania, was a true delight. Warm and caring while still professional and attentive, she was a gem and truly added to the pleasure of our dining experience while on our cruise. Svetlana seemed shy and more reserved, but still did her job of assisting Claudia quite well. I will do a separate review of the food and dining to cover what we ordered etc. After dinner we went to the casino to make a few donations, then we went lounge-hopping to see what was going on where. Memory gets a little blurry as the night wears on, but I know we were having a fabulous time dancing and, at one point, singing in the piano bar. Fun fun, fun! Finally made it back to the room about 2:00 in the morning. A turkey sandwich and some pretzels from room service, pop the bungee on the door so we can listen to the ocean, and its off to La-La land. Our first day on our cruise...and it was wonderful! I awoke eagerly at dawn on day two of my first cruise. I can rarely sleep past sun-up, and this was the case even though my sisters and I had been up drinking and dancing until two in the morning the night before. I quietly scooted out to the balcony, necessary ice water in hand for rehydration, to enjoy the beautiful sunrise with the soothing sounds of the water lapping at the sides of the ship. Pure Heaven! I very kindly waited until about 7:45 or so to make noise in the cabin, so this is when my cabin mates, sisters two and five, began to stir. I ordered room service coffee for three, which arrived in less than ten minutes. We enjoyed sitting out on the balcony sipping our coffee for a bit, then we got ready for the day. Up to the buffet for breakfast. The lines weren't too bad at about 8:30, and we were finished with breakfast shortly after nine, with our first full Sea Day ahead of us! I must admit that some of what I report for days two and three might have happened either day; it is hard to remember exactly what happened on which day. I am sure libations have nothing to do with the sometimes hazy memories. I do know that the second and third of the five cakes I ordered had been delivered to my cabin the previous night, as ordered, and were inscribed correctly (yay!), unlike the first cake. These were for sister seven's 30th birthday, so we had another party to prepare for. We decided to get that part out of the way and returned to our room to wrap her presents. We had wisely let the birthday streamers and banner remain in place after the previous day's celebration for sister one, making for a quick prep time for today's party. We stashed the presents, using the ample storage we had, just in case baby sister made an impromptu visit before her party. Sisters one and four showed up around then, expressing a desire to go up on deck and partake of the "$2.95 'til noon" Bloody Mary's and tequila sunrises before the deadline. They reported both to be very good with a nice kick. I opted for a raspberry daiquiri...also very good, sweet with a little tart bite to it and plenty of rum. We sat with our drinks and Capers in hand and talked about who wanted to do what. Some wanted to go the casino, some to bingo, and a couple of the sisters wanted to go to the art auction. I went to the casino with sisters two and five, where I donated about $40 to the slots fund. Sister five came out even, after playing a few hands of blackjack, and sister two was up about $75 playing the slots. Sisters one and four did the art auction and thoroughly enjoyed it. Sisters six and seven were off doing there own thing. After meeting back up, we talked about trying out the hot tubs, so back we went to our rooms to change into our bathing suits. And to dip into our soft-sided cooler stash . It was about 1:00 by then, so we decided to hit the Lido deck for lunch before checking out the hot tubs. Some of us chose the buffet, others the grill. After lunch and a round of frou-frou drinks, we realized we had to skip the hot tubs for now and high-tail it back to our cabin if we were going to beat baby sister there for her party. We made it back with about ten minutes to spare. Long enough to arrange the gifts, pop my cruisin' cd into the player and refresh everyone's drinks. Birthday girl was genuinely surprised and pleased, since her big day really isn't until February. We took the opportunity to celebrate it on the cruise because we are so scattered around that we rarely are all together at the same time. It was at baby sister's party that sister one brought out some favors that became the hit of the party, and we had fun with them the whole cruise..."Billy Bob" teeth! Fake teeth that make the wearer look like they've never been to a dentist and wouldn't recognize a toothbrush or toothpaste if you handed it to them. Oh, my, we had so darn much fun with those teeth! Three or four, or more, of us sisters would be in an elevator with a couple of unsuspecting fellow passengers. One look at each other, a surreptitious group nod, and we would quickly slip the teeth in, then smile really big at the others in the elevator, and ask, "Does this ship have a dentist?" Or exclaim, "What?! We ain't made of money! We had to make a choice...get our teeth fixed, or go on a cruise!" We even had a portrait of all seven sisters wearing them on formal night...you should have seen the look on the photographers face! He thought he was through taking our group photo, then we all slipped in the teeth, smiled big, then laughed really hard when we saw his jaw drop. Too much fun!! By the time baby sister's party was over, it was about 4:30. We were getting hungry but did not want to spoil our appetites for dinner, so the three of us in our cabin ordered a sandwich from room service and split it three ways. Just enough to tide us over. Now, time to get ready for our first formal night! We did our make-up, then one at a time we went down to sister four's cabin so she could do our hair. (She's got the knack and besides, the price was right!) We slipped into our dresses and shoes and went down to meet the others at the Captain's cocktail party. A couple of drinks each and a few hors d'oeuvres later, we went to have Formal Night 1 photos taken, then off to dinner. Dinner was wonderful, but the early start to my day and the steady sipping of adult beverages took its toll on sister three (me!). So, I opted to leave the dining room before dessert. Went up to the room solo, ordered room service coffee, and had a cup while relaxing on the balcony, enjoying the sounds of the sea again. I noticed that cakes four and five, which were ordered to be delivered that afternoon to our stateroom, were not there. These cakes were for a surprise baby shower for sister six the following day. Just as I was about to call to check on the cakes, sisters two and five returned from the dining room. They said the cakes had been delivered to the dining room that night, just after I left, ruining the surprise for the expectant mom and dad. Strikes two and three on the five cakes I ordered. I resolved to get the three mistaken orders removed from my bill the next day. More on that later. Refreshed from my solitary rest on the balcony post-dinner, I joined sisters two and five and off we went to the piano bar to meet with the other sisters. Had fun singing there for a bit, then we went into another, nearly empty lounge, where there was a band playing. Sister five is quite the singer; has even done some professional gigs. Someone mentioned this to the band, and sister five and the band came up with a song they both knew..."Blue Bayou." She got up and took over that stage, belting out the song impressively. By the time that one song was over, several more tables in the lounge had people sitting at them, and there were quite a few passengers that had been walking by the lounge and stopped to listen to my sister sing, standing in the doorway. The band tried to come up with another song they both knew, but no luck. Still, we stayed in there, dancing and listening to the band, for quite a while, having a great time. Then it was off to the casino to make some more donations before heading back to the cabin. Room service brought us tasty BLT's which we devoured. Day two was ending; now it was time to bungee the door open and drift off to sleep, Mother Nature rocking us ever so gently in our beds. I awoke before dawn on day three. I showered and dressed as quietly as possible, so as not to disturb my cabin mates, sisters two and five. Then I slipped out of the cabin and went to have my chat with the pursers desk regarding the mistakes Carnival made on three of my five cake orders. I explained that one lacked the custom message I requested, and that two had been delivered to the dining room rather than to my stateroom, thereby spoiling the surprise about my sisters baby shower planned for the following day. The purser explained that they would have to first conduct an investigation before deciding whether or not to credit my account, and that they would let me know the results by the next day. Fair enough. I did receive a phone call in my cabin later that day; After investigating, it has been determined that all five cakes were delivered as ordered, was Carnivals official response. Now, this comment surely ruffled my feathers! Basically, Carnival was claiming that I was not telling the truth! I can assure you that the cakes were certainly not delivered as ordered: one was inscribed incorrectly, and two others were delivered to the dining room where our party already had a dessert menu from which to order, leaving no cakes for the baby shower the next day. It is completely unreasonable for Carnival to refuse to credit the charges for those cakes! I said that I would be contacting Guest Relations upon returning home, which I have now done. If or when I receive a response to my letter, I will share it with you here. After leaving the pursers desk, I resolved that I was not going to let the cake matter ruin my cruise, and put the whole thing out of my head for the rest of the trip. I headed up to the Lido deck, grabbed three coffees, and returned to the cabin in time to wake my sisters so we could enjoy the sunrise with coffee on the balcony. After showering and dressing, we went up to the buffet for breakfast. Tummies full, we returned to the cabin to wrap the gifts for the baby shower. With that out of the way, we were free until 2:00, when the shower was scheduled to begin. Sisters two, three, and five, as well as nephew and nephews buddy, decided to try our hands at Bingo. Sister two, generous that she is, bought each of us three cards. Nephews buddy bingod in the $100 game, splitting the jackpot with one other lucky winner. Then I bingod in the $150 game, and was the sole winner! Needless to say, a round of drinks for everyone on me! After Bingo, we grabbed lunch, then headed over to the casino for a bit. No one won or lost spectacularly this visit. Soon enough, it was time to meet our extended group up on the Lido deck for the baby shower, which was a lot of fun. I bet Ill likely never attend another baby shower at sea again! Returning to our room around 4:30, we decided to ready the orphanage donations, to get that out of the way and allow for an early departure from the ship the next morning. We transferred all the items to be donated from our suitcases to those new giant Ziploc bags they came out with recently. This would prevent us having to either lug the empty suitcases around the rest of the day in Jamaica, or return to the ship to drop them off before heading to our second destination, Sunset Beach. That chore done, we had some time to kill before dinner, and we used the time to go check out the photo gallery. Found our formal night photos; the one of all seven sisters plus niece came out beautifully! I dont have a scanner, but Ill try to coerce my DD into using hers so I can post a couple of photos from the cruise here soon. By now it was time to dress for dinner, so back up to the room we went. As I said in day one, I will provide details about the dining options and menu selections in a separate review when I finish the dailies. After dinner, sisters one through seven met (again!) in the casino. I decided to take some of my unexpected bingo winnings and give roulette a try for the first time. The dealer and other players were very helpful, patient and friendly as I learned the guidelines of the game. I must have had a bit of beginners luck, because I started out with $20 and ended up with $104; $84 up! Between that and the bingo jackpot I won, this day was definitely my luckiest on the cruise, gambling-wise. I decided to quit while I was ahead, and walked around a bit until I spotted the other sisters feeding the slots at various machines. Except sister four, whose budget for the cruise was probably the tightest; she was just watching the others. I told her it was time to learn how to play roulette, and slipped her a twenty. I returned to the roulette table, sister four in tow, and we spent the next hour or so there. I ended up another $22 up, but sister four turned that twenty into $88, which absolutely thrilled her! Winning is so much more fun than losing&go figure! Several of the sisters then decided that enough donations had been given to the casino for the evening, and off we went, seeking music, dancing, and frou-frou drinks. We found the same band my sister had performed with the night before, and they smiled and waved to us as we filed in one after the other to our chosen table. The song the band was playing ended just as we finished taking our seats. The lead singer stepped back up to the microphone, not missing a beat, and said, I would like to introduce to you a very special guest singer & as the band struck up the opening chords to Blue Bayou and he waved sister five up onstage. Once again she wowed the crowd. People sitting a few rows behind us even started chanting, More, more, more! when she finished the song. Such a great memory, I only wish we had taped it! Following sister fives performance, we danced and drank until after midnight. Knowing we needed to get an early start on day four if we wanted to have enough time at Sunset Beach, we all headed back to our cabins to call it a night. We ordered what was becoming a nightly tradition of BLTs, then bungeed the door again to drift off to those soothing ocean sounds. Day four arrived, and we were all excited to be visiting Jamaica for the first time. We enjoyed the sunrise from our balcony, then dressed and headed up to the buffet for breakfast, lugging all our Ziplocs full of donations with us so that we could leave the ship immediately after eating. We sure turned a few heads as we passed through! Seven women and one teenaged boy, hauling brightly colored Teddy bears, baby clothes, medicines, coloring books and crayons, and diapering toiletries through the breakfast buffet of a cruise ship are bound to attract a little attention, I suppose! We made it off the ship and headed to the customs lines, where our bags of donations and the documentation I had prepared were closely scrutinized by Jamaican customs agents before allowing us entry. Then, following CC advice, we got ourselves a JUTA cab with red plates and asked to be taken to the Blossom Gardens Childrens home. We told our driver that we wanted to donate the goods we had brought for the children, then head off to Sunset Beach. The driver advised that if we went to the orphanage we would have very little time at Sunset Beach; apparently it was further than I had been told. I knew from my research that the nearby Sandals Resort was a patron of the orphanage, so I asked that we be taken there, where I knew that they could accept the goods for Blossom Gardens. The Sandals public relations manager made quite a fuss over us, taking our pictures with all the bags of items in the foreground and thanking us profusely on behalf of the children. We loaded back into our JUTA van and headed off to Sunset Beach, which is an all inclusive resort close to the pier that charges $40 per day for all you can eat and drink, including alcohol. Also included is a waterpark, swimming pools, hot tubs, a nude beach, and more. We all thought it was a great deal, and only wished we had more time there. It was at Sunset Beach that I treated myself to my very first massage. Right out on the beach, sister five and I had side by side massages that were to die for! When I got up from the massage table I actually felt intoxicated for a few minutes, though I had not yet had one drop of alcohol that day. (This is where I learned that the tattoos you can get on the ship are no match for the oils they massage into your body.) The food was good and the drinks were great, but what I loved most about Sunset Beach was the warmth and friendliness of the people. Those that have heard bad things about Jamaica and avoid leaving the ship really are missing out! Our driver was there at the entrance to Sunset Beach at 2:00 as requested, and he took us on a brief tour of the countryside, then into town for a quick shopping trip. Then it was back to the pier and another line to get through customs. We were back on the ship about half an hour or so before the deadline, so we made a beeline up to our room, and stood out on the balcony to people-watch as fellow passengers walked, stumbled, staggered, and for the last couple of minutes, ran back to the ship. Quite entertaining! There was also a band of Jamaican school children serenading us from down below; we could see many passengers throwing emptied water bottles containing tips to the children, who gratefully scurried about collecting the bottles. Soon enough, the ship began to move and we were waving goodbye to lovely Jamaica and its wonderful people. We chilled in the room for a while, then went up on deck to listen to a live band that was playing. While we were there, we met a great couple who was friendly and easy-going. While chatting with them the woman mentioned that she works as a dental hygienist. At that, the sisters and I knowingly exchanged that look, and we all slipped our Billy-Bob teeth in simultaneously, then flashed a big smile. They just cracked up, and we all had a good laugh! Pretty soon the husband excused himself and left his wife visiting with our sister group. He came back about ten minutes later, apologizing that his wife had left a necessary item in their room and had sent him to retrieve it. With that, he passed her something we could not see. She lowered her head, then raised it to flash a Billy-Bob smile of her own! Purely by coincidence, we found who was probably the only other person on the whole Conquest that had those awful looking teeth like we had. She was immediately declared an honorary sister for this very toothy reason, and we enjoyed visiting with the two of them off and on again for the rest of the cruise. Wouldda thought?! We enjoyed dinner in the dining room, then we hit the lounges again to drink, dance, and sing the night away. We were booked on a private excursion the next morning and needed to be there by 8 AM, so we made our way back to our rooms sometime around 1:00. Snacking on room service sandwiches, we discussed how much we were all looking forward to doing the stingray and snorkel excursion the next morning. Then it was time to hook up the bungee and crawl into bed. Day five of our cruise, in the Cayman Islands, turned out quite funky and not at all as planned. We really had to overlook a lot of what happened that day so that we could enjoy the rest of the cruise. Part of it was due to the outcome of a private excursion, and part of it involved a Carnival excursion that went sour. Read on: We awakened and breakfasted early, at the buffet, in order to tender off the ship in time to meet at the Captain Marvins Watersports office by 8:00 for the 8:30 Stingray and Snorkel tour. We were all looking forward to our first encounter with the stingrays, and learning how to snorkel. Our original plan was to walk from the pier to the Captain Marvins office, per their instructions. But due to the weather, we tendered to a different location than expected, which necessitated transportation other than on foot. When we went ashore, we were directed to a Captain Marvins employee called Dreads, who led us to a bus and told us to wait. He said he was going to get a few more passengers and would then drive us to the Captain Marvins office in time to begin the 8:30 tour. He left the bus engine and A/C running. It was about 7:45 AM. According to the Captain Marvins website, we were supposed to arrive at the office by 8:00 for our 8:30 excursion. To make a long story short, at 8:30, all the passengers gave up, and exited the bus, its engine still running. Dreads remained nowhere to be found. Eventually we located another Captain Marvins driver, who was very apologetic about the disappearance of Dreads and the subsequent time wasted by our party as a result (it was now after 9:30, and the excursion for which we were booked had long since commenced.) He explained that he had to transport the people that were already on his filled bus to the Captain Marvins office, but offered to return to our location to take us anywhere we wanted to go. By this time, however, it was too late to do the stingrays, with Captain Marvins or any other company, due to us being booked on a Carnival excursion that was scheduled to begin at 12:15. My family and I were so very disappointed. Interacting with the stingrays was an experience we had been eagerly anticipating for months, as well as learning how to snorkel. For some of us, we may never get another opportunity to visit the Cayman Islands, and we spent a good portion of our one day there waiting for an excursion that never happened. I certainly was quite embarrassed to be the one in our party who, based on reviews from fellow CCers and others, assured everyone else that Captain Marvins was a well-respected and trustworthy company and not to worry that the excursion was not sponsored by Carnival. By now it was after 10:00 and we were to meet for our Carnival excursion at 12:15, so we took the tender back to the ship to have an early lunch. We returned to shore via tender at about 12:00, and waited for the Grand Cayman Highlights Tour operator to arrive so we could begin our tour, which included the town of Hell, the Tortuga Rum factory, and the Turtle Farm. Our tour guide and bus were more than twenty minutes late arriving to begin the tour, and the tour was quite rushed. At our first stop, the town of Hell, we were allotted exactly fifteen minutes to take photographs, purchase souvenirs, and mail the requisite postcards. Most of us were not wearing watches, and the tour operator did not make an announcement that it was time for our group to reboard, as I heard and saw other tour guides do. I apparently did not return to the bus quickly enough to please our tour guide. When I exited the souvenir shop he had already moved the bus to the other side of the building out of my view. I was inquiring of another tour operator where our bus was, when our tour guide rounded the corner and began to loudly berate me for not being on the bus already. He continued to yell at me the entire time we walked to the bus. His behavior completely shocked me and greatly embarrassed me. Then, to add insult to injury, he chose to get on the bus PA system and berate me further, for all the passengers to hear! Needless to say, at our next stop, the Tortuga Rum Factory, I dared not leave sight of the bus. While all the other excursion guests went into the factory to sample the famous rum cakes, I stayed out next to the bus, embarrassed and in tears. (And mad as !#$%& at myself for getting all emotional and crying instead of defending myself!) Upon returning to the bus from the factory, fellow passengers who were complete strangers approached me to tell me that what had happened was not my fault and that the tour guide was out of line. I asked how long the tour operator waited before moving the bus, and was told Probably about two minutes. I learned later that my party actually had to stand up and threaten to exit the moving bus so that I would not be left stranded. Keep in mind, the tour guide himself was more than twenty minutes late arriving to begin the tour, and two minutes was too long for him to willingly wait for me! Needless to say, Carnival Guest Relations has been notified about this tour operator. If and when I receive a response from Carnival regarding this complaint, I will post it here. The rest of the excursion was uneventful, except for the rushed feeling we had throughout. We enjoyed the little time we had at the Turtle Farm and got some nice souvenirs. Though The Cayman Islands had already had more than a year to clean up after Hurricane Ivan, the damage was still evident, and quite sad to view. We passed piles and piles of debris, from downed trees to the remains of demolished buildings, scattered on either side of the road. The light rain and grey skies added to the sad look of it all as the tour guide drove us back to the pier. I, for one, was glad that our day in the Caymans was over. I plan to return in the future and have a vastly better visit&nice reason to book another cruise that stops in Cayman! We waited in line for a good half an hour to forty-five minutes to board the tender to return to the ship. Once back on board, we went up to our cabin to get some refreshments from the soft-sided cooler, full of ice as always&thanks, Dave! Went up on deck to enjoy the music and get back into happy mode following our little fiascoes in the Caymans. A Caribbean breeze, a drink in hand, my sisters all around me & I wasnt complaining! Nephew (sister twos son) had signed up that morning for the Guest Talent Show, and the rehearsal was scheduled for that afternoon, so nephew and sister two took off for that, while the rest of us just relaxed on deck. An hour or so and a nice light buzz later, we met up with sister two back in the room to get ready for Formal Night 2. We kept sister four busy again as the official hairstylist. This night I wore a full length satin-lined lace dress, chocolate brown, with short handkerchief sleeves. (It just occurred to me that I didnt mention my dress for Formal Night 1: it was a form fitting, knee length, glittery green strapless from the forties.) When all of us were ready, we headed to the photo ops to pose for formal portraits in all our finery. This is the night we had fun with the photographer, thanks to our Billy-Bob teeth. His reaction was, as they say, priceless. Our excursions for the following day in Cozumel had been canceled due to damage from Hurricane Wilma, so we had no plans other than getting up at our leisure and shopping near the pier. Knowing that, after dinner we did the lounge circuit again. We visited the piano bar for awhile, then stopped by the Karaoke lounge. After that it was back up to the casino, where neither my new friend the roulette table nor the good old slots were very nice to me. Sister two and I were the last two up, until I finally left her sitting there, feeding coins into the flashing, beeping machines, and dragged myself up to the cabin at about 1:30. I told her I would wait up for her, but after ordering and eating a turkey sandwich from room service, it was after 2:00 and I just could not keep my eyes open any more. I have no idea when she finally turned in; I didnt hear a sound when she came in, I was so beat from the long day. Once again, the ocean gently lulled me into sleep. Day six, Friday, my cabin mates slept in a bit. I, as usual, was out on the balcony at dawn, watching as the darkened sky slowly gave way to streaks of purples and pinks. Sunrises are so fleeting. Before I knew it the entire sky was a clear brilliant blue. Breathtaking! Since we had no deadlines to meet for excursions or anything, we all agreed to give the dining room a try for breakfast this morning. We met up just at about quarter to nine, and were seated right away. It turns out that our waitstaff for the evening meal were also our servers for breakfast. Wow, do they work long hours! Following the meal, ten of us tendered into Cozumel to do some shopping. When we reached shore, there was a group of protesters with signs at the entrance to the shopping strip. Unfortunately, all the signs were in Spanish, so I could only make out a little of what they were marching for. It had to do with cruise ships being sent to Cozumel rather than other Mexican ports, and that this was hurting their businesses and their families. There were armed police to separate the protesters from the tourists, which was a bit unnerving at first. But, after assessing the situation, we decided it was under control and that we were all comfortable continuing on. After stopping in a couple of shops, we realized that our group of ten was just too big for us all to stay together while we shopped, and we split up into smaller groups. Using a flyer from Carnival to guide us, we decided to meet up at Carlos & Charlies for lunch at 1:30. Sister two, sister five and I all had some serious souvenir buying to do, so off we went. I know a tiny smidgeon of Spanish, which helped a bit when bargaining. What also helped the bargaining aspect of our shopping was sister five whipping out a little hand held calculator when the shopkeepers were tallying up our purchases. Also, when shopping with others, if it is feasible to do so, have one person present all your purchases together at one time and bargain on the whole lot. Think buying in bulk&it worked for us. Among other things, we chose brightly colored dresses and bathing suit wraps, ceramics, costume jewelry, carved wooden baskets, you get the idea. Many of the Christmas gifts I give this year will have a Caribbean or Mexican theme. I was sure to pick up some vanilla for myself and DD #1, since both of us bake quite a bit. By the time we had checked off everyone on our souvenir list, we were ready to be done shopping. We decided to treat ourselves to a horse drawn carriage ride (actually, the rickety old thing we rode in hardly qualified as a carriage) back to the other end of the shopping strip, where Carlos & Charlies was located, at least according to Carnivals flyer. It was a quick five minute ride, but saved our feet a good twenty minute walk, maybe more. And it was fun! Well worth the $15 for the three of us. Sadly, only the shell of the building where Carlos & Charlies was located remained. The entire buildings contents had been gutted by the storm surge and flooding during Hurricane Wilma. We had seen evidence of storm damage before we even reached shore that morning. Palm trees everywhere were practically bald. The pier, of course, was washed away. We could see a car that had been deposited by the floodwaters on the second floor of one of the ruined stores. They have a long road ahead of them in Cozumel before recovery is complete. My heart goes out to the hard-working people there. Since Carlos & Charlies was no longer an option, we decided to eat at the restaurant we had passed just after entering the shopping area. I am sorry that I dont remember the name of it, but it is the one closest to the entrance. I had the nachos, which were just okay, but their homemade salsa and chips were absolutely fabulous! One of the sisters had the soft beef & chicken tacos, which she enjoyed. I stuck with bottled water, but others in my group report that their Margaritas were very good as well. Following lunch, we were all worn out from our day of shopping in the Mexican sun, so we decided to get in the tender line to head back home. The line was very long, and we were behind a group of twenty-somethings who all sported matching wristbands from the party boat excursion that they were on that day. These folks were very intoxicated, especially one young gentleman (I use the term loosely) who was quite large. Ill call him Big Guy. He was only about 510 but had to have weighed at least three hundred and fifty pounds, maybe more. This man was huge. And drunk. Our group was chatting while we waited in line, when without warning Big Guy just falls over backward -- BOOM! He missed squashing my little three year old niece by mere inches! Without so much as an apology, Big Guys friends (it took several of them) scooped him back up, laughing and joking as they struggled to keep their large inebriated friend upright long enough to get him on the tender and back to the ship. . Sounds funny now, but he really could have injured my niece, or worse. I would hate to experience the kind of hangover Big Guy got from his party boat fun! A good hour passed from the time we got in the tender line to when we finally were back aboard the Conquest. I stopped for a frou-frou drink on my way up to the room. My sisters had all done the Margarita thing, but tequila does not like me one bit, so I had some catching up to do! We hung out on our balcony for a while, then joined the other sisters on deck to listen to some live music. We hadnt checked out the photo gallery for a couple of days, so decided to stop there next. What a zoo! I really dislike Carnivals method of displaying and selling photos. I hope they work on that to make it more guest friendly. Anyway, we saw the portraits from formal night 2, including the Billy Bob teeth photo, which was hilarious! Carnival made a bunch of money from all us sisters selling photos, Ill tell ya! The Guest Talent Show was scheduled for that evening, and we were excitedly anticipating nephews performance. We met up in the Toulouse-Lautrec Lounge for the show, which had six performers scheduled. Nephew and his buddy were the only act that did not sing. They played a jazz-infused bluesy rock instrumental number (nephews description, not mine!). Nephew, who was not quite sixteen at the time and a self-taught musician, played lead guitar. His buddy played bass. They had people in the audience clapping and swaying to the music, yelling out, Play it, little brothers! by the end of their act. This is one proud Auntie! After dinner and the Talent Show, most of us wanted to gamble, but I decided to get the dreaded packing out of the way as much as possible, so that my last day would be free for fun. My cabin mates left for the casino, and I got the drudgery over with as soon as I could. Then I went to hunt my sisters down in the casino. Donated a little to the slots; won it back at roulette, so came out even. We all decided we wanted to hit the dance floor, so off to the lounges again. Found the band we had been seeing all week, again they smiled and nodded greetings to us Crazy Sisters as we walked in. And, wouldnt you know it, after finishing the song they were playing, they went right into Blue Bayou as they waved sister five up onstage for a third time during the cruise! Im guessing they liked her performances, ya think? This is one proud Sis! We stayed up drinking, dancing, and singing again, until the wee hours. Nobody was mentioning that the cruise would be ending soon. We were in happy denial! We stopped off for pizza and ice cream sometime after 2:00 before heading back to our room. After devouring the yummy food, we settled out on the balcony for a bit, just to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. It was three in the morning before we gave in to heavy eyelids. Sisters two and five crawled off to bed. I gathered pillows & blankets and dozed out on the balcony for a while (loved it!) before wanting something softer to lie on. Then I slithered into bed and off to the Land of Nod I went. Day seven brought the last day of our voyage on the great, lovely Conquest. I left sisters two and five and slipped out of the room before dawn. Made my way up to one of the outer decks, although memory fails now as to which one. I just enjoyed strolling by myself as the first rays of light crept across the horizon and begin to warm the sky. Then I got myself a cup of steaming coffee and settled in at a table near the pool. The gorgeous sunrise competed for my attention with the hard-working crew. I watched as they readied the ship for the day, hosing down the deck, arranging the chairs, and smiling greetings as they passed. Eventually the aroma of bacon crisping and bread toasting wafted my way, convincing me it was time to rouse my cabin mates for breakfast. After fueling up at the Lido buffet, we went back to the stateroom to discuss plans for the day. We still wanted to check out the hot tubs and pool, and a visit to the photo gallery was in order. Sister two wanted to pick up a copy of the Guest Talent Show video from the gallery, and we all wanted to order photos. So, after donning our swimsuits and cover-ups, off to the photo gallery we went. As I stated before, the place is an absolute zoo, especially the last day! There is virtually no seating, no areas provided in which to view the photos, and it is quite crowded. Passengers resort to laying out their photos on top of merchandise in order to view them. This is after spending significant time searching the myriad walls of photographs, stooping over when necessary to scan the rows just above the floor, searching for photos of your party. You are not permitted to take the photos to a less crowded area of the ship to view and decide which ones to purchase, I assume to prevent theft. It seems that it would be fairly simple to implement an alternative plan that would be much more user-friendly. For example, crew members could be stationed in the photo gallery to scan a guests S&S card and record the number of photos they wish to remove from the photo gallery for viewing. This would enable Carnival to easily track the checked out photos and charge the guest if they are not returned. It surely would have been more convenient for our party to send just one or two of us up to gather all the photos for our extended party, then meet up later to view them all together and make our purchasing decisions. It was such a madhouse at the photo gallery when we were there that sister two finally resorted to just scooping up the whole lot of our groups photos and purchasing them all, for a pretty penny, I might add! We agreed to meet later in the day to decide which ones the rest of us wanted to order copies of. Okay. That dog and pony show finally over, sisters two and five realized that they had yet to pack, so up to the room they went. I made my way up to the pool area to get my faux tattoo replaced (the one that came off because of the massage oil (see day four). When you get a tattoo earlier in the week, you get a card for a discounted one on the last day, and I decided to take advantage of that. Alas, it did not dawn on me that I had to keep the thing dry for a couple of hours afterward. We were still planning on hitting the hot tubs, but that would have to wait a bit, at least for me. Stopped off for a frou-frou drink on my way back to the cabin, and walked through the buffet area to check out what the lunch offerings were for the day. Everything looked and smelled delicious, which I reported to the sisters when I got back to the cabin. They were finishing up their packing, and getting hungry for lunch. We all enjoyed our last lunch on the Conquest at the buffet, relishing the ocean breeze and the views of the water and open sky. By the time we finished lunch, it was nearly time to meet up with our extended group to look at the photos. Sister two had purchased a couple of rum cakes at the Tortuga Rum Factory in the Caymans and was anxious to sample and share them with everyone. I had been wanting to sample the banana splits I heard were available from the coffee bar. There is a seating area with a large coffee table that would accommodate everyone near the coffee bar, so that is the meeting place we chose. We had a good laugh at the Billy Bob teeth photos, I must say! Several of the sister portraits turned out great, and I really liked some of the candids as well. Carnival made oodles of money on photo sales to the Crazy Sisters, I can assure you! On a side note, I was glad I purchased the banana split, but my little niece was even happier. It is hard to explain to a three year old that she cannot have any cake (her parents declared the rum cakes off limits to her). But once I brought that great big banana split to the table, she didnt give those cakes another glance, and this Auntie became her best friend, at least for the time being! After finishing our desserts and choosing our photographs, we went back up to the cabin to put the photos away. We dipped into the soft sided cooler that magically never ran out of ice (Dave, youre great!), plugged in the cruisin cd, and chilled on the balcony for a while. We knew it would all be ending soon, but we were determined to enjoy every possible remaining moment of our seven sister cruise. Dreams really do come true! The other sisters joined us, and we had a little party right there in our suite, singing, dancing, and drinking, alternating between balcony and cabin. I got out the collection of thank you cards I brought along, and we selected one for Claudia and one for Svetlana, who had so faithfully served us dinner every evening in the Renoir. Everybody passed the waitstaff cards, writing a personal message to each woman and slipping in however much cash they felt was appropriate. We did not count the money when we were through, just sealed the envelopes and put them aside until dinner, but they felt much thicker than they had before they were passed around! Each set of cabin mates also chose a card for their room steward. Some added cash to the thank you messages they wrote to their steward, others did not. I will say that our steward, Dave, received a card that was indeed thickened. The day was slipping by fast. It was already time to prepare for our last dinner in the gorgeous Renoir dining room, and we never did swim or make the hot tubs, not once the whole week! (Theres another reason to cruise again&like I needed one!) Well, at least my new faux tattoo wouldnt fade as quickly! After we dressed and readied ourselves, we gathered the thank you cards and headed down to dine together on the cruise one last time. As always, Claudia was her smiling, gracious self, and Svetlana was quietly assisting her. We presented them with their cards and thanked them profusely for their service and how much they contributed to our enjoyment of the cruise. There were hugs and tears all around as we said our goodbyes. I wish the two of them well and hope the time speeds by until they can be with their families again. Following dessert, we couldnt decide between singing & dancing and the casino, so first we went dancing, singing along to the songs and just enjoying all the sisters being together. Then we made some donations in the casino one last time before taking advantage of our final opportunity to enjoy the 24 hour pizza and ice cream. I opted for a BLT from room service, and didnt regret it. Mmm-mmm. Im sure gonna miss picking up the phone in the wee hours when I am hungry, then having a yummy sandwich and chips magically appear at my door moments later! I enjoyed my BLT out on the balcony, sisters two and five happily eating pizza beside me. By now it was after 2 AM, and we knew that we had a long day ahead tomorrow, starting with disembarkation. We could stay up longer if we wanted to, but that would not stop the clock from ticking or the sun from coming up. So we bungeed the door, slid into our beds, and for one final time, drifted off to sleep to the calming, relaxing sounds of the ocean just outside the door. As promised, before ending this review I will share my opinions regarding dining options, food quality, and a few other subjects as well: Room Service: We had pre-breakfast and late night coffee several times from room service. Only once was it really piping hot, the other times it was hot enough as long as you drank it right away, but they could have bumped the temperature up a bit. Remember to order any sugar, cream, etc specifically when you get coffee from room service, it is not included otherwise. I sampled the BLTs and the turkey sandwiches and found both to be very good. Again, if you want condiments such as mustard or mayonnaise, you have to ask. Sister one reports that the open-faced shrimp sandwich and the tuna were both really yummy, and sister five enjoyed the roast beef on baguette. The room service fruit portions are small, so keep that in mind when deciding how many to order. Sister two wanted toast with peanut butter one morning, and seeing PB&Js on the menu, decided to order it from room service. What she got was toast with a cup of peanut butter & jelly mixed together on the side. Apparently, peanut butter solo is not available. In our cabin, the wait for room service was never more than about twenty minutes and often less, with only one exception. It was late at night, and we were told when we ordered that it would be a forty-five minute wait, but the food still arrived in about thirty minutes. Sisters one and four report, however, that they waited forty-five minutes to an hour for room service more than once when they ordered at breakfast time. Lido Buffet: My cabin mates and I had breakfast at the buffet six out of the seven days. Most of the food ranged from just okay to extremely good. I thought the omelets were delicious, especially after the first day when I knew to ask the omelet chef to use as little oil as possible. They were made to order and perfectly cooked. The bacon was hit or miss, though more often a hit. Several mornings it was wonderfully crisp and not greasy; a couple of times it appeared more greasy and had a rubbery been sitting there too long texture. I was underwhelmed by the croissant, Danish and muffin selections; they appeared to be frozen products thawed before serving, rather than freshly baked. Same with the hash browns. Adequate but nothing to write home about. Carnival has their grits down, though, creamy and smooth with no lumps, every time. They offered two types of ham, one looked and tasted like processed ham and the other appeared freshly sliced off the bone (much better!). I did not try the French toast or the pancakes, but sister two said they were Okay. We only had lunch at the buffet once or twice. I loved the sliced roast beef with gravy, and the tomato soup. Sister one sampled the buffet the day they offered Indian cuisine, but she did not enjoy it. We ate dinner every night in the Renoir, therefore I cannot comment about dinner offerings on the buffet line. We did not make it to either the chocolate buffet or the midnight buffet, so again, no opinions there. Dining Room: We had breakfast only once in the dining room. I did not find the food quality to be any better than the buffet; the pastries and hash browns offered were the same, for example. Only a very few items, such as Eggs Benedict and corned beef hash, were available in the dining room for breakfast and not on the buffet. We did not eat lunch in the dining room at all. Dinner: I am not very adventurous when it comes to salads, so on the first night I told the lovely Claudia how I like my salad, and every evening afterward she brought me my salad without being asked. Claudia, you are a doll! The menu selections at dinner were for the most part delicious. Among my personal favorites were the filet mignon, which was cooked to perfection, the rock cornish game hen, the chateaubriand (sooo tender!), and the French onion soup with the puff pastry crust. My very favorite item turned out to be a soup they called Vine Ripened Cream of Tomato with a Touch of Gin. It was fresh, creamy, and perfectly seasoned and textured. (I want that recipe! Unfortunately, it was not in either of the cookbooks Carnival had for sale on my sailing.) A big disappointment for me, however, was the turkey entree offered on Thanksgiving. It was processed, like a turkey roll you would get in a cafeteria. Very substandard compared with the other entrees I had enjoyed, especially for a holiday meal. In my opinion, if logistics prevent roasting and freshly carving turkeys for the Thanksgiving meal, Carnival shouldnt serve turkey at all. Since I dont have a big sweet tooth, I skipped dessert most nights. I had heard that Carnivals diet chocolate cake was to die for, though, so I did stay and order that the night it appeared on the menu. Very disappointing. It was moist, but completely devoid of chocolate flavor. It was just plain-tasting. The staff singing and dancing in the dining room neither annoyed nor particularly entertained me. My little niece and her six year old cousin thought it was a blast, though! The Grill: Food quality at the grill was inconsistent. On embarkation day I tried a burger that turned out to be served on a cold bun. The meat was dry and barely warm. I did not finish it, even though I was quite hungry. A couple of days later, I sampled another burger, this time requesting that the bun be grilled. The grilled bun helped, and the meat was fresher tasting and moister this time, making for an adequate but not memorable burger. Their hot dogs were large, juicy, and satisfying. The grilled chicken breast, which I ordered sans bun, was tasty and a good choice for a low fat, high protein snack. French fries were always yummy. Su Mer: I did not eat at Su Mer, though I really wanted to sample their fish & chips. I just never got around to it. A couple of sisters did make it to Su Mer and reported the bouillabaisse to be very good, as other CCers have mentioned. Pizzeria: Several in our group raved about the pizza; I thought it was all right. I am not a big pizza fan to begin with, so the fact that it didnt impress me as being better than average should be taken only for what it is worth. Others in our group also enjoyed the Caesar salad and the calzones from the pizzeria. Pauls Deli: I never made it to the deli, though some in our group did. Their Reubens got raves, and their roast beef sandwiches were reported to be quite tasty as well. Miscellaneous: If you really like salsa and/or jalapenos with your food, bring your own jars aboard. These items were not available on the Conquest, at least not on our sailing. The same with plain peanut butter (as opposed to mixed with jelly). Overall, I found the food preparation and selection ranging from good to very good the majority of the time. A few items stood out as memorably delicious (oh, give me that tomato soup recipe!) and one or two items were very disappointing. Ill give Carnival a B+ in the dining department. Service throughout the ship: Never once did I experience negative or unpleasant treatment from a crew member. The staff was unfailingly polite and professional, and some were exceptional in their service and friendliness. Carnival gets an A+ in the service department! Entertainment: We never did make it to any of the shows other than the Guest Talent Show, which was entertaining. The staff did the old standard If I Were Not Upon The Sea skit at the end, which was cute. The live bands were great. We especially have a fondness for the one that accompanied sister five to Blue Bayou not once, but three times during the week! I am embarrassed to say that I cannot recall their name. Disembarkation: Sunday morning, we waited in our room as long as we were permitted. From our balcony, we saw four people, each at different times, being led away in handcuffs, flanked by police officers. I knew that this would cause a delay on deboarding, so we all opened up our jars of patience and each took out a big helping. Dave finally arrived to shoo us out of the cabin at around 9:45, at which time we gave him his thank you card and expressed our gratitude for the fine service he provided throughout the week. After saying our goodbyes, we headed up to the Lido, where we were pleasantly surprised to see a hot breakfast still available. Of course we took advantage of that! I was delighted that the omelet station was still open, and got to enjoy one last delicious ham and cheddar omelet with a side of those yummy grits and some crisp bacon. Our color was finally called at about 10:45, and we made our way down and exited the ship into the Galveston terminal. Our luggage was easily spotted, and we gathered it in little time before being directed to one of the Customs lines. (Note: my luggage had obviously been searched, but there was no notification of this, though I thought this was required.) We waited a few minutes in the Customs line, and were outside the terminal ready to walk over to EZ Cruise by 11:15. Overall Summary and Opinion: My seven days aboard the Conquest turned out to be one of the most enjoyable vacations I have ever had. Yes, there were a few negatives, but the food was good, the service exceptional, the atmosphere terrific. Couple all that with having all my sisters aboard, and I was one happy camper&er, cruiser! The diagnosis is in. It is official. I am addicted to cruising, and I will be booking my next fix soon! Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
After all the hurricane scares we finally embarked on our first cruise. The pre-cruise stay at the Moody Hotel was a great deal. They provided a free shuttle to the dock and car storage for the week, as well as pickup and return to the ... Read More
After all the hurricane scares we finally embarked on our first cruise. The pre-cruise stay at the Moody Hotel was a great deal. They provided a free shuttle to the dock and car storage for the week, as well as pickup and return to the hotel on the following Sunday. At the check in there were long lines, but they did move quickly. Be prepared for a quick snap of the photo. They don't give any warning after you get to the mark. The muster drill was miserable. It was humid and crowded. The first evening there were rough seas and I was glad to have the seasick patch to wear. We had early dining in the Monet dining room. The food all week was generally good. On the night where our table didn't care for the entrees, the waiter offered filet mignon as a substitute. The chocolate buffet was extensive but not worth the wait. We also found the iced tea to be quite nasty, not the Southern taste for sure. Early seating does rush you to get back on the boat in the ports, but we enjoyed the earlier time because we go to bed early. The shows were OK, but no WOW factor. We enjoyed the Conquest Orchestra whenever they played. Our sailing was completely booked. We didn't find the events to be too crowded, but getting to the tender area was a little crowded. The crew was confused and getting mixed messages about where to take us. The chairs on the deck were hard to come by. Saving chairs with towels was quite common and annoying. The port excursions we took were really fun. In Jamaica we went on the ATV tour. We shopped in the morning at City Centre. Watch the shuttle you get on, ours tried to detour to another shopping area after they told us we would go to City Centre. Finally we spoke up and they went to the original location. The people are quite pushy and it was scary to be walking around. The tour picked us up at the terminal and we felt quite safe with them. The traffic was really bad coming back, so I wouldn't cut it too close on time if you go that far away. In Grand Cayman we booked through Captain Marvin's and were well pleased. The boat was small enough and there were plenty of crew to give you personal attention. The snorkeling area had lots of fish and the time allowed for snorkeling was about right. The stingray portion of the trip was OK. There were quite a few boats and the area was crowded. We were able to touch and kiss the stingray as the crew held one up for us. In Cozumel we booked the Sail, Snorkel and Beach Party through Carnival. The sailing was great. The snorkeling was not very good due to the hurricane damage to the coral. The beach party was volleyball, sea kayaks, floats, etc. There was nothing to eat and only the drink that came with the sailing. It was a beautiful beach but we stayed for only a short period of time. Overall, the cruise went well for a first cruise. The packing ideas you find on this and other websites is essential if you are a newbie. Some of the best hints were clothespins for the shower curtain, duct tape which comes in handy for everything, and the pop-up hamper for dirty clothes. One thing which really hindered our enjoyment was the smoker next door to us. We had adjoining rooms which meant there was a door for smoke to come through and he smoked all day and night! I didn't know you could smoke in the cabins. I would have hoped there would be smoking rooms and non-smoking rooms. Neil, the personal shopper, had valuable information, coupons and advice. It was worth the time to see his show as well as visiting his table the night before each port for maps and info. A few last tips: I would recommend wearing comfortable shoes to get on the boat. Our luggage didn't come until after the first night's show and so I had to wear the shoes for several hours walking all around the ship. Don't go to the muster drill too early or you will get stuck in the back where it is stuffy. Plan on taking excursions to fully enjoy the ports. People who didn't have a specific tour when they got off the boat generally got back on after about 2 hours of looking around. They didn't seem to have a good time or like the ports. Definitely spend some time napping in the deck chairs. It is so relaxing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
We arrived from Oklahoma on 10/30, the day before sailing. After a night at the Ramada on the seawall, we made our way to the port. We had arranged for parking with EZ Cruise Parking (I recommend them highly), and we started getting on the ... Read More
We arrived from Oklahoma on 10/30, the day before sailing. After a night at the Ramada on the seawall, we made our way to the port. We had arranged for parking with EZ Cruise Parking (I recommend them highly), and we started getting on the boat around 10:45 a.m. We went through all the usual embarkation procedures with ease and finally, entered the Empress Deck of the Elation. I was very impressed with the decor. Everyone was smiling and telling us to the the Lido for dinner in Tiffany's. You didn't have to tell us twice. One thing I noticed early on was how clean the ship was. Everyone was great... smiling, wiping tables, sweeping, etc. This was very good for our family since we're clean freaks. We set sail around 4:30 and were off to Progreso and Veracruz (Wilma wiped out our original destinations of Cozumel and Calica). We did the usual first night stuff... went to dinner, casino, to a dance club and room service at 1 am. (this is a must). The fun day at sea both days were very fun. Our cruise director Jorge/George and his crew, especially Big Sexy and Santana, were so much fun and they really go to know the people. The interacted with everyone so good, which is much better than my previous cruise. Progreso and Veracruz are both thumbs down and that's all I'm going to say about them. I never want to go back... ever! We had a great time on the boat relaxing, eating, gambling, sleeping, eating some more, etc. I won around $600 in the casino, and when I got home I had only spent $100 of what I took with me, which I thought was great. I have to say the food on this ship was not as good as what I'd had previously, but it was okay. I could ALWAYS find something to eat. They ran out of iced tea, which was a bummer. All in all we had a great time, and we're thinking about taking another Halloween cruise next year, only the seven day out of Galveston going to Grand Cayman, Jamaica and Cozumel. Hopefully, no hurricanes next year. Carnival cruises are the best bet for your money. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This is my second cruise on the Conquest. I was on it 10/04 also, and I have to say that boarding in Galveston was so much better than New Orleans despite the fact I had to drive a few extra hours from Illinois. I will also say that I ... Read More
This is my second cruise on the Conquest. I was on it 10/04 also, and I have to say that boarding in Galveston was so much better than New Orleans despite the fact I had to drive a few extra hours from Illinois. I will also say that I probably won't go again during hurricane season. Last year a tropical storm had hit the night before I left and I was in New Orleans during it. I don't think I had ever seen anything like that rain! Everything was up in the air until the last minute this year due to not only Katrina hitting first but then Rita was supposed to hit Galveston and Houston. I don't like the whole issue of the plans being unknown like that so I guess I will go in winter next time. Who would have ever thought that the US would be hit by so many hurricanes and have so much devastation? Galveston appeared to have only hit and miss areas but I did come through other places that had been hit. May they all get back to normal as quickly as possible! As far as the embarkation it was very easy to pull our car into the terminal and unload our group and luggage and have my husband park and take the shuttle back. The lines weren't bad and everything went smoothly. (I even met the future winner of the HAIRY chest contest while waiting for our first pictures to be taken.) : ) Carnival noticed my aunt walked with a cane and immediately cared for her in another line. Once on the ship she looked exactly as I remembered... beautiful! Our rooms were ready so we began to go find them. It didn't take long at all to get our luggage either. Again much better than N.O. trip! We began to show the "newbies" in our group around the ship! Had some lunch and hung around the Lido deck. I have to say the first several days were not my favorite due to the rough water and the ship movement was terrible. I kept trying to explain to the others that this was not typical and would get better. I guess this was due to some storms that were going to hit Mexico, but not sure. It rained hard several different times and the wind was so strong up on the LIDO deck but I wasn't going to let it ruin my cruise! I just prayed for the weather to get better and it did! The captain got on several times to assure us of this. One night the show was supposed to be dancers and was switched to the ventriloquist because of the movement of the ship. (The curtains in the Toulouse were swaying.. not kidding.) My room and steward were great.. and convenient to lots of things BUT if you want to sleep in past say 6 or 7am do not choose the Verandah deck! (I was upgraded). I was right under the LIDO deck and it always sounded like things were rolling or scooting around above my head. Again this is not enough to ruin my trip I am just making suggestions. According to most in my group we had issues with the shower draining but again I believe it may have been caused by the ship swaying. I didn't notice as many kids this time but I also didn't bring mine along either. They appeared to be having fun! I met lots of very nice people, but have this one courtesy suggestion,....... please please please LET THE PEOPLE on the elevator get off BEFORE YOU GET ON! It usually makes for a happier situation. I can't tell you how many people don't do this! Jamaica- Went to Sunset Beach Resort.. they now charge $30 instead of $20 due to the new "waterpark". It wasn't really working yet, and there was only one slide open. The weather hampered our visit but we still liked it. Food was fine and service was good. It beat being nagged by people downtown that's for sure. Grand Cayman -- This was my first visit due to Hurricane Ivan closing it down last year. I loved 7 Mile Beach. Our cab ride was $5 pp and our driver was very nice. We even asked her to pick us up at a certain time and she did. I found it VERY expensive there. The beer was 4.40 for a very small cup and frozen/mixed drinks were 8 or 9. I was used to the ship prices but GC was high priced. I saw a cheeseburger there for $9. I almost forgot the HORRIBLE tender ride. I hope I don't have to do that AGAIN! The water was very rough and the ride wasn't awful but getting onto the tender and back on the ship was so bad. The tender boat would just CRASH into the Conquest and then you had to time it just right in order to get off. I felt so bad for those that had some trouble walking and the elderly. There would literally be a 3 foot space between the boat and the ship and you could look in between the two and sea the water. NOT FUN! Still wasn't enough to not make me go back though. It is clean and the people there are nice. Cozumel -- BEST place to snorkel. I can't say enough about Chankanaab National Park. There are dolphins and sea lions and other birds and monkeys there. Also botanical gardens, and volleyball. I know I didn't get to see it all because I snorkeled so much! It was fantastic! $20 for cab ride for 4 about 7 minutes down the main street and $12 pp to get in. Kids were cheaper. There were many chairs and shade was found everywhere if you chose it. Then $8 for snorkel equipment for the day. (I didn't book this thru Carnival..much cheaper my way) Drinks are expensive, can of Pepsi $2, bottle was more. I can't remember beer price. Lots of beautiful underwater pictures from this place! Most all of the food was really good on the ship... lines weren't too bad with the exception of the MIDNIGHT GALA". I thought people were going to come to blows over FOOD!, of which there was never any lacking. People stood in line for over one hour before the thing even started~! Not me when I saw that line I opted for pizza which many others did also, then just people watched. I heard people yelling at one another when someone walked up just to see the ice sculpture because they thought they were cutting in! I say WHATEVER! I had enough of that and finished my pizza.. which I enjoyed very much! Debarkation.. SELF ASSIST!!!! get your luggage off yourself and you will be out of there in a timely manner. I was off by 8:30, my friends who didn't do their own luggage.. 1pm. Again much better than N.O. no problems and back to Illinois I went. I can't say enough about the fun, and service (Boris) was a great server wherever we were at on the ship, and we were made to feel like royalty. I highly recommend cruising.. and whatever you encounter just make the best of it! Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
Embarking out of Galveston on the Conquest is a difficult act. We stood in line for over 3 hours. I realize the port is not equipped to handle a huge ship like the Conquest but I would expect everyone to be more organized. The first few ... Read More
Embarking out of Galveston on the Conquest is a difficult act. We stood in line for over 3 hours. I realize the port is not equipped to handle a huge ship like the Conquest but I would expect everyone to be more organized. The first few days were difficult on the ship because the crew that you pass in the hall don't care to help you find your way throughout the ship. We heard "over there" or "just down there" quite often when we asked for directions and our destinations were nowhere near "over there". After the 5th or 6th day, we were pros and found our way around quite well. The Cruise Director, Todd, really favored Ryan Seacrest. He was excellent! Our cabin was on the Riviera Deck and very nice. We had one complaint and that was that the cabin was not cold enough at night. Our cabin steward, Ramon, was a dream. He was always around and took good care of us. Looked forward to the towel animals each evening. We enjoyed most all the entertainment on the ship except for one adult comedian who was rather gross to say the least. I especially enjoyed the ventriloquist. He was the best. The food was decent. We went to the dining rooms each morning for breakfast where we met several people and enjoyed being pampered. The breakfast buffet on the Lido deck was almost the same except they had powdered eggs which were just horrible. Could use some improvement there! The dinners were good and the portions were small for the men. My husband ordered two entrees nearly every night. The best was our last dinner which we had at The Point Restaurant. It was just exquisite and well worth the money. They serve several different courses. We were treated like kings and queens. The ports were very entertaining. We had plans to go to Sunset Beach in Jamaica. It cost $20 to enter and everything inside was free. But when we got there, they wanted $40 per person because they had built a new like. We left there and spent the day at Doctors Cave Beach which is very clean & pretty. We walked to Margaritaville a couple blocks away and had a great time. Just a little dangerous there - was asked to buy drugs on our walk off the beach. Grand Caymen was real crowded - five ships arrived at the same time. Shopping was impossible, the merchants will not move on prices and there were people so thick on the sidewalk, you had to walk on the street. We spent time at The Hard Rock Cafe, then went on an excursion to play with the Stingrays and snorkel. Enjoyed that. The water there is the most beautiful. Back to the beach in Cozumel at Channakub Park - snorkeled. Actually, a Mian gentleman named Mario taught me how to snorkel here. Have always had anxiety before - he was great. Cozumel was also beautiful. Would like to spend more time there. On the way back to the ship we stopped in at Fat Tuesday which was a real party. Fun! The weather was perfect throughout the whole trip. We had one night and day of rocky seas but made it through without any sickness. Disembarking was fine - we carried our own baggage off the ship and therefore were allowed to leave first. We were off the ship and on the road back home within an hour. Overall, we totally enjoyed the cruise. Not something we want to do every year but will again in the future. P.S. We packed way too much for one week. And, packed way too many gadgets. I had read lots & lots of reviews on the internet and took nearly everyone's advise on different things to take with us. I will say one of the most helpful things were the clothes pins the put on the bottom on the shower curtain so that it doesn't fly in and stick to you. So glad we had those. And the over-the-door hooks. They came in handy to hang up your bathing suits. That is one thing we did not take enough of is bathing suits - you could go most places in a bathing suit and cover-up. Well, next time we will know. Thank you all for the suggestions! Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
My wife and I sailed the Baltic for 12 days on Royal Caribbean Jewel the summer of 2004 and Celebrity Alaska in July 2005 for 7 nights. We are in our late 50's/early 60's and knew about Carnival's "party boat" ... Read More
My wife and I sailed the Baltic for 12 days on Royal Caribbean Jewel the summer of 2004 and Celebrity Alaska in July 2005 for 7 nights. We are in our late 50's/early 60's and knew about Carnival's "party boat" reputation. Check in was average thanks to the fact I dropped off my wife and luggage while I returned the rental car and she saved me a place in line. Some people behind us were stuck in long lines and long waits. They did not seem to have enough help to process faster. We were very pleased with our other table guests. We all got along well and one other couple our age did a few shipboard activities together but for the most part it was just the 2 of us other than dinner. The food was a nice surprise. The staff was very attentive except for the servers around the pool area. The weather was perfect. We signed up for horseback riding in Montego Bay and really enjoyed the day. One couple complained they got back too late to do a second tour. The jerked chicken and red stripe beer were not too expensive but a little more than I expected. The chicken was finger licking good and the beer cold and very good. We signed up for snorkeling in Grand Cayman and it lived up to our rather high expectations. We had plenty of time to shop as we were on the first snorkel tour out. Cozumel was the highlight as far as we were concerned as we took a 7 hour tour to Tulum. It is being restored and the tourist village is being expanded. We were very happy with all aspects of the cruise and land tours and would highly recommend it. We participated in some of the on board party activities and had a great time. The only criticism concerns the fact that the only non smoking lounge was all karaoke. I would have preferred to see the non smoking lounge have a different act each day. We did attend the afternoon tea parties with classical trio playing live and that was designated non smoking during that time. Drink specials were available every day to keep the bar tab down. I hoped for a wine package for dinners but the wine list and prices were fine. I liked the specialty oriental food alternative to the buffet line but I have nothing bad to say about any of the food. Great trip. We stayed in Galveston an extra day after the cruise and enjoyed the local scene. Took bus to Moody Gardens and walked around the "free" garden areas and hotel lobby. Senior round trip bus fare $1! We ate at Joe's Crab Shack overlooking the mosquito fleet (shrimp boats) and watched the Conquest sail off to meet up with Hurricane Wilma. Sure glad we missed that. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
We had originally booked this cruise with intentions of going spending the weekend prior in New Orleans. When the cruise was switched to Galveston, Delta changed our flights, but we decided to just fly into Galveston the morning of the ... Read More
We had originally booked this cruise with intentions of going spending the weekend prior in New Orleans. When the cruise was switched to Galveston, Delta changed our flights, but we decided to just fly into Galveston the morning of the cruise. I have been on 8 cruises and have done this several times, but this time--it was a near disaster. Our connecting flight got cancelled, and all of the other flights to Hobby airport were overbooked. We were finally lucky enough to get a flight into Houston International, but our luggage went to Hobby. Fortunately we had time to take a cab to Hobby and pick up our luggage, and we made it to the ship in time. One advantage of being late was that we avoided the embarkation chaos, and practically walked right onto the ship. Cab fare is very expensive from Houston. I would recommend the Galveston Limousine service which is $50 round trip/pp from Hobby airport, or if there are 3 or more people in your car it would be worth getting one from either Hertz or Enterprise and turning it in at their booth in the cruise terminal. They both charge a one way drop off fee, but it would come out cheaper for large parties. We found out upon arrival that our itinerary had been changed secondary to Hurricane Wilma. Jamaica and Grand Cayman were cancelled, Cozumel was moved to Wednesday, and instead we we visited Costa Maya, and Progresso on Tuesday and Thursday respectively. I had a Dune Buggy excursion through a company called LTD tours set up in Cozumel, but they were able to change our tour from Friday to Wednesday. The first few sea days were great and very relaxing. Monday night was our first formal night and we had lobster. We were originally in the second dinner, (8:30), but requested a change to the first at 6;15, as the second dinner lasted until at least 10:30. They switched this for us, and we really enjoyed the couple we ate dinner with. Our dune buggy tour in Cozumel was excellent. We were a little nervous at first. The Conquest ported at Puerta Maya and we had to take a cab downtown for $6. We were the first ones to arrive at 10;30 and the office looked like a hole in the wall. The dune buggies also looked more beat up than the ones the ship tours went on. We found out why later, because they take you back a lot farther off the beaten path than the ship tours get to go. It was really a lot of fun, and our guide was great. It was also a much smaller group than the ship tours, and couples are able to get their own buggies more often. We were the only ones from the Conquest on the tour, but their was 6 other people from the Carnival Miracle, and Norwegian Sun which were also in Cozumel that day. The guide made us a Mexican lunch on the beach and made homemade guacamole, and salsa. We didn't get to snorkel, because the waves were too large from the hurricane being so close. We had fun playing in them, and got some great pictures. We were tired the next day in Progresso, and didn't do much, but we enjoyed a relaxing day on the beach in Costa Maya. I really liked Todd the Cruise director, and I thought the entertainment was very good on this ship. Debarkation on sunday was the worst, I have ever been through! We did not clear customs until 2:30, and were not offered the option of carrying all of our luggage off early as noted in previous reviews. It was a very unorganized process, and I'm not sure I would go on a cruise from Galveston again. In fact I would like to go on some I could drive to for a change. All in all we had a really great time, and a very relaxing vacation. I I like certain things better about Royal Caribbean, but I have always liked the Promenade area and night life offered by Carnival, and have missed that on other ships. They had a red, white, and blue team contest all week which made things a lot of fun and competitive. Feel free to email me with questions. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
We went to Galveston the day before our cruise departure. Hurricane Wilma had moved west and allowed us to not have any changes in departure times. We stayed at the Hilton Beachfront, it was a great hotel, super nice staff, and they also ... Read More
We went to Galveston the day before our cruise departure. Hurricane Wilma had moved west and allowed us to not have any changes in departure times. We stayed at the Hilton Beachfront, it was a great hotel, super nice staff, and they also take you anywhere you want to go on the island. They also provide free shuttle service to your cruise terminal. Great choice. On Embarkment day we arrived at the terminal at 1:30pm thinking that would be a good time, and the lines would be moving. They did not even start loading the ship until 2pm. The terminal was packed and people were crammed in like sardines. It was not fun, but once the lines began then we got on fairly quickly. When you embark prepare for long lines and waits, be patient. We went to our stateroom and made sure that our sign and sail cards worked. They did and we had no problem with them at all. When we set sail the seas were very rough from Hurricane Wilma and there was 12 to 14 foot swells for 24 hours, the ship was rocking and moving all the time. Most people were seasick and some of the crew, that is how bad it was moving. Our room stewardess was great, she took great care of us and told us what to do. They say you do not get seasick but this time it happened. People on board that had cruised many times had never been sick. After the first day the seas were fine. Montego Bay Jamaica was great, I really enjoyed myself. I have read and heard terrible things about this port but I felt safe the whole time. We were supposed to go on the Negril excursion but as we started into the mountains there was water covering the road and we could not pass, so it was canceled. We got a full refund with no problems from Carnival. We went shopping and to Margaritaville instead, we went with some people we met from Texas so we would be in a group. It was fantastic we had the best time, no hassles. While I was waiting outside a shop I was approached by a man to purchase drugs I told him "No Man" and he walked away. They do want to braid your hair and so forth, just say no thank you and keep walking it is no big deal. One advice to give is negotiate prices before you get a taxi, hair braiding, etc. If in doubt write it down on paper ask them if that is correct. Margaritaville was fun, expensive drinks though. Would go back to Jamaica anytime. Grand Cayman was very nice. We took the Island Tour and Stingray City tour. For our first trip to the island it was a great tour. You go to the town called Hell, Turtle Farm, then the Stingrays. We loved it all the Turtle Farm was fun. You must not miss the stingrays it is the most wonderful experience. Then water is so clear, you can stand, and the water is so warm. The US dollar is not worth as much in Grand Cayman to things will cost you more there, keep that in mind. We did not get to go to Cozumel due to the damage they suffered from Hurricane Wilma. Overall the cruise was great, we were sea sick, missed a port, and the weather was not great at the ports. None of Carnivals fault. But we had a great time. Would cruise with Carnival again. The food was great and was hot. The hamburgers, pizza, and ice cream was great. If you do not have a good time on this ship it is your own fault. There is so much to do and Todd the cruise director is great too. Loved the cruise no complaints. The disembarkment was a nightmare though. The port at Galveston is too small to accommodate this large of a ship. We had the black luggage tags to leave first so that we would leave first. We were supposed to be starting to disembark between 8am and 9am we did not even start until 10am! DO NOT get a early flight, I would suggest no earlier than 2pm. Our flight was at 3:40pm and we made it fine, but the stress of disembarkment was bad. Also, good luck finding your luggage you have to dig through piles to find it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This was our first experience with cruising so we went in with open minds although I tried to prepare as much as possible by reading the Cruise Critic boards and reading all of the wonderful hints and tips. I will try to be as detailed as ... Read More
This was our first experience with cruising so we went in with open minds although I tried to prepare as much as possible by reading the Cruise Critic boards and reading all of the wonderful hints and tips. I will try to be as detailed as possible on embarkation and debarkation as well as try to put in all of the things that I wanted to know. I hope that I don't leave anything out but we did so many things that it is hard to remember them all. My daughter went to Camp Carnival so I included a small review on that separately at the end. Just a note, we took ginger root capsules twice daily beginning a couple of days before our cruise and even with rough seas we didn't have a problem with sea sickness. I also included a small list of things that you shouldn't forget to pack at the end of the review. Embarkation, Boarding and Sail Away We arrived at the Galveston terminal at 9:30. Our luggage was promptly taken by a porter and we took the car to the EZCruise Parking lot (www.EZCruiseParking.com). It was a short 2 block walk back to the terminal. We took the escalator upstairs and sat in the two rows of chairs at 9:50. At 10:10 we were taken to the security screening section and on to check in where we received our sail and sign cards. We sat in the last row of the section of chairs to the far left (when facing them) as we had read to do from previous cruisers (Thank You). A gentleman told us that it would be approximately 2:00 PM before we could board. Several of our Cruise Critic group arrived and we had a wonderful time getting to know everyone. We had such a good time that another guest(Ron) and his wife came up and joined our party. At 12:15 the gentleman returned and advised that we would be boarding at 12:30. He returned at exactly 12:30 and our section was the first to board. We promptly went up to the Lido deck (9) where a buffet lunch was waiting. We then spent some time exploring the ship and discovered the 24 hour pizza and ice cream. We checked our room at 1:45 and it was ready so we could leave our carry-on luggage. The room was well made and extremely clean with no smoke smell. We then took a tour of Spa Carnival and the Gym area. They were offering specials for those who took the tour. We checked our room around 4:45 for our luggage and found that it had all been delivered so we were able to completely unpack before sail away. I was surprised at the amount of storage space that we had. There was enough room under the bed for our two suitcases, 2 hanging bags and carry-on luggage to be stored underneath. We were called for the life boat drill at approximately 5:20 and it went very quickly. I don't think we were there over 15 minutes or so. We went back up to the Lido deck for sail away. The ship began moving at 6:00 PM. We stayed on deck until we were into the Galveston channel. It was quite windy that night and a little cool. We had 5:45 dinner so we missed the main dining room that night. We ate the buffet again with pizza for a snack. The pizza was very good although they only have a small selection but they also offer Caesar salads there which were quite good. Since it was Halloween on Monday, the crew had created a haunted house for all of the guests. We had to wait in line but it was well worth the wait. I would consider it to be one of the best that I have seen. They transformed the Montmarte teen lounge into a multiple scene haunted house. The decorations and costumes were great and the crew really portrayed their characters well. My personal favorite was Jason (Friday the 13th ). I am glad that we went that night because the next morning the Montmarte had been completely transformed back to its original state. I was amazed that they did all of that in one night. Day 1 Fun Day At Sea -- The weather was beautiful for the first day. I began my day with a wonderfully relaxing facial in the spa. We then spent time around the pool and slide area before having lunch. We tried sandwiches from the deli and found that everything that we tried was good. The Hairy Chest Contest was hilarious and our new friend Ron was declared the winner. We met our Cruise Critic group at the Sky Bar for an afternoon of fun before heading to dinner. Dinner in the Monet dining room was very good with lobster and prime rib both offered. After dinner everyone changed into costumes for the grand Halloween party. There were lots of people who brought costumes and some were very original. The overall winner dressed as Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. We again spent an evening with our Cruise Critic friends near the Sky Pool. The seas were quite rough so walking around became interesting. It was reported that seas were 12 ft+. It made me glad that we were on deck 1 midship. It wasn't bad in our cabin compared to the upper decks. Day 2 Fun Day At Sea -- After a quick breakfast I started today off with a trip to the steam room and a nice relaxing soak in the jacuzzi and a nice long shower in the spa area. The port shopping talk with Neil the Super Shopper was this morning. He gave lots of tips on the three ports that we were visiting. For lunch we had sandwiches again from the deli accompanied by salads from the pizza place. We then spent the afternoon near the pools. There were lots of activities around the pool area with Battle of the Sexes and Survivor. All of the activities were great! There was also an art auction that afternoon. We again dined in the Monet dining room. I didn't care for the selection that night so our waiter ordered a Filet Mignon for me which was excellent. We then went to the first show of the cruise which was Formidable. It was a nice show with lots of dancing and singing. A very professional performance. The night ended with a relaxing time spent on deck 3. Day 3 Montego Bay, Jamaica -- The weather was again beautiful in Jamaica. I made it up for the sunrise which shouldn't be missed. You can watch as the ship comes into port. The view of the island as you come in is beautiful. We had breakfast from the buffet before going onshore. We took a cab(JUTA) which took us to shops near Margaritaville to pick up a couple of souvenirs. The people there were quite pushy so as soon as we had a T-shirt we then walked the couple of blocks to Margaritaville. We had a table on the back deck with a wonderful view of the water and the Conquest in the distance. We had a great lunch and stayed for a couple of hours before heading back to the ship. We had dinner in the dining room and it was very good. Our servers were really great. We went to the magic show featuring Deja from Las Vegas. It was a great show, one not to be missed. She combined traditional magic with illusions. Another port tomorrow so we turned in early. Day 4 Grand Cayman -- We woke up and went up on deck as Grand Cayman came into view. We watched as we came in and anchored just at sunrise. The tender boats were already out and waiting for the ship. We took an early tender into town but found out that most of the shops didn't open until 8:30 - 9:00. We walked around and found where our tour was leaving from and picked up a couple of souvenirs in one of the shops. We took the Stingray City tour with Captain Bryans on the Buccaneer. The weather was terrible and it was raining as we got ready to leave but they said the tour would go and it would clear up(They were wrong.). We arrived at Stingray City but it was crowded so they went to 2 spots to snorkel first. It was still raining and the waves were quite high so everyone came back to the boat quickly at each stop. We made it back to Stingray City and it was still crowded in my opinion. It was raining and the waves were high so I watched from onboard. The stingrays didn't disappoint and it was amazing to see how friendly they were. Since the weather was miserable we couldn't wait to get back to the Conquest. The last tender to the ship was at 3:00 so we didn't waste time getting in line. I am sure it would be a wonderful trip if the weather is good. We ordered room service which was delivered very quickly and was quite good. The show for the night was Point and Click but we didn't attend that one although my daughter did and said that it was very good and the music was great. We went to the buffet later for a light dinner, looked at photos and checked out the casino before heading to sit on the deck off the main lobby and relax. We had it to ourselves for over an hour before heading to bed. Day 5 - Playa Del Carmen -- We got up early again and watched as the ship anchored off of Playa Del Carmen. It was again cloudy but not raining there. We were warned that this was the first time that a ship had anchored there and used tenders. We had a ship tour so we had to meet early to be taken down to the tenders. They were using the ferry's that normally run between Cozumel and Playa Del Carmen so they were very large although due to it being the first time it took longer for them to tie up to the ship so that we could board. We were the first ship to visit there since Hurricane Wilma hit so the people there were very glad to have visitors. The pier was damaged and the top was gone. There were areas of the pier where the concrete had been eaten away. They were very well organized though and had many signs and people to direct you to your tours. We took a bus trip to the Mayan Ruins of Tulum. It was a 45-50 minute drive and you could see the poor people there that were living in their damaged homes. Some were missing walls and roofs but still inhabited. It began to rain just as we came to Tulum. Our bus driver was prepared and had umbrellas for us to use. The ruins were very interesting and the guides were very well versed in the Mayan culture. We were there for a couple of hours before the bus trip back to the city. There was a large line for tenders when we returned so we didn't look at any of the shops there. The line sent slowly because of the problems with the tenders tying up to the ship. We finally made it back but too late for our dinner so we went to the buffet again. I was always able to find something good there and enjoyed it every time. The talent show was that night but we didn't attend. We spent some relaxing time with books on the decks off the main lobby. Day 6 Fun Day At Sea -- We woke up late and had a nice breakfast by the Sky Pool overlooking the wake of the ship. It was one of my favorite places to sit. I spent some time in the steam room and in the jacuzzi in the Gym. Both are very good for relaxation. I then started on my packing. It is hard to believe that the week is over. The debarkation talk was at 11:00 so we attended it before heading to lunch. The chocolate buffet was today so we sampled lots of the chocolate goodies before spending some time in the sun on deck 11 with a nice drink and a good book. The afternoon went by quickly. We went to our last dinner in the Monet dining room and had a wonderful prime rib dinner. We then went back to our room to finish up our packing which took longer that I thought. We watched a movie that was offered and spent time reading on the deck off of the Main Lobby area. It was quiet there again. Day 7 Debarkation -- We woke at 5:45 so that we could gather all of our luggage and be ready for self-assist debarkation which was scheduled to start around 6:15. They began to call decks promptly and we were to be the last deck called. We waited about 20 minutes or so before we headed to the lounge area to wait for our deck to be called. When we arrived there we were told that since we had all of our things we could debark immediately. It only took 40 minutes from the time that we stepped off the ship and onto the gangplank until we stepped out of the terminal. I was impressed with that time it took for customs as I expected it to take longer. Our shuttle from EZ Cruise Parking was waiting when we arrived at their loading area. By 8:30 we were in the car with all of our luggage. It was a wonderful trip and I hate that we didn't have time to see everything and participate in all of the activities. The entire staff was great and everything exceeded my expectations from boarding to debarkation. The only thing that I thought could use improvement was the desserts that were offered on the buffet. They were not very good in my opinion. We ordered room service on several occasions and it was always delivered promptly within 15 minutes. The gift shop offered specials each day but had good sales on the last day at sea. You might find it to your advantage to wait until then to purchase something. The spa also offered specials on port days as well as the last day at sea at a considerable discount. I really didn't find smoke to be a problem in most parts of the ship. Only in the bars and casino area where you would expect that there would be smokers. Camp Carnival -- My daughter who is 11 went to Camp Carnival on Monday morning. I don't think she thought that she would like it but she absolutely loved it! The counselors are great and had activities planned for their age group. They did very interesting scavenger hunts, crafts and art activities and played games. By the second day she didn't want to spend any time with us and hated it when the camp closed for the couple of hours each day for lunch. She even wanted to have dinner with them each evening instead of with us. They also offered 2 nights of late night parties for a small charge. They had pizza and played games until 3:30 am and a counselor would walk each of them to their rooms afterwards and insure that they made it in safely so that the parents could sleep. I think that this is the best program that Carnival offers. It really keeps the kids entertained and allows the parents a little free time as well as keeping the kids from bothering the other passengers. There were 450 kids onboard and I rarely saw any of them other than my own. I am already looking forward to taking another cruise in the future! Don't forget to pack: Ginger Root Capsules for seasickness. An extension cord and a power strip ( only 1 plug in ) Clothespins - place them a few inches apart along the bottom of the shower curtain to keep it in place. A night light - especially for inside cabins as it is very dark. Ziploc Bags - I used them for different things. Large ones were good for packing wet shoes when we returned home. A post-it note pad and pen for leaving notes for the steward and each other. Lots of $1 and $5 bills for tips, taxis and bargaining in ports(they don't like to give change). An underwater camera First Aid Kit - I included cold/sinus medicine, Imodium, Tylenol, Band-Aids, etc. Whatever you might need as they were expensive onboard. A light jacket as the nights on deck and inside at night can be cool. Small packaged snacks for excursions. A small sewing kit and safety pins. We found that decorating our door made it easier to find so find some interesting things for that. I used a halloween garland around the door and it was highly visible. Scotch tape - for the decorations. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This trip (10/30/05 - 11/6/05) was a very special occasion trip for us. It was our first cruise together, our first vacation together, and a belated honeymoon/second anniversary trip. We are a military family and chose Carnival because of ... Read More
This trip (10/30/05 - 11/6/05) was a very special occasion trip for us. It was our first cruise together, our first vacation together, and a belated honeymoon/second anniversary trip. We are a military family and chose Carnival because of their fantastic military discount. We were originally Elation passengers and were canceled for Katrina/FEMA and ended up transferring our booking to Conquest. We originally booked a 4A but with price dips between booking and sailing, were able to move to an 8C for similar pricing. EMBARKATION: We arrived in the terminal around 11:00 a.m. and were on the ship by 12:30 p.m. We met our group on the farthest left bank of chairs (if you're standing with your back to the ship) and those were let on the ship first. We were told not to go to our room until 2:00 p.m., but at that time we did so and it was ready for us. ROOM: Room 8258 was right at the top of the main stairs, near atrium elevators and the main elevator banks. It was convenient and easy-to-find. There was no unusual hallway noise, though we could hear the elevator bells from time to time. We found the room to be clean and comfortable. The bedding was very comfy and soothing. The balcony was just big enough for the two of us, but we were thrilled just to have it. There's nothing like the sound of the ocean! Closet and storage space in this room was ample, and we found places for everything but our suitcases (which were too big to fit under the bed). Our only minor issue in the bathroom was that our shower overflowed every time one of us took a shower, but it drained off in a matter of minutes. FOOD: We ate in the dining room for breakfast 2 mornings and had room service (coffee/danish/fruit) the rest of the mornings. Next time we will eat more dining room breakfast. We never had the breakfast Lido buffet (or any meal at the Lido buffet, as we were trying to watch our portions). Sur Mer above the lido buffet however was the exception, with bouillabaisse every day. It ended up being our favorite food on the whole ship. We also sampled the pizza, the grille, and the deli, which were all great. The dining room food was also hot and delicious. The finest meal of all was the Point Supper Club ($30/pp extra) which we will gladly do again and found to be a delicious, spectacular meal (took 2.5 hours for dinner, but they told us this in advance). We also sampled the sushi on the promenade, which we found to be "okay." DRINKS: We hung out at the Sky Bar on the lido deck aft. Jan the bartender (pronounced "Yahn") and Boris the waiter were a fabulous team and kept us laughing every day, as well as kept our drinks filled up. It was a great place to meet up with others, hang out, or just pop by for a few minutes. The Latour Wine Bar also had a great selection. I regret not trying any of the martinis, as if they were as good as the wines we sampled I'd have enjoyed them greatly. PUBLIC ROOMS: The entire length of the Conquest was in great shape, just having come out of dry dock a few weeks before our sailing. We noticed no scratches or stains or anything else unsightly. The artwork, intricate details and amazing decor, however, was a sight to behold. It seemed every time we turned around there was something else fabulous to see. Around every corner was another masterpiece. This ship is truly awesome to behold. We ate both in the Renoir and Monet dining rooms, which were elegant and not at all the really "gaudy" style I'd thought might be present on a Carnival ship. We felt some ship vibration in the Monet dining room when we ate for breakfast, but we had Renoir for dinner and I never noticed anything like that. The dining rooms are two levels, and have two entrances each on decks 3 and 4 so you don't have to climb stairs in the dining room if you don't want to, to reach your table. You can just enter on the appropriate level. The Toulouse-Latrec lounge is gigantic and was much larger than I had expected. We only saw a couple of shows but I would say that the sound quality could be improved for people sitting on the sides or in the back. You are better off to sit on the upper level or somewhere in the middle of the bottom level to have the best sound quality (or at least you were on our sailing). ENTERTAINMENT: As I said, we only saw a few shows. We're fans of raunchy comedy but did not care for the first late-night comedy show we saw (a ventriloquist). We heard great things about the next late-night comedy show, however, and were sorry we missed it. The Las Vegas style production shows just aren't our "thing," but we did see the main show Formidable anyway on the first formal night. It was a beautiful show and all of the performers were very talented, but it just wasn't our favorite form of entertainment. If you like showgirls, and song/dance shows, I'm sure you would enjoy it quite a lot. Poolside entertainment was fun. Todd Wittmer and his staff did a great job of keeping everyone involved, and even structured our cruise around the Halloween holiday with a haunted house, costume parade, and masquerade ball in the Disco. They did a great job. SERVICE: We were treated with over-the-top and outstanding service at every turn. From the purser's desk to our room steward to our dining room staff to our bar waiters, everyone on the ship was smiling, eager to talk to us, eager to go out of their way to help us with anything we wanted, and we also witnessed a lot of the staff going over-the-top for the benefit of other passengers, also. A great experience is where you look for it -- if you're nice to the staff, they are going to be nice back. We felt sorry for the pursers, as they had to deal with some very bitter, nasty, petty people but they always did so in an efficient and capable way. We had so much great service we kept a list of the folks who helped us so we could be sure they were noted on our comment card. Everyone was great! DEBARKATION: We were awakened at 6:15 p.m. by the cruise director Todd telling us we had arrived in Galveston and were cleared for self-assist. We didn't get to do that, but we were still able to get dressed, pack our carry-ons, eat breakfast at the Lido, get off the ship, and back to our car and on the road by 10:30 a.m. It was a very easy process getting off the ship. We highly recommend getting a porter for the process, as it easily shaved minutes off of our wait time and then we didn't have to lug all our bags around. We loved our trip on the Conquest. We would gladly sail her again. We're also considering perhaps a smaller ship, which might be a little easier to find our way around. We are now officially hooked on cruising, and we can't wait for our chance to take another trip. Carnival earned some customers for life. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This cruise was my husbands first and my second on Carnival. This cruise was a Welcome Home gift because he had just gotten home from the desert. I would like to first commend Carnival on doing such a great job of keeping us updated on ... Read More
This cruise was my husbands first and my second on Carnival. This cruise was a Welcome Home gift because he had just gotten home from the desert. I would like to first commend Carnival on doing such a great job of keeping us updated on the goings on of our cruise. It was originally out of New Orleans, which is why we chose it, however, as we all know the hurricane screwed that up. We ended up sailing out of Galveston, which is where the Conquest is ported from now on. Beware of cruising this time of year, there can be itinerary changes because of hurricanes so be prepared for that. If you have changes Carnival is good about doing what they can to help. We got $100 shipboard credit for the port change. That came in handy when it was time to pay the Sail and Sign account. The Ship: All I can say about the ship is that it is HUGE!!! It has Carnivals usual vibrant dEcor. There are several pools and hot tubs. The waterslide is fun even for adults. There are hot tubs at the back of the boat for adults only, if that is what you are looking for. The only draw back to the ship is that it is so big that you take the first couple of days to figure it all out. The Rooms: We had a balcony room on the Upper Deck (Deck 6). Definitely pay the extra for the balcony. It was wonderful. We would order room service (which is free, but remember to tip them they arent included in prepaid tips) and sit out there and just relax. We saw dolphins and flying fish as we were cruising by. The only bad part about the room was the location. If you chose a balcony, definitely upgrade to Deck 7. Deck 7 is located with rooms above and below you. We were right above the Degas Lounge and could here Karaoke every night. The Food: My husband and I enjoyed the food. We ate in the dining room for just about every meal. It is mostly the same food as the buffet and you dont have to wait in long lines to get it. You can order as much as you want so it may as well be a buffet too!!! We had the late seating dinner in the Monet Dining Room. Our waiters are the only reason we actually went to dinner every night. Benjamin of South Africa and Razvan of Romania were our waiters. We had our own table, which was awesome. Beware of the cocktailer, Boris from Czech Republic, he will get you to buy and buy and buy!! Very good at his job and not hard on the eyes either! The Entertainment: We didnt do much of the onboard entertainment. They have lots for you to do but we were there to relax. We saw the comedy show and it was pretty funny. We enjoyed doing the daytime activities like Win, Lose, or Draw. We did Bingo twice&.waste of $40 for 5 mins of time. The best entertainment is the Newlywed Game. This is HILARIOUS!! Make sure you go to Neils Smart Shopper talk. He gives away lots of free stuff. I got some free black pearls. Todd is a very good cruise director and fun to listen too. The casino was fun, we played but lost in there several times. Embarkation: This was so EASY!! We parked in the Dolphin parking lot for $50 for the week. They transported us and our luggage to the terminal. We walked directly up to the desk, checked in and boarded the ship after the welcome aboard pic of course. This took all of 10 mins and we were off to eat and see our room. Debarkation: We decided to take our own luggage off the ship and glad we did. We were back to our car by 8:45am and headed on the long road trip home. This is definitely the way to go if you only have a few bags. Montego Bay: Sucks!! This place is dirty. We went on the white water rafting tour and booked it through Carnival at $99 per person. This was a blast until oops went down a waterfall and the boat turned over and we nearly drowned but hey mon no problem. The shopping sucks too, I would say dont bother but if you are like me you have to see for yourself. Grand Cayman: We booked our excursion through Captain Marvins Watersports. We did the Sting Ray tour with snorkel. It was $39 per person. Way less than Carnival and way better cause they only allow 25 people per trip. The snorkeling was awesome. The tour guide has been feeding a nurse shark for several months so he got it to come out of the cave so we could all see it. The sting ray part was awesome too. I was a big chicken and on my husbands back for the first part but eventually got off and held a sting ray. Just know those sting rays are HUGE!! They bring squid for you to feed the rays. I didnt do that but my husband said it was like a vacuum sucking it out of your hand. The shopping is just the opposite here from Montego Bay. It is catered to tourists but we still didnt find anything we couldnt live without. www.captainmarvins.com Cozumel: The best port of them all. Again we didnt book our excursion through Carnival and WE ARE SO GLAD!! We booked through Eagle Ray Divers. It cost $50 per person for 3 hours of snorkeling. This is a personal one on one tour. It was amazing. The tour guide took us to a shallow area to snorkel and told us the names of the fish we were seeing. He got a sea urchin out of a cave for us to see it. He also brought tortilla for the fish to eat&.who would have ever thought. It was so awesome. There were hundreds of fish inches from our face. The pics of this are amazing. He took us to another snorkel site called the drop off. This was freaky looking. There was no bottom to the ocean!! Right off the port of Cozumel are lots of shops. Same junk as from the other two stops. The only thing we didnt do that we wished we had was rent scooters. People looked like they were having so much fun. www.eagleraydivers.com.Tips: *Remember you are on vacation and so is everyone else and not everyone vacations the same way. *Dont buy the Coke Card&.Bring your own, it is allowed. *Beware of the spending on the Sail and Sign card&.you can rack it up quick and not realize it cause this is the only method of payment on the ship. *The alcoholic drinks are worth the crazy prices. They are pretty strong. The first day get a Fun Ship drink and you will have fun on the ship. *Room Service comes quicker if you tip them at least $1 per trip. *Go to the Captains Cocktail Party. FREE DRINKS and lots of them. *The toiletries in the room are free but the bottled water isnt. *Order one of everything at dinner, when else can you try gourmet foods and not pay for them. We would definitely cruise Carnival again. Carnival Conquest again but only if it goes to other locations. Next year we are doing Carnival again but going on a ship that goes to the USVI. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
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