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Sail Date: March 2004
Carnival Conquest 3/24-3/21 I have found these CC boards to be very helpful, so this long review is my attempt to give a little back. I traveled as part of a family of 4 adults, a 12-year-old and a 10-year-old. New Orleans We arrived ... Read More
Carnival Conquest 3/24-3/21 I have found these CC boards to be very helpful, so this long review is my attempt to give a little back. I traveled as part of a family of 4 adults, a 12-year-old and a 10-year-old. New Orleans We arrived in New Orleans Saturday morning for our Sunday departure, and stayed at the Maison St. Charles Hotel. I highly recommend this hotel. They have a "Bon Voyage" package for cruisers that is a very good deal. The package is $97 per night, plus $12 per night for valet parking. The best part is that they take you to the port on the morning of your cruise in a limo. You can leave your car with them and they only charge $5 per night for parking for the duration of the cruise. The car is in a locked lot with a high fence and very secure. I loved this hotel. It is by far the best hotel I have ever stayed at for less than $100 per night. The valet/bell guys were all very friendly and very helpful and the hotel has a great, relaxed vibe, with a lounge and game room, a pool and a beautiful New Orleans style courtyard. It is also directly across the street from a St. Charles Streetcar stop, so you don't need a car to get down to the quarter. Highly recommended. http://www.maisonstcharles.com/ Embarkation Not too bad. They move you from section to section, so it doesn't seem like you are waiting as long as you are. Either the funpass registration doesn't do anything, or everyone pre-registers, because it looked to me like we were all in the same line. We were eager, so we got to the port about 11:45 and were on the ship by about 12:30. Official boarding was not until 3:00. They handed us a flyer that said our stateroom would not be ready until 2:00, but we went up to check and it was ready to go. The Conquest This is a beautiful ship. I was especially impressed with the public areas. There are a ton of bars and lounges everywhere you look. The casino is large and nice. There are two dining rooms, the Monet and the Renoir, but I don't know if there is any real difference between the two. Passengers are assigned a room, a table number and a seating time. This is all listed on the sign and sail card that you pick up when you board. The Monet has 5:45 and 8:00 seatings and the Renoir has 6:15 and 8:30 seatings. If you are travelling with a group, check before you go to make sure you are all seated together. It is not easy to change if you end up assigned to different tables. The food was generally good and several items were better than I expected. This is not 5-star gourmet cuisine, but it is good and there are a lot of choices. The Lido buffet has multiple serving lines, and there is a pizza station, a deli sandwich station and 2 hamburger/hot dog grill stations, but the lines were pretty long at all of them at peak times. We sailed on Spring Break and I heard that the ship was completely full. I believed it when I saw the lines at lunch. The better choice is the open seating in the Monet dining room at lunch. You can get seated right away with no waiting, and you don't have to dress for lunch. For dinner, there are two formal nights, and the rest are "resort casual." I saw a couple of tuxes on formal nights, but mostly men wore dark suits. Most men wore khakis and sports shirts on the casual nights, but quite a few wore jeans and nice shirts. I did see two guys in the dining room in jeans on one formal night, but at least they didn't wear their baseball caps during dinner that night. We had a quad balcony cabin on Deck 9 to share between 2 adults and the 2 kids. It worked out better than I expected. The cabin had lots of storage space and we were able to get everything put away and the suitcases under the bed. In addition to the queen bed, there was a daybed/couch that the steward made into a twin at night. Above that was a Murphy bed that pulls down out of the ceiling. The steward put it up out of the way during the day, and pulled it down and made up the bed at night. This worked out great for our kids and they took turns sleeping in the Murphy. The non-quad deck 9 cabins are exactly the same except that there is no Murphy bed and the couch stays a couch at night. The ship has 2 separate pool areas. The main sun pool has multiple levels of sun decks filled with row after row of lounge chairs. The waterslide was fun and had surprisingly short lines most of the time. The sky pool has a smaller sunning area and has a retractable roof for bad weather. The kids' activities were very well done. Everything is broken into age groups, and for age 8 and under, it works kind of like a day care. The parents drop them off at Camp Carnival and pick them up whenever they want. They have a list of scheduled activities throughout the day. The older kids are given an age-specific itinerary that lists all of the week's activities. They can pick and choose to attend whatever activities they want. Age 9-11 must sign themselves in and out of the activities, and 12+ don't have to sign in at all. The entertainment didn't knock me out, but everyone's taste varies. We went to a Vegas production show and I guess it was OK, just not for me. We also went to a show that opened with the cruise director's bird act (yes, you read that correctly) and then a soul/r&b review. The bird act was OK, but a little goofy. My kids liked it. The singers were both good, and I enjoyed the review. We also went to guest talent night. I don't think there were any budding superstars here, but it looked like they were having fun. Montego Bay We booked the Cool Waters Party Tour through A-Z Jamaica Planners. ($90 per person) We were met inside the port terminal building by Reyn, holding a sign with my name on it. Our group of 6 joined another group of 15 and got into a bus headed into the mountains. The ride is about an hour and much of it goes up very narrow and very winding roads. We arrived at Mayfield falls and walked down a steep hill into the camp area. Reyn turned us over to a guide, Dennis, and waited for us. If you do this trip, you must have aquasocks or other good water shoes. You are going to spend an hour or two wading in a river. Don't wear tennis shoes or sandals. Strip down to your swimsuit and leave everything else behind in a locker ($1 for individual or $5 for a group). If you have a waterproof camera, take it. If you have a regular camera, your guide will have a waterproof bag to carry it in, and you can get it out whenever you want to take a picture. You do not need sunscreen for the river; it is completely shaded over. But you will walk back in open ground, so you might want to put a tube of sunscreen in your guide's bag as well. The river was a lot of fun. There are no tall, dramatic falls; this is not Dunn's River. Instead, there are a series of small waterfalls and natural pools where you can swim and play. It is not physically challenging, unless you have a significant disability. The guides are very good about helping people over the rough spots. Dennis was remarkably patient, and we tipped him well. After about 1-1/2 to 2 hours in the river, we hiked back to the bus (uphill most of the way) and drove back into town. We boarded a trimiran, a small flat boat that idled out into the bay. The crew served us a plate lunch and had an open bar. We stopped at a snorkel site on a reef near Margaritaville and snorkeled for about 30 minutes. It was OK, but nothing spectacular. We got back on the boat and cruised over to Margaritaville. Now we were so far behind schedule that the captain told us we only had 10 minutes before we had to get back on the boat. It was just enough time for the kids and I to go down the waterslide once and bounce on the trampoline a couple of times. The boat took us right back to the port and we walked on the ship. In summary, I recommend A-Z and would use them again, but there really isn't enough time to do this trip right. You would be better off just booking the trip to Mayfield Falls and then going to Margaritaville yourself after you got back to town. Skip the trimiran. http://www.a-zjamaicaplanners.com/cruisetours.htm http://www.mayfieldfalls-jamaica.com/ http://www.margaritavillecaribbean.com/h/locations_montego_bay.html Grand Cayman We booked a half-day snorkel and stingray sandbar trip with Captain Marvin's. ($39 per person.) Wow, what a difference a couple of years makes. My wife and I took this same trip in August of 2002 and loved it so much we couldn't wait to go back with the family. This time, it was still good, and I still recommend Captain Marvin's, but it was CROWDED. You have to take a tender into Grand Cayman, but this is no big deal. We had plenty of time to walk over to Captain Marvin's storefront and still arrived almost an hour early. They loaded us on a bus and took us over to their dock where we got on the boat. They have 2 or 3 boats, and the one we took held about 25-30 people. Captain Marvin himself drove, and he is 88 years old! The boat stops at 2 sites for snorkeling. The water and sea life are very good, but at both stops there were lots of other boats right next to us. Two years ago, we saw no one else. The third site is the stingray sandbar. This is really something not to miss, but there were dozens of boats with hundreds of people anchored on the sandbar. We had to wait about 20 minutes before we could find a place to anchor. Finally we got off, and we had a ball. Again, we had a very patient and very helpful guide. I hope the crowd was indicative of Spring Break and not reflective of what this is like the rest of the year. Either way, if you haven't done this yet, you need to do it once. http://www.captainmarvins.com/ Cozumel We did not book anything in advance and our group split up after we got off the ship. The Conquest docked at the Puerta Maya port and we walked through a looong duty free store that sells mostly the same things that are sold on the ship. Then we entered a small shopping plaza built just for the cruise terminal. If you want to shop, this is not the place to do it. Instead, get a cab and head into town. My half of our group took a taxi down to Chankanaab Park. The taxi is a flat $10 per cab and takes about 5-10 minutes to get there. Admission at the park is $12 per person. Chankanaab is smaller than I thought. It has a very nice beach and a very nice snorkeling reef, but there really isn't much to the rest of the park. You can bring your own snorkel stuff and just jump in, or you can rent it on the beach. I think the cost is about $5-6. There is also a dolphin show, and a swim with dolphins attraction, but we didn't do that. I am the only diver in my group, so I went by myself for a dive. For an experienced diver, there is nothing spectacular at Chankanaab Park, but it is worth doing once. There are 4 palapa diving huts right on the beach. I just walked up to one and started asking questions. It couldn't be any simpler. For $40 they gave me a BC, a weight belt, a pair of fins and a full tank. I brought my own mask and snorkel. I strapped everything on right there and walked with the divemaster down to the shore. We walked down the stairs into the water and went right in amidst the snorkelers, just the two of us. From there, he led me over a long coral reef at only 20-25 feet deep. Eventually, we made it to a cave system. This was pretty cool. We swam in and out of the multiple cave entrances and found some huge fish just hanging out in one of the caves. After we left the cave, we swam over the sand flat to the famous statue of Jesus for a couple of photo ops. More pictures at the Mayan statue and then back to the shore. Total bottom time, about 45 min. Max depth: about 25 feet. I had never done a shore dive like this, so it was well worth the $40 to me, but I won't do it again. My guide told me I could get another tank and go out again for only $16 more, but I passed. http://www.cozguide.net/chankan.html In summary, the Conquest is a great ship. We were very happy with the accommodations and the level of service on board. Things were a little crowed at times, but it may not be as bad at other times. I also enjoyed all 3 ports and highly recommend future travelers to do some homework and plan excursions before you get on the ship. It makes for more fun and a lot less worry about what to do in port. Let me know if you have any questions while the trip is still fresh in my memory. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
Well, it is really hard to know where to begin. This is not going to be a typical review. I will try not to make it so personal, because sometimes I think that is like watching someone's home movies of their vacation. Instead I will ... Read More
Well, it is really hard to know where to begin. This is not going to be a typical review. I will try not to make it so personal, because sometimes I think that is like watching someone's home movies of their vacation. Instead I will share observations, thoughts, specific information, and things I wish I would have known before we went. One of the best things I can suggest is to start a Microsoft Word Folder with the date of your cruise. Set up different files within that folder for specific things like, hotel or Grand Cayman, or packing lists etc. When you find useful information here on Cruise Critic you can cut and paste it into your word document. It was a lifesaver for me. I did not have to keep going back to various posts to find something. I hope this long review does not bore any of you. It has a lot of very specific information that I think you will find useful. I apologize now if it is toooo long, but I suppose if it is too long for you you can skip it and move to another thread. Enjoy!!!! People traveling: My husband 52, myself 46, son 24, his fiancee' 23, daughter 17 and daughter 15 Conquest 7 day Western Caribbean We flew in a day early which I always suggest. Much less chance of missing your cruise that way and you start out much more rested! Airport arrival: We had to take two cabs. We were charged $12 per person ($36 / 3 per cab). We tipped $6 per cab. This cost would have been the same as the airport shuttle. This was more convenient for us because the shuttle often makes several stops for other passengers at various hotels along the way and taking a cab allowed us to go straight to the hotel. We stayed at the Doubletree located at 300 Canal Street which is located about 6 blocks from the pier. Very nice hotel, outside pool and work out facilities. Our reservations were made many months in advance through Harrah's Casino. If you look up Harrah's casino on the internet, go to reservations. You will find a 1-800 phone number to make reservations through them. They partner with the following hotels: Doubletree Hotel New Orleans 300 Canal Street New Orleans, LA 70130 Hilton New Orleans Riverside Poydras at the Mississippi River W Hotel New Orleans 300 Poydras Street Wyndham Canal 100 Rue Iberville New Orleans, LA 7013 Loews Hotel 300 Poydras Street The cost was $69 for the first room (2 people) and $99 for the second room (4 people) which was an excellent price considering we were traveling during peak time (spring break). We had a Harrah's game card so I think that also helped with the price. Anyone can get one. There were no better deals later and in fact the hotels in the area were all sold out more than a month ahead of time. We asked for a room with a view of the river. Although we were able to walk to the pier without any problem I would not suggest rolling your luggage all that distance. We thought about it until we actually walked it. Our luggage was quite heavy and trying to roll a couple pieces plus an over the shoulder bag would have been too difficult. Our bell captain arranged a pick up for us costing $7 per person. That seemed like a good deal since everyone here said it would be $10 a person. We probably got a break because there were six of us; however I would suggest working something out with your hotel bell captain, perhaps they can find a deal for you. Total cost $42 plus $8 tip. A couple of the other hotels listed here are a little closer to the pier, but we liked this location and would stay at the same place again. Bourbon Street was within walking distance and was closer to our hotel than the others listed here. We ate lunch at the food court by the pier. Lots of choices there and everyone was happy. It seemed very safe walking to Bourbon Street from where we were. We walked over there around 5:30, strolled down Bourbon Street. Not much for us to do because the girls were not old enough to go into any of the bars and that is all that is there other then a few souvenir stores. It was fun to say we had been there. We then walked over to the Acme Oyster Bar which is just off of Canal and Bourbon Street. We got there about 7:30 and the wait was around 45 minutes (line out the door). They do not take reservations or call aheads. It was very good. Not fancy at all, in fact very old and a little run down. That by the way is not a negative comment, just trying to say no need to dress up, go as casual as you like. To me the condition of the building is all part of the ambiance. When we went out of the front door after dinner, we turned right and took a stroll in the direction we needed to go to get back to the hotel. The street was filled with art galleries displaying beautiful and unique art that could be viewed through the windows. I'm not much into art but found this row of galleries to be beautiful. Sunday We were on the 12th floor and could barely see the tip of the funnel of the Conquest. If you stay here ask to be put on the 15th floor so you can see the ship in the morning. You still won't get a full view of her but probably better then what we could see. It was awesome to wake up and know she was in port and getting ready for our arrival. Breakfast was at "Mother's" which was also just a couple of blocks away. We walked over and had our old style southern breakfast. This is a very famous restaurant and the women behind the counter that you order from are a hoot! Bickering and arguing just putting on a show. We walked over around 8:30 and there was a short line. Go early, when we left around 10:00 the line was out the door and down the block. You stand in line to order and then take a seat. They will call your name, see where you are seated, and carry your food to you. The food was good. We walked back to the hotel after breakfast. At 10:30 we hopped in the cab that Jake our bellman had arranged for us. The driver was right on time. As you pull up to the drop of point at the pier there are two lanes. The one on the right is very long and was for people trying to pull into the parking lot to park. The line to the left of that was the drop off line. The driver was able to pull us right up to the front. When we got out of the cab there was a porter there to take our bags. He asked to see our picture ID. We tipped him about $1.50 per bag and we did not see them again until they were in front of our stateroom door. This was different from our past cruises in that in the past we were able to see the barrels that the luggage was being thrown into. I have no idea where he took them. (as a side note, we ended up having one missing bag, all the formal wear, achhh!!!! It showed up the next day. Apparently they misread the 7 in the number as being a 1. Therefore it was delivered to the wrong stateroom.) 11:00 The places to go were very clearly labeled and lot's of Carnival staff directing us along our way. The first stop inside the door was the fun pass lane. There was no wait at all. This was so easy. We showed our blue packet of documents along with our picture ID (passport is what we use) and we were on our way to the next stop. They directed us exactly where to go which was just around the corner. There we picked up our sail and sign card and were then sent to a holding area. We just waited there until Carnival was ready to start boarding people. 11:30 We were taken into the next holding area which was the room where they would take our picture right before we boarded. 12:15 We were the first group through after the wedding parties. There were probably around 100 people ahead of us. They took us row by row, got our fun picture taken walked through the sky walk that would ultimately take us to the door of the ship. 12:30 At the door of the ship: We showed our sign and sail card. They placed it in this machine and then told us to look at this little black round lens which was a camera. It takes your picture and stores it in a data base so when you re-board the ship at ports, they slip your sail and sign card into a slot and it brings up your picture for them. There is no need any more to present your photo ID when re-boarding. You enter the ship at the Lobby of the Atrium. The beauty of this ship is absolutely breath taking. There is a bar, grand piano, purser's desk (information desk), shore excursions desk and much more. We found this to be a great meeting place. Our room was ready for us. We had two cabins both inside, one was a double and one was a quad. We were on the Upper Deck (6th floor) a little aft of midship. It was a great location. The elevators were just a few steps away and the casino one floor below and the pool and Cezanne restaurant just off the elevator on deck 9. The rooms were very nice, lots of cabinet space. There were two closets for hanging clothes and one closet with 4 large deep shelves. The desk also had several drawers. There were about 4 hangers in each closet so I recommend bringing some from home. You will find two very nice Carnival bath robes in the closet. Some people even wore these by the pool when they got out of the hot tubs or pools. We had two 29 inch suitcases, plus a carry on and they fit with no problem under the bed. There were extra blankets in the closet and 4 pillows on the bed. The steward pushed ours together into a king. There was a nightstand to each side of the bed with a lamp on each. A small fridge which we never even opened. The bathroom is really nice. Carnival has made a lot of improvements in this area. There were 3 really nice glass shelves to the left and 3 to the right of the mirror. The shower was really nice and big. The water pressure was excellent and the shower head was the sprayer type with hose that could be removed from the wall. There is a very large dispenser with plenty of shampoo and body soap to last the cruise. There is no conditioner. I never mind using inexpensive shampoo if I have conditioner. I used their shampoo and my conditioner. There is a large round magnifying mirror mounted to the bathroom wall which was very nice for applying makeup. No need to bring anything to hang your wet suits from. There is a clothesline that looks like a round silver bell on the back wall of the shower. It has a little knob that you pull out and a clothes line is attached to it. The line then hooks into a latch on the other side of the shower. Just bring your clothes pins. Now a little trick I found was....when there are items hung on this line you cannot take a shower without taking it down. There are two clothes hooks on the back of the bathroom door, if you unhook the string (with your swimsuits on it) it can then be hung over the two clothes hooks on the bathroom door and then you do not have to take all your items off to take shower. There was a little bowl on the sink which had small samples. There was lotion, two razors, toothpaste, floss, Tums and a one time sample of shampoo and conditioner. The TV was up on a shelf and under it was another counter to hold things. The desk has a blow dryer in the top drawer, but as others here have said, take your own. There is only one plug in so be sure to bring your power strip power strip from home. You can blow dry your hair and heat up your curling iron at the same time if you are using a power strip. We also kept our cell phones charged there. They worked in all three ports. We have Cingular service. There is a very nice large mirror above the desk. The safe was plenty big enough. You could fit a small video camera without any problem. We used our movie watcher card to open and lock the safe door. Be sure when you lock it that you hold the door closed while you swipe your card. The over the door shoe hangy thingy worked out perfect as always. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what that is...it is a long plastic door hanger that is made for shoes. It works out great for all those miscellaneous things that you can never find. scissors, tape, post it notes, sewing kit, eyeglass repair kit, cameras, film, sunglasses, etc. We hung ours on the outside of the closet door closest to the stateroom door. The stateroom door opened with plenty of room. The only difference with the quad was that the extra two beds were in the walls, one on each side. These can only be lowered or put away by your room steward. There is a bedrail attached to them. The only negative to the rooms in this area are that the teen disco plays very annoying music just below you (I'm old what do I know) and if you are not a late night person it might keep you awake. You are also just above the casino but I never heard any noise from there (guess that's because no one ever won LOL) It never bothered us because we only went to bed early one night. The disco was open until 1:30. The laundry facility was very clean. I took all my items at one time that needed to be touched up with an iron on Tuesday afternoon and it was totally empty. I was done in 10 minutes. Take your sail and sign card to the Information desk and they will punch a rectangular hole in it for you. This can be attached to a lanyard but it has to be put on the ring part not the snap part. If you don't have one you can pick one up from the casino. You can also use the deck plan below and use a safety pin or something small to punch a hole and attach it to the lanyard ring also. Their lanyards are long, so if you prefer a short one bring it from home. Probably one of the best things I did was make up a miniature chart that gave each level of the ship, what was on that level and placed them in order of front to back of the ship. I find the little pamphlet that the ship gives to be totally useless because you have to cross reference everything. I made several of these, laminated them, made a tiny hole with a safety pin and placed it on the ring of the lanyard. Here is a copy of my deck plans. It is set up by deck and the places are in order from forward (front) to aft (back) of the ship for each deck. I cannot format it here. You will need to cut and paste the list into a word document. Format into four equal columns, Times New Roman, 8 font. You then cut it out (leaving an edge so that you can punch a tiny hole without punching over the words), fold in half and it should come out in credit card size. Now laminate and you are good to go. I also bolded each deck level which I cannot do here. It is much easier to read that way. Riviera Deck 1 All rooms Main - Deck 2 All Rooms Lobby - Deck 3 Toulouse-Lautrec- Lounge Shore Tours Information Artists Lobby Cassat Room Pissaro Room Renoir Restaurant Galley Sunflower Atrium Monet Restaurant Atlantic Deck 4 Toulouse-Lautrec- Lounge Balcony Painters Library The Salon Photos Gallery Renoir Rest. Balc. The Gallery Internet Cafe Alfred's Bar Sunflower Atrium Monet Restaurant Promenade Deck 5 Toulouse-Lautrec- Lounge Balcony Boulevard Shops Gauguin's Bar Formalities Tahiti Casino Impressions Bar Cafe Fans Montmartre Arcade Impressionist Blvd. Sushi Kiosk Henri's Latour Bar Vincent's Blues Sunflower Atrium Degas Lounge Upper Deck 6 All rooms Empress -Deck 7 All Rooms Verandah Deck 8 All rooms Lido Deck 9 Rooms 2 Hot tubs Sun Pool Sun Bar Grand Buffet Pauls PC's Wok Restaurant Cezanne Pizzeria Sky Grille Sky Bar Panorama Deck 10 Rooms The Stars Pool Pointe Restaurant Panorama 10 cont. Sky Pool 2 Hot Tubs Sur Mer Sliding Sky Dome Spa Deck Frwd. 11 Gymnasium Nautica Spa Sauna Steam Massage Rooms Nautica Salon Rooms Spa Deck AFT 11 Sports Deck Jogging Track Basketball Golf, etc Sun Deck 12 Children's World Children's Deck Wading Pool Sky Deck 14 Pool Slide When visiting here on Cruise Critic on the roll call board, be sure to set up two meeting times during the cruise. That way if you miss someone the first time you might catch them on the second. We had the earliest dinner and I missed my group after the muster drill. I wish we would have had two scheduled meeting times. Really bummed me out! For those of you cruising for the first time the muster drill is done right before you leave your home port. You will find your life jackets somewhere in your room, usually in a closet, and your muster station location is on the stateroom door. There you will find a picture of the ship with the location of your station. This only took about 10 minutes. It was the quickest I've ever seen. We ate in the Monet dining room, 5:45 dinner time. I was afraid that would be too early but it worked out fine. We like early because we are night life people. By 3:00 I'm ready to come in out of the sun and clean up for the evening. The dining room is absolutely beautiful. Typically if your stateroom is aft of mid-ship you will have dinner in the Monet. If you are forward of mid-ship you will have dinner in the Renoir. Food was very good. Dinner moves relatively quickly. When you are finished with one item the next is right behind it. That works for us because we like to get our evening started, so having a leisurely dinner is not what I prefer. We were never rushed, there was just always something in front of us to eat. Our bar staff waitress was fabulous. This is something that has been a problem for us in the past and I must say she was top notch. Always smiled and brought a smile to everyone else. Our head waiter did some tricks one night for our table and they were a lot of fun. He was very pleasant and we have no complaints. The Point Well, I would not do this again. Not one of us felt like it was worth the expense. We would have preferred the dining room food over this. The Point itself was beautiful. The live music was so good, we at first thought it was recorded and then realized it was live. The presentation of the food was that of a five star restaurant. Everything was gorgeously displayed. The steaks were cooked to perfection. Medium rare was just that, medium was just that, they were cooked to the perfect temperature. Here lies the problem. We are from the Midwest and not that we are the only people in the world that have the finest quality of meat, I must say we are used to some superb steaks. The steaks served at our table were filet and strip steaks. They had no flavor, were tough, and very poor quality. I had lobster and it too was not anything like what I would have expected. It was not cooked enough. I had two lobster tails in the Monet dining room and they were the best! I would never do this again and felt as though we had wasted our money. I wanted to add that a jacket and tie are no longer required at the Point. We were specifically told this and in fact when we received our dinner reservation confirmation in our stateroom, jacket and tie required had been blacked out. Everyone dressed very nice but only half the men had on jackets and ties on. Alternative dining No complaints here. There are so many choices. The grill was good, the buffet always had a huge selection. The Gala Buffet was beautiful, but most of the food was a little too different for our tastes. The ice sculpture was spectacular. Pizza is the best and we had that just about every night. The Chinese restaurant was very good. We did not try the Sur Mer which is the seafood place upstairs above the pizza parlor. It can be missed if you don't know it's there. I wish we would have tried the deli one day because it also looked wonderful but we just never had the chance. As for the breakfast buffet, there was a huge selection. I have heard on this board that people think it is too much of the same thing everyday. This one I don't understand. It is the same thing everyday, but if you were in a restaurant you would only order either pancakes, or scrambled eggs, or French toast or omelets. I guess what I'm trying to say is pick something different to eat everyday. Pancakes one day, French toast the next, omelet the next, see what I mean? The bacon could have been a little more cooked, but I ate it and it was good. The omelets were very good, I had that several days. There is lemonade, OJ, apple juice, coffee and hot chocolate for breakfast. The water on board the ship tastes just like bottled water. I drank a lot of water. We never ate breakfast or lunch in the dining rooms so I can't speak about it. Room Service: The kids ordered room service several times. They were always quoted a time that was a little shorter then what it really was. They were quoted 45 minutes but there were times it came in 15 or 20 minutes. Not for me however. I was not quoted a time and after an hour wait for 2 brownies and cookies, I called back to cancel the order. It was now 1:30 AM and I was going to bed. They said they were on their way with it so we went ahead and took it. We always tipped $1 to $2 depending on how much was ordered. In all fairness the night I ordered and it took so long, was the night before our first port so maybe they were bogged down with people ordering something for port (even though your not suppose to do that). The staff were very friendly. Time Changes: This is always so confusing so I'm going to try to explain. Ship time changes throughout the cruise to get you on the time of the port you are visiting. You always hear people say stay on ship time. That is true. Check your watch before you leave the ship and make sure it matches your watch. You will find that ship time always matches port time. They move the clocks forward and back to stay consistent with island time. At least that is how it is on the Conquest. If you book excursions on your own, the time they give you will be ship time. Anyone confused???? Jamaica We went to Margaritaville (sp) to start out. Cab going was $4 a person plus tip. Coming back to port we picked up a cab for $3 per person plus tip. The kids enjoyed it but we only stayed about an hour. The kids did the slide and the water trampoline. Note that there is no beach there. Only the restaurant and the slide to the water, or take the stairs down and jump in off a platform. Watch the waiters there, ours added gratuity without telling us. From there we walked to Doctors Cave Beach Club. There are many souvenir shops along the way. It is just 3 or 4 blocks to Doc's Cave. We were offered drugs, just said no and they went on their way. No problem Mon! LOL....The cost to get into the beach club I believe was about $3 a person. We would go there again next time and skip Margaritaville. It was a beautiful beach. We purchased umbrellas for $5 each and tipped a $1 to the guy who carried them down. It was a great afternoon. We took 2 double sheets and spread them out to lie on. It was great and much better then having half your bod hanging off a beach towel. They were much cooler then laying on a towel. Grand Cayman Tender tickets: If you are wanting to get off the ship before approximately 10:00 you will need to go to the Toulouse Lautrec lounge on the third floor level and they will give you a ticket with a number on it for example (15). They will call 13, 14, and 15 and all those people will proceed to deck 0 to tender. Allow about 45 minutes for the tendering process. They have two tenders...one for Carnival excursions and one for all others. You do not have to purchase a Carnival excursion to be able to leave early. However, if you do purchase a Carnival excursion check your ticket for meeting place and time. The ship cancelled all of their snorkel and stingray tours due to high winds. We had booked on our own with Captain Marvin's. We felt that the ship loses a lot of money when they cancel excursions so we felt it probably was not a good idea or safe to continue with ours through Captain Marvin's. We used our cell phone and called them to cancel. They were very nice and said it was no problem to cancel. Instead we went to 7 mile beach at the Courtyard Marriott. The cab cost $42 for 6 of us and we added an $8 tip totaling $50. As I recall the sign at the port said $10 a person to 7 mile beach, but they took us for $7 a person because there were 6 of us. Snorkel equipment was $15 each. We just bought 2 and shared them. They had bathroom facilities that you could use along with a restaurant. There was dive equipment, kayaks, banana boats, and jet skis available to rent. The beach was gorgeous. There are low lying palm trees that line the back of the beach. Get there early and you can lay at the edge and have sun or shade. There are lounge chairs to rent for $10 each. This turned out to be a great spot along 7 mile beach. We would go there again. The Tortuga rum cake store is just at the port entrance. There are many nice shops right there also. When you come back to tender, be sure you are in the Carnival Line. There are many lines for tenders and they are labeled for the individual cruise lines. They tell you to give yourself 45 minutes for tendering and the last tender leaves at 3:00. We were in line at 2:00 and back on the ship at 2:45. When you get back on the ship get a foo foo drink in hand and go to the sky pool Aft (back) of ship. Climb into the adult only hot tub. This is the most romantic beautiful sight. You sip your drink all relaxed in the hot tub and watch Grand Cayman fade into the horizon....it is the best! Cozumel Cab Fare one way to Chakanaab for all six of us was $20 and we gave a $5 tip totaling $25. The entrance fee into the park was $12 per person over the age of 11. This was a beautiful place to snorkel. Rental equipment was $6 a set. I think we should have bargained in Jamaica LOL! There are palapas (Hatched roof shades) all over the beach. They are free. I suggest getting of the ship early if you plan on going to this beach. We had to walk way down to the end of the beach to be able to find one open. There are free chairs all over the beach, but those too are a commodity if you don't get there early. We were scheduled for the Royal Dolphin Swim at 3:30 and the ship doors close at 5:30. This was a little stressful but it worked out fine. There are free lockers. There is a restaurant although we did not eat there. The girls got their hair braided and they did a very nice job. It was $20 for half a head and they threw in the flower beads for each braid. According to their sign this was a $5 savings. They usually charge $25. They would not bargain any more. It was worth it because they did a very nice job. There little table is set up at the door of the restaurant. Around 2:45 we wandered over for our Dolphin Swim. Dolphin Swim: We booked this on the internet through Dolphin Discovery. If you plan on doing this you must book many, many, months in advance. On our last cruise we tried to book it 3 months out and they were already sold out. This time I booked about 8 months out. The cruise ship does not offer the Royal Dolphin Swim. This was the most incredible experience we have ever had. Here is the process. You check in 30 minutes ahead of time. When it is your turn they give you a life jacket....DON"T put them on until you are finished with the video. They really smell like fish! After the video the trainer explains what you will be doing. You walk out to where the dolphins are kept and climb down a ladder and stand on a platform. There were 9 people in our group. You will touch the dolphins as they swim by you, high five them, hold their head and give them a kiss on their bottle nose, swim out into the lagoon and put your arms out...they will swim one on your left and one on your right...you grab hold of there fin and they pull you back to the platform, you swim out again and float on your tummy, two dolphins swim up behind you, place their dolphin nose in the arch of your foot and push you up into almost a standing position all the way back to the platform. You will hold a pole with a partner and then the dolphin will jump over it, and lastly you swim out into the lagoon and get into a circle with the other people. The dolphins then swim in and out of the circle you have made and you pet them as they swim by. VERY COOL!!!! Time to get out and they take you to a room where you will watch the video that they shot of your group. It was $49 and worth every penny, especially since all 6 of us were in it. The cost of the swim was $120 a person. They also take many pictures and the more you buy the bigger discount you get. They were still pricey. We bought 7 pics and they came to $104. The pictures of them kissing you are more money...go figure???? We were done with the whole process including purchasing the video and pictures by around 4:55. We ran to catch a cab and there were some waiting. He knew we were in a hurry. We pulled up to the port at 5:05 and we still had quite a walk. We also had to stop and pic up pictures that we bought. ** On a side note there is a man that spray paints these unbelievable pictures of various island things, sunsets, etc. but what caught our eye were the one's that he had done of the Carnival cruise ships. He was asking $12 a piece and we bought 3 of them for $10 a piece. An original work of art for $10 and they were beautiful. He also wrote Conquest on the bow of the ship for us so that was why we had to pick them up on the way back. We practically grabbed them from him as we ran by his stand (We paid for them at the beginning of the day because we knew we would be rushed on the way back). We walked very fast and made it to the ship by 5:15. Time to spare...LOL!!!! There were lot's and lot's of people coming in at the same time. Debarkation: Luggage is put out into the hall the last night and collected between 8:00 PM and 12:00 AM. Debarkation was a breeze: We were off the ship at around 9:30. We were probably about the 7th or 8th tag color called. We were eating breakfast when they called our color. We finished eating and then left about 20 minutes after they called our color. That worked out great because our luggage was easy to find, there were only a few pieces left in our section to be claimed. So if you are not in a hurry, wait a few minutes after they call your color. The cabs were waiting there for us. We took a Suburban, lot's of those available. It held all six of us plus the luggage. The cost was $12 a person plus tip. I see no reason to use the airport shuttle service when cab drivers offer the same price. If you do choose the airport shuttle service there is a big sign to the left when you come out that has chartered busses waiting and it said "airport shuttle". I'm assuming those busses must be what they use or at least that is the way it appeared. I'm not positive though since we did not use their service. You can buy a round trip ticket from the airport upon your arrival for I believe $23 a person. One piece of luggage was 4 pounds over the weight limit and the guy didn't say anything about it, he just passed it on through. He realized it because another ticket agent had pointed it out earlier. It pays to be nice and friendly to the staff at the ticket counter! We could have taken a bump for $400 a person, plus hotel accommodations and meal money. Really were tempted but both the college kids that were with us had class the next day and we already had taken our girls out 3 days of school due to their spring break not matching my sons college spring break. It would have meant an overnight stay. Hated passing that one up though! The following is a list of helpful information: Preparation H cooling gel once again saved us. Two sunburns (missed some spots with the sunscreen) boy does that relieve sunburns!!! Expensive but worth it. Take a double sheet for the beach Take extra hangers There are padded deck chairs outside the purser's desk on the 3rd floor. No one is ever in them and they are very comfy and a nice get away place. There are massage chairs just outside the casino, they cost $1 $5 and I think $10 for so many minutes. The casino uses 8 decks in their blackjack. After losing consistently every night we talked to two different dealers about it. Apparently the house has a better advantage when using 8 decks. I'm not sure of the mathematical odds or why but it proved true in our case. They seemed to be very confident about their statement. We play quite a bit at home and never lose as consistently as we did on the ship. Next time we cruise and if they are using 8 decks, we are going to play Caribbean porker I think. At least then it is one deck and one deck only. Now an interesting note here: When the casino held their blackjack tournament, they only used the standard 6 deck shoe. Deck 5 goes from end to end of the ship Most everything is on decks, 3, 5 and 9 The restaurants block your path on some floors. Best thing to do is walk down the hall of the floor your stateroom is on and find out which elevator is more to the middle of the ship and use that one. Unless of course you are going to the Lido deck which is Aft. Not all elevators go to all floors. Make a copy of the deck plan I gave you. Make a tiny hole in it and put it on a lanyard. Take safety pins and if your shorts or suit does not have a belt loop you can hook a safety pin on as a belt loop and hook your lanyard to that. Formal nights Monday and Thursday Blackjack tournament is $20 and you can play whenever a spot opens at the tournament table. This is different from last cruise we were on because they assigned you a time. I like it this new way better. The teens have their own disco and it opens around 9:30 every night and closes around 1:30 as I recall. Take clear duct tape Build a ship in the ship building contest out of milk cartons. They have this contest on the last sea day Saturday. Do not collect your milk cartons until Friday morning or your room will stink to high heavens. We had to lock our ship in the shower with the bathroom door closed for half a day. LOL We rinsed them out but you know how that goes. The kids went around and collected them as people got up from their tables. That was a lot of fun and we got a gold ship on a stick!!!! Take Purel hand sanitizer because the bathrooms were often times out of hand soap, yuck!!!! Don't worry about missing a show or some activity because everyday while I was getting ready I would turn on the TV and watch the activities from the day before that I missed. You can check your sail and sign account at any time on your TV in your room. Just click on menu and go from there. Formal Nights are Monday and Thursday: We saw very few tuxedos. My men wear them because they don't like to drag all their stuff and rent them from the ship. They give you the complete tux, shoes and two shirts for I believe $80. I did see jeans in the dining room, but never any shorts. Quite frankly I don't make it an effort to see what people are wearing. I don't care. I will say that casual nights in the dining room are just that and no one looked out of place. There were capris, slacks, sun dresses, Hawaiian shirts, polo shirts, khakis, etc. Wear what you want as long as it isn't shorts or t shirts and you'll be fine. I can't think of anything else. Hope you enjoy your next cruise wherever it may take you and whatever ship you might choose!!!!! Happy Sailing Patti Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
We are in our late 40's and this was our sixth cruise! Embarkation was the smoothest I have been through. We arrived at the port by cab approximately 1130. At 1245 we were in our cabin! I felt sorry for travelers driving. Appeared ... Read More
We are in our late 40's and this was our sixth cruise! Embarkation was the smoothest I have been through. We arrived at the port by cab approximately 1130. At 1245 we were in our cabin! I felt sorry for travelers driving. Appeared to be a lot of driver confusion how and where to park. Cab is the way to go. Our suitcases were in our rooms by 4 PM. Our cabin steward (Staney) introduced himself to us right away. Our room was very clean and whenever we requested anything it was done right away. Almost every night we found "towel creatures" in our cabin. We had 8PM seating at a table of 10. Our table #438 was about center of Monet Restaurant. Excellent area! Our Headwaiter, Fredrich was very professional with a great attitude. We enjoyed our food and if we mistakenly ordered something we didn't like, another dish was brought right away. You hear of complaints of the food in other reviews but, I must honestly say we have no complaints. The food was good, hot and plenty-of-it. Excellent presentation! We most usually stayed up until 2AM. We loved sitting at the "Piano Bar" in the Blues Piano Bar, singing along with the piano man. It was fun and lively crowd. We spent most evenings here. We attended 2 night shows. We were pleased with the performance. Some seats had partial obstruction of the stage but not a big deal. We were pleased and heard no complaints from other passengers. Degas lounge had a good band. Really wished we would have spent a little more time here. Captain Party and previous Cruiser Party was held at the Degas. Plenty of good drinks and snacks. Disco lounge was swinging. It was packed later in the evenings but it was truly pulsing place to hangout. I thought the Cruise director did a pretty good job. In other reviews comments are made that he was never around. Not the case this week. He did as good a job as any other Cruise director we have observed. He reminded me of Bill Murray. We also make it a point to have our photos taken. Why not? You only pay for the ones you want to keep. Lido deck daytime. Most usually the two man band played 3-4 hours daily. Not much dancing. It was relaxing island music. Decks were full of sunbathers. We always managed to find a spot. Never did the slide, shame on me. Cruisers seemed to be really enjoying themselves. Good bar service. We stayed away from the buffets! I always overeat like there is no tomorrow. We also always make a pact to never use the elevators during the cruise. Good exercise if your legs and knees can take it. Don't want to gain too much weight! We used the fitness center a few times. Saunas, steamrooms and hot tubs are also available. State of the art equipment. It was clean but usually crowded in the AM at sea. The seas were average for March. The ship had some noticeable movement. What can you expect, you're in the ocean! The Conquest held her own and provided as smooth of ride as any other ship in her class. We had a real good time on this cruise and would not hesitate to cruise Carnival again! It met our expectations and we hated to see the end come so quickly. The Cruise Staff we met were pleasant. We met lots of nice people from all areas of the world. They treated us well and we thanked them for their service. They are not slaves, but employees. They are not machines, but humans. We all have good days and bad. We all react negatively to harsh words and actions. When you cruise leave your worries behind and enjoy and relax and be happy.......... Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
This was our first cruise and we were directed by our Travel agent to travel with Carnival. We chose the cruise that we thought would be a great choice for our family. We left New Orleans Feb 1st 2004 to travel to the West Caribbean. We ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we were directed by our Travel agent to travel with Carnival. We chose the cruise that we thought would be a great choice for our family. We left New Orleans Feb 1st 2004 to travel to the West Caribbean. We were a little disappointed on the temperature in New Orleans when we arrived. It was 53 degrees. But coming from MN and the -50 degrees with the windchill the week before it was warm enough. We were very impressed with the organization of the Carnival cruise line. We were amazed at how they can get 4,000+ people on a ship in the amount of time they did. No hassles or wait as long as you had everything handy and filled out ahead of time. The cruise was awesome. We traveled with our two children ages 10 and 7. The boys really enjoyed the Camp Carnival activities and the staff. Our youngest wanted to spend every moment with the Camp Carnival group. The employees throughout the ship were very accommodating to children. We had a great steward who kept us comfortable. We met a wonderful wait staff also who made our trip very enjoyable. His name was Ming. If you get the chance to meet him you will LOVE him. Our wait staff at dinner was also a treat. Ryan and Ni were the ultimate. They were always friendly and very informative. We did a lot of activities on the ship and also just relaxed in the sun. It was everything that we thought it should be. We will definitely be making Carnival Cruise our yearly vacation. Leaving the ship was a sad day for us knowing that getting back to reality was not what we wanted this soon. The organization of getting off the ship was again very organized. The only bad thing that happened on our cruise was that the last day I discovered I had lost the diamond out of my wedding ring set. The jeweler told me that the salt water can clean the ring and cause the diamond to loosen if your prongs are not maintained. (a little pointer for the ladies.) Again we will definitely be going back again (not soon enough). Robin and Gary Wedrickas Read Less
We just returned from the Conquest sailing May 30th thru June 6th. First and foremost I would like to thank everyone on this board for their input and helpful information. My family and I (Husband and myself 40yrs old/ 15 yr old girl and ... Read More
We just returned from the Conquest sailing May 30th thru June 6th. First and foremost I would like to thank everyone on this board for their input and helpful information. My family and I (Husband and myself 40yrs old/ 15 yr old girl and 17 yr old girl) had the most wonderful vacation ever! You must know that we are fairly seasoned travelers. We have been abroad with the kids twice and all over this country. A cruise was not really high on our list. But after my girlfriend sailed on the Conquest in December, then again in February, and had such a wonderful time, we decided to book the cruise. Best decision we've made in a long time! Here's my review - I know it's long but I liked reading everyone's detailed review. Embarkation: Smooth, everyone courteous. Arrived @ 1:30pm but despite the long lines, we were in our rooms (which were ready) by 2:30pm. Rooms: We had two. Both on Empress Deck - Balcony (for husband and I ) and Interior right across the hall for the girls. Loved the big balcony room. It was very special to have breakfast delivered every morning and to sip coffee leisurely on the balcony. Both rooms were very clean and well appointed. Plenty of storage in both rooms. Someone on this board recommended that we bring a small gift for the room steward, which we did. The bags consisted of t-shirts from my business in the French Quarter, New Orleans spices, prepaid calling cards, note cards and pralines. Our steward, Emam was very grateful and our rooms never lacked for anything. Our Carnival beach towels were replaced every day and our complimentary bathroom samples were replenished as well. Dining: Being from New Orleans in the food industry, it really takes a lot to impress me. However, we found the food very good (Monet dining room, Pizza, Paul's deli) to excellent (The Point Supper Club). Our wait staff was the best. Always attentive and very friendly. We found out early on to ask what our waiter would recommend as the best choice for the evening. We always took his recommendations and were never disappointed. We loved the formal nights! It's not too often that we're all in formal attire so that was special. We ate at the Supper Club one night. For a small fee($25.00 per person) it really shouldn't be missed. The wine list was much better than the dining room. We took the advice of the Sommelier and were very pleased. The food was excellent and very well presented. Dessert was incredible. The chef sent out samplings of appetizers and dessert assortments - nice touch. Entertainment: Games were fun (Trivia, Newlywed, etc.). Magic show was OK. Vegas style Show - Yuk! My girls were actually drifting off to sleep during that show... I didn't blame them. Excursions: Jamaica - I had heard that this was a bad stop. But we loved it! Everyone was very friendly. Husband played golf at White Witch w/ Tyler the golf pro. He reported that the course was beautiful, difficult and well maintained. The girls and I hired a taxi driver to accompany us for the day. We went to Margaritaville and ended up staying 2 hours. The food was good and the girls loved the craziness and the trampolines. Then the taxi driver took us to Aqua Sol where we rented jet skis and went extreme tubing behind a power boat - great fun. Then we went shopping. No problems to report whatsoever. Just a good time had by all. Grand Cayman: Wow! I had heard from so many people on this board about the stingrays. I am so glad we went. It truly is an incredible experience. We took the Stingray Sandbar tour. It was so much fun! Loved the Captain and his mate. The water was SO blue and the stingrays were like big soft dogs. They loved being petted, fed and held. My 15 yr old was carrying one around for about 30 minutes. She kept reaching up to give my daughter a kiss on the chin! Sweet! We went shopping afterwards and found great deals right there by the terminal. Cozumel: Our favorite port! We took the Catamaran / Snorkel tour. The catamaran was big and beautiful. The Captain and the crew were hilarious. Snorkeling itself was lovely but a little crowded. After that we went to a private beach. My 17 yr old and I relaxed on rafts and scouted for shells. Both girls went kayaking. My husband and 15 yr old started a volleyball game that turned into a volleyball tournament. Great fun! The ride back on the catamaran was filled with great music, dancing and margaritas flowing. After this we took a taxi to Carlos and Charlie's for lunch. This is not a place for young kids. We knew this (we had been before), but thought that with our girls growing up with Mardi Gras and the French Quarter, they wouldn't be shocked by too much. It turned out to be pretty tame and fun. The food was very good. We got great pictures at the bar and with the wait staff. Before we left we had a list of teenagers who wanted Carlos and Charlie's and Senor Frog t-shirts. So, we headed around the corner to Senor Frog's and filled up our bags with t-shirts. We had also heard that we could get some good deals on diamonds. This was not the case. No great bargains here. But, we did end up buying a lovely pair of earrings the last night on the ship for about 70% off. Spa - Fabulous therapists, but very expensive. My husband and I had the couples massage and thoroughly enjoyed it. We liked it so much that we went back for foot massages, scalp massages and facials. The girls were a little jealous, so we booked them a couple's massage. They loved it. Although the therapists were great, I felt that the spa itself was not what I am accustomed to. No lush waiting room with cold cucumber water, no changing rooms, hair dryers or lotions. It was also a little noisy. Even with these small disappointments, it was a treat to get pampered and relaxed while we were at sea. Debarkation - Just as smooth as embarkation. Had our luggage outside our doors by 10:00 on Saturday night. We waited in our rooms until 8:30 am then brought our carryons down to breakfast. About the same time we were finishing, they called our color. We were walking in our house by 10:30 am. Final thoughts - I can't wait to do this again. Our entire family had a spectacular time. The girls loved to teen area and the freedom. We all loved our family time together, but also that the girls had so many people to hang out, and places to go that it gave my husband and I alone with each other. It was really like a second honeymoon. I loved this vacation. We are all now officially CRUISE ADDICTS!!! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
Carnival Conquest: Sail Date: 12/7/03 Cassy & Larry Epps Our cruise was fantastic!! This was our first cruise and well exceeded our expectations. We arrived in New Orleans on Thursday, December 4 and to our surprise it was cold! We ... Read More
Carnival Conquest: Sail Date: 12/7/03 Cassy & Larry Epps Our cruise was fantastic!! This was our first cruise and well exceeded our expectations. We arrived in New Orleans on Thursday, December 4 and to our surprise it was cold! We walked all over Bourbon Street looking for winter wear. We finally walked over to Canal street and found some sweat shirts-my husband Larry even bought a hat! We love the architecture of NOLA. We bar hopped like teenagers and listened to jazz music and ate raw oysters everyday at the Desire restaurant (green awnings-part of the Royal Sonesta Hotel. The line to Acme Oyster bar was too long. When we discovered Desire-we were hooked. Kentrell opened up the biggest and the freshest oysters! We loved it. We met a great couple-Ken & Cindy from Wisconsin in a NOLA grocery store-we mentioned that we were going on a cruise. I kept telling my husband Larry-they seemed so nice-I hope we meet them on the boat. He said that would be impossible-3000 people on the boat. The next couple of days in NOLA was spent walking around that town. What a fun place. Embarkation: very smooth. We had no idea just how large the boat was. We had a surly taxi driver who complained all the way to the pier. Thank God we came- early. We went on line, presented our tickets & proof of citizenship, Larry checked our luggage with a porter, then we went to another line to collect our sign & sail cards. Then we went to another holding room where we had to sit in bright yellow chairs. Guess who saddled up right next to us? Ken & Cindy!! That was the icing!! We knew instinctively that we would be friends. They are such a funny, warm and kind couple. We are blessed to know them-they made our trip even more enjoyable. When you first get on the boat-you will be amazed at the level of detail and care Carnival took with their design of this fabulous ship. We were awestruck. The atrium was bedecked with pretty Christmas dEcor and we four sat at the bar and just watched all the people come on board. It was great seeing their reaction to the atrium. There was a lovely quartet playing light classical music. We walked around a bit-still dazed by the grandeur of the boat. We found our rooms. And I was in for a surprise-it was very spacious and had so much room for storage. I had selected an aft balcony for our first trip. That was probably one of the best decisions I made. Our cabin was on the Veranda Deck and we were sandwiched between two really nice couples-Sparky & Jane on our left and Bob & Connie on our right. What a wealth of information and fun! Our location was ideal. The wake from the boat is calming and the breeze delightful! I unpacked, and our room steward made his way to us-a dignified man from Indonesia. His name was Vatachara-not sure of the spelling. I must say that our room was kept spotless. Anytime we walked away from our room-we returned to find it immaculate. Fresh towels, bed made, cute towel creatures, fresh ice cubes. We were so pleased, we tipped him in addition to the amount on the sign and sail card. We met a lot of interesting crewmembers. We asked them about their countries, what bought them here on this boat and when do they get to go home. I now know how to say hello and thank you in Romania, Latvian, Indonesian and a host of other languages! The days at sea were a whirlwind of activities. I enjoyed Cory our cruise director. He was funny and his birds were amazing. I have read other reviews from folks who said that his jokes are repeats-but for us they were brand new. The Lautrec Lounge was very nicely laid out but get there early to get a good seat for the shows. The Las Vegas Style shows were nicely done although appealing to older guests. Henri's Disco was a blast. We went every night and the DJ was great!! We did not expect good music but was surprised. We love 80's night-we are children of New Wave & Disco. The food was better than I expected. The Point was a great experience. The service was exceptional and the food was excellent-well worth the additional expense. Even the Lido deck lines were not bad and their food was surprisingly tasty. Well seasoned and a nice variety. Room service selections were very limited but it was nice to get a pot of hot coffee to our room and drink it on our verandah. The dining room selections were well portioned and tasty. Some stuff a little too chichi even for us New Yorkers (we now live in Maryland but we are from Long Island, New York). The service was quick, polite and professional. Our waiter was Bernardo- handsome but of little words. Our table mates: Tim & Angie and Cliff & Canna were funny & friendly and made dinner a much awaited experience. The sandwich and grill areas were also decent. The pizza was also pretty good. Food was everywhere. The shore excursions were fabulous. Jamaica-was an experience. We were pressured to purchase things but our time simply did not allow us to browse. We hopped on a bus-very nice bus driver and our bus mates were very kind in letting us tag along. One of them-Jean, appeared on the Talent Show with her sisters. We went to the Dunn's River Falls-pretty park but they really grab you when you go through the exit. We docked 2.5 hours away from this excursion and were fearful of missing our ride back to the boat. I understand the level of poverty there and I have a lot of Jamaican friends and I was born in a Caribbean island. But I was not in a mood to get insulted and I don't owe anybody anything. We were polite and said no-thanks-we are in a rush to get back to our ride. I couldn't wait to get back on the boat because I would have been in a fight and my husband would have had to bail me out. Our bus driver took us to a little bar that sold t-shirts and we spent a nice amount there. We just made it to our boat. Cayman Islands (our favorite) was a different story. It's obvious that the standard of living there is much higher-hence the lack of a hard sell. We are going back there for sure for a week. The Stingray & Coral Reef excursion was awesome. I squealed and laughed my head off! It was expensive-but to me, I'd rather pay more and be left in peace. The people were very nice. I would have liked to stay longer. Cozumel was a fun and pretty island. They bugged you a little but did not give you a hard time if you said no thank you. We took a cab to ChanKannab Park-great fun snorkeling, good margaritas and fresh salsa. We then took a cab back to Carlos & Charlie's for the obligatory mind numbing tequila shot experience. That was loads of fun. I had fried shrimp there and it was very good. We did a little shopping-just T-shirts for our daughter. She's a soccer player and when I showed her soccer pictures to the store owner, he gave me a nice discount! Embarkation-we waited until the last minute to leave our rooms. That was a good idea. We strolled out the boat, found our luggage; found a porter then got into hell on the dock. What a disorganized crazy pier! They did a lousy job of organizing this process. Its not the ship's fault. When we finally found a cab-he was surly too! Fights were breaking out on the pier. It would have been funny-but seeing those tired looking parents and their wide-eyed kids was sort of sad. We met up with Ken & Cindy and hung out with them before we flew back to Maryland. This was by far the best trip we have ever had. The boat was wondrous, the service was polite, we made new friends, the food was plentiful and the activities were numerous. We sampled everything. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to email me! Cass Read Less
Sail Date: November 2003
We just returned from our 25th anniversary cruise aboard the Conquest. We loved the ship and the people were very nice. Embarkation: Having the Skipper's Club, we checked in and were on the ship within 15 minutes. That was the end ... Read More
We just returned from our 25th anniversary cruise aboard the Conquest. We loved the ship and the people were very nice. Embarkation: Having the Skipper's Club, we checked in and were on the ship within 15 minutes. That was the end of the Skipper's Club perks. Having a suite and paying a substantial amount of money we expected a bit more. Cabin: Huge with a bathtub. We had a room right above the bridge and had a view out over the bridge as well as on the side. Plenty of storage and a nice room stewardess, Tatiana. Food: If you can afford to go to the Point - GO! The food and the service were impeccable. The food in the dining room was hit and miss. The only good thing was that if we didn't like something, we could always get something else. Entertainment: Saw some of the entertainment and enjoyed what we saw. Had late seating and had trouble staying awake for shows at 10:30 and midnight. Public Rooms: Went to a few of the clubs and they were fine. Didn't find the smoke too bad. Only spent a little time in the Casino, but again it wasn't too smokey. Albert's tended to be the one with the most smoke, but that was where the cigar smokers were. Shore Excursions: Happy we booked them through the ship. We did pay a bit more, but always felt secure in who we were going with and where we were going. If you can afford it, definitely SWIM WITH THE DOLPHINS in Cozumel. Well worth the experience. Fitness and Recreation: Didn't work out very much, but only gained 2 pounds. Facilities seemed nice and clean. Value for Price: As we spend extra for a suite - we did expect to get a little more for our money. Nothing extra though. They could have thrown in dinner at the Point or VIP disembarkation. However, I blame that on my travel agent, who didn't even send us a bottle of wine or anything. Last time I'll be using them. We had a wonderful time overall and would recommend the Conquest. Just don't spend the extra money - you don't get anything more than a bathtub for the extra money. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2003
My husband arranged this cruise for our 7th Anniversary. We have sailed on Carnival ships in the past and are going on our next cruise with Carnival in March of 2004. So we hope our review is helpful to those planning their first, or next, ... Read More
My husband arranged this cruise for our 7th Anniversary. We have sailed on Carnival ships in the past and are going on our next cruise with Carnival in March of 2004. So we hope our review is helpful to those planning their first, or next, cruise:) Our Cabin: we went all out with a Category 11 suite, complete with balcony and a jacuzzi bath tub! Cabin was huge and went beyond our expectations!!:))) We were able to board the ship easily, being we were part of the Skipper's Club. We got to bypass the long lines in the New Orleans cruise ship terminal. If you book a category 11 or 12 cabin, you get this added benefit:) The Ship - the Conquest is huge and beautiful! It was kept extremely clean and the paintings and art work through out the ship were amazing! My husband especially loved the water slide up on the Lido deck! If the weather had been better, we would have spent most of our time at the pool and slide! The Crew - the crew can make or break your sailing experience and we can say that this crew was amazing! We have a lot of people on board to thank for the great time we had! First, thanks to Nigel for tracking down our luggage (which American Airlines left behind in Texas!!). He stayed on top of it all for us! Our bags arrived on a later flight and he made sure they were transported to the ship and delivered to the cabin for us! He literally saved our cruise for us, as all we had were the clothes on our back! Jordan, our Cabin Steward was the BEST!! Our room was always clean and the towel animals made our nights! Everything from a stingray and snowman right up to a monkey hanging off our balcony door!! Jordan was always smiling and was always happy to help with whatever he could! Waiter & Assistant Waiter - wish we would have gotten their names!! We had main seating in the Monet Dining Room and these two great guys took the best care of us! Even though they work 12 to 14 hours per day, with seldom a day off, they still greeted us and everyone with the largest smiles and the sunniest of personalities! Cruise Director - while Corey is the cruise director (and he and his trained birds are nice) I have to tell you that Stuart, from Australia, easily won our hearts hands down!! His sense of humor kept us all in stitches and his grin is the best one we have seen! He was always around when you needed him and his smile and laugh were contagious!!! Our vote is for Stuart to be head Cruise Director!!!:) Point Supper Club - this supper club costs extra (around 25. per person) but is well worth it! The attention you get there is unmatched and the quality of food is wonderful!! Food - ok, speaking of food, every single place we ate at on board was Wonderful!!! Whether it was the formal dining room, the lido deck buffet, the deli, the point supper club, etc, we thoroughly enjoyed all the meals and desserts!!! Complaint - one on board complaint for us was the fact that, when you use the soda fountain card, you are looked down on by some of the wait staff in the lounge and some of the bar areas. We found ourselves completely ignored by one woman in the lounge (I believe her name was Tiahana). Once she knew you would be using your soda fountain card, she would steer clear of you. They need to work on some of the attitudes concerning this. Other complaint - we had to visit the infirmary once and, while the doctor was good, the staff behind the reception desk was not. They were cold towards everyone and offered no help, even to a woman who was limping back to the doctors area. No wheelchair or assistance was offered to her at all. Ok, on to the ports and shore tours! Montego Bay - skip it. Awful place, not the friendliest of people down town. A lot of people on the cruise were disappointed with this port. Also, do NOT waste your money on the so called Pirate Ship Cruise there as it turned out to be a small boat that might hold 15 people but they were trying to jam 35 or more people on to it. The only thing that even makes it a so called "Pirate ship" is the cheap tiny plastic pirate flag tied to one of the ropes on it! We got a full refund back on this tour as we refused to take it. We spent the rest of the day on board the ship at the pool and water slide. Grand Cayman - Loved it!!! Take the Turtle Farm / Hell / Stingray Sandbar tour early in the morning!! Our driver was Elizabeth and she was fantastic!!! We got to hold turtles at the turtle farm, sent post cards back to our family and friends from Hell and the stingray sandbar was amazing!!! Water was only about 4 feet deep there so, if like me, you can't swim well, don't worry!! You can still enjoy yourself there!! We got to hold stingrays, kiss them and even got back rubs from them as well!! Bought a great video of the trip, showing us in the water with everyone else, and it was well worth the price!!! Cozumel - Love Cozumel!! Our shore tour left a lot to be desired though. We went on the Mexican Folklore Show & shopping tour. Starts off with being dropped downtown for half an hour of looking around. You then meet in the Havana Club for a free drink. We found out they don't like it when you order diet sodas!! Then we all went in to a small room that felt like it had no air conditioning in it at all. Show was extremely long, no breaks in it for restroom visits so many people were running out of there near the end to go. They give you a voucher to use to get a cab back to the ship, as we docked at Porta Maya and need taxi ride back. The cab drivers do NOT like those vouchers. We actually had to pay double just to get one to take us back to the ship! Next time we will skip this tour and just grab our own cab to downtown and back to the ship! Shopping in downtown Cozumel is great!! Lots of excellent deals there, if you know where to look! Viva Mexico and Fiesta are great places to start! Del Sol has awesome color changing items! Looks black and white or clear until sun hits them and then they come alive with colors!! We ate lunch at Panchos Back Yard and, while it looks tiny from the street, it opens up to a huge patio once inside!! Food was great and service was good. Prices were about the same as we find at a Mexican Restaurant back home. Bottom Line - While we would sail on the Conquest again, we would NOT sail on her end of November to beginning of December as the weather was bad and the water was extremely rough! The Fascination, out of Miami, still remains our number one most favorite Carnival ship to cruise on!:) We would return to Grand Cayman and Cozumel in a heart beat but we will never return to Montego Bay. All in all, our cruise was wonderful, thanks to Nigel, Jordan, our waiter and assistant waiter and huge thanks to Stuart!!!!:)))))) Stuart, if you are reading this, you will remember me as being the Belly Dancer (who had lost 68 pounds) in the Guest Talent Show on Friday, Dec. 5, 2003! YOU made me feel so wonderful the entire cruise!! Thank you!!!!:))) Read Less
Sail Date: November 2003
We walked to the cruise terminal from our hotel, pullmans in tow. The one comment we can offer about the cruise terminal is that THERE ARE NO SIGNS. We crossed the railroad tracks and figured terminal 1 was where we wanted to be. Wrong!! ... Read More
We walked to the cruise terminal from our hotel, pullmans in tow. The one comment we can offer about the cruise terminal is that THERE ARE NO SIGNS. We crossed the railroad tracks and figured terminal 1 was where we wanted to be. Wrong!! It was for the Norwegian Dream. We and lots of other folks ended up walking down that long service road to the other end of the terminal. We fought our way against the crowds pouring out. We asked the rep. where the "skippers club" check-in was and were directed to an office in the back. We were the only ones there at that time. What could be easier? Not waiting in lines was fantastic! We went outside after getting our sail and sign cards, and it was a while before the sea caps finished unloading the previous guests luggage. We returned to the embarkation lounge at 12:30 as directed, were escorted to the final waiting are and were placed in row1. Around 12:40 they started the embarkation. We were right behind the physically challenged passengers, but ended up beating them onto the ship since they had to wait for the elevator. I'll have to say the security is quite vigilant! When we stepped onto the ship, we were bowled over. The studio atrium is big and beautiful. We immediately knew this cruise was going to be lots of fun! We made our way up to the Lido deck since we had all received papers saying cabins weren't going to ready until 2. It was very strange because we were the first ones on the ship and no one else was around. We had a bite to eat at the Cezanne restaurant and watched luggage and provisions being loaded. By the time we finished lunch, the place was beginning to get busy. People were beginning to get in a festive mood with the band playing on Lido deck. After lunch we decided to see if our cabin was ready. Our cabin and all the neighboring cabins still had the doors wedged open. We did go in and found the cabin ready to occupy. Most of the items we ordered from the Bon Voyage service were already there, with the exception of the drink coupons and 1 bottle of wine. The category 12 cabin was big and luxurious. The bathroom was huge, and I knew I'd enjoy the jacuzzi tub. The champagnes we had ordered were all iced down, so we grabbed one and headed for the balcony. It was nice to relax and enjoy the beautiful river view. We knew we were going to be very happy calling this ship home for the next week!!! After muster drill we dropped our life jackets off in the cabin and then headed for the Monet restaurant. We had 4 tablemates that we enjoyed very much. Our waiter Norman was fantastic. He bent over backwards to accommodate our every wish. The food was very nice, and our missing drink coupons and bottle of Pinot Noir were delivered to our table by a very nice young lady. Heading to the casino I played for a bit and found the dollar machines to be very tight. Going through $100 dollars took just a few minutes. I found the nickel slots to be looser and at times played for a couple of hours on $20. It's a nice way to pass the time, but the payouts on nickel machines are not something anyone's going to cash in unless you happened to hit 2000 or more. Food: We read many positive and negative remarks about the food on this ship. We were never disappointed with the dining room or the Cezanne restaurant! The seafood station Sur-Mer was excellent. We went to the Point one night... it was the best steak and lobster I've ever eaten. Carnival gets our vote of confidence on their food. Ports: We stayed on the ship at Montego Bay. It was the best time to enjoy the pools, hot-tubs and waterslide which was a blast! Lie down if you want to really go fast!! Grand Cayman was nice, but we were disappointed with the Colony Beach Club. We should have done the Stingray City tour or the Atlantis submarine. In Cozumel we wanted to mainly shop which we did at the duty free shops in port. I have seen Tulum before and didn't want to do that again. Chankanaab might have been a nice thing to do. It was fun seeing the Grand Princess. Some passengers on the Grand Princess arrived back late from their shore excursion. The gangway had already been pulled and folks on both ships were out on their balconies cheering them on. The worst part of our Cozumel visit was leaving! The weather was absolutely perfect, and the prospect of heading north didn't appeal to us. oh well. Ship: We loved the Conquest. The ship was full, but never really felt so. It was like a luxury hotel. The shows were good. We enjoyed Corey's magic show with those beautiful birds. On a final note as much as we loved our category 12 on the Conquest, the only perk is the size of the room. I booked a 10 night Eastern Caribbean cruise on Sun Princess over Thanksgiving 2004, and for the same per day cost got a larger (683 square feet) suite on the back of the ship. The perks include complimentary mini-bar (stocked once), complimentary laundry and dry cleaning, complimentary floral arrangement, daily in-suite afternoon tea, deluxe canapes deliver daily, free internet access, extended room service menu, welcome glass of champagne, luggage unpacking/packing service, personal shore excursion reservations, luxury bathrobes, towels and bathroom amenities, plus a butler. Not bad for the same price per day, huh? Just something to think about! Happy Cruising!!! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2003
When reading a review, it is important to remember that all reviewers are not created equal. We all see things differently and have our own criteria for grading. If we all felt the same way and looked at things the same life would be ... Read More
When reading a review, it is important to remember that all reviewers are not created equal. We all see things differently and have our own criteria for grading. If we all felt the same way and looked at things the same life would be pretty boring. This was the third cruise for my wife and I. All on Carnival. Last year we went for 3 days on the Fascination and 5 days on the Holiday. We had a great time on both of those trips, which led to the 7-day Conquest cruise. I don't get bent out of shape very easily and will not let petty things ruin a much-deserved vacation. I'm not perfect, therefore, I don't expect others to be perfect. That said, here is a review of my October 12, 2003 cruise on the Carnival Conquest. Embarkation: We are fortunate and have a friend who lives in New Orleans on the West Bank. We parked our car at his place and he dropped us off at the pier at 11:15. We went past the long line of cars waiting to park and he let us off at the curb. They had just finished unloading everyone from the previous cruise and a skycap took our luggage right away. We went inside and checked right in. It was still too early to board so they directed us to an area to sit and wait for boarding. We sat down and discovered we were sitting next to Gimper and his darling wife. (See above) We were shuffled to another room and again had to wait for a short time. We had to wait less than an hour before boarding and it was painless. We brought 10 bottles of wine in our carry-on luggage and they checked each bottle and said nothing. So far, so good. Our cabin: We booked an 8e on the Panorama deck. The cabin was spacious and bright. The balcony large enough for two people and the bathroom was clean and well designed. We never had a flooded floor and that is even with 2 people in the shower on occasion. The Panorama deck is very quiet and secluded. There are not a lot of cabins up here so you are not walking down endless passageways to get to your cabin. Our cabin steward was Javier and he kept the room spotless and our wine chilled. If we needed anything, he provided it. If you are looking for somewhere to save money on your cruise, look elsewhere. Get the balcony! It is so nice to sit out there in the morning or evening and just chill. We saw sea turtles, flying fish and some beautiful sunsets. We also saw Leonard running to catch the ship in Cozumel. The ship: The Conquest is classy. That's the best way to describe it. It is both opulent and subdued depending upon where you are. The crew is always cleaning and it shows. It's very impressive. I'll try to give a rundown of the decks. Deck 0 This is where you get on and off in port. Not much else to say. I think this is also where medical is. Deck 1 Never visited. Deck 2 Friends had a cabin here in the very back of the ship. We walked from our cabin in the front of the ship to visit them. Took 2 days. We took a cab back. Lots of cabins down here. Deck 3 The main lobby. Gorgeous. The atrium is impressive. Lines for the purser would get long at times so plan your visit there accordingly. The Renior dining room is on deck 3 and 4 forward and the Monet is on deck 3 and 4 aft. Deck 4 Photos. Lots and lots of photos. Here is my opinion of the photos. If you want them buy them if not don't. If you don't want them to take a photo of you just say no thanks. On the way off the ship in port, just walk around them. They won't chase you down and force the photo on you. They do take some darn good photos though. I should know. I'm a photographer and hate having my picture taken. We did buy some formal shots and one of the informal dining room shots. Alfreds lounge and the internet cafe are also on this deck. Alfreds is one of the subdued areas I mentioned earlier. Deck 5 The Promenade is here. Everything is located on deck 5 it seems. It tends to get a little crowded in the evenings but it's nothing you can't handle. The shops are here, and they could use a little better selection of goods. The casino is here, the video poker pay tables are horrible. 6-5 jacks or better for all denominations. (Some will know what this means.) Slots were quiet but the table games seemed to be okay. It's a good diversion for a while but we didn't plan on winning much. Jill is the casino host and she is a trip. You definitely have to find her just to say hello. Most of the clubs are also on deck 5. We didn't spend a lot of time in the clubs but they were well done. There is just about something for everyone. Cafe Fans is also on this deck. They serve decadent desserts and specialty coffees for a small fee. Deck 6 Cabins Deck 7 Cabins Deck 8 Cabins Deck 9 Lido deck. The buffet lines tend to get long at meal time. Go Figure. There are so many options to eat that you shouldn't have to wait in line for a buffet unless you want to. If you choose to, then don't complain. That said, there is one thing Carnival can do to help the buffet lines in the morning. Create a separate station for the omelets. This is why the lines are so long. People are waiting for the custom omelets to be made. If they were to move this to it's own station there would be far shorter lines. The grill was good, the pizza was great, PC Woks was very good and Pauls was fantastic. Sur Mer was one level up and was also very good. The pools are also on this deck. Deck 10 The Point. This is the alternative dining room. It is worth the $25 per person charge to have white glove service and excellent food. Our meal for 4 lasted 3 hours. If you want specifics about menu items just ask. Gentlemen need to wear a jacket. I didn't think that included me but the wife said it did. Deck 11 The spa. Great variety of equipment and a very attentive staff. This is where we worked out most of the time. I tried running the track around the funnel, but that got old real quick. Going down wind was okay but making the turn and heading back into the wind was murder. My wife took the yoga classes and loved them. Deck 12 Camp Carnival. Didn't use it. I'm sure I missed some stuff but hell, I'm still distraught over having to go back to work. The ship was great, the crew was all friendly and professional and if you don't like cruising on the Conquest your momma must have dropped you on your head when you was a baby. Here are some general comments: There were a lot of kids on board. A number of Alabama and Florida schools were out for fall break this week. The kids were not a problem for us. We have kids (6 between us) but this was a second honeymoon and we never noticed a loud or unruly child. They didn't hog the elevators or the hot tubs as far as we saw. Corey Schmidt was the cruise director and he was a blast. We talked to him off stage and he was as warm then as he was on stage. The food and service were exceptional across the board. Our wait team consisted of Cenk and Lina. Cenk was very quiet, he didn't sing or dance, but he was very professional. Lina is a sweetheart and will make a wonderful head waiter/waitress. We were told that we would have to pay a cork fee for each bottle of wine that we brought into the dining room to be opened. We told Cenk that this was not a problem and were sure that the wine service would be worth $10 a bottle. He didn't charge us that first night so we tipped him $10 and thanked him for the service and there was never a mention of the cork fee again. We did get charged for the two bottles we brought to the Point for dinner though. Ports: Montego Bay. We booked a private tour with Peat Taylor. We decided at the last minute that we didn't want to got all the way to Ocho Rios so we did the Rose Hall great house and Beach Club. Both were very nice. After that we spent a couple of hours at Margaritaville before heading back to the ship. Keith was our driver and drove very slowly. He was fine but we probably could have hired someone in Montego Bay cheaper. He had to come over from Ocho Rios to do the tour. We never felt unsafe and were not offered drugs. Jamaica is what you make of it. Hire a private guide and get out and see the country. Rose Hall beach Club was beautiful. The water was crystal clear and very warm. Red Stripe cost $4.00 a bottle and they had some good jerk chicken. We could have spent all day there. Grand Cayman. We booked the Sting Ray City/Snorkel tour with Native Way. $25 a person, 18 people on the boat and outstanding guides. This is the way to go. We saw a dozen other boats packed with people on them and felt like we had the best deal. This should not be missed. Cozumel. The weather was a little threatening when we got off the ship so we took a cab into town and shopped. We had lunch at Palmeras and it was very good. We were hoping to snorkel at Chankanab but we never got the chance. Next time for sure. Debarkation: We were the last ones called. No problem. We had breakfast, sat in the lounge and read. So we got off the ship at 10:30 instead of 8:30, big deal. On the plus side we had no problem finding our luggage. The customs dog didn't sneeze when we passed by so they never found that extra bottle of rum. Getting a cab was probably the low point of the whole week. The drivers almost got into a fist fight to not take us. It seems that they don't like couples, they would prefer larger groups. (More money.) If you've made it this far, thanks for taking the time. This turned out a lot longer than I ever would have thought. The cruise was what we expected and then some. Our expectations were pretty high when we got on board and I can honestly say that we are glad we went and would cruise the Conquest again in a heartbeat. When I filled out the comment card at the end of the cruise I wanted to find some things that I felt Carnival could improve upon. I could only come up with the omelet station. I tried hard to give them some meaningful criticism but I couldn't find anything else. Look for problems and you will find them. Go with an open mind, and you'll have the time of your life. We had a wonderful time meeting all the Ccer's and their families and would cruise with any of them again. These boards are a great resource but they also serve another purpose. That is to get people together with like interests. It was fun meeting up with the people we spent months planning with. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2003
 The Travellers: Cathy & Jay - about 50ish (he's older, I'm younger) Granddaughters: Andrea, age 10 Emily, age 8 I won't bore you with all the details of our trip to New Orleans, but have to share one small story. On ... Read More
 The Travellers: Cathy & Jay - about 50ish (he's older, I'm younger) Granddaughters: Andrea, age 10 Emily, age 8 I won't bore you with all the details of our trip to New Orleans, but have to share one small story. On Friday night we were driving to Memphis to stay with my dad for the night. The sunset was spectacular, like nothing we've seen in a while. Emily loves sunsets, and always stops what she's doing to take it all in. She asked me "Grandma, how do you think God makes the sky that color?" I told her I really didn't know. She thought a minute and asked "Do you think those are God's clothes we're seeing? Is that what He's wearing?" We arrived in New Orleans on Saturday evening, and checked in to our room at the Hilton Riverwalk. We were guests of Harrah's casino, and were able to park in their garage for free for the duration of the cruise. Nice savings. Since we were traveling with young children, we knew that we didn't belong on Bourbon Street or in any of the 'hot spots' around town. We took them for dinner to Mospero's - Emily was adventurous and had some of everything. Andrea stuck to her burger and fries. The food was good, the atmosphere was very family oriented. By the time we finished dinner it was after 9:00 p.m., and we had some cranky, tired girls on our hands. They had spent the day in a car driving from Memphis to New Orleans and all they wanted to do was swim in the hotel pool. We walked back to the Hilton and enjoyed the people and scenery ... "wow, grandma, those are REAL palm trees!" I stopped by Harrah's to make a donation while Jay and the girls continued to the hotel. I'm usually the first to rise, so I snuck out of the room about 7:00 a.m. There she was, in all her glory: The Carnival Conquest. Waiting for us. Shimmering in the morning sunrise. Back to the room, where Andrea was awake. She and I walked down to the Riverwalk area and found Cafe du Monde open and serving beignets and cafe au lait. Great way to start the morning. Andrea loved her beignets, and we bought a few to take back to Emily and Grandpa. Finally the lazy ones got up ... after much coaxing and a promise of beignets in bed. A stroll the length of the Riverwalk showed just how close we were to the pier. The girls were so excited they were doing cartwheels !!!! Spent some time looking at the shops in the Riverwalk Mall ... the girls were much too excited to do anything but ask every 5 minutes "Can we get on the ship yet?" They didn't want to leave Riverwalk because they could keep an eye on "their" ship. Now, on to the important stuff. Since there were four of us, we had quite a bit of luggage. Taxi fares are high in New Orleans - it would have been $10 a person to go from the Hilton to the pier. So, we loaded the luggage and me in a taxi, and Jay and the girls walked the few blocks, while I waited at the pier for them with the luggage. The usual porter talk of "now here is where you tip me $1 a bag" and we were into the line to enter the terminal. It seemed looooooooooong, but it moved quickly. Every few feet someone handed us a piece of paper to read - information about carry on baggage, what to do when you got on the ship, etc. All the Carnival employees that morning were smiling and welcoming. A quick double-check of paperwork to make sure I had everyone's identification (always have to check at the last minute!). The lines inside filled the roped off areas. There were two sections, and we moved down to the second section. Passed the time in line talking to our fellow cruisers. Before we knew it we were at the desk signing in. Computers were moving slowly, but check-in only took a few minutes. Right from there to pick up our sign and sail cards. Followed the crowd to the next room, where we showed ID once again and were asked to sit in rows of chairs. Once all the rows were filled we were up and moving into the next room, where we stood in another line. (What is it with these people and lines??) Embarkation photos by the Carnival staff in front of a fake New Orleans background. Then we were on to the security checkpoint. My husband's belt set off their buzzers, so he had to remove that ... once we got through the detectors he had to stop to put his belt back on as security tried to herd us along ... "keep moving, please, keeping moving." Jay laughed and said "I have to put my belt on ... otherwise my pants will fall down and NOBODY wants to see that." The security guard chuckled, and let us step aside so he could get his belt on. Up the escalators, where we could see the ship. On one of the balconies was a young couple locked in a passionate embrace. My granddaughters said "ooooooo, grandma, look at that !!!! I bet they don't know we can see them." Everyone on the escalator laughed, and started cheering the couple on ... Once on the ship we went directly to our cabin to drop off our heavy carry on bags and found several of our suitcases already waiting for us outside the door. This was less than an hour after we left them with our $1-a-bag-porter. We decided to quickly unpack some things or our stateroom would fill to the brim with suitcases. We were on the Main Deck Forward, inside quad room 2295. Our cabin steward knocked on the door about 5 minutes later to introduce himself - his name was Renaldo and we was very friendly and always smiling. Our request to unlock and empty the refrigerator was met with a big smile and "certainly, right away. I will have it done while you are at dinner this evening." And he did. Presto. Our quad room worked well for us. The girls enjoyed the upper bunks with their own lights, climbing the ladders, and that they could see the television from bed !!! One of the lower beds could not see television when the upper berths were lowered. With the berths lowered, the room felt quite crowded, but when raised the room opened up quite a bit. We had gone with the over-the-bathroom door shoe holder, and it sure came in handy. All our essentials fit quite nicely in there, with room to spare. Our closet contained 4 bathrobes, so for those who want to know, YES, interior cabins come with bathrobes on the Conquest. The hairdryer was in a dresser drawer, and wasn't very powerful. If you have more than three strands of hair on your head, I would suggest bringing your own hair dryer from home. The shower had two dispensers: one for shampoo and one for body gel. I would have preferred one for shampoo and one for conditioner (because we forgot ours!). The usual butt-hugging shower curtain did little to keep the water contained inside the shower, especially when the girls were taking their showers. We were on one of the Past Guest Reunion cruises, and our Cabin Steward quickly delivered our bag of goodies. We were surprised to find four of everything in the nice waterproof bag. (The girls were not past cruisers!). The towels, T-shirts and key chains were a big hit. The girls slept in their T-shirts every night. The bag was used for beach trips, and to carry home some wonderful gifts they received. We were quickly up on deck, cell phone in hand. The girls were STARVING. As we headed back to the Lido Deck buffet, a charming man came up to me and said "Are you mommacathy? Do I know you from Cruise Critic?" It was Selucrey, and he had already found quite a few Cruise Critic folks and they were at the bar with drinks in hand. It was a great way to start the cruise! We couldn't stick around long, because the STARVING girls kept tugging at my sleeve ... With just beignets for breakfast, they were ready for some food. I don't remember what we ate, but I'm sure there was pizza involved. "Our Table" became the one next to the pizza counter for the duration of the week. If we were looking for each other, we always knew to look there !!! The sail away was exciting. We called Andrea & Emily's mommy on the cellphone, and she was watching the web cam at the Port of New Orleans' website ... The girls jumped up and down and waved - and mommy was SURE she saw us ... :wink: Lifeboat drill was uneventful. Then we were off to our 6:15 dinner. Our dinner companions also were traveling with two children, about the same age as ours. The two older girls hit it off from the first moment, and were inseparable the entire cruise. The other two weren't compatible - ours was an 8 year old girl, theirs was a 7 year old boy, need I say more? I think there were cooties involved somehow. My only disappointment was that our tablemates weren't into the dining room experience. First formal night the woman wore a skirt, cotton top and flip flops. We were in formal wear and had done our hair, had photos taken, and were using our best grown up manners. They were more the shorts and t-shirts people. Didn't spoil the cruise, but it did detract a bit from the festive feeling we had created ... Even Andrea noticed. She had wanted to have a formal picture taken with her new best friend, but whispered to grandpa "I can't have a formal picture taken with her, I'm all dressed up and she's not and that wouldn't look very good." Our servers were Martin and his assistant, Veronica. Martin was from Honduras and Veronica was from Peru. Emily has been learning Spanish in school, and the first evening she said "Buenos dias" to Veronica - well that started her daily Spanish lessons from Veronica, even if we saw her on the Lido deck, she would speak simple phrases to Emily and encourage her to give her answers in Spanish. Every evening she came and got the girls to dance with the dancing waiters. They laughed and danced and paraded around the dining room. The last night of the cruise, an elderly woman we had been speaking to, who sat across the aisle from us at dinner came over and complimented us on the girls' behavior, and asked to take a picture of them. The kids all ordered every evening from the adult menu ... Martin was quite surprised that our girls liked their steaks medium rare. He would serve them first, then carefully cut their steaks, always joking "Now, do I get the first bite??" The bar waitress was very attentive. The girls like Shirley Temples, and every evening she made sure their Shirley Temples were waiting for them at the table when they arrived. They were very impressed. Our first adventure was to attend the Camp Carnival sign-up and family party. We were dancing in Henri's Disco. Lots of interaction and silly games. Funship Freddy came by to dance with us. That's got to be one hot costume to be wearing in the Caribbean! Made new friends and had a great time. I've kept copies of all the Camp Carnival daily activity sheets and hope to scan them some day soon. The counselors were great, the activities were very age appropriate. The 10 year old was old enough to sign herself in and out of Camp Carnival, but I had to sign the 8 year old in and out. She was a little jealous of her sister's freedom, but I could see that the size of the ship was a little overwhelming for her ... and 10 year old sisters don't always take good care of their 8 year old sisters, so I was glad she had to be signed in and out. One evening my husband and I had a "date" and we were able to sign a permission slip for our dinner companions to sign Emily in and out for us. That meant we could go to dinner at the Point (more to come on that) and not have to worry about timing. The first two days were days at sea. Relaxed by the pool. Ate too much. Made our donations at the casino. I'm a 3 card poker player, and met some fun folks playing cards. Those sea days become a blur, and it's hard to remember what happened when, and we don't even drink! We ate all our breakfast and lunch meals on the Lido deck. The kids could have kids fare and were happy with that. Our only complaint was the situation of the omelette station - it is at the end of the line, and holds everything up. Even if you don't want an omelette, you are held up by the people ahead of you who do, because where they have to stand blocks all the other food. There are generally 4 or more food lines open at a time, so we would look around for the shortest one. The food at Sur Mer was very good, as was the Sushi. On Tuesday Selucrey (Dan) from the Cruise Critic boards and his wife stopped by our cabin to deliver "little" gifts they had for the girls ... my goodness!!! "Little" must mean something else in Louisiana, because they sure weren't little gifts! Each girl received a huge Mardi Gras bear, and a bag filled with beads and treasures. What generous people! On Tuesday evening we had to make a stop in Grand Cayman to drop off a man who was ill ... rumor was that it was a heart attack. I had met his wife, and she only told me that he was "very ill." Wednesday morning, Jamaica We were up early, up to the Lido Deck for breakfast. We had made arrangements with another couple to meet up and make our own tour. Off the ship we found a JUTA taxi driver and negotiated a five hour tour for $100. His name was Garry, and I have his information if anyone wants a great tour guide of Jamaica. We drove all over Montego Bay. One of our stops was the Richmon Hotel for a great view. One of the couples I had met playing cards in the casino were there - getting married. Their witnesses were there to take video, but were instead walking the bride down the aisle, so I took up their video camera and videotaped the wedding. The bride was gorgeous, her flowers were provided by the hotel and were breathtaking. A german shepherd wandered in and out of the gazebo, becoming part of the wedding party - but I don't think bride and groom even noticed. We went to a place called "Scotchie's" for jerk pork and chicken and the best sweet potatoes you'll ever taste. The kids looked at the menu and said "Grandma, we can't afford to eat here, a chicken costs $600 !!!!" We had to explain that was $600 Jamaican dollars, and it was very cheap in American dollars and they could eat anything they wanted. We recommend it highly, but suggest you have Jamaican money before you get there - their exchange rate isn't very good. It was our second time there, and we found out the first time! Emily asked Garry (our guide) if he knew somewhere she could get her hair braided. He picked up his cell phone and made a quick call. In 5 minutes we were at a little shop where Emily's hair was quickly braided by two delightful women who talked to her the whole time. They put extra braids in and refused payment for them, they were a gift to Emily. By having Garry with us we were never approached by people begging or offering "smoke." He made sure everyone knew we were HIS people, and not to be bothered. He explained things to the kids and pointed out sugar cane growing, animals and plants. Thursday morning, Grand Cayman We had an early morning excursion booked with Nativeway Watersports, and had to be off on one of the first tender boats. We immediately found the Nativeway sign, and were told to meet in 30 minutes, so we walked across the street and looked around at the shops. Our excursion with Nativeway was a trip to Stingray City and a coral reef to snorkel. The water was pretty rough that morning, and about half the passengers on our boat got seasick, my husband included. I'm not a very strong swimmer, and was wearing a vest - still had trouble staying above water. I'd end up head down, feet up in the air. It was too much for the girls. This was their first time to even SEE the ocean, so it was a lot to take in. They really wanted to see the stingrays, but the water was too high and the swells too big for them. Emily finally let our boat operator carry her out, where she petted and held a Stingray. She was very happy. At the coral reef, again we were faced with high swells. The girls sat on the rear deck of the boat and let their feet dangle down. Emily even got in the water, holding on to the ladder and paddling around, but wouldn't wear a snorkel mask. I would highly recommend Nativeway. Our guides were kind and patient, especially with the children. One of them would dive off the side of the boat, pick up a stingray and bring it close enough for the kids to pet. Their price was $25 a person, US. We had lunch at Paradise, not too expensive. Poor Emily had developed a cold sore, and we were in search of something for that. In Jamaica they wanted $6 for a tube of medicated chapstick. We found Carmex for $1.29 in Grand Cayman. Friday morning, Cozumel This is one of my favorite places. We had breakfast, got off the ship and took a taxi directly to Chankanaab. This time the girls weren't as afraid. There is an area with very shallow water, where you can almost walk right out into the ocean, with sandy beach and lounge chairs. The entrance to the park was $10 US for adults, children 10 and under were free. We rented snorkel gear from them for about $6 a person. My husband has leg problems, and can't swim because of them, so I was the one taking the girls out. Andrea went first, and wasn't timid. She wanted me to hold on to her life vest, but she had her face in the water, looking down the entire time. She had her underwater camera and took lots of pictures. Emily took some coaxing, but once she got there she was excited. I had her look back to see how far she had gone ... she took one look and then just plopped her snorkel mask right back in the water. They spent a few more hours swimming around, having a grand time. My husband had promised to buy me a Mexican fire opal this time for my birthday/anniversary gift ... we weren't finding them at the shops by the pier, so the girls (they were tired and hungry and crabby by this time) and I got on the ship and he took a taxi downtown to shop. Of course, right after he left, I went in a shop and found a ring ... but I think he got a much better deal by going downtown. Andrea went straight to the pool ... Emily took a little power nap with me. Friday evening The first thing we had done as we boarded the ship was make reservations at the Point for Friday night, which was our wedding anniversary. It was quite an experience... of course it starts out with my husband losing his sail and sign card, and calling from the Point to have new ones issued. Seated at the table next to us was a couple I had spent a good deal of time at the casino with - and they were witnesses at the wedding in Jamaica. We ended up sharing a table with them, and had a delightful evening. Carnival has tried very hard to make the Point a five-star dining experience. They ALMOST have it right ... just a few things need to be tweaked. The first thing is the chairs. They either need more padding, or they just need to get different chairs. All four of us found them very uncomfortable to sit in, and they cut the circulation off on the back of our legs. The windows are covered with blinds, so there is no romantic ocean view while dining. We peeked out the windows, and there wasn't even a view, just cleaning equipment storage. There is also no bathroom in the Point, you have to leave the restaurant and go down a floor. I had the surf & turf, which was broiled lobster & filet, both done to perfection. The Lobster Bisque is probably the best I've ever had. My husband had the porterhouse, which was cooked exactly the way he ordered. The servers were not quite as attentive as they could have been. Their recitation of the menu was memorized and very rote, not much excitement. They could not describe ingredients in dishes to us or explain preparation. The presentation of the food was very "artistic" ... big white plates with little dabs of this and that. It was a delightful evening, the food was well above that in the dining room, but the Point just misses the mark, in our opinion. The girls had Camp Carnival parties that evening - Emily's went until midnight and Andrea's went to 3:30 a.m. They were very happy with their experience, but slept until 11:00 the next day! Saturday was our last sea day. We spent most of it by the pool. I believe that was the Chocolate buffet day ... which was MARVELOUS. My thoughts, especially for those traveling with kids: If you're traveling with kids, Camp Carnival is SUPERB. By the second day the counselors knew each child by name, recognized the parents, knew who were siblings. By the second day the kids knew their way around the ship better than we did. I've thought I should have only packed each girl 5 swimsuits and 2 dresses. I think they wore their swimsuits more than they wore anything. Make sure any flip flops are broken in ... blisters on vacation aren't fun. The only medication I needed was cold sore medication, and it was the only thing I forgot to bring!! Save a few "underwater camera" photos for the kids to take pictures of their friends around the pool. And buy your underwater cameras at Walmart before you leave home, they're half the price you'll find on the ship or in the islands. The over-the-door holder saves a lot of precious space. Bring your own blow dryer for hair ... the ones in the cabins aren't nearly strong enough. The music on the Lido deck is repetitious. The same series of songs played over and over and over. Security WILL talk to people acting inappropriately, especially quickly during the 12-2 "family swim time" without prompting from guests. There are whirlpools on the Lido deck where children ARE allowed, if accompanied by an adult. Only the AFT whirlpool is for adults-only. We made sure the girls followed this rule. The whirlpool just under the slide is COLD. Very COLD. The others were nice & warm. The slide is a big hit. If you're an adult, lying down will make you go down much faster than sitting up. We purchased drink cards for the kids, and they never had a problem at any of the bars getting a soft drink. The servers were very polite to them and waited on them promptly. I was looking down at the lobby bar one afternoon, and there sat 8 year old Emily, sipping a Coke, and having a chat with the bartender and a young couple. Everyone was laughing and having a good time. The girls really enjoyed formal nights. We went to each and every photograph station to have our pictures taken, and picked the very best of them to purchase. If you have any questions, you can email me at heidemca@webster.edu Read Less
Sail Date: October 2003
We recently returned from a 7 night aboard the Conquest. I had concerns about the ship being so large that we would be lost in a mob of people, but was pleasantly surprised. The ship itself is beautiful. Our balcony cabin was very nice. ... Read More
We recently returned from a 7 night aboard the Conquest. I had concerns about the ship being so large that we would be lost in a mob of people, but was pleasantly surprised. The ship itself is beautiful. Our balcony cabin was very nice. We took a 12 year old along with us and we had plenty of room. Cabin was midship so access to everything was convenient. This was my 7th cruise and both my husband and I believe that the food on the Conquest was outstanding and by far the best we have had while sailing. There were many dining options when we did not want to go to the dining room. Our waiters were excellent and our room was cleaned by the steward very well each day. Our cabin was QUIET! We were very pleased by this. Our last cruise we went up and extra deck. There was a lot of noise overhead from the lido. They ran the carts back and forth to the galley. The 7th deck was an excellent choice. I also think the cabins on the Conquest are insulated better than previous ships we have been on. We only visited three ports on this cruise. I was very disappointed in Jamaica. We were at Montego Bay. I probably would not go there or take a tour there again. Grand Cayman was delightful. Beautiful and clean. We snorkeled with the Stingrays and visited the Turtle Farm. What a great choice. A very nice tour. Cozumel has changed immensely since I was there 10 years ago. Such a large docking area. Last time we anchored and had to tender in. There was great shopping there and the area was very pretty. All in all our Conquest cruise was delightful. I would tell anyone thinking of this ship to DO IT!! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2002
This was our 2nd cruise and a late 13yr anniversary for us. Getting there: We drove to New Orleans from the Dallas/Ft.Worth area and stayed the night in a hotel. Embarkation: We took a brief walking tour of New Orleans. I recommend ... Read More
This was our 2nd cruise and a late 13yr anniversary for us. Getting there: We drove to New Orleans from the Dallas/Ft.Worth area and stayed the night in a hotel. Embarkation: We took a brief walking tour of New Orleans. I recommend checking in before doing this. The warehouse where we sat to wait for embarkation and check-in was extremely hot and crowded. Things got a little better when we got to a place where we could sit to wait, but it took maybe 40 minutes for the whole process. It did seem like a long time in the heat. When we finally got onboard, we wanted to put money on our shipboard credit card and get it activated. Everyone had the same idea. Several terminals for doing this were unmanned while we continued to wait for over an hour. People in line began to grumble. I finally got up the courage to ask if they could open up some unmanned terminals. I found a guy in a carnival coat who turned out to be one of the activity directors. I explained that we had been waiting for over an hour and his response was a sarcastic, "And???...." Maybe he wasn't the person to ask, but he could have at least directed me to someone who could help or at least explain why my request could not be fulfilled. Things improved after this. Cabins: We were on the Riviera deck. Only crew were below us. Still our room seemed large with a large shower and closet. We had a porthole. I was very happy with our cabin. It was kept immaculately. My only complaint is that you can't seem to get a real bed for two. They push two beds together and bridge them with a foam pad or something. Not the same as a bed for two. Food: Awesome breakfast, I'm a creature of habit, so I had my daily french toast, bacon, and scrambled eggs in the cafe at the rear of the ship. We always ate outside on the deck out of the wind, but with the Caribbean sun and sea as our view. The food other than breakfast in the "cafe" (I forgot the name) is fair to good. Sometimes there is a wait for breakfast in the morning or for pizza. We usually got lunch poolside. The burgers were great. The drinks were awesome. The best food was dinner. I especially remember the filet mignon and the best carrot cake I have ever had, ever (that's saying something). Breakfast was nice in the dining room also, but kind of a stuffy formal feel so early in the day. It's better to get out and enjoy the sun and fresh air. Snack food in the bars was the same choice everywhere (ad nauseam). Best snack choices were poolside followed by the cafe. Entertainment: Above average. The entertainers do a good job of putting on a happy face and performing well, but if you talk to them for any length of time you'll find most are not happy. Apparently, pay, leave time, and living conditions are not what most of the crew and entertainers envisioned when they signed on. The comedian was best suited to our tastes, and was so popular, I only got an obstructed view from just outside the doorway. We came late and only happened upon that show. Both comedians were very funny and popular. Next, we enjoyed the karaoke, though this seemed to be dominated by the rowdy recent high school grads from rivaling Alabama and Oklahoma. It was crowded, but fun. We spent quite a lot of time in a bar area in the thoroughfare between the casino and the disco where a singer/piano player was set up playing James Taylor type 70's music along with music from other genres and eras that fit in. He was fantastic. Though he confessed to feeling like a "human jukebox" going through the motions. The guy in the actual piano bar was bitter about not being let off the ship at every port. He grumbled between songs and made it clear that he was quitting as soon as possible. He was o.k., but gave off a negative vibe. The broadway style shows were great, some better than others. Some a bit cheesy with a Vegas flare. Fit the casino style lounges. Poolside reggae band was just the right mood for relaxing by the pool and watching the participation games the activities people set up. Mock game shows were also very entertaining. They should have kept these and karaoke going nonstop. Bingo was available, but we didn't play. Service: Other than the rude activities director, everyone was unbelievable, down to the last detail. We never went without any request or waited long for anything. Everyone was friendly and accommodating. This seems amazing to me considering that they are so underpaid and overworked. My husband and I began to feel we were on a slave ship of sorts. We were discretely told that the cooks (who get no tips) were paid only $300/month. Below decks, the living conditions for crew are crowded, noisy, and unfriendly. International cultures sometimes clashing. For the public, this is imperceptible. We got the chance to speak openly with some of the crew. Our cabin steward should be given an award for patience. Though we never had a complaint about our cabin, the drunken spoiled brat teen two doors down was whining loudly that she wanted this poor guy (who was busy trying to get the entire deck's luggage off the ship) to make her a towel animal because she messed hers up. He did it, but not before calmly smiling and speaking a few words (in an African dialect) to his co-worker. I turned to him, smiled sympathetically, and said, "I bet you're glad she doesn't understand your language." He and his co-worker about fell over laughing. He was tipped generously. Ports of Call/Excursions: Our first port of call was JAMAICA. Jamaica is a poor country. This is obvious when you see Montego Bay port and the countryside. We chose the Dunn's River Falls climb in Ocho Rios. If you do this. Make sure you wear your suit under your clothes. I never really got a chance to change and went in denim shorts. This tour was neat, our driver "didn't waste time" and the guide was informative and friendly. The trip was a little rushed. We got off the bus, were herded up the falls, hand in hand. If someone slipped, it was up to the people holding their hands to help them up. A few times the guys who kept the herd moving up the falls lent a hand. 3/4 the way up, they push you down in the water (sitting) and snap your picture. Then they herd you up to the top. It's done. I kind of longed to jump into the Caribbean at the beach at the foot of the falls. I thought surely there would be a chance to do that, but no. At the top, you are shown your photos for sale, then you have the opportunity to go through a shopping village on the way to the parking lot. We were greeted at the gate by a man who led us directly to his booth where we were guilted into buying something. This happened twice more before we escaped the "village". My husband began to stress and said to me, "I cannot support the whole Jamaican economy single-handedly, let's get out of here." His opinion was that the shopkeepers were pushier in Jamaica than anywhere he'd ever been, including Thailand and Mexico. I was fascinated by the British colonial holdovers juxtaposed by the Jamaican culture. Notably, the British traffic turnarounds with pigs roaming free on them. Livestock ran free everywhere. Cows in the road, goats sunning themselves on raised burial plots. There seemed to be a sting running where government officials undercover would sell marijuana to cruise passengers, then tip the customs agents off as to who was carrying. We ran into a fellow passenger (youth group minister) who was being continually pestered to buy marijuana. The guy asked if he could join us, so maybe the guy would leave him alone. Back onboard, another couple told us they got a day pass at one of the resorts. Beach time, pool time, drinks included. Nobody pestering you. I had no idea you could do that. We wished we had known. We plan on doing that in Cancun this year. Next port was CAYMAN ISLANDS. Gorgeous. We chose the island tour which included the sea turtle farm, the Tortuga rum cake factory, the town of Hell, and the highlight of our entire vacation: Stingray City. The turtle farm was cool. My favorite part was plucking the baby turtles out of the water for a closer look. We didn't stay here long, but it was fun. I could have done without the rum cake factory. Hell was a funny little stopover. A sign on a church lawn points the way to Hell (away from the church, "Turn or burn, baby!"). Just a gift shop and outcropping of coral turned black that has a hellish appearance. Cute little photo op. You can buy postcards in the gift shop that say Greetings from Hell, Wish you were here. Kinda funny. All the t-shirts are puns along the same lines. The cashier takes great joy in shouting, "Who in Hell's next?" Last, Stingray City was not to be believed. Never would I imagine how friendly and fearless, and gentle stingrays are with humans. Feeding them is kinda like putting a kleenex in a vacuum hose. They are so graceful and will let you pet them. One of the crew even briefly lifted a stingray up for us so we could see the underside. (It looks like a smiling face.) We could stand on the soft sandbar, or snorkel, or just swim to the bottom with our masks on. Incredible experience. Bring your underwater camera. We ate lunch on the patio of a little restaurant after some shopping. The view was unforgettable. We grabbed a real estate magazine on the way back to the boat. That's how much we loved this place. It's a playground for the rich, though. My husband described it as "Santa Barbara on steroids." Next time, we'll skip shopping, the turtle farm and the rum cake factory. We'll go straight to Stingray City and spend the rest of the time on a public beach. There are no private beaches in the Cayman Islands, but they all appeared to be immaculate, beautiful and fairly empty. Next stop, COZUMEL/TULUM: This was an enjoyable stop. A boat took us from the ship to Playa Del Carmen where we were escorted to a bus that took us to the Mayan ruins of Tulum. Lots of walking from the front gate and at the site. Wear comfortable shoes, bring money for cold drinks, you'll want one for the tour and one after. The tour was interesting and informative, but wear your suit under your clothes again. There is the most beautiful beach I have ever seen over the cliff that ruins sit atop. There are no amenities here, but you'll wish you had more time. If the Mayan history doesn't interest you very much, you may want to ditch the tour and head for the path under the arch at the far south (right) of the site. Take a gander at the vista below before you do. Get your camera ready, it's a Kodak moment. This is the place I picture most when I need to de-stress or clear my thoughts. It's that good. After the bus ride back (air conditioning, Pepsi, Sol Beer) we were ferried back to Cozumel where I did some shopping while my husband found a bar for a beer or two (It was very hot.) The owner was an American who came on vacation and didn't want to leave. We had margaritas, chips and guacamole on a nice little patio where we were serenaded by 3 mariachis playing for tips. Caught a taxi-van back to the ship. It was depressing as hell to watch the crystal Caribbean waters slowly change to muddy brown as we approached the Mississippi delta. Debarkation was quick and painless, with crew joking that they could sneak you back on for a bribe. Sigh. Public Spaces: Way above average, but in an over the top Viva Las Vegas kind of way. I really liked the piano bar and the casino for decor. Every part of the ship was decorated, nothing was bland. I did wish the disco was a little bigger. The 70's piano guy could have easily been on a stage that wasn't being used instead of a busy thoroughfare. Debarkation: July 2003 we stayed in the Tulum area at Bahia Principe Akumal for a week instead of taking a cruise. You can read my review of this on TripAdvisor.com. For July 2004 we will be taking a "Texaribbean" cruise, (4 ports out of Houston: Cozumel, Honduras, Belize, and Cancun.) I'll try to post a review then. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2000
Had a great time.......Got the largest suite on the boat which I'd highly recommend as only the suites have a balcony which comes in handy if you want to smoke or sunbathe in the nude.... Yes, they have have an area designated for ... Read More
Had a great time.......Got the largest suite on the boat which I'd highly recommend as only the suites have a balcony which comes in handy if you want to smoke or sunbathe in the nude.... Yes, they have have an area designated for topless on the boat, but it's on the top deck and you'd encounter less wind on Mt. Everest.....I think they cater to Americans as there are more rules as to where and when you can smoke, go naked or whatever....I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't ban the thong and started having church on Sunday trying to cater to most the crazed out Americans onboard walking around with bibles trying to save everyone... Didn't take the kids, but all those who did said they had a great time in Kids camp.... Same with the dolphins in Cozumel, I highly recommend this and also got an excellent report on the ATV adventure riding thru the jungle from the friends we made at the diner table....said it was a blast...but be prepared to get dirty!!! Did self debarkation,,,,,was a breeze....(travel light)....Was luck in the Casino and the disco was rocking, with the exception of one night when they played rap music all night long.... An gonna try another cruise line next time....hopefully one with more of an European attitude as both my wife and I like to sunbathe naked with is impossible on the sundeck of Carnival......also we don't enjoy being herded over to the corners of the boat to smoke....... Enjoy Read Less
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