Carnival Conquest - Western Caribbean: Carnival Conquest Cruise Review by cascole

Carnival Conquest 5
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Carnival Conquest - Western Caribbean

Sail Date: July 2006
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Galveston
We were a group of 5. Myself & a friend (both 30 something gals), my sons (12 & 2), and a friend of my oldest boy (16). This was my 7th cruise, my oldest sons 2nd cruise & everyone elses first cruise. We had a wonderful cruise & are already thinking about where to go on the next one. After speaking to so many people on board with both bad & good experiences to share, one thing is certain  it pays to do your research! Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences & helped to make this one of the best trips ever!

Travel to Houston/Galveston: We flew to Houston (IAH) the day before the cruise, rented a one way car with Enterprise & drove to our hotel in Galveston. We stayed the night at the Hawthorne Suites at Victoria in a 1 bedroom overlooking the pool & the gulf. I would not stay here again. The housekeeping leaves a lot to be desired, among other things... but it was fine for 1 night, especially because we didnt even arrive there More until around 9pm.

Day 1, Embarkation: Arrived at the cruise terminal before 11am and had no trouble finding a porter to take our bags. I then left the rest of my party there while I drove to return the Enterprise rental car. Getting back to the terminal on the shuttle was easy, however by the time I returned, the lines were beginning to get long & although the rest of my group was told they should get in line & I could join them  I was not able to join them in the line. They had to wait for me. Not sure what the point of them getting in line until I got there was at all... oh well. This was the worst embarkation I have ever experienced. They did not even allow the first passengers onto the ship until at least 1pm. The lines were extremely long. We were glad to finally be onboard around 1:30pm & went straight to our rooms to drop off luggage & get the little one changed. Then it was time for a DOTD, exploring the ship and the muster drill.

Cabins: We had two cabins, 6450 (L shaped with extended balcony) & 6448 (inside). The balcony was WONDERFUL!!! It was so much larger than the regular sized balconies I have had on previous cruises. There were 5 chairs & 2 tables set up on it. I was able to use a small inflatable wading pool on the balcony for my toddler without any problem. We sat on the balcony & enjoyed room service breakfast nearly every morning. Our room steward, Antonio, took care of both rooms & did a good job  and most days remembered to keep our cooler filled with ice. He also removed the contents of the mini-bar & stored them in the closet so I could keep milk for the little one inside. I had contacted the OPC prior to sailing so my room was decorated with Bon Voyage decorations; we also had a fruit & cheese basket waiting for us & a couple of key chains.

Day 1 & 2 (at sea): Ive got days 1 & 2 intermingled in my head... days at sea seem to run together. We spent most of our time lounging in the sun on deck or reading on the balcony. On day 1 our roll call was supposed to meet, but I never made it as my little one was napping at the time. I did run into several of them at different times during the cruise, though  so met some very nice people! I took my toddler to Camp Carnival for a couple of hours so I could lay in the sun for a bit. I didnt make it to the past guest party or to the captains cocktail party on this trip... it takes a lot of effort to get 5 people ready on time for dinner, much less any earlier! 

Day 3, Montego Bay: We spent the day at Sunset Beach... well worth the $ & highly recommended! They also only charged my oldest son at the child rate & did not charge for my toddler at all! We had no problem finding 4-5 lounge chairs on the beach under a palapa. Enjoyed several drinks, although I didnt find the bartenders particularly friendly at any of the bars (strange as I was tipping them $1-2 each trip). We played with the kids in the pools & enjoyed great jerk chicken for lunch. My friend & the pre/teens snorkeled, although the said there wasnt a ton to see, and there was a lot of garbage (mostly small plastic cups). My son & his friend spent some time while snorkeling picking the trash/cups up to be put in the garbage. I would go back here again in a heartbeat!

Day 4, Grand Cayman: I had booked the Rays, Reef & Rum Point tour through Native Ways & was so pleased with the tour & the guides! Everything was wonderful. They kept the group small (~15 people). We started out in the rain as we took the boat out to the first stop. The guides fed a moray eel & said their hellos to a nurse shark. They were very attentive to each persons needs & skill level. The second stop was Stingray City & again, the guides gave great instruction to each person, paid attention to the level of involvement each desired to have with the rays & even caught a baby ray for my little one to interact with. The third stop was Rum Point beach. I simply loved this little slice of heaven... although the drinks (not included with the tour) were very expensive  the lunch (included) was wonderful, the water was warm & shallow, the sand was pink. Our guides engaged several people in a beach volleyball game here as well. It was a fantastic day for all ages & skill levels!

Day 5, Cozumel: In Cozumel I had booked a private half day fishing charter through which turned out to be Wahoo tours. While the site had promised to be all inclusive of transportation, we had to take a taxi both to & from the marina and were not reimbursed nor was the price lowered to cover this expense (~$20 RT). My son & his friend love to fish and had been hoping to hook up on a Marlin, but were quickly dissuaded from going for Marlin & decided to go for Barracuda & Dorado. Overall, it was a productive day: 1 Barracuda, 1 Rainbow & 4 Tiger fish. We had a good time (and the guacamole prepared by the crew was great) but I would probably choose a different operator in the future. All went fine, but no one was friendly or made any effort to communicate whatsoever. Most questions were answered with a yes or no. The day just felt kind of strange.

Day 6, Last day at sea: The last day at sea we spent soaking up our final sun of the trip, enjoying a few more cocktails & buying souvenirs. I love lazy days at sea, waking when you want, relaxing on the balcony with a book, sitting by the pool while enjoying a frozen drink... ahhh, paradise!

Day 7, Debarkation: Our flight was just before 2:30, so we were given tags for priority debarkation. Just after self-assist & before they call regular color tags. This worked out well & we were able to debark without much ado. The biggest problem upon debarkation was not with Carnival, but with the Enterprise desk in the cruise terminal. There must have been 20 people in line & only 1 person working when I got there. He took 20-30 minutes per customer to process the rental. At that rate, I knew I would not make my flight. Looking across the room, I noticed (along with a couple others) that there was no line at the Hertz counter. I quickly inquired if they had availability & they did. I took a smaller car from them for the same price as the mini-van I had booked through Enterprise & made it to the airport in time to grab a quick lunch & board our flight home. Next time I will book a limo to take us back to the airport.

Food & Dining Staff: I thought the food was good overall, and was definitely better than on the Paradise in May. We ate in the Renoir dining room on all but 2 nights when were just too tired/lazy to get dressed in time for the 6:15 seating. Our waiter was fine but never went out of his way to provide great service. I believe he was just too busy with too many tables. In fact, I would say that the service declined through the trip instead of improving. For example, on more than one night he forgot about the open bottle of wine he had held for us. On one night, my son was not given a bread plate  even though he is the biggest bread eater of all of us! On one night we had to ask for butter for the bread. On most nights we did not have any sugar on the table for our coffee  and we asked for it each & every night. On another night, they kids menu was not there. On another night, they did not take my toddlers order at all until after the appetizers had been delivered to the rest of the table. We ate in the buffet for lunch each day & the selection was adequate. I enjoyed the oysters from Sur Mer; the kids enjoyed the pizza & cheeseburgers. There was always something for everyone. My little one loved the ice cream!

Camp Carnival, 2-5 year olds: My son spent a few hours there during the first two sea days, then went again for the entire day while we were in Cozumel fishing. He made several crafts & had fun playing while he was there, but he was never happy to leave me. Once I was out of sight, he did well. I always hung out around the corner for about 5 minutes & then peeked back around to make sure he was off doing something else. Most of the staff was good with the kids  although there was one staff member who just seemed like she didnt want to be there. I dont know if she just didnt communicate well with the parents or if there was something else going on, but she just wasnt ever friendly.

Shows & etc... : I didnt get to a single show all week since my little one was usually already in bed by the time the shows started. The rest of our group loved the hypnotist show, and the teens enjoyed the juggler/comedian show and the magic show. I also couldnt tell you who the cruise director was if I hadnt gone to the deal or no deal bingo show one evening. I did step into the piano bar one evening & was very disappointed. It was virtually empty (maybe 4 other people there) and the piano man was dry at best. He did a mangled rendition of Piano Man  I left midway through. Oh well, you cant win em all. I hope they put someone better on that route soon  Conquest deserves better.

Casino: The casino was fun, not a huge mix of slots & of course the payouts were tight. I didnt play tables at all this trip since my time in the casino was limited  but I did enjoy the time I had there & broke even. One service I felt was lacking in the casino was the drink service. On Paradise in May it was quick & attentive... on Conquest I felt it was slow & almost difficult to find a wait person. Less

Published 08/24/06

Cabin review: 8A6450 Balcony

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