We were on the November 19 (Thanksgiving) Conquest. This was our second cruise (2 adults, 1 14 year old) but our first on Carnival. Our previous experience was a Christmas cruise on Royal Caribbean a few years ago. We also had friends who on this cruise who had previously been on the Conquest on the Katrina cruise and they had bought in the Carnival Vacation Club.
We drove to Galveston on Saturday and stayed at the Ramada Express. We had booked early online. The room was fine, but the hotel is definitely old. We were able to park our car there for free for the length of the cruise and then took a taxi to the dock. There were a lot of people doing the same thing and the taxis were lined up. The fare was only $5-6 because of the close proximity to the dock.
Embarkation: Because our friends were VIP's they were able to move to the front of the line for everything. We weren't able to check into the VIP room, but Carnival sent us to the non-US citizen line and we checked in with no wait. We actually beat our friends to the talk they do before they let people on the ship. As soon as our friends came over, they started letting people on the ship and we moved to the head of the line. So we were on the ship before noon.