Very enjoyable, but not perfect: Carnival Conquest Cruise Review by Darshan1

Carnival Conquest 4
Member Since 2009
33 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Very enjoyable, but not perfect

Sail Date: December 2009
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Galveston
This was my third cruise, and as my other cruises were also on Carnival, the Conquest mostly met my expectations. The ship has a French Impressionist theme and perhaps that has a psychological effect because it seemed a bit more mellow than the Elation or Victory. There was less drinking and less noise. The trip was noticeably smooth and quiet--not nearly as rocky as the other two ships. That changed late on Day 6, and I thought perhaps we'd hit much rougher water on reentering the Gulf of Mexico. That may have been part of it, but the captain mentioned on Day 7 that the right stabilizer "was out." So I think on a typical day when everything is working correctly, the Conquest is an excellent ship for those worried about the possibility of seasickness.

Carnival cruises are inexpensive to begin with, and a couple days before sailing they called me an offered me a very reasonable price for an upgrade. That was fantastic! Be aware that they make their money off of alcohol, More photographs, and the casino, but that's fine as you really have control over how cheap you cruise.

I felt the food on the Elation (sailed 2/2005) was fantastic and the food on the Victory (2/2009) was almost as good. The Conquest had a very similar menu to the Victory, but the quality seemed slightly lacking in some dishes. It occurred to me that they want you to splurge on the "supper club" restaurant for fantastic steaks and lobster every night. Sorry, no. The food was good enough in the main dining room not to resort to the supper club, but I had to wonder if they made an effort at deliberate mediocrity in hopes that people will seriously consider spending the extra cash. Most of the food (the chilled soups, the fish, and the fruit) was quite good, and the service was near perfect. Apparently, Carnival cruisers gain an average of five to fourteen pounds during a voyage, but I don't think I'm typical because I stuck with the "Spa Menu" for the desserts. I'm a junk food addict, but their lower calorie (made with sugar substitute) desserts were very satisfying. However, I can see how one can gain weight as the servers are happy to let you sample more than one appetizer and order more than one dessert.

The problem that marred a day or two of the trip was the Maitre' D's fault. We had great dining companions on the first night, but we received a note in our cabin the next morning saying that "per our request" we now had a private table in the other dining room. That made no sense, and we went to guest services to correct the error. Guest services called the Maitre 'D to allegedly correct the error and put us back at our original table. However, there was now a big family sitting there who knew a large group of people at the next table over. It was not a mistake at all. The new group had requested that they get our table, and the Maitre 'D complied (People we spoke with speculated he was bribed) and we got kicked out. I think it's bad policy to inconvenience seven people on behalf of eight people, but that in itself was not a big deal. The problem was their inability to communicate. They made it very confusing by claiming that WE requested a private table, and then guest services had been given no clue that it was not an error, but in fact a deliberate re-seating. Sure, it's fine to re-seat us, but they should have explained the situation instead of lying, and they should have asked us what our preference would be! It would have been very disappointing had we not reconnected with the people we met the first night, and Ante, the Maitre 'D, received the only complaint on my otherwise glowing comment card.

That incident was frustrating, but the trip was still wonderful. The entertainment staff members were funny, creative and friendly. The bartender, Nicoleta, at the quiet wine bar could not have been sweeter. The casino dealers, the stewards, the salespeople in the shops, and the wait staff all seemed interested in making sure you have a good time.

Other than that, the room was nice, well-lit, and clean. The halls (on Deck 2 anyway) weren't too noisy, the fellow passengers were friendly and seemed happy, and there was a fair amount to do (like trivia contests, art exhibits, karaoke and listening to live music) that didn't have to involve any drinking.

Overall, it was a lot of fun, and while the desire to see somewhat exotic ports that Carnival doesn't often serve may steer me away from them in the future, I would be more than happy to sail this ship again. Less

Published 12/21/09
1 Helpful Vote

Cabin review: 6A2293 Ocean View

Nice steward, clean and well-lit room, pretty quiet even though it's not far from the elevator. Right below guest services (probably one reason why it's quiet). The TV remote was a little unresponsive, and when you're trying to book a shore excursion or check your expense account onscreen, that can be a bit annoying. It's definitely big enough for two people, and there's a sofa that could sleep a child. It has a "picture window" which was not huge, but certainly big enough.

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Port and Shore Excursions

When I went to Cozumel in 02/2005, it seemed like it was entirely about shopping and drinking. Perhaps there was some natural beauty, but other than a glimpse of beautiful water by our ship, it was basically a line of jewelry stores and a few bars. This time I went on a "Cozumel highlights and shopping tour" so I could see if I'd missed out on anything the first time around. We went to a museum-slash-park called Discover Mexico that had a tiny art museum and a couple acres of large models of Mexico's most famous Mayan temples, churches, and other buildings. That wasn't bad. We then went to El Cedral where they have the remains of a small, but allegedly significant Mayan ruin. That was ridiculous. There is so little left of the ruin, you could have told me "That's the remains of a brick wall from a Burger King they tore down ten years ago," and I would have believed you. There was also some shopping at El Cedral for black coral jewelry, but nothing there impressed us. The tour then took us to the wild eastern coast of Cozumel (Cozumel is an island), and that was nice enough. We saw the rocky shoreline, rough surf, and lovely blue water. It seemed very remote, and the guide explained that that part of Cozumel was largely uninhabited because if it's hit by a hurricane, that part of the island gets the worst of it. We then went to Hacienda Antigua which is a small agave plantation and tequila distillery. That was actually more interesting than it sounds even for someone like me who doesn't drink. The guide there did a good job of making sure the tourists knew there were "men's tequilas and ladies' tequilas," and that tactic seemed to work as the women on the tour seemed more interested in sampling tequila than the men, and since this was a "shopping tour," the guide knew who most of his audience would be. Lastly we were brought downtown to shop at Los Cinco Soles for handicrafts (nice store, actually) or the jewelry stores, but I guess you have to love shopping more than I do because it seemed sort of blah. The salespeople at many stores were kind of pushy although not nearly to the same degree as in Montego Bay, and my friend did find some very nice onyx bookends in a store called Tucan. (He also said he felt safer in Cozumel than in Grand Cayman or Montego Bay.) I think it's a nice enough place, but if I went again, I'd probably want to go on the all day excursion to Tulum (on the mainland) and see some really impressive Mayan ruins.

Read 5492 Cozumel Reviews

I expected Grand Cayman to be very plastic. Safe, orderly, posh, and prim. And, yeah, that's how it was. There are some planted gardens and nice landscaped palm trees along golf courses or on hotel grounds, but Grand Cayman can't compare with the natural beauty of Jamaica, Antigua, Dominica, or St. Lucia.

On the other hand, the water in Grand Cayman is miraculous. The greens and blues of the sea are like nothing I've seen elsewhere. (Okay, yes, I've seen the incredible "Caribbean blue" in Aruba, St. Thomas, and Cozumel, but it still was more than fantastic in Grand Cayman.) Holding a baby loggerhead turtle at the Cayman Turtle Farm and petting tame stingrays while snorkeling are experiences I don't think anyone would forget.

There is some shopping in George Town, but I think the main thing to enjoy is the water. So yes, it's stiff (although not unfriendly) and has a slightly fake feel, but spend most of your time in or on the water, and you'll have made the most of your day in Grand Cayman.

I had been told by more than one person that Jamaica was unpleasant, even to the point that we should "just stay on the ship." So, wow, we had low expectations. I actually enjoyed Jamaica a fair amount. We went to Rose Hall, a haunted historic plantation outside of Montego Bay. The guide was informative and friendly, and the bus ride there made me feel like I got to see a little bit of the countryside instead of just the shops. On the way back we stopped at a craft market and a central shopping district. Okay, now the craft market was exactly what the people meant when they said they didn't like Jamaica. Even though I was told to expect extremely aggressive merchants doing anything they could to cajole you into buying their wares, I wasn't quite prepared for it. They are charming and they work on your guilt (oh, please, just a quick look. Give me a chance, darlin') and they talk a mile a minute. On the one hand, it didn't really bother me that much, but on the other, I am kind of a pushover for that kind of thing, and I ended up spending a lot more than I should have. (I did get a beautiful little painting for $12.) The wise people on our tour stayed on the bus during the craft market stop and only emerged at the shopping plaza to buy blue mountain coffee, Tortuga rum cakes, and mahogany boxes in a much calmer environment.

The part of Jamaica I saw was actually very beautiful. I don't think it can quite compete with St. Lucia or Dominica, but the mountains and the abundance of flowers and lush palm trees made me think "gosh, this is a nice place." I've heard that Jamaica is extremely poor, but there was only a little evidence of shanty-town poverty in the area we passed through. Of course, the touristy areas are going to be kept up, but I've been to India and Rio de Janeiro, and the poverty I've seen in the Caribbean (although I've never been to Haiti) seems much less devastating. Still I was happy that Carnival invited 150 underprivileged Jamaican kids to spend the day on the ship and give them a free show. I'm also now interested in giving money to Jamaican charities and helping groups like JFLAG (homophobia in Jamaica is a problem) because it seemed like such a great place in so many ways. One thing I noticed was that every guide we had on that tour sang a song, and that's something I've never experienced elsewhere. I'm happy I didn't stay on the ship.

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Member Since 2009
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