Disastrous ending to an otherwise decent cruise: Carnival Conquest Cruise Review by HoustonTom

Carnival Conquest 4
Member Since 2010
95 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Disastrous ending to an otherwise decent cruise

Sail Date: September 2011
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Galveston
This is my 6th cruise and first on Carnival. We chose this cruise because either the wife or I had been to Jamaica or the Cayman Islands, and a good price coupled with a Galveston departure (no plane connections) made it a good value.
We had heard rumors of the excessive party atmosphere on Carnival ships, so we planned the trip after school resumed to reduce the risk. Unfortunately, that is also the peak of Hurricane season, so we decided to play Hurricane Roulette on the Conquest.

The boat was late in arriving because of a medical emergency at the last port.

Galveston cruise terminal is not well suited to large cruise ships when the debarking/embarking of passengers overlap. It took 3.5 hours from arriving at the terminal to enter our room.
The ship is nice but it could use a little sprucing up in some areas (like rust around the balcony fixtures).

Food: Not as good as the other cruises I have taken, but still A LOT better than I would have eaten More if I stayed home. The dining room had significantly better food than the buffet. On other Cruise lines there seemed to be less distinction between the two.

Room: Very nice and comfortable. This was our first balcony stateroom on a cruise, and future cruises will definitely include one. One thing we noticed was the Hot water with LOTS of pressure for a relaxing shower.

Service: Excellent service from all the staff. Hats off to them.
Excursions: See below

Internet: I MUST be connected to the net, so I can track my investments, and in this case I wanted to closely monitor the weather. We purchased the 240 minute block for about $85. There were many times when I could not get a connection at peak times, and response times were horrible when you do get connected. Hint: estimate the number of minutes you will need and double it. Also make sure your Pc is fully updated before you get on the ship to avoid downloading updates over the slow connection. Also build favorites at home for all the sites you think you night need (weather in port cities for example).

Entertainment: The Shows are pretty low rent. However, there are some very talented bands that play in different locations around the ship. We found one that we really liked and found ourselves planning our evenings to listen to a couple hours of their music.

Casino: I like to gamble, and the slots are typical cruise ship odds. Save your money and buy a lottery ticket (much better odds).

What I missed: Prior cruises had a dedicated TV channel that showed the location of the ship, weather and sea conditions, time to port, etc. One passenger brought his GPS so he could monitor the ships location. I will include my GPS as part of my standard Cruise gear.

What I will remember:
As we were leaving the Cayman Islands, A rainstorm just offshore dropped a waterspout within mile of the ship and I got some awesome photographs.

And unfortunately this:
Our Stateroom was on deck 6 about 1/3 from the stern on the Starboard/Right side. I always sit on our balcony as we leave/enter ports, and also view the sunrises and sunsets. The wife normally stays inside the cabin as we enter/leave ports. Thursday evening I forced her to join me on the balcony as we left Cozumel. She joined me about 6:15 PM and we were discussing what side of the city was east / West.
About 6:27 there was a scream from a balcony on the 8th deck about mid-ship. That general area had been pretty rowdy a couple of evenings, so we first assumed they were party screams. But the tone of the screams was different and continued hysterically. I heard a lady scream He is dead.
When we heard the screams, we looked up to see where they were coming from. Others nearby came out on their balconies in response to the noise, but none of us knew what happened.
The wife said she saw crew members in the Bridge running from side to side in a panic fashion..

About 6:36 the captain came on the emergency intercom (it has speakers in every room vs. the normal PA system which only has speakers in the hallway). The only words were Bravo Starboard. By this time it was obvious something was abnormal and it became clear someone was overboard when 2 life rings were thrown overboard at 6:32. (Actual time taken from the pictures I took).

3 minutes later at exactly 6:35 (the ship was still travelling about 12-15 knots) another life ring with a Smoking flare was thrown overboard from somewhere in the front of the ship.
I would estimate it was another 8-10 minutes before the ship slowed down enough to use the bow and stern thrusters to turn the ship around. I have never seen a ship turn that fast before.

After turning we started slowly moving back toward Cozumel.
At 6:50 the wife and I went up to deck 9 (open deck) so we would have sight access from both sides of the ship. I tried to use the stairs to go up another deck to the stern and was turned away by crew members.

I little further forward we were able to use the stairs to go to deck ten. All of the passengers were crowded off the Port side (left) railing.

The wife saw an officer on the right side talking to 4 people so she walked over to them. She waved me over and the crew member was interviewing two ladies that witnessed the event. The first may have been the lady that we heard scream. She was in her mid-forties and was shaking as she told the story. She was sitting on her balcony on deck 8 when the person dropped from a higher deck and hit the water face down. She said he never moved as the ship continued to speed past. Her husband was inside the Cabin and did see anything

The second lady (in her 20s) was laying in the sundeck area with another girlfriend and saw a man in his late 20s-early 30s climb up on the railing of deck 10 and jump overboard. She said there was a woman with him and she did nothing when he jumped. No scream. No reaction. By the time she got up and looked overboard he was gone.

Later, our steward said he heard the CLAP sound that body makes when it hits the water from a 90-100 ft height
We came back to our room about 7:00 pm
The PA intercom paged C*** M****** - room xxxx multiple times.
The cruise director came on the intercom at 7:15 and announced there was a person lost overboard and the ship was assisting in the search. By this time it was almost dark and we only saw 2 other small boats searching. They had no searchlights or any ability to see at night. No helicopters or other aircraft were present.

Another announcement at 8:00pm said the person had been identified and his companions and family had been notified.
After a total search time of about 1 hour, it was obvious our ship had stopped searching and we were resuming our return trip to Galveston. 30 minutes later, the Cruise director announced that our ship had been released from the search and we were free to resume our return trip. 3 Mexican law agency vessels would continue the search.

The regulations in Mexican waters are apparently MUCH different from international or US waters. We talked to a retired oil driller that owned his own business and drilled offshore wells. He said in International waters a boat or platform would not be released for at least 12 hours after a lost person/death report. In Mexico it is 60 minutes.
Another announcement at about 12:15pm Friday. The captain announced over the emergency PA system that the missing guest was still not found and 3 Mexican vessels were still searching. He also announced that our arrival in Galveston was delayed about 1 hour. Less

Published 10/07/11

Cabin review: 8C6441 Balcony

The location was convenient for dining, Lounge deck (5)and access to the lido deck. Downside: A slight elevator noise at night. Balcony was nice.

Read All Balcony (8C) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

In Cozumel we chose to keep our feet dry (No water based excursions). We tried to book the Salsa and Salsa event based on internet comments. They are in negotiations with Carnival to add them to excursion options, but the boat did not yet offer the trip. Because they are in negotiations, they would not allow us to book directly with them. Plan B. We took a cab ($7) to the Plaza so the wife could shop. On the way there (15 minutes), it started pouring rain. She wandered around the small shops to the East of the Plaza. We both got soaking wet (so much for keeping our feet dry). After a couple of hours the rain stopped and we had lunch in a small restaurant/bar down an ally to the west of the Plaza. Excellent steak fajitas for 2 for $11! A little more shopping, cab back to the boat, and some rest before departure
Read 5490 Cozumel Reviews

The water clarity approaching the Caymans is some of the clearest I have seen in the Caribbean. The Caymans are much more upscale than Jamaica. And items (i.e. Booze) cost considerably more. I had researched the best Stingray city tour, and Moby Dick kept getting favorable comments. I traded emails with them to reserve a spot. The outfit is run by several Englishman that obviously love what they do. After finding their awning and signing up, we briefly walked around Grand Cayman and returned to their Awning at the specified time. Our group of about 15 was taken to an old blue school bus for the 15-20 minute drive to the dock. (Thank goodness it had retrofitted A/C). The bus driver was pleasant and pointed out the main sites along the way. We boarded the boat and were fitted for snorkeling gear while another guide gave an overview of stingrays, how to hold, how to feed, how to react to their behavior. The boat driver was quite funny in that English sort of way. The Stingray sandbar was very crowded with cruise ship excursions so he took us to the snorkeling reef first. It was about mile from the Stingrays and the water depth was 7 ft. Water clarity was good (20+ ft) and one of the guides located his Pet Moray Ell for us to see and photograph. About 1 hour later we were off to Stingray City. There were fewer boats now, and the guides Herded 15-20 rays for our group. The guides made sure that everyone handled, fed, and kissed the rays if they wished. The rays are intimidating at first because they rub and massage your body. After swimming with them for 30 minutes you get used to them and their antics. On the way back one of the guides unexpectedly dove in the water from the moving boat to retrieve a starfish for the guests to hold and photograph before returning it to the water. We also had a Dolphin escort for about 15 minutes of our return to the dock. I strongly recommend the Stingray tour, and specifically Moby Dick tours ($45) They went all out to make sure all the guests had a great time. Before returning to the ship, we walked around the port city for a couple of hours.

Of all our ports, I was the most pleasantly surprised by Jamaica. (I think because of all the negative comments I had very low expectations) After researching attractions in Jamaica, the wife and I decided on Dunn's River Falls. I tried to book a 3rd party trip, but none of the recommended tour guides for Dunn's River travel from Montego Bay. So we were forced to book the Carnival excursion. The tour departures in Montego Bay were very disorganized. One would think with all the practice they would have the process perfected. They were constantly checking our tickets and tell us to get in another line. We assumed that the line would form behind the sign listing our tour (Duh). Our group of about 16 was herded to a bus that would seat about 24. I sat in the passenger seat of the mid-sized underpowered bus to Ocho Rios and the falls. The 1 3/4 hour bus trip was scary. Passing trucks on hidden curves, and at the last minute sneaking ahead of the passed truck. Tailgating the vehicle in front by 5 foot at 50 MPH is SOP. The tour guide was pleasant and did a good job pointing out all the sites. After that there was a detailed history lesson on Jamaica (more than some wanted). If you want to know the shoe size of the official on the Jamaican $2 bill, you will enjoy it. I could not hear a word of what she said since the diesel engine noise between me and the driver drowned out her speech. The falls were very crowded and the guide was not clear where we would meet after climbing the falls. Eventually we got the group reassembled and made the 10 minute drive to the Dolphin cove beach where the Dolphin encounters are held. A hamburger was served (very bad) and we left on our own without a clear meting point or time. You can view the Dolphins doing their tricks in the adjacent pond, the sand beach was nice, and facilities include spring-fed showers to wash off the salt and sand. We found the guide and asked when and where to meet. At the specified time we returned and could not locate our guide or other members of our group. We finally located another couple and they were frantically looking for the guide (they had not been given a time or place). We finally located the guide in another area and she led us to the bus where others were waiting. Since this tour requires a lengthy bus ride, it provides an excellent opportunity to see most of Jamaica's south coast, and Dunn River Falls is one of those tourist attractions you have to do once. I downgraded my rating because of the disorganization of the tour. And the constant begging and harassment of the vendors near the falls is irritating.

Compare Prices on Carnival Conquest Eastern Caribbean Cruises

Read more Carnival Conquest cruise reviews >>
Read Cruise Critic’s Carnival Conquest Review >>

Compare Prices on Carnival Conquest Eastern Caribbean Cruises

Member Since 2010
95 Forum Posts
Enrichment Activities
Family & Children
Fitness & Recreation
Onboard Experience
Public Rooms
Shore Excursions
Value for Money
Skip X

See Carnival Conquest deals up to 82% off:

October Deals
Carnival Conquest 73% Loved It

8 Day Exotic Southern Caribbea
See all Carnival Conquest Deals >>