Overall, I give the Carnival Conquest high marks. This cruise was a great fit for my family (husband, wife in their early 40's and two teenage boys). I wouldn't recommend this cruise for older couples. Let me give you the highs and lows starting with the highs...the boat itself is huge and well decorated. The cabins are spacious and very user friendly. The boat was immaculate. Staff was very friendly. Shows and entertainment was good. Excellent casino (I like the fact that there was always $5 tables available). Food was better than average and the Supper Club is a very good value. Nice gym and spa. Plenty of deck chairs. Lots of night spots with enough variety to satisfy most folks.
My youngest son LIVED in the teen club. It was a big hit with him. And now the lows...embarkation was a MESS. 3600 people all trying to get on the same time was very frustrating. I'd suggest they stagger check in times. Disembarkment was also frustrating but not as bad as getting aboard. The shore time wasn't long enough. In Caymans and Jamaica you had to be back by 3pm. Bar drinks were expensive and the soda cards are overpriced. Televison choices were minimal and not well thought out...for example, they had Spanish ESPN but not regular ESPN??? 80 % of the ship was from Texas or a surrounding state but they used the network feed out of Denver. Denver is on Mountain Time but the ship is on Central time. It would be much more logical to use either Dallas/Ft Worth or Houston feeds.
The pools were OK but the hot tubs were tepid. It would also be nice if they had a designated adult only pool...they did have an adult only hot tub but kids were in it constantly...if the parents can't read, then the ship security should enforce the rules. They need a better program for the 18-21 year olds. My 18 old son couldn't enter the teen club and he wasn't allowed to drink in the adult bars. Ironically, gambling at 18 was perfectly fine. I also wish they could find an alternate port from Montego Bay...Jamaica is an absolute dump. I've been all over the world and have never experienced a more scary place. All in all, I think the Conquest was a very good value. We came away with a different opinion of Carnival in general...it's not the "low-end party ship" as their reputation suggests.
First time cruisers, I'm 51,wife is 45, three boys ages 10,17,18. We have just returned from a wonderful vacation on the Conquest. We left Galveston and visited the islands of Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.We were pleased with the cruise and Carnival exceeded all expectations we had.The ship was clean and neat, the staff was wonderful and the food for the most part was very good. I would like to address a few concerns I read on this web site about the Conquest.
There was one small area of the ship that smelled of sewage, but otherwise the ship was odor free except for the smokers. The casino reeked of cigarette smoke but the parts of the ship I frequented, Lido deck, Promenade deck, all outdoor areas and the Renoir dining room were smoke free. The food was great on board except for lunch in the Cezzane dining room, I didnt enjoy the selections on our days at sea but there are plenty of other options on board. Kudos must be handed out to the wait staff on the entire ship, they were kind, helpful and incredibly entertaining, I will neverforget the "showtime" during our evening meals when the wait staff would dance and sing to everyone's enjoyment. Our waiter was Marcus and he was awesome. Cruise director Todd was fun with plenty of activities to enjoy if thats your bag. Our steward was Alfred and our room was clean and neat everytime I entered it. The ship experience was great and the most relaxing time I've ever had on vacation.
Our shore excursions were all fun, we did the Rose Hall Beach Resort, great fun for the youngest at the water park. The rest of Jamaica was beautiful I'm sure but Montego Bay is not a good place to wander around, get a tour and see the rest of the Island, or at least take a cab from the dock and go to Sunset Beach, great place and just 5 minutes from the boat. Grand Cayman and Cozumel are lovely islands with friendly people, we did the jeep and snorkle tours and were pleased with both, lots of fish, great scenery, pristine beaches and plenty of good food. Miguel and Andre of the "Eco Jeep and Snorkle tour" in Cozumel were awesome, you would have a great time with these two. Our trip was fantastic, hats off to Carnival's Conquest and it's staff, it is a "Funship" as they say.
This was our first cruise and overall we found that it exceeded our expectations. Our cabin, 7434, was perfect and the balcony was absolutely awesome. Spent many mornings and evenings just watching the world go by.
Embarkation: We flew in to Houston on Saturday and then drove down to Galveston on Sunday morning. We arrived very early and drove around Galveston for awhile and then turned in the rental car. Hertz drove us to the terminal and we went in at 9:05. We were the first ones to sit in the green chairs. Met a real nice couple, they were second to arrive, and they had cruised before so they helped us with our questions. The Carnival personnel were great and advised us that those sitting in the chairs would be the first to proceed to the check in counter. 11:00AM: Check in was a breeze and then we went and sat in some more chairs waiting for our boarding photo. Then it was onto the ship, 1205PM, and our security photo for our sail and sign card. Then onto Lido deck for some food and umbrella drinks. We went tothe Spa and made appointments for messages and pedicures. About 1:30PM we went down to our cabin and found it to be ready for us. We unpacked, sat on our balcony for awhile and then our room steward came and introduced himself. I told him that it was our first cruise and that if he took good care of us, I would take good care of him at the end of the cruise. He took excellent care of us and then I took good care of him at the end of the cruise.!!!!!!!! These people work their can off trying to please their customers.
Muster Drill: Necessary evil, hot and took longer than necessary, but very informative.
4:30PM: We departed Galveston, absolutely invigorating. Sat on our balcony and watched our send off, drank a little wine, ate the chocolate covered strawberries I had ordered for the wife, sat back and enjoyed. Then we walked around the ship, went down to the Monet room and found our table, table for two. We then just took a quick tour of the ship. Went to the embarkation talk and I must say that Malcolm, our cruise director, made everything very clear, especially about the shows and comedy shows being somewhat risqué.
8:00PM: Went to dinner, wait staff were very attentive and professional. Had some college aged boys at a table next to us, two were late arriving and one of them started using some pretty foul language, well on his way to inebriation. Waitress went and informed the Matr'd, he immediately advised the young boys that the language would not be tolerated and they complied. It was handled very professionally and discreetly by the staff. Food was excellent, in fact never had any bad food anywhere on the ship and we tried it all. After dinner we checked out the shops and the casino. Went back to our cabin and enjoyed the ocean ambience from the balcony.
Minor problem: Our air conditioning was not functioning properly, could not adjust the temperature. Just about froze Sunday night, even with the balcony door was open. Notified our room steward first thing in the morning and he called the electrician to fix it. We still could not adjust the temp but we liked the door open so we could hear the ocean sounds. It was much more comfortable the rest of the week.
Monday: First Formal night, put on the tux, the wife put on her dress and we headed down for our formal night photos. I thought I looked pretty good in my tux, but the photographer took one photo of both the wife and I and then told me to move out and took several more poses of just the wife. Oh well I guess she was much more photogenic than me. Went to the Monet room and had a great meal. After dinner we changed into more comfortable clothing. After the meal we had just consumed, we both needed a little more room. Went and watched the Las Vegas show and then stayed up after midnight to see Phat Kat. Yes the dancers wore skimpy clothing at times, but I saw more skin at breakfast and lunch buffets and around the pool. Most of the time they had full length gowns on. Oh yes Phat Kat used some foul language, but nothing I did not hear the first night we ate at the Monet room. Remember Malcolm told us that it would be a little risqué. The show was well worth it, he is a very funny man.
Rescue mission: We were awakened about 1230 in the morning when the ship stopped to pick up 28 Cuban's that were stranded in a small sail boat about 150 miles north of Jamaica. The captain launched a life boat and brought them aboard the ship. The Captain kept us informed of their condition for the next couple of days. They were eventually taken off outside of Galveston on Sunday.
Jamaica: We took the Appleton Rum tour, so we did not get to go downtown. This tour is a long drive, but we made our own fun on the way. Very steep and curvy road, both directions. Our tour guide taught us a new saying "It is no problem, mon, it is just a situation". Thought that was cute. Very interesting tour, got our fill of rum and then some. Had a very nice lunch as well. The drive to the rum factory and back can be somewhat depressing, since you see where and how the natives live. It is a real reality check for us folks that can afford to travel to these places. We thanked God for what we have.
The Point: After watching our departure from Jamaica, we put on our fancy go to meeting duds and went to The Point. If you want to be pampered with fine dining, this is the place to go. Well worth the extra $30.00 each. Seven course meal, with some of the best food I have ever eaten.
Grand Cayman: Tendered onto Grand Cayman after waiting in the Toulouse Lautrec Lounge for what seemed to be forever. The ship had some problems with customs clearing the ship. I had scheduled Stingray City and Snorkeling tour through Captain Marvin's, at 11:15. We did get onto the Island with plenty of time to walk around town, get something cold to drink, by some jewelry for the wife and get to Captain Marvin's in plenty of time. The two man crew that took us out in the boat were fantastic. Gave us plenty of time to snorkel and plenty of time at Stingray City. They had a young man videoing the whole trip. (DVD $55.00) they caught a stingray and we were all given an opportunity to hold, pet and kiss the stingray. They said kissing a stingray in Grand Cayman insured sevens years good luck. We had some people come over from another ship, because their guides did not catch a stingray. Highly recommend Captain Marvin's for this excursion. We arrived back just in time to stand in line, about three blocks long, to get a tender back to the ship. Line did move fairly fast though. Grand Cayman is a pretty expensive Island, for drinks that is. One non-alcoholic and one with was $15.75. This Island is very beautiful and prosperous.
Back on the Ship: We did not feel like getting all gussied up to go to the second formal night, so we just ate at the grill on Lido deck, after watching our departure from our balcony. Went down to the casino for a couple of hours, lost of course.
Cozumel: Tendered onto the Island, again long wait in the Toulouse Lautrec Lounge, but not to long. We just walked around town, no excursions scheduled. Wife bought some items from the vendors. We made our way down to Carlo's and Charlie's for lunch and a couple of margaritas. Great food, drinks and entertainment. We then hired one of the horse and buggy carriages for about a forty minute tour of Cozumel, $30.00 but with tip we paid $40.00. Very interesting and a great way to see the town, especially after a couple of large margaritas. The natives have done a great job rebuilding after the hurricane, only a couple of buildings and the piers still need to be rebuilt, at least along the beach front.
Back on the Ship: As we were getting onto the tender a young lady got her foot crushed by the gangplank right behind me. Be careful when stepping onto the gangplank, it moves as the tender rocks with the seas. In this incident the gangplank rolled back on down onto her foot. She was in a lot of pain. The tender left immediately and got her to the ships infirmary. Once back on the ship we took the wife's new possessions to the cabin, freshened up and watched our departure from Cozumel. Since we had such a large lunch in Cozumel we just went to the Grill on Lido deck. By the way the frozen yogurt was so cold the wife had to blow on it to warm it up, it was good to the last bite. We then went to the casino for a couple of hours, won back what I lost earlier in the week plus about $40.00. Spent more than that on drinks while gambling though, still had a great time.
Very Ill Passenger: We were awakened about 12:30 AM Saturday by vibration from the ship. Could see land off the back of the ship. Checked my compass and it indicated we were traveling in a southeasterly direction. Even at that hour I new that Galveston was north of Cozumel. Found out later that an elderly woman became very ill and we had to turn around and take her back to Cancun. We were about 6 nautical miles north of Cancun when we turned around. The Captain then put us in high gear and we were back in Galveston by 8:00AM Sunday.
Another Stop: We stopped just outside of Galveston so the Coast Guard could board the ship and take the Cuban's into custody. They will be returned to Cuba eventually.
Debarkation: Spent more time in the Toulouse Lautrec Lounge waiting for our color to be called. First they call the colors for the people that are going to self assist off the ship. This is those that are going to carry their own luggage off the ship. After that they start to call the colors for those of us that had too much luggage to carry ourselves. We were off at about 10:30. Then you find your luggage and go through Customs. I found mine very easily, because I read these boards, by marking my luggage in a unique manner. Now since I am a law enforcement officer I have access to yellow crime scene tape. Wrapped a large bow around the handles of my luggage and the luggage handlers had all three bags together. Other than standing in line, Customs was a breeze. Then it was onto the rental car company to get the car and then onto Lake Charles, LA for another week of vacation.
Overall: We had wonderful weather and very calm seas the whole week. Would never cruise without a balcony. Our room was the last room before the corner of the ship on the port side, this gave us an extra large balcony (twice the size of the others on the side of the ship). The Conquest is huge, but once you figure out that you use either the Lido or Panorama decks to get from one end of the ship to the other, it is easy to navigate around the ship. We cruised during Texas spring break, about 1500 of the 3700 aboard were under the age of 21. Though there were a lot of kids we were not bothered by them at all. Every employee we encountered was very polite and professional. They answered all of our questions and attended to us in every way possible. Of course we were always polite and respectful to them, so I guess you reap what you sow. Did not use everything we brought with us, from reading the message boards, but if we did need anything we had it. Did not use the bungee cord, used the balcony table to prop open the door. Did not use magnets to keep the air conditioning on while the door was open. Did not use the walkie talkies. I think that is about it, concerning this cruise, other than to say that our Carnival PVP was partially responsible for our fantastic cruise, after all she is the one that talked me into taking the cabin that I did. She responded to all of my emails and phone calls in an expeditious manner and answered all of my questions. I have taken the time to write her and Captain Marvin's expressing my thanks for a job well done and received immediate responses from both of them. We are no longer first time cruisers, but are now future cruisers.
Photos Posted on Cruisemates. com
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Conquest by Cindy Western Caribbean February 26, 2006
Just returned today from a 7 day cruise with husband and two boys. The Conquest is a beautiful boat but I found it to be way too crowded. Seems like we were always standing in line waiting for something. I believe if Carnival booked less guests this would be a more enjoyable vacation. The entertainment was good, and the staff was very friendly. The buffet food definitely needs some work. The dining room food was better but nothing to brag about. There was also an extremely unpleasant odor throughout the ship the entire cruise. My kids had a great time, but we will most likely try Royal Carribean should we decide to cruise again.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Conquest by astros fan Western Caribbean January 8, 2006
Who we are: Three longtime friends all about 30 years old. We are a very laid back group who is just as happy to do nothing as to be on the go all of the time. This is my third cruise, second on Carnival. We cruised on the Elation last year. We had a wonderful trip this year, but I think I prefer the smaller ships. More on this later.
Parking/Embarkation We drove in from north Houston on Sunday morning. We had pre-booked with EZ Cruise Parking ($45 for the week). They were easy to find, we arrived around 11:15 and were immediately put on a bus with our luggage. As we were talking one of the ladies, asked if I was Astros Fan. Then we both started laughing, it was someone from our roll call. That was a nice way to start our cruise.
We arrived at the terminal just a few minutes later and walked right into the security line. They had already started loading. So, we just got in line and walked slowly until we wereon board. I would guess no more than 45 minutes start to finish. We only had a few people who felt like there time was more important than ours. We were on vacation, so it didn't bother us.
Our Room We were on the Panorama Deck in room 1032. It was like the other inside rooms we have been in. The movement up there is pretty drastic. I liked being close to things, but probably will try to stay lower next time.
We went right up to our room, my carry on was heavy and I wanted to drop it outside of our room. But, to our surprise, the room was already ready. Our room stewardess was very friendly. We did have a couple of issues, the one that really was not taken care of to our satisfaction was the fact that we did not receive Capers on a couple of occasions. However, if that is your biggest problem - what a great trip. When we discovered (late) that we did not have them we went to the purser's desk and they couldn't help either. Apparently, they don't get them until the day of.
So, after dropping off our stuff we wandered down to the Lido deck for our first meal of the week. Pizza of course. We had a couple of drinks of the day, and just relaxed and watched the world outside. It seemed like as soon as we set sail the seas became very rough. They really didn't calm down until the next day.
We went to the welcome aboard show and really enjoyed it. The ventriloquist was very funny. We made plans to see his late night show later in the week, but never made it. Then we went to dinner (in the Renoir). We had wonderful tablemates and really enjoyed dinner and their company. Our wait staff worked really hard, but things seemed to be slow all week. I think they may have been stretched too thin. They had great personalities and were a lot of fun. We ate dinner in the dining room every night. We really enjoyed the food as well as our tablemates. I did notice a large percent of people wearing jeans in the dining room. Again, it was vacation, so did it bother us - no way!!!
After dinner we went down and watched/listened to some karaoke. Any one who went to Karaoke will understand this - it was excellante'.
First day at sea/second day at sea Our first and second days at sea looked and felt very much alike. We spent a lot of time just relaxing and enjoying being aboard.
We got a nice somewhat early start to the day and hit the gym, that way we wouldn't feel guilty for just sitting around the rest of the day. Next stop the steam room. Then we made our way down to the breakfast buffet. Yes, it is pretty much the same all week, but we always found things we liked. After that we went our on deck for a little while to try to catch some sun and read a little. The day was overcast, so no sun for us.
We met up with our new roll call friends and really enjoyed getting to know everyone. It was nice to finally put a face with some of the names. We went to see the newlywed/not so newlywed game and enjoyed it. Then we went down for some lunch and ice cream. We finally made our way out on to deck 3. What a wonderful place to take a nap and listen to the ocean. The seas were a little rough, but it made for a great nap. We were the only ones our there for the longest time. After our nap and time to read we did some exploring around the ship. We found all of the places we thought we might like to visit.
On Tuesday we again hit the gym and this time the sauna. We didn't feel like trekking down to breakfast, so room service it was. We went with the nontraditional breakfast, chicken wraps and pb and j. It was all wonderful.
We really liked the fact that there was an early show for the late seating people, as we are not night owls. We enjoyed the shows that we saw.
Jamaica I have read all kinds of reviews about Jamaica, and decided to go with a private tour. It was a wonderful choice. We booked the Mayfield Falls tour directly through Trevor Hudlin. He picked us up right inside of the cruise terminal and took us (11 people, 9 from our roll call) to Mayfield Falls. Along the way he sang, gave history, answered questions, taught us a song and visited with us. He also stopped and bought bananas for our entire group. He was very personable and gave a wonderful tour. Several times he stopped and would pick a plant to show us or point out the different things we were seeing. Some of the roads to Mayfield Falls are quite scary (curvy and narrow), but I always felt safe. Once we arrived at the falls he walked us down to the main entrance and made sure everything was as we wanted it. The falls themselves were beautiful. It was a fairly easy climb and our group laughed and joke the whole way. The three people in my party agree, this was probably one of the best things we have done. As soon as we came out of the falls Trevor was right there waiting for us and walked us back to the van. On the way back down out of the mountains, he stopped and bought us some sugar cane to try. This is just one of the many things that puts Trevor at the very top of my list of tours. We then drove through town and had lunch at the Pork Pit. The food here was very good, you can get a good sized meal for between $5-10. Our last stop was at a hotel/resort overlooking the city.
Grand Cayman We took Captain Marvin's half-day trip with snorkeling and stingrays. It was a wonderful trip. The crew was very professional, and helpful. I have done some snorkeling in Belize and didn't feel like we saw as many fish in GC, but it was still a nice snorkel. Swimming with, feeding, and touching the stingrays was an amazing experience. The tour would probably been worth the cost just for that. I loved the tour, the only issue I had was that it felt rushed. We cruised out to the snorkel stop at a pretty good clip. We got what seemed like 15 minutes as each snorkel spot and then a little longer with the rays. We were rushed back on the boat and then took a slow ride back in and spent quite a bit of time going around looking at homes. As I said, it was a wonderful trip, but I would have preferred less time on the boat and more time in the water. We were back in time to do a little shopping and still catch the tender.
Cozumel We took a cab to Paradise Beach. We did not get in a rush to get off of the ship, so I figured we would have a hard time finding chairs. However, when we arrived, there were only a handful of people there. We found 3 chairs and an umbrella just off of the water. Our waiter was right there to offer drinks and food. We went out and snorkeled, it's not great, but I did go out beyond the toys and found quite a few fish and one sea anemone. Then we had a round of drinks (nice and strong) and an order of chips and guacamole (which was very good). We then took a cab back to town and did some shopping. We did talk to some friends who all paid a different amount to get there. We paid $13, they paid $14 and $15. When we got ready to go back we were told it would be $15, I must have had a questioning look, because he asked how much we had paid to get there, then he agreed to that price.
Last sea day- Very rough seas. We spent lots of time trying not to be sick. We tried to sit on deck and the wind was really whipping. We eventually made it to what could be called the "lukewarm" tubs. We met up with our roll call group one last time for a nice visit. Even with the rough seas we enjoyed the day at sea and soaked up the last bit of relaxation.
Kudos for Carnival To us, our room was rather warm. We were told by our tablemates to call down and they would fix it. So, we called down and they sent someone up within 15 minutes. He worked on it and left. We never really felt it cool off, so the next night we called back down and explained that we had called before, but didn't really feel any change. They said they didn't have someone to send right then, but that they would send up a fan. Within about 15 minutes we had a box fan. We were perfectly satisfied with this solution and almost forgot that someone would be coming up to look at the ac. Within about Â½ an hour there was another knock on our door. The man looked at it and said it was set as low as it would go. We were okay with that since we had the fan. The next morning we noticed something in our "mail box". Carnival had sent 6 free drink coupons to us for the trouble. Carnival really stepped up even with this small issue.
Overall We had a wonderful trip, no real complaints. Was everything perfect? no, but I didn't expect it to be. I could not point to a single thing that I didn't really like. So, I guess it comes down to the overall feel. I like the feel of a smaller ship a little better. Does that mean I wouldn't cruise on a large ship again? Absolutely not! Just point me in the direction of the nearest ship.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Conquest by SteveB Western Caribbean November 27, 2005 This was our second cruise, both on Carnival ships. This review might be a little long but it just might help you decide which cruise is best for you. Here's a little background on us. Wer'e a 40ish married couple, no kids and blue collar(ish) types. Our ship was to leave out of Galveston Texas on Sunday the 27th of November. We arrived in Houston via Southwest airlines from Chicago on the Friday before and had Galveston limo shuttle take us to Quality Inn and Suites in Galveston. We paid $62.00 a night for a king bed with a fridge and microwave in the room. Every room has a balcony as well overlooking the gulf.The shuttle cost was $50.00 per person round trip. We found this to be the best price around. It's a nice hotel across from the gulf and about a $12.00 taxi ride to the cruise terminal.There's also a great Mexican restaurant in front of the hotel too called Tortuga.While in Galveston we went over to the cruise terminal to check out things. It's located inthe Strand District, a very cool part of town. Lots of shops and restaurants.
On Sunday we arrived at the cruise terminal around 2:30pm. We brought a 12 pack of pop with us and put it in our suitcase to save some money. While checking our luggage with the porter we saw a guy checking in 2 cases of beer. They did not seem to have a problem with this. (If only I had known!)Check in was pretty quick and took about an hour. We received a gold sail and sign card since we were on a Carnival cruise before. The gold card meant nothing though as far as perks.We had a inside room on the Rivera deck in the Aft. The room was two doors down from the self laundry which was great. The room itself was great. Lots of closet space and even had a mini bar. The bathroom even had a soap and shampoo despenser on the wall with Dove products.Our room steward did a fine job everyday. We had a 6:00 pm dining time and went the first day but we sat at a table for four and didn't really care for the other couple. The rest of the week we ate up on the Lido deck which we liked since we don't do the dress up on vacation game.I'll never figure out why someone would wear a suit and tie on vacation. The food was awesome, never ate anything bad and the soups were outstanding.Breakfast was on the Lido deck as well was lunch when wern't in port. They did have a Mexican buffett late one night and the midnight buffett which were both good as well. The ship is huge but never seemed crowded at all. There were always available chairs by the pools.The shows were done very well and the comedians were great.The cruise director, Todd was ok.Sorta hammy and loved getting attention. Our last cruise director Lenny was better.The ship has something like 22 bars. There are lots of choices on this ship. The casino was well run and the staff was friendly. It took us 2 1/2 days to get to our first stop, Montego Bay Jamaica. To me that was too long on the ship.The weather everday was great, mostly in the upper 80's. In Mo Bay we did the Highlights and Shopping tour. Since we never been here before it turned out to be fun. The buses are cramped and small and since I'm 6 foot tall the ride wasn't much fun. We went all around Mo Bay neighborhoods and did the basic sightseeing things. We went to a craft market area where the sellers are REALLY aggressive,ten times worse then Mexico. They would not leave anyone alone. At first I thought it was fun but later it got really annoying. After that we went to a store front area where they're not as bad.At this place was the only time I was asked by some guy if I wanted to buy some smoke.I said not and that was the end of it.The final stop was Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. We ended up staying here the rest of the day (the tour went back to the ship). It's a very fun place, great margaritas and had live music on the top deck and a dj on the lower level.Drinks and food are pricy just to warn ya.They also have two water trampolines out on the water to swim and have fun on. We took a taxi back to the ship and were heading to Cayman Islands by 5pm. We found every Jamacian we ran into were very friendly and never once felt unsafe.
In Grand Cayman we tendered and rented a car since we were here before. Andys car rental was about $59.00 with all the insurance,temp license and gas. We drove to the East End and went to the Wreck of the Ten Sails and the basic sightseeing stuff. We also drove to Hell and to the turtle farm before finally dropping the car back off. We got a ride back to the tender area and did the shopping thing buying Rum and Rumcakes then walked over to the Hard Rock Cafe before returning to the ship. We did see some hurricane damage on the island but not to effect us. The final port was Cozumel Mexico. We had to tender here as well since the piers had hurricane damage. The tenders were huge and held about 500 people each.We tendered closer towards downtown. Wev'e also been here before and decided to just walk around checking out the shops, restaurants, etc. The sellers here were more aggressive then usual but it didn't bother us much. For lunch we ate at Ponchos Backyard. A great restaurant wev'e been to before on our last cruise. The margaritas are super strong (the way I like'em)and the food was awesome. On their website are coupons to print for free margaritas with lunch and dinner. We stayed here a long time before finally doing some final shopping for tequila. There is a place next door with over 200 kinds of tequila...choices, choices.
We tendered back and left (so my wife told me)about 5pm.
Our final day was at sea before returning to Galveston on Sunday morning. Disembarking was a little crazy. You can go thru this quicker if your willing to carry your own luggage off the ship.It seemed like it took forever to get off since the U.S Imigration was having a problem with the non- U.S citizens going thru customs first. We got off about 10.45am, and caught the shuttle back to Houston for a flight at 2:45pm. I would recommend a flight at the earilest of 2:30pm or later if your doing it on your own. Galveston isn't used to such a big cruise ship yet in their port. Overall we had a great time. Carnival Conquest is a great vessel and I everything went smoothly. I would have no problem cruising on the Conquest again although next time we might look for ports that take less then 2 1/2 days to get to first. Feel free to e-mail me if you have questions and I'll submit my pictures as well so be sure to check them out. Travel safe!
Continental provided an uneventful trip, unlike nightmare of flying American, on the previous cruise. The next time I will drive to Galveston though-airfare to Houston is always more expensive. Arriving in Houston, I found the first area of improvement needed for Carnival. The two young men representing Carnival were sitting down, and difficult to see in a crowded terminal. Their Royal Caribbean counterparts, were always standing, moving, and displaying their Royal Caribbean placards, over their heads. Since these two men were the first contact points, they need to be more visible. EMBARKATION: Arriving at the cruise terminal is the next area of improvement needed-not by Carnival but, by the City of Galveston. Traffic control is very disorganized. We sat on our bus in front of the terminal for 30 minutes before unloading of luggage could begin. Many personal passenger vehicles pulled infront of buses that were being directed to park in that location. Simple separate queues of shuttle vehicles and personal vehicles would enhance this process. Porters were not directed in a logical manner, but those porters were efficient once they started unloading.
Once inside the terminal, the entire process from entrance to boarding the ship was thirty minutes! That was the quickest and least painless yet. After reading previous reviews, I was pleasantly surprised how quick this went-well done on this point. As a note, Carnival’s online FunPass did nothing to speed the process-from now on - I fill out the FunPass sent with the mailed documents. CONQUEST: This is a large, beautiful ship; her crew was constantly cleaning, providing maintenance. Public restrooms were always cleaned or being cleaned. After the last cruise on the Victory, this was an area of concern. Other than one dirty carpet, she looked as she was on her maiden voyage. Walls were clean, railings were shiny and wood was spotlessly finished. My only complaints are Conquest is a cold ship and has indigestion. The temperatures in most public rooms, especially the Cezanne restaurant, required long sleeves. This lasted throughout the cruise. When we ate there, we usually sat outside as it was warmer. The other complaint, which subsided after day three, was the sewage odor. It appeared in unusual places, around the forward and aft elevators. Most noticeable, was on the journey down the hall to the Monet dining room. That tends to curb the appetite. Thankfully, it was not present in or near our cabin.
The crew was very professional, but not overly personal. Aldo, our room steward, was exceptional, keeping our room spotless, while providing and warm smile and greeting. CABIN: Our cabin was the farthest forward inside cabin. Other than the occasional loud-mouth kids in the hall, it was pretty quiet. The bedding was most comfortable, and the comforter was thick and beyond warm. We had to turn down the air when using the comforter-or just sleep with the top sheet. Even during the last two days of rougher weather (which we had the last two days), only slight movement could be felt during the night. Don’t waste time and money on Bonine, Conquest is very smooth-unless it’s hurricane season. Also, bring an outlet strip-there’s only one in the cabin.
Deck chairs were plenty anytime during the cruise, many were still stacked-another very pleasant surprise. The water slide was never crowded, nor was any of the pools or hot tubs. DINING: I’m not a picky diner and have always cruised with Carnival, so I knew what to expect. The Cezanne (Lido deck) restaurant needs some improvement, entrees tended to be repeated and bland. The desserts were very bland, sometimes barely edible. The Sur Mer (deck above the Cezanne) provided some tasty dishes. The Deli had some exceptional sandwiches, especially the Reuben. The grill provided good fries and decent meals; unfortunately the buns ruined the meal. Those buns should be relegated to skeet-shooting, unless a bun-steamer is installed in the future. As always, the pizza was outstanding – a long standing Carnival tradition lives on.
The formal dining was usually very good; highlights were the prime rib and chateaubriand-among many others. Only one night did the entrees just not do anything for us. Above all, order the crème Brule when it is available-I’ve tasted none better! However, the breakfast meals were not as appetizing. Service in Lido deck the dining areas were friendly and efficient. Tables were cleaned often, and empty tables were always available. Service in the aft formal dining room was unusual. They were professional and efficient, but not too personable. We had difficulty getting recommendations on entrees. They also never remember each diner’s personal likes and dislikes (no coffee, only one roll, etc.)-this was a first for us. ENTERTAINMENT: I really have issue with Carnival in this area. The crew did an excellent job in their duties. Todd and all his staff were entertaining, personable, and did an excellent job convey their sincerity in their jobs. However, this cruise was unusual in the ship had two large groups being catered to-a jazz group and casino group. I understand (and rightfully so) that the jazz group had paid a premium to be provided some famous artists that they exclusively could enjoy. And the casino group also paid a premium for using the casino facilities. My problem was Carnival (office in Miami) which must have decided that the rest of the customers did not need entertainment. There was one Broadway-style show (and very good), the rest of the cruise consisted of adult comedy, poor comedy and a poor ventriloquist. The single show each night was also at 11pm. In addition, the late shows were usually crowded as the two large groups attended the late show. Past cruises provided an early Broadway style show and the adult or other comedy was at 11 pm. As a result of this, I will no longer be cruising with Carnival. I most certainly will confirm whether a specialty-theme group(s) is involved. PORTS OF CALL: Montego Bay, Jamaica, we toured the Croydon plantation, which was interesting, but not spectacular. We had planned to go on the canopy zip line, but at $110/pp, that was too expensive. Next time I will pay my $40/pp and go to Sunset Beach. I did feel safe on the Carnival tour, but I would not have gone on a “personal” tour here. The horror stories you’ve heard of the Cozumel taxi drivers-well, they’re rookies compared to the excursion bus drivers of Jamaica. Next was Grand Cayman, I felt very safe and at ease here, I would not hesitate to book an online personal excursion here. The organization at the terminal could use improvement and expansion here. Tenders were fast and efficient in passenger delivery. We did the stingray/turtle farm tour through Carnival, at $70/pp. It was well worth the money-and highlight of the excursions. There is still much at damage when Ivan went through in 2004, but the beaches and most of the excursions were good. Standing in chest deep water, two miles from the nearest shore, while playing or feeding the stingrays was amazing. Our last stop was originally in Cozumel, which changed to Playa Del Carmen, then back to Cozumel after we left Grand Cayman. I’m glad I didn’t book anything online here, as hurricane Gamma forced our early departure, before any tenders left for Cozumel. I can’t blame Carnival for that, but learned to get my beach excursion in earlier, the next time we follow this itinerary. From what I could see from the deck of the ship, Cozumel, (the tourist trap at least) was up and running. Much damage was visible in other areas. DISEMBARKATION: I can’t critique too much here. I had read all the horror stories on this, so we carried our bags off. Those using this option are first off the ship. That was only a 25 minute process-quick and painless-I recommend it if you have a few bags. Twenty minutes later, the shuttle departed from Houston. We changed our e-tickets at Houston and arrived back home four hours ahead of schedule. Overall, I think Conquest is a beautiful, well-maintained ship, with a good crew and staff. Being the largest in Carnival’s ship classes, she did not seem as crowded as the Victory was. Without the theme groups and Carnival HQ not providing enough entertainment, I would recommend this cruise in a heartbeat. I believe that the City of Galveston has improved their service area to the Conquest, and eliminated the growing pains first experienced when she moved from New Orleans. Now if they can get traffic control under control-Conquest should have an enjoyable stay there.
Whenever we encountered any stewards in the hallway with the cleaning cart, they literally jumped behind the cart and out of our way to let us pass. They always had a smile on their faces and were always very polite. Our servers (Indi and Igor) were also excellent. After the first two meals, our favorite drink (iced tea) was always ready for us. Our servers also watched how our courses were progressing and promptly would bring the next course. They always fulfilled any special request promptly with a smile. At the end of the cruise, we warmly wished our steward and servers a fond farewell, as they had become our friends. Based on the actions of the other passengers, it seems that they felt the same way about their stewards and servers too. While Carnival collects gratuities in advance from all passengers, it was a common sight to see the passengers tip the stewards and servers on the last night. These tips were over and above the gratuities already collected from the passengers by Carnival, confirming the excellent service received by these very hard workers. The entertainment was good, especially the Comedian Phat Kat and the magician Diva. Due to the variety of activities, it never bothered us that we could not get off the ship for two and a half days. In Jamaica, we took a taxi to a shopping center where some of the Carnival recommended shopping stores were located. A word of caution. Verify the fare before getting into the taxi. It should only be three dollars. Our friends used the same taxi that charged us three dollars to go to the shopping center to return. As the taxi started off, the driver told them the price was five dollars per person for the trip. When they demanded to be dropped off immediately, the drive dropped the price to four dollars. As for my wife and me, we verified the return fare before entering the taxi. Our return fare was three dollars each. The Jamaica vendors bargain well, but are very polite. You can get things for about half the original asking price if you are persistent. When walking out of a store after unsuccessful bargaining, another vendor would politely invite us to visit his/her store. Taking advantage of this, we were escorted across the street (may be dangerous crossing by yourself because of the cars) by the vendors from the Old Fort Craft Park. The Old Fort Craft Park had a greater variety of handcrafts and was of much higher quality than the Carnival recommended stores. Surprisingly, we were not offered any drugs for sale during our time in Jamaica. Grand Cayman was a zoo. Six ships were in port at the same time and everyone was bumping elbows in port. Shopping was mainly for jewelry, rum, and rum cakes. I bought a Citizen watch for $69.95 on board the Conquest. The same watch was selling in the Grand Cayman duty free store for $80. The Tortuga rum cake ($19.95) was cheaper at the Tortuga rum factory than most stores in town ($26.95). We did find a food market in town that had the Tortuga rum 33-ounce cake on special for $19.95. Tortuga rum was $8.00 per liter at the factory. Did not check the prices in town. If you want to see something weird, see the rock formations in the town of “Hell.” I have never seen anything like it. Once you see it, you will know why the town is named “Hell.” If you want to take the island tour ($35), there are two tours, which are identical. Do not take the one with the word “Highlights” in the tour name. Two of the seats are over the rear wheel wells. Normally that is okay as you can put you feet in the isle. However, on these buses, the isles have seats too. Therefore, when the isle seats are used (as they were on our tour), pity the poor person who must sit with his knees up to his chest with no possibility of using the isle to stretch out his/her legs. In Playa de Carmen, we went on a tour of the ruins of Tulum’s (Mayan city ruins). You can get a significantly cheaper price on shore. If you take the tour, do not buy your souvenirs at the gift shop that the tour guide takes you to use the bathroom. That shop does not bargain. Despite our guide’s claims, there were plenty of shops at Tulum, and the restrooms were operational and clean. In addition, the original asking prices for the Mayan type crafts at the tour guide’s shop were identical at the Tulum shops. The only difference was at Tulum, the original asking prices before any bargaining were about 50 percent less. In addition, the Tulum shops have a greater variety of items. On the items I purchased at Tulum, I got the final price down by at least 50 percent from the original asking price. Debarkation was very easy as we used the self-assist option. Using this option, you do not put your luggage out for the stewards the night before debarkation. You take your bags off yourself. Using this option, we were one of the first ones off. Word of caution. When you disembark this way, you get off the ship about 7:00 a.m. To our surprise, Hertz did not open until 8:00 a.m. and their shuttle service to their car rental facility did not begin until 9:00 a.m. However, there were shuttle buses to Houston airports for $33 per person. After leaving the terminal, the bus ride was about an hour and a half to the Bush International airport. We arrived at 9:30 a.m., a half hour after the Hertz shuttle service to their rent-a-car lot started operating. In summary, Carnival cruise was great. I will cruise with Carnival again.