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Old January 13th, 2007, 08:36 PM
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Default Conquest New Years Eve Cruise - Review

Quick Conquest Review: The best cruise we have ever been on! The ship and crew exceeded our expectations. 5th cruise for myself and my wife, 3rd for my two boys, and first for son’s girlfriend.

Now, for the Long Conquest Review…

Sunday – December 31st, 2006

Parking/Embarkation
New Years Eve! Myself, my wife, 2 boys (22 and 17) and oldest son’s girlfriend are booked for the cruise. We are from San Antonio and decided to go a day early to Galveston. We stayed at the Ramada Limited on Seawall Blvd. The rooms were small but it worked great for one night and it included breakfast. (Bonus—You can see the Conquest from the hotel!)
I had pre-booked with EZ Cruise Parking. It was easy to find and we arrived around 10:50. I was told all shuttles were only returning passengers from the cruise terminal until 11:30. Parking was available so I just drove to the terminal and dropped off the gang and the luggage. I drove back to EZ Cruise, parked the car, and walked the couple of blocks back to the ship.
By 11:20 we were in line and within 30 minutes passed through security and were holding our Sail and Sign cards. I think part of the ease was using passports this time. Very quick and easier than birth certificates other documents. They had already started to board the ship so we jumped in the short line, had our welcome aboard photo taken and was stepping onto the deck of the Conquest just before the noon hour.

Our Room
We were on the Upper Deck in rooms 6454 and 6471. Room 6454 is an Aft Balcony room that allows 3 people in the room. We had plenty of room with the most amazing view off the back of the ship. If you look at a picture of the Conquest, the balcony spans the area between the R and the N in CARNIVAL. 6471 is an inside cabin on the same deck.
We were able to go to our room as soon as we boarded. The room was open and almost ready to go. Our room steward greeted us and told us to feel free to put our carry on luggage in the closet and close the room door. We did and headed off to the Lido deck for lunch. My youngest son and I went straight to Sur Mer for fish & chips. (Fresh, hot, and GREAT). Everyone else went to the buffet for a variety of pizza, pasta, and ice cream. After eating we went out on the deck and were surprised to see complimentary champagne being passed out to guests. (This was going to be a wonderful cruise….) The ship was decorated for New Years. Lots of balloons everywhere! On the Lido Deck you could buy a balloon for a couple of dollars and they would give you raffle tickets to put inside. (Raffle was for entry tickets to win a free cruise) After blowing up the balloon and decorating it, you could toss it inside a giant net above The Studio Atrium.

The free champagne ended prior to the LifeBoat drill. We completed the drill and grabbed a drink of the day on our way to the front of the ship. The Conquest left around 5:15 and we all waved as she pulled away. The temperature dropped quickly once the sun started to set!

Our dinnertime was at 5:45 in the Monet dining room. We only had one other couple at our large table and they were like part of the family. We enjoyed dining with them. The HeadWaiter didn’t seem to be overly friendly or want to talk much. Normally we find the HeadWaiter wants to know your name or a little bit about you. That was ok though, his assistant made up for it. The food was probably the best we have had on a cruise ship and perfectly cooked every meal. After dinner we were given party favors and noisemakers for the New Years party later that night.

We went to the welcome aboard show had a chance to see our cruise director Mark Price and a comedian Tim Harklewood. He was the first of 3 comedians we would have on board over the week. (Along with a magician, a juggler, and Las Vegas style shows) I was very impressed with the variety and amount of entertainers on board.

After the show we walked around the ship looking at everything and ended up in the Degas Lounge. The band was Blood Power and they really are excellent. Around 11:00 PM we went to The Studio Atrium for the huge New Year’s Party. (It was moved inside due to the low temperatures on deck.) The free champagne was flowing again and everyone was having a great time. Waiters were carrying two bottles each and making sure your glass stayed full. Mark Price did a countdown at Midnight. Music played, balloons fell, and everyone cheered at the top of their lungs. Everyone was hugging and kissing, I have to say it was the most incredible way to bring in the year 2007

Sea Days Day 1
Our first day at sea was relaxing. We became more familiar with the ship and enjoyed the activities on board.

We started the day 1 with breakfast in the Monet Dining room. It was the only day we went to the dining room for breakfast, all other days we went to the breakfast buffet.

Today was the Captains Cocktail Party (Degas Lounge) and our first Formal Night on board the ship. The party was one of the best I have experienced. Plenty of seating, lots of staff serving food and drinks. The band Blood Power played on stage. Very well done!

The entertainment was Formidable in the main lounge and an adult comedy show at midnight with Tim Harklewood. Formidable was good but not great. A lot of talent and energy in the entire cast, but the lead singers didn’t seem to carry the show as strongly as I thought they should. (Just an opinion!)
Tim Harklewood was fun and we chuckled about a few of his jokes through the entire cruise.

Sea Days Day 2
Our second sea day at sea even better. The water was becoming more beautiful the closer we got to Jamaica. A lot of our walking around the ship seemed to always end up near the pizza or the ice cream. (I do love cruising!)

We went to the newlywed/not so newlywed game and truly enjoyed it. I almost died laughing when an older gentleman answered the question “If on a deserted island, who would you rather be marooned with. A hooker or a nun?? His answer, “A hooker dressed as a nun.? That was worth two points in my opinion!

We received invitations and attended the Past Guest Party. Again held in the Degas Lounge and entertainment by Blood Power. Once again it was filled with waiters serving free food, and free drinks. We were full and tipsy as we walked to dinner!

Jamaica
I was on deck with a video camera as we docked in Jamaica. A beautiful place! From our aft balcony you could see the Sunset Beach Resort, our destination for the day. We left the ship and went to get a cab. It was a bit congested but within a few minutes we had a cab for $2 a person. The ride is quick and check-in was a breeze. We paid $40 per person for Sunset Beach for the day. The front desk held on to my Sail and Sign card until the end of the day. The price included all food, drinks, waterpark activities, pools, snorkeling, and boating. (Paddle boats and kayaks). We did it all! The Jamaican Jerk Chicken was wonderful and the snorkeling was perfect. The day was well worth every penny we paid and we never felt nervous or hassled by anyone. We watched the sun set over Jamaica from the ship and then pulled away.

To make this stop even more memorable our oldest son proposed to his girlfriend on the beach in Jamaica. She said yes!

The entertainment for the night was Deja, Diva of Deception. I have to admit a couple of her tricks had me scratching my head and asking the family “ok…how the heck did she do that?!??

The late night comedy show was Diane Ford. I laughed so hard and give her the top award for comedy act on the ship. I would like to see her perform again.

Grand Cayman
We booked the first Stingray City Tour that Carnival offered. When we received our excursion tickets I noticed the show time was at 6:45 AM. That is very early on a cruise ship! We met in the Toulouse Lautrec lounge to receive priority tendering. It was easy to find our excursion leader in the crowd at Grand Cayman and we boarded a bus to ride to the small boat. There were about 45 people on the excursion and the boat didn’t seem crowded at all. After about a 40 minute boat ride we arrived at Stingray City. The water was so clear you could see the little beasties come from nowhere and swarm the boat. Everyone got in the warm water and the stingrays immediately swam around your legs, between them, and if they thought you had food….they would come out of the water for a closer look. There was food available to feed them and after a few minutes everyone was touching and petting them. By the end of the tour we all took turns kissing them goodbye. It was one of the most unique and wonderful experiences of my life.

Tonight was the second formal night and we dined at The Point restaurant. The service wasn’t as good as I thought it should be but the steak was one of the best I have ever had in my life. Desert included the flowerless chocolate cake. The comment was made at our table “If there was a chocolate Heaven, this would be God?. Truer words were never spoken.

Marc Rubben performed the late night comedy show tonight. A funny ventriloquist and we enjoyed the show. Only problem I had was a few of his jokes were being played on the TV prior to his performance. So if you happened to be watching the Carnival channel you might know the punchline prior to hearing it. That’s ok... We still laughed!

Cozumel
This was our third time in Cozumel. We docked and went shopping without any excursions here. In the past we have done power snorkel and snuba here and loved both excursions. This time we bought a few souvenirs had lunch in town and did some people watching. A very relaxing day.

Tonight’s entertainment was juggler Manuel Zuniga and ventriloquist Marc Rubben doing his family act. Great stuff.

Last sea day
Very calm seas and beautiful sun. The weather was nice all week and this was a perfect day to relax before leaving tomorrow. The Chocolate Buffet was delicious and there were even milkshakes available. The dining room was once again wonderful. We ended our final dinner with the Chocolate Melting Cake. A dish of chocolate cake that is warm cake on the outside and warm liquid chocolate on the inside with a side dish of ice cream. Yumm

The show tonight was the Carnival Legends. Guests try out all week and audition to be a part of this show. We were entertained by Elvis, Madonna, Garth Brooks and more! Only on the Conquest could you find the King and have him perform one last time

Our Best Cruise Yet
A wonderful trip that truly did exceed our expectations. The food was top notch both in the buffet and dining room. Pizza and burgers were also awesome! One thing I noticed this cruise, that I had not seen before, was in the buffet dining area there would be waiters pushing around drink carts to refill your glass at the table. You didn’t need to go to a drink station for refills of tea, water, or juice. A very nice touch.

Normally my wife gets a bit seasick. This cruise she never felt sick at all. I’m not sure if it was the size of the ship or the stabilizers, only that she enjoyed every day without being queasy.

I’m not a big Bingo player but we did play the 5 games for $5. I thought that was a good deal, even though I didn’t win.

Overall
A perfect cruise. I would cruise this ship and with Carnival again without hesitation. You can find a few pictures of our cruise at:

http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/view.php?id=3246

Please let me know if you have any questions about the ship or the cruise. I also have the Capers available if you would like to see them.
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Old January 14th, 2007, 03:21 PM
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Great posting!!
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Old January 15th, 2007, 09:24 AM
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Default wake-ups calls?

Thanks for the great review. We sail Sun, Jan 21st. Getting very excited! (1st cruise)
We can't seem to find our travel alarm clock. The Conquest doesn't do wake-up calls do they? Duh....there may not even be telephones. lol
thanks,
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Old January 15th, 2007, 01:06 PM
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r&s,

I really enjoyed reading your review. We have been on the Conquest two times and also really enjoyed it.

Congratulations to your son and his future wife!!!

Happy cruising to all!!

Libragirl from Texas
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Old January 15th, 2007, 08:13 PM
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Artistammy,

The Conquest does do wake up calls. You just press the pre-programmed button on the phone, type in the time you want to wake up and you will get the wake up call.

It came in very handy for our early morning excursion to swim with the stingrays.

Enjoy your cruise!
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Old January 16th, 2007, 07:44 AM
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Sounds like a wonderful time for you! I'll be on the Conquest in May and would love the Capers. If you could email them to me at mstill@dss.state.la.us I would be deeply indebted. Do you have a copy of the menus?
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Old January 16th, 2007, 10:25 AM
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You did a great job on your review. Thanks for sharing with us.
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Old January 16th, 2007, 11:43 AM
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Thanks for the great review!
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Old January 17th, 2007, 05:10 PM
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Hey, thanks for the Capers! I've already printed them out and started with the yellow highlighter!

Thanks!
Melody
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Old January 20th, 2007, 08:21 AM
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Very nice review & pics Ron & Sue. We were on that same cruise as you and enjoyed it very, very much. Probably our best one as well. Yes, the ship was so stable, at times you did not know you were sailing. We were also in the Monet Dining Room at the 5:45 seating.
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Old January 21st, 2007, 01:42 AM
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R&S -
Would you please be so kind to email your copies of the Capers to me as well? We're sailing on the Conquest in March - our 28th Anniversay celebration - and I'm so ready to start planning our days at sea. Thanks for your detailed review. It really got me excited about our upcoming cruise. A big congratulations to your son and future daughter-in-law. Oh, I guess you could use my email address - Duh! It is edbett@earthlink.net - thanks much in advance.
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Old January 21st, 2007, 12:56 PM
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Cruisin Mama

They are on the way!

Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions.
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Old January 22nd, 2007, 01:47 AM
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R&S -
I can't begin to thank you for your quick response. Received the Capers and I'm getting so psyched now. Your emails made reality seem all that much closer and less of a dream! WOO HOO!!! It's so hard waiting cause I know the cruise is going to be fantastic. This is the first time that we've booked an aft balcony - always booked an inside cabin before. Anyway, thank you, thank you, thank you!
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Old January 28th, 2007, 01:46 AM
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r&s
Like others, loved your posting (and the photos). Spouse & I are going on our first-ever cruise - the Conquest with an aft balcony, very much like your recent voyage! Could you please share your experience on:
a) whether you noticed noise/vibration being at the rear of the ship
b) how was the size and privacy of the aft balcony
c) what Immigration/Customs procedures were there at the ports of call (do you need to take passports/IDs with you when you go off & get back onto the ship? Any Customs screening?)
d) and finally, can you kindly e-mail copies of Capers to us at rutp@hotmail.com?
Thanks a bunch!
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Old January 28th, 2007, 05:17 PM
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22CB,

Congrats on your upcoming cruise! You will love the Conquest.

We did notice a bit of vibration when pulling into port, but not bad at all. The only time we really even noticed was when we returned to Galveston and felt it around 6:30 in the morning. Overall it was very smooth.
Our room was directly over the Degas Lounge and occasionally we could hear Blood Power playing very faintly. I really liked the band so I caught myself trying to hear the song they were playing so I could humm along.

The aft balcony is angled and deeper than the normal balcony. It was great for my wife and I to sit on and watch the wake of the ship. If you go to the edge of the balcony then you can look around and see other folks looking back. But, if you take a step back then you will be pretty well isolated.

The only time you will need your passport is when you get on the ship in Galveston and then again in Galveston when you disembark the ship. All other times and ports you will use your 'Sail and Sign' card. It works as a credit card on the ship and your ID when visiting the ports.
The last night of the cruise you will place your luggage outside the room and it will be picked up and taken into Galveston for screening the following morning. Also the night before you will be given a customs sheet for you to fill out and identify and declare any purchases made during the cruise. You will disembark the ship by the color code of your luggage tags. (They will be included in your documents and tickets from Carnival) Once your color is called you leave the ship and pick up your luggage. It will be grouped also by color code in a large open area. There will be porters available to help you carry your luggage through customs. (Note: The line for the porters is on the left side of the luggage area, it's a good idea to have someone get in the line while the rest of the family finds the luggage.)
Customs went quickly and actually hassle free. Just a scan of the passports and a quick glance of the customs form and we were done.

I will get the capers out to you soon. I am out of town on business but will be back at my home computer tomorrow and send them out.

I added a few more pictures at the following link.


http://cruisemates.com/gallery/view.php?id=3271

Thanks for the questions and feel free to ask anything else you want to know.

Enjoy your cruise!
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Old January 28th, 2007, 07:49 PM
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r&s - thank you for your continued anecdotes - highly useful for us (and, no doubt, others).
One more newbie Q - at the ports which require tenders, how often do the shuttle boats make the trip to/from the dock/ship? i.e. do they run round-trips all day long (like airport rental car buses) or are there set times such as once an hour?
Look forward to Capers later in the week at your convenience. Rgds
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Old January 30th, 2007, 02:17 PM
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22CB,

The capers are on the way!

The tenders run continously to and from the ship. (Exactly like your example of airport rental car buses) They usually have more than one tender operating at a time. There is normally a sign as you leave the ship and a note in the capers that will identify when the last tender of the day will run.

Enjoy!
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Old January 30th, 2007, 08:08 PM
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Thank you for the Capers - absolutely indispensable for a new-to-cruising couple like us. Your kindness (and patience) has/have transformed our nervous anxiety into increased anticipation.
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