Carnival Lines Carnival Conquest Review Western Caribbean David Rawson
Number of Cruises: 7
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Conquest
Sailing Date: April 2nd, 2006
Carnival Cruise Lines
This was our 7th cruise and the second out of Galveston. We drive from Wichita to Houston, spend the night then drive to Galveston.
Departure: We use EZCruise parking which costs $50 if you prepay via internet. They provide a secure parking place and transportation to and from the ship. Second time we used them. The ship was 3 hours late due a medical emergency after leaving Cozumel. We toured the nearby Train Museum the kill some time. It is across the street from the parking lot. Boarding was delayed until 1:30 according to a Carnival rep. They filled the upper area of the terminal and we chose to stand in line and wait. Visiting with those in line passed the time. Actual boarding started at 1:15. It took about 15 minutes to work though the security part of the line. Have your documents and Sail And Sign info filled out this really speeds things up. Check-in took about 5-10 minutes to work through the line. After that a Boarding Picture and we are officially on vacation. Because of the delay there was a notice asking us to not go to our room until 3:00. It was now 2:00 so we went for food. Our room was ready at 3:00 as promised. Next was Muster Drill (life jacket). By 4:30 we were heading out of the harbor.
2 Days At Sea: Lots to do. There are Shows, various contests, casino, explore the ship, sleep & eat. The shows were all good and fun. May not be to the liking of all but we enjoyed the singing and dancing. They usually had Bingo before the shows with prizes of $100-500. There was also one Formal night in the Main restaurants.
We had the Late seating (8:30) in
the Renoir. Experience has taught us this is best. You can get a shower and a
nap after touring for a day before you head to dinner. It's vacation why rush?
Jamaica: Ship docked at port. We went on a tour to Croydon Plantation. Took an hour and a half driving up a winding road. Some people found it upsetting, it didn't bother me much. We learned about Pineapples and Coffee and other local crops. Tony and Winston did a great job. Very informative. Lunch was Jerk Chicken, local style black beans and rice, plantains and greens. I really enjoyed it as we were there to learn about the local culture, of course some complained. Some were disappointed as there was no Great Plantation House and some walking. Use the internet and check out Carnival's site, they give a lot of information about the tours. We have done the river rafting (more of a float - very slow and relaxing) before it was wonderful. Next time we will do a day at the beach. Wandering around Montego Bay town is not recommended. You will be repeatedly approached to purchase drugs even by cab drivers. Do an organized tour. There was a security scan getting back onboard, looking for guess what! But the line moved OK
Grand Cayman Island: This is handled by Tenders as there is no dock large enough for the ship. You have to get a number if you are not on a Carnival tour. Carnival tours go first. Took us about 45 minutes to get off the ship and a 5 minute trip to the dock. We went online and hired a local tour instead of a Carnival one. We had a private driver, Gino, for the day. He was wonderful. He took us over almost the whole island. We toured allot of the areas destroyed by the hurricane 2 years ago. The island looks wonderful as almost every building has been repainted. The forests were destroyed as introduced plants could not tolerate salt water from the flooding. Gino took us to several beaches, Pedro (limestone cliffs to the sea) and Rum Point Beach. This is a great resort and we have been there before. We had it almost to ourselves for several hours. You can walk out into the bay for hundreds of yards as the water is only 8 feet at the deepest and mostly 3-5 feet. If you are lucky stingrays will come over to you as they are very friendly and curious. They are very safe. It is real kick to pet them as they swim by. Ginoe had us back to the ship in plenty of time. We paid $160 which is exactly what you would pay for a Carnival tour but I know we saw and did more and no crowds. Grand Cayman Island is very safe. Very little crime.
Cozumel: Same thing here - no dock. It went away last year during the hurricane. Tendering took longer as some were going to the mainland with Carnival tours. They were huge and took forever to load. Took us over an hour to get off the ship. We had also hired a local tour, Advenuters Naturales. A young lady drove us over the whole island. We went shopping at Cedral (oldest city) and toured some small ruins. There is still a lot of damage from the hurricane last year and similar destruction of the forests. Some beaches no longer exist as the sand has been completely washed away. Still she found some great locations for us to swim and snorkel. She also supplied drinks at a local bar that was at the edge of civilization on a great beach. We had lunch at a local restaurant that is known for its marinated chicken. It was wonderful. Headed back to the ship.
1 Day At Sea: Shows and eating and sleeping.
Disembarking: We did the Self Assist. this is where you take you own luggage off the ship. Carnival need to get this figured out. It is a great way to get off early but they call to many areas at one time. Elevators and stairs jammed up and the customs people only let so many through at a time. If Carnival spent a few minutes they could come up with a better way to let people out in smaller groups. As it was we were at breakfast at 6:30, in line at 7:20, of the ship by 8:05, at our car by 8:25 and on the road by 8:45. Regular baggage handling would not start until 9:00.
Overall: Shopping in any port is interesting. You can go to Carnival Recommended Stores, they provide a map, or wander about.
My wife got a beautiful silver necklace and pendant in Cedral this year. Last year we got a silver pendant in Cozumel for $40 after haggling, Carnival had a similar one in their shop for $120. They do have guarantees at the recommended shops.
there are some very nice shops and several people go for the shopping.
They all have similar tourist stuff.
The food on the ship was great. There are several buffets on deck 9 (Lido Deck). There are 2 for typical American food 1 that does and International menu (different every day)2 more that do a mix. There is also a Burger and Hot Dog bar and a Pizza bar. There are also a lot of soft serve ice cream machines and a Sushi Bar. Selection was always good except there were no tropical fruits. Only grapefruit, oranges, honeydew, watermelon and cantaloupe. Also breakfast was pretty much the same every day except the alternated pancakes and French Toast.
If you went to the Dinning room you had a bigger choice.
Dinner in the dining room was also great. There were a lot of favorites (Lobster, Prime Rib, Fillet Mignon, Seafood) but also new thing to try. Pumpkin Soup, Escargot and others.
Service was great in the restaurant. Our waiters Gerhome and Irwin were very good and a lot of fun.
The ship is beautiful. Art is everywhere, keep looking around, even on the ceiling of the elevators.
On the downside, and this is small and probably petty. But if you are the largest cruise line in the world and continually tell people how hard you work at every detail some odd things should not happen. Like changing the way Tender numbers are assigned at two ports on consecutive days. At Grand Cayman, simple, go to the lounge on deck 3 and get a number and wait to be called. At Cozumel, new rules, go to the other end of the ship on deck 9 at the stage get a number and wander around the ship until called. Except they did not call numbers over the entire ship. We never did hear any announcement. We found out from other passengers.
Second - fact book in the room was for a different ship. ODD.
Third - they should get someone to help them with their grammar on the daily newsletter. Your, You're and There, Their, They're. Some of it was comical, they seem to have no clue. Looks really non-professional.
Fourth - You almost have to fight off bar help the first day as they are selling a special.
We look forward to going again next year - well worth the effort. Carnival does do a good job for the masses. 3200 cruisers on board. There were 500 children but Camp Carnival makes them almost disappear for the week.