Carnival Lines Carnival Conquest Review Western Caribbean George
Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Conquest
Sailing Date: May 21st, 2006
Carnival Cruise Lines
What can I say but that Carnival Conquest was simply fantastic!
Ok I am a native Houstonian and so for those traveling from Houston it is a short drive and then to find parking, which happened to be the only item I failed to research. We found a new company that competes with others and the city’s parking for a great rate of $55 for the 7 Days called Light House Parking.
Anyway, we chose Carnival Conquest after reading review after review over RC Rhapsody of the Seas and Princess Grand Princess which is also owned by Carnival, the main points were “Camp Carnival” for my son (2) and entertainment and activities for my wife and I (31) and mother-in-law (69) along with great reviews on food and cabin size as this was our first cruise and only had reviews to go by.
WE WERE NOT DISAPPOINTED!
After parking, we were dropped off at the Terminal and a porter takes your bags for you if you so choose. We arrived at about 3:15 in contrast to many who arrived much earlier, there were no lines going into the terminal that the Porter had mentioned earlier. We went upstairs and proceeded to get our carry-on scanned and the whole metal-detector bit, but after clearing that you go around the corner to find more lines although short to go check in via customs and Carnival staff. After that it is a short walk to getting on board where you stop once for pictures in an elaborate setup of a jungle theme where you stand in a certain place and have your picture taken. Then you go across the indoor terminal ramp that brings you to ship’s lobby level where you check in on the ship via your Sail & Sign card. Then it was to where ever you want to go. We chose to go to our room that is very spacious and clean and while we were on the bottom deck, the view is not disappointing at all.
We were told our bags would be in the room shortly, and so we walked around a bit and heard the announcement for the lifeboat drill. My son completely freaked out and threw a fit. A carnival representative came by and took us out of the commotion so that our son could calm down and proceeded to instruct us on the drill away from the crowd. My son calmed down and many thanks to Carnival for that gesture.
After the drill we went back to the room and found our bags and unpacked. After that we went to the top deck to watch the ship sail out of port which is nice as you pass the oil platforms many wave to the workers and they wave back which makes a fun experience with everyone cheering and one that my son enjoyed.
Cruise Director Todd Wittmer, is the best as all of his staff. All of the entertainers such as the Vegas dancers and singers are fantastic. I loved the Motown show and Phat Kat.
Food & Dining:
Is excellent, we ate at both Lido restaurants and the Dining Room. The Dinning Room waiters adapt to your preferences very quickly and make the whole dinning experience a joy. The Lido Deck restaurants do have lines at the main eating times, but the go by quickly as there are 4 major buffets plus a Deli and a Chinese Wok restaurant, 24 hour Pizzeria and hamburger/hot dog grill to distribute it all quite efficiently.
As for Drinks, finding a waiter is never a problem and there are specials every day. Keep the glass and the refill is cheaper. Also Carnival has a few times where Alcohol is free for certain parties and times.
Was always a short wait and a great service to have especially for my mother-in-law who liked to relax in the room at night while my wife and I attended the nightlife activities.
My son threw a fit the first 2 times but they are very good with children as my son warmed up and had a good time. If you have children and they are not used to being in a day care environment, Camp Carnival has beepers where they page you if you Child is not enjoying themselves but the staff does a great job at getting them to come around and enjoy themselves. Babysitting and leaving the little on the ship while out at a port excursion is a GREAT service. Camp Carnival for those with younger than 2 will not be allowed to participate in the normal activities but do allow a time where you must accompany them and use the facility toys and activity centers for a certain time during the day. As for costs, Camp Carnival only charges for babysitting past 10 pm at a low rate AND WILL DROP YOUR CHILD OFF to your cabin when requested as part of the service.
Activities (not including main shows):
We did not have enough time to do it all, but here are a few. Bingo, Carnival horse racing, Art Auctions, Karaoke (picks the best voted singers of popular stars that will sing in the main show on the last day when not just having fun), Ice sculpture contest, Carnival Survivor, Carnival Deal or no Deal, Hairy Chest contest (very funny), Austin Powers dance (my son loved), Tea Time A HUGE HIT for my mother-in-law (an English style Tea Time with your selection of Teas and pastries which are simply delicious), various lounges with different music styles from Classical to Pop to Hip Hop.
Then there is the Water Slide that is very fun for a slide being on a Cruise Ship. This leads me to the pools that I found never crowded surprisingly, but then again there are many pools all over the place (all salt water). As a side note though, the deck for sun bathers does get crowded a bit at times
Carnival Conquest did a great job controlling the college fraternity and sorority parties as I did not find overdrinking or very rude or out-of-control passengers as the bar tenders are good at cutting it off. It is a festive atmosphere but it is very enjoyable and pleasant while younger parties are going on, in other parts of the ship are other parties or gatherings catering to just about every style and we tried to attend them all, we enjoyed the piano bar and the aft lounge. Occasionally we took time for a quite stroll on the upper decks where we enjoyed watching in the distance other Cruise Ships sail by. There are also TV activates like personality tests and so on; again so much to do onboard and Carnival leaves a daily schedule for you to navigate it all.
The Little details:
Like drawing up your beds to the towel animals and the sanitization paper slips to use on the public bathroom handles are a nice touch. The staff is simply pleasant and willing to help you out. They are always cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning and it shows. The crew in our experience really tries to get to know you and whether it be a simple “hello” and a smile or mint chocolate over caramel when requested was a nice touch.
I will say this though as a one negative detail or really a request. Carnival, in the public bathrooms, please install paper towels along with the hand dryer, I am not a hand dryer person and had to use toilet paper.
Ok at this port the day does not start as early as Grand Cayman but not as late as Cozumel, which is around 8:30. Then it is off to Deck 0 and off the ship where you can off the side of the line once off the ship have a picture taken with a Rastaman and then a short walk to the Jamaican terminal where signs are clearly labeled where the lines are for the respective excursion. We chose to go to the all-inclusive resort for about $79 per person and no charge for my son.
We loaded up in a van and drove about 30 minutes and you take the high road there and the low road back to the ship, which goes past Margarittaville. The resort was very fun, water-slides and water park my son just loved. The drinks were good and not that watered down, but could do for some improvement. The food was American and I usually prefer to dry the local dishes and there were only a few. The resort has beach access that is private to the resort and you have a variety of water activities you can do there. I recommend getting an inner-tube as fast as possible and for the little ones bring the vest or arm inflatables as they are not provided at the resort. Then after lunch the tour then gets back in the van to go shopping at Halfmoon shopping center. This is a very nice and new looking center, we did not spend much time shopping but admiring the landscaping. Then back to the terminal, but on the walk there expect to be hounded by many, many shop keepers. Jamaica has this part mastered to a T, you follow a yellow line back to the terminal that winds in and around about 20 or so shops and vendors all hounding you. We simply cut across the center and found our own way back to the terminal. Once in the terminal you wait in line to get screened and then on the ship.
The earliest morning, (I am not a morning person at all) 7:00 and we were tendered off the ship (taken by smaller boats to shore).
Grand Cayman was VERY EXPENSIVE. But we elected to do the pirate show where kids and parents can have a great time. We were taken from shore to a very well done pirate ship. All of the crew where in character and very, very funny and they put the kids to work right away scrubbing the deck while pouring ocean water on them. After that, it is the parents turn where there are trials for “lies, lies, all lies” and the parents found guilty get a good cold soaking. During the trials the boat is navigating its way to a area where everyone will get to swim. After the swim, it is rum and punch time all the way back. It was a blast. After getting back we had a VERY EXPENSIVE lunch and the day was getting hotter so we decided to head back to the ship and take advantage of the water-slide while everyone was still on shore.
The day starts around 9 and this was the best day weather wise, a lot cooler via the overcast clouds. Cozumel is also tendered, but the fairy boats are much bigger than Grand Cayman’s and air-conditioned on some of them. We did not book an excursion, so we left the ship at about 10:30. We decided to wing it as we have already been to Cozumel, however Cozumel while damaged by a past hurricane (this is the reason for the tender disembarkation, the docks are being repaired.) was very much improved and was pleasantly more enjoyable than are previous trip there. Like Jamaica but different there are more vendors trying to sell excursions than items when walking into to town and then of course the shop keepers in certain areas do their best to reel you in. We decided to snorkel. We spent all day in Cozumel and returned to the ship with about 30 mins to spare.
This again was our first cruise and we cannot wait to go again, Carnival Conquest was simply a great vacation.