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Carnival LinesCarnival Conquest ReviewWestern Caribbean Gerald Docherty

Age: 38

Occupation:Software Developer

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Conquest

Sailing Date: July 23, 2006

Itinerary: n/a

Carnival Cruise Lines

Having never taken a cruise before I thought it would be a great relaxing vacation for me and my wife. We left our 2 yr old and 5 yr old with my parents on Sunday, and excitedly took the short drive to Galveston for a week long break. Our Carnival booking agent advised us to get there about 12:00pm and check in our luggage early. We arrived at 11:30, and spent the $70 to park for the week. After dropping off our luggage, we stood in line for 2 hours to be checked in. When we got to the front we saw that there were 2 ticket agents checking people in. You would think that Carnival could afford a few more people to work the check-in counter. After getting through that line we were directed to another line to board the ship. This line at least moved a little faster. It only took us 30 to 45 minutes to get near the front. That’s when we discovered that this line was to have our pictures taken before boarding. While we were standing on our aching feet, the man who directed us to the line asked if anyone would like to bypass the picture and board the ship. As half the line behind us made a mad dash for the door of the boarding tunnel, we followed suit, only to discover that there was another long line in the tunnel. This line took another 30 to 45 minutes to get through. When we finally got on the ship, we were greeted inside the door by the staff holding trays filled with exotic looking drinks. My wife eye’s lit up as she asked for one thinking they were complimentary drinks to make up for the arduous boarding process. She was wrong. These were the drink specials for the day. Only $7.50 because they were in a commemorative plastic glass that you could keep…oh boy. We learned later that you could ask for the same drink in a regular glass for $3.50. We took her drink to the bar, so that I could get a 12oz Bud Light for $3.50 plus gratuities ($4.02). Do not confuse this gratuity with the $70 per person gratuity that will be put on your tab at the end of the trip. Oh, while we are talking about drinks, a warm 12oz soda was a little over $2.00 after gratuities. You can buy a soda card if you drink a lot of warm sodas. I prefer a cold soda poured over ice. On the second day I learned that they no longer stocked Bud Light in a 12oz can. Now they only had them in a 16oz aluminum bottle that can be purchased for $4.50 plus gratuities ($5.19). These cans don’t seem to get very cold in the inside even in an ice bucket, and they warm up before you can finish them. They also aren’t saving you much money. A 12 oz works out to $.33 per oz, and a 16oz works out to $.32 per oz. Although I prefer Bud Light, I switched to Miller Lite because they still had these in the 12oz can. After only 2 days of drinking beer, water, soda and what I call “girlie” drinks for my wife, at the pool, at dinner, and at the clubs, we were on pace for a $1000 bar tab. We started drinking more of the little cups of juice and water from the juice bar. We had our choice of orange, apple, and mango juice in the morning, in the afternoon they switched the mango juice for punch. The cups that they provide are about 4oz, so you have to make multiple trips. They obviously don’t want to encourage anyone to drink for free.
The food was ok in the dining room, but our dinner partners were French Canadians who spoke little English. We only ate there twice as it was very uneasy sitting next to a family that seemed very nice, but you could only exchange a few awkward smiles with. We opted more for the buffet line which wasn’t that good. The pizza bar wasn’t bad, but there is only so much pepperoni pizza I can eat. Their variety of pizza wasn’t very good….no meet lovers, no plain sausage, no ham, and no plain cheese. If you wanted sausage you had to get it with onions and green peppers, or on some other strange pizza. The hamburgers and French fries were also not bad. We ate in both of these places quite a bit. The deli that was only open at certain times was very limited in their selections. I got the roast beef sandwich twice and it was alright the first time. The second time I ordered it, the roast beef was very red, so I dumped it, and went to the pizza bar. The seldom open Chinese food counter was very limited in their selections. I had the chicken kung pow. It wasn’t horrible, but I’ve had a lot better. The best food we had was in the ports. In Jamaica we had some pretty good nachos at Margarita Ville. In Cozumel, we found a beautiful beach with a quaint little beach bar where we risked eating some enchiladas. They were delicious, and we suffered no ill effects. We didn’t eat in Grand Cayman for a couple reasons: price and time.
Getting on and off the ship was arduous. In Cozumel it took us 2 hours to get back on the ship. In Cozumel and Grand Cayman, we had to take a small boat back and forth to the ship. There was a lot of line waiting at both of these ports. Jamaica was the only port where the ship actually docked which made it a little easier to leave and return.
The room was very nice. We paid $2,400 ($1,200 each) for me and my wife to have a balcony room. We sat on the balcony quite often because going out on the ship was ridiculously expensive. One night we saw 3 shooting stars. The sky was very clear and filled with stars. I thought it was rare to see a shooting star because I’ve never seen a sky like that. Ok, enough about the good stuff. Our room neighbors came with several friends and family. They made it very difficult to get any sleep. They would return to their cabin between 1am and 2am laughing and carrying on. The doors to the cabin must have been made of paper because we could hear everything. In the morning their kids were running up and down the hall yelling and screaming on their way to “Camp Carnival”. I don’t think we got more than 5 hours of sleep a night. I get 6 hours at home with my kids. Speaking of kids, this ship was filled with them. They were everywhere. Even in the adult’s only pool. The ice cream, pizza, and hamburger bars are next to the adult pool. The kids were all around it, and very often got in for a while before being chased off. Oh, and the adult pool is below the top deck, so there is no breeze. They didn't play any music around it either. The better pools were in the middle of the ship where all the kids were allowed to be.
This is not a relaxing vacation for couples. It is definitely geared more towards family. Don’t let a booking agent tell you any different. In the end I estimate that we spent a total of about $4,000. I could have spent a lot less, went to one destination, and relaxed. Never again will I take a cruise.


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