Carnival LinesCarnival Conquest ReviewJamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel Alan Schmidt
Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Conquest
Sailing Date: October 22nd, 2006
Carnival Cruise Lines
We started this wonderful journey by driving to Houston on the Thursday before departing and stayed with friends in Sugarland. We was lucky enough to squeeze in some time to visit the Houston Space Center. This was a enjoyable experience for my my wife and I as we had never been there before. The tram tour was very informative to learn exactly how our NASA Astronauts train for upcoming missions and the tests they perform in Space. Excellent value for the day events and it is very close to Galveston where we set sail aboard the Carnival Conquest for the second time in 2 years and celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary. The entire 7 days were complete bliss for both of us.
Day One: We arrived to the cruise terminal approximately 30 minutes before we were told to be there but other guests had already arrived allot earlier and were standing in a line of approximately 400-700 people waiting till the golden hour of 1:30 pm. They sure are prompt about starting the Embarkation process. After the 1st long winding line we finally made it to the new metal detectors that have come from 9-11. Then we rapidly made our way to the next winding lanes of people waiting to see the check in desk representatives for Carnival. This was actually the fastest I have ever witnessed to check in as long as you follow the directions of having all your paperwork filled in before you get to the desk and have your proper ID's. After approximately 5 min we was on our way to the next line for the famous pre-boarding picture, then we was off the follow the winding gang plank platform up to the ship. There we had the last and final short line for boarding into the lobby area of the Conquest.
We went to check our room and believe it or not but the room was already cleaned and prepared for us. This is where the surprise comes in as I had been sneaky and had Carnival decorate the entire cabin with "Happy Anniversary" decorations and several dozen roses for my beautiful wife along with Champagne and etched wine glasses for this special occasion. My wife was speechless and it was another successful surprise that I had pulled off again from 2 years earlier on the Conquest during the same time of year, but from the port of New Orleans vice Galveston.
After getting freshened up we, were off to get a drink and EAT, Eat, Eat. Dinner that night was fabulous and we had the most wonderful waiters named Ardel and Ardana both from the Philippines. These 2 gentlemen definitely knew what they were doing and it made every evening a true pleasure to enjoy. My sincerest regards to them both. Well Done!
This 1st night I did extremely well in the
Tahiti Casino and won very nicely. This where we also met some of the nicest
employees of the entire cruise. My favorite waitress was named Irene. She was
extremely friendly and made me feel welcome win or lose. Her smile was so gentle
and bright that you just fell in love with her, even though you know that was
impossible. Remember, my wife was always with me and she made close friends too.
The next 2 days were filled with everything you can imagine to keep one busy while out in the middle of the ocean. Our favorite activity was the Art Auctions, where we purchased several investment pieces by PeterMax and they had FREE Champagne which made it even more fun.
On Wednesday we arrived Jamaica right on time and we departed the ship where we met our private tour guide Carolyn Barrett from Barrett Adventures. She is now a Jamaican citizen where she was originally American and married a Jamaican gentleman. She knew the island like the back of her hand and was very informative of all the island facts and need-to-know items to keep your shore excursion a safe one. We were never asked for a Tip or Gratuity.
We started our day at YS Falls and then went on a river tubing adventure. Very safe and fun. We had the best guide one could ask for a wonderful Jamaican man named Damion. He knew exactly where to place your feet in the water at the falls so it was always safe to not fall and get hurt. We then got to swing on a rope tied to a large tree and drop into the pool under the falls. The water was cool but refreshing and a lot of pure fun. We then proceeded down the falls and came upon a clearing where there was a spring fed pool only 4 feet deep. So clear and beautiful it was beyond description. We were then led to the bank on the river from the falls down stream and boarded inner tube that had wood bottoms to avoid being injured while going over the small 2-3 foot rapids. The current was just fast enough to make it fun, but very safe. We floated for approximately 1 1/2 miles and then exited to the bank and were ferried back to the main office to shop and bargain. It is an insult not to try and haggle for a cheaper price and they respect you more for coming to a fair price. We then had lunch up the road at this cute little eatery and had the best Jerk Chicken I can remember having.
Then it was off the the other side of island where the ship was docked for some more bargains shopping at a local store named Strawberry's where the manager named frank was very friendly and kind. Again my wife took over and haggled some fair prices for Shirts, Dresses, Bathing suits and Jamaican Rum. Hats off to my wonderful wife as she did it again and saved us a lot of money. We were then offered a free beer on the house for appreciation of coming to his store, and then we were on our way.
Every day when we returned to the ship, it was very evident that the security was serious about the safety of all on the Carnival Conquest. There were ,ore metal detectors, pat searches, and baggage scanners of everything you brought back to the ship. Our Rum purchase was confiscated aboard the ship and then returned to us the day before we arrived back in Galveston. At exactly 6:00 pm the ship pulled away from the pier. Carnival is serious when they say be back on time or you will be left. Hopefully nobody missed the ship this year. Two years ago a Just Married couple was left in Jamaica because the wife left her purse back at a shore excursion and they went back to get her purse only to arrive back to an empty dock. They finally got back on board in Cozumel a few days later. They had to buy Airfare to catch up to us. Not a good way to start a life together, but at least they was together, just not the way they had planned.
Thursday we arrived in Grand Cayman where we was very excited because two years ago Hurricane Ivan had destroyed all of the Cayman Islands and we were not allowed to come into Port. The ship anchored out and we rode Tenders into the shore. From here we had pre purchased the Seven Mile Beach resort Excursion. This was very nice when we arrive at the Colony Beach resort approx 2-3 miles down the road. It only costs $4 for each person each way. Here at the resort for the $23 that Carnival charges for the tickets you get admission, a beach chair, and free drink. All the activities on the beach are at a small costs to you. They have Wave runners, kayaks, paddle boats, snorkeling, jet boats (2 person), and Parasailing. My wife and I rented a Wave runner and had a BLAST. The attendant even gave us extra time because we were some of the first to arrive, and it was not busy yet. I drove 1st they I finally convinced my wife to try driving. So she reluctantly drove and then she was hooked. I had to almost beg for her to let me drive again. Next time we get separate Wave runners to avoid this, but it was great fun. We then rented a kayak and guess who got to do most of the paddling. My wife was so amazed to the beautiful blue water and crystal clear visibility. I think I pulled a muscle this day on the cruise as I was very sore that night. I then finally convinced her to try Parasailing. She was afraid but eventually gave in. When we got back to shore I could not keep up with her as she was so happy and enjoyed the whole experience. Definitely a GREAT Day in Paradise. We left a little early so to back at the ship on time and did some more excellent shopping for Duty Free items like Tequila and Tortuga Rum cake. Yum Yum...
Thursday we arrived again on time in Cozumel, but this time it was raining lightly. But once we anchored out and the Tenders started to run the rain had stopped and off we went to explore. This time we booked the Mountain Bike and Snorkeling trip. Again this was very fun as we rode the bikes on a smooth road along the coast to a Seashore Park approx 5-7 miles which took about 25-30 minutes. We then changed and began snorkeling. The water was so blue and clear it was also beyond belief. Had a great time for about 3 hrs and then we rode our bikes back for some more time shopping for Duty Free gifts. Unfortunately I got sunburned real bad so my night was miserable. Our waiter on the ship recommended something I had never heard before because the ship had sold out of the Aloe Sunburn Lotions. His suggestion actually saved the rest of our cruise. He brought back this bowl of white cream and told me to try this. It was Sour Cream and after it had set in the refrigerator for approx 1-2 hrs my wife rubbed it on and it felt great and cold. The next I had no more pain and felt wonderful. Thank You Arnel from the upper floor of the Monet restaurant aboard the Conquest.
The next two days were out at sea returning to Galveston. I almost tried to steal away for another cruise as we had such a wonderful time and actually won in the casino. That night my wife and I really hated all the smoking in the casino so we requested from the Pit Boss for a non-smoking Blackjack table and they came through with flying colors. This would be one of the areas that need improvement aboard the Conquest and that is a non-smoking section for us that do not smoke. It is their right to be able to smoke but not at my lungs' expense. Bravo to the Casino Host for such a kind gesture to make our cruise that much more enjoyable. Also they need to get more organized with the shows for early and late seating dinner guests. The late dinner guests kept coming to the early dinner times and prevented all of us the opportunity to see the great shows they have on board. The sail and sign cards have our dinner assignment on them they could use this to make sure only the proper guest attended the right show at the right time.