Carnival LinesCarnival Conquest ReviewWestern Caribbean Chris
Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Conquest
Sailing Date: February 4th, 2007
Carnival Cruise Lines
We arrived at Houston Hobby Airport on
Saturday and used Galveston Limousine service for transportation to Moody
Gardens Hotel in Galveston. Nice place and pricey. Could probably have found a
more reasonable place to stay for a night if I had done more research. The limo
service/bus was roundtrip for $60 per person plus gratuity coming and going.
At embarkation, Moody Gardens provided complimentary transportation to the terminal around noon. People had told us to just drop our bags with the porter and then go to the "Strand" and come back at about 2pm. We decided against that and were on the boat in less than an hour. It was simple and efficient for us. No complaints.
The weather in Galveston was chilly that day. We had a balcony room on Empress deck. On our previous cruise we had an inside stateroom so we were really looking forward to the balcony. Totally overrated!! I'm glad I was sailing on a buy one, guest free ticket or I would have been really disappointed in paying the extra cost for a balcony. It was too cool and wet the first couple of days to even use the balcony. After that it was covered in saltwater/salt crystals so we didn't even bother. It was nice though to look out while in port.
I must tell you that we are very low maintenance people and generally aren't what you'd call whiners but we were disappointed in this cruise compared to the wonderful time we had on RCL Rhapsody in November 2005. In my opinion, there is no comparison with the food, the service, or the personalities. That said, what follows may sound like whining but it was just our experience.
The first formal night, the seas had been rough that day and I didn't feel all that great but I did dress up. I remembered our formal night on Rhapsody and just being in awe of the gowns and tuxes and glamour of the whole thing! On the Conquest I didn't see that. We were booked to have the 5:45 seating but our S/S card said we were eating at 8:30! That was disturbing so Sunday afternoon we stood in line hoping to have it changed. The best the maitre' d said he could do would be 8:00 and put our name on a list if something earlier came open. I asked him how we would know and he said they would send a message to the room. We didn't dine in the dining room on Sunday night so when formal night came up, I called the purser's desk to see if it had been changed. They said it had...to 6:15! Oh, okay, we'll hurry and get ready. A few minutes later a card was pushed under the door! So we made it to formal night to dine on lobster. It was okay but the server had no personality at all which was disappointing after the fun we'd had with our staff on Rhapsody. They were efficient enough but in a way that made us feel rushed.
The other dining was not that great. The buffet food was weird and I never sat down to warm food. Breakfast was the same everyday with the exception of alternating cold pancakes for cold French toast. We tried the buffet several times but ended up eating lots of hamburgers from the Grille and pizza. We didn't try the dining room for breakfast or lunch so I don't know how that food was. We skipped the second formal night. One night the dining room served filet mignon. I ordered my meat medium well. What I got was a misshapen piece of well-done beef that reminded me of a piece of chuck roast, only tougher. It wasn't like any filet mignon I've ever had. Another night we ordered the Neptune Platter which sounded really good in the description. What we got was a tortilla like bowl with a couple of pieces of greasy shrimp, a few pieces of calamari and a couple of greasy fish sticks. In our mind we were thinking of the Neptune Platter at Red Lobster!! Of course there were other choices but I don't know how they were. We did enjoy the lobster crab cakes, mushroom soup, shrimp cocktails and salads. The desserts were nothing to brag about. The cheesecake in the buffet is very bland. They have someone slice you sliver of it. I don't know why they so heavily guarded it since it was not that great!
Entertainment on board: We liked the Newlywed Game and Battle of the Sexes. There was trivia in a bar somewhere everyday a couple of times a day. We bought internet time to keep up with our kids through email. Bingo was played a few times a day. We attended a couple of the shows and weren't impressed. Some of the comedy shows were late night that we didn't attend.
Jamaica. My husband did the zip-line excursion and really liked it. He said he felt bad for some of the people that bought it because he didn't think they really knew what they were in for physically. The tour guides were entertaining and provided a lot of information about Jamaica. After his excursion we shopped. We grabbed a taxi to Margaritaville and wandered to a few shops within walking distance of that. We were not approached by anyone trying to sell us drugs! The merchants were more than willing to deal on anything, just seemed to want our business. One place we went into offered to let us make free long distance calls to the US. He had Vonage service. So we did!! Picked up some good deals on t-shirts and touristy stuff.
Grand Cayman: We chose the Island Tour only because we had already done the Stingray City excursion last time and this time wanted to see a little more of the island. Tendering was no problem. Our excursion was for around 10:30 so we went to the tender point around 9-9:30 without a ticket and got right on. Coming back was just as smooth. You must be sure to ask if a price is GC dollar or US dollar if you see a price tag that doesn't specify. If you don't, you might be surprised! We found that those merchants' prices are pretty much set and the ones we visited weren't willing to deal at all. The tour was nice. The driver had a great sense of humor and was full of funny stories. The turtle farm was a little boring but informative if you like that kind of thing. Hell was interesting and my friends got a kick out of the postcards I sent from there. Stamps are 25 cents each and postcards are sold in the little gift shop next door to the post office. The Tortuga Rum place sold their cakes for about the same price as on the boat. I don't know if the rum was any cheaper.
Cozumel. We didn't do an excursion there. We rode the ferry to Playa Del Carmen. Beautiful but crowded beach right by the dock. Topless too if you want since we saw lots of topless men and a few women! We walked through the shopping area nearby but didn't venture any further than that. From what I saw, most of the stores all had pretty much the same stuff. There's an air conditioned McDonald's there too!! Keep that in mind if you find yourself needing to cool off! It was a $6 cab ride from the pier to the ferry. The ferry ride to PDC was $4 one way, make sure you have exact change. If you don't they'll give you pesos for change in return. We didn't think to purchase a roundtrip ticket so I don't know if it was cheaper or not. When we got ready to leave PDC we went to buy the return ticket and was told it would be $10 per person! I told the lady I had just bought one to get there for $4 and she said well, the 2pm ferry will be $4...this was at 12:30! I'd hazard a guess that maybe the even hour departures are discounted for some reason.
The ship itself was okay. We walked different decks and found that some smelled strongly of urine or sewer. We don't know if there had been a problem or if it's always that way. Deck 7 seemed fine. Our stateroom was near a crew utility room so we never were able to sleep in because of the noise beginning by 7am where the stewards were pulling their work carts and vacuums out. Another thing that was so disturbing was the absolute total lack of respect fellow cruisers had in the hallways all hours of the night and early morning. They yelled, talked loudly, laughed, drunkenly cussed without even thinking that people were sleeping. The door to the stateroom seemed to offer no sound barrier whatsoever. They ought to post signs telling people to be a little more considerate. Since we are non-smokers, it was aggravating trying to navigate from one end of the ship to the other to get where we wanted to be because almost every pathway involved walking through a smoking area! Either the casino or to get to the internet cafe, it was a cigar smoking bar, or to remember which side of the ship outside was smoking or non-smoking. There's even a stinking bar next to the general store on the boat that the smell would knock you over just walking by. Do you think any of them has ever thought of offering a smoke free ship and cruise? Jeez, if you're not a smoker, being around it constantly while you're trying to enjoy yourself can be aggravating, not to mention that you get to stink the rest of the day after just trying to find an activity to do. Fortunately the main theater lounge and the dining rooms/buffet are smoke free.
RCL set the standard for us since we only had it to compare this second cruise to. I know that we won't sail on the Conquest again and I doubt that I'll ever pay full price for balcony room. I'd only suggest sailing on this if it's your first cruise and you don't know any better and you get a great deal.