Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Conquest
Sailing Date: April 22nd, 2007
Carnival Cruise Lines
Our cruise experience on the Carnival Conquest was the best one yet! We thoroughly enjoyed our time there and would highly recommend them to others. Our ports of call were Montego Bay, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, and Cozumel, Mexico. We would highly recommend booking through Carnival as you get prompt, courteous service from a terrific rep, and if you cruise cost goes down before you sail, you will get a refund of the difference!
Try to have patience during this process, as the lines are very long. We got prepaid parking from the Port of Galveston website and got a $5 discount (from their website the price is $65 total for 7 days). We opted for this because of the 24 hours security on site. They provide only surface parking, so we drove up to the ship terminal, dropped off our luggage, and then we parked our car. To check in luggage, we followed the big ceiling sign, and we rolled it into a huge warehouse type building. It’s easy to just roll in there, and group it with the other luggage going on, and it will be delivered to your room that evening. Make sure your Carnival tags are on your luggage and your cabin number is CLEARLY printed. A bag was put in front of our friend’s door that belonged to 1394, but the 9 was not connected, so it was put at their 1344 door! You can lock your luggage. To get to the surface parking, keep going straight through to the end of the terminal; left at the end of the terminal road, then go right at the stop sign, and park in the lot that is open for you (for us it was Lot A). It’s near the big sewer plant. The signs are not that clear. Take a free shuttle bus back to the terminal. The first dinner night is casual wear to give us all time for our luggage to reach us. You can also bring as much amenities as you want in your carry on, there are no liquid restrictions as there are on airplanes.
As we proceeded to check in, (also a big ceiling sign further down the terminal), we had our travel documents and Carnival ticket blue book examined at the head of the escalators. We then went up to where our carry on luggage was x-rayed. It was a long line but moved pretty fast. Then the U.S. Citizens were separated from the non U.S. Citizens. We had to wait in a very long line if you are a citizen as there are so many of us! This is where you need a lot of patience. Our friends who were with us, one was not a citizen, so that couple went together to the non-citizen line and breezed through! Here you submit your travel documents, the filled in sail and sign form that is in your blue ticket booklet, and your Fun Pass. It’s very important to fill in your fun pass online at the Carnival website before you go and bring a copy with you. The Fun Pass is documentation for your travel information. When you finally get to the counter, after submitted your 3 items, you will get your sail and sign card. This card is your room key, boarding pass, and charge card on the ship. Next you get into another line to get your embarkation photo taken, then onto the ship. When you get in on Deck 0, you have to slide you sail and sign card into a card slot (to check into the ship itself) and your photo will be taken. Whenever you get on and off the ship henceforth, you will have to slide your sail and sign card into the slot and hear the “ping” to make sure it worked!
Here is a list of things you should bring:
1. Alarm Clock (as the rooms don’t have one)
2. Extra hangers (there are 7 hanger holders with 2 hangers each which are awkward to use)
3. Sun block/Suntan lotion (everyone seems to get quite red by the end of the cruise)
4. Cap, Sunglasses, anything to protect you from the sun
5. Strong insect repellent for Jamaica (Example “OFF”, I saw a lot of it there)
6. Hair Dryer (the one on the ship is not that strong)
7. Clothes pins to hang down on your shower curtains, they really help to keep the water in the shower stall, but a towel will be on the floor anyways to soak up the little bit of overflow. We didn’t have a problem with our showers, good pressure and temperatures.
8. Underwater Camera
9. Advil and digestive aids, as there will be some rocking, and you will eat a lot!
10. Sea sickness pills are recommend more than the patches because of the adverse side effects of the patches, according to the ship. There are provided free of cost on Deck 0, at the infirmary, in a big bucket right in front. They are 2 chewable tablets, last for 24 hours, and work wonderfully. My husband was not drowsy taking them. They are called Meclizine HCL, 25 mg dose. There is also a bucket of free aspirin at the same place.
DAYS AT SEA:
My husband forgot his suit jacket in the car, so we rented a tuxedo jacked for $40, which came in handy on the formal nights on Monday and Thursday nights. I also rented two-way walkie-talkies from the golf staff at the information desk for $39 for the entire cruise, which turned out to be a huge waste of money! It only worked once to reach my husband! In retrospect, I don’t think we needed them in the first place. The ship is huge, but if we weren’t in our room, we were either on Deck 9 (Lido), where all the 24 hour food/drinks are, or on Deck 5 (Promenade), where the casino, gift shops, top of the theater, and music lounges are. We got a dinner time of 8:30pm, which was nice for us to fit in our afternoon naps and relax after going out on the ports. We were seated at the Renoir dining room, and even though other cruise reviews say that Monet has the best views, due to our late dinning time it was too dark outside to see outside anyways! We thoroughly enjoyed our dining experience. The two dining rooms are visually the same, only difference in the view out. Excellent and prompt service was given. Our staterooms were cleaned twice a day, late morning after we got out and when we went to dinner, and the towel animals left for us were a nice touch. The shows were ok; Deja the Magician was terrific as was the juggler. The comedy could have been better. We were busy the entire time on the ship, so we didn’t go to all the shows. We had brought a movie to watch on the laptop and didn’t have a chance to watch it. By the way, bringing your laptop is really handy for uploading your digital pictures, as you will take a lot of them! In comparison to our 7-day Norwegian Cruise my husband and I took before, we didn’t have a bored moment on Carnival! You will get a list of activities in your stateroom the night before so it makes it easy to plan your next day.
MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA:
We were told to book an excursion for this port as walking around by yourself may be considered scary. There are some shops at the terminal, but not much. We weren’t approached by anyone trying to sell us drugs. We booked an excursion to YS Waterfalls with a-zjamaicaplanners.com. There was quite a long drive and once we got there, there wasn’t enough water in the river to do the tubing we wanted! The couple we were with decided to do the canopy zip lines, and my husband and I took in the sights. We were also taken to the Pelican bar, which is a restaurant surrounded by water. The boat ride, which was in a boat slightly bigger than a canoe, was scary, and once we got there at 1pm, there was no more food or the presence of the snorkeling gear we were promised! Our driver took us to a random restaurant where we had chicken curry and fried chicken with rice, which was very good. We got hit with a rainstorm on the way back and our driver rushed and got us back 20 minutes before the ship was scheduled to leave. The lesson to be learned is to book with Carnival as they check out the tours thoroughly and make sure you get what you pay for and have a good time. It is a bit more expensive, but at least you know you will be with a good group of people, where on this tour us 4 people were the only ones on it!
GRAND CAYMAN, CAYMAN ISLANDS:
You have to take a tender boat to this island; it takes a good hour, at least, to go in and also to get off of the island. Make sure you make it back to your ship in plenty of time, as it will leave without you! There were people chasing behind our ship as we were leaving, in a small boat, as they were late! There are a lot of shops right at the pier, a bit expensive, but fixed prices. We rented scooters and went to the Seven-Mile beach. The sea was very rough and the ocean floor quite rocky. We rented jet skis, which were awesome, especially with the rough waves. The snorkeling gear was a waste for us there because the sand was so stirred up you couldn’t see much and the waves kept slamming you back onto the shore anyways. I think snorkeling is better in Cozumel. There is a lot of opportunity for shopping here, even if on the expensive side, and this island is easy to get around because it is so small. We went to this terrific Indian restaurant called “Gateway to India” and had some very good food.
We learned our lesson from Jamaica and booked an Atlantis Submarine dive excursion through Carnival at the shore trips desk the night before. This sub goes 100 feet plus under water and went over coral reefs. We saw a nurse shark (really small one), and an eel. There were plenty of different types of fish and coral to see. There is another excursion I think is called “sub sea” excursion that goes only 4 feet under water. Make sure you book the right one. We really enjoyed this excursion, the staff was very friendly, and you got a professional picture (for $10) and drinks on the way back. They do provide a taxi to and from our ship. We went back to the pier area and did lot of shopping. We felt that the shopping was best at Cozumel, but it’s better to go to the large fixed rate stores. The small shops inflate their prices and then you have to bargain with them and in the end you may not be sure if you got a deal or not! Different small shops had different prices for the same items, which is confusing! You do need to shop around a bit to get a good deal, but there are some really nice, good variety, large stores, with A/C, right at the pier. Next time we would just go to the large fixed rate shops. We waited and did most of our shopping here. Internet rates are also cheap here. We paid $2 for an hour of decent dial up use.
We had to wait a while for our deck number to be called. We opted for the self-assist, so we could take our luggage off ourselves since we had to drive back to Dallas. Our deck wasn’t called until around 9am, (Deck 1, Rivera), so my advice is to take your time to eat and relax in the morning. They seemed to tend to call the upper floors first as they probably have less rooms up there. This time we only had to wait in one line, in which they checked our travel documentation, asked what we had to declare, and then send us right out. There were free shuttles, from the Port of Galveston, with luggage storage areas right inside, so we did that to get to our parking lot. Getting of the ship was not bad, but it just took a long time for our deck to be called and it was frustrating because we were waiting from 7am to 9am in our rooms for the announcement that our deck could leave the ship. I think we might have been the last deck called! Self-assist is officially from 7am to 9am, but they called luggage tags colors off (from luggage that was put out the night before to pick up outside at the terminal) in between the self-assist passengers. Perhaps that was the cause of the delay, but they should have given us a better estimate of the time. They also said they were calling off random deck numbers, starting at 7am, so we waited 2 frustrating hours in our rooms. My recommendation is to take your luggage up to the Lido deck, relax, and wait for your floor to be called, and then go down to the 3rd floor, Lobby, forward, to leave the ship. Now we know!
This was the best vacation we have ever taken!!! Carnival made the experience worthwhile. We had plenty to do and had lots of flexibility so we didn’t get bored at all. There are a good variety of things to do on board and we saw all ages of people. We felt that we needed 7 days to truly enjoy our experience. We were also glad we went with another couple and would recommend for others to go with other people besides just your spouse and yourself, if you can. The next cruise we take will definitely be with Carnival!