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CanadianTwosome

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  1. Canwegoyet? - the 23 hour restaurant on NCL is an included venue. :) Aprilivy - Perhaps you were closer! Ha ha ha I'm not surprised that you had a different experience than we did, because if they were that late for everyone who ordered it would be a common complaint all over the boards. We were one cabin among thousands on the ship, and I'm sure a lot of people received their delivery when they expected it. I can only comment on my own experience. :) You are correct about salad at the buffet, also. I had no problem with their salads - but when I go to a buffet, I expect a buffet, not just a salad bar. I don't know what SurMur is, so I'm sorry I missed it.
  2. Yes, I'm sure I mentioned that. The comedians were really good. We only missed two shows out of ten. :)
  3. Thanks for the nice replies! To those interested about NCL's food, I've enjoyed everything I've eaten on NCL, in the MDR and the specialties. We love the specialty dining, but have never felt 'driven' there by a lack of quality in the main dining room. I would say that the main dining rooms on NCL and Carnival are comparable. I have never eaten an evening meal at NCL's buffet either, but was always able to find something good (including eggs benedict) for breakfast or lunch. Their room service menu has more options, including a few items that incur a charge. The quality is again about the same as Carnival's. It's definitely more prompt, and we've always been able to depend on the breakfast call to come when we request it. I think the venue we missed the most was the 24 hour (actually 23 - they take a break around 4am I think) restaurant. You can sit in or take out, and the menu is pretty much all comfort food; their buffalo wings are amazing. :) To Happy Cruzer: I did not try the fish and chips, so I can't comment on that. I did not find the outdoor grill particularly appealing, so again I can't comment. I was quite excited about the Mongolian grill but was disappointed - and I actually like my vegetables well cooked, but this was too much; one stir fry doesn't necessarily represent their usual quality though. As for the buffet, yes I absolutely do enjoy a hot food line - I definitely have on NCL and at some venues on land. There were always plenty of people in the buffet, so I'm only talking about my own personal opinion, based on my own personal tastes and experiences. I expected it to be as good as what I was used to and it wasn't. My opinion has nothing to do with me not liking buffets in general though. It's actually quite rare for me to not find anything that appeals to me, it just is what it is. T. Advisor King, you're probably right! One of the best things about cruising is that there are so many things to do that people like you and I can both have a wonderful time doing what we enjoy. :)
  4. Okay, when I say 'not quite as fabulous', it was still fabulous. After years of being a Cruise Critic member and reading comparisons between Carnival and NCL though - especially the number of people who proclaimed Carnival's food to be superior - I just expected more. Embarkation was a breeze; we arrived early, walked right through security and up to the counter, got checked in, and were seated with our 'number 3' for a wait of about 15 minutes. The whole thing took less than an hour. My only complaint was that we had to throw away all of the drinks we had with us that were open - an iced tea, a diet coke, and what was left of a 2 litre bottle of diet coke from my hotel room. It was as if we were boarding a plane, where people are required to pack their liquids in their checked bags because they won't have access to them... unlike a cruise, where we had access to our checked bags within a couple of hours. I have no idea why I couldn't keep my half-consumed soda. We had our first encounter with the buffet after we were onboard, and I think we've been spoiled by NCL's 'action station' buffet. I eagerly ran out to try the Mongolian Grill but found that my carefully chosen vegetables ended up rather overdone and mushy, so I went and had a look at what the regular buffet had to offer and ended up with some salad because none of the very few hot items were appealing. Fortunately there is a sandwich window that serves delicious sandwiches. UNfortunately, we found that if we wanted to eat around 11am, that sandwich window was pretty much our only choice. As I said, the sandwiches were great; it just would have been nice to have some other choices. Again I think NCL spoiled us with their 24 hour comfort food restaurant where you can sit down and order great food any time of day or night. Our cabin was wonderful. It was big and roomy and comfortable, our room stewards were terrific, and we got towel animals almost every night. Our next meal experience was the Pointe, Carnival's steakhouse. We couldn't help but make comparisons to NCL's Cagney's, and I think we all agreed that if we could combine the two, it would be a perfect restaurant. The Pointe definitely has a more formal atmosphere, and the food was delicious for the most part. We missed having prime rib as an option, but the surf and turf with lobster tail and filet mignon was delicious. There were only a couple of things we weren't keen on. One was the onion soup, which was really really dark and had a very strong flavour that was not onion and didn't appeal to any of us; the onion soup served the next night in the main dining room was much more to our liking. The other disappointment for me was the Caesar salad. I often have salad instead of dessert, and when I saw our server preparing a salad tableside for some other guests I was quite excited to have a Caesar made from scratch, which are hard to come by where I live. Unfortunately, it was just romaine in a wooden bowl and he grated in some parmesan cheese and tossed in some croutons before adding the pre-made dressing and stirring it up. I again found that I preferred the Caesar salad in the main dining room - and when I say I preferred it, I mean it was absolutely fantastic. It was also available from room service and at the pizzeria and I ordered it every chance I got! :) I missed Superstar Live Karaoke the first night, but made it in time for regular karaoke and I have to say, the host on the Conquest is the best karaoke host I've ever had the pleasure to see, and unlike our NCL cruises, he hosted every time it was offered. The song list was quite extensive, but the books are a mess; it was hard to find songs sometimes because you would see them in one book, then try to find them in another and it wasn't organized the same way or was printed at a different time or something. The only disappointing karaoke experience was the night of the Legends auditions, when for some reason the event was held in a smaller lounge than usual - even though there was nothing going on in the better location - and the place was packed, with people standing all over and sitting on the floor, and with pillars obscuring the view for many of the guests. As for the Legends show, this was definitely a disappointment for me. How it works is that Carnival has chosen a list of celebrities, including specific songs, and if a guest wants to be in the show, they have to sing that one song and dress up as the performer (the ship supplies the costume). It was quite uncomfortable at times watching people trying to sing songs they'd never heard before, and when Kim (the awesome karaoke host) had to beg people to try out for certain celebrities. I have to say that I very much prefer NCL's version, which is simply a passenger talent show - you can sing, play an instrument, dance, tell jokes - whatever you do that is entertaining. It opens the experience up to more people and allows people who don't sing to potentially show off other talents. We had a boogie woogie piano player on one cruise that I could have listened to all night. There were some really talented people on our Conquest cruise who weren't able to participate in the show because they didn't know the songs, or the celebrity they might have imitated was not among the choices. There was one gentleman who did a phenomenal Elvis who was unable to participate because he wasn't as familiar with the chosen Elvis song as another passenger. We booked our excursions on this cruise through Carnival. We went scuba diving in both ports, and when I did my research I found that the private suppliers charged exactly the same as Carnival, so I went with the security of booking through the ship. The excursion team was amazing. Without going into detail, they took care of a unique request for us, and then they were extremely accommodating in Cozumel when first we had forgotten our tickets in our room and then had to cancel for our daughter, who had gotten too much sun in Grand Cayman. I can't say enough good things about them. :) Unfortunately, with our port days came our experiences with room service. Again NCL has spoiled us. On our prior cruises, we've used room service as a sort of 'wake up call'. On NCL, you place your order on your door handle, with a time that you want your breakfast delivered, and then at that time they phone your cabin and then promtly bring your order. We expected something similar on Carnival... I put the order out with a delivery time of between 6 and 6:30. The order didn't arrive until 7:05, as we were running out the door to meet for our excursion by 7:15. We barely had time to grab some dry bagels so that we didn't have to dive on an empty stomach. The next day, we had to be at the end of the pier by 12:30, and since we didn't feel like eating deli sandwiches again at 11am, we ordered room service at 10:45. It didn't arrive until shortly after 12!!! It took over an hour and fifteen minutes on a port day when a good portion of the passengers were off the ship!! I will say though, that the food was excellent. The excursions themselves were phenomenal. The diving in Grand Cayman and Cozumel was some of the best we've ever done. I highly recommend both ports for certified dives or beginner scuba excursions. I tried to make it to the main dining room for breakfast and lunch every day since I had been so disappointed with the buffet (and breakfast was worse than lunch). I did enjoy having eggs benedict every morning, but it wasn't the best eggs benny I've ever had... they had an extremely thick piece of backbacon that was a little overpowering, there was minimal hollandaise, and they appeared to have been baked or broiled as the sauce had a 'browned' appearance. Lunches were mediocre at best compared to what we're used to on cruises. Evening meals however, were wonderful. I enjoyed every single thing I ordered, with the exception of the frog legs - I was quite happy to see that we got to try them, but found out that they aren't my cup of tea. No, they don't taste like chicken. Ha ha ha I found them quite fishy, and they had a texture like a solid fish. I also really enjoyed the 'show time' every evening when the servers would sing or dance. It was expecially enjoyable because THEY appeared to be enjoying themselves. I can't comment on the stage productions since they aren't our thing, but I can say that our daughter loved the seaside theatre. She met a very nice boy and they watched movies just about every night. Unfortunately, he was too old for Circle C and she wasn't old enough for O2, so the only time they participated in the organized activities was when they were combined. I don't really think they cared much, but as a result I can't comment on Circle C. The activities I saw in their weekly schedule looked like fun, in any case. We did notice that there was a surprising lack of organized activities. A friend that we met on board who had cruised exclusively with Carnival in the past also noticed this though, so I got the impression that it was unusual for Carnival, and it may even have been unique to our sailing since it was a little different - last cruise out of Galveston before moving to New Orleans and six days instead of seven; the scheduling may just have suffered. The evenings seemed especially lacking if you weren't interested in a movie on deck, a stage show, or singing. Fortunately for me I love singing, and on the nights karaoke wasn't offered there were comedians who were really good. Superstar Live Karaoke wasn't quite as great as I was expecting it to be, but it was still fun. There were a couple of songs that were different from what I've ever heard on the radio, a few times the band simply wasn't playing the right part of the song, and on a couple of occasions the sound engineer had the band louder than the singer's feedback monitors, so they couldn't hear themselves, but otherwise it's always fun to sing with a live band, so overall it was a good time. The regular karaoke with Kim hosting really was the most fun on board though. He should get a raise. :) Disembarkation was awful. NCL wins again, giving their guests the opportunity to choose their own time of departure if they don't want to self-assist and then wait in their cabin until their turn is called. On Carnival, we found our designated luggage tags at our cabin and learned that we would be among the last passengers off the ship if we didn't choose to self-assist. Since we felt 10:45 was cutting it too close to ensure we'd be able to pick up our rental car before they closed at noon, we had to carry off all of our own luggage. As it turned out the ship was delayed docking, so we very well may have missed our car if we hadn't done it the 'hard' way. To say that it was a zoo would be an understatement of epic proportions. There was one exit being used, with one path from one set of elevators and stairs, and the bottleneck was insane. Combine that with the passengers who chose to disregard the instructions on where to wait and where NOT to wait for their turn, it was just ugly and uncomfortable. (passenger behaviour is NOT Carnival's fault, I'm just describing the scene) Once in line for customs, it just got worse. (again not Carnival's fault) We were in the line for non-US passports, and it took over an hour for the four families in front of us to be checked through, while we watched the six lines of US citizens fill up and clear customs two and a half times before we were finally waved forward. The agent proceeded to flip through our passports and check each page multiple times for stamps, and then grilled us on why we didn't get stamps when we entered the US... as if it was somehow our decision whether the customs agent in Calgary stamped our passports or not. I've never been so happy to have never been to a country the US considers 'undesirable'. So there you have it. As I said, we LOVED our cruise. Anything that comes across as negative in my review here just is what it is. We really have no complaints other than the late room service, and even that had very little impact on us other than to make us a little anxious about getting to our excursions on time. The Conquest is a beautiful ship with a wonderful crew and I'd sail on her again in a heartbeat. :)
  5. Weird... I swear I replied to this thread... Thanks to everyone for the replies. To those who have used the Downy Wrinkle Releaser, have you used it on all kinds of fabric? In particular, have you ever used it on a shiny fabric? Thanks again!
  6. So... I know that irons are a no-no, but what about a hand-held steamer? It's like a little kettle with a wide mouth and a brush attachment, if you haven't seen one before. It has no hot surfaces on the outside. I'm thinking that if they have coffee makers, this should be okay, but I don't want to pack it and have it confiscated... Any input is greatly appreciated!! I haven't quite left it to the last minute... I don't leave the house until about 3:30am... :p
  7. The most important - VITAL - discussion to have with your sister and her husband prior to the cruise is the one about not having to be joined at the hip!! Nobody should feel obligated to do anything they don't want to do just because someone else in the party wants to do it. The beauty of having a couple of extra bodies along though, is that the same can be applied between spouses. If you and your sister want to do something that neither husband wants to do, you've got someone to do it with - and the boys may find something you're not interested in also. You do NOT have to take the same excursions. You do NOT have to eat every meal together (this will be affected by your choice for traditional or anytime dining). You do NOT have to participate in the same on-board activities. You do NOT have to make the same entertainment choices. Obviously you CAN do all of these things, but you're all adults and nobody wants to spend their hard earned vacation dollars to have someone else's idea of a vacation. We had a group of 13 on a cruise a few years ago, and the only time we were all in the same place at the same time was on one of the formal nights when we all got together to eat and then take a group photo. On my birthday 'most' of us took a day sail in Cozumel and went to a specialty restaurant for supper, but three missed the day sail and two missed the supper. Even though it was my birthday, I was happy that nobody felt obligated to join me in activities of MY choosing. We did most of our 'scheduling' on the fly on that trip, and it was on NCL, so if we decided that some of us wanted to dine together, we could just do it at a moment's notice. While we were planning, anyone who found an interesting looking excursion would share it with the group in case anyone else was interested. Whenever we'd get together with someone else, it was always interesting to hear about what they'd done and seen. Since we have always travelled with our daughter, and at least half of our cruises my mom has been along, we've gotten into the habit of checking the daily as soon as we have access to it in the evening so that we can make plans for the next day if there's something people want to do. It will depend on how you spend your evenings whether you do that in the evening or in the morning, but breakfast is a great time to get together and figure it out also - and if you see something the night before that starts early you can always call the other cabin. One of the great things about having companions along is that if one of you doesn't want to do something, you've got two more people along who might. :) Just remember, their good time is not your responsibility and yours is not theirs. :)
  8. As the title says, we'll be diving in Grand Cayman and Cozumel in a couple of weeks - second week of November. Do we need our wetsuits, or just our skins?
  9. I know it's too late for the OP, but if anyone else ever searches I thought it would be nice to add my confirmation. We missed our shark dive last December not because we missed the port, but because we were late. There was a medical emergency on board and we had to wait for a helicopter. As soon as we knew we were going to arrive late, I emailed them and they confirmed that we wouldn't be able to make the dive and sent me a 100% refund. :)
  10. This has always been one of our rules - being where you say you're going to be when you say you're going to be there - or letting someone know if plans change. We've had very few attitude issues over the years (so lucky to have a kid with an easy going disposition!), but it's happening occasionally now. I'm chalking it up to those lovely new hormones. That being said, I've been really impressed with how she's handling it. We've even laughed about it a couple of times, and we've always had a rule that no matter how rotten you might be feeling yourself, it's never okay to take it out on the people around you, so she's doing a really good job of remembering that. :) I have to thank everyone on the thread again. My daughter and I had a really good talk about everything here, including the things that we both knew she was already aware of. We have talks like that all the time though... Me: I know you know this, but you understand it's my responsibility to talk to you about it anyway, right? Her: (*sigh*) Yup, let's do it. :p She'll thank me later. :)
  11. Thanks so much to everyone for their replies! Cruisinmama that contract was fabulous - and no surprise that you were the first to post and had links at hand! I saw your review on the NCL board; I loved the pictures and I'm glad you and your family enjoyed it. :) Julienatul, it really is... I'm not even used to all the changes at home yet. Hormones are crazy things, aren't they? One day I had a little girl and the next day she was taller than me and talking about boys. Cruising is about to become a whole new experience! CB_at_sea, check-ins are a great idea and we've already talked about it a little. We've never needed them in the past because when she wasn't at the Kid's Crew she was with us. I suspect this cruise will be different... Cruisin' Chick, I'm not sure I would have remembered that one. My daughter doesn't drink soda or American-style iced tea though, so there won't be many opportunities for anyone to tamper with her drink. All it takes is one though, and even though I've had the conversation with my neice more than once, and I've discussed it with my daughter in the past, I don't know if I would have thought of it so thanks for the reminder. Topspot, I'm just going to quote you. :) Kassimer, I think you've given me a good reminder also. I have no concerns at all about my daughter following another passenger to a dangerous area, but I may have neglected to warn about potential crew danger. As soon as I started reading your post I thought the same thing - go directly to the service desk and verify the situation. Again, thanks so much to everyone for the input. I actually feel like I was more on top of things than I thought, but some of these reminders were really good to have, and confirmation that I'd already covered some good information with her was nice to have also. :)
  12. I've tried searching, but I can't seem to find the right key word, so I have to ask... My little girl is officially a teenager now, and will no longer be in a 'sign-in' situation at the kid's club. I trust her completely - she's shown me on numerous occasions that she can make really good choices, including intervening more than once with friends who don't. The biggest reason she's able to do that is that I've spent a lot of time discussing potential situations with her and how to make those good choices. That being said, I'm looking for some of those wonderful rules people have for their kids on board. We've never really needed a 'list' in the past because she's never been without us (outside the kids' club) while on board. I'm expecting to be 'ditched' a lot more on this one, though. I knew it would happen eventually! Ha ha ha I think I have a pretty good handle on what my set of rules needs to include - no entering other cabins, no visitors in our cabin, no interfering with other passengers, etc. Because I'm so used to her being smart about things though, I'm worried that I might overlook something. So, as I said, I'm looking for the lists of rules that I've seen posted here over and over again (but can't find! :o). I'm most interested in rules for teens (and any stories that could prepare me for the new experience), but all information is good information, so if you've got a good list, please share. Thanks!! :)
  13. I disagree. I believe the point was that a cruise ship is full of strangers, just like NYC would be. Often people board cruise ships feeling 'safe', because everyone is on vacation and it's 'paradise'... but strangers are strangers, and cruise ships these days often have more passengers than some small towns I've been in. Keep in mind also, that there is no screening process when someone books a cruise; no background checks, no requirement to divulge whether someone is a registered sex offender, nothing but name and credit card number. So I'm not saying that a cruise ship is 'more' like NYC than a small town, but each one has the potential to be either or somewhere in between. To the OP, I haven't read the entire thread so I don't know if anyone else suggested it, but have you checked the family board? Go to the board and do a search for 'rules' and you should find more than one thread with tons of great information regarding how people deal with their kids' freedom on ships. If you don't find anything that way, just ask. The people on the Family board are always willing to share what works for them. :) Have fun on your cruise! :)
  14. The difference between an ordeal and an adventure is attitude. :)
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