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tarbashchaputi

Conquest Review 12-12-04

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Here it goes:

Boarding Process.

 

After hearing about the various nightmares that people have encountered at the Julia Street Pier, we opted to stay at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel which is within walking distance of the Pier. I landed a $99 cruise deal which includes a week of parking. At approximately 11 am, we walked over to the pier with our luggage and encountered an almost empty check in area. After verifying our identities and providing our documents, we were sent to sit in a holding area filled with a few hundred chairs and told to sit. We sat for no more than 15 minutes, and were told that we could board the Ship. After the obligatory photo shoot and a security check we were onboard. This entire process took less than 45 minutes and was quite painless.

 

The Ship.

 

First and foremost, it is massive. Getting around this ship was a journey no matter how you put it. As you board, they hand you little maps. I would recommend keeping this with you the first few hours until you learn your way around. I was very impressed with the decor of the ship and it's state of repair. It was spotless, and the crew was constantly cleaning and maintaining. The main atrium was very pretty with an impressionist theme to it with four glass elevators going up to the 11th deck. You enter the ship on the third deck where there is a large bar and a small dance floor with an area for a band. There is also a grand stair case that leads to the fourth and fifth deck which house the majority of bars, casino, shops, and dining areas. There were many bars with different themes to choose from, my favorite of which was a Jazz bar with outstanding nightly entertainment. We played in the casino one night and lost forty dollars in a matter of 10 minutes, so the slots are the typical "cruise ship tight". Deck Ten, has three pools on it and plenty of space to boot. There seemed to be plenty of lounge chairs for everyone and I did not notice hoarding or reserving of the chairs, which has been the case on other cruise ships I have sailed.

 

The Cabin.

 

We booked a Family Cabin located on Deck 11 forward. This catagory of room features a full floor to ceiling window that offered a great view and kept us more relaxed in the room as we did not have to worry about our child climbing over a balcony! The room was very spacious and had plenty of storage space. It had a queen size bed in it with a coach that converts to a bed and a pull down bunk bed. Our daughter stayed on the converted coach for the week. The bathroom was of standard cruise ship fare with a shower, toilet and sink. The room also has a fridge that acts as your cabin's mini-bar. When the Room Steward appeared shortly after we arrived to the cabin, I slipped him ten dollars and asked him to empty it so that I could stock it with my own beer, pop, and booze that I smuggled on board. He immediately complied and was my new best friend for the entire week! Every time I saw him I was greated with a "hello Mr. Brian, how is your day!" He was the best Cabin Steward we have ever had and was very attentive to our needs and maintained the cabin extremely well. You would never know that a three year old was living in it!

 

Dining Options.

 

On a ship this size, there are plenty! We had an early seating diner in order to best keep our daughter on schedule. This worked out very well for us. The main dining room was tastefully decorated and the service was prompt, very friendly, and efficient. The menu choices were varied and had your typical cruise far including beef, poultry, and fish choices each night.Overall the food in the main dining room was quite good, and I would say better than we have had previously on cruise ships. (We have sailed Norwegian twice and Carnival once prior.) The wait staff took very good care of us and were especially attentive to our daughter.

Breakfast each day consisted of a visit to the main buffet dining area on the Lido deck where they had a large and varied selection of your typical breakfast fare including an outstanding omelette station which I visited almost daily. It took a bit of time to wait for your turn at the station, but it was well worth it. Breakfast was pretty good overall.

Lunch was a different experience each day. I prefer to avoid the buffets as much as possible so we ate at different venues each day. The ship has a BBQ that makes good burgers and hot dogs with fries. There is a deli that has one of the best turkey sandwiches I have had in a long time. It is located on the Lido Deck in the aft area on the port side of the ship. On the starboard side, there is an oriental stir fry place that makes a good stir fry. This was also very enjoyable. The is also the Ser Mer which serves up fish and chips and fried oysters. I can say that I did not enjoy Ser Mer that much. There is also a 24 hour pizza joint located at the back of the ship that was quite tasty as well.

Over all, I found the ships food to be very good for a cruise ship. I would suggest that it is the best that I have had on a cruise to date! There is also a supper club on board that we did not visit, but I understand it was outstanding. We did not utilize the room service or make a visit to the midnight buffet.

 

The Entertainment

 

There were two main shows and a magic show that we went to, in addition to the the Children's Christmas show which my daughter was a part of.

 

The two main shows were not my cup of tea, although my wife enjoyed them very much. They are a Vegas style song and dance revue kind of thing that I am just not into. I would rather be at the bar listening to some good jazz, but I went to stay in good with the wife! The magic show was great! Very entertaining. I really enjoyed the Christmas show, but that is because it included our daughter.

 

The Ports

 

Montego Bay, Jamaica

 

Having been to Mo-bay previously, we knew to avoid the shopping and walking about. The people here are ruthless and very pushy. We took a 5 dollar taxi ride to Sunset Beach Resort for the day. For twenty dollars per adult and ten per child (incidently they did not charge for our daughter), you can not beat the deal you get here. The place was great! It is an all inclusive resort and you are buying a day pass to it and have access to all of the amenities which include water sports, food, booze. This was outstanding value and we really enjoyed ourselves a lot. There are two free form pools and a three separate beach areas including a nudy one if that is your thing. The food and booze were very good! I would highly recommend this to anyone visiting the Montego Bay area as it was truly outstanding. We spent the entire day here.

 

Grand Cayman

 

This port of call requires the use of Tenders which I found to be painless. We took an island tour here on our own for 12 per person (child was free). There was a line up of vans right outside the tender area that you could go to to arrange your tour. I highly recommend this as it will save you substantial money, as the cruise ships rip you off. Our driver took us to Hell, the turtle farm and rum cake factory. Hell was stupid. This is a hyped up tourist store. Did not really seem like a town at all, although there is a post office there. Behind the post office and store is a rock formation. While we were here, we could here chicken's being slaughtered a farm next store. The trip to Hell was pretty cheesy. The turtle farm was pretty cool, however we were disappointed to learn that the farm is not a conservation area, but an actual farm. They charge about 5 dollars to enter and there is an area where you can handle the turtles if you like. This was pretty cool. The rum cake factory is next door and was also worth the stop to pick up some Tortuga rum cakes. The Cayman Island is a nice place, however they are still in the recovery stage after Hurrican Ivan and I suspect that it will take quite some time to fully recover from that disaster. There was a lot of damage and destruction.

 

Cozumel

 

The shipped docked at a shopping complex terminal. They force you to walk through this overpriced causeway that is far to narrow and has far to many people in it. It was painful moving through here. Needless to say we survived and made our way out to catch a cab to the National Park. The National Park was very nice with an extensive snorkling and swimming area. They also have a dolphin encounter and swimming area here where you can swim with the dolphins. I checked that out and found out it was 75 dollars for adults and our child was free. We did not participate as we felt her to be a bit young, although it was a pretty good deal considering what the ship was charging for the exact same place. The park has a shower area and a cafe with a bar. It was on the expensive side but the food was good. I did not really care for Cozumel that much compared to the other ports, however we did not go into town, so I can't say that my mind is entirely made up on Cozumel just yet.

 

Children's Activities

 

I can not say enough good things about Camp Carnival and the staff! They are wonderful. Our daughter participated every day and never wanted to leave. They had a varied schedule of events and kept the children very busy. Our daughter participated in the 2 - 5 year old catagory. I can not recall the other age groups but I also heard good things about the activities that were offered for them. Camp carnival issued us a pager and had a strict sign in and sign out policy. I was very impressed with the programing, and the fact that the Cruise Line offers this high quality program is a strong point and a catalyst for us to plan our next cruise vacation.

 

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Brian - Thanks for your review. I am glad you & the family had a wonderful & safe voyage. I cannot wait until we are sailing! It's right around the corner!! Happy New Year to ya! :D

Happy sailing,

T.

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Thank you VERY much Brian for your review. We're booking one of those very same cabins and had been looking for the opinion of someone who stayed in one. We were enamored with the balcony but with the family I think this will work out better. Did you find that these cabins were a hike to everything or were they fairly conventient to get to the forward activities at least? Also, did you feel a lot of motion being so high up and forward?

 

One suggestion: If you go to Cozumel again you might want to try Paradise Beach. We did last August and it was great. There are a lot of beach toys for the kids, great food, drink and atmosphere for the adults, much like Sunset Beach was for you in Jamaica (only it's free admission).

 

Thanks again!

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Hey Mark,

 

The family cabin was great. We had always had balconies in the past, however this was just as nice, minus of course being able to go outside. I did not find it difficult to get to and from, as there is a door leading right out to the deck and a set of stairs that go directly to the lido deck. It's also my understanding that these rooms are larger on the Conquest, that is to say the floor space is the same as a balcony room including the balcony space. The windows offered a panoramic view which was nice to sit and look out of at night when the little one was sleeping. I would definately book a family cabin again if I were to sail this class of ship.

Thanks for the Cozumel tips. I think we approached it wrong when we were there, thus I didn't really care for it much. If were we not traveling with Jordan, I imagine we would have loved it there and gone into town and such.

 

Brian

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Sorry Mark, I did not address your motion question. Yes there was additional motion by being so high and forward, but not too bad. We were blessed with pretty calm seas the majority of the trip.

 

Brian

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Thanks for the great review. I am so excited for my cruise in March. We are also planning to go to Sunset beach. We loved Cozumel last time at Nacchi Coccum (sp?) beach. this time I think we'll try Paradise Beach from what I've read here on the board. Your review was very informative and helps me a lot when planning what to do. Happy New Year!

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Great review. I have a few questions. The family suite, how many does it fit? Our family is cruising March 20, can't wait. Also, a few years ago my husband and I went to Grand Cayman and just hung out on 7 mile beach for the day and loved it. Do you know if the beach areas are alright? Did they have damage too? Your $99 deal. That was a nights stay within walking distance of port, and parking? I think we depart at 6:00 in the evening, did you too? Thanks for your help with a 'few' questions! denise

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Great review. I have a few questions. The family suite, how many does it fit? Our family is cruising March 20, can't wait. Also, a few years ago my husband and I went to Grand Cayman and just hung out on 7 mile beach for the day and loved it. Do you know if the beach areas are alright? Did they have damage too? Your $99 deal. That was a nights stay within walking distance of port, and parking? I think we depart at 6:00 in the evening, did you too? Thanks for your help with a 'few' questions! denise

Hey there,

 

The family cabin fits 2 adults and 2 kids as far as I know. Cayman was fine and the beaches were all in a good state of repair. The damage was incredible though. I think it is going to take a while before everything is back together again. As far as the Hilton goes, call them now to reserve. I have heard that it is limited and also that they may not be offering it anymore. It is within walking distance and was a comfortable walk, but I am a bit of an adventurer, so not sure if the walk would be your thing or not. We arrived in to NOLA at 10 in the morning on the Saturday and just went from eating place to eating place the whole day. I love that place.

Brian

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Thanks for the review!! Me and my boyfriend cruised on Conquest in Oct 2003 and are taking our kids and his mom with us in March so we cant wait to see their faces!! Im glad that you enjoyed Sunset Beach because thats what we'll be doing when we go and also in Cozumel are doing the dolphin swim.. I agree with your statement of the Conquest being massive... I cant believe how big they make these ships....

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Were you not charged the $22 for parking at the Hilton? The deal in October was you paid $99 for the night before and after the cruise, paid $22 for the first night parking and the rest of the week was free... However, it is my understanding that at least for now, they are not offering the $99 rate (I guess coming into the busy season and they can get $189 for the rooms...), still a good deal, very nice hotel and very convenient. I could see the ship from my room... looks very close, but with all the luggage we had, we would not have attempted the walk... too many of us, too much luggage, we just cabbed it... 5 minutes and we were there...

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We actually did not use the parking, so not sure about the 22 for the first night. Our plans changed after we made the booking and we flew into New Orleans. I never adjusted the reservation with the Hilton for fear of losing the 99 dollar rate. It sucks that they are not currently offering it, as it is a really good deal for the caliber of hotel that it is and it's location.

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