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Carnival Conquest trip journal Jan 2013

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This cruise I decided to post an edited version of my trip journal instead of a straight review. Hopefully future crioses on the Conquest will find it helpful. An unedited version is at http://snowxman.blogspot.com/2013/01/carnival-conquest-jan-2013.html

 

Happy cruising.

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Carnival Conquest cruise

1/14/13 to 1/20/13

 

Ports of Call: Montego Bay, Grand Cayman Islands, and Cozumel, Mexico

 

We landed in New Orleans about 11:15 am local. Took a taxi to the Erato street cruise terminal. Thirty three dollars fare and about a 25 minute drive. We left our baggage with the porters to be delivered later to our cabin. It took about 45 minutes to process our way onboard. The bags did not receive a physical check, only x-ray. They did shake water. We heard that after shaking there is a time difference on how fast the bubbles in the water settles vs. something like vodka or gin.

 

I took exactly 2 steps onto the ship and was approached by a server holding a tray with the drinks of the day- umbrellas included. “Why, yes I’ll take 2 please.” We went and checked out or room- 8308. A Cat D balcony room on Veranda deck midship. We dropped off our carry on bag and a little back pack provided by my brother. It contained a bottle of Canadian Club whiskey expertly rebottled to look like a ‘wine’ bottle.

 

Got some lunch at Guy’s Burger joint on Lido deck. Outstanding Burgers- they live up to all the hype. Time for the dreaded muster drill (about 3:30 pm, still prior to sail away). Our feet were getting tired. It is no longer a requirement to take your life jacket to the drill. After muster we went to Panorama deck to watch sail away down the Mississippi River. After about 5 minutes the light bulb went off, “Hey why not sit with a drink on our balcony.” It was a very different departure from past cruises being on a river and not the ocean.

 

6 pm time for dinner. A change from past cruises- first night dining is now at your assigned table, not open dining. I always wondered why it was not this way in the past. I do like the way they have expanded the menus to include ‘every day’ choices as well as the daily options. The highlight of the first meal was of course the crème brulee for desert.

 

Our head waiter was from Thailand and supervised 2 others. They did a great job taking care of us the entire cruise.

 

Day 2- Sea Day

An amazing start to the day. We were up early and sat on the deck drinking coffee watching the sun come up over the ocean. We went to the buffet on Lido for breakfast. Typical fare- plenty of choices.

 

On to the pool area for some sun. We took our smuggled on Canadian club in our pool bag aka ‘portable bar.’ We booked the cruise under a guaranteed price program. When ever I saw a price drop I claimed some credit. I ended up with 153 dollars of on board credit from price drops plus another 50 from a Carnival promotion I timed right. This gave us $203 total. It was kind of like drinking for free for 3 days. We spent some time in the hot tub.

 

Tried the Blue Iguana Cantina tacos for lunch. They sucked. I love Mexican food and have had it in the US and in Mexico. These sucked. Day one the lines were long for the cantina. As the week progressed they grew much, much shorter. We ended up going to the buffet for lunch. We ran into John and Mary at the buffet and swapped stores from our childhood. Back to the room for a pre dinner nap.

 

Tonight is formal night number one, or Lobster night as I prefer to call it. A table-side magician stopped by the table. The food was very good. Two lobsters and some cherries jubilee later we headed off for a formal pic of the ten of us

 

The whole group went to the theater for the show called “The Brits”. A montage of British pop during the 60’s and 70’s. I was not impressed. It was a blend of singing and dancing done against a cartoon animated electronic background. Maybe I am old school but I miss the live band. Patti and went back to the room to change out of our formal wear and headed back out… the party animals that we are. We ended up in the “Blues” piano bar. The piano player was not playing blues, he was playing songs from the 70’s and 80’sThat song became a running theme/joke with the boys and us.

 

 

Day 3- Sea Day

1/15/13

 

Still not sleeping in. Up at 7:30 am for the coffee routine on the balcony. We fixed a few plates from the buffet and ate on our baloney. I never get tired of the view. We checked the balance on the sail and sign card. Still have a little credit before we start to accrue a balance.

 

Relaxing morning, reading the kindle on the balcony. Weather today- blue skies temps probably in the mid to upper 70s. Loaded up the pool bag and headed to Lido aft. This was a nice area since it was mostly enclosed an a bit warmer than mid deck Lido. It was also close to the Pirate Pizza station. Good pizza. We played cards with family and enjoyed a few drinks.

 

 

Went to the Lido buffet for lunch than to the photo area to review pics. Back to the room to get ready for a past cruiser party. It has been changed so its not actually for all past cruiser status. Now it is for Gold and above. We had free drinks and horderves in the theater. They had a Mardi Gras theme to the party.

 

We had dinner in the Main dining room and then back to the room. Watched a little TV and relaxed.

 

Day 4- Montego Bay, Jamaica

1/14/13

 

We had room service for breakfast. Cereal, fruit, rolls. We got most of what we asked for and got it at the requested time. Other family members said that had issues getting their room service on time.

 

Debarkation started at 9:00 am and we got off the ship fairly quickly. The whole group had decided to get a day pass to the Montego Bay Sandals resort. We got a van/taxi at the terminal and took the 15 minute ride to the resort (8 dollars per person). The resort pass was $85 a person all inclusive including the food and drinks. We had the run of the resort including water activities. There was knee boarding, sailing, and some of us signed up for a snorkel trip out to the reef (no extra charge). When you factor in all that we got I think it was a good value.

 

We sat in on a Jamaican cooking class while there and learned how to make shrimp curry from Chef Kevin. Patti bought a wooden turtle from a vendor on the beach. This makes 2 turtles now from Jamaica

 

The resort was excellent for a day pass. I would not book it for a vacation though because it literally sits on the right side of the airport. Noisy jets were taking off all day. We had an area in the middle of the resort for our family compound. I am not sure how I would feel if I were a guest of the resort and new cruisers had invaded, but the resort is big and I don’t think we affected things at all.

 

We had made arrangements for our van driver to pick us up at 4pm. We had tipped well that morning and he was back on time (early actually) for the trip back to the ship. Due to traffic he cut through down. Schools were just getting out and the town was very busy.

 

Once back on the boat we sat on our balcony for a bit then fixed a few plates from the buffet for dinner and ate in our room that night.

 

Day 5- Grand Cayman Island

1/15/13

 

Pulled in about 6:30 am. We were up drinking coffee on the balcony watching the tenders circling getting ready . This was the only port call where we were not at a pier and had to be tendered ashore. The tenders boats were local contracts and they looked like they could all carry about 150-250 passengers each trip. It looked much more efficient and comfortable than in the past- using the ship lifeboats.

 

We opted to stay on the ship for this port. We had been to the Caymans on a prior cruise and thought this would be a good day to enjoy a ship day with less people. We ate breakfast in the buffet. Omelet tip- there are omelet stations along the sides of the buffet not just in the food line. With a mostly empty ship we had no problem getting an ocean window table for breakfast.

 

Went back to the room to change for some hot tubbing Lido aft. Found a shady spot and read our Kindles while having a couple of cokes. Then put the sail and sign card to work for a few drinks. I went up a deck to 10 and got fried fish and fried oysters from the fish and chips place. It was very good. Back to the room for a nap and reading on the deck.

 

Tonight was formal night number twoAfter dinner we went to karaoke at Punch Liners. There were a few good singers. They key word her being ‘few’. One guy was so bad singing “Staying alive he was literally sending people out the door.

 

The party moved to the dance club. The music was about 30 years younger than our group but the DJ did play a few oldies for us. My cousin got me out on the floor; violating one of my primary rules in life: Never sing, never dance in public no matter how many drinks I have had. What the hell, other than family none of those people will ever see me again. More importantly, no pictures of me dancing have shown up on Facebook.

 

My wife and cousin got ‘Disco ball’ drink cups. Party on. I did take a pic of my cousin’s husband holding two “Disco balls” in his lap. That pic did end up on Facebook. The party animals that we were me then moved to the Atrium bar. They had a live band doing songs from the 70’s. We only got there in time for their last 40 minutes. I must say Jeremy and I rocked it doing our version of John Travolta’s disco walk to “Staying Alive”… I know, I violated my life rule twice in one night.

 

 

 

Day 6- Cozumel, Mexico

1/14/13

 

It was a rainy night last night and the ship had been rocking. It all stopped about the time we woke up 7:30. It was to wet to sit on the balcony. Had breakfast at the buffet then stopped by the room to get our bag with day stuff. Headed off the ship about 9:10 am. It had stopped raining and the sun was out as we left the ship. It was still a bit breezy. Many water excursions were canceled.

 

Our “Salsa and Salsa” excursion was still on. Tami and Jeremy were doing this one with us. We met with our tour guide on the pier then took a van to the Hotel Cozumel Resort. The Salsa and Salsa event is part cooking, part dancing. It was fun our chefs were entertaining, not only did we make margaritas, salsa and guacamole we ate and drank them as well. The Margaritas from the instructor table were high octane and generously shared. Chef hats aprons added to the ambiance and fun. The cooking lesson was followed by some salsa dancing. Dance directions-- bar side…sea side… ship side… tree side. The instructors are confident after all the margaritas we wouldn’t know our left from our right. A fun way to spend a few hours. We had the option to stay and use the beach/pool there, but it was windy so we all headed back to the ship.

 

Back to the ship for lunch- Guy’s Burger for Patti and fish and chips for me. Patti took a nap and I read and updated my journal on the balcony We were not party animals this night.

 

 

Day 7- Sea Day

1/15/13

 

Our last full day. Took time for some extra coffee on the balcony. I tried to ‘burn’ the view into my brain. We are heading north back to New Orleans. Breakfast on Lido. Patti likes the waffles. We went to the photo galley and made our final decisions on our formal pics.

 

Went back to the room and found our debarkation bag tags and the TV was on showing the “How to get off the ship” video. I think they are trying to get rid of us. Damn. Did a little pre-packing.

 

Last dinner with the family in the dining room (baked Alaska for desert) then back to the room to finish packing. The bags had to be in the hall before 11:00 pm.

 

I pulled the curtains back and looked out around 11:00 pm. I could see oil platforms. We must be getting close to the mouth of the Mississippi.

 

 

 

Day 8- Debarkation

1/20/13

 

6:30 am. We woke up at the pier in New Orleans. It was very foggy across to the south side. We had our last coffee on the balcony. Since our bags were picked up the night before all we had left to do was shower, dress and add a few items to our carry on bag. We had to be out of the room by 8;30 am so they could get it ready for the next cruise. The bastards. As we were leaving for breakfast we ran into half the family. They were heading down to the Monet dining room for a sit down breakfast. We ran into the rest of the family at the dining room so we all got to have our last breakfast together.

 

The dining room food was a bout the same as the buffet the main differences were corn beef hash and the toast was still warm. I liked the hash. After 3 attempts and much whining I finally got it. A last round of hugs and we went separate ways. We ended up waiting with Tami and Jeremy till their zone number was called. Patti and I were Zone 8 and were called about 8:30 am.

 

Reluctantly we worked our way off the ship. I tried a death grip on the door but it did not work. Customs consisted of a friendly guy looking at the form and waiving us through. Patti found our bags in the baggage area and we headed outside for a taxi. 33 dollars later we were back at the airport. We were flying US Airways. Not a fan. At first they said we had to check our carry on. I think my grumpiness made them change their mind.

 

We had about an 1:45 flight to Charlotte, NC. Since we had a 2 hour layover we got some take out from the Chili’s restaurant in the main concourse and took it to our gate. Due to a security check and a maintenance issue we were 30 minutes late taking off.

 

We landed in Dayton at about 7:45 pm. Thanks to Jamie for a pick up at the Airport.

Two bags made it ok. Our garment bag looked like it got shredded by an IED in Afghanistan. Not happy. I lost a new white Tux jacket, shirt, and cuff links. Patti lost a custom ordered formal dress. Did I mention earlier that we are not fans of US Airways. Claim work now in progress.

 

Epilogue:

 

A great vacation! Seeing family was the highlight of the vacation, it truly was. The tropical weather and the fun stuff we did was a bonus.

 

Patti thought it would be interesting in the future to list what the major news stores this week were: 1. Lance Armstrong admits to blood doping. 2. Gun control lobbing. 3. Obama’s pending inauguration.

 

Hits and misses: (My opinions)

 

Hits:

Guy’s Burgers

Fish and Chips

Main Dining room (food and service)

Blues Piano bar

Hot tubs were nice and hot, the pools too cold. Not Carnivals fault we cruised in Jan.

Ship staff was attentive and hard working.

 

 

Ok/Average/as expected:

Buffett

Pirate Pizza

Room service

Cabin steward

 

Misses:

Blue Iguana Cantina food (The lines there were long the first day, much shorter as the week went on.)

Brits show (cartoon video background, no live band)

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What a nice review, hubby and I will be on the same cruise 3/17 and can't wait. If you have some pics it would be nice to see the new updates. Thanks for any info

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Cruising on the Valor in one month....how will we know if we are invited to the past guest party or not? Thanks for the review - loved the summary of "Hits and Misses".

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Cruising on the Valor in one month....how will we know if we are invited to the past guest party or not? Thanks for the review - loved the summary of "Hits and Misses".

 

Thanks for the comments. You will get an invitation in your state room. also you probable need to be registered with Carnival's VIFP program so they can track your cruise days.

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What a nice review, hubby and I will be on the same cruise 3/17 and can't wait. If you have some pics it would be nice to see the new updates. Thanks for any info

 

Thanks for the comment. If you are willing to wade through lots of family pics here is a link to my photobucket pics.

 

http://s303.beta.photobucket.com/user/snakedoctor57/library/Conquest

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Good job on your review!

 

We sailed on the Conquest twice so it was like reliving the experience when I read your review.

 

Thanks Jim. We had a great time.

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Loved your review. My friend and I will be on the same cruise on Feb 24. Very excited to be in New Orleans-never been there before-staying 4 days post cruise to see the city-like two vacations in one! By the way we are also from Dayton! !

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Loved your review. My friend and I will be on the same cruise on Feb 24. Very excited to be in New Orleans-never been there before-staying 4 days post cruise to see the city-like two vacations in one! By the way we are also from Dayton! !

 

 

Have fun on the cruise and in Nola"

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thanks for the review! We cruise on the Conquest Feb 10th. ok, so the past guest party is not a past guest party anymore? only for people that have sailed at least X number of times? This cruise coming up is only our 4th one with Carnival....

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Thanks for the AWESOME review!!!! Question for you. I MAY know the answer, but will ask you to double check. DH and I have been to Sandals Montego Bay 5 times ( I used to be a travel agent, and it was FREE ). LOL I know Sandals is adults only, but if you go there on a day pass with a cruise ship, are children allowed? My guess is no, but thought I would ask to be sure. I would love to take DD with us. She is 14. Thanks in advance and your trip sounded great!!!!!:D:D

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thanks for the review! We cruise on the Conquest Feb 10th. ok, so the past guest party is not a past guest party anymore? only for people that have sailed at least X number of times? This cruise coming up is only our 4th one with Carnival....

 

I think you have to be registered on VIFP and be at least gold.

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Thanks for the AWESOME review!!!! Question for you. I MAY know the answer, but will ask you to double check. DH and I have been to Sandals Montego Bay 5 times ( I used to be a travel agent, and it was FREE ). LOL I know Sandals is adults only, but if you go there on a day pass with a cruise ship, are children allowed? My guess is no, but thought I would ask to be sure. I would love to take DD with us. She is 14. Thanks in advance and your trip sounded great!!!!!:D:D

 

It is a great day pass option. We did not see any kids while we were there. The kids in our group were in their 20s. Carnival offers a day pass to a different resort that does allow kids. But, as you know from your time as a travel agent Sandals tends to be a nicer facility. Plus we had the snorkel trip as an option at no extra charge. A member of our party called them with our questions before we left. It may be worth a call to find out. Enjoy.

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Well, I think it stinks how they restructured their program. I've cruise with carnival 3 times and about to cruise again in two weeks. I've been invited to two past guest parties, but now, since they changed the program...we aren't invited...still think it stinks! Luckily, from what I heard I won't be missing anything...our group cocktail party is the same night... I'll get free drinks anyway!!! Carnival needs to rethink their incentive plan... Looks like they need to give more than a free drink at the punch line comedy brunch for those that are working their way toward Gold! Just my opinion! Still glad to be cruising

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We did this itinerary in September also. Had Hunny never been to Jamaica before, that would have been the day we'd have stayed onboard.

 

We also did "Salsa y Salsa" and had a great time. You're right...about "sea side/barside", after all those margaritas is IS easier than "left and right". LOL

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Still not happy about the destroyed garment bag and formal wear but I will give US Air credit for prompt claim processing. I got an email today stating the check is on the way... and for more than I claimed.

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does anyone know if the conquest serves the big Belgian waffles? also, how early should I get to the port?

 

thanks:confused:

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does anyone know if the conquest serves the big Belgian waffles? also, how early should I get to the port?

 

thanks:confused:

 

Not sure about the Belgain waffles, since I don't eat them but since the Conquest has gotten the 2.0 upgrades breakfast in the MDR on sea days is the Punchliners Comedy Brunch and on Port days it's regular breakfast from the old menu.

 

I do know at the brunch they have pancakes with various toppings (chocolate chips, blue berries, other fruits....)

 

At NOLA I usually head to the pier around 10:30 and embarkation usually starts around 11:30ish........

 

Great review Snowxman........I'll be back on the Conquest for the 9th time in just over 5 weeks......BTW......the Blues Piano Bar is named that not because they play Blues music, but because the decor in that bar prior to the 2.0 upgrades was entirely shades of blue........

 

I am a little surprised at a couple of points you made. In 29 cruises on 16 different Carnival ships the only time we have had open seating on the 1st night has been when embarkation and sailaway was extremely late....other than on those couple of occasions we've always been seated at our assigned table if we were doing fixed time dining.......

 

The other kind of confusing thing was your comment about tendering at Grand Cayman being much faster using the local tenders as opposed to the life boats......I've tendered dozens of times and never used the life boats....

 

Which Carnival ship have you been on that used the lifeboats? And what are they like inside??? Since the tops don't come off I would guess that they are not nearly as much fun as a regular two deck tender.

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Not sure about the Belgain waffles, since I don't eat them but since the Conquest has gotten the 2.0 upgrades breakfast in the MDR on sea days is the Punchliners Comedy Brunch and on Port days it's regular breakfast from the old menu.

 

I do know at the brunch they have pancakes with various toppings (chocolate chips, blue berries, other fruits....)

 

At NOLA I usually head to the pier around 10:30 and embarkation usually starts around 11:30ish........

 

Great review Snowxman........I'll be back on the Conquest for the 9th time in just over 5 weeks......BTW......the Blues Piano Bar is named that not because they play Blues music, but because the decor in that bar prior to the 2.0 upgrades was entirely shades of blue........

 

I am a little surprised at a couple of points you made. In 29 cruises on 16 different Carnival ships the only time we have had open seating on the 1st night has been when embarkation and sailaway was extremely late....other than on those couple of occasions we've always been seated at our assigned table if we were doing fixed time dining.......

 

The other kind of confusing thing was your comment about tendering at Grand Cayman being much faster using the local tenders as opposed to the life boats......I've tendered dozens of times and never used the life boats....

 

Which Carnival ship have you been on that used the lifeboats? And what are they like inside??? Since the tops don't come off I would guess that they are not nearly as much fun as a regular two deck tender.

 

We tendered in ship's life boats on the Miracle in 06. Iwas not comfortable and a little scary for my wife becuase you had to step on from the ship- no ramp.

 

We did 4 cruises prior to the Conquest with 4pm sailaways and it was always open seating.

 

I knew the Blues was not 'Blues' that was just my goofy writing style. Thanks for the comments. The Conquest is a great ship.

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