Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
Please look for and post on existing COVID-19 threads before posting a new one.
Catrin

Carnival Conquest - April 18 - Trip Review and Daily Diary

Recommended Posts

Carnival Conquest - April 18- 26 2015

Ports Visited – Grand Turk, LaRomana, Curacao and Aruba

DSCN0587_zpson4vj2yi.jpg

 

This review is a diary of our annual family Carnival Cruise. We are a family of five from Rhode Island… Me (Cathy), my husband Steve, and our three kids.. Kyle, Matt and Allison. Kyle is a sophomore in college, so for the second year in a row, he did not come with us. This cruise was our 16th cruise (12th for Matt and 10th for Allison) – all on Carnival.

I hope you enjoy this review – there will be a lot of thoughts about family cruising and general observations. Please feel free to ask any questions as we go along. It will most likely take me about a week to complete, as I am back to working long hours!

 

PRE CRUISE – Deciding and Booking

Deciding where and when to cruise is always a project! We had last cruised last April school vacation on the Magic out of Galveston and had a great time. Due to our schedules and the fact we did not want to take the kids out of school… we decided to cruise school vacation week again. While we looked at all Carnival offerings and even cruises from Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise line, we decided on the 8 day cruise from Ft. Lauderdale on the Conquest. Several reasons – 1) we had never been to 3 of the 4 ports visited and 2) the 8 Day itinerary leaving Saturday and coming back Sunday still enabled us to only miss one week of work.

We booked quite early using Early Saver fare – and booked an outside cabin. The prices for Balcony rooms on this cruise were over $700 higher than Ocean View rooms. While our goal was to eventually change to a balcony, we had a budget and would not go above that this year (darn college tuition!!). After we booked, Steve checked prices DAILY on the fare viewer. Prices did come down on this cruise, three times in fact. But never to the point where we could book a balcony. So, we stuck with our Cabin 2308 for $1746 plus Port Charges – quite a value for the four of us!

Flights were more of a challenge. With RI and Massachusetts on School Vacation week, flights to Florida were a premium – more than the cruise! So we looked for flights out of Hartford – a two hour ride. Flying out of CT saved us over $700- and we booked Southwest. Due to our schedules, we scheduled to fly the morning of the cruise, something we had not done in years!!

 

GETTING READY

After 15 cruises – you would think I had this packing thing down… but the fact is I am a last minute panic packer!! We made sure we bought our Mesh Hamper, Tervis Tumblers, Lanyards, Belkin Charger, Shoes, Shoes and Shoes, Sunscreen, Advil… and everything else needed for a week on a ship!! Matt packed in five minutes. What more does a 16 year old need than shorts, swim trunks and a few T-shirts!!

 

OUR GOALS THIS CRUISE

Cathy – to read a book or two and RELAX!! Steve – to listen to music, drink beer, visit Aruba and enjoy the atmosphere. Matt – meet some new friends, sleep late and hang out. Allison – have fun at Camp Carnival, swim and eat ice cream!!

 

Coming Up…. Pre-cruise Stay, and DAY ONE!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very excited for this review. Doing same cruise on Conquest in just over 2 weeks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PRE- CRUISE – Friday April 17th

 

After a full week of work and school, we made a decision to head up to Hartford on Friday night and stay in a hotel, as we had a 7am flight Saturday morning. We found a great deal at Homewood Suites right at the Airport. They have a park and fly package that included one night suite accommodations and parking for the week at LAZ parking, across the street. This worked out perfectly for us. We arrived quite late and they upgraded us to a two bedroom suite. It was nice to have our own rooms – even if it was going to be for only 8 hours!! They also knew we were leaving before breakfast was being served. We were pleasantly surprised by the offer of four bags filled with bagels, bananas and yogurts for us the next morning. If your life ever finds you in Hartford, CT.. we recommend this hotel.

 

DSCN0400%20-%20Copy_zpslp4gkvyt.jpg

DSCN0402%20-%20Copy_zpsnwlp7jke.jpg

DSCN0405%20-%20Copy_zpstueme4ho.jpg

 

CRUISE DAY IS FINALLY HERE!! APRIL 18th

FINALLY!! After months of planning and counting down, April 18th finally arrived – Vacation Can Begin!! Our morning was uneventful. 5:30am at the shuttle – through Southwest check-in, through security and to the gate by 6:10am. As easy as it gets. Our direct flight was uneventful. Allison and I were loaded with our electronics and books – and before we knew it, we arrived in FLL by 10:15am! Ft. Lauderdale airport was PACKED!! Tons of activity between folks getting off cruises, and others arriving. We waited for our luggage and I asked the Carnival Reps at the luggage carousels to borrow their stapler. As we got our luggage we then put our Carnival Tags on each piece. This was perfect!!

IMG_3883%20-%20Copy_zps6q7igtrb.jpg

DSCN0407%20-%20Copy_zpsjjh0tgvx.jpg

DSCN0410%20-%20Copy_zps8xhv2zsk.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The easiest way to get to the FLL port from the airport is TAXI. The TAXI stand is right outside the baggage claim. It cannot get any easier. The fare plus tip was $25 for the four of us. This is the best reason why we were happy to sail out of FLL. As we arrived, however… we knew immediately this was NOT Miami. Right away, we noticed the unorganization of the parking lot – with traffic jams and very few people directing the comings and goings. This was just the beginning of our embarkation journey.

We are fortunate to be Platinum Cruisers, and the one benefit we enjoy the most is early embarkation and the time in the VIFP lounge. Checking in was fine, a short line… and then we were told to go into the VIP Lounge. Well… while we knew we were later than our normal 10am arrival, we were amazed by the amount of people in the lounge! There were no chairs available, and people were crowded everywhere – standing in between people, near the doors, and in every available space. Using this lounge were not only Platinum cruises, but Players Club Cruisers, and FTTF Cruisers. While you won’t hear me complain about FTTF – Carnival needs to do a better job knowing how many Platinum, Diamond and FTTF Cruisers they have – and to make sure they provide a room large enough for the group. If they are going to sell this lounge and early arrival as a benefit, they need to deliver. Embarkation was delayed – and finally after noontime, they starting emptying the room. Standing in that room for over an hour was uncomfortable – but the time passed by as we met some of the folks in the room. As we were standing, we were one of the first families out of the room. I am sorry that those arriving early who were sitting were not allowed off first – there was no organization – it just happened that way.

SO .. FINALLY!! We walked on the Conquest for a wonderful 8 Days ahead of us!! Having been on her twins, the Liberty and Glory …. And distant cousins, the Triumph, Destiny and Victory….. she felt like HOME!!!

DSCN0412%20-%20Copy_zpscu7dxmyp.jpg

 

5029f048-b526-4533-842e-3e84133c3bf5_zpslucohr8i.jpg

61717e29-8337-4368-b631-bf62acf76262_zpssjl1vjqb.jpg

 

COMING UP... OUR ROOM and EMBARKATION FUN!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DAY ONE CONTINUED…..

As we entered the ship… we decided to go right to our Cabin to drop off our Carry On Luggage. We have done this since hitting Platinum, and it always worked out well. We walked down one flight of stairs and walked mid-ship to Cabin 2308. This Ocean View cabin was designed for four people. The reason why we picked this particular cabin, was that it was NOT a connecting room – which most of the cabins designed for four passengers were. The location was between the forward and mid elevators and one floor under the dining room. The room was quiet – and we enjoyed the convenient location.

DSCN0415%20-%20Copy_zpsajhaynkr.jpg

DSCN0417%20-%20Copy_zpsvarqisji.jpg

 

 

Waiting for Steve in the Room was a gift from ME. I surprised him with a cooler of Bud Lights – ordered online. It came with the beer, cooler, four plastic cups, a bottle opening and two bottle "koozies". While not a great “Value” – it was my way to say .. HAVE FUN – plus secretly I liked the cooler!

5240402e-c6c5-44ec-913a-53813064db75_zpsj0rtdb3b.jpg

 

After unpacking whatever we could, we ventured to the Lido Deck for our first meal of the week – LUNCH!! Lunch on the first day is always a smorgasbord full of choices. Salad for me and Steve, Tacos for Matt, Chicken Tenders for Allison, but one thing I wanted… GUYS FRIES!!!!

DSCN0420%20-%20Copy_zpsxv5onztj.jpg

 

We did a lot of people watching this afternoon… just enjoying the sights and excitement from all. Something about the feeling of the first day – people are exhausted from waiting in line and travelling but always excited for the week ahead.

We knew from our Liberty Cruise in 2012 that we would love the Lido Deck area – particularly the Red Frog Rum Bar and the Blue Iguana Bar. Those shaded bar areas ended up being a great place to relax and people watch!!

IMG_3888%20-%20Copy_zps6zzelw9g.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After Lunch, Steve just hung out at the bar, listening to the music and enjoying the sun. Allison and I explored the ship, including a visit to Camp Carnival, where we confirmed her registration. Camp Carnival is located on Deck 12 forward. We discovered at this time there were very few kids scheduled on this cruise – 210 kids under 18 total. That is a very small number! Two weeks prior, they had 1100 – so the team was looking forward to an easy week.

DSCN0423%20-%20Copy_zps9zhhi0cg.jpg

DSCN0425%20-%20Copy_zps9yq8dwek.jpg

 

 

We also explored the Promenade areas of the ship.. including the Piano Bar, Comedy Club and Club O2.

DSCN0426%20-%20Copy_zpsegqpnwey.jpg

DSCN0427%20-%20Copy_zps64rd6hmz.jpg

DSCN0428%20-%20Copy_zpst84hdzcb.jpg

 

 

After our walk, we went back to the room to discover our luggage had started to arrive. We unpacked everything we had…. And then it was POOL TIME!!

DSCN0432%20-%20Copy_zpsbsndg724.jpg

Edited by Catrin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

8b155d0d-e748-4b5b-a634-f2f2609b575d_zpsvfgzm7hj.jpg

9d96091b-e0d4-4b03-ae71-a0dc92b5d512_zpspxyfpq42.jpg

FIRST ICE CREAM OF THE WEEK!!!

 

Before we knew it… 3:30 had arrived and it was Muster Drill time already!! Typical muster drill.. 4th deck, pretty simple. Just a necessary evil. We got through it pretty well, then went right up the five flights of stairs to back to the Lido Deck for the Sailaway party!!!! This was our first glimpse of our Cruise Director Mike Pack and his energetic team. We watched from the 10th deck as the folks below did the obligatory Cha-Cha Slide, Cupid Shuffle and the WOBBLE!!! Once we hear those songs, we know we are on a cruise!!! We enjoyed the sights as we said goodbye to Ft. Lauderdale and welcome to the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

IMG_3897%20-%20Copy_zpss9t6vhdc.jpg

IMG_3902%20-%20Copy_zpsymy2jfhz.jpg

IMG_3898%20-%20Copy_zpsflcdaytz.jpg

DSCN0447%20-%20Copy_zpsmlbltwok.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will be back later with more installments... I hope you are all enjoying.

 

I have completed a diary for our last several cruises.. links are below in case you like the simple style and information.

 

Please let me know if I can answer any questions.... having been reading and posting here for 14 years, I have gained so much knowledge from reading other reviews!!

 

Thanks!

Catrin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Catrin,

Loving your review and photos and eagerly awaiting more.

 

Thanks!:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome. We just did this cruise in March. Can't wait to read your review. Lovely itinerary and trip!

 

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337 using Forums mobile app

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doing this same cruise in 2 weeks. Am loving your review so far. Can you post the funtimes?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Doing this same cruise in 2 weeks. Am loving your review so far. Can you post the funtimes?

 

I have them.... I can scan them in the next few days and post them at one point.

Catrin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great insights for me. In headed out on this cruise in a month. My first on Carnival. Can't wait to hear about the ports visited.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi Catrin,

Loving your review and photos and eagerly awaiting more.

 

Thanks!:)

Thanks for the Review.We will be on the conquest in September. Following your review

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your review and your great photo's!!

 

I board the Conquest in 11 days and until then I'll enjoy your review!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Catrin, Love reading your review. We sail on the Conquest next January same itinerary. Noticed the Rensselaer hat and shirts, does your other son go to RPI? We live in Saratoga Springs, NY and that is only about 20 mins. away. Keep the great review coming.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks for the terrific review. We will be on the Conquest (8/23/15)!! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Cathy - Looking forward to your port reviews, as we will be sailing this itinerary on Breeze in July. Conquest is one of my favorite ships - sailed her twice.

 

I take it from the photos that Kyle is at RPI? (I realize The Honorable Shirley hates references to RPI and prefers "Rensselaer":rolleyes:.) DH taught at RPI for 13 years and still has a number of friends on faculty there. It's a great school.

 

Thanks for sharing your review!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi Catrin, Love reading your review. We sail on the Conquest next January same itinerary. Noticed the Rensselaer hat and shirts, does your other son go to RPI? We live in Saratoga Springs, NY and that is only about 20 mins. away. Keep the great review coming.

 

Hi there.. YES>> my son DOES go to RPI!! Small world!! We miss having him cruise with us for sure, but I will tell you, it is so much easier cruising with two kid than three!

Thanks for reading... more coming tonight!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi Cathy - Looking forward to your port reviews, as we will be sailing this itinerary on Breeze in July. Conquest is one of my favorite ships - sailed her twice.

 

I take it from the photos that Kyle is at RPI? (I realize The Honorable Shirley hates references to RPI and prefers "Rensselaer":rolleyes:.) DH taught at RPI for 13 years and still has a number of friends on faculty there. It's a great school.

 

Thanks for sharing your review!

 

Hi NYBumpkin .. Yes, he sure does!! It is a great school... however, it has made our cruise budget a lot smaller!!! ;)

Thanks for reading!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DAY ONE CONTINUED

After the sailaway party, we realized that the crowds on the Lido Deck were thinning out… why??? Because it was almost Dinner Time!! But.. we were not rushed at all… why?? Because for the first time in 16 cruises we chose Anytime Dining instead of Early Seating. We wanted to try out this option – primarily for the flexibility. We got dressed for dinner – casual attire, yet we feel that getting dressed up a bit is appropriate for dinner. I am not bothered by what others wear in the dining room, but I am amazed how people actually dress. By all means guys… leave the Duck Dynasty baseball hat in the cabin during dinner!!!

48170149-dc9f-4b23-a63a-61a395265202_zps5ykmsxxs.jpg

DSCN0455%20-%20Copy_zpsfofrf7cy.jpg

 

 

We were seated at a booth for 4 and had good service on our first night. But the one thing we noticed during the week is the real personal service we were used to from Early Seating was gone. We were moved around all week, and met some very nice servers – but never built a rapport like we had in the past. While we never had BAD service, we often had SLOW service. We just felt that the service lacked something. We did however like the flexibility, but always seemed to arrive around that 6pm time frame. We may try Anytime again our next cruise, but will be happy choosing Early Seating again too.

 

Dinner the first night was some basics… Flat Iron steak for me, Brisket for Steve, and …. Ready for this… PLAIN PASTA with Parmesan cheese for Matt. Yes, this was ordered 7 days for him…. For his 12th cruise. I think he has had more pasta per person than any other person on Carnival!!! We also ordered Caesar Salad without anchovies each night. There was no problem with this request ever. We did notice that bread baskets were once again placed on the table – this was a change from the previous 6 or 7 cruises.

Steve and Matt each purchased a soda card before dinner. The total for one adult and one kid was $96.00. Yes, that is a lot of money on soda, but they got their monies worth!! We usually bring soda on board, but with our late arrival and taxi cost, it was not worth it. The soda card proved to be not only convenient but simple. Steve often was able to get a soda before dinner at the lobby bar and bring it into the dining room. Once at the dining room, bar service was provided by our wait staff, which was different as well.

 

After Dinner – we found the Taste Bar.. ( I think we should have found this BEFORE DINNER!!) We spoke to one of the chef's who we recognized from the Ice Carving Demo on the Splendor two years ago!! Amazing that I recognized one of the chefs!! He once again did the Ice Carving Demo on the Conquest a few days later.

DSCN0459%20-%20Copy_zpslbngliqb.jpg

 

Then.....we had plans…. To ONCE AGAIN attend the Camp Carnival welcome party!! This party used to be a big deal with an hour’s worth of dancing, fun and Funship Freddy. This party has since been downgraded a bit…. Just a half hour of a few line dances, some balloon games and a dance off!! Allison had fun – but this was when we really realized HOW FEW children on this ship. There were only about a dozen kids attend this party with their parents!! But…. At the family dance off… Yes, OUR FAMILY won for Best Family dancers!! Steve, Allison and I did our best twisting to “Let’s Twist Again” – and we won our first “Ship on a Stick”!! Allison was thrilled!!

882121ab-a9f7-4849-aac3-6f6dab2aa2fc_zpsex9klxsn.jpg

 

After the party, we went to a BIG SCREEN Trivia game in the main lounge. The trivia was “Where in the World” game.. Showing landmarks throughout the world. Allison loved playing – it was a lot of fun.

After Trivia, Steve and Allison got settled in for the night and Matthew and I explored the public areas and ended up in the Piano Bar with Tommy G for a bit. Tommy was a pretty good Piano Bar player – certainly not the best we have seen, but he was pretty good. He had a large catalog of basic Piano Bar music and folks were happy to sing along. While a lot of folks were out in the decks enjoying their first evening on the Conquest.. we decided our day was done…. And we returned to our cabin to find a new friend.. and to get ready for a great night sleep on the wonderful comfortable Carnival Beds!!

DSCN0467%20-%20Copy_zpsptocgctf.jpg

 

COMING UP!! FIRST DAY AT SEA!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SUNDAY APRIL 19th – FIRST SEA DAY

Let me just start this way…. WE LOVE SEA DAYS!!! This is what we love about cruising – love the relaxed atmosphere, the activities, the fact that the four of us can do four different things, then meet up for lunch, afternoon swim time, then meet up again for dinner. If I had a 7 day cruise to nowhere, I would be HAPPY!!!

 

I woke up early and ventured off to the GYM. I visited the Gym 5 days on this cruise – using the Elliptical and Treadmills. The gym was clean, well maintained but HOT!!! It was interesting how crowded it was on the first day, and how no one was there the last day!! Before I went to the gym, I would go fill my water bottle and grab a hard boiled egg!!

I returned to a cabin full of tired people.. but they were up and almost ready to get motivated. I got ready for the day, and we went to breakfast as a family. Egg White Omelets were available and we learned after that morning to go to the AFT for the Omelet station with no lines – the lines at the first station were long!! The kids liked their cereal, Danish, BACON etc. Steve was happy with fresh fruit and his omelet. We have always learned from past cruises to keep breakfast pretty light – to save room for lunch!!

 

After our late breakfast, we brought Allison up to Camp Carnival. At age 10, she was able to sign herself in and out for scavenger hunts, but we always used the schedule to make plans on what time one of us would come get her. The first morning was full of fun activities like T-shirt coloring, meeting a dancer, etc. She really loved her time with her new friends!

 

We spent the rest of the morning hanging at the pool….. and once again I did something brand new… I actually went down the slide!!! It was pretty funny actually.. as I had a hard time getting started!

 

After lunch…. Blue Iguana Cantina .. which is just like Chipolte… for me and Matt and a big Salad for Steve… we at at the Red Frog Bar and spent a few fun hours watching the Mixology Contests and the Hairy Chest Contest. These Carnival Staples are always entertaining and real fun. We just love people watching and the music, and fun atmosphere on the Lido Deck that first afternoon. Allison even met a new friend! GONE is Funship Freddy.. welcome Giant Towel Animal!!

DSCN0470%20-%20Copy_zps3p61qz2n.jpg

DSCN0475%20-%20Copy_zps552i6h6x.jpg

f285b6cd-1322-44e6-8c60-c9b3798a10f7_zpsywwbgdho.jpg

 

After the fun at the Lido Deck, Allison, Steve and I played a little Mini Golf and Volleyball. It was SUPER WINDY, but this is a tradition for Allison and Steve on the first day!!

786f05ac-bf2e-4838-8352-14f4dd202eab_zpsj8tqn9xg.jpg

DSCN0491%20-%20Copy_zpswsc2sbac.jpg

IMG_3907%20-%20Copy_zpsarhrkee8.jpg

 

COMING UP.. First Elegant Night and TRIVIA PARTY #1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...