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cruisinwithkiddies

Conquest Review- Jan 2006

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I posted this review today in the review section but wanted to share it on the boards in case anyone had questions:

 

I wanted to take the time to write a detailed and thorough review of our cruise on Carnival Conquest January 1-8; however, the longer I wait to FIND the time to do just that the less I remember about the cruise...so quickly the fantastic memories fade.

 

We had a wonderful cruise. I traveled with my husband (38), my daughter (3), my son (5), my mom (63) and my dad (66). I am 34. Overall we had a fantastic cruise. The food was great. The service was fantastic. And, it is just very nice to be pampered and "taken care of" for a week. That doesn't happen at home for sure and it just doesn't happen on land vacations either.

 

It had been years since we had cruised (my hubby and I, that is,- for everyone else it was the first time), and I had forgotten that by the last day on that ship you feel like your waiter, room steward, and those who helped are good friends that you just hate to leave behind. These relationships are a large part of the joy of cruising.

I've decided to give an overview review instead of detail by detail of our trip. And, then to give tips that I wish someone had left for me. They may not apply to everyone...but, hey, if they help someone it's worth leaving a review.

 

GALVESTON- I had never been to Texas, let alone Galveston. I booked a hotel on the Gulf side of the island. That wasn't a great idea. Granted, it was just a bed to sleep in. But, the neighborhood just a block away was questionable at best and there was NOTHING to do all day and evening. We went to the harbor side of the island the next morning to embark which was adorable- little shops, coffee shops, great restaurants, etc. My only recommendation is to stay on that side of the island if you want ANYTHING to do...or to feel safe at night. ALSO, Galveston is HUMID. If you have naturallly curly hair that you straighten...forgetaboutit! I was ROSANNA ROSANNA DANNA within an hour. Did anyone see the Friends episode where Monica's hair gets HUGE in Bermuda...I LIVED IT in Galveston. If you have the "Skipper's Club", don't expect much. There were four groups ahead of us in Skipper's Club, and a line of hundreds in the other. My parents had to go into the other line and boarded BEFORE us because Skipper's Club people were SO slow. Next time, we will probably forego the Skipper's Club even though we are booked in a suite.

 

THE SHIP AND OUR CABIN- the ship is enormous. It was very clean overall. We had the Cat12 penthouse suite which has a lot of room for a family of four. There is a king sized bed and a sofa that makes into a large queen. Our kids were very comfortable on this bed. The bathroom is huge with a large whirlpool tub. There are three large closets and a large bureau chest of drawers. I'm an overpacker and we had plenty of room to hang all that needed to be hung and to fold all that needed to be folded. If you have read somewhere else to pack and over the door shoe holder, and you have the penthouse suite, there is no need. There are six drawers and a large cupboard in the dressing area (separate from the bedroom and bathroom), and plenty of storage space inside the bathroom. The balcony was fantastic. For those of you with kids, yes the door has a lock up top that our little ones couldn't even begin to try and unlock. If it wasn't locked; though, they could easily open the door. Someone had said they were hard to open...not for my three and five year old anyway. Just be careful to lock the top lock. Our kids enjoyed the "sailaways" and "arrivals" at port immensely because we sat in our robes (they will be in your room, don't pack one) and enjoyed the scenery. The balconies are not huge. But, the four of us sat out there on regular occasion throughout the cruise.

 

FOOD- We had dinner in the Monet dining room which is at the back of the ship. I read people complaining about the navigation of the ship and thought it would be confusing. It is not, just remember which elevator takes you to your dining room...and don't try the others. It's that simple. The view is amazing back there. You feel the movement of the boat more there than anywhere. But, the sunsets some nights are just fantastic. The service was excellent. Our meats were ALWAYS cooked as ordered. The desserts were fine. It was nice to be able to order cheese and fruit each night after dinner either alone or with the dessert. Really try the flourless chocolate cake...it's phenomenal. Oh yeah, if you bring your kids to the dining room, they will be able to order from the kids menu or the regular menu. There is always something to please them.

We ate breakfast and lunch in the dining room some days and on the lido other days. You assume that the lido will be quicker because it is buffet; however, because the lines can get pretty long, the dining room is just as quick or quicker. You do not need to change clothes for the dining room during the day...shorts, t-shirts, etc. are just fine and the norm. On the lido deck, there is a grill that had decent hotdogs, hamburgers, fries, etc. The lines there seemed to go very quickly. Breakfast in the dining room offered the same choices as the buffet in the lido...just someone to bring it to you. We ordered room service in the evening for milk, juice, etc. for our young kids and for a bed time snack each evening for them (cookies, brownies, etc.) Room service was fairly quick each time (never more than 15-20 minutes...just know and expect that it may take this long and order accordingly).

Overall, the food was great. Really, I didn't have to cook it. It was always warm. I didn't have to pay for it each night. That alone makes it great. And, it was served with a smile! That makes it fantastic. I think anyone that complains about the food on cruises needs to get a grip on themselves and their expectations.

 

POOLS- The pools are small. Don't expect to swim laps. They are simply to cool off. They have salt water in them. So, half the time I just cooled off by jumping into the shower next to the pool. The hot tubs are crowded with both adults and kids...they just are. The waterslide is awesome- for grownups and kids. My son and I slid A LOT. They had a 42" rule with no exceptions. My three year old couldn't slide...and no, they wouldn't let her slide on my lap. They are strict about one person at a time. But, it was great fun.

 

DRINKS- We bought soda cards for my husband and I. My parents didn't get them because they are Pepsi freaks. The ship only has Coke products and my dad would rather drink water than Diet Coke. WEIRDO! Anyway, we drink a lot of soda so it worked for us. They are about $40 each. I don't know if we got our money's worth...but, I never felt guilty about having a Coke. I will say that once the bartender, cocktail waitress, or pool waiter knows you have a soda card and they won't be giving you a ticket with their automatic 15% tip, they come by far less often. I don't drink much alcohol. I enjoyed a Pina Colada each day by the pool and it cost about $4-$6 each. Not something I want to drink ten of and pay for, but worth it to enjoy one while reading a book and feeling the fresh sea air.

 

CAMP CARNIVAL- Our kids loved it. They begged to go whenever camp was open. I was SO confused before we left about their hours,etc. so I will try an clear that up. My kids were both in the 2-5 year old group. So, I don't know if this info. is true for all groups or just mine. First of all, on the first day you can tour the facilities and meet the staff. If you want to go, do it...but, don't feel obligated. The facility is a 2-5 year old's dream come true and you don't need to waste your time checking it out if you don't feel like it. On the first night they will have a "family get together" in the disco. I don't know why it isn't at Camp Carnival, maybe for lack of space up there and not wanting the kids into the stuff. Anyway, all you do is fill out the paperwork so that you don't have to do it in the morning. The 2-5 year olds certainly did not use this evening to "get to know each other". Maybe for the older kids, but I doubt it. Just go, fill the stuff out, and expect you will be out of there in 15-20 minutes. Camp opens each morning early then closes at noon. You have to pick up your kids by noon for lunch, etc. Then, camp reopens at 2pm until 5pm. At 5pm, you take your kids home and get them ready for dinner. You have a choice each night for dinner. They can go eat with their "camp friends" at 5:45 in the buffet restaurant on the lido deck (they will be given a choice off the kids menu) or you can take them to dinner with you. If you take them to dinner with you, you can take them to Camp Carnival after 7pm- that is when they will be back from dinner. If you take them to dinner with the Camp group (in the lido), they will be walked back to Camp Carnival around 6:45 with the counselors and you can pick them up later. They can stay from then on until 10pm. Let me tell you, the Camp really is great. It was the best of both worlds for us. We truly had a family vacation, where we spent a lot of time with our kids. But, we NEVER felt tired or frustrated with our kids because we had plenty of alone time too. I have found that when we have taken vacations away from our kids, which we feel we need, I spend the ENTIRE time wishing they were there. AND, when we take vacations with our kids, I spend the ENTIRE time wishing I could have some time away to enjoy grownup things. Camp Carnival REALLY gave us the opportunity to have both in one vacation. I can't say enough about the entire counseling team, the facility, the hours of operation, the activities, and more. They were great, great, great! You will LOVE these girls and so will your little kids.

 

PORTS- In Jamaica, my husband went on the White Witch golf excursion. He said it was GORGEOUS...but, with the price of the excursion, the rental of equipment, the lunch, the tips, etc. it was WELL over $200 and that's before he even bought himself a teeshirt. Be prepared to spend some money on that one. The kids and I took a taxi to Sunset Beach Resort And Spa. It was a 2 minute taxi ride that cost $5 for all three of us. At the resort, they charged me $40 for myself, $20 for the five year old, and the three year old was free. It is an all inclusive resort...all you can eat, drink, and do once you pay your money at the front desk. They have a fun water park with two or three slides, a lazy river to float around it intertubes, snorkeling equipment, and SO MUCH MORE. I highly recommend this place to those of you with young kids. Jamaica is a kind of scary place. This is a place you can take your kids and really feel safe. We ate both breakfast and lunch there. It was fair food. I didn't drink alcohol because I was alone with the kids all day. But, we had sodas, ice-cream, food, etc. all day and just really enjoyed a day back and forth from the beach to the water park and swimming pools. In Grand Cayman, we booked a trip to snorkel and go to Stingray City with Soto's Cruises. We booked this before the trip on the internet. They were great. Our boat had just 20 people on it. They were nice people. They took photos and we just received them in the mail. It was fantastic. You can find them online and book with confidence that it will be worth it. After that, we just went downtown to eat at the Hard Rock (great food, but get there before noon as the line got LONG really quick just after we got there...we were in and out in less than an hour because we were early). Then, there are fun shops all around it to mingle through. There were five cruise ships in port when we were there. It got a little crowded in town. In Cozumel, we went shopping. My mom and I enjoy shopping for jewelry. Do not expect any great deals. They aren't that much less than jewelry that is on sale here...and definitely not less than jewelry at a wholesale jewelry mart, etc. Cozumel is not a pretty as it used to be...but, they are working hard to get there. My suggestion is to book an excursion either before you go, or through Carnival. It was really a day that we would have been better off to stay on board.

 

MY TIPS IF YOU ARE ABOUT TO CRUISE- The ice cream on the lido deck is GREAT...it's between the grill and the buffet restaurant. If you are taking young kids, bring throw away makeup remover sheets (I got some by CHANCE at Target before the trip and threw it in, THANK GOD) because they will have their faces painted an awful lot during that seven days and you will want to clean it "quickly before dinner" or "quickly before bed", etc. If you bring kids, remember that they have a talent show which is really cute...if your child has a talent and needs to bring something from home to perform it, throw it in- you will be glad you did. Bring powdered laundry soap if you don't want to spend $2.00 on soap for each load and bring quarters if you want to do some laundry as each load will cost you about $4-$5 depending on length of drying. Don't plan on ironing much...you can't bring you own, and theirs is REALLY bad (especially don't iron your whites, I heard many people complain about it staining their white shirts, slacks, etc.). Just plan to be a little wrinkled. Don't bring quarters for the arcade if you have kids- they need to use tokens anyway and you might as well put dollars in to get them, not quarters one at a time. A lot of times they will tell you that they are having a talk that "You don't want to miss" about either shopping, or excursions, or even debarking. Don't stress out if you can't make it, they will show it over and over on your TV. It is cold in the dining rooms, bring a sweater. It is not very hot on the first and last day as you travel through the Gulf- I laid in the sun...but, mostly with goose bumps. My husband wants me to tell the poker players that there is Texas Hold Em on board, sign up early as there is only one table, and it is not "no limit" (I have ABSOLUTELY no idea what that means). If you have kids that want to meet Fun Ship Freddy, don't worry about chasing him around the ship- he will be at the kids talent show to take pictures with and will sign their "Freddy Dolls". They have COOL kids t-shirts in the gift shop that come with pens- the kids can color them, then when you send them through the laundry, they erase and they can do it again. If you want a massage, wait until Sunset Beach in Jamaica...it is just as good and about 1/4 of the price. Don't overpack shorts and tshirts...you will usually have a swimsuit and cover up on when you are on the boat and you need shorts maybe 2-3 times if you want to shop in port. Bring a plug strip- there is only one outlet in the bathroom...not one with two outlets, ONE OUTLET. We brought our ipod and dock/speakers and LOVED to have it while we sat out on the balcony...just load it UP with Jimmy Buffet. The room had a VCR but not DVD player. If you have kids who own personal DVD player, bring them...they were a very nice to have. Bring lots of $2 bills for tipping...they loved them everywhere I tipped with them and it was quick and easy. Wear your tighter formal dress on the first formal night...by the next one (night 5 or 6) you might just not fit into the smaller one as well, TRUST ME! If you want your hair braided in Jamaica, no it will NOT just take them "10 minutes"...plan to sit at least a half hour to an hour.

 

MOST OF ALL, plan to enjoy yourself. If nothing else, someone else is cooking for you all week, someone else is making the bed every day, someone else is cleaning the toilet and shower...that's worth every penny. If you lower your expectations, you will increase your odds of having the vacation of a lifetime. All six of us had a dream vacation.

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Thank you for your review. Did you take both of your children with you on the Stingray tour? How did your 3yo do? I also have a 3yo and we are concerned that he might freak out. I know my 7yo will love it.

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GREAT review...thanks for taking the time to post it! Nice morning read with my coffee.....:) I loved the Flourless chocolate cake too - it was NOT served on our cruise on the Triumph last month:( . ANd swimming with the stingrays is ONE of the top highlights of my life....ahhhhhhhh

Also, were you able to go to any shows?

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Thanks for the great review. I have a question about Sunset Beach. Do you know at what age they charge the $40 per person? Did you bring your Carnival towels from the ship or do they have towels there? Are the bathrooms clean? And finally, do they have lockers?

 

thanks,

Gayle

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Gayle,

 

We did the Sunset Beach last week with our kids who are 13 and 16 and both were charged as adults. Our friends' 9 year old was $20. All of it was well spent. They will give you towel vouchers to get the first towel and then you can bring wet ones back and swap out any time you want. I didn't see any lockers but they may have had them.

 

It was an absolutely beautiful resort. Careful of the acohol though; they don't water it down just because it's free!

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GALVESTON- I had never been to Texas, let alone Galveston. I booked a hotel on the Gulf side of the island. That wasn't a great idea. Granted, it was just a bed to sleep in. But, the neighborhood just a block away was questionable at best and there was NOTHING to do all day and evening. We went to the harbor side of the island the next morning to embark which was adorable- little shops, coffee shops, great restaurants, etc. My only recommendation is to stay on that side of the island if you want ANYTHING to do...or to feel safe at night. ALSO, Galveston is HUMID. If you have naturallly curly hair that you straighten...forgetaboutit! I was ROSANNA ROSANNA DANNA within an hour. Did anyone see the Friends episode where Monica's hair gets HUGE in Bermuda...I LIVED IT in Galveston. If you have the "Skipper's Club", don't expect much. There were four groups ahead of us in Skipper's Club, and a line of hundreds in the other. My parents had to go into the other line and boarded BEFORE us because Skipper's Club people were SO slow. Next time, we will probably forego the Skipper's Club even though we are booked in a suite.

 

 

 

I lived in Galveston for a long long long time. What hotel did you stay in?

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Thank you so much for that wonderful review. I can't wait til April!! Did you by chance save your capers & if so, would you please email them to me? I'd love to read them for 2006. Thanks again!

Janis

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Nice review Thanks! I do have a question. Is Sunset beach something you book with carnival, or on your own before the cruise or are they there to take you if you want when you get off at the port.

 

Thanks, suszcruise4fun :D

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We went to Sunset Beach the first week of January, and you don't need to book ahead of time or through Carnival - when you get off the boat there are some people there who I guess work for the Tourism Bureau or something - tell them that you want to go to Sunset Beach and they will get you a cab. It was well worth every penny - my husband and I had a blast.

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Hi All,

 

Sorry...we've been away. I'm glad you seemed to think the review was helpful.

 

Sunset Beach- They gave each of us a towel and yes we traded them in for dry ones halfway through the day. I don't know when the kids are charged as adults...but it will be worth it for any age because the older kids will definitely get their $40 worth in food, snorkeling, sodas, icecream, and the water slides. We just did exactly what the last poster said and told the man outside that we wanted a cab to Sunset Beach...it was literally $5 for the three of us and VERY close. We could see the ship from our pool chairs. Jamaica is kind of dirty and scary. If you have little ones, I highly recommend Sunset Beach.

 

Grand Cayman- Our three year old and five year old did REALLY well with the Stingrays. First we went out to the middle of the water and snorkeled. The guys with Soto's were GREAT...they got each kid a life vest and tied it around their waist so that it was like an intertube. Our three year old and five year old were literally out their SNORKELING like adults. It was fantastic. AND, then, when we got to the stingrays, it was only waist deep so my husband and I each held a kid. Our kids were a little scared, but they got in and got close to the stingrays for photo ops and to check them out. They did real well.

 

Capers- I'm sorry. I didn't bring my Capers home. Which I feel guilty about because other people did before my cruise...and I enjoyed reading them, if for no other reason, to get EXCITED!

 

I'm so excited for and jealous of those of you getting ready to GO!

 

-Mandy

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I didn't mention the shows because I always hated "downers" in people's reviews before I left...especially about things that are so subjective. We went to the first show "Formiddable", which was a Las Vegas type review dance show. I have a degree in Dance so I can be kind of critical. However, the rest of my family wouldn't know a tutu from a pair of toe shoes. If you like dance a lot, you won't like this show (the dancing is really mediocre at best). If you aren't into dance, you won't like this show either because it is ALL dance...not even a song you'll recognize as they sing original songs not "standards". My husband, kids, and parents were horrified to have to sit through it. And, actually, my husband pulled the "three year old is tired and needs to go to bed, so I'll take her up" routine like he was a martyr having to leave. And, of course, I couldn't get ANY of them to step foot back into the theater. So, don't bank on the shows being so great. I was really dissapointed. Sorry!

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I have several beaded dresses, but haven't a clue if they are to vintage or what? I sure don't want to look odd?

Thanks

Gerri

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You'll fit right in. You've never seen so many beaded dresses, so many sequined dresses, so many glittery dresses. It's really quite a lovely sight. It's also fun to tell a total stranger that she looks drop-dead gorgeous or that one thing we women all long to hear: "You are BEAUTIFUL!" Formal nights provide lots of opportunity to fill other women's emotional tanks that way. . .

 

(What makes me smile is the women wearing their bridesmaid dresses; they are so glad to find an opportunity to wear that expensive dress a second time! :D)

 

Sue

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We were on the same time as you. I agree the harbor side of the island is a nicer place to stay. We were at the Harbor House. It was so slose to the terminal we walked with a ton of luggage. We also were in the Monet dining room on the lowest level on the left side. I really wish we had been more central in the dining room because of the waiters dancing and singing but it didn't hurt me to get up and see in the main room.

We didn't care for any of the shows either except the comedy shows.

 

I also didn't feel safe in Jamacia but I think the excursion you did must have been really fun, we did the rafting down the Martha Brea which I thought was wonderful not sure how it would have been with kids though. If we get to go back I think we will do what you did. You are right there were alot of ships in Grand Cayman I saw the Radiance and the Jewel and the Rhapsody of the Seas as well as the Conquest and a ship called the Holiday Dream from Pullman anyway there were a lot of people there that day we just hung around town. We did the stingray thing in the Bahamas fantastic time.

 

I enjoy reading everyones reviews that were on the same trip. Makes me glad we weren't the only ones that had a great time. I don't think I have read a bad one yet.

 

I'm aready looking for the next trip I only hope it will measure up to the last one.

 

This was my 4th cruise I live this ship and second would be the Fantasy I see she has had a makeover.:)

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Hello,

 

On the first formal night I wore a black spaghetti strap dress with a few sequins. On the second formal night I wore a cream beaded dress (had to save that for the second one so I would at least have a LITTLE bit of color on that skin). You will look PERFECT in your beaded dress. The women go all out and the men tend to stick to suits. My hubby wore a tux...but would have been fine in a suit.

Have fun!

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