The Conquest is quite a ship. My family and I have not cruised before, so we have no comparison. I will attempt to do her justice. We drove to New Orleans and arrived Saturday night. We had a reservation at the Hilton Riverside, which included the cruise special (99$ for room and parking for 7 days, you however had to pay $22 for the Sat. night parking). The hotel was very nice and very convenient. We walked two blocks to eat at a cajun place called Mulates. My family doesnt care for Cajun food, but they had other things on the menu. They had live music and dancing. The kids got beads from someone by the band. If you go here to eat and order the chicken tenders off the kids menu, have the kids split one. We ordered 3 and our 3 kids could have split one order, you get a lot. Harrahs is right across the street from the hotel. You can catch the trolley right outside the front door and take it to the French Quarter which we did on Sunday morning (I dont remember how much it was but it was nominal). We had beignets at Cafe Beignets (Cafe DuMonde appeared to be too crowded, although I found out later they have a take out window). We walked around Jackson Square (some of the artists were set up) and we were able to go to mass at St. Louis Cathedral (wear a jacket it is cold in there). We then walked back to the hotel, an easy walk. Yes you could walk to the ship, either outside or through the Riverwalk mall, but there will be some stairs and we had too much luggage. So, my husband dropped us and the luggage off at the cruise terminal and went back to the hotel garage to park the car. Advice, when you get to the terminal, there will be 2 lanes one slow and on the far right (they are trying to get into the parking lot at the Julia street terminal), take the lane on the left if you are dropping off and go around the slow lane. We found out after already taking some of our luggage to the car that the hotel would have taken our luggage to the terminal for $25. We took walkie-talkies so my husband could find us on the way back. We got to the terminal about 12:30 and were on the ship by about 2:00. Our room was ready when we got there and our luggage was already there.
We found out when we got to the terminal that our itinerary had changed (which we suspected all along, we just didnt know how), we had an extra day at sea instead of Grand Cayman and they gave us a credit on our sign and sail card $25 per person, and we stayed longer in Montego Bay (in at 9out by 7) and Cozumel (in at 8 and out by 6).
Our room was on the Riviera deck1 very bottom and very last 2 rooms. We were pleasantly surprised with the size of the rooms, the only time we felt cramped was when someone was trying to get something out of the closets and out of the bathroom at the same time. Each room had plenty of closet space and extra hangers and also plenty of drawer space, there were robes in each room, a safe and a refrigerator. Our room steward Alveydas was very attentive and pleasant. He made up our room in the morning and gave us fresh ice and towels then and then turned our bed back every night, gave us fresh ice, towel animals and chocolates and more fresh towels if needed. On several nights he left cookies for the kids. The kids stayed in one room (they loved the bunks) and we stayed in the one next door. The first night, I used a baby monitor to make myself feel better, but we didnt after that. The first night was rather loud, I think as the ship was going down the river and we felt some movement, but after that we only heard the white noise from the air conditioning and didnt feel any movement except for coming out of Cozumel (loud again with some vibration). Being at the end of the hall it was very quiet too, no noise in the hallway. I forgot to state we had inside rooms (guarantee 4A). I dont think I would pay the extra for the oceanview as we werent in our rooms very much, maybe the balcony would be nice.
We ate in the Monet dining room, top, early sitting. We had a fantastic service team. Anthony from Barbados and Iketut from Indonesia,and the bar waiter (dont remember his name). They called the kids by name after the first night and the bar waiter had their drinks waiting for them every night. To answer the question about pop in the dining room, the kids were served pop without charge, including refills as much as needed. Iketut had a magic trick or napkin folding trick for the kids every night and he took a lot of time to teach them how to do them. The food was good, not fantastic. I especially enjoyed the salmon on 2 nights. The kids sometimes ordered off the childrens menu and sometimes off the regular menu. My husband doesnt like the fancy desserts and on the kids menu they had brownies, so every night he got brownies and ice cream, Anthony remembered it every night. The service was fantastic, they were very attentive. I think if we had to do it over, we would request the later dinner as it was a rush to get cleaned up and to dinner. By the way, people straggled in between 5:45 and 6:00. However, if you are at at table with others (which we weren't), they have to wait to serve you all together. We also missed the leaving at ports, although we had a window view, we were at the back of the dining room. But, with the kids and Camp Carnival activities the early sitting worked out for us.
Camp Carnival was wonderful, the kids enjoyed it and wanted to do everything they had planned. I know many ask can a child move up, and they wouldnt let my younges, 8, move up to the 9-11 year olds to be with her brother and sister. She didnt mind though, she had a great time. Some of the time they were together for activities. The 9-11 year olds could sign themselves out, but asked mine not to, and I was always there to pick them up after their activities. Camp Carnival does have a talent show on Saturday so if your child has a talent and needs prop you might bring it. My kids were able to remember some songs they could play on the piano. The counselors were excellent and the kids really enjoyed them. There werent too many kids attending very often, maybe 5-10 in each age group.
The shows were good. My husband and I enjoyed I think it was Tues. night, the Motown review with Lawrence Neals (?) and prior to that juggling with Steve Cassel, cruise director. The Vegas shows were pretty good and the magic show was fair. We didnt make it to the comic acts, but I heard they were funny. We enjoyed the Blood Power Band in the lounges, often played in Degas Lounge and also we enjoyed the piano bar. Alfreds Bar was too smokey, especially with Cigar smoke.
The Captains Cocktail party was good. They come around with a selection of drinks on the trays, but my husband drinks Coors Light and they brought him that without charge.
Montego Bay-My husband took the ATV adventure and the kids and I horseback riding. He said the view was beautiful on the aTVs but too slow of a ride for him. The horses were fun, especially riding in the water. We met back at the terminal and then took a van (JUTA) to Dr. Caves beach ($5 admission), nice but not spectacular. For those wanting to go to Margaritaville, it was badly damaged in the hurricane. They have a little hut set up on Dr. CAves beach selling food and drinks and they have a shop to buy t-shirts and stuff. We arrange for our taxi driver to pick us up at a certain time, which he was there early even. It is a little intimidating when they are all trying to get you to go with them, but all we had to say was Sugar was picking us up (our driver) and they even got him for us.
Cozumel-We took the early Atlantis Submarine excursion and it was excellent. My husband and I had been on one in Barbados and he wanted the kids to go. I think the one in Cozumel is even better as the water is so clear. We booked through the ship as we were unsure of our final itinerary. It was more expensive, but also the fact that we didnt have any hassles getting to the Atlantis office and back, not to mention cab fare, was worth it. At the end of the pier we met, they got us a taxi (which was included in price), the boat took us out to sub, then after they dropped us at the pier right by the ship. It really is something to see along the reef there. After that we took a cab to paradise beach, they have all of the cab fares posted. I think it was $3 per person, and since we have 5 and we all got in one cab they charged us $14 total. Paradis beach was nice and being the 1st of October they started charging for the use of the water toys, so the kids got wrist bands for $5 each to use the kayaks, water trampoline, iceberg, floats, and life jackets if needed, also they had snorkel equipment. There was someone right there renting wave runners (55$ for 30 minutes), parasailing ($55), boats taking people out snorkeling. They also had hair braiding and wraps, and those henna tattoes. We didnt have to pay for beach chairs or umbrellas. The food was pretty good and moderately priced and the margaritas were great!
Overall, the ship was very clean. We saw them cleaning nooks and crannies that I wouldn't even think needed to be cleaned. All of the people working on the ship were friendly and helpful. We didnt ever have a hard time finding lounge chairs by the pools. I thought kids were not allowed in the hot tubs, but only not allowed in the aft ones. Our favorite place to sit was on Deck 3, under the shade of the life boats, the loungers were padded. I thought the lounge chairs by the pools were not very comfortable.
Miscellaneous: My husband bought the fountain card. We decided not to get the fountain cards for the kids as they could get soda in the dining room without charge. My husband likes diet coke in the morning, and the bars don't open prior the 9 am, so he had to wait to get his diet coke. He then bought some in Jamaica, so he would have some available in the morning. I didnt try to specialty coffees at Cafe Fans but i did look at prices and comparable to Starbucks (lattes were $3.25). The purser cashed travelers checks without any problem. The only inconvenience we found was when we had to book one adult in each room, then my husband's sign and sail wouldnt let him in our room and one of our daughters sign and sail wouldnt let her in the kids room. We went to the pursers to change it and they wouldnt, because they had to have on adult for each room even though they didnt care who slept where. So we basically kept all the sign and sail cards between my husband and I.
Disembarkation wasnt too bad, our color was called probably in the 3rd or 4th round. It was not much fun waiting but it didnt last too long. Once off we had a porter take our bags to the curb, while my husband got the van from the parking garage. Once again the walkie talkies came in handy. They startding disembarkation about 8:30 and we were on the road by 10:30.
I would recommend the Conquest and Carnival to future travelers