My husband and I just returned from the Carnival Conquest departing from New Orleans on October 3, 2004. It was our first cruise, and a celebration of our 20th anniversary. I tend to write short and sweet and to the point, and I hope I can do this beautiful ship justice.
We arrived a day early in New Orleans, giving us time to see the city. Our hotel accommodations were booked at the same time as our cruise, thru Carnival direct. We stayed at the Pere Marquette Mariott hotel. Carnival had a representative meet us at the airport, take us to the hotel, and the next morning, had a bus meet us and other guests for transportation to the dock. It couldn't have been any easier or less stressful. Great job.
Embarkation, as in other reviews, takes a little while to get through...but hey, we're talking 3000 plus passengers here. I would estimate our dance thru the ballroom of yellow chairs took approximately 45 minutes , but it was again, planned , well organized, and stress free. We arrived between 12:30 and 1 pm, and were to our room just before 2 pm.
We were stunned by the sheer size of the ship. Stunned, and perhaps intimidated. Our fears as first time cruisers were that we did not bring walkie talkies to find each other if we got separated! The decor is French Impressionistic, and quite lovely. Our first stop was to buy the soda cards as we are not heavy drinkers. You can purchase them at any bar onboard. We purchased two, and in hindsight, one would have been sufficient. We arrived at our room, a balcony suite upper deck aft. Again, as others have said, save money other places, but SPEND for the balcony room! It was truly heaven getting up in the morning and sitting out on the deck watching the sun rise and the waves go by without worrying about getting your gear out to save a deck chair for the day. The muster drill happens about 5 pm....our luggage arrived in stages, but was all received by 8 pm.
The ship experience, these are the things you cannot write about , but have to let the next cruiser experience for themselves. Suffice to say, the cruise director Steve Cassel was entertaining, the games and onboard activities kept us laughing and happy throughout our cruise! The staff is always polite, friendly, and eager to assist. The ship has so many places to explore you will not run out of things to do. Although there were 3000 people plus the crew onboard...we rarely felt crowded. Your choices of music, food, entertainment, games, quiet spots, are many and all enjoyable.
Our first port was Montego Bay, Jamaica. Margaritaville was damaged during the hurricanes but has relocated down the beach a bit. Our planned shore excursion was the Appleton Rum Plantation. We were so happy we had chosen this tour, as it gave us a real tour around the island, a chance to see people in their daily routine, and how they live. We drank our share of rum, but were never approached about drugs. All in all, a great experience!
Again due to the recent hurricanes, no Grand Cayman stop this trip. We were given 25.00 per person onboard credit.
Cozumel Mexico, we chose the excursion to Passion Island for a day at the beach. The water was beautiful, warm, there were hammocks strung between the trees just like in a postcard. Only 200 people or so on the entire island, which was so unlike our vacations to crowded beaches in California. They served us a traditional lunch, had an open bar, and we relaxed in the sun. Again, a great experience!
We chose to dine one night at the Point. Everyone had said to try this if you got the chance. We would also whole heartedly recommend you try it. Our anniversary was mid week, and so we chose that night for our Point dinner. The service was exceptional, the food delicious and presentation superb. Our server made recommendations including the wine, and the team assigned to us *yes, it's a team* were attentive but not intrusive. Dress is formal, and hubby had opted to rent the tux onboard for the entire week. Again, great idea. It was ready when we arrived, and fit perfect.
Our regular dining was Monet upstairs late seating. Our servers Osborn and Amanda were terrific. They offered suggestions from the menu, and remembered our preferences by the second night. How do they do that meeting a ship load of new faces every week!?
We went to our first art auction while onboard. While not something we would attend time and time again, it was interesting and not anything we had done before. This trip was all about doing things our kids would be surprised we had done!
Speaking of the kids, they didn't go along! ha! But they were real sweet and had ordered stateroom decorations for our anniversary, which surprised us in our room after our day in Jamaica. We've decided we'll take the kids along NEXT time!
Ok, short and sweet, isn't very short at all, so I'll end it here. We are hooked, and already planning our next cruise. We would recommend Carnival, and the Conquest, anytime!