Pre-Cruise: My wife and I elected to drive to New Orleans since there were no direct flights from Little Rock. Now both Delta and Southwest offer direct flights. Just our luck!!
We stayed at the Maison St. Charles. It's $89 per night, but they park your car for only $5/day while you are gone. Ask for the Bon Voyage Special. They will also take you to the port at no charge. Bourbon St. was a blast. There were many bars offering 3 for 1 drink specials. There were a lot of people on Bourbon St. but it was never uncomfortable.
Embarkation: We arrived at the port sometime between 12 and 12:30. We were on the boat on later than 1. All the lines were moving very quickly. The ship was beautiful. Everything was clean and the decor was unbelievable.
We took a tour of the spa when we got on the boat. It was very good, but their prices were a little high. They start offering spa packages at cheaper prices later in the week.
Then we went down to the pool and had a few drinks. Don't forget to pack your bathing suit in your carry-on since your luggage will not make it to your room until later in the afternoon.
Cabin: We were in cabin 8459 at the back of the ship. This was my 3rd cruise, and I had never had a balcony room before. I'll never stay in anything but a balcony room from now on!!! The view was wonderful.
There was only one real complaint that we had. I had ordered a bottle of wine to be delivered to our room so we could sit out on the balcony and have a glass of wine as we were leaving New Orleans. We finally got it on our last night of the cruise.
Dining: We ate in the dining room for 4 of the evenings. It was good. No where near spectacular, but definitely well above average. The portions were small, but you could order as many items as you wanted. The steaks were good cuts of meat, but they always seemed to be overcooked. The lobster was very good, though. The desserts were good. The last night I had the Grand Marnier Soufflé, and it was wonderful. I usually went to the Sushi bar before dinner so I didn't really try the appetizers except the escargot and I've had better.
For lunch we ate at either the Cezanne buffet or the hamburger/hot dog grill. Both were better than expected. I think the buffet was the same food they served in the dining room, but you didn't have to wait for someone to bring it to you. They also had Chinese food and a sandwich deli that we never got around to trying.
For breakfast we went to the Cezanne buffet every morning only because room service only had continental breakfast. The breakfast buffet was also very good. Bacon, eggs, sausage, toast, fruit, cereal, etc. You could also get a homemade omelet.
Pools: We spent the at sea days at the pool. Get there early because all the chairs seem to be taken by about 10:00. At about 1:00 every day they would do different things, i.e. cruise ship survivor, hairy chest contest, trivia, synchronized swimming. Those were fun to watch. If you are going to sit and drink beer by the pool, go ahead and get the bucket of beer. It will save you $.50 per beer, plus, if you don't drink them all, you can always put them in the frig in your room.
Entertainment: The entertainment on the boat was great. The cruise director, Stuart, was the best. His high energy put everyone in a good mood. There were 2 comedians on the ship that were both very funny. We went to the karaoke bar a few times. It was very good. They also had slot and bingo tournaments everyday. We went to the piano bar one night and it was exceptionally awful. Not the kind of piano bar we are used to. I think the only songs he knew were Margaritaville and Chuck Berry's Ding-a-ling. Henri's disco was fun also. Just try to leave before it closes if you want to get an early start the next day.
Jamaica: Taxis: I don't know who is pushing the JUTA taxis, but I found them to be a rip off. We took a JUTA taxi from Sunset Beach to Margaritaville and it was $15. Back to the boat we took a JCAL or MAXI (I can't remember which), and it was only $8. Sunset Beach is only 2 blocks from the boat. So I'm not sure what the other $7 was for.
Sunset beach was fun. They have snorkeling, kayaks, paddle boats, 2 pools, massages ($1/minute) etc. They also had a dang good bar, and they don't water your drinks down. We stayed for about 3-4 hours. Then, we took our $15 cab ride to Margaritaville. This place was a blast. Good music, good food, and good drinks. A lot of people having a good time. We stayed for about 3 hours, but not before we spent $50 in the gift shop.
Grand Cayman: Grand Cayman was absolutely beautiful. We went on the See and Sea tour. We went to see the sea turtles, went to Hell & mailed some postcards, and went on a semi-submarine tour. It was very nice not to have to exert any energy after closing Henri's the night before. After our excursion we went to the Hard Rock Cafe and ate. It was very good food. Then we walked around to see all things hanging on the walls. Again, we spent another $50 in the gift shop.
Cozumel: This is the place to buy liquor. The duty free shop is right where you get off the boat. I got a .750 ml of Tanqueray and Absolut and a 1.75ml of Crown Royal, again, spending my usual $50. At the end of the pier they have an outside mall. This is where we found most of the deals on the trip. Plus, you don't have people clawing at you like in Jamaica. There was one place, Miro, which had all t-shirts for only $5. This cut my usual $50 in half. It is right next to Fat Tuesday's.
We then went on a Sail, Snorkel and Beach Party excursion. This was a blast. We sailed out on a Catamaran, snorkeled for about 45 minutes, and then went to a private beach for about 1 hour. The best thing about it is that all the drinks are free when you get on the catamaran. They do have an $8 buffet when you get to the island, so eat before you go because you will be hungry before you get back to the boat.
Debarkation: This was a joke. We got off the boat about 9:00. We went through "customs," had our luggage and were in a cab at 9:05. I guess "Customs" was the name of the dog that sniffed everyone as they got off the boat. No one asked for our passports or if we had declared anything, which was a good thing since we were over our limit on alcohol (which is 1 bottle per person). We were back at the hotel and on the highway at 9:25.
Overview: This was absolutely the nicest ship I have been on. We will definitely sail on the Conquest again. If you decide to take this cruise, go by the Sports Bar and tell Francisco the bartender that Donald Marion from Little Rock said hello!!