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Copyright © 1995-2003 
Linda Coffman

 

Carnival Conquest
September 21-28, 2003
Western Caribbean

by "Seawall"

Overview: I am 44 years old and travel with my companion, Marvin. We enjoy cruising immensely. I am a manager of a Truck Stop Casino in Louisiana. Our previous cruises include Commodoreís Enchanted Capri (two sailings), Commodoreís Enchanted Isle, Carnivalís Celebration, RCCLís Rhapsody of the Seas, and a two-night inaugural cruise on the Carnival Conquest, and finally, seven nights aboard Carnivalís Conquest. 

 

We have cruised since 1998, taking at least one cruise per year. Our tastes are simple, we have a country background and enjoy the simple things of life. However, we also enjoy dressing up and enjoy the finer things of life. We cruise exclusively on the Western Caribbean, as we sail out of Galveston, or New Orleans. We choose not to fly to ports and, although we are limited in our selection of ships, we are thankful to be able to cruise more often without the addition of airfare.

 

Embarkation: The Julia St. Pier in New Orleans is not without problems; however, if you know the drill, it is not as difficult. When arriving by car, make your decision ahead of time as to whether you will park at the pier side (open lot) parking, or the Fulton Parking Garage. If you find yourself in the right lane, heading toward the pier, and the traffic is stuck, assume folks are trying to take a right into the open parking. TIP: Zoom past them into the left lane, drop the passengers and the luggage, and Terminal police will direct you to the Fulton parking; it is $10.00 per day, covered parking, and the Fulton Shuttle runs every fifteen minutes.

 

After tipping the skycaps, and waiting for Marvin to return from the Fulton, we were ready to go and all set in the line for embarkation. The whole process took approximately one hour and fifteen minutes, and it is not without pain. The officials at the check in were courteous and quick. Following that, the process began to be quite military-like. (Please bear with me, as I am trying to be a comic here.) After check in, we proceeded to the left, which is not that easy, considering bags are in tow--and literally, in tow. We went to pick up our cabin cards and then to the yellow chairs. Literally, the yellow chairs. A Drill Sergeant type of individual tells us immediately to remove all jewelry, belts, earrings, etc. as we were to proceed through the embarkation photo area, and then the x-rays... AKA Security. Remember to keep your photo ID and your cabin card handy through all of this.

 

Up the escalators, to another security check point, this is where your carry-ons will be x-rayed, and you will have to pass through the check point. NOT that easy. They opened my carry on and Marvin could NOT pass through security. He had on Leviís jeans with brads, so they wanded him. They apologized to us and I said, not to fear, rather you guys be safe than sorry. After this, it was onto the Conquest, and the picture for the Apass security system. Thank goodness for Carnivalís Security.

 

At the terminal we were also handed papers that said our cabin would NOT be ready until two pm. Donít believe that, as the cabins were well prepared. We boarded the Conquest at 1:40 pm. I ordered a Bon Voyage package from Carnival, which included three bottles of wine, and they were there, just as ordered. Perfect. Carnival gets an A+ for that one.

 

Our luggage arrived within two hours of boarding. The aft balcony was perfect, and much larger than the balconies on the sides of the ship. I knew this ahead of time and thatís why I booked the aft.

 

The Muster drill was not that quick and not that painless, but at least, under the shade of the upper deck. I noticed they did NOT call room numbers, so, go figure; some cabins might have missed it, some not. 

 

After the muster, back to the cabin and to sailaway. We enjoy sailing out of New Orleans because of the eight hour plus trip down and out of the river. The Conquest thrusts out to the middle of the river, then does a 180 turn. Beautiful move and we enjoyed the sail away so much. Words canít describe that trip until it gets dark... then haunting, on the river... barge traffic... and the majestic swaying of the ship as she follows the bends of the Mighty Muddy.

 

Strange, we never saw our room steward; and he would turn out to be not only invisible, but totally invisible most of the time.

 

Time for late seating in the Monet Dining Room. Beautiful French Artwork and theme. Food and dining mates were good. Enjoyed it. Time to explore the casino. (Like I hadnít seen it before.)

 

A few notes: The Conquest does NOT pipe announcements into your cabin and you can hardly hear them on deck. They do NOT harp the bingo, etc. It was such an enjoyment not to hear them. We heard the Captainís address at noon one day. He must have been bored.

 

Day Two: Sea Day

I love Sea Days; born in my blood. I will not bore you with the details, but suffice it to say, I was fully occupied. Carnival does a great job of either keeping you busy, or... just letting you do nothing. I love it. I really love sitting on the aft balcony and watching the wake go by. Does one good for the soul. We managed to catch the Pool games and the Horse Racing. Loved it. 

 

This night is formal night and, with a ship this huge, the Captainís Cocktail party is spread throughout the entire AFT area lounges. We were treated great, and enjoyed it. The menu that night in the Monet was lobster and Prime Rib. Who could have guessed? And they both were great. The waiters, also, do not mind bringing seconds. However, something was strange, it was the second night that our waiter disappeared; and she reappeared several nights later; never figured THAT one out.

 

Another bit about our cabin--it was 6454, aft, and it was convenient to everything. Down one deck to the Promenade and up three decks to the Lido. Very convenient for us. Now, the problem with 6454--it is directly over the Degas Lounge. HUGE problem for a light sleeper. The Daylon Wear band was playing country music EVERY night. And, I love a good band, but after an exhausting day at sea, or in ports, whew... it got just a little more than I could stand. TIP: Wear earplugs to bed if you are on the Upper Deck aft, or do like I did; get out of bed, dress, and go down and meet them. I told them, I really enjoyed them, and knew them personally as I had heard them every night.

 

Day Three: Sea Day

Another sea day, so relaxing. Time to do nothing, or whatever the Capers suggest. We went to the Survivor game, it was really good, we enjoyed it. Now, time for a comment on the Conquest Ė on the lido deck. The main pool area is Stadium seating and it might make for a great photo op, but in my opinion it is not that great as for as pool seating goes. It is difficult for the bar servers to get to the top of the seating areas and it is not that conveniently arranged. However, the huge blue rocking chairs are nice, but hard to come by. The pool band plays strictly toward the forward area, and anyone to the aft of them...  well, you guessed it, you cannot see, nor hear them. I felt the stadium type seating was inconvenient, but guess it works for Carnival on their Conquest class of ships. At this time, I will add a comment about the smoking areas. Whether you smoke or not, it is extremely confusing. The Capers suggest that the entire Port side of the ship is designated for Non Smoking. That would suggest that the Starboard side is smoking. Depends on which deck. And, aft or forward. For example, the aft of the Lido, the aft pool area, the Port side is smoking. Go through the buffet area (of course it's non smoking) and exit into the main pool area, then the the Starboard is smoking. Go up on, on the aft, to deck ten, and the smoking is starboard. No one could tell me rhyme or reason, on this one.

 

Also, there are well marked ice machines located on all decks. No more tipping the steward for ice; you get it yourself if you run out. 

 

TIP: Use the aft pool, and the hot tubs around it. They are adult only and I made full use of them, especially around ten, or eleven at night. Wonderful temperature. Great places! The pool all the way forward is adjacent to the water slide, and it is not used that much at night, either. The water slide does NOT empty into that pool. Water slide has a a chute where folks can slow down, comfortably, on the slide. However, it is slippery.

 

Day Four: Jamaica

Iíve never been a fan of Jamaica and this cruise proved it to me. Why not Ocho Rios? I will not go into details other than to say we went on the Pirate Ship, Calico, and I feel it was misrepresented by Carnival. 'Nuff said. We dined at the Cezanne buffet this night, and it was very good.

 

Day Five: Grand Cayman

We love this port and have done several excursions. This time we took a walk to Jack Rackums toward the left of the tender area. Had a few beers, just laid back and had the best time of the cruise. Just a leisure day, with a little shopping. Also, on this night, Thursday, we booked the alternative dining, The Point. At $25 per person it was MORE than worth it. Incredible dining, with a seven course meal. Marvin had the lobster and I had the filet mignon. Incredible atmosphere and I saved one of the three bottles of wine from the Bon Voyage for this meal. No problem with corkage fees as the bottle was purchased through Carnival. Exquisite dining and I would not hesitate to go to any of Carnivalís alternative dining again. 

 

Other dining options that I might mention at this time, other than the Monet and the Renoir dining rooms, include the Sur Mer, a seafood restaurant above the Cezanne buffet. On one side of the buffet area there is Poís Wok, which serves delightful Chinese dishes, and The Deli on the other side, which serves great sandwiches, including the Original Reuben with sauerkraut. Delightful. And of course there is the Pizza, twenty four hours a day.

 

Day Six: Cozumel

My favorite port and we had plans to meet our friends on the Grand Princess.  Fate twisted this move and after a quick hike to Ĺ Frogs, I decided to go back to Puerto Maya, where the Conquest and Grand Princess were docked. The Grand Princess, as always, is a great looking ship. Shopping this day and the obligatory trip to Carlos and Charlies as well as Palmeiras; they have the best Margaritas on the rocks in the world! The sailaway from Cozumel was special as the weather permitted us to view it from the balcony and earlier one of our friends from the Grand Princess actually spotted us and yelled at us! It was wonderful.

 

Day Seven: Last Sea Day

Finals from the Survivor Competition were almost rained out as we passed into a cold front, and the start of TS Larry. However, we trouped through them. Made a quick thing of packing our bags, early in the morning, so we had nothing to do but enjoy our last sea day. I spent considerable time in the casino that night. Back in the cabin I enjoyed the entrance back into the Mississippi Delta. Earlier in the day we had the pleasure of seeing several Dolphins from our balcony as they followed the ship into the Oil Rig area. J I stayed on the balcony until one in the morning; we were just entering the river proper. We docked at four in the morning. 

 

Debarkation: As we had cruised with our friends, maw and paw, we were so happy to get VIP tags for debarkation. A few snafus, but we were off the ship before most, on our way back to the western side of Louisiana, and were home by three that afternoon.

 

Opinions: Would I cruise the Conquest again? Probably. Which do I like better, Carnival Conquest or Rhapsody of the Sea? Hands down, Rhapsody of the Seas... I just wish I could put Carnivalís food on RCCLís ships.

Image courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line


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