September 21-28, 2003
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
we never saw our room steward; and he would turn out to be not only
invisible, but totally invisible most of the 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.)
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.
Two: Sea Day
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.
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.
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.
Three: Sea Day
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.
there are well marked ice machines located on all decks.
No more tipping the steward for ice; you get it yourself if you
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.
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.
Five: Grand Cayman
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
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.
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
Seven: Last Sea Day
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
I stayed on the balcony until one in the morning; we were just
entering the river proper. We
docked at four in the morning.
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.
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.