|# of Nights:|
CARNIVAL CONQUEST: Week of 5/25/08 (Memorial Day)
We didn't want to deal with the airlines this year, so we drove to Galveston; stopping in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to spend the night with family.
Southbound traffic through Houston is heavy even on a Sunday, so allow plenty of time. Parking and passenger drop-off at the port wasn't too much of a hassle, but I do recommend pre-paying for parking on the Port of Galveston website. You get a discount for pre-paying, and it expedites the process once you arrive. You drive through a two-lane drop-off area, kind of like at an airport, then drive to the parking lot. A free shuttle brings you back to the ship.
We boarded about an hour before sailing, but weren't able to accomplish very much. We had hoped to check our daughter in to Camp Carnival, but they weren't doing check-ins yet. We also wanted to visit the dining room to talk the maitre-de into a good table, but it was locked tight. No matter, we got a descent table near a window anyway.
Our bags arrived fairly quickly, but I heard other people late into the evening still wondering where their bags were.
Our daughter enjoyed Camp Carnival, but it seemed overly structured. Other cruiselines allowed us to leave the kids there through lunch, but with Camp Carnival, we found ourselves watching the clock so as not to miss the dropoff and pickup times, which often fell in the middle of an on-board activity we were trying to enjoy. It felt a little like the people on the NCL commercial who march around the ship checking their watches. Also, since our daughter was six, they wouldn't give us a pager.
The artwork on board the ship was interesting. Enjoyed the track and water slide. The pool is salt-water.
The Monet dining room was adequate, but nothing to rave about. The food was actually better at some of the secondary dining spots, like PC's Wok. The first evening, my son ordered a mango smoothy. They brought out a plate with cut fruit. I tried to explain to the server that we were expecting a drink, but he didn't seem to get it. Maybe it's just me, but has anyone ever heard of a smoothy that wasn't of the blended variety? My meals were fine, but my wife, son, and daughter all ordered food they didn't eat at some point during the trip.
I did win money in the casino. Based on Carnival's website cruise reviews, I only gambled the first night, when the slot machines were supposedly "looser". I can't speak for other nights, but on night #1, I hit a $150 payout within a few tugs of the handle. Then I took my winnings and walked away before loosing them.
We spent a lot on pictures. The photographers were very good, and there were a number of interesting back drops.
We visited Montego Bay, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. Jamaica was the only place we hadn't been before. We enjoyed the beach, but man are they aggressive when it comes to marketing. I honestly couldn't enjoy laying on the beach without constant interruptions by people trying to sell us drinks, or braid or hair. In contrast, noone bothered us at Grand Cayman.
Room service was minimal. Dirty plates lined the hall for hours without anyone hauling them away.
The best part of the trip was the price. We skipped the deck this time for an ocean view room. Our boys had an inside stateroom across the hall. The week we sailed was also cheaper than it would have been the following week. With the military discount, the price was very reasonable.