Monday, September 4, 2006

Review--Carnival Conquest--August 20-27, 2006

Carnival Conquest 8/20 - 8/27 2006

I won’t do this chronologically as I have already written two Conquest reviews. We had had a very tough week prior to the cruise with a loss of my Mother so we used this cruise for much needed R&R. I will highlight some features and observations of the week.

EMBARKATION & DEBARKATION--Went very smooth. A little late to begin boarding. Security seemed to be the problem. A lot more people do self-debarkation now so that can be a bit crowded very early on the final morning. As long as ship is on time, it is still the best way off for people that can handle it. My favorite spot after hitting the deli for some Ruebens on embarkation day is the lobby bar for my first Sailaway drink. I love to see the “newbies” when they board. Best observation this time- A couple walked in and observed the atrium and was a little slack-jawed on how large it all was. They walked over to bar and DH orders a beer and hands bartender his S&S card. He then asks DW if she wants a beer and she says (pointing to all the Sailaway drinks she sees) “nah, I’ll just have one of those free ones everyone is having”. Not sure how long before she found out they weren’t free, but they didn’t know it for awhile anyway. (The bartender didn’t hear her, he already had the card in his hand and just charged for the two drinks) I always make the lobby/atrium bar my HQ and make friends with the bar staff there asap. The Conquest actually sailed out before the Rhapsody which very rarely happens.

SHIP--The Conquest was very ship shape. Looked very clean and there were always crew cleaning the public areas and the ship itself.

CABIN--was not as clean as previous cruises. We always bring disinfecting wipes so we had it in good shape soon. I had already left notes for the Steward when I discovered that it was our Stewards first day with Carnival and obviously first time on Conquest. In fact I think we were probably aboard before her. (It made muster drill easy.) She did a great job for the rest of the week and we reminded her of some simple things that were overlooked. She’ll be fine. This was also our first inside cabin on Conquest and we really enjoyed it. (We have previously had extended aft balcony & O/S) We were so tired of the heat and sun from the ranch that the dark cabin was really enjoyed. We decided to leave the beds separated for the additional room. It was great, we spent more time there than we would have ever thought. Carnival Bedding-- I have decided that I don’t like it. Our sixth time with the new duvets, etc. and they are just not right. A sheet is not enough and the duvet is too much. The mattresses are good though.

BAR SERVICE--the bad news is that Boris is gone. Back to Czech Republic to get married. The good news is the Mojitos. The Miami Vice/Bacardi Rum promotion is on Carnival for August. They were very good. I watched & inquired from three different bartenders (since I'm a mojito guy & also like to sit at the bar) and the mojito mix was just the simple syrup, some lime, and bacardi rum already mixed together. They then topped it off with soda from a can. Two did a very good job, one used too little mix & too much soda. The mint was surprisingly good on board. Overall they did a good job; however, it remains to be seen if they continue them beyond the promotion. It was the drink of the day on the second day. BTW-purchased alcohol was distributed very early on the last sea day.

DINING ROOM--last cruise we had a bad location, but a good waiter. This time a great location and good, but average service. Our table mates were all fantastic though. Well dressed, very professional, and one could say, several celebrities in their professions in the group. Dinner was the highlight of the cruise for me. (not necessarily DW though). Lots of blue jeans, hats, and shorts in the dining room. People were dressed well for the Formal nights though.

FOOD--Everyone has an opinion so I’ll say standard Carnival fare. I enjoy most food so I was fine. My favorites were: the Steaks, the Lobster, Pumpkin soup, French onion soup, Escargot, Hearts of Palm, the Salads, Grand Marnier Soufflé, and Bitter & Blanc (a new desert). All the vegetarian dishes were pretty lame. (Not just DW’s opinion, we actually had three at our table). From the Deli, I had my share of Ruebens and DW the Vegetable sandwich which was very good. Same usual Carnival menu for breakfast & lunches. Chocolate buffet is last sea day.

SHIP ACTIVITIES--We have seen all the shows before so we were very selective on them, but did not want to miss Marc Rubben. He has the funniest act I have ever seen on a cruise ship. Just see him if he’s on your cruise. We had never done the afternoon tea so we did that on 2nd sea day. I guess we are getting old as we really enjoyed the tea with the great desserts and music. Todd Whittmer is still CD. He does a good job. No Rocky Horror show though. I guess he has retired it.

PORTS--Ships time and port times remain the same until daylight savings time goes off. Makes it easy. We stayed on board ship during the Jamaica stop and really enjoyed the pool and ship activities. I had never done this at a port-of-call before and it was actually fun as we had the ship to ourselves. We did some shopping in Georgetown. Best bargain: Three one-liter bottles of Captain Morgan spiced rum for $20 and they deliver it to the ship. In Cozumel, DW went straight to a lady she knows who has a jewelry shop in town. She had some pieces made for her that she wanted (pearls). She raved about an inexpensive long strand of jewelry that has magnets in some of the pieces. You can make different types of necklaces or bracelets by how you match up the magnets. Pretty cool. While she was doing all this, I went to see my friend Martin Antonio at the barber shop and got a haircut. We go to Cozumel so often that he is now my regular barber. Really! The Havana Club has moved to the new shopping center north of Cinco Soles. Best mojitos in the caribbean. I drank a few Victoria beers before heading to Pancho’s Backyard for margaritas. Cozumel is always our favorite place.

As mentioned, we probably didn’t have a proper cruising “mindset” or countdown time for this cruise, and I apologize if that is reflected in these comments. We did enjoy the cruise very much. We always do. I will be joining those wild and crazy S&S folks in October again on the Conquest and I know I’ll be in a much better mood and ready to party then. At least I won’t get lost on the ship.

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