Carnival Conquest Cruise Review by Pellaz
- Sail Date: October 2016
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Aft-View Extended Balcony
As is my custom, we drove halfway down from Atlanta to near Jacksonville and stayed at the Econolodge in Macclenny, which was open but bursting with refugees from Hurricane Matthew. We arrived at the height of the storm as it was passing Jacksonville, but we were grateful that we had booked the room in advance; there were no hotel rooms available anywhere north of Orlando. Then, after consulting the Waze navigational app, we drove down I-95 toward Fort Lauderdale, through Matthew-devastated areas. We had to detour off the interstate twice to avoid road closings and some areas would not have power restored until two days later; we were lucky to find gas for sale but after we did, we knew we would probably make it to FLL.
At FLL I had booked a stay-park-free-cruise online deal at the Quality Inn Cruiseport South, and that worked out well, with free parking during the cruise and free shuttle transfers to and from the pier.
Embarkation was delayed about a half-hour but with Faster to the Fun we were onboard by around 12:30 and enjoying the new BBQ place by 12:45.
We missed Half Moon Cay due to damage there from Hurricane Matthew -- the most disappointing aspect of the entire cruise -- but the other two ports were great. HMC was replaced by a sea-day.
Our stateroom steward, Bobi, was excellent. We had stateroom service both in the morning and at night...and were not asked or given a card to choose when we would be serviced, as on some other Carnival ships.
We had headwaiter Andy and his wait-crew in the Renoir Dining Room for Your Time Dining and they were so good we requested them for each dinner seating afterward.
Benjamin, at the aft pool bar, also gave us great personalized service, learning our names and preferences for drinks.
Although not shown on Carnival's deck plans yet, the ship now features Ol' Fashioned Barbecue, a free eatery that replaced Fish'n'Chips on Deck 10. This is currently exclusive to Carnival Conquest alone. It was very good, especially for being free. I wish it was open after 2:30 pm.
They also added a new for-fee seafood eatery in the back, Seafood Corner. We never tried it, as we're not seafood lovers.
The other dining options ranged from fair (Lido buffet breakfast) to good (Guy's Burgers, Renoir Dining Room) to excellent (Seaday Brunch).
This was the first Carnival sailing at Port Everglades that invoked staggered check-in times, but we had Faster to the Fun and we boarded quickly after boarding started. Our luggage was not tagged priority by the porters at the pier and arrived after muster drill; when I mentioned this at Guest Services, they credited us back the cost of the FTTF program even though it was not Carnival's fault.
We had rented a villa for Half Moon Cay but since the port-visit was cancelled, I was able to get a cash refund for it at Guest Services. That made it easier for me to pay back my friends who had gone in on it.
We did the "secluded villa" excursion at Amber Cove for about $100 per person and were very happy with it; the villa was very nice, the open bar had mostly top-shelf liquor and the included barbecue included lobster tail, steak, chicken and shrimp kebobs. Although held at a time-share resort, we were NOT asked about time-sharing or buying in at any time.
Our course back to Florida was altered to the southern route past Cuba because of heavy swells being generated by Hurricane Nicole. This added about 100 miles to the return journey but we arrived and left Grand Turk a half-hour early and made up the time en route. We were shadowed by a small Cuban warship during part of our transit past that island.
Debarkation was easy with FTTF but the line at Customs was very long; only two agent stations were open.
All in all, we were very happy with the cruise, except for missing HMC again.
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Otherwise the cabin was a standard balcony cabin. There were three of us in the room and the couch was made into a comfortable bed that I used with no problems.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Amber Cove (Puerto Plata)We did the "Secluded Villa" all-inclusive excursion and it was excellent, even at $100 per person. Transportation was provided to the villa, which was nice, and it included a bedroom for each of the groups/couples on the excursion as well as an open bar with mostly top-shelf liquor, a refreshing pool, and a barbecue that included lobster tail, steak, chicken and shrimp kebabs as well as snacks and hors d'oeuvres.View All 710 Amber Cove (Puerto Plata) Cruise Port Reviews
The immediate port and pier area is very nice, with a big pool, hundreds of pool loungers, free water slides, a zipline ($20/day or $10/day for kids), etc.
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Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)As always, we booked Faster to the Fun and it proved useful to us for early cabin access, shorter Guest Services line, etc. Our luggage didn't arrive until after muster drill because the porter did not properly tag our luggage with the expedite tags. Even though this wasn't Carnival's fault, when I mentioned the delay at Guest Services they refunded the cost of the excursion back to me. That was very nice of them.View All 1,923 Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Port Reviews
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