Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Carnival Conquest Review Part 4--The Summary

If you had read all of the review up to this point, hopefully you see that I am trying to be objective and fair along with offering my opinion about certain things.  I hope you keep that in mind as you read this section of the review.

In summary, let me just say that we did indeed have a great time on this cruise.  It would take a lot for my wife and I to say that we thought a cruise was horrible and this cruise was no where near something like that.  We enjoyed the peace and quiet that our stateroom afforded us.  We enjoyed the time spent together up on deck enjoying the sunshine and the WATER-SLIDE!  We found the majority of the staff to be pleasant and helpful and again our dining and stateroom staff were superb.  We loved our dinner table mates.

But I do want to mention some things again that we noted as different than our previous experiences.  It seems that Carnival is doing everything possible to get more money out of you while onboard (I know other cruise lines do that too)  and they have kept their cruise prices lower than others in the industry which has created the need to nickel and dime you for everything that seems to be included with other cruise lines.  For example...we always purchase the soda packages.  With Royal Caribbean, NCL and Princess, you get the souvenir, refillable mug as a bonus for purchasing the program.  With Carnival...the price is about the same for the program, but then they make you pay an additional $6.00 for the mug.

I already mentioned the cookies and sweets found at the coffee bar and how they charge for any of their better-made desserts.   If you wanted some quality treats, you had to pay for it.

I had also mentioned the photography in an earlier post.  I have never seen such an abundance of photo ops in all of my previous cruises as I did here on Carnival.  The promenade is laden with one photographer after another waving you over trying to get you to pose in front of such cruise-appropriate backdrops as a rose garden or a flowery trestle or a grand piano.  And to my shock...hoards of guests were having their pictures taken with these.  Normally you will want to have your picture taken with something like oh...the cruise ship in the background which will help others see when and where you had your picture taken.  But for the life of me I could not understand why so many were lined up to have pictures taken with backdrops that you would find back home at your local Glamour Shots.  These photo ops were available EVERY night of the cruise and were EVERYWHERE!  This issue brings me back to the congested photo area where you could go check out your pictures and purchase any that you liked.  They were taking SOOO many pictures, that they ran out of room on the walls and had some of the older ones stuffed in plastic containers where you had to wait to rifle through them in hopes that you actually found the one with you in it.

It is obvious that it is a money-maker for Carnival which is why you felt like they were pushing you to stop and have your picture made at every turn.

We again found it surprising that the cruise director was not that visible.  We also found it a bit shocking that the dining room Maitre’d never ever came by our table to ask if there was any special food requests or to make sure we were all satisfied.  It seemed that he was more interested in putting on their dinner shows than he was making sure guests were actually satisfied with their dining.  If you do a little research about the employees of Carnival and the shows they are made to put on, you will find that most look at it as humiliating and degrading.  Not sure why anyone in a nice dining room needs to see service staff get up on tables and dance to the song “Apple Bottom Jeans.”  Is that an appropriate song for a family dinner or nice dining experience?

This was also the first cruise in which there was a need for the Maitre’d to make an announcement that ball caps are never acceptable in the main dining room.  I was thankful for his willingness to announce such a thing, but I was also noticing a large contingent of guests who completely ignored the dining room dress code completely.  This may have something to do with where this cruise embarks out of.  This was the first cruise I had been on where the majority of the guests were all from one State...Texas.  We saw a large amount of camouflage all throughout the ship.  I actually saw one gentleman wearing a camouflage baseball cap with a fish hook in it to dinner.  This was also the first cruise out of 6 where you could hear an abundance of country music.  The last thing I want to hear while cruising the Caribbean is honky tonk music, but if you like that sort of thing, then this was the cruise for you. 

Cruises that embark out of ports like Miami or Ft Lauderdale etc seem to be a bit more diverse and have guests from all over the Country and world.  Due to this port only offering a limited amount of cruise choices and being so far south in the big State of Texas, it seemed to mainly appeal to those from the region and to a large amount of first time cruisers.  Again...if you are from Texas and you were a first time cruiser on this cruise, I am not intending to offend, but simply point out what I observed from my perspective.  I personally like to be around a more diverse crowd which to me is one of fun things about cruising...meeting all types of people from all types of places. 

Some of the clientele also found it appropriate to have balcony-to-balcony conversations with one another.  I am not talking about connecting balconies...I am talking balconies far removed from one another which required a bit of yelling which again tends to take away from the peace and quiet of your own balcony.

I know some are not going to like what I am saying when it comes to the demographics onboard, but I would rather someone go into their cruise prepared than being surprised. 

I say all of that to say...this is not a cruise for everyone.  We found what made us happy and stuck to it for the duration of the cruise.  We enjoyed the cruise but I doubt we will ever sail again on the Conquest out of Galveston again.  This is not a reflection on Carnival as a whole, but only my opinion about this specific ship out of this specific port.

I hope this helps you when pondering your next cruise option.  Everyone has an opinion and this review reflects mine.

I am already looking forward to my next cruise which may either be on Holland America or Celebrity...I am still trying to decide.  Or I may head back to Royal Caribbean and give the new Allure of the Seas a try.  Thanks again for reading and feel free to comment or ask any sort of cruise related question.


Shane said...

Great review! I was on the Carnival Liberty over Christmas last year and would agree with a lot of what you said. Although, we had a wonderful cruise director and was visible all the time. Seemed like anytime you would go anywhere on the ship, there was Butch. Enjoyed your post. said...

Thanks for reading and commenting Shane.

Kathy said...

and your dinner mates loved you, too! =)

Great review! Jeff and I agree with your points and overall assessment of the cruise. As first time cruisers we definitley appreciate your perspective.

Will catch you on facebook soon. xxooo said...

Thanks Kathy! Hopefully you got my e-mails. :)

Anonymous said...

You were quite objective, thank you! This will be our 3rd cruise on the Conquest and we LOVE it!We go for the relaxation and yes it is close to home for us Texans. No, it isn't the fanciest ship or clientele but that's ok with us. We like the more casual atmosphere.
Again, thanks for your great review.

Angela in Ohio said...

Thanks for your review. You are spot on with the photography comments. Overkill. I was surprised by the Apple Bottom Jeans--never seen that one in any dining room on any line, but I have seen bored and embarrassed service staff in the dining room on Royal too. I've got too agree that maybe it was the Texas crowd and port that colored a lot of your experience. I have seen inappropriate dress in the dining rooms on Carnival, but never to the degree you have described. Wow!
When it came down to dollars, would you have chosen another line if it meant you had to stay in a lower level cabin? said...

Very good question Angela. I really wanted to give Carnival a go and we were originally planning on staying in either a balcony or OV stateroom and then decided to go ahead and upgrade for this one. Now that we did...I think my satisfaction level would have been much lower had we been in a different stateroom category.

I will most likely give Carnival another try out of a different port in the future. :)

I agree with you as well that you can find unhappy or disgruntled or embarrassed employees on about any of the cruise lines. They work hard for very little compared to what we are used to here in the U.S.

Sabrina said...

Thank you for your review. I have never been on the Liberty but have been on Carnival. I think the port may have something to do with it - we left from Ft. Lauderdale and it was a very diverse group.

Our next cruise I have upgraded to a suite and after reading your review I am glad I did.

Surprised that "Low" was played in the dining room - that is really an adult song...

Anonymous said...

I actually have to say that I love the people of Texas precisely because they aren't afraid to be just who they are, without conforming to expectations. I wish you had gotten to know some of them, instead of being put off by them. They're mostly a lovely, fun-loving, friendly bunch of people... who are unique -- and not afraid to be unique! And, afterall, isn't that exactly what we tell our children they should strive to be? :) said...

Anonymous: I don't think I was negative towards Texas people being "who they are and not conforming.." I was only pointing out that this cruise was mainly made up of Texans which took away from it being a very diverse group of people. If you like honky-tonk music, or loud crowds who prefer cowboy boots over loafers, then this was a cruise for you. If you like a good mix of people from all places with all kinds of different tastes etc, then this cruise is probably not for you. I know a lot of Texans and consider them my good friends so this was not a review intended to slam anyone from Texas