Conquest "Cruise from Hell" 2/22/04



I'm writing this in parts, gang. Here's #1

Conquest 2/22/04

As horrid as this cruise started, let me assure you that we had a LOVELY time.

The trouble started Sunday morning. We had spent the night at our friends’ home in Metairie on Saturday night. We awoke to read in the Times Picayune “RIVER CLOSED FOR FIRST TIME IN 50 YEARS!†There was a ship accident at the mouth of the river.

I thought, “no big deal….we’ll probably leave out of Gulfportâ€Â.

Got on the phone to Carnival. Sure enuf. We were headed to Gulfport. I asked if I could just drive over there, and was told, “ABSOLUTELY NOT…you MUST check in at the New Orleans terminal!â€Â

So, we had our buddies drop us off at the NOLA terminal at about 9:30 am. (Our ship was docked in Gulfport, MS). There were porters, but they weren’t working. Nor would they let us borrow their luggage carriers. Dominic had to carry all of our stuff. 3 hard sided Samsonite bags which contained both clothes and beer, 2 carry on’s and a dozen bottles of wine and champagne.

From that point, check in was a breeze. They herded us into the back room and gave us ZONE 1 green cards. We were told that busses were on the way, and that we should be on the road between 10 and 10:30 a.m.

At around 10:30, we were told that the busses were delayed because of Mardi Gras. They were shooting for 2 pm.

At this time, there was a collective groan of 2,950 passengers.

Dom walked upstairs to the Riverwalk and got us a couple of beers.

A new announcement said that ZONE 1 would leave around 5 pm. More groans and angry yells.

We were with a group from the New Orleans Eat Club. Our travel agent found us a bus and loaded us up at 4:45. We felt very special, being the first bus scheduled to leave! At 4:55, we were told to “GET OFF OF THE BUSâ€Â. Someone had complained to the Coast Guard, and we had to go through security. So much for feeling special.

Went back inside, which was a mob-scene. An announcement informed us that Zones 1 and 2 wouldn’t leave until 7pm.

At 7 pm, we were told to leave the terminal, as we wouldn’t be catching a bus until 9:30 pm. Some zones got a departure time of 2 am!

It was at that point that I lost my smile.

Two sweet old ladies watched our bags while we walked up to the Riverwalk for a beer and a sandwich. At about 8pm, we heard whispering that the busses were boarding early! We ran like hell to get through security and onto the last Zone 1 bus.

We finally pulled out (after waiting for a train, of course!) around 9pm and endured the ride to Gulfport in the company of many loud, drunk and obnoxious people. Dom tried to sleep. I stared out of the window sullenly.

Got to Gulfport shortly after 10 pm., went through security again, and got into our room for 11pm. We iced down some bubbly and some beer, went upstairs for the midnight buffet, had our luggage waiting for us upon our 1am return. Sat on the balcony until 2am, wondering why there were no more busses pulling in.

Had a delightful night's sleep in our category 8-B cabin.

In closing this segment, let me share my feelings on this matter.

Carnival Cruise Lines was aware of this tragic accident on Saturday morning.

They handled this terribly!

They SHOULD have been loading busses in NOLA, dropping passengers off in Gulfport, refilling busses with old passengers, and heading back to NOLA. Instead, they only allowed 400 of us to board on Sunday night!

The other passengers didn’t begin leaving NOLA until after 3:30 AM! (Not to mention the poor bastards who were stranded in Gulfport on Sunday! They had the same problem that we did with transportation).

We were, in fact, two of 400 very lucky passengers who were able to sleep soundly on Sunday night!

Days Monday through Saturday coming soon!


Conquest Part 2- MONDAY

Woke up at 8:30 and ordered coffee. Sat on our balcony watching busses and limos trickle in. Geez, we were fortunate!

We were informed that we’d be leaving Gulfport tonite at 6pm. Sadly, we were skipping Montego Bay.

Carnival has credit each of us with $15 for yesterday’s “lunch†*rolling my eyes*, and an additional $50 for the missed port in Jamaica.

Carnival has given us 50% off of our next cruise.

We’re disappointed, but extremely pleased with Carnival’s offer and ADORE our ship!

We took a stroll around the ship, and then had lunch at the Monet dining room. Dom ordered red-bean soup, burger and German chocolate cake. I ordered just the burger, but waiter, Omar, brought me cake as well. I’ve never tasted anything as fabulous. This was more like fudge than a piece of cake!

Grabbed some fruit punch and headed back to the room to find a bottle of French Champagne as a gift from our travel agent. Very thoughtful. What a pleasant surprise!

At 1pm, I’m sipping on a vodka/fruit punch, and Dom is drinking a beer.

At 1:15 pm, yet another gift from our travel agent. “Chocolate Delightâ€Â….chocolate covered strawberries and assorted chocolates. I’m impressed.

We napped, showered and attended the Muster Drill, which was a breeze. Being one of the last to arrive, we were in and out of there quickly.

We dressed formally and went to Alfred’s Cigar Bar. I had a couple of Vodka Gibsons, Dom had a couple of 16 oz. Miller Lites. $11.50 per round, including tip.

Went up to the Point for our 7:30 dinner. There is normally a $25 fee for this restaurant, but they waived it for our group.

It was quite impressive. They brought an assortment of 3 butters….regular, garlic and an out-of-this-world cheddar. Plus 2 tiny appetizers.

I had escargot 3 ways… phyllo, puff pastry and brioche. A spinach/bacon/mushroom/bleu cheese salad, 12 oz. lobster tail, baked potato and a Vodka Gibson.

Dom had French Onion Soup, mixed green salad, a 24 oz. Porterhouse, pasta on the side and a beer.

The food was great. There was too much of it. We felt like “wasteful/shameful Americansâ€Â!

For dessert, they brought us a frothy cocktail with vodka, champagne and sherbet. We had Crème Brulet’ ….. 3 different kinds. Then some Petit Fours with coffee. Oink Oink. Left there at 9:30 and came back to our room for the night.

A delightful 3 hour dinner and a wonderfully relaxing day!


Shame on Carnival for allowing a fatal ship collision/sinking to occur on the Mississippi river blocking all other shipping. Shame on Carnival for allowing the City of New Orleans to have Mardi Gras causing transportation to be all messed up. Glad you cruise was great.


I love Carnival, jedgar, but they handled this poorly. Very ,very poor planning and bad judgement....

They were aware of the tragic accident on Saturday. They SHOULD/COULD have had busses coming into town from elsewhere. As it turns out, after the 400 of us got to Gulport, they shut down the busses because of the drivers....getting too tired.

Meanwhile, in New Olreans, the Riverwalk was closed. People began taking $200 cab rides beginning at 3:30 am.

It was a mess, but we had a BLAST!


Yeah like all those buses and drivers are just sitting around waiting for Carnival to call them because they have nothing else to do nor any other obligations or other prearrainged bookings.


Carnival had plenty of notice, jedgar. They COULD have had busses lined up from out of town. The fatal accident/sinking was on Sat. am.

They would have had many less problems if they would have allowed passengers to travel independently to Gulfport, as many of us requested. They had security all set up in Gulfport, as the Conquest spent much of last year at that dock.

As a "local", I have to snicker at your assertion that buses are not to be found anywhere nearby during Carnival. That's not the case.

Carnival handled the embarkation of our cruise and the disembarkation of the cruise before us terribly. It did not, however, spoil our lovely time. I love Carnival, but can't understand why you would so sarcastically defend them. Are you an employee? (Just curious).


Re: Conquest


Thanks for telling your story. When this happened I was curious as to what it was like for the passengers and identify with this ship as I am sailing on it shortly. I am also curious how the passengers on the Grandeur faired. Glad to hear your were still able to put the best foot foward and enjoy your cruise. It is probably difficult to gage what kind of chaos was going on here behind the scenes. I didn't catch a news report about this until early Sunday morning on CNN, and at the time I heard of that first report, they were not offering anything as to "how" this accident could have happened and maybe they didn't want to move things (or people) too soon, for security reasons. Just a long shot. I have sailed out of Julia Pier twice now and can totally understand that it would have been a frustrating wait none the less :)

Can I ask what your favorite part of the ship was? Any points not to be missed? Things to avoid? Many thanks :) Nan

Post Edited (03-06-04 17:22)


I think it's great that you can still say that you had a great time after the crazy beginning to your trip. Too many people let the littlest thing totally ruin their trip and then just dwell on that the whole time not able to enjoy anything afterward. Good for you.


At least you GOT to cruise. Talk to some of the RCCL Grandeur passengers! Anyway, glad you had a good time, but I'm not sure if Carnival is totally at fault for the lack of busses in a timely manner. Immediately after the unfortunate accident, I don't think that anyone - cruise line or not - knew the exact status of ships going in or out of NOLA. I think that Carnival had to wait and see exactly what the river navigation status was before spending thousands of dollars on busses. There's also a regulation about the number of hours per day that bus drivers can drive.


Yea, well, I've been stuck in Houston airport for 10 hours because of rain. And I didn't have a cruise to look forward to. So, please excuse me if I don't feel sorry for you. By the way, there is no comfortable place to sleep in Houston airport.


Re: Conquest

Even if they let you drive over, how were you planning to get back to Gulfport to get your vehicle when the cruise ended??? Im sure they just didnt want people running off in various directions. If they had allowed you to leave and then somethings changed while you were on the road you would have no way of knowing.

Post Edited (03-08-04 11:48)


Am glad you were able to enjoy your cruise and obviusly appreciate it, in spite of how it started. Not sure why you are getting so much backlash for what I feel is very legitimate "gripes"!


We were on the Grandeur. 100% refund on the cruise which was credited to my account prior to disembarking, and 25% future cruise credit to be used by Nov. 30, 2005 (and doesn't have to be booked directly with RCCL).

Our cruise was "not what we had planned" yet the wreck was not planned either. Families of the 5 dead men are and will still deal with the loss for a long time. The loss of a few days of not getting to "actually sail" on our cruise doesn't begin to compare with their tragedy.

We loved the ship, loved the food, loved the entertainment, loved our aft balcony suite. We booked this ship and time again for next year.

Quiet moments and several prayers were said as we passed the wreckage site late Wed. night sailing down the MS River.

mollye& steve

Sorry about yoru trouble but glad to hear you loved Conquest. We're sailing this Sunday, 3/14/04!!!! and can't wait.


Thanks for the kind words, friends.

Was going to post further reviews of our days, but decided, "The hell with it".

Enjoy your cruises. The Conquest is LOVELY! You'll have a blast!


Nan :

"Can I ask what your favorite part of the ship was? Any points not to be missed? Things to avoid? Many thanks Nan"

Hey, kiddo!

Just a couple of things pop into my mind.

Firstly, you might find the Lido Deck (9) mobbed. We hung out on the deserted deck 10, and the very windy deck 11.

We simply adored Alfred's lounge. First class all the way. Gorgeous place! Pop in, even if just for a coke.

The Deli was wonderful. They had grilled Ruebens. I'd order a regular Rueben, and have them dump a bunch of Pastrami on it. AB FAB!

There's a "seafood" joint, Sur-Mer (?) very much out of the way. It was the first time that I had sushi. Loved it. Ahi Tuna over watermelon. Also great ceviche. Nobody hung out at the place. T'was wonderful!

Room service, like all Carnival cruises, was wonderful. Within moments of calling, you'd have your coffee, bagel, juice, etc. delivered.

Have fun, honey!

Nan (Nanette)


Oh I will heed your advice there about crowded decks. We are off to deck 10 :)

Not too much threat in the sea food dept. I keep trying the lobster, but I just don't get what all the fuss if over this fishy tasting stuff :lol I will be a regular @ the Deli!

Looking foward to pictures if you choose to post them Nan.



Was going to post further reviews of our days, but decided, "The hell with it".

Thank you.

Most of us were reading articles while all of this was taking place. The cruiselines had no idea of when or if the river would reopen. They were at the mercy of the Coast Guard. They did the best that they could with the notice given. I'm glad that you knew more than the cruise lines knew about what was going on and when and where they would dock. I guess if Carnival had given each of you a certificate for a free cruise then you would not be here stating that this was a "cruise from hell".


Re: Conquest

To those of you being so mean to Nanette, all I can say is that we missed the "cruise from hell" by just a few weeks. I would have been sitting in the "yellow chair" room until all hours of the night with five anxious teenagers. I too would have described it as the "cruise from hell" not to be mean to Carnival or anyone else, just the circumstances. As we all know, getting ready for a cruise is such excitement and the letdown of that kind of experience would really be a letdown. The 50% off of a future cruise wouldn't have really done me any good because it did not include the airfare which is X 7 for my family. I was reading daily on CNN about the situation and feeling horrible for those families of the unfortunate sailors on the ships that went down. I also could imagine how the cruise ship passengers were feeling as well, especially those toting their anxious children along. The group getting on the Conquest the day we disembarked were those stuck in Gulfport at the end of their cruise. That would have been a "day from hell" for me, again with 5 teenagers. I am sure Nanette has tremendous sympathy for the tragedy that occured on the Mississippi River and is entitled to her opinions about how the situation was handled. Nanette, please post a review of your cruise on the Review board, I would LOVE to read it!

Post Edited (03-09-04 22:07)


I sincerely hope I wasn't one of those trying to be "mean" to Nannette. I wasn't trying to be, anyway.