My fiance and I left from New Orleans (took the train from Memphis) on Sunday, 09/23/2012. Embarkation was surprisingly quick and smooth. Once aboard we did the usual walk around to check out the ship. This was our 3rd cruise, but our first on board the Conquest (Triumph the first two). We were very impressed with the ship; although 10 years old, she was in much better shape than the Triumph. We ate, wondered around some more, and at 1:30 we went to our room and found our luggage outside the door. This was our first interior room (8242) and we found it more than accommodating. At 4:45 the ship pulled out of New Orleans.
Let me say this: I have read a lot of negative reviews. It seems to me so many people nick pick on this board. Bottom line is this: We were on vacation, on a cruise ship, going to beautiful locations. We were waited on hand and foot, and the food was plentiful. We don't tend to complain about trivial things such as "bad spots in the carpet" or "the food was a bit too cold". Seriously, if these type of things bother you, then stay at home. We had a wonderful time.
Casey was our room steward, and was INCREDIBLY friendly and attentive. I cannot say enough good things about him and his staff.
Edsel was our head waiter (Renoir dining). Again, incredibly friendly, attentive, and funny! His assistant, Uday, was wonderful. He noticed me playing with my Samsung Galaxy S III phone and every night would ask me questions about it (he was thinking about buying one). It was fun to have someone sharing my silly interest in phones.
My fiance went to a couple of shows, but I didn't attend any, so I can't comment on them.
The food was fine. Buffet was better than on the Triumph, room service was perfect, and of course the pizza and hamburger/hot dog buffets were "right on time"! Fine dining was a wonderful experience every night; chocolate melting cake...need I say more?
Gary, our cruise director, was great as well. He didn't come over the intercom constantly like Noonan did on the Triumph. We loved laying out on the deck chairs at night and watching the big tv. The Chicago/Earth, Wind and Fire concert on tv was a blast to watch!
My only real negative observance (other than Jamaica) was the quality of passengers on board. It was like a floating trailer park. We were wondering if head to feet tattoos were required for this particular cruise. Some people...I just dont get it. But whatever, everyone was there to have a good time, and that's exactly what we had! Already booking our next Carnival cruise!