My partner and I scheduled this cruise just for relaxation and a "get away". We like to take a cruise every year. Once a month the Conquest includes stops at Key West and the Bahamas, and since neither of us had been to the Bahamas (and we've seen lots of Cozumel), this influenced our pick.
Let me start by saying that if you live in the New Orleans metro area, or within a day's drive of The Big Easy, the ships out of New Orleans are a treat. We live just a cab ride from the pier. It doesn't get much better than that.
The ship is very nice. Very clean and well-kept. The crew is a lot of fun and very helpful. I loved the dueling rum and tequila bars across the pool deck, with their complimentary fast-bites cafes adjacent to them: Guy's Burgers for the rum bar, and Blue Iquana Cantina for the tequila bar. If you're a beer on tap person, Carnival's own Red Frog is fantastic. Another amazing new venue on board is the Alchemy Bar at the end of Carnival's ubiquitous indoor promenade on deck five. Fantastic place for a drink before dinner. Fantastic drinks. Fantastic prices. And fantastic people: Tetyana, Daniel, and Adri. Every night. (Although I will say the team who designed the concept and drink menu have a rather expansive view of what constitutes a "martini".)
We ate in the Monet dining room four of the seven nights, and enjoyed our meals there. The mahi-mahi on the last night was not so great, nor was the shrimp the same night, but the beef brisket I had the first night was fantastic. The mushroom soup there was also great, as were other dishes. Service in the Monet dining room did seem rushed. We had a late seating.
We ate at The Pointe steakhouse two nights, and it is well worth the $35.00 upcharge. Especially if you are looking for a leisurely dinner with friends, or a romantic dinner for two. The steaks are fantastic! So are the appetizers. I wish I could remember his name, but at The Pointe is the best sommelier [sp - "wine guy" - I can't pronounce it either] I've ever had on a ship. The wine listing and service at The Pointe are superb. So are the prices, which I reveal with trepidation, afraid they might be raised . . .
We also ate at Chef's Table one night, and this is a fantastic treat. This needs to be booked in advance of the cruise, as space is very limited. 12 of us had the total attention of the Chef de Cuisine for three hours. A tour of the galley with champagne and canapes. A demonstration of the famous warm chocolate melting cake. Then a seating in a private dining room and a seven course meal with a great white or red, or both. Fantastic food you will not see elsewhere on board.
We were offered an upgrade to a balcony suite cabin, and I've never had so much room in my life! Someone describes this upgrade as "coveted" - for sure!
We only booked one shore excursion, and here was our only disappointment for the trip. BE WARNED! Not all shore excursions happen as described in the brochure. In Freeport we were booked for a "Coastal Cruise with Lucaya Shopping", or something like that. The boat was to pick us up alongside the ship, cruise the coast for an hour or so, drop us at Lucaya for shopping, then we were to be bused back. Instead we were bussed both to the boat and back from the shopping. It was supposed to begin at 9:30, and was switched to an 8:30 start instead. Those who have been in a bus in the islands know they were modeled after sardine tins. That said, the crew on the boat deserves an "A" for an entertaining sail, Caribbean beats from the DJ, Bahama Mamas, and some limber dancing. Oh, yes, a sail by the dolphin encounter place so we could see them from board. And special thanks to one native lady at Lucaya who rounded us up and made sure we were squeezed back into the bus, as no one from Carnival was around. Carnival needs to keep its finger on the pulse as to what's really going on.
You will need a shore excursion at Freeport. It's industrial. There is some shopping off the ship, and a Senor Frog's. You can take a cab to Lucaya, as well.
Nassau is fun shopping. If you enjoy old church architecture and stained glass, be sure to take a peek inside Christ Church, the Anglican Cathedral. Beautiful. Also, take a stroll around the Parliament buildings. Great shopping at Nassau. I liked John Bull best.
Key West is . . . Key West! Fun as always. We found the Butterfly Gardens at the far end of Duval Street, and had a great time there.
We would do this cruise again!
A few peeves that surfaced:
1. While the photo op on the gangway at the ports might seem like a cute idea, there are 2,000 plus people trying to get off the ship. Not all of us feel secure on the narrow gangway, over water. My apologies to the couple whose picture was ruined as I walked behind them.
2. If you have an assigned time at the dining room, arrive within 10 minutes of it. Otherwise, op for "my time" dining in the Renoir dining room, or eat at the buffet. Arriving 30 minutes after service begins (yes - they did) is downright rude to the staff.
3. Passengers who carry off enormous pieces of luggage have apparently stayed at nothing better than a Day's Inn.