Dec. 28,' 12-Jan.6, '13 There were 15 of us on Carnival Conquest cruise/ 14 of us first time, my mother went last year on R.C. Cruise. While this may still get long, I want to include the good and bad for many questions I had before arriving on the ship.
Rooms-Arriving to my room, found my suitcase was missing a wheel. After returning to guest services, received a brand new suitcase to replace mine which was very nice as I understand things happen. We had a state room on the 1st floor to save money. There is a nice big window, but no balcony. We actually did not miss the balcony and found this was one of only a couple floors you could get off at any elevator and easily get to your room. The stewards were great, cleaning your room twice per day and leaving you awesome towel animals. The rooms are quaint and have everything you need. We felt they were perfect! The bathrooms were small but fine.I did not see outlets however and you must get ready in main room area. (blow dryer located and hooked up from drawer). They provide shampoo and body wash in shower. (no tub). I took some hangers, but they did have several in the closet. There were laundry facilities nearby that cost $3 for a wash load, and $3 for a dryer that lasted 99 minutes. There is room service I used only once, as it took 45 minutes for some coffee. There is no coffee pot in the room, and the only place you can get free coffee is on the 9th floor. The other options are purchasing $4 and up coffee. I did not like that. If you are one to hang out in the room and watch tv all day, you will find the channels are VERY limited. Most they show activities at ports and on the ship.
You can board the ship with 1 bottle of wine per person of age, and a 12 pack of soda or water. We found there was no way we could drink all the liquids as it is not convenient to go back to your room all the time. We left a lot behind when we left for the steward. They do work quite hard!
Casino- larger than at resorts and we spent much time here. Most of us won anywhere from $40-$260, with the exception of me and I lost $60 and stopped.
Spa- Did not use as it was very expensive. My 74 yr old mother got an amazing massage on the beach in Mahogany Bay for $20 for 45 minutes. They originally said $40 but came down half. My 22 yr old niece participated in the Pilates course for $12 and said it was very "beginner like". She is an instructor herself so may be a bit biased.
Lido Deck/Buffet- There is plenty of food available at any time and I loved the choices and quality. I would suggest adding some ethnic food however. Loved the pizza at the pizza station though there is always a wait to get a slice. There were 15 of us and no one got sick. I was very happy with all of the food(minus powered scrambled eggs).
The Renoir Dining Room- We did "anytime dining" and only once had a long wait. It is nice and the food was good. The bad: We had 2 Vegans with us who had contacted the ship a month in advance to discuss options and were assured they would be catered to. While the "special diet host" was wonderful and trying to accommodate us, the Vegans were left with no choice but "a salad as an appetizer and a "bigger" salad for the entree'. It was obvious after night 4, the chef did not care, and did not take any measures to accommodate them. One night they were given the enchilada sauce from a dish and they were told it was soup. After filing a formal complaint on 4th night, they were told someone would "get back with them". That never happened so we passed on 2 nights of eating in there. The last night we tried it again and there was an obvious change in how they were treated with more effort being given to accommodate them. I did overhear one of them say ... I will not recommend this trip for Vegans on the Vegan Blog as we were not promised what we were told. Since I am not a Vegan, I was very happy with my particular service and the food.
Smoking- There are only 3 places to smoke- cigar bar on 5th floor at back of ship, casino- middle on 5th floor, and the 10th floor outside.
Bars-there are a lot. The 18, 19 and 20 year olds with my group danced one night in Henri's but were more fascinated in the casino and other areas. Can buy Coronas for under $5, mixed anywhere from $7.25 to $14. Gratuity added in.
Pools- There are 3 pools, and all are small. Plenty of lounge chairs but not all by pool. There are 5 hottubs. Music was good by pool and invited an upbeat mood.
Embarking onto ship was easy and smooth. Debarking was another story. Super long lines and once in New Orleans, craziness of getting a taxi and no one could tell where lines were and many were angry. NOt sure if this is a ship thing or taxi issue.
Comedy Shows- some funny, some not at all- take a chance I suppose.
While you can use a cell phone for $1.99 per minute, we opted not to. I heard Wifi (which is cashy) is super slow so can eat up your minutes very fast.
I was very happy with the fact all the public restrooms have hand towels to use to open every door. Being a bit of a germ-a-phobe, greatly appreciated this.
Excusrions- way over priced. In Mahogany Bay, we opted to rent a tour van when we arrived. It felt totally safe as they are located right there at the port. We paid $20 pp which was actually a really expensive ride for 15 of us to a beach a few miles away. We also paid $10 to get in to the beach.
My biggest disappointment was the excursion in Belize for the Cave tubing and ziplining. We paid $159 pp thru the ship and though it was a 6.5 hour event, only had about an hour and fifteen minutes of fun. Read the review on TripAdvisor for more info. Would not recommend! We were late back to ship and while they did have to wait, we had NO time to shop. Had to pay for lockers, waiting, etc. I guess 5 ships were at port and over 500 people at this excursion.
We also rented a taxi in Cozumel which cost us $20 pp but that got us a ride to downtown, then to a beach and back to port. Again, such little time to shop. All I bought throughout the whole cruise was a 3 pack of vanilla- disappointed no jewelry.
My son participated in the 14 year old teen club and reported this was "the best vacation ever!". I'm sure it had to do with having no curfew and having a new group of friends to hang with.
I have other opinions with the shopping on the ship, as well as the photographers so please email me with any questions about specifics. We did have fun, and very glad we went, however found a lot of disappointments here and there and not the total relaxation I expected. After being on 5 all inclusive resort trips in comparison to this, we will likely never cruise again and stick solely to resorts. That does not mean I wouldn't recommend it however. I totally understand how this is a great "all in one" vacation, just not necessarily for us.