We sailed out of NOLA a couple of days before Christmas (2012) on the Carnival Conquest. I had a week off over the Christmas holiday and wanted to do something with the kids before they headed off to college that they would remember. We'd never been to the Carribean before so I had no idea what to expect. We contacted the travel agent that had booked cruises for us before and he set it all up. When I heard we were going on Carnival I was aprehensive thinking it was sort of a budget/party type line. But we were pleasantly suprised. Getting to the boat was easy with transfers from the airport. We loved the room. It was on deck 1 and looked out just above the water level. I wasn't sure what to expect with the policy that the tips are already calculated and included in your ship account chargeline. But this worked out great as well. We had excellent service from the cabin staff and everyone onboard the boat.
We really liked the dining room and enjoyed the people at our table. We made friends with them and went on some excursions together. The food was great! When I heard that the ship was owned by Brits, I worried about the cooking but the chef turns out to be italian and it was really great. The dining staff was wonderful and anxious to help with any extra or special needs. One of our friends at the table wanted a desert that wasn't on the menu so we asked them ahead of time and they made it special for her birthday.
The entertainment was great. I liked the Broadway themed shows on some of the other cruises we'd been on better, but the level of talent and showmanship was still awesome. I would have liked to see them do some kind of auditions for the guest talent show since there were several that didn't make the random drawing cut who I suspect may have been better than those that made it. But even that was great.
We really enjoyed the excursions on this cruise better than any we'd been on.
In summary, great food, great service, great fun on board, great excursions and just a great time overall. We just wish we could have turned around and did it over for a couple of months! It's like you become royalty of your own little country for a week. I was very pleasantly surprised!