We sailed on the Conquest on Superbowl Sunday 2/3/2012. When we booked, we thought we were getting a great price because of the Superbowl but that was our first issue for this cruise. The cruise went down so much less after we booked, we contacted Carnival for either a room adjustment or on board credit... NOTHING!!... People who pay about the same as we did (but booked at the last minute) had balcony cabins while we were inside.
The check in process was very smooth. However, I attribute that to the Port of New Orleans and not Carnival,
After boarding the ship, the following are the highs and lows of the cruise.
A> Best Waitress I ever had on a cruise ship. We did "Your Time" dining which generally means that you get different servers -- many of which are not real friendly. However, on the first night, our waitress asked our names, wrote them down, and politely addressed us by name the entire dinner. Very personable and so nice. We went back to her every night and even tipped extra. I like Carnival's flexible dining program. Although a line, never more than a 5 minute wait.
B> Guy Fieri Burgers. Honestly these are to die for. The fish and chips upstairs from the Lido deck are good too. Never a line there and plenty of seating. No fried shrimp though.
C> Huevos rancheros at the PunchLine. I mean only the actual food because the brunch was a joke.
D> Movies at night on the Lido deck.
A> Music on the Lido deck was pitiful. A steel drum band on a Caribbean cruise is a necessity. C'mon Carnival. If you are too cheap, at least get a tape. It's a CARIBBEAN cruise!!! Who wants to be bombarded by rap songs and line dancing ALL (AND I MEAN ALL) the time! By the end of the cruise, I was so sick of the WOBLE, I thought I would scream.
B> Photographers were overbearing. For formal night, there were so many photo places, people could not even walk. I am not kidding, at least 10-15!! EVERY night for dinner at least 2 pictures and at least 4-5 photo stops as you exited the ship blocking others. THIS WAS WAY TOO MUCH.
C> This was Bahamas cruise. Nassau and Key West were familiar and usual stops with stuff to do but Freeport was terrible. They bus you for $10 to what you believe is the International Bazaar but when you get there you find that it was destroyed by the hurricane and instead you are at some type of small market next to the casino. Really a waste when Carnival has a Bahamas private island that would have been so much better.
D> It is obvious that Carnival is cutting back on food quality but that is understandable given rising costs. Food was edible but no longer eloquent. Selections of steaks were limited. No more Beef Wellington.
E> Shows are now varied throughout the cruise (not on specific nights any longer) which is good because it allows you to not miss a show just because you slept in one night. Production shows are on the same par with other cruise ships. However, there is no longer a magician or other (e.g. acrobat) type entertainer. The comedians are in the Punch Line which has LONG entry lines. Regarding the Punch line BRUNCH where you are supposed to get a 10 minute comedy act every hour... This is a joke - we got a 2 minute commercial and horrible rude service from our waiter! We never went back. P.s. SIT DOWN LUNCH IN THE DINING ROOM HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED -- UNBELIVABLE!!
F> Captain's party is nonexistent. There are no appetizers or complimentary cocktails. The captain just stands in the hall to shake your hand. REALLY THAT IS IT. I am surprised that Carnival didn't even charge you to shake his hand--cheap--cheap--cheap! For first time cruisers, this party used to be an event looked forward to. How much could this really cost?
Overall, Carnival's cost cutting methods and revenue generating ideas are really not working. The only good idea I have seen in the last 3 years on Carnival was Guy Fieri burgers and Your Time Dining. Other than that, the changes have all been negative. I plan to go back to either Celebrity or Holland America for my next cruise.