This trip (10/30/05 - 11/6/05) was a very special occasion trip for us. It was our first cruise together, our first vacation together, and a belated honeymoon/second anniversary trip. We are a military family and chose Carnival because of their fantastic military discount.
We were originally Elation passengers and were canceled for Katrina/FEMA and ended up transferring our booking to Conquest. We originally booked a 4A but with price dips between booking and sailing, were able to move to an 8C for similar pricing.
EMBARKATION: We arrived in the terminal around 11:00 a.m. and were on the ship by 12:30 p.m. We met our group on the farthest left bank of chairs (if you're standing with your back to the ship) and those were let on the ship first. We were told not to go to our room until 2:00 p.m., but at that time we did so and it was ready for us.
ROOM: Room 8258 was right at the top of the main stairs, near atrium elevators and the main elevator banks. It was convenient and easy-to-find. There was no unusual hallway noise, though we could hear the elevator bells from time to time. We found the room to be clean and comfortable. The bedding was very comfy and soothing. The balcony was just big enough for the two of us, but we were thrilled just to have it. There's nothing like the sound of the ocean! Closet and storage space in this room was ample, and we found places for everything but our suitcases (which were too big to fit under the bed). Our only minor issue in the bathroom was that our shower overflowed every time one of us took a shower, but it drained off in a matter of minutes.
FOOD: We ate in the dining room for breakfast 2 mornings and had room service (coffee/danish/fruit) the rest of the mornings. Next time we will eat more dining room breakfast. We never had the breakfast Lido buffet (or any meal at the Lido buffet, as we were trying to watch our portions). Sur Mer above the lido buffet however was the exception, with bouillabaisse every day. It ended up being our favorite food on the whole ship. We also sampled the pizza, the grille, and the deli, which were all great. The dining room food was also hot and delicious. The finest meal of all was the Point Supper Club ($30/pp extra) which we will gladly do again and found to be a delicious, spectacular meal (took 2.5 hours for dinner, but they told us this in advance). We also sampled the sushi on the promenade, which we found to be "okay."
DRINKS: We hung out at the Sky Bar on the lido deck aft. Jan the bartender (pronounced "Yahn") and Boris the waiter were a fabulous team and kept us laughing every day, as well as kept our drinks filled up. It was a great place to meet up with others, hang out, or just pop by for a few minutes. The Latour Wine Bar also had a great selection. I regret not trying any of the martinis, as if they were as good as the wines we sampled I'd have enjoyed them greatly.
PUBLIC ROOMS: The entire length of the Conquest was in great shape, just having come out of dry dock a few weeks before our sailing. We noticed no scratches or stains or anything else unsightly. The artwork, intricate details and amazing decor, however, was a sight to behold. It seemed every time we turned around there was something else fabulous to see. Around every corner was another masterpiece. This ship is truly awesome to behold.
We ate both in the Renoir and Monet dining rooms, which were elegant and not at all the really "gaudy" style I'd thought might be present on a Carnival ship. We felt some ship vibration in the Monet dining room when we ate for breakfast, but we had Renoir for dinner and I never noticed anything like that. The dining rooms are two levels, and have two entrances each on decks 3 and 4 so you don't have to climb stairs in the dining room if you don't want to, to reach your table. You can just enter on the appropriate level.
The Toulouse-Latrec lounge is gigantic and was much larger than I had expected. We only saw a couple of shows but I would say that the sound quality could be improved for people sitting on the sides or in the back. You are better off to sit on the upper level or somewhere in the middle of the bottom level to have the best sound quality (or at least you were on our sailing).
ENTERTAINMENT: As I said, we only saw a few shows. We're fans of raunchy comedy but did not care for the first late-night comedy show we saw (a ventriloquist). We heard great things about the next late-night comedy show, however, and were sorry we missed it. The Las Vegas style production shows just aren't our "thing," but we did see the main show Formidable anyway on the first formal night. It was a beautiful show and all of the performers were very talented, but it just wasn't our favorite form of entertainment. If you like showgirls, and song/dance shows, I'm sure you would enjoy it quite a lot. Poolside entertainment was fun. Todd Wittmer and his staff did a great job of keeping everyone involved, and even structured our cruise around the Halloween holiday with a haunted house, costume parade, and masquerade ball in the Disco. They did a great job.
SERVICE: We were treated with over-the-top and outstanding service at every turn. From the purser's desk to our room steward to our dining room staff to our bar waiters, everyone on the ship was smiling, eager to talk to us, eager to go out of their way to help us with anything we wanted, and we also witnessed a lot of the staff going over-the-top for the benefit of other passengers, also. A great experience is where you look for it -- if you're nice to the staff, they are going to be nice back. We felt sorry for the pursers, as they had to deal with some very bitter, nasty, petty people but they always did so in an efficient and capable way. We had so much great service we kept a list of the folks who helped us so we could be sure they were noted on our comment card. Everyone was great!
DEBARKATION: We were awakened at 6:15 p.m. by the cruise director Todd telling us we had arrived in Galveston and were cleared for self-assist. We didn't get to do that, but we were still able to get dressed, pack our carry-ons, eat breakfast at the Lido, get off the ship, and back to our car and on the road by 10:30 a.m. It was a very easy process getting off the ship. We highly recommend getting a porter for the process, as it easily shaved minutes off of our wait time and then we didn't have to lug all our bags around.
We loved our trip on the Conquest. We would gladly sail her again. We're also considering perhaps a smaller ship, which might be a little easier to find our way around. We are now officially hooked on cruising, and we can't wait for our chance to take another trip. Carnival earned some customers for life.