Unlike previous reviews where I have droned-on in prose, this time I'm going to get to the crux my cruise experience so you can better decide if this is the right cruise for you.
The ship: Big, whimsical, and gaudy, with a nice, mostly functional layout.
PROS (what's working well on the Carnival Conquest)
-Sheets have been upgraded since last cruising, still a poly blend, but nicer than before.
-The ship layout is good. There are only a few floors (mainly 3 and 4) which are tricky to navigate.
-The staterooms are large with plenty of storage. Much larger than Celebrity or NCL, the oceanview stateroom is quite spacious because of the large window sill.
-The staff is exceedingly friendly and helpful.
-The MDR dining options are better than last year, order as much as you want (if you want 3 entrees, go for it!), with not so much as a raised eyebrow from any waiters.
-The addition of the Guy Fieri's Burger Bar was a nice, albeit self-service touch. The burgers were juicy and calorie-laden (mmmm).
-The burrito bar was a fresh addition also, in my opinion it's not as good as Chipotle, but whether that's good or bad, you can decide for yourself.
-The Punchliner Comedy club is a hoot on sea-days, a must-do for anybody with a healthy funny bone.
-The Toulouse-Lautrec lounge, which serves as the main auditorium, is comfortable and spacious with handy little built in tables for drinks.
-Staterooms were made-up like clockwork 2x day. I never saw or heard the stewards though, which seemed a little odd.
-The espresso bar on the promenade deck was a pleasant place to enjoy my $4 daily double grande latte.
-The buffet boasts plentiful and comfortable seating without feeling like a cafeteria.
-The new flat-screen TVs in the staterooms were a nice upgrade.
-The new carpet in guest room hallways was as gaudy as the rest of the ship but sparkling new.
-The fitness room had plenty of ellipticals and treadmills available. Weights were limited, but I found everything I needed.
-The casino was comfy with modern slots and a few tables, plenty of penny slots were available.
-In Renoir MDR, 2 entrees were remarkable- Seafood Newberg and Martini Basa (fish), both were superb, delectable, fresh, and expertly prepared. If you are a seafood lover, they are not to be missed.
-Fast debarkation at ports due to no tendering at all! BONUS!!!
-Nice cutlery, glassware, and linens in MDRs (Renoir and Monet).
-Nightly towel animals in guest room were a cute touch.
-Self-service laundry room was available with iron & ironing board already set-up. Most convenient.
-Freshly made croissants were available every morning in MDRs.
-Creamy mashed potatoes can be ordered as a side with dinner.
CONS (needs improvement, or an abject failure)
-Tiny RV-like bathrooms in guest rooms had shower curtains that stuck to me while bathing. Ewwww!
-Gaudy decor- think Fantasia meets Monet
-Guest rooms were outdated, peach motif became tiresome quickly, upholstery was stained.
-Buffet offerings were limited, few side dishes (mostly meat) were available, unripe fruits (melons), I ate little off the buffet only because nothing looked good.
-The lasagna bolognese entree in the MDR was the absolute worst lasagna I have had in my life. I think they actually used canned spinach. Blech.
-The breakfast foods in the MDR are best summed up as: BAD. Sausage- horrible. Eggs- look powdered. Omelettes: dry. Bacon: greasy. Stick to the croissants, fresh fruit (bananas/grapefruit) and bagels with lox.
-The coffee in the buffet and MDR was nasty and acrid. Think el cheapo dark roast meets farmer brothers. No thank you. Stick to the espresso, which was not free but worth every penny, especially if you're an addict like me.
-On sea days only brunch is served in the MDR starting a 9am. Too late for me. George Lopez's menu is vast but seriously misguided. Atypical brunch food.
-Upon embarkation, no sit down restaurants were open. Only self serve. Seriously? After half-a-day of chasing taxis, airplanes, and waiting in lines, now we have to chase down food? I about threw a fit, if it wasn't for Guy Fieri's sinful burger, I might've gone ballistic.
-The photo people were a little pushy. Just because I don't want another photo with yet another pirate doesn't make me a bad person. Geez, back off already.
-Extremely limited fine dining options. The Point Steakhouse's eastern european waiters tend to border on rude AND you can only order 1 appetizer, 1 salad, 1 entree, and 1 dessert. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a heifer, but sometimes I want 2! For a $35/head surcharge, I think they should make some allowances for bigger appetites. While the Chef's Table is a lovely dining experience, at $75/head it's not something most people can afford.
-The debarkation was such a disorganized mess it became a free-for-all. Customs was surprisingly quick though.
-The Punchliner Comedy club's seating was limited. You will need to arrive at least 15 minutes early to nab seats.
In a nutshell: Hit-and-miss. I tend to be fussy so things that irk me, may not irk you at all.