This was my second cruise, my first cruise in 13 years, and my wife's second cruise, the first was in late 2011. I booked this cruise back in July and anxiously awaited the months to pass like a little child waiting for Christmas morning. Because of this, I was a bit disheartened when our cruise was cut a day short because of Tropical Storm Karen closing the Mississippi River, but I felt that Carnival dealt with the situation in the best way possible. Ultimately we got reimbursed for a day and missed Freeport, but nearly everyone I spoke to said this was nothing to be bummed about, since many people do not have favorable opinions of Freeport. We drove to New Orleans on Sunday, our original embarkation day, and spent the night at the Ramada Inn Metairie. This was a fantastic hotel, allowing us to park our vehicle there for the duration of the cruise, as well as providing transportation to the port on Monday morning, although return transportation was on our own following disembarkation.
We purchased Faster to the Fun, which really came in handy! We arrived at the port around 10:30am and there were already crazy long lines just to get into the terminal, for security, and check-in. Once we had cleared the line to get into the building, Faster to the Fun made security and check-in a breeze. We were on the ship and directly to our stateroom around 11:15am. We were so happy to have bypassed all the lines and really be having fun much faster. By the time we got to the terminal I believe they were handing out Zone 34 cards, so it would have been quite a while without FTTF.
Our room was on the Panorama Deck (10) and was actually a handicapped room with a walkaway view of the observation deck all the way forward on Deck 10. We really enjoyed all of the space we had, and I especially enjoyed just walking around the corner to a deck that practically no one knew about. We saw very few people out there for the duration of our cruise. After checking out our room and dropping off our carry on bags, we went out to explore the ship. This meant we immediately checked out the spa, at my wife's plea. We never used any of their services, but it did look like a very nice facility offering many different services. Following our spa tour we made our way out to the Lido deck poolside and grabbed a burger from Guy's Burger Joint. I cannot say enough about how fantastic this place is! I had a burger every day of the cruise, it was just that good! We walked around some more after lunch and before the safety briefing. The Conquest is a beautiful ship, hard to believe it is eleven years old! Pretty soon we were sailing down the Mississippi River towards the Gulf of Mexico. I must say, if you have never sailed from New Orleans, I highly recommend it. It is such a unique experience to be on a large ship traveling down the river.
We ate at the Point Steakhouse the first night of the cruise and it was amazing. We were given a complimentary bottle of wine and all of the food (and it was a lot) was delicious. We left absolutely stuffed and amazed at the fine dining we had experienced. I highly recommend the steakhouse! We really enjoyed all of the food while on the ship. I think our favorite meal was the Punchliner Brunch, which was so good each of the three sea days. Where else can you get filet mignon with eggs or french toast coated with Fruit Loops? The Taste Bar was also a favorite, as we enjoyed the samplings of restaurants on our ship and other ships. We had dinner in the dining room each night, with the exception of the first night when we were at the steakhouse. The dining room was just okay for me. I felt like the service was too slow, but this could have been because of the Your Time Dining. Speaking of YTD, we only had to wait on the first elegant night and the last night of the cruise. Neither wait was more than 15-20 minutes for a table for two. The only downside to a table for two, and I've noticed this with other reviews, is that the tables set for two are so close to the table next to you that it's almost like one huge table. You seemingly end up engaged in conversation with your neighbors anyway. I really was not all that impressed with the food in the dining room. Not that it was bad, but it had a hospital food taste. The only time we tried the buffet was for breakfast on the day we were to port in Nassau. Blue Iguana's Cantina had awesome tacos, but it was only open for lunch for about 2.5 hours each day. I wish it were open longer, and I do understand that it is open for breakfast. We also tried out sandwiches from the Carnival Deli and pizza from Pizza Pirate. Everything was excellent!
We were very satisfied with the entertainment on the ship. Our cruise director, Gary, was great at keeping the audience entertained throughout the cruise. We especially enjoyed the Hasbro Game Show each of the two episodes they had. The third was cancelled on the last day due to "technical difficulties". The "Game of Love" was also quite entertaining, as was "The Brits". I had never realized how many games of bingo is played each cruise, but it looks like many people really enjoy it.
Overall, this was an awesome cruise for my wife and I. We had so much fun that we have already booked a cruise out of NOLA next year on the Dream and are already looking forward to that. Again, can't say enough good about FTTF, Guy's Burgers, and the Steakhouse. We also really loved both ports, walking around and sightseeing at both Key West and Nassau.