We sailed on May 11th 2014 on our ninth Carnival cruise aboard the Conquest. We sailed out of Miami and stayed at the Embassy Suites at the Miami Airport. We were cruising with another couple, and we flew into Miami the day before the cruise as we always do. We arrived very early and after a 30 minute wait for the hotel shuttle arrived at the Embassy Suites. I'll leave out the Miami side for the most part - snafu at the hotel about taking an early check in (DON'T!!) - and a great Everglades tour (DO IT!). Hotel was overall fine (3rd stay there) and we had a good stay.
Cruise day - checking our bags and getting checked in was smooth. Had a hour wait to board the ship - I HATE the fact that unless you pay to get on the ship faster you have to watch people who came in a hour after you did board before you. Snafu #1 - when we went to get into the walkway to the ship our S&S cards "boinked" and were found to be no good. We were told once on the ship to get new ones ASAP. And we weren't the only ones either - line at the purser's desk was crazy long, mainly for new cards. But the Conquest was nice on 1st appearance, clean and bright and as always, the crew were most friendly. Snafu #2 - we found we couldn't open the balcony door between our balcony and our friend's balcony. Seems it was based on us booking THAT cabin combination, which our PVP didn't know about. But our cabins were ready right at 1:30, which is about the time we finally got our new S&S cards. Nice cabin as always, 7358 for us. We had a light lunch on the Lido deck and a couple drinks, unpacked and went through the muster drill. We had a late seating for dinner in the Renoir dining room (midships) and our waiters were John (head), Wayan and Suashtika and they were fantastic. Friendly, funny, very good and always ready to joke with us. Dinners were always great, food was well cooked and delicious. We ate at the steak house on the 2nd formal night and again it was fantastic. We always have a steak night on every cruise. Ports - not bad overall. Half Moon Cay was okay - we rented a cabana (well worth the money) and did the Stingray encounter. That was fun, smaller group of people and more interaction with the rays then I had in Grand Cayma. Beach was beautiful and the island itself was lovely. Weather wasn't cooperative though, several periods of heavy rain (including when we were waiting to tender back to the ship) but that's what happens this time of year on the Eastern side of the Caribbean. Shopping on the island was poor at best, don't go expecting much. St Thomas (2nd time there) we took the Kon Tiki sightseeing tour with beach break. This was a "lesson learned" excursion. The descriptions make it seem like an extended guided tour around the harbor and a long beach stay. While the staff were great, it's basically a drive around the harbor (look at that, look at that), stopping at other ships to pick up people, then an hour at a tiny beach. If you want to get drunk and dance to reggae music, this will work for you but otherwise, pass. San Juan was great - we had sailed out of San Juan 2 years ago but hadn't been there as a port. Took the Old San Juan Walking, Mojito and Mofungo Experience tour. LOVED the walking part, had a great guide and saw so many amazing sights. The mojito/mofungo part, not so much. Nice little restaurant but "making" your mofungo lunch consisted of your smushing up plantain and forming a bowl out of it and putting prepared ingredients into it - and eating it cold. Grand Turks was really nice - perfect weather, took the Taste of Grand Turk & Beach Break excursion and it was great. Small group, great tour guide, saw what seemed like was the entire island, stopped at several interesting spots including the light house - where wild donkeys were all over the place, were gentle and LOVED being fed! We stopped at a small restaurant for lunch, which was delicious - friend conch, fried snapper, jerk chicken and rice. We went back to the port area for shopping and used the free public beach, which was beautiful and getting chairs was no problem. What was a problem was it was so hot in the sun we couldn't stay laying out for more than 45 minutes before we fled to shade. Good shopping in the port and the Margaritaville was doing a huge business.
Overall, we had a really good cruise. The crew and staff on the Conquest were all great and ship-wise we had no complaints. Casino was just fine (won a little), dining was great, tried pretty much all the dining options and spots. We actually saw two shows and they were lots of fun - we liked that they had late shows after the 8:15pm dining room seating. We cruise annually and we'll definitely sail on the Conquest again.