We live near Dallas so we drove to Galveston the day before sailing and stayed at the Harbor House on Pier 21. This hotel is right next to the pier and easy walking distance to the cruise terminal. We paid a one time $10.00 parking fee and were able to park our car in their lot for the duration of the cruise. We took the advice of our Carnival Cruise Advisor and went to the terminal at 11:30 a.m. Since we were so close we just wheeled our luggage to the terminal and left it with the porter. The whole embarkation process took less than 30 minutes and we were having lunch at the buffet on the Lido Deck by noon. My best advice is to arrive early - we spoke to a couple who arrived at the terminal at 1:30 and waited in the embarkation line for 3 hours.
Since we are past Carnival Cruisers we were upgraded from the ocean view cabin we paid for to a balcony cabin. Our cabin was spacious with tons of storage. The bathroom was large for a cruise ship with several shelves to store toiletries. The cabin included a sofa, coffee table, two end tables and a lighted makeup mirror/dressing area. The in-room TV had several channel that broadcast the ship talks and programs, a movie channel, cartoon channels and network TV from the Denver area. My only suggestion would be to choose network TV from the central time zone (maybe Dallas, Houston, Oklahoma City or New Orleans).
Dining: We ate in the Renoir dining room each evening except one. Our original dining time was 8:30 but we requested to be changed to 6:15 and our request was accommodated with no problem. The food was very good. I had steak, lobster, veal, chicken - all very good. We also ate in the specialty restaurant, The Point. The food was excellent although at $30.00 a person I don't think it was worth the price since the dining room food is so good. We also sampled the buffet which was good, had hamburgers - also good and I had a ruben sandwich made at the deli - also very tasty. Of course, there's the 24 hour pizza and ice cream which we also sampled a couple of time. This cruise I was determined to not gain any weight so we took the stairs whenever possible and stayed away from the midnight buffet.
Service: Everyone we encountered from our cabin steward, wait staff, bartenders, pursers, etc. was courteous and helpful. Our cabin was cleaned twice a day and we always had chocolate on our pillow and a cute towel animal each night.
Entertainment: We went to the show each night except one. The singers and dancers were excellent as were the bands in the lounges. We also enjoyed the comedians and the juggler. The cruise director, Mark Price was very funny and a talented singer to boot. However, since we are too old for the wee hours we would have liked more afternoon entertainment.
We also spent considerable time (and money) in the casino. We were pleased with the size of the casino and the selection of slot machines. However, like most cruise ships, the slots were tight. We did have fun however.
Ports: In Jamaica we booked the excursion to Sandals Resort. We were very disappointed in this shore excursion. We were expecting a five star resort and I would say it was barely a two star. Unlimited drinks and a buffet were included in the price ($95.00) a person. However, when we tried to get bottled water they directed us to the gift shop where we could purchase water. I then ordered a strawberry daiquiri and they asked if I wanted rum in it. The buffet was just OK and the beach area was right under the runway for the airport. The planes were flying so low I was afraid they would take the top off the trees. The beach area was OK although we were warned not to buy anything from vendors on the beach. I was expecting no vendors on the beach since it was a private resort. We did not like Jamaica at all. The hotels and businesses were all surrounded by barbed wire fences and we did not feel safe. In fact one of the excursion buses from our cruise was stopped by a group of criminals and everyone on board was robbed of their money and jewelry at gunpoint. Don't wander around in Jamaica alone.
Our next stop was Grand Cayman which was clean, affluent, and felt safe. Unfortunately, it was raining so our scheduled excursion to the Butterfly Farm and Beach was canceled. We just went back to the ship, had lunch and took a nap. The next stop was Cozumel which is beautiful. We were able to park at the pier and just walk off the ship to the shopping area. We bought some jewelry and walked around for awhile. We were going to take a taxi to the beach but it started raining so we went back to the ship. Oh well, you can't control the weather.
All in all, I would highly recommend the Carnival Conquest. Especially if you are a past Carnival guest, they treat you very well. We were invited to a special reception for past guests with free drinks and appetizers. And of course, we got the free cabin upgrade. In the future we will always choose to cruise on the newest and largest ships available. They just offer so much more than the smaller ships. Everything was well run and although there were 1,600 children on board they we so well tended that we hardly saw them. Of course, they do not allow children in the nightclubs and casino. The Conquest also has four pools and an adult only pool area which was nice.