We had the hurricane to contend with, so we could not go to Jamaica. We got a $25 credit per person for missing the port. From what I had heard about with problems in Jamaica, I wasn't particularly concerned about not going. It would have been nice, however, for them to have substituted a port, or given us two days in another.
The Ship: Beautiful, clean, comfortable and well-kept. I liked the impressionist motif. Didn't find it gaudy or over-the top. I liked the layout of the ship. The elevators are far enough away from the cabins that I there was never a problem with noise. The cabins are large. We stayed in an ocean view on the Riviera deck. All four of us were very comfortable. They had a pull-down bed for one of my sons.
The "hotel" aspect of the ship was run exceptionally well. The rooms were always cleaned and attended to in a very professional manner, and the kids LOVED the towel animals. We ended up picking up the book on how to make them. I made my first "piggy" on board.
The restaurant (we ate at the early seating in the Monet) was excellent, as well. The food was always good, and the waitstaff (ours were Joseph and Chanika) were friendly and accommodating. I took this opportunity to give my children a wide variety of opportunities to try new foods, and they earned points for everything new they tried (redeemed at desert time). They didn't like everything they tried, but they definitely felt good about the effort, and learned about some new foods they really did like. Also, the drink steward made sure we had our drinks at our table every night when we arrived. Nice to have someone pay attention to what you like, and take care of you. This was after she knew we had soda cards, so this wasn't an effort to sell more drinks. She was simply doing an exceptional job.
The lunch buffet had some shining moments (the rice and chorizo being one), but I found it for the most part to be utility food. I stuck mostly with the salad bar and for breakfast, a bagel, to save room for the huge amount of food I ate every night in the restaurant. (The chocolate melting cake was divine).
I did find the crew members working at the breakfast and lunch buffets to be sub-par in general. They often tried to rush you by so fast you didn't get everything you wanted. They also could have used a couple more people to help on those lines.
Great pizza, too. Nice that the one food you can get 24 hours a day is so enjoyable. I took two pizzas back to our cabin one night for a "pizza party."
The kids programs: We travelled with our 9 and 12 year old sons. They adored the activities on board. My 12-year-old felt special and important because he was in the "older" group (12-14) and could do thing his brother could not. My younger son made friends and had a blast at his activities through Camp Carnival. The counselors there were exceptional. They really cared if the kids had a good time, and provided a lot of energy to the experience. My only gripe was that sometimes the activities listed did not occur, and were substituted by others with no real explanation.
Entertainment: For the most part, it was very good. The juggler was amazing, and the comedian from the night before (not the moth guy) was also very funny. We enjoyed the Legends show, too.
Because I own a Karaoke company, I have to have a separate section about the Karaoke. On a bright note, the audience was fun, supportive and energetic. It is rare to run into such a crowd in a regular Karaoke bar. Most people are simply interested in hearing themselves and don't care about listening to anyone else. Not on the Conquest. They were terrific.
On an extremely sour note, the host (The Lovely Lenka) had no idea how to run sound whatsoever. On the mixing board, the EQ was set at a flat line, the mics were over-driven and everyone was run through the sound board without effects, and if you know anything about Karaoke, you know that we who love to sing and are not "professional singers" need all the help we can get. Reverb is a wonderful tool which the lovely Lenka refused (yes, refused, even after I asked) to use. For the quality of equipment they had on board, there was no reason for crappy sound. Those systems were more than capable of sounding beautiful. My husband and I politely offered to help her set her board after the first night, when she had finished. She said she didn't know anything about the board, knew it sounded bad, but had no interest in allowing us to help. So she had the same crappy sound every night. Alrighty then. Guess you don't have to be good at your job or care about self-improvement when you're engaged to the cruise director (yep, she is the future Mrs. Price).
Sorry, I digress.
Back to the cruise.
We really did have a great time. There was always something going on, and we felt it was a good value for our money. I was impressed with the way the ship's captain and crew handled the hurricane situation. I was expecting to be sailing through rain and I really didn't feel my cruise was compromised at all.
One other note, and I'm sure that this is the same on every cruise, with every cruise line, but I have to say that the shameless way they are continually trying to get more money (waiters peddling drinks...endless bingo...photographs EVERYWHERE...water for shore...casino...scratch-off cards...this sale in the store...ANOTHER sale in the store...etc., etc., etc....) does get tiring. I know nobody forced us to spend what we did on board, but it is nice to feel that an all-inclusive vacation is indeed that, and that the aim of the cruise line is to give you a good time -- not take every last dollar you have left. We eventually just boycotted everything for purchase on the last day.
In any case...I digress again. Sorry. Great cruise...good people...great time...and yes, I'd do it again.