I want to start out by saying its very hard not to have fun on a Carnival Fun Ship. My family had fun and would sail with Carnival again. I point this out because some parts of the this review are very critical of the Conquest and her services.
This was my family's third cruise. The first was the Disney Wonder in 2001 and the second was the Carnival Ecstasy in 2006. Both of those were Halloween cruises. On this Labor Day cruise, I sailed with my wife, our two kids (eight and five years old), my sister in-law and her family, my mother and father in-law, and my father.
We all booked directly with a Carnival PVP. A quick note about our PVP, he was very responsive until we made our initial deposit. Then he stopped returning our e-mails and voice mails. (Even to make a FINAL PAYMENT.) Considering my family booked eight staterooms with him over the last 18 months, you would think we would be happy to return our calls. However, I'm still awaiting for a quote on my next cruise that I request two weeks ago. I'll probably use a travel agent next time.
My side of the family drove down from Dallas. My wife's side drove in from different parts of southern Louisiana. We all parked at EZParking; which was easy to use.
Embarkation was smooth. The Dallas folks arrived at 11:00 were on board having lunch by 12:30. We were in our staterooms by 1:30.
My family booked two adjoining inside staterooms on the Upper Deck. The kids got one and my wife and I got the other. This turned out better than we expected. Carnival's staterooms are already very large, but the additional bathroom and television turn out priceless. The kids would fall asleep to Cartoon Network while my wife and I tracked hurricane Felix on CNN International.
Our stateroom steward did a good job and responded to all our requests.
The condition of the Conquest was a disappointment. The ship looked a lot older than five years. Rust stains were visitable on hull and deck, lights in public areas were burned out or their glass housings were broken, and broken titles in a couple of the elevators. Our room alone had a couple broken lights switches. (Which were immediately fixed upon our request.) The Ecstasy was in much better condition when we sailed on her and she was 15 years old at the time! I understand the the Ecstasy was only two years out of refit, but that still no excuse for rust stains and burned out lights.
We all had a 5:45 diner time in the Monet Dinning Room. For diner, the food and service was average compared to eating out at any sit down restaurant. The deserts however were exceptional.
For the most part, my wife and I we ate in the Dinning Room for breakfast and lunch. This was because the Lido deck was very crowed for those two meal times. Even with all four serving lines open, a ten minute wait in the buffet line was was not uncommon. On the first sea day, we decided it was better to be waited on in the dining room.
My kids did like to eat at Paul's Deli. The staff there got to know them by first name and what sandwiches they liked. That was a nice personal touch by the Lido cooks. Something I did not expect outside of the dining room.
Breakfast on the Conquest got old very fast. The menu in the dining room didn't change. And according to other family members, the breakfast buffet didn't change much either.
The Super Club was the best meal on the ship. My wife and I almost went twice. In my opinion, the food and service there rivals most of the fine steak houses in Dallas.
I did spend some time in the Conquest health club. All the machines were working and they have free towel service.
The buffet lines of the only part of the ship were we felt crowed. There was plenty of deck space and pools to go around on the Lido deck.
The activities on the Conquest were a lot of fun. On sea days, I enjoyed the Wine Tasting, Tea Time with live classical music and Bingo. At night there was entertainment not only inside the ship, but also outside on the Lido deck. This was the first time my wife and I got involved in the color war thing and we really enjoyed it! This ship defiantly party's past midnight and deserves the "Fun Ship" reputation. Cupid Shuffle anyone?
Both of my kids enjoyed Camp Carnival. My three year old son never wanted to leave, but my eight old daughter sometimes preferred the pool and the slide.
The shows were entertaining. My daughter and I enjoyed the Carnival dancers and magic show. Most stage productions had pyrotechnics. However, I do believe that you have to be stoned hippie to understand the story lines. (Can some please explain the role of the dancing rat in Point 'n Click?!)
In Jamaica, I stayed behind with all the kids while the rest of the family went shopping. It was too humid for my tastes and the kids didn't want to leave Camp Carnival.
In Grand Cayman, we did a tour with Captain Marvin to Sting Ray city. This was the highlight our our cruise. I strongly recommend Captain Marvin's tours, you will not regret it.
In Cozumel, the kids were again in Camp Carnival while the adults partied hard at Paradise Beach and Sr. Frogs. Please don't ask me to recall anything else. (Don't ask, don't tell.)
Disembarkation was a zoo. Line for self assist in the port itself was at least 90 minutes long. We waited at least 60 minutes for a porter. I believe the port did not have enough staff or Customs officials to handle the number of guest coming off the ship. Heaven help them the Voyager of the Seas arrives this December. Carnival for their part, did slow down the rate they were calling folks off the ship.
Overall, my entire family had a great time. I would not hesitate book with Carnival again. I would think twice about going on the Conquest again.