All in all, I had a great time. There were a few things that I felt were lacking though. The last cruise I had before this was in 1997, and that was on the Carnival Inspiration and before that the Celebration. I was really looking forward to cruising again because the trips I had previously were just so much fun. This trip we took along our 9 and 4 year old children. It was nice that they had Camp Carnival for the the children to play while the "Grown Children" did their thing as well. Definite bonus!!!
EMBARKATION DAY... Not so bad. We arrived in Galveston around 2:00, parked at the EZ Cruise Parking and they took us to the Pier. I do wish that they would have at least dropped us off where we could have just walked in with our luggage, but instead they dropped us off near the Porters so we had to walk Allllll the way down (not easy with all the baggage and children in tow). Since we didn't try to be the first to arrive, the lines weren't too bad, but I wouldn't have wanted to get there much sooner and have to wait in those lines... egads. Our luggage was slow arriving to our rooms, one bag not arriving until after the after dinner show.
BOARDING DAY ON THE CONQUEST... Well, I must say I was impressed, very impressed with the beauty of the "Lobby". They didn't have what I would call a "Grand Staircase", but all in all the lobby was really quite lovely! After quickly viewing the lobby and obtaining my first of many "foo foo drinks", we anxiously headed up to see our cabin. The only complaint I had of this cabin was the "air conditioning" did not seem adequate.
ABOUT OUR CABIN... Well, I really can't say much about our cabin steward. Unlike the other cruises I have been on, I never once saw our cabin steward. The other cruise ships, the cabin steward always seemed to be around, and we got to know him very well, to the point of wanting our pictures taken with him. Couldn't even tell you what the Conquest cabin steward looked like. We were very fortunate that our travel agent was able to obtain for us 2 outside rooms with connecting doors. The rooms on the Conquest were huge in comparison to the other cruise ships we have been on. This would have been classified more of a standard suite rather than a simple outside room. Loved it and the kids loved having the room to themselves as well.
FOOD AND DINING ROOM EXPERIENCE... We had the early dinner for the first time, and will definitely make sure to get the late night seating from now on. It was just too hard to get in from your shore excursions and then get cleaned up to have dinner in the dining room. Not to mention that we just weren't hungry that early the majority of the time.
Our wait staff was, well unremarkable. On the other cruises, the dining staff made sure you had a great time. You could hear laughter all over the dining room. This time, I think they were all on valium or something because they were just so robotic.
The food was just OK. On the Celebration and Inspiration, we felt we were getting great food. On the conquest, there just a few times we were... Oh Yeah... this is great! Many of the entrees were over cooked. Especially at breakfast. The waffles and French Toast were always over cooked and crispy to the point of uneatable. We love the Chocolate Melting cake, which we had pretty much every night. The Buffet on the Lido Deck was OK. I say OK because we are not big on buffets except for perhaps "breakfast". They do need to "rethink" those "hash browns" though.
SUPPER CLUB... The only way to get food that we considered better than your average "Bennigans" was to pay extra for the Supper Club. There, the food was better. I still wouldn't go so far as to saying it was a 5 star rating, but it was MUCH better than the dining room.
Why in the world would they give you FREE SUSHI, but make you pay for a Cola, or even a cappuccino? I can understand paying for your alcoholic beverages... but a cappuccino? Give me a break!!! And $2.00 for a cola (after gratuity of course)?
SHOWS AND CRUISE DIRECTOR... We enjoyed a one, maybe two of the shows and a few were just OK. Juggler was by far the best. The Comedian... I can't even begin to tell you how lame this guy was. The magician, we SAW all the tricks and how she was performing them. There weren't any secrets there! Also, the magician couldn't seem to do her tricks without the "Conquest Dancers" who were mediocre themselves. The show room was very beautiful as are all the lounges and entertainment areas. Cruise Director was good, and was a better comedian that those the brought on board. He does need to work on getting much better shows.
EXCURSIONS... We loved all the trips we took on the islands. I do wished that the ship would have docked in Ocho Rios instead of Montego Bay Jamaica though. All the excursions worth while were in Ocho Rios which meant you had to spend 2 hours there and 2 hours back, in essence wasting 4 hours of your day stuck on buses.
DEBARKATION... OMG, this was a nightmare. We chose to take our luggage with us off the boat, thank heavens!!! When you were coming off the boat, you were looking out into a sea of luggage wondering how these people were ever going to find their luggage. And when you did finally get all your luggage together, whether taking it with you or finding it there, you were stuck in the cattle trough forever!!! There simply has to be a better way of getting through customs!
SUGGESTIONS... 1. Carnival needs to create "non smoking floors" or even an entire non smoking cruise. If you were trying to walk from one end of the boat to the other, there were just a few decks you could walk all the way through. Unfortunately, one of those was straight through the casino and all the smoke clouds. Why can't they put the casino at one end of the boat away from passengers who don't want to be around the smoke? Why the middle of the boat? Same goes with the lobby... that is where the majority of people meet up, sit to listen to music and to dance... but it was uncomfortable because they put a smoking section in there.
2. Why can't they heat up the pools? 71 degrees is horribly cold when you consider swimming. Is it so hard to find a way of heating the water in the cooler months? My children were very very disappointed. Also, the children's pool was up on deck 12 where the wind gusts could blow your kid right over the edge. And, it was so tiny and once again, freezing.
3. Give up the cappuccino people! Or at least make the general coffee better! Bring down the cost of a cola. $2.00 is WAY EXCESSIVE for a can.
4. Bring on better entertainment. If we are stuck on the boat for days, we need more to look forward to.
Well, that is my 2 cents worth.