My 18th cruise, 4th on Carnival, family group of 19. Departed Galveston on December 16th, 2007. Embarkation- stayed at a Galveston Strand hotel and walked over at 11:30AM to drop off luggage, then had lunch and walked around the Strand district. Walked back to the cruise terminal and got in line at 2:30PM. Spent 1 1/2 hour in line outside under the covered area, then another hour in line inside before boarding the ship. The check in was well organized and staff friendly, but 2 1/2 hours in a line is just to long!
Ship- I must say, this was the poorest layout of any ship I have ever been on. We have been on the Grand Princess which also holds 3,000 people and other than getting on & off, you never felt crowded on the Grand. On the Conquest you felt crowded ALL the time. Public area halls are skinny, then they put poles in the middle of the halls. Felt like being in a packed mall always walking into people. The dining room is a mess, no walkways, just packed tables. Do not get a table for 2, it seems they just placed the tables for 2 into what would have been the walkway. People & waiters hitting your elbows on both sides. The atrium lobby is very small for a ship of this size. On the Inspiration I recall standing on a deck above the lobby and thinking how beautiful. On the Conquest they built a 6 story atrium, then put cabins "hanging" on the top 3 decks of the lobby. It feels like a big house crashed into the atrium and makes the lobby ugly. The entire goal of the ship design seems to be cramming more people onto the ship. Speaking of ugly, the ship is way overboard with every inch decorated. Then add Christmas decorations and it is overload.
Cabin- inside cabin on Riviera deck. Have had an inside cabin on both the Carnival Inspiration & Elation and found them to be larger. Carnivals old standby that their cabins are larger than the other guys seems to have changed on their conquest class ships. The bath was nice with lots of shelf space, closet space was good. The pillows and sheets were outstanding, as good as any 5 star hotel. Cabin was very quite and we slept well until the announcements would wake us up. Cabin was clean and in good repair. Cabin attendant (Mario) was excellent and was an exceptionally happy guy. Always cheered you up just meeting him in the hall.
Dining- Dining room -Prime rib was excellent, but 3 other different steaks were just big chunks of meat. Service was good until the last night when our server was out sick, the assistant took over. He was a nice guy but made lots of errors. Buffet- Lots of choice, and credit for some innovative selections.
Shows- Dancers, sets, & costumes were excellent, only show went on to long and got louder and louder. Juggler was great (got a standing ovation), magic show was nice, comedian was a bomb.
Photographers- All must be trained in Jamaica as they bug you all the time and are everywhere. The few we did use were good, but rushed so they could get on with the next person. The photo set ups were absolutely intrusive, blocking hallways, stairways, even holding up getting off the tenders so they could get a picture. What I could not believe was the at the entrance to the dining room they blockaded it. People had to wait to go to and from dinner as a photographer was taking shots of others. The same when exiting the dining room. Unbelievable! The photo display area is very unpleasant, like a mob.
Overall- The 3,000 person ships are not so great. If you are taking a Carnival cruise take one of the smaller ships if possible. They are far more attractive and more enjoyable.