Before we sailed: We've sailed on Carnival three times prior to this trip, and agreed to go on this cruise only because our daughter's family and three grandchildren would be there, to make it a family get together for New Year.
Embarkation: We live near Galveston, and have sailed from there many times. As usual, we anticipated a smooth embarkation process--and that's exactly what we got.
The Ship: The Carnival Conquest is a fairly large ship, holding about 3,000 passengers. But, it's design makes it very easy to maneuver and you're never very far away from elevators that seem to arrive much faster than those on any other cruiseline. The staff cleaned and picked up and polished incessantly, and I never fell over an area that I thought wasn't just shining and spotless ...
There is plenty of deck space with hundreds of lounge chairs, but, at the same time, lots of "walking around" space--there is actually space between the chairs and the rows of chairs, and you didn't have to trip over someone every time you moved. That was nice.
Good size gym ... basketball court ... volleyball court ... jogging track ... miniature golf ... table tennis ... what more could you want? And for the real sports nuts, the Sports Bar, though not very large, attracted it's share of customers, especially for the football games ... which is better than the outside large screens that have to be suffered by everyone, whether they like it or not.
The pools are a bit small and were cold all the time, so were not used too much, except by the hardy kids who let nothing get in their way. (I've never understood why the cruiselines refuse to recognize the need to heat their pools in the W. Caribbean.)
Food/Dining: We had early dinner in the Monet Dining Room, with excellent service and food. Most impressive was the number of choices on the menu. And, unlike so many other cruiselines, the passengers don't have to be masters of seven different foreign languages to understand what they are ordering and eating. The Buffet: This buffet had probably the largest seating capacity we had ever seen on any cruiseship. With a vast array of seats on two levels, no one had to search for a seat--not even on the first day, when hundreds of hungry people head for the buffet after a day of travel. Alternative Casual Dining: If you didn't care for the food in the buffet, there was quite a choice of alternatives--with each item freshly cooked or made to order: Fish and chip bar, Chinese bar, hamburgers and fries; deli sandwiches; and pizza--and some of these areas remained open until 11:00 p.m., with pizza available 24 hours/day.
Service throughout the ship was extremely good .. Guest Services Desk was helpful ... and even the photography staff was polite and never pushy ... and .. they took great photos!
And the negatives? Of course nothing is perfect and we thought that whoever decided that there shouldn't be any organized activities on port days made a pretty bad judgment call. Some passengers don't choose to get off in ports but still enjoy their trivia games,etc. And this proved to be especially true when we encountered bad weather on one port day and almost all the excursions were cancelled ... many passengers complained that there was nothing "fun" to do on the "fun ship." Is this the Cruise Director's decision? And if it is, it might well tie in with fact that this Cruise Director and his staff were not very good. The cruise director was essentially invisible ... most of the time, just a voice on the P.A. system; the people who showed up for one sports trivia entertained themselves because the "moderator" never appeared; and another time, a different event was shown to be located in two different venues at the time time ... most confusing! And while we like the fact that the pubic address system isn't forever blasting out, this ship seems to have gone to the other extreme--so we never got to know what the projected weather forecast was (which came as a shock when we found a 54 degree temperature in Grand Cayman); or that an unscheduled movie was being shown in the theater; or where to exit the ship for the port visits ... and so forth.
But ... these are comments, not gripes! Overall, this was an excellent cruise on a very nice ship ... and no doubt, we will return in the not too distant future.