My parents (47) and I (26) sailed on the Carnival Conquest the week of 3/30/08. Before this trip, we had sailed with Carnival 2 times, once on the Ecstasy and once on the Conquest. I live in Houston and my parents live in Northeast TX, so they drove down that weekend and we then drove to the pier from Houston and parked at Lighthouse parking. They were great, fast and friendly service. It's also $5 cheaper if you reserve online.
I had booked an inside cabin, but my parents booked a suite so we were able to go in the VIP line. This was great! We arrived at the pier around noon and were on the ship by 12:30. Our rooms were not ready, so we headed to the Lido for some lunch. I decided to try the Sur Mer I had heard so much about, there wasn't a line at all and the food was great.
We had the early seating in the Monet, so dinner was at 5:45. Personally I found this to be too early. We were usually done by 7pm, and there wasn't much to do between 7pm and 10:30. Some nights there were two shows, with one at 8:30, so I was able to go to that one, but on the nights that the show didn't start until 10:30 I found myself wondering around without much to do (parents spent time in the Casino, but that's not my cup of tea) most everyone else on the ship was eating dinner at the later seatings. My parents and I were seated at a table with just the 3 of us, which was a bit of a disappointment; we were hoping to chat with people (besides ourselves) during the trip. Due to this we only went to the dining room 4 nights. However, our waitress was wonderful and I was very impressed with her service.
I was able to make it to the Magic Show and the Point and Click. They were good, but hadn't changed at all since I had sailed on the Conquest in Sept of 2006. They need to change things up a bit for those of us that enjoy sailing on the Conquest.
Most of the food in the dining room was good. I ordered the lamb the first night and didn't much cared for it, so I traded with my mom and had the steak, it was very good. The first formal night was Monday and the lobster and shrimp was very good.
We went to The Point on Tuesday and this was fantastic! I had the surf and turf was wonderful, and the chocolate dessert was to die for! My parents didn't much care for the point, they thought it was a little too fancy, but I was in heaven.
I spent most of the sea days by the adults only pool at the aft of the ship. I'm not a fan of the loud, live music they frequently have playing by the main pool, so this was perfect. The bar was not too far away and I could read my book without worrying about hearing loss.
The art auction is a lot of fun and offers free champagne. I like to go and see what art is available and the prices that they have. If you are looking for art as an investment or just for something to put on your walls this is definitely the place to go. They have art ranging from $110 to $55K.
Jamaica - This is the only port were we did an excursion through the ship, only because it's the only place you can get it. We did the zip line excursion. The zip lining itself was fabulous! However, the place is extremely unorganized. There were about 200 people standing around trying to figure out which line to get into and where to go. However, once that was figured out and we were on our way it was wonderful. The views are breathtaking and it's an experience I'd definitely recommend.
Grand Cayman - This is a beautiful place. The water is crystal clear and the snorkeling fabulous. This time we just did some walking around and shopping (which is expensive, wait for Cozumel for the deals), however last time I did this cruise I took the snorkel and stingray tour with Captain Marvin. It was wonderful and I definitely recommend taking this tour through an independent party, not the ship! The tour through the ship packs 100+ people on a boat like sardines and they hardly get any time with the stingrays, plus it costs twice as much! Captain Marvin only has about 12 people per boat and you get a lot of personalized attention.
Cozumel - One of my favorite places, great for shopping and beaches. We went to Play Uvas, which was fabulous! We got the unlimited drinks, lunch, and guided snorkel tour package. When we arrived our name was on a board and they were expecting us, it was quite nice. The snorkeling was wonderful (even though I still have a bit of a sunburn), the combination fajitas I had for lunch were great, the beer plentiful, and the massage I had on the beach was affordable and relaxing. This is one place I didn't want to leave, however it was time to do some shopping! We went to a few place outside the shipping terminal, and I bought a tanzanite ring (it's yet to be determined if I got a good deal, but I plan on having it appraised soon), and we were on our way back to the ship.
The last day and debarkation, this is one thing I think Carnival could do better. Saturday night I was looking for my bathrobe when I realized they had already took it. I realized that they needed to launder it for the next guests, but my cruise wasn't over! I felt it sent a very negative message. Debarkation Sunday was a nightmare, people cutting in line and my foot being run over by luggage. Why was there VIP embarkation available, but not disembarkation? I thought this sent the same message as the robe "cruise is over, we already have your money, go away".
In summary, I would definitely take a Carnival cruise again, however I am doing the later seating, and if it's longer than 5 days I'm going with friends, not family :).