The first cruise my wife and I took was also out of New Orleans, aboard the Holiday, in 2001. That experience almost ended our desire to cruise, but that's another story. When we arrived for our Conquest trip, we found ourselves upgraded from a cabin with a window (6A) to one with both large window and private balcony with unobstructed view. This set the upscale tone for the entire voyage.
Our dining table in the Monet dining room was set for 5 couples. For every evening meal, (except the night we departed the Big Easy), we shared this large table with a delightful couple from New Iberia, LA. Our table wait staff, Beatrice and Andrea, were very professional, warm, and attentive to our every dining need! They also put their best efforts into joining the wait staff in providing after dinner entertainment for us as well. The Cruise Director did a tremendous job in his capacity. My wife and I had several occasions to observe the ship's Captain, as he interacted with both the passengers and his entire crew in a most commendable and one-on-one personal way. The Conquest will lose a great Captain as he moves on to a new boat, soon to sail from Miami.
Two aspects of the experience detracted from an otherwise wonderful cruise. First, almost all elevators were put out of operation Thursday and/or Friday. Many of the elderly and other passengers with bad legs/knees/backs, either had to wait a long time for an elevator or climb/descend stairs as much as 3 decks. Secondly, there was an attempt to get passengers to sign up for the Carnival VIP Plan (basically, a time-share), that is not fully explained, or developed to divulge all the in's and out's. In other words, if one stays sober and probes for full details as the the exact workings of the so-called VIP Plan, none are provided. The sales pitch seemed to be geared more at taking passengers' money, than providing a true service. End result, although initially the program sounded "too good to be true", (not to mention, geared at a person's ego to become a cruising VIP), my wife and I rejected it like a dose of Sarin (nerve gas). Guess our "sucker" antennae were up from having attended several other "time-share" presentations in the past.
I downgraded Public Rooms (lounges and casino) because we are non-smokers and these places required a knife to cut one's way thru them.