Carnival Conquest was FABULOUS. Overall our experience was tremendous and I was eager to get home to tell everyone else on the world about the trip.
My husband (who is a vegetarian and found plenty to eat everywhere, and I (who love seafood) traveled just the two of us, and had a great time. Lots of people had kids, but no one was ill behaved or loud, so the cruise to us was a great mix of people. We have included some tips. Hope it helps you plan your next adventure.
New Orleans-We stayed in the French Quarter for a few days prior to the cruise, and if you haven't been it is an experience in itself. The tours of the swamp and the cemeteries are not to be missed. The area is rich with history, and very interesting. I would not, however, wish to stay long, as it is a very old, and somewhat smelly city, with some definite needs in the customer service area (with the exception of our hotel The Omni, which was wonderful in service). Try not to drive, there are lots of one way streets, and enough public transportation that it is not worth the headache.
Embarkation-Very smooth, fast, quick porters take your luggage and you travel through at a nice, fast speed. It took us about 45 minutes in all, and once on board, the staff made sure you felt welcome and helped you get acquainted with the very large Conquest. The ship is easy to get lost on, but we kept running into the same very nice cruisers on every level, and we all found our way. After a few days it felt like we knew her well. We did board early on Sunday, so I would advise that, our luggage arrived around 4pm, and we had time to get lunch and relax before dinner.
Food-Very good mostly, the pizza could be improved on, and bottled water was very expensive, but the dining room meals and variety each day were wonderful. Each day has a "taste of nations" featured, and they post the lunch and dinner menus at breakfast so you can check them out early. Don't forget to visit the sushi bar, Sur Mer (another seafood area and quieter dining than the buffet), and The Point (reservations only supper club--quiet, romantic, and the food and service excelled on every level there.)
Jamaica-We booked privately through an Jamaican tour site online, and did a private tour to Dunn's River Falls and did River Tubing as well. Jamaica is beautiful, and also very poor, which was a strange irony to us. The people were friendly everywhere, and yes they are eager to sell you their wares, but also quick to stop if you said "No, Thank You." Some of the nicest people we met, and our tour guide Dervin was great, expounding upon lots of history, legends, and he did everything we needed to be sure we had a great time. No one offered us ganja, or harassed us in any way, and you really get a feel for the culture. Great island.
Grand Cayman-We booked with local charter company, and swam right next to the Stingrays in the shallow waters, they are as friendly as dogs, and it was a great experience. We also snorkeled at two coral areas, and the trip was nice. Grand Cayman is very nice, pretty, lots of shopping, and very pricey. Lunch was $50 in US money, and that was common among the people we spoke with. Whatever you do there, get to see some sea life in some way, the water is warm, clear, and the conditions were just about perfect. We hope to be dive certified before our next visit.
Cozumel-We took the tour of Tulum booked on the ship. The ruins are very interesting, and we do not regret seeing them, but it was HOT there (over 100), and humid, maybe better for a winter visit, but our guide (Luis), made it fun. Take a LOT of water with you. The downside was we only had about 15 minutes to shop after the tour. You take a ferry from Cozumel to mainland Mexico, and then a tour bus, and then see the ruins...and back again. If you plan to shop, do another tour. Next time we will be in the water somewhere in Cozumel, but if you are history nerds like we are, you have to do the ruins at least once. There is a beach there, and you can swim after your visit if you allot some time. Bring your suit, we didn't and wish we had.
Debarkation-Very quick again, and done orderly.
The Conquest was a very nice cruise. The cruise director (Steve), and every employee on the ship did a great job. No real complaints or regrets, and we had a great dining table with Matt, Nicky, Clarence, and Dorese, with whom to compare our days each port day. Lots to do each night (don't miss the piano bar), and enough activities to make you bargain with what to do next. Some people did save pool chairs, but we found sun on upper decks, and had the most relaxing time...I cannot imagine someone not enjoying the Conquest!