This was our third cruise with Carnival and our first aboard the Conquest. We chose the Conquest in particular for this cruise mainly because the embarkation point was within driving distance from our home in Arkansas.
The terminal location is very easy to get to, but the embarkation procedure could use a little work. If you're going to use the Fast Pass, just plan on everyone else using it too. When we arrived at the terminal, there seemed to be only one line labeled "Fast Pass" and no other lines at all, which told us that Carnival assumes that everyone uses the Fast Pass system. In theory, I'm sure the Fast Pass is a great thing, but I think they have promoted it too much. Maybe they should have one line for returning Carnival guests and another line for everyone else.
Overall, the cruise was pretty good. The previous two times, we sailed on the Fantasy and thought the food on the Fantasy was better than that on the Conquest. We highly recommend The Point for at least one night of dinner, but don't go unless you have a huge appetite. The portions are probably just as small as everything else, but they feed you a lot more than $25 worth of food. Definitely worth the money!
The fitness center was packed when I tried to use it, so I didn't bother going back. In my opinion, it's not big enough for all the guests that want to use the facilities. The spa services are great, especially the hot stone massage, but they are way overpriced. They will also try to sell you overpriced products, so speak up if you don't want them. It's a pain to try to return something and get it credited to your account properly.
We met some friends through a user group in Yahoo and hung out with them on the entire cruise. It made our cruise much more enjoyable than just having ourselves. We highly recommend traveling with friends!
We booked all of the same shore excursions together and had a great time. The only shore excursion we booked through the ship was the Chakka blue Horseback Ride in Montego Bay. We had fun on the horseback ride but weren't thoroughly impressed with Jamaica itself and probably won't go back. We booked the Stingray City/Coral Gardens in Grand Cayman and Dolphin Discovery in Cozumel, both through outside companies. The cost was cheaper, and we probably got a better deal on the stingrays in Grand Cayman. Highly recommended!
Overall, we had a great time on the Conquest. If you've never cruised down the Mississippi River, this cruise is worth taking just for that experience alone. On the return trip, we were able to photograph several offshore oil rigs as we entered the mouth of the Mississippi. The Conquest is a huge ship, but you'd never really know there were almost 3,000 guests aboard (except at embarkation and debarkation). We would highly recommend this cruise to couples or families. Bon Voyage!