Our cruise was originally booked as a 7 day 3 stop cruise from Gaqlveston to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. Due to health issues in Mexico, Carnival and other lines dropped Cozumel from their intenerary with this sailing being the last to date having that port of call eliminated. The line offered credit for future cruises for those electing to make a change by early May. Our situation was such that we only had one departure window so we soldiered on. However, in discussing the matter with a Carnuval agent, I was told that not many folks were making changes. A few days later, the previously fully booked cruise had cabins open up and continued to have them available untill shortly before sailing, so I filed that discrepency away for future reference.
I fully understand dropping the port of call, better safe than sorry. I suppose it was not logistically possible to tie in a third port of call, although something creative like going back to maybe Ocho Rios or something from Grand Cayman and then on to Galveston does not seem to hard to fathom. At any rate, no other option materialized. Carnival did refund back $20 per passenger for Port of Call fees for Cozumel.
Obviously this created the potential for things to drag a little on the backside given that there were two sea days in advance of Jamaica and now two sea days after Grand Cayman instead of Cozumel and then back to Galveston. Where the line of the ship missed the mark was that is was apparent that not much thought was given to adjusting activities/shows/acts/etc to fill in the blank left by Cozumel. This is an oversight that should not have occured given that the line had five or more weeks to address the issue. I understand that the ship typically sails full, so I am concerned about the line's mind set on the matter.
The Ship - This is a very pretty ship. It has a French Impressionist theme throughout. The ship was clean and well maintained. The cabins were roomy by cruise ship standards, in particular the head and shower. It is obvious that plenty of thought went into efficient cabin design layout. Getting about in the ship can be a challenge for a first timer but it did not take long to catch on to routes to take. The food was good in the main restaurant and buffet and I would consider the service to be attentive but not necessarily highly polished. The entertainment atmosphere in the main dining hall is not as good as what I have expereieced on RC and probably needs some attention. Similarly, the quality of shows in general is probably not quite what I experienced on RC, with the exception of the comedy acts which were truly funny. Morevoer - the same commedian did an excellent job of transitioning from the family show to the adult R rated show later the following evening. Fair warning - they are not kidding about the second comedy show being adult so don't bring those with tender young ears.
The first departure day was docked in Jamaica. Conquest needs to work on getting those with early excursions off the boat early. There was no apparent effort to do so and several folks nearly missed their excursions. Ours included Dunn River falls and Ocho Rios and the Ocho Rios had to be skipped entirely due to late deaprture. Folks paid for the whole gig and the ship should make sure it does not get in the way of that hapenning.
Surprisingly, the Cayman Island tendering went much better and the ship quickly emptied. Go figure.
I have to comment on the quality of the Supper Club. The ship charges $30 a head surcharge for this experience and I have to say the experience was superb. A multi course meal was prepared with imagination, good execution, and was served with style. The lobster tail was huge and well done. With a good set of spurs, you could have enetered that lobster into a rodeo riding event and I am not sure you would have made the eight seconds. The wine list was well thought out and the prices actually fairly reasonable.
We did not have an opportunity to partake of kids programs.
The Spa was very nice and had a wide range of offerings. One strange design feature is that you enter the gym through the spa lobby essentially, after first passing through the respective locker room for you gender. The steam bath and sauna facilities were excellent.
The clientele is an interesting cross section of society, which makes for some good people watching. The atmosphere is definitely oriented towards a party and things can get loud and boisterous, but not necessarily out of hand. While the ship does a good job of limiting the number smoking areas, there are some smoking areas that essentially are difficult to avoid in order to navigate around. There really is not much that can be done to get around this, especially in the case of Alfred's Bar so that is just the way it is. It did appear that there were plenty of smokers on board looking for a place to go feed their habit. I don't know if this was happenstance or a trend.
The ship iteslf was nice and fortunatley the party atmosphere helped carry the day. I am not sure if some people did not notice that we skipped Cozumel at all, or that insufficent attention to modification of the daily activities had been paid.