This vacation was for our 20th wedding anniversary, our first ever cruise. We have no regrets whatsoever. It was just amazing. Our cruise was on the Carnival Conquest, which we just picked because it was a 7 day cruise leaving Galveston over the time of our anniversary. We otherwise didn't know very much about the class of ship or anything.
We live in Friendswood, TX, a suburb on the Galveston side of Houston, and so we didn't have far to drive. We left our house at about 10 AM, stopped off for some breakfast, and we were dockside about noon. We started the embarkation process, and the lines seemed long, but they went reasonably quickly, and we were in our stateroom by about 1:30 PM. Our luggage arrived about 3 PM.
We were in one of the aft balcony staterooms that is oddly shaped but has a larger balcony. The room seemed nice enough. It was our first cruise, so we really didn't have a basis of comparison, but it was comfy.
We were greeted immediately by our stewardess who was a really lovely asian lady named C.C. Her name was really something long and difficult to pronounce, but she told us to call her C.C. She was just the sweetest thing the entire trip, always just a smiling face in the hallway wishing us good morning, almost invisible otherwise, like a ninja in making our room up while we were at dinner or a show. Quick with the ice if we needed more.
Previous review I read talked about the head door opening toward the stateroom, as an annoyance, and that was true. Certainly not enough to make us want a different stateroom next time.
We enjoyed a couple of the shows, which we had never seen before. We went to the magic show, which was... eh... well, let's just say we go to Vegas a lot, and we've seen Penn and Teller, and this show needs some work by comparison. We didn't expect much, though, and the show was amusing. Particularly nice was the magician lady doing her ribbon dancing, where ribbons hung from the ceiling and she twisted up into them and was spinning and looping. Very nice. We also went to a dance show called Formidable. It was based on French fashion, and it was very very cute, and very polished. I enjoyed this show more than the magic show.
Food service was just marvelous. We ate usually in the dining room. We were center aft of the vessel with a very very good view from a private table. I think Carnival booked us to this table because it was our anniversary, but we were seated just the two of us, with quite probably the best dining view on the ship. We were very pleased. The first formal night we had evening gowns and tuxedos of our own, and we were dressed to the nines. I noted that the staff isn't really too sticky about dress code on formal nights; a couple of people wore western shirts and jeans to dinner, and were allowed in. The food was amazing the entire time. Some of it wasn't as spicy as *I* prefer, but I think they have to keep the spice down because some palates cannot handle what this southern boy can. Breakfast in the dining room was delicious. The eggs benedict were my weakness, and the coffee tastes excellent, probably a medium roast Columbian or Costa Rican. I particularly liked the evening selections, such as rack of lamb, duck appetizers, game hens, and the like. There seems to be something to enjoy that isn't perfectly typical for a menu, and we were adventurous. The desserts... ohhhh my goodness. And if anyone from the cruise line reads this, please express to our waiter Percy and his assistant Indria that we think they're just wonderful.
We ate one night in the really fancy restaurant on the 11th floor I think, and it was an absolutely terrific experience. The steaks were gigantic, and my wife ordered lobster, which was a really large offering. It's a very nice dining experience, several course meal along with a couple of surprises from the chef to try this or that, and I would highly recommend doing it at least once on the trip, at $30 per person.
As was stated in another review, Chris the cruise director was a complete riot. We enjoyed his dialogue over the intercom, even up to the debarkation.
We really just enjoyed the pools, the hot tubs, the relaxation on the sun deck with a nice book, and movies on the big screen on the sun deck at night with cool sea air, with waiters bringing us tropical drinks in coconut shells carved like monkey heads.
Debarkation was very fast for us. We opted to keep our luggage ourselves, and the movement through customs was quick.
Summary of our trip - great food, lots of relaxation, fun in the sun, we were simply treated like royalty by the staff. We loved this trip so much we've booked it again, for March 2010. See you there!