This was my third cruise, and as my other cruises were also on Carnival, the Conquest mostly met my expectations. The ship has a French Impressionist theme and perhaps that has a psychological effect because it seemed a bit more mellow than the Elation or Victory. There was less drinking and less noise. The trip was noticeably smooth and quiet--not nearly as rocky as the other two ships. That changed late on Day 6, and I thought perhaps we'd hit much rougher water on reentering the Gulf of Mexico. That may have been part of it, but the captain mentioned on Day 7 that the right stabilizer "was out." So I think on a typical day when everything is working correctly, the Conquest is an excellent ship for those worried about the possibility of seasickness.
Carnival cruises are inexpensive to begin with, and a couple days before sailing they called me an offered me a very reasonable price for an upgrade. That was fantastic! Be aware that they make their money off of alcohol, photographs, and the casino, but that's fine as you really have control over how cheap you cruise.
I felt the food on the Elation (sailed 2/2005) was fantastic and the food on the Victory (2/2009) was almost as good. The Conquest had a very similar menu to the Victory, but the quality seemed slightly lacking in some dishes. It occurred to me that they want you to splurge on the "supper club" restaurant for fantastic steaks and lobster every night. Sorry, no. The food was good enough in the main dining room not to resort to the supper club, but I had to wonder if they made an effort at deliberate mediocrity in hopes that people will seriously consider spending the extra cash. Most of the food (the chilled soups, the fish, and the fruit) was quite good, and the service was near perfect. Apparently, Carnival cruisers gain an average of five to fourteen pounds during a voyage, but I don't think I'm typical because I stuck with the "Spa Menu" for the desserts. I'm a junk food addict, but their lower calorie (made with sugar substitute) desserts were very satisfying. However, I can see how one can gain weight as the servers are happy to let you sample more than one appetizer and order more than one dessert.
The problem that marred a day or two of the trip was the Maitre' D's fault. We had great dining companions on the first night, but we received a note in our cabin the next morning saying that "per our request" we now had a private table in the other dining room. That made no sense, and we went to guest services to correct the error. Guest services called the Maitre 'D to allegedly correct the error and put us back at our original table. However, there was now a big family sitting there who knew a large group of people at the next table over. It was not a mistake at all. The new group had requested that they get our table, and the Maitre 'D complied (People we spoke with speculated he was bribed) and we got kicked out. I think it's bad policy to inconvenience seven people on behalf of eight people, but that in itself was not a big deal. The problem was their inability to communicate. They made it very confusing by claiming that WE requested a private table, and then guest services had been given no clue that it was not an error, but in fact a deliberate re-seating. Sure, it's fine to re-seat us, but they should have explained the situation instead of lying, and they should have asked us what our preference would be! It would have been very disappointing had we not reconnected with the people we met the first night, and Ante, the Maitre 'D, received the only complaint on my otherwise glowing comment card.
That incident was frustrating, but the trip was still wonderful. The entertainment staff members were funny, creative and friendly. The bartender, Nicoleta, at the quiet wine bar could not have been sweeter. The casino dealers, the stewards, the salespeople in the shops, and the wait staff all seemed interested in making sure you have a good time.
Other than that, the room was nice, well-lit, and clean. The halls (on Deck 2 anyway) weren't too noisy, the fellow passengers were friendly and seemed happy, and there was a fair amount to do (like trivia contests, art exhibits, karaoke and listening to live music) that didn't have to involve any drinking.
Overall, it was a lot of fun, and while the desire to see somewhat exotic ports that Carnival doesn't often serve may steer me away from them in the future, I would be more than happy to sail this ship again.