This is my second cruise with Carnival, my 6th overall. This was by far the least enjoyable. Where to start:
- Smoking. Everywhere. At some point, Carnival Conquest decided to allow smoking in all (AS IN EVERY SINGLE ONE) onboard clubs and bars. Given the small size and low ceilings in many of them, it made it impossible for us to enjoy any of them. We tried multiple times to visit the piano bar, only to be chased out by the overwhelming stench of cigarette smoke. The casino also allows smoking (expected) as well as several deck areas. Basically, if you do not like cigarette smoke, most of the ship outside of the pool area and eateries will be useless to you. This one single factor completely ruined the cruise for us. Shame to Carnival for not announcing this policy anywhere on their website.
- Noise. Our mid deck cabin was below the pool area. Every night after midnight and every morning about 5 am, we were treated to the sound of tables and chairs being drug as the were put away/brought out. For gawd's sake, try picking the things up once in awhile! The people and the music weren't that loud. But the staff, geez. Make a little effort to be quiet!
- Dining. Admittedly, my wife and I like to dress for dinner. Not suit and tie or anything, but slacks and a polo, summer dresses for her, etc. Carnival's dress code says things like flip flops, swim suits, tee shirts etc are NOT permitted. But they do not enforce that AT ALL. Many times in the dining room at dinner, we'd end up with a nice "view" of guys in their swim trunks and sleeveless tee shirts fresh from the pool. Nothing helps the ol' appetite like seeing a sweaty dude's hairy armpits while you eat. Sorry, but it is inappropriate and disgusting and we were shocked it was allowed. Basically ruined dining for us.
Also, service was slow and inconsistent. At one point I ordered a glass of wine. 30 to 40 minutes later, no wine and the meal was over. I obviously never signed a slip since the wine never showed up. Yet the next morning, the charge was on my bill. So I had to waste a trip to guest services to have it removed. The fact that the waiter blew me off and them had the gaul to charge me is simply unbelievable to me.
- Tenders. Need more period. The ship used only two doors in Grand Caymans, causing huge lines both trying to get off the ship and trying to get back on. I have never been on a cruise where so few embarkation/debarkation points were used.
- Excursions. Two cancelled and neither time was I notified. The first one I discovered by seeing a refund on my credit card bill prior to the trip. The second I found out the night before when the trip's excursion tickets were delivered to the cabin and a note was attached saying sorry, your excursion in Monteego Bay was cancelled.
- Debarkation. I don't care how many bags you have, do the self help debarkation (whatever it is called). By the time they called the first deck that had checked baggage, they were already two hours behind schedule. You are only supposed to do the do it yourself thing if you have one bag each. Like every other Carnival policy, that is not enforced. I believe about two thirds of the ship did the do it yourself thing. And nearly everyone had multiple suitcases. By the time they called our deck to go, lines for customs were huge. And the fact is, you pick up your bags the second you step off the ramp. So basically, all you accomplish by checking your baggage is that you don't carry it down the ramp. Big whoop.
All in all, I just felt Carnival did a horrible job. If you like to smoke and get drunk by the pool then crawl to dinner in whatever you have on, Carnival is for you. You don't have to worry about dress codes, showering, or anything. If you want a nice quiet cruise where you can enjoy a club, have a nice dinner and enjoy a show, then stay far away.