The second time was the charm for Carnival Conquest. After my first experience, I was reluctant to use Carnival again, but I am glad I did. It was almost like being on a different ship.
Cabin - We had an ocean suite shared by three sisters. It was a perfect venue for us. There was ample closet and drawer space for all of us. As the one who ended up sleeping on the couch, I was surprised at how comfortable it was. Our cabin steward, Marianne, was attentive and personable and fulfilled every request.
Food - I don't like buffets, so I avoid the Lido deck. One look at the crowds made me glad I did. It was fine for just grabbing a snack, but we took most meals in the main dining room. Although the breakfast menu is set, there are enough options to change up the meal daily if you want. Myself, after the first order of French toast, I was hooked and had that every morning! The waiters provided me with my diet coke every morning without even a raised eyebrow! My only complaint was the sausage. Every day I asked for it to be well done/crispy and everyday it was barely warm. Only once did a waiter notice and ask me about it.
The Monet Dining Room was nicely laid out and relatively quiet - a nice dining experience. I find the food on Carnival to be very good and I was not disappointed. I can't eat seafood, so sometimes my options were limited, but I could always use the alternative menu. I'd like more options for dessert, however! The table service for our table was very slow and we were often among the last ones out of the dining room, but my daughter's table had excellent service.
The biggest problem with the dining room was not the dining room, but Alfred's Bar, which is right across from the Monet. Cigar smoke permeated the dining room every night. When I asked to have the bar doors closed, I was told that the fire doors had to be kept open by law. OK, that makes sense. But when I asked why the glass doors couldn't be shut, I was told that people kept walking into them! I guess I don't have much sympathy for people who cannot watch where they are going; the doors were etched and could be clearly seen. Either close the doors or improve the ventilation system, please.
Excursions - Dealing with excursions was the biggest issue I had with Carnival the first time. Cancelled excursions with no notification; poorly organized - no, I did not like Carnival. This time things went without a hitch. When several tickets were missing, they were replaced immediately. When two people did not arrive on the dock at the designated time for the excursion, we waited ten minutes and then left, allowing the other 12 to fully enjoy the day. I would highly recommend the jungle river tubing in Jamaica, not only because it was fun, but because of how impressed I was with how they handled what could have been a dangerous situation. The tubes were lashed together, along with a spare; unfortunately two of them snagged on rocks and sank. The guide never lost his cool, got the four still floating rafts to shallow water, and then "rescued" the two who ended up taking an unexpected swim. I am sure he was worried, but it never showed and we have a great story to tell!
Embarkation and debarkation went smoothly, although we were four hours late docking because of a medical emergency that caused us to return to Cozumel. Once our number was called, we cleared the ship in less than 45 minutes.