This was our 7th cruise with Carnival, our first time on the Conquest. We were Cruising with two other couples, and my wife and I were celebrating our 20th anniversary.
Well, before I start let me say I like Carnival Cruise Line (I used to love them) but they need to start looking at some of the cruise reviews people are posting before they lose long time customers. A lot of the criticisms in the reviews are pretty close to the mark (but you do have your whiners, so you try and weed those reviews out).
Embarkation: They have to change the embarkation process in New Orleans, period. They separate you by floors and cabin number, whatever happen to first come first serve. We stood in line for 45 min because they only had 3 people working are floor. This was by far the worst Embarkation process that I have ever been through.
We originally booked an interior room on deck 7, but a week before we embarked they called my wife and she upgraded the cabin to a balcony on deck 7. We loved the upgraded cabin but, when we changed rooms all of request made for our old cabin didn't transfer to our new room.
Therefore our dining room seating got changed so we where no longer seated with our traveling companions. So, the first night we all were seated at separate tables. Then on the second night we all dined in the Steakhouse, well worth the money, I will only say one thing about it...FANTASTIC. We ate in the Monet dining room all of the other nights, our dining room wait stuff where efficient but slow and we have had better service on other cruises. The quality of the food has slowly been declining since my first cruise. Don't get me wrong, they still have plenty of things on the menu that are fantastic, but now it's hit or miss with what you get.
We had three ports to visit, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
Montego Bay: We did the "Hop on Hop off" bus tour in Jamaica. I thought it was great bargain for the $15.00pp we paid. We did get to see some of the area from the bus before we stopped at Margaritaville. The place was great, the staff was friendly, and the food and beverages were priced well. The water was warm and the slide and trampoline made for a great time. Then before we returned to the ship we went off on foot to shop around Margaritaville. We traveled up passed Dr. Caves Beach and hit all the shops up and down the streets and believe it or not, we were never confronted by anyone to buy weed. (Unlike most of the reviews you will read)
Grand Cayman: Shopping stop: the women drug us through the town looking at jewelry of all kinds. We then proceeded to stop at every t-shirt and souvenir stand they could find, after all that we finally got to hit the Harley shop so we could get OUR souvenirs. Then the even let us have a drink at one of the bars.
Our last port was Cozumel: We took the "Go Jeep Go" tour through the ship and I have to tell you this is one of the best excursions that I have ever been on. We loaded up 4 to a Jeep Wrangler and headed out around the Island our first stop was a beach club. You are there for an hour and a half and can use all of the facilities, then you head out to a tequila distillery for a tour and tasting session. Then the designated drivers take you to the Pee Pee Station (name of a real place) for a tour, history of the Island, and a potty break plus they have a nice gift shop with black coral jewelry. After all that it was time to head back to the ship. The guilds were great and made the trip a lot of fun; I highly recommend you try it.
Cabins and common areas of the ship were clean, the staff was friendly enough but, when the ship hits dry dock this year they have a lot of things to do to bring this ship up to standards. Like I said before we loved our cabin, but the A/C system in our room never worked well. We set it to the lowest setting possible and the room was still warm. If we didn't bring our own fan on the trip we would have been miserable. Also, the shower in our room was scalding hot. You turned the valve but the temp never changed. The valve had a safety device that should have lock the temp on 38C but the temperature was nowhere near 38C. It was so hot you could not take a shower. We had to call maintenance and they ended up replacing the whole water control valve. The very next day the toilet would not flush, so we called maintenance again and they had to replace a valve outside our cabin to get the toilet working again.
Debarkation was very quick and went smoothly, I was very impressed.
It was a relaxing cruise, but my wife and I can tell the quality of the services have been falling off every cruise. The entertainment is still not that great and for the most part every time we have cruised they have the same things over and over, they need a different show line-up and/or some new concepts.
We have already booked a back to back on the Breeze starting on 11/24/2012, but if the quality does not improve on those cruises we will have to try Princess, Royal Caribbean, or one of the other cruise lines. That way we will have something to compare too. We love cruising and it may be time for us to see what is on the other side of the fence.