Embarkation was a breeze, we got to the port around 10 am, walked right up, got our S&S card and waited about 45 minutes for the USCG to clear us to board. We actually boarded earlier than what I'm used to, however the process of letting Platinum and VIP guests needs a ton of work. As soon as they announced these guests and only these guests could board, half the terminal jumped up and we had everything from platinum guests to first time guests cut in line instead of waiting their turn. What was worse is that no one was checking the cards and they were just letting anyone board all at once. We arrived so early and kind of got the short end of the stick but I guess it could have been worse.
Conquest is the first ship I have personally sailed on in this class and I was surprised by how clean and well kept it was. There were also signs of remodeling going on but nothing annoying. Most days I would walk around the ship and see new carpet in the hallways, or new mattresses being put in. I personally like the pool deck of this ship better than Dream, it's tiered up and has some separation from the pool itself, however I found myself in the back pool area more than anything else. One thing to note is the smoking policies were not enforced hard enough. We woke up to the smell of smoke in our cabin one morning and people would smoke on any open deck, no matter the side or location. Overall, Conquest has been very well taken care of and will be that much better once it gets all the Funship 2.0 upgrades.
New menus that were enforced a while back were definitely a change to get used to. The comfort food idea is great for some I'm sure but my idea of dinner isn't fried chicken or meatloaf. The appetizer portions always seem to be just enough to taste what you ordered, but never enough to make you feel like you're eating something other than air. I've always wished CCL would offer half size portions of their entree's for those of us that order multiple entrees to try them but don't want to waste food either. There was a lot less shrimp offered which I kind of missed but all the Didja items are worth trying with the exception of the frog legs. 4 of us ordered frog legs and we all got them different, there didn't seem to be a standard to cooking them which kind of bothered us. We ate in the Monet in the very very back which is a beautiful view at night when the moon reflects off the ocean. The buffets were good as well, nothing too crazy or surprising, the same typical carnival buffet items that eventually repeat themselves throughout the week.
We had cabin 1203, which is as close as you can get to crew quarters without entering through their door. The cabin itself was fine, nothing amazing, a bed, TV, and refrigerator with a bathroom. The location was not the greatest, the weather was windy most days and high seas so unless you enjoy the sound of waves banging across the hull all night choose a different location. It was like someone taking 20 bats and slamming the boat every couple of seconds most nights. In fair weather it wouldn't be an issue but be prepared to sleep less if it storms. The location is also kind of annoying because crew are constantly going in and out of their door. I can't fault them for working but hearing your cabin steward get up at 6am was kind of annoying.
We only made it to 2 shows, one was a magic show and one I walked in on. First the magic show...it was pretty impressive in some aspects but kind of boring and amateurish for a CCL ship. There was also 2 parts that bugged me as well as those that heard it...first was one of her songs said 'dreaming of swastika's' , now I didn't hear or remember any of the rest of the song but that one little bit had a bunch of us looking at each other in shock wondering if anyone at CCL has actually listened to her song fully. The 2nd issue was there were some nazi like symbols made in one of the dance routines. I can see this being an issue if it hasn't already.
The other show was something that had the appeal of a children's play in elementary school. I know they work hard and practice a lot but the timing was very bad in some of the moves, as was the singing and acting. It was like they were laid back and just kind of lazy at all their moves...very disappointing, especially when they are singing about working 9-5 and some other work related songs. They just need to get someone in there to whip them into shape and teach them timing or drop the 1 girl that was just awful.
This is the first ship that I can say I wasn't constantly hounded to buy alcohol. We went almost the embarkation day without being pestered for drinks with the exception of 2 times. The ship was constantly being cleaned and it was nice to see the pools and hot tubs being cleaned nightly...even thought it usually consisted of 2 or 3 people in white showing workers how to put the nets over the pools every night. Service in the buffet was great as usual and I like that they cover dirty plates with napkins so we don't have to see the disgusting plates of fellow cruisers.
Shout out to the following people that provided the best service on the ship anyone could ask for:
Valentina - bartender that can usually be found in the martini bar...she was my favorite bartender on the whole ship, super friendly and quick to remember what you like.
Andy - our room steward who had to deal with my cabin mate sleeping at odd times. He learned quick and would rush into the room as soon as we left and clean as much as he could before my cabin mate returned to sleep again.
Joseph - our dining room head waiter...thanks for the awesome dining experience and the dance routines were priceless nightly.
The disco was quite a disappointment...they have so much good equipment in there that can be used but it was just on auto pilot every time I went in there. No DJ to give requests to, no lighting changes based on the music, no anything. I can do the same thing they did in the disco with iTunes and $10 worth of 'party lights' from a party store.
Pool in the back of the ship wasn't fully operating/functioning until the 2nd to the last night. There is a fountain that was barely on filtering water through except for one night where it was on full blast and very clean, then when some important person left that area it went back to barely being on. I know it's a minor thing but the ship shouldn't change its operations based on who is/isn't onboard.
The female singer in the lobby bar area could really use someone telling her that singing the theme song to Titanic isn't something we want to hear while we are on a boat. One night she hit the high note so loud it overpowered the noise in the casino a few decks up and was super annoying.
Sushi area, wish they had forks for those of us not skilled in the art of chop sticks like myself...using my fingers wasn't exactly the best option.
Sports Bar/Thirstyfrog was barely promoted, I think it was once and the bar was always empty. When I walked in to get a beer the staff got as excited as a kid gets when they get ice cream on a school night.
Cruise Director...forgettable. I never once heard his name, and only saw him in the public areas one time and it was in the piano bar as he was leaving. There was no excitement to his announcements and just lacked the cruise director shine. I still don't know his name, and I remember that Butch was my cruise director on the Dream last year he was so good.
Key West, FL - had a blast, walked from the terminal to the Southernmost Point, there was a line for pictures so just got a picture of the statue and left. There were a ton of spring breakers in EYW already which made it even that more fun, but there is never a dull moment in Key West.
Freeport - nothing really appealing to do, went to a beach for about 30 minutes and went back to the ship. Maybe in warmer weather it would have been more fun but the water was frigid and the wind was blowing sand all over the place.
Nassau - interesting little port once you get past all the shops and get into the town, again a lot of spring breakers in town which made it fun.
Had Priority 1 debarkation, and was told by an employee to get off the boat about 30 minutes too early which meant we sat in the terminal waiting for our bags to be sniffed by the dogs before we could even get our bags. Had she told us to wait until our time at 8:15 it would have been much smoother. I also heard a lot of complaints from terminal staff of the ship employees not enforcing their rules to debark people based on the zones, they were just letting anyone and everyone off at one point which kind of bottle necked. Other than that, finding cabs and transportation was easy, there is always a large amount of taxi's available.
Overall this was a great cruise that will stick in my memory for a while, NOLA is a great port, weather is kind of icky this early in the year but otherwise I would recommend it.