Stepping onto Carnival Conquest is a bit like stepping into a 19th-century French Impressionist's dreamscape. Illuminated Murano-glass flower sculptures adorn the ceilings, and hand-painted replicas of Degas' ballet studios and Toulouse-Lautrec's Parisian theaters accent the lounges and theaters, while the main restaurants tip their caps to Renoir's "Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise" and Monet's "Water Lilies" paintings.
It's a surreal juxtaposition, the high-brow art referenced in every nook and cranny of the ship contrasting with the leave-your-pretensions-at-the-door atmosphere that comes with every Carnival cruise. Passengers on Conquest are ready to shake off the concerns of their everyday lives and just let go, relax and have fun. To have the best cruise experience, you've got to do the same.
Carnival cruisers are onboard to for fun and have few worries about being judged. How could they when some of the biggest belly laughs come from watching a somewhat oversized man shake his groove thing while whipping his shirt over his head in order to win a bottle of Champagne and a "ship on a stick" (literally a plastic trophy featuring a gold replica of the ship)?
Carnival Conquest is also for cruisers who want to soak up the sun while listening to popular radio hits (loudly) and chatting it up with their deck chair neighbors. It's not at all unusual for large numbers of passengers to grab lounge chairs early and stay poolside until it's time for dinner.
This leaves cruisers not entirely into baking in the sun a bit out of the loop, as a typical sea day will offer few indoor activities, and the ones that are scheduled often centered on trying to sell you something (spa treatments, shoe inserts, paintings by little known artists). Just bring enough reading material, and you'll always find a quiet lounge to curl up in for a few hours of literary escapism. You'll also find sports broadcasts playing in the Deck 5 sports bar and movies on the TV in your room all day long. The beds in the cabins, by the way, are super comfortable for afternoon naps.
Carnival Conquest draws families, couples and groups of friends in all age groups and from all across the United States and Canada, with a handful of passengers from outside of North America. Large groups, such as family reunions and wedding parties, are common, especially in the summer.
As on all Carnival ships, the dress code for daytime is casual and remains so into the evening, though cutoff jeans, basketball shorts and swimwear are never permitted in the main dining rooms. There are two "cruise elegant" nights on cruises of six days or longer (one formal night on shorter sailings), during which long pants and collared shirts for men are required. Suits, sport jackets and ties are not required, but you will see plenty of men decked out in suits. On cruise elegant nights, women may dine in sundresses, cocktail dresses, pantsuits, and skirt and blouse combinations. Similar attire is required every night in the Point Steakhouse.
Carnival recommends $12 per person, per day, for gratuities, with $6.10 going to the dining room servers, $3.90 going to stateroom attendants and $2.00 going to various other crewmembers, including kitchen, entertainment and guest services staff. The amount is automatically added to your shipboard account; it also can be prepaid before you cruise. Passengers can adjust the gratuity amount in either direction at the guest services desk during the sailing. A 15 percent tip is automatically added to all beverage and spa purchases (including treatments). Tipping room service staff also is expected, though not required. Note: On sailings departing September 1, 2016, or later, gratuities will increase to $12.95 per person, per day ($13.95 for those in suites).