I have been on 6 cruises - 2 Carnival (this was my 2nd time cruising Carnival), 1 Princess, 1 Celebrity, 1 Norwegian, and 1 Royal Caribbean. I chose this cruise because of the itinerary. I had read many poor reviews on Cruise Critic about ... Read More
I have been on 6 cruises - 2 Carnival (this was my 2nd time cruising Carnival), 1 Princess, 1 Celebrity, 1 Norwegian, and 1 Royal Caribbean. I chose this cruise because of the itinerary. I had read many poor reviews on Cruise Critic about the Conquest, but figured that it couldn't be *that* bad - after all, when people leave reviews it's usually to complain. Unfortunately, all of the reviews that I read lined up exactly with what my experience was on the Conquest.
EMBARKATION // DEBARKATION
We opted for early embarkation where we carry on our own bags. Apparently so did the rest of the ship's passengers because the lines were so long! Don't worry about boarding early - by the time you wait in line, you'll be pretty much at regular boarding times anyways. Debarkation was quick and painless. However, they said it would start around 7am, but they called the first floor to disembark at 6:45am, so just be prepared for that. Be sure to download the Mobile Passport app, because it speeds things up and puts you in a quicker line!
GENERAL // STAFF
First of all, let me say that the staff that I interacted with were all extremely kind. That's the sad part - the staff themselves were great people, but there were just FAR too few of them. Like about half or one-third as many as they actually needed onboard. For example, on the Day at Sea, you usually are constantly being asked if you need a new drink or if you can be helped in any way by the numerous circling staff members - not the case on the Conquest. There were 2 staff members servicing the entire pool area. Yikes. Our dining room attendant, Made, was wonderful! Be sure to visit the Piano Bar to see Amber. Such a blast! The comedy shows, albeit raunchy, were hilarious each night. The Dive-In Movies were also a great ending to each night if we wanted to do something more low-key. The cruise director, Peter, was funny and had the whole ship imitating his, "BYYYYEEEE!" by the second day of the cruise.
The food on the ship was underwhelming to say the least. The lines for the buffet (regardless of time of the day) were AT LEAST 20 minutes long each time. Especially for breakfast. With that being said, be sure to arrive early for breakfast, especially if you need to be off the boat for an excursion at a certain time. The dining room food was not great. The best meal I had was the Ricotta Ravioli on the last night. The Flat Iron Steak was not very good at all. The BBQ Chicken Flatbread appetizer and Kale Caesar Salad were both great! Usually on other cruises that I've been on, every option sounds so good that I want to try one of everything - not the case on this cruise. The ice cream machine was broken most of the time, or if it was working, they didn't have cones and/or cups to put the ice cream in. Room Service was quick every time we ordered, which was awesome and definitely worth the tip to have it delivered to the room quickly rather than wait at the buffet. Guy's Burgers were fantastic, as many other reviews on Cruise Critic had promised!
Our stateroom attendant only visited once per day in the mornings. On other cruises, it seems like every time I returned to the room after being away for as little as 10 minutes, it had been cleaned and straightened up. Not on this cruise. And other cruisers said the same about their own rooms while we were onboard. That was disappointing. The balcony and stateroom both seemed smaller than the other balcony staterooms we have stayed in on other cruiselines. There's also only one outlet in the room, which proved to be problematic at night time when my mom and I were both trying to charge our phones, or when we tried to get ready and curl our hair for dinner at the same time. Just kind of inconvenient. I just felt like the overall condition of the stateroom was not at all up to par compared to my experiences on other cruiselines. The balcony was also really rusty. The biggest issue with our stateroom was the fact that we had to call to have our AC checked out at least once every single day. Sometimes twice a day. Each time, they would come in and take the temperature of the room, then do some sort of re-set. The AC would work decently for a few hours, then the room would get hot again. Because of this, we had to keep our balcony shade shut most of the time, so we didn't get to enjoy our view. :( Points to Carnival though because they did actually refund us some money and give us 15% a future Carnival cruise (without even being asked) for our troubles.
My mom and I decided to treat ourselves to massages on the first night of the cruise. There is a separate entrance to the men's and women's locker rooms, which each lead to the gym. The showers are also inside of the locker rooms. The spa does not provide robes, which I did not realize how inconvenient and impractical it is for a spa to not have robes available until I was at a spa that did not have robes available. How do you get from the waiting room of the locker room to the room where you will have your service? In a towel or in your clothes, apparently. The waiting room, by the way, which is usually called a "Relaxation Room" at most spas, is actually just a bench inside the locker room that you sit on until your therapist comes to get you for your service. Not very relaxing. The therapists themselves are wonderful, though! My massage was fantastic. However, my overall biggest issue with the spa was the fact that the children's club area is RIGHT ABOVE IT. This means that while you are trying to enjoy the massage or other spa service that you paid good money for, all you can hear are tons of children running constantly back and forth on the floor above you. They may be tiny humans, but they sound like a herd of elephants. Again, not very relaxing. :(
The first show was a tribute to rock music and it was not good at all. Cheesy. The next two were much better, but still not up to par with our previous experience with entertainment on cruises. Also, by the pool, the "Caribbean music" that they played was just mainstream songs played with Caribbean instruments, which was kind of a let down. When you go on the cruise you want the whole Caribbean experience!
PORTS // SHORE EXCURSIONS
All of the ports were great! We had been to Nassau before, so we opted out of the Atlantis tourist trap this time and went to Breezes for an all-inclusive day pass (includes drinks, food, chairs, towels, beach access, etc.). Not exactly worth the money, but still better than Atlantis!
For Half Moon Cay, we got up at 7am and got our tender boat number, so we were able to be on the first tender out for the day. Even though it's early, it is SO worth it to do this! We were able to get to the island before the rest of the ship passengers and enjoy it's beauty while it was quiet and peaceful for a few hours before it got so busy. Beware that if you purchased a Cheers! beverage package that it does not work on the island. Also, if you are under 21, you cannot drink at Half Moon Cay, even though it is in the Bahamas. This was a bit frustrating since they seemed to be picking and choosing which boat rules applied on the island in order to benefit Carnival only (i.e. Making money on people from drink purchases instead of using their drink packages, but not allowing 18-20 year olds to drink - even though it would ultimately make Carnival more money, honestly). Also, renting the clamshell umbrella on the island was worth the $16!
Grand Turk was absolutely beautiful. We did the catamaran excursion, which was an absolute blast and I highly recommend it! The crew was fantastic and they walk you through everything in case you are a first-time snorkeler or need a refresher. My only complaint about this would be that it was super crowded when we got out in the water to snorkel, so I wish they would lower the number of people on each trip out.
My experience on the Carnival Conquest was so far below what my past cruising experiences have been, which was super unfortunate because the ports were so great. It honestly felt like the whole time we were being punked because things just kept going wrong or coming up subpar. It almost became comical towards the end because the only consistent thing was that each experience was pretty much a let down. Once again, this is not a criticism to the staff themselves, they were just extremely understaffed. This boat is in serious need of a dry docking, which is set to happen next month (Sept. 2017). I hope that when the ship is relaunched, that it will be staffed with triple or quadruple the number of staff that it currently has, and that it is majorly modernized, revamped, and given a major interior design makeover. I would give Carnival another shot (gotta use that 15% discount!), but probably only on one of their newer, larger ships. Read Less