The three-level 1,400-seat Toulouse-Lautrec Lounge, on decks 3 to 5 forward, is the ship's main theater. Inspired by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's provocative images of Parisian theater in the late 19th century, the space is bedecked in red velvet and on the first level features small tables inset with snippets of actual Toulouse-Lautrec paintings. The theater hosts a variety of evening shows, including song-and-dance revues with lots of multimedia elements, variety acts that might include magicians or hypnotists, and family-oriented "Hasbro, the Game Show." During the day, the theater plays host to Bingo and port shopping presentations.
Most nights the theater is host to at least one of four Playlist Production shows, which feature song-and-dance routines bursting with elaborate costumes and digital special effects. The dazzling background images, projected onto an enormous screen at the back of the stage, can be a bit overwhelming and sometimes take away from the actual singing and dancing. Shows are done multiple times on different days and at different times, so all passengers get a chance to see each one without worrying too much about schedules. Beware if you sit in the first few rows; you might need to don rain ponchos for one show or end up pulled into the aisle to dance during another show.
"Hasbro, the Game Show" is a family-friendly interactive experience based on the TV show "Family Game Night." Split into two halves (one for the younger participants and the other for their elders), volunteers are put through a series of board-games-come-to-life activities in order to vie for a chance to win a complete Hasbro board game set. For instance, using colored basketballs, teams play Connect 4 and try to get four in a row. In a life-sized version of Simon, players wearing colored cubes must rearrange themselves to match a series of colors flashed momentarily on the screen in front of them.
Most of the fun to be had on a Carnival cruise during the day centers on the outside Lido Deck and main swimming pool. It's where you'll find the line's infamous Hairy Chest contest (leave your dignity at the door, even if you're just watching), as well as the Mr. & Mrs. Conquest pageant and an ice sculpting demo. Once per cruise, at the RedFrog Rum and BlueIguana Tequila bars, you can partake in the Red vs. Blue mixologist competition.
Those who wish to be indoors can participate in a number of activities throughout the day. Watch out for the spa seminars (lots of them), which are free but designed less around helping participants and more about making money. Other daily activities include cooking demonstrations, indoor golf putting contests, trivia sessions, art seminars and auctions, dance classes (mostly line dancing), bingo (for a fee) and sales/raffles in the onboard shops. A video arcade (Deck 5), used mostly by kids and teenagers, is open 24 hours.
Evening fun gets started early on Carnival Conquest, with the Degas Lounge (Deck 5, aft) transforming into the Punchliner Comedy Club at 7:15 p.m. most nights for a family-friendly comedy routine. There's typically another family-friendly show at 8 p.m., then two to three adults-only standup routines throughout the rest of the night. (The last show is at midnight.)
Another day-to-night area is the Lido Deck, which transforms into Carnival's Seaside Theater around 7 p.m. most evenings. Movies change nightly and are themed around Action & Adventure, Family Movie Time, Drama Night, Blockbuster Night and Comedy Night.
The Tahiti Casino (Deck 5, midship) is open every night (except during overnight port calls) and features a multitude of slot machines and electronic poker, along with blackjack, craps, roulette, Texas Hold'em and Let it Ride poker. Smoking is permitted in the casino.
Live music is available every night in several areas of the ship, but it's most prominent in the lobby (Deck 3, midship) and along the Deck 5 promenade, next to the casino. There's also Latin music and dancing every night in Alfred's (Deck 4, aft) and a sing-along piano jam in Blues (Deck 5, aft).
Henri's Nightclub (Deck 5, aft) doesn't get grooving until after midnight when DJ Commodus starts spinning hits and mixes.
Whether you like cocktails, tequila shots or sweet rum drinks, Carnival Conquest has you covered. The ship is still missing the line's popular RedFrog Pub (coming in 2017), and wine-lovers might also feel a little left out -- though glasses of wine are available at most of the lounges onboard.
Most of the ship's bars and lounges are located along the Deck 5 Promenade (or are just one or two decks down), making them easy to move between.
Sports Bar (Deck 5 midship): Carnival Conquest's Sports Bar is the best place on the ship to catch all the games, as long as they're being shown on network TV or ESPN and ESPN2. The ship does not have access to Fox Sports. On a typical day, the bartender will have four to five games going on seven different TVs, and most afternoons the entertainment staff will hold one session of sports trivia, as well. In addition to the small beverage menu, you can get freshly baked jumbo pretzels with mustard for snacking.
RedFrog Rum Bar (Deck 9, midship): Located across the pool from the BlueIguana Tequila Bar, RedFrog serves up all beverages rum-based (coladas, daiquiris, mojitos).
BlueIguana Tequila Bar (Deck 9, midship): An integral part of the Lido Deck happenings along with the RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar pours 10 different types of tequila, four frozen margaritas and a handful of tequila-based cocktails. You also can get buckets of beer or pitchers of hard lemonade or margaritas there (as well as at RedFrog).
Alchemy Bar (Deck 5, aft): At Alchemy Bar, a pharmacy-themed cocktail bar, you'll find lab coat-clad mixologists whipping up a selection of inventive cocktails with names like the French Kiss, Deal Closer, Perfect Storm and Forty is the New Twenty.
Impressions Bar (Deck 5, midship): Not quite inside the casino, but close enough to be the casino bar, Impressions Bar is a popular spot in the evening to sit and listen to live music (presented on a small stage along the promenade). Just be aware that the bar is close enough to the casino for the smell of cigarette smoke to waft by.
Artists' Lobby & Bar (Deck 3, midship): Not technically a lounge (though there is a bar), the lobby is nevertheless one of the centers of activity on Carnival Conquest. During the day, you'll find trivia, charades, Scattergories and other similar activities. At night, the space transforms into a live music venue with a small amount of room for dancing. Look up for a fantastic hand-painted mural depicting details from several famous Impressionist paintings.
Degas (Deck 5, aft): Golden ballet dancer statues, insets of painted ballet studios on the backs of sofas -- there's no hiding that the Degas lounge is a clear nod to Impressionist painter Edgar Degas, whose portrayals of ballet studios hang in some of the most storied museums in the world. No such high-culture here though: The Degas lounge is the place for karaoke and comedy at night, as well as spa and shop seminars during the day.
Alfred's (Deck 4, aft): Named after painter Alfred Sisley (we had to look him up), Alfred's is hidden away toward the back of Deck 4. During the day, it's a quiet place to read a book (but lighting is dim) or check your email (the small Internet cafe is tucked away in a corner), though you may find the occasional trivia session down there, as well. At night, the space transforms into the ship's Latin music and dancing headquarters. Once per cruise, the late-night adults-only Quest scavenger hunt is held there, as well. (Come early if you want a view of the dance floor, where all the action takes place.)
Henri's Nightclub (Deck 5, aft): It's a jungle on the dance floor -- at least in Henri's Nightclub, where images of jungle paintings by Henri Rousseau dominate. But you'll barely see any of the decor after 11 p.m., when bright lights, flashing strobes and special effects combine with loud, bass-driven dance music and cruisers get their groove on. During the day, you'll find tamer art auctions.
Blues (Deck 5, aft): The ship's sing-along piano bar (with its somewhat psychedelic decor inspired by the color blue, so prevalent in Henri Matisse's paintings) is a fun place to spend an hour belting out your favorite piano tunes by the likes of Elton John, Jimmy Buffet, Billy Joel and others. The horseshoe-shaped bar, which surrounds the piano, has room for about 18 people, but there's plenty of seating scattered throughout the rest of the lounge -- which, by the way, has no bar, though bar staff will come by to take your order.
Vincent's Jazz Bar (Deck 5, aft): The ship's cigar bar is a light and airy space inspired by the Vincent Van Gogh paintings of sunflowers in a vase. However, the lounge, which is fairly large, was underused on our sailing. Though called a jazz bar -- and there is a stage for live music -- there were no shows during our eight days onboard. The only people who used the space were smokers.
Sky Bar (Deck 9 aft): Grab a beer or fruity cocktail between dips in the aft pool at the adjacent Sky Bar.
Carnival Conquest has three pools and five hot tubs. The main pool and surrounding multi-tiered sun deck, located on Deck 9, midship, are the center of activity on Conquest. As long as the weather is nice, the pool remains crowded with adults sipping drinks and kids splashing around. (The pool is rimmed with shallow water.) The nearby hot tubs (each capable of fitting about 10 or so adults) are similarly full. Live and DJ-spun music fills the air during the day, as do showings of concerts on the 270-square-foot movie screen suspended above the main pool. At night, the space transforms into the ship's outdoor Seaside Theater, with a new "dive-in" movie shown each evening on the big screen. Also throughout the day, the entertainment crew hosts a variety of poolside games and contests.
One deck up (or three Lido Deck tiers) is a smaller pool, adjacent to the end of the Twister water slide, which spirals two levels before splashing down. A third hot tub is nearby.
The ship's aft Sky Pool (Deck 9) is nominally adults-only, but because of its proximity to Pizza Pirate, there are always kids around (if not in the pool). It's a bit quieter back there but still crowded. Two hot tubs also are adults-only.
Pools are generally open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., except for the aft pool, which stays open until midnight. Children must be potty trained to use any of the pools.
There's plenty of outdoor recreational fun on Carnival Conquest, from half-court basketball and volleyball on the Deck 11 Sports Deck (midship) to a nine-hole mini-golf course one deck up (only accessible via the sports court). Runners will appreciate the jogging track, aft on Deck 11; 10 laps equal one mile. Walkers can stroll around the outer perimeter of Deck 10 as well, though half of the time you'll be walking into the wind, which can be strong. Shuffleboard and Ping-Pong also are available.
There are few outdoor areas on Carnival Conquest that are not also used as sun deck space. You'll find blue lounge chairs on decks 9, 10 and 11, both near the pools and along the port (left) and starboard (right) sides of the ship.
You'll also find lounge chairs on Deck 3 (port and starboard), but there is little to no sunlight.
Carnival Conquest's Sunflower atrium rises nine levels from Deck 3 and is decorated with a beautiful mural showcasing bits and pieces of Impressionist paintings (many by the namesakes of the ships' lounges). On either side of the atrium's Artists' Lobby & Bar are the guest services and shore excursion desks.
Also on Deck 3 are the multi-use Cassat and Pissaro Rooms, which flank the entrance to the Renoir main dining room and are used for art exhibits or the Chef's Table.
One level up on Deck 4 is one of the saddest libraries ever encountered on a cruise ship. Multiple bookshelves are bare, with a smattering of foreign language books thrown carelessly about. Several board games are available, but all are missing pieces. The quiet space is, however, a good place to bring your own book to read or play a game of cards.
Opposite the library is the Pixels photo gallery, where every night (or while at sea during the day) glossy photo after glossy photo of cruisers living it up onboard is on display for purchase. Also for sale are photo albums, scrapbooking supplies, frames and digital camera accessories.
Farther aft on Deck 4 is the small four-station Internet cafe, tucked away in a corner of Alfred's, though bow-to-stern Wi-Fi also is available. Cruisers can choose from three Internet plans. The Social plan gives users access to popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, What'sApp and Snapchat. The Value plan gives all the same access as the Social plan but adds email, news and sports sites, weather, banking and finance. The most comprehensive plan is the Premium and gives users access to just about any form of Internet-based communication, including Skype and FaceTime video calling. Speeds also are three times faster than those of the Social and Value plans. If you're using the Internet Cafe, keep in mind that no one is on hand to help.
Cruisers looking to book their next cruises will find the Future Cruise sales desk on Deck 5 across from Fans Cafe. Around the corner are Carnival's Fun Shops, including scoop-it-yourself candy store Cherry on Top. At the other shops, you'll find everything from designer purses, daywear and watches to Carnival-branded tees, magnets and stuffed animals. Snacks, toiletries and cold and seasick pills are also available, as is a large selection of duty-free alcohol, cigarettes and perfume. An ATM is conveniently located outside the shops, though no cash is actually accepted onboard the ship (except in the casino, which is right down the hall).
For those who can't wait to do laundry until they get home, DIY launderettes are available on decks 1, 2 and 6 through 9. You'll need lots of quarters. Each room has an iron and ironing board for passengers to use free of charge.
There is a medical center on Deck 0.
The spa and salon are located on Deck 11, aft. There, you'll find all the usual spa treatments from massages (Swedish, bamboo, Thai poultice, hot stone) and facials (tri-enzyme, hydralift, microdermabrasion) to wraps, scrubs and ionithermie detox sessions. Other treatments include acupuncture, teeth whitening and medi-spa wrinkle treatments.
Catalog prices can be high ($195 for a 75-minute hot stones massage, for example), but specials are offered every day, especially for late-evening and port-day treatments. A typical special might offer a 75-minute Thai poultice massage for $159 instead of the usual $195 or La Therapie hydra-lift facial for $99 instead of $139. Also look for mix-and-match specials, and keep in mind if you purchase three treatments, you'll receive 10 percent off the first, 20 percent of the second and 30 percent off the third.
The full-service salon offers haircuts, styling and hair treatments, along with waxing, manicures and pedicures, as well as men's grooming options like deep cleansing shaves and beard trims, among others.
The spa is simple -- no ornate decor and no relaxation room in which to await your treatment. Instead, you wait inside the salon, which, depending on the time of day, can be a bit noisy.
Also located on Deck 11, the gym is accessed via the changing rooms inside the spa. Inside you'll find a selection of LifeFitness machines, including ellipticals, recumbent bikes, treadmills, free weights and resistance machines. Classes are offered in the fishbowl aerobic studio (small, glass-enclosed and everyone's looking in at you) and include free and for-fee options. It'll cost you nothing for the sunrise stretch and fab abs classes, but you'll have to pony up $12 for yoga, Pilates and indoor cycling classes. Want to participate in the four-day body sculpt boot camp? That'll set you back $120.
Personal training also is available for an extra fee.
Families are a top demographic for Carnival, and the line aims to please. Carnival Conquest features Seuss at Sea, the line's Dr. Seuss partnership, as well as a robust kids club divided into three age groups. Kids also get their own menu in the main dining room with items like mac 'n' cheese, chicken nuggets and spaghetti.
Branded Dr. Seuss activities include a once-per-sailing Seuss-a-Palooza Parade from Deck 5 aft down to the main theater on Deck 3. The Cat in the Hat and Things 1 and 2 make an appearance while kids and their parents wave streamers and yell, "The cat in the hat is back." The parade culminates with a well-done interactive reading of "The Cat in the Hat" by the entertainment staff and parent and child volunteers. The Cat in the Hat and Things 1 and 2 make sporadic appearances throughout the sailing for photo sessions, as well as the once-per-sailing, for-fee Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast (see Dining).
Camp Carnival (Deck 12) is for kids aged 2 to 11 years old, but the program further divides its daily activities into three sections: one for 2- to 5-year-olds, another for 6- to 8-year-olds and a final section for 9- to 11-year-olds. Age-appropriate goings-on, which begin about 10 a.m. on sea days (varied hours on port days), include arts and crafts, dancing, treasure hunts, movie time, sports contests and video gaming.
Offered on most sea days, Build-A-Bear workshops give kids the chance to make their own stuffed animals (for a fee). Adult supervision is required.
Parents (or guardians) must sign kids, ages 2 through 8, in and out of Camp Carnival, but kids 9 and older can sign themselves in and out.
Babysitting for kids 11 and younger (6 months minimum age) is available from 10 p.m. (when most of the organized kids club activities end) through 1 a.m. The cost for this "Night Owls" program is $6.75 per hour, per child, plus a 15 percent gratuity.
On Carnival Conquest, tweens (ages 12 to 14) get their own hangout space, Circle C (Deck 5, midship); they can come and go as they like. Daily activities, which begin around noon, might include Ping-Pong contests, Wii tournaments, magic classes, scavenger hunts, late-night pizza parties, after-hours movies and, on cruise elegant night, prom night.
For teens, Carnival Conquest offers Club O2 (ages 15 to 17), a nightclub-esque space on Deck 5. Activities begin around noon on sea days and might include sports contests, scavenger hunts, mini-golf tournaments, dance-offs, karaoke sessions and video gaming.
Both Circle C and Club O2 are located near the video arcade.