We sailed on the Conquest after our cruise on the Elation was cancelled when it became a floating home for emergency responders in New Orleans. We had booked the Elation cruise because it went to Progresso, Mexico, a port we very much wanted to visit. Even though the Conquest itinerary went to Jamaica instead we took this substitute because it sailed the same date for the same period of time. Carnival gave us each a $100 shipboard credit for our trouble. We were pleased to discover two days before sailing that we had been upgraded to a veranda cabin. Embarkation went smoothly and we were on the ship in less than an hour. Luggage was delivered promptly.
Throughout the cruise (with a single exception) the staff shipboard was excellent. The ship’s decor was minimalist. The theme was centered on French painters and the reproductions of their works seemed to be the quality Woolworth carried in my youth. There were no flowers except small bud vases with two or three pompon mums on the dining room tables. The housekeeping staff was very good and the dining room service was also fine. We also found the entertainment to be of good quality.
We had not sailed Carnival before. From reviews we read we believed the line was attempting to shed its party-time image. According to reviews one way they’ve done this is by improving the quality of the food. We found the dining on the ship to be to be of quality in all venues. Given the size of the ship (3700 passenger capacity) they handled the food thing very well.
The problem we experienced was with our fellow passengers. My wife described them as raucous. They were loud and generally more ill mannered than we have experienced on previous cruises. Carnival did not enforce the dress code at all. Even though the ship’s publications cautioned against it, shorts and tee shirts were worn in the dining room for dinner on casual nights. Jeans were in evidence at dinner on formal nights. Men without shirts were common in the casual dining venues. As we waited in line for debarkation, a fellow passenger complained about women’s immodest dress. I am not used to children practically diving between my legs as I try to exit an elevator when they wish to enter.
The single experience of bad crew service was as we were waiting to depart Cozumel. A guest in a neighboring cabin began to raise a ruckus. We couldn’t tell if it was a fight but were concerned and asked security to investigate. They did and left. The fracus began again almost immediately. When I called the purser’s desk to request security again I was told they weren’t fighting, implying since there wasn’t an assault I shouldn’t be concerned! I suggested that whatever they were doing, hollering and banging walls was something we shouldn’t have to tolerate. Security came again and calmed them and then came to our cabin. The security officer reported that the man in the next cabin was drunk and wanted to get fresh air. His companions didn’t want him on the veranda, apparently concerned he’d do a half-gainer onto the concrete wharf below. So Carnival was going to supply him with a fan! I still wonder if he was drunk when he boarded from Cozumel why they let him board or if he got that drunk on the ship why they didn’t stop serving him.
The final straw was debarkation. It was five hours from the time we left our cabin until we boarded the Carnival arranged bus to the airport. Most of our fellow passengers on the bus had missed their flights. Carnival’s excuse is that the port of Galveston is new to this ship and not set up to handle this size passenger load. They blame everything on the government. First the government had nothing to do with us standing on the curb with our luggage, in a block long line for over half an hour looking at empty buses we weren’t permitted to board. Second, the government doesn’t book the ship. Carnival should restrict its passenger load to what the port can handle. If they can’t do that they should sail the Conquest out of Miami or another port that can handle the ship. The bottom line is that while there were many good things about this cruise the negatives outweighed them and we probably won’t sail Carnival again.