After previously cruising onboard Carnival Celebration and Carnival Vista, I was intrigued by a relatively cheap cruise onboard Carnival Conquest.
Genuinely, I wasn't too sure of what to expect. When onboard Freedom of the Seas in late 2023, my finacée and I met a woman during sail away who said Conquest was one of her least favorite cruises ever.
The deal was too good to pass, up, though. At just over $800 for two people (including gratuities), I knew I had to book the cruise and come up with my own conclusions for myself!
While I am normally a fan of newer and larger ships, I had a great time! After spending 4 nights onboard Carnival Conquest, here's everything I loved and hated about this 22-year-old ship.
Read more: What to know before booking a cheap cruise
LOVED the easy-to-navigate layout
While I'm used to cruising onboard Royal Caribbean ships that feature a main thoroughfare lined with shops and bars, I ended up appreciating Carnival Conquest's atrium, especially when compared to Carnival Vista's.
The glass elevators truly made this area feel like the heart of the ship. Whenever we took them up to Deck 9, we could still hear the live music being played thanks to the openness of everything. Plus, the skylight brought in natural light to the lower decks.
Aside from the atrium, I found that the ship was simply laid out better than Carnival Vista. By the end of day one, I felt as though I had a good grasp of where everything was located. I even cruised with a first-timer, and she felt confident in her navigational abilities by the second day!
HATED tendering to Half Moon Cay
The shores around Half Moon Cay are too shallow to allow for a dock, so guests must board a water taxi to be transported from the ship.
My friend and I were able to secure an early group number with an estimated transfer time of 9:00am. When that time rolled around, however, the Cruise Director came over the PA system to alert us that there were some delays.
Our group was finally called around 9:30am; however, it took another thirty minutes to fill the taxi up. We did not end up making it ashore until close to 10:15am.
Returning was a little simpler, despite having to wait roughly 20 minutes in the heat for the taxi to fill up. We got in line around 1:40 and were back on the ship by 2:15!
LOVED that there was an actual theater
The only "theater" onboard Carnival Vista was the Limelight Lounge. While I appreciated the versatility of the space, it was evident that they did not have the capabilities of larger-scale theaters. Despite being two levels, it also felt pretty cramped. Since Vista is a newer ship, I did not expect Carnival Conquest to have a multi-level theater!
Called the "Toulouse-Lautrec Main Show Lounge," this venue can be found on Decks 3, 4, and 5 and was home to just about every event you can think of, from the Love & Marriage and Deal or No Deal game shows to the Welcome Aboard show featuring members of the Playlist Live cast and more.
Plus, this theater had bar service, which was unlike both the Limelight Lounge on Vista and the Grand Spectrum Theater on Celebration.
HATED the power issues
On the second evening of the 4-night cruise, Pizza Pirate's power went out.
Craving a late-night snack, we made our way to the deli inside of the buffet only to find out that they didn't have power, either! At the time, they were only able to make cold sandwiches.
My friend stayed up later than me and said the pizza machine was up and running again around 1:00am; however, it was a rather annoying inconvenience, especially since I really was not in the mood for a turkey sandwich.
Additionally, our departure from Nassau was delayed roughly three hours due to mechanical issues. While I am not sure of the problem, it was a little nerve-wracking to not know when we'd begin making our way back to Miami.
LOVED Carnival's sensory kit
Sensory kits are offered on every ship in Carnival's fleet— I simply hadn't had an opportunity to test them out yet.
Carnival Cruise Line is the first line to be certified "sensory inclusive" by KultureCity, a leading nonprofit dedicated to accessibility and inclusion for individuals with sensory and invisible disabilities.
The first thing my friend and I did on embarkation day was head to Guest Services to ensure that she'd be able to get one of these kits. While they're complimentary, she did have to place a $50 deposit.
Her kit included noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, a visual feeling thermometer, and two lanyards, one of which was labeled "KultureCity VIP" to help staff easily identify guests.
The headphones were the most helpful tool, as she wore them in the Main Dining Room when there was any kind of performance, during Deal or No Deal, in the casino, etc.
While it's likely that she could have gone without the kit, we were able to do more activities onboard without her getting too overstimulated!
HATED that there weren't any complimentary umbrellas on Half Moon Cay
The crystal-clear waters of Half Moon Cay seem as though you are living in a postcard. This island makes for the perfect beach day; however, it is crucial that you bring enough sunscreen and/or prepare yourself to pay for an umbrella.
While beach loungers are complimentary, umbrellas are not. Thankfully, if you are super sensitive to the sun, you can purchase one for $35.
Personally, I felt as though this was Carnival trying to really nickel and dime their passengers, as umbrellas should be complimentary on private islands.
Moreover, if you're used to visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay, you might be disappointed by the lack of activities on the island. On Half Moon Cay, you won't find a large pool or even a floating bar. If you're planning on doing anything other than relaxing on the beach, you'll have to purchase a shore excursion.
LOVED the easy embarkation process
We arrived at Miami's Terminal F around 10:50am and were onboard by 11:10am!
This included the time it took to drop off our bags with the porter, have our documents checked, pass through security, and make the lengthy walk to the gangway.
I was impressed that it did not take longer, as my friend was traveling with a birth certificate and photo ID, rather than a passport.
Something interesting I noticed is that, despite being a much smaller ship, it took about the same time to board Carnival Conquest as it did Celebration out of the same terminal.
To put that into context, Carnival Conquest has a maximum passenger capacity of 3,966, whereas Celebration's is 6,631.
HATED the darker tones of the ship
Overall, I was extremely impressed with the condition of Carnival Conquest. Despite being 22 years old, it seemed to be well-maintained by the crew.
That being said, one area where you could really tell the age was the darker tones of the ship; nothing felt very bright.
Both Vista and Celebration were bright and had that modern feel to them, and this was severely lacking from Conquest.
LOVED variety violin music with Serendi Strings
On the first night of the cruise, we stopped by the atrium to listen to Serendi Strings for a little bit before heading to our next activity.
We were standing on Deck 5, and it was fun to watch guests dance to "You're the One That I Want" from Grease and ABBA's "Dancing Queen."
They played different sets throughout the cruise, too. Whether you were a fan of contemporary classics or pop hits, there was certain to be a set that you'd enjoy listening to while drinking a cocktail.
HATED the clingy shower curtain
While the shower curtain wasn't the worst aspect of the stateroom (it was the thin walls that allowed us to hear other toilets flushing and the music in the hallway!), I had never had a shower on a cruise ship without a glass door.
Personally, I prefer the door, as it feels more sanitary. Plus, whenever I stepped out of the shower, I noticed that water got everywhere, even if I tried my best to adjust the curtain.
LOVED the magician in the Main Dining Room
We dined in the Main Dining Room three out of four nights onboard, two of which we were approached by a magician who simply walked up to us and placed a wallet on the table before speaking.
The first night, he asked us to state each other's favorite colors. Truthfully, we did not know! I had to give my friend a hint that my favorite color was the color of my old Keurig machine.
After that, he asked us our favorite numbers. To our surprise, he picked up the wallet, opened it up, and had us pull out a piece of paper that read "Blue, 7, 17." My favorite color is blue, while my favorite number is 17. My friend's favorite number is 7.
The second night, he approached us again with similar questions (i.e., my favorite food and my friend's favorite color). Once again, we pulled out a small piece of paper with scribbles that read, "Pink, macaroni."
While I'm sure that there's some sort of trick to it, we were both taken aback, especially during dinner!
HATED the disembarkation process
We were informed that, instead of having to collect luggage tags at Guest Services or elsewhere on the ship, we should select a time on the HUB app and have our cabin steward deliver them.
On the final day, I never saw a place on the app to do this; there wasn't a specific tab to go to. Later in the day, however, my friend said that the disembarkation information randomly popped up on her phone. She was able to select a time. At that point, the only option was express, meaning we had to carry our bags off the ship.
Moreover, she was instructed to select a time for self-assisted disembarkation. She chose 7:45-8:00am, to which we were assigned Group B. The next morning, however, the cruise line wasn't abiding by these groups. Instead, they were calling by muster station.
LOVED the Point Steakhouse
I had been meaning to try more specialty dining on Carnival, especially after hearing everyone rave about Teppanyaki on Celebration. I finally got to try their signature steakhouse and wasn't disappointed!
My friend and I each spent $59 on the meal, which included gratuities! I felt as though the meal was definitely worth the price.
For my appetizer, I got the lobster bisque. It was so creamy, and the presentation was spectacular!
Before that, however, we were presented with a mini slider from the chef! We spent about five minutes trying to figure out how everything was crafted, as the bun was the tiniest I had ever seen!
Despite having lobster bisque, I went ahead and ordered the surf and turf for my entrée. To be honest, the lobster wasn't the best I had ever had, but the filet mignon was perfectly cooked. Every bite seemed juicier than the last!
Don't even get me started on the macaroni and cheese. I could eat it every day for the rest of my life!