The Conquest is a mid-sized cruise ship in Carnival’s fleet. The ship currently sails 4-9 day itineraries out of Fort Lauderdale in Southern Florida. It is a little over 15 years old, but was refurbished in 2009. We rang in the start of 2017 on board the Conquest on a special itinerary which stopped in San Juan, St. Thomas, Amber Cove and Grand Turk. While the ship may not have some of the latest features seen on the Carnival Vista or other new Royal Caribbean ships, the Conquest offers a great value and plenty of entertainment and activities.
When you complete online check in, you will be assigned a time for check in. We had an early flight which meant we landed at Fort Lauderdale Airport (just a quick cab ride away from the port) well before our assigned time. As we pulled into the cruise terminal, we saw the previous cruise’s passengers still getting off the ship. But we were able to get in line for check in, which meant we made it on board well before our scheduled check in time. Your mileage may vary, but we found that the check in time was more of a suggestion than a hard rule. The check in process at the terminal is quick, you will be assigned a boarding group based on your arrival at the terminal, when your number is called you can get on board and head up to the Cezanne buffet. We were able to head down to our room around 1:00, and participated in the muster drill and sailaway around 4:00 PM.
We purchased our tickets during a sale, which meant we paid for an interior room but were upgraded to an oceanview. The room had a small (but typical for cruise ship) bathroom. There were several closets and drawers for storage as well as a safe. The room had two beds; a queen as well as a smaller twin for the three of us. It had a large window, which offered great views of the oceans and ports, especially in the morning. The window had a ledge big enough to sit on. We had daily turn down service, complete with different towel animals each day. The cabin was slightly bigger than other cruises we have been on, but we really used the cabin just to sleep and get ready for dinner. Since we rarely spend any extra time in the cabin, we tend to generally pick interior rooms, but we were glad for the upgrade because we loved the window.
The Carnival Conquest offers several dining options for each meal. The Monet and Renoir Restaurants were the two main dining rooms where we had our dinners every night. We were assigned to a table with 9 other strangers who we sat with for every dinner. We had the early dining option which started at 6 and generally ended a little before 8. During the cruise we had 2 formal dinners with the rest being Casual. Each night we had a selection of new dishes (generally with a specific theme) as well as a set menu of classic dishes to order from. The food was typical cruise fare, though nothing stood out besides the Warm Melting Chocolate Cake (which matches perfectly with vanilla ice cream). Another option was the Cezanne restaurant which was the buffet located on deck 9. The buffet had a rotating selection of options, but we found the food to be generic with few highlights. There were several permanent options located near the buffet (some at cost, some free) including Blue Iguana cantina, Fish N Chips, Guy’s Burger Joint and Pizza Pirate. The best of these options was the pizza shop which was always open. A chef prepared fresh pizza to order (though the selection was lacking). There are also several bars located through out the ship – we tended to stick to classic cocktails which they all made pretty well. Our favorite bar was the EA Sports Bar because we were on board during NFL Playoffs.
In the past we have tended to avoid the Broadway style theatre shows, especially on the smaller Carnival ships. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the production of the shows on this ship. The choreographed Playlist Production shows were excellently put on and featured audience interaction that kept us engaged throughout. Our favorite feature of Carnival ships is the comedy club. During our cruise we had a rotation of 4 comics deliver multiple shows. The late night/adult comedy shows were for the most part very entertaining, and we found our self talking about them days later. There were also plenty of great one-off shows including the Love and Marriage Show and Carnival’s Quest (an adult only scavenger hunt). During the day you could choose to relax at the pool, hit up the activity deck or even bounce around the numerous opportunities to play trivia and activities led by the entertainment staff. We really enjoyed the New Years Eve festivities which included a balloon drop and a massive party on the pool deck in to the wee hours of the morning.
We stopped in San Juan, St. Thomas, Amber Cove and Grand Turk! In each of the ports we tend to avoid the excursions offered on board and either do our own thing or find an excursion offered by a company for much cheaper in the port. We will be writing more in depth reviews of these in future articles.
In San Juan we caught an Uber from the port and headed to a local beach. We went to Luqiullo Beach, which was nice but since we were in port right after a storm, the beach was covered in seaweed. We then headed to a diner full of locals (which was recommended by our Uber driver) to eat mufongo and other local specialties.
In St. Thomas, we headed to Honeymoon Beach. To get there we had to take a taxi to a nearby marina and a short ferry ride to a separate island in the bay. The island had pristine waters – we spent our time at a small restaurant which served food and drink beach side and offered chairs to sunbathe in.
At Amber Cove, we took a taxi to a nearby beach. The taxi driver took us through the main city on the way there and waited for us until we were ready to head back to the ship.
At Grand Turk, the port included free access to beach chairs and plenty of beach space. There were other ships in port and were still able to find plenty of space with good access to the water. We then went past the free beach and ate at a beach side shack before walking back to the ship.
Below you can watch a video we compiled of our holiday cruise on the Carnival Conquest.
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