Fodor’s Expert Review

Ship Overview

Carnival Cruise Lines
Cruise StyleMainstream
Ship SizeLarge

The first ship in the Conquest-class, Carnival Conquest launched in 2002. Similar in layout to previous classes of fleetmates, she nevertheless boasted more room in her interiors. A refurbishment in 2009 added the popular Seaside Theatre, a huge LED screen overlooking the main pool area; in a 2012 upgrade, Carnival’s “Fun Ship 2.0” features with new casual dining options and bars were added. Carnival Conquest itineraries don’t stray from the Caribbean, but various departure ports—including Miami, Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana, and San Juan, Puerto Rico—and different regional ports of call are available depending on the date.Read More

Taking Fun Ships to new lengths and widths, Conquest-class ships are among the largest in the Carnival fleet. They’re basically larger and more feature-filled versions of earlier Destiny-class vessels. More space translates into additional decks, an upscale steak house, and even more bars and lounges; however, well-proportioned public areas belie the ships’ massive size. You’ll hardly notice that there’s slightly less space per passenger after you take a thrilling trip down the spiral waterslide.

Public rooms flow forward and aft from stunning central atriums. Just off each ship’s main boulevard is an array of specialty bars, dance lounges, discos, piano bars, and show lounges, plus seating areas along the indoor promenades. The promenade can get crowded between dinner seatings and show-lounge performances, but with so many different places to spend time, you’re sure to find one with plenty of room and an atmosphere to suit your taste.

The world’s largest cruise line—and one of the most widely recognized—originated its “Fun Ship” concept in 1972 and has been launching party-packed superliners with signature red funnels ever since. The line’s ever-growing fleet features entertainment and activities designed for passengers of all ages, from game shows and lip sync competitions to twisting waterslides and mini golf. These ships are a reliable choice for families as well as young singles and couples who want a vacation that won’t break the bank.

Nearly all onboard dining options are included in the fare, as are comedy and production shows, children’s programs, and use of state-of-the-art fitness centers. With some of the most comfortable accommodations at sea, large new ships are continuously added to the fleet and rarely deviate from a successful pattern, while older vessels are updated with popular features, such as the poolside BlueIguana Tequila Bar with an adjacent burrito cantina, the Red Frog Rum Bar that also serves Carnival’s own brand of Thirsty Frog Red beer, and Guy’s Burger Joint, created with Food Network star Guy Fieri.

  • 13 passenger decks
  • specialty restaurant, 2 dining rooms, buffet, ice cream parlor, pizzeria
  • Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator
  • 3 pools (1 indoor), children’s pool
  • fitness classes, gym, hot tubs, sauna, spa, steam room
  • 9 bars, casino, dance club, library, showroom, video game room
  • children’s programs
  • laundry facilities, laundry service
  • Internet terminal
  • no-smoking cabins

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Pros
Cons
The lounge chairs on the deck above the aft Lido pool are almost always quiet
Steak houses on these ships are some of the best restaurants—and dining bargains—at sea
The ships have been retrofitted with Carnival’s Seaside Theatres—the jumbo-size poolside LED screens
Cabins and balconies on deck 8 from mid-ship to aft are beneath the Lido and suffer from pool-deck noise overhead
Seating at the casino bar can be noisy with sound from the slot machines dueling with nearby musicians
Likewise, sound from the Seaside Theatre can be annoyingly loud

What to expect on board

Staterooms & Cabins

Layout
Decor
Bathrooms
Accessibility

As on all Carnival ships, cabins are roomy. More than 60% have an ocean view and, of those, 60% have balconies. For those suites and ocean-view cabins that have them, private balconies outfitted with chairs and tables add additional living space; extended balconies are 50% larger than standard ones. Every cabin has adequate closet and drawer shelf storage, as well as bathroom shelves. High-thread-count linens and plush pillows and duvets are a luxurious touch in all accommodations. Suites have a whirlpool tub and walk-in closet; two Captain’s suites that were added to Carnival Liberty in 2008 have two bathrooms. A plus for families are a number of connecting staterooms in a variety of ocean-view and interior categories. Balcony dividers can be unlocked to provide connecting access in upper categories.

Light-wood cabinetry, pastel colors, mirrored accents, a small refrigerator, a personal safe, a hair dryer in the top vanity-desk drawer, and a seating area with sofa, chair, and table are typical amenities.

Shampoo and bath gel are provided in shower-mounted dispensers; you also get an array of sample toiletries, as well as fluffy towels and a wall-mounted magnifying mirror. Bathrobes for use during the cruise are provided for all.

Twenty-five staterooms are designed for wheelchair accessibility.

Food & Drink

Food

Two formal restaurants serve open seating breakfast and lunch, and dinner is served in two traditional assigned seatings or an open seating option. The casual Lido buffet’s food stations offer a variety of choices (including a deli, salad bar, dessert station, and different daily regional cuisines). By night the Lido buffet is transformed into the Seaview Bistro for casual dinner. The ship also has an upscale supper club that requires reservations and assesses a cover charge. You’ll also find a pizzeria, outdoor poolside grills where burgers and other favorites are prepared, a specialty coffee bar with pastries, a complimentary sushi bar, and 24-hour room service that offers a limited selection of breakfast items, sandwiches, and snacks.

Entertainment

Conquest-class ships were the first to receive Carnival’s newly branded bars and comedy club in 2012. While Valor and Freedom won’t be outfitted with all of them until 2014, they will be the first Conquest-class ships to have Hasbro, The Game Show. All have lively piano bars and nightclubs featuring music for dancing and listening. Deck parties are a staple that are highlighted by new poolside bars and related musical performances.

Spa & Fitness

Operated by Steiner Leisure, spas and salons are ubiquitous and treatments include a variety of massages, body wraps, and facials for adults and teens. Complimentary steam rooms and saunas in men’s and women’s changing rooms are glass walled with endless sea vistas. Salons offer hair and nail services and even tooth whitening.

QUICK FACTS

SHIP STATS
Entered Service
2002
Number of Cabins
1,487
Passenger Capacity
2,974(3,700 max)
Crew Members
1,160
Passengers to Crew Ratio
2.56
Gross Tons
110000
Width
116 feet
Length
952 feet
CRUISE LINE INFO
305/599–2600 or 800/227–6482

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