Sailed 5/23/15 to southern Caribbean on the Conquest. We were really worried after reading a lot of negative reviews and I even called Carnival about 3 weeks prior to sailing to change to the Breeze out of Miami sailing on the same dates. The penalty to change was over $2k so we were stuck with the Conquest. Here are the pros and cons of our trip:
Pros: Brian the CD and Stephanie the Ass't CD were FANTASTIC. Brian is especially friendly, funny and accessible. Definitely go to the music trivia nights in the Lobby with those 2 and you will laugh a lot, sing and dance. The band Six Appeal is excellent. The entertainment in the Toulouse Lautrec was pretty good (not the best we've seen but we enjoyed "Epic Rock" so much we saw it a second time). The 8-person troupe has some good talent and they have 4 shows in their repertoire. The other nights we saw a hypnotist who was pretty funny and a juggler. They also did the typical Love & Marriage show, had comedians and karaoke, etc. The spa was nothing special overall but I did have the best facial I've ever had with Jane - ask for her if you go. The best thing we did on the ship the whole week was the "Behind the Fun" tour on the last sea day. It was $95 pp and worth it. It's a 3 hour tour behind the scenes and we saw the outside crew lounge deck, behind stage with a cast member in a dressing room, the galley, engine control room, area where the crew living quarters are located and their dining areas, the bridge (what a view! Met with the Captain there) and the finale in the steakhouse. We received gifts and two photos from the tour plus when we got back to our cabin, we had a pleasant surprise! I won't spoil it for you by telling you in case you decide to do the tour. Did we have fun? Yes, we did.
A word about the ports: I had read on here that if you don't have an excursion planned in La Romana, don't get off the ship. That is true. The port offers no views whatsoever but that of third world poverty. We heard people getting back on the ship talking about how aggressive, pushy and frightening their shopping experience "in town" was. My husband was peeved we basically wasted a port day on this place and we will never book another cruise if this is on the itinerary. On the up side, we had most of the ship to ourselves so we played mini-golf, card games, went to the spa, etc.
Also, if you do the popular Atlantis Submarine tour in Aruba, do NOT do this if you are claustrophobic. It's VERY tight as you are crammed in between the people on either side of you. We didn't think it worth it since we didn't see a whole lot of fish or any pretty coral.
Now, the cons: the ship really needs an overhaul on its décor. It's not very pretty and rather dark and drab and there is a lot of wear and tear on the finishes. The crew was constantly cleaning - so it's clean - just run down. The casino is so full of cigarette smoke we barely spent any time there. The coffee bar on promenade only had one person working so it was slow during the busy times. We had the WORST carrot cake there ever and after 2 bites returned it for a refund. There was NO flavor whatsoever to it. The spa had a crackling speaker in the one treatment room I had a massage in which I found annoying. The service and housekeeping staff were just "OK" - they were nice but no one stood out to us. Our cabin was dusty and smelly when we first arrived, the remote for the TV didn't work and there were missing lightbulbs in the lights above the desk. One morning, our toilet wouldn't flush. Fortunately all of these maintenance items were taken care of within 15 minutes of us asking. Renoir Dining Room: Usually we find a wait staff we like in the my time dining and repeatedly ask for them but not this cruise. The food was nothing special except for the steakhouse which was tasty. (Side note: not sure why they designed things this way but the basketball court is right above the steakhouse and our view from our table was of the smoking area on deck 10! Yuk! And right above the Spa is the Camp Carnival - also not pleasant to have a bunch of kids running around the floor above you when you are trying to relax!) There is NO serenity deck on this ship (not sure why it didn't get this upgrade a couple of years ago) but you can go to deck 14 in the front of the ship and find some quiet there. They only had about a dozen lounge chairs up there. I took a book and put my earphones in and listened to spa music and created my own serenity...
So overall, we did have fun, we relaxed and enjoyed our vacation. But we will not ever book the Conquest again. In fact, this cruise led us to the conclusion we are probably ready for a whole different ship experience (i.e. different cruise line) altogether. We learned that the ship is more important to us than the ports of call since you spend WAY more time on the ship than in the ports. Next time we cruise, we will look for something with more interesting activities, entertainment and food/cuisine.