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Carnival Conquest

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Stepping onto Carnival Conquest is a bit like stepping into a 19th-century French Impressionist's dreamscape. Illuminated Murano-glass flower sculptures adorn the ceilings, and hand-painted replicas of Degas' ballet studios and Toulouse-Lautrec's Parisian theatres accent the lounges and theatres, while the main restaurants tip their caps to Renoir's "Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise" and Monet's "Water Lilies" paintings.

It's a surreal juxtaposition, the high-brow art referenced in every nook and cranny of the ship contrasting with the leave-your-pretensions-at-the-door atmosphere that comes with every Carnival cruise. Passengers on Conquest are ready to shake off the concerns of their everyday lives and just let go, relax and have fun. To have the best cruise experience, you've got to do the same.

Carnival cruisers are onboard to for fun and have few worries about being judged. How could they when some of the biggest belly-laughs come from watching a somewhat oversized man shake his groove thing while whipping his shirt over his head in order to win a bottle of Champagne and a "ship on a stick" (literally a plastic trophy featuring a gold replica of the ship)?

Carnival Conquest is also for cruisers who want to soak up the sun while listening to popular radio hits (loudly) and chatting it up with their deck chair neighbours. It's not at all unusual for large numbers of passengers to grab lounge chairs early and stay poolside until it's time for dinner.

This leaves cruisers not entirely into baking in the sun a bit out of the loop, as a typical sea day will offer few indoor activities and the ones that are scheduled often centred on trying to sell you something (spa treatments, shoe inserts, paintings by little known artists). Just bring enough reading material, and you'll always find a quiet lounge to curl up in for a few hours of literary escapism. You'll also find sports broadcasts playing in the Deck 5 sports bar and movies on the TV in your room all day long. The beds in the cabins, by the way, are super comfortable for afternoon naps.

Daytime: As on all Carnival ships, the dress code for daytime is casual.

Evening: Evening is casual as well, but there are two "cruise elegant" nights on cruises of six days or longer (one formal night on shorter sailings), during which long pants and collared shirts for men are requested. Suits, sport jackets and ties are not required, but you will see plenty of men decked out in suits. On cruise elegant nights, women may dine in sundresses, cocktail dresses, pantsuits, and skirt and blouse combinations. Similar attire is required every night in the Point Steakhouse.

Not permitted: Cutoff jeans, basketball shorts and swimwear are never permitted in the main dining rooms.

Theatre

The three-level 1,400-seat Toulouse-Lautrec Lounge, on decks 3 to 5 forward, is the ship's main theatre. Inspired by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's provocative images of Parisian theatre in the late 19th century, the space is bedecked in red velvet and on the first level features small tables inset with snippets of actual Toulouse-Lautrec paintings. The theatre hosts a variety of evening shows, including song-and-dance revues with lots of multimedia elements, variety acts that might include magicians or hypnotists, and family-oriented "Hasbro, the Game Show." During the day, the theatre plays host to Bingo and port shopping presentations.

Most nights the theatre is host to at least one of four Playlist Production shows, which feature song-and-dance routines bursting with elaborate costumes and digital special effects. The dazzling background images, projected onto an enormous screen at the back of the stage, can be a bit overwhelming and sometimes take away from the actual singing and dancing. Shows are done multiple times on different days and at different times, so all passengers get a chance to see each one without worrying too much about schedules. Beware if you sit in the first few rows; you might need to don rain ponchos for one show or end up pulled into the aisle to dance during another show.

"Hasbro, the Game Show" is a family-friendly interactive experience based on the TV show "Family Game Night." Split into two halves (one for the younger participants and the other for their elders), volunteers are put through a series of board-games-come-to-life activities in order to vie for a chance to win a complete Hasbro board game set. For instance, using coloured basketballs, teams play Connect 4 and try to get four in a row. In a life-sized version of Simon, players wearing coloured cubes must rearrange themselves to match a series of colours flashed momentarily on the screen in front of them.

Daily Fun

Most of the fun to be had on a Carnival cruise during the day centres on the outside Lido Deck and main swimming pool. It's where you'll find the line's infamous Hairy Chest contest (leave your dignity at the door, even if you're just watching), as well as the Mr. & Mrs. Conquest pageant and an ice sculpting demo. Once per cruise, at the RedFrog Rum and BlueIguana Tequila bars, you can partake in the Red vs. Blue mixologist competition.

Those who wish to be indoors can participate in a number of activities throughout the day. Watch out for the spa seminars (lots of them), which are free but designed less around helping participants and more about making money. Other daily activities include cooking demonstrations, indoor golf putting contests, trivia sessions, art seminars and auctions, dance classes (mostly line dancing), bingo (for a fee) and sales/raffles in the onboard shops. A video arcade (Deck 5), used mostly by kids and teenagers, is open 24 hours.

At Night

Evening fun gets started early on Carnival Conquest, with the Degas Lounge (Deck 5, aft) transforming into the Punchliner Comedy Club at 7:15 p.m. most nights for a family-friendly comedy routine. There's typically another family-friendly show at 8 p.m., then two to three adults-only standup routines throughout the rest of the night. (The last show is at midnight.)

Another day-to-night area is the Lido Deck, which transforms into Carnival's Seaside Theater around 7 p.m. most evenings. Movies change nightly and are themed around Action & Adventure, Family Movie Time, Drama Night, Blockbuster Night and Comedy Night.

The Tahiti Casino (Deck 5, midship) is open every night (except during overnight port calls) and features a multitude of slot machines and electronic poker, along with blackjack, craps, roulette, Texas Hold'em and Let it Ride poker. Smoking is permitted in the casino.

Live music is available every night in several areas of the ship, but it's most prominent in the lobby (Deck 3, midship) and along the Deck 5 promenade, next to the casino. There's also Latin music and dancing every night in Alfred's (Deck 4, aft) and a sing-along piano jam in Blues (Deck 5, aft).

Henri's Nightclub (Deck 5, aft) doesn't get grooving until after midnight when DJ Commodus starts spinning hits and mixes.

Bars and Lounges

Whether you like cocktails, tequila shots or sweet rum drinks, Carnival Conquest has you covered. The ship is still missing the line's popular RedFrog Pub (coming in 2017), and wine-lovers might also feel a little left out -- though glasses of wine are available at most of the lounges onboard.

Most of the ship's bars and lounges are located along the Deck 5 Promenade (or are just one or two decks down), making them easy to move between.

Sports Bar (Deck 5 midship): Carnival Conquest's Sports Bar is the best place on the ship to catch all the games, as long as they're being shown on network TV or ESPN and ESPN2. The ship does not have access to Fox Sports. On a typical day, the bartender will have four to five games going on seven different TVs, and most afternoons the entertainment staff will hold one session of sports trivia, as well. In addition to the small beverage menu, you can get freshly baked jumbo pretzels with mustard for snacking.

RedFrog Rum Bar (Deck 9, midship): Located across the pool from the BlueIguana Tequila Bar, RedFrog serves up all beverages rum-based (coladas, daiquiris, mojitos).

BlueIguana Tequila Bar (Deck 9, midship): An integral part of the Lido Deck happenings along with the RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar pours 10 different types of tequila, four frozen margaritas and a handful of tequila-based cocktails. You also can get buckets of beer or pitchers of hard lemonade or margaritas there (as well as at RedFrog).

Alchemy Bar (Deck 5, aft): At Alchemy Bar, a pharmacy-themed cocktail bar, you'll find lab coat-clad mixologists whipping up a selection of inventive cocktails with names like the French Kiss, Deal Closer, Perfect Storm and Forty is the New Twenty.

Impressions Bar (Deck 5, midship): Not quite inside the casino, but close enough to be the casino bar, Impressions Bar is a popular spot in the evening to sit and listen to live music (presented on a small stage along the promenade). Just be aware that the bar is close enough to the casino for the smell of cigarette smoke to waft by.

Artists' Lobby & Bar (Deck 3, midship): Not technically a lounge (though there is a bar), the lobby is nevertheless one of the centres of activity on Carnival Conquest. During the day, you'll find trivia, charades, Scattergories and other similar activities. At night, the space transforms into a live music venue with a small amount of room for dancing. Look up for a fantastic hand-painted mural depicting details from several famous Impressionist paintings.

Degas (Deck 5, aft): Golden ballet dancer statues, insets of painted ballet studios on the backs of sofas -- there's no hiding that the Degas lounge is a clear nod to Impressionist painter Edgar Degas, whose portrayals of ballet studios hang in some of the most storied museums in the world. No such high-culture here though: The Degas lounge is the place for karaoke and comedy at night, as well as spa and shop seminars during the day.

Alfred's (Deck 4, aft): Named after painter Alfred Sisley (we had to look him up), Alfred's is hidden away toward the back of Deck 4. During the day, it's a quiet place to read a book (but lighting is dim) or check your email (the small Internet cafe is tucked away in a corner), though you may find the occasional trivia session down there, as well. At night, the space transforms into the ship's Latin music and dancing headquarters. Once per cruise, the late-night adults-only Quest scavenger hunt is held there, as well. (Come early if you want a view of the dance floor, where all the action takes place.)

Henri's Nightclub (Deck 5, aft): It's a jungle on the dance floor -- at least in Henri's Nightclub, where images of jungle paintings by Henri Rousseau dominate. But you'll barely see any of the decor after 11 p.m., when bright lights, flashing strobes and special effects combine with loud, bass-driven dance music and cruisers get their groove on. During the day, you'll find tamer art auctions.

Blues (Deck 5, aft): The ship's sing-along piano bar (with its somewhat psychedelic decor inspired by the colour blue, so prevalent in Henri Matisse's paintings) is a fun place to spend an hour belting out your favourite piano tunes by the likes of Elton John, Jimmy Buffet, Billy Joel and others. The horseshoe-shaped bar, which surrounds the piano, has room for about 18 people, but there's plenty of seating scattered throughout the rest of the lounge -- which, by the way, has no bar, though bar staff will come by to take your order.

Vincent's Jazz Bar (Deck 5, aft): The ship's cigar bar is a light and airy space inspired by the Vincent Van Gogh paintings of sunflowers in a vase. However, the lounge, which is fairly large, was underused on our sailing. Though called a jazz bar -- and there is a stage for live music -- there were no shows during our eight days onboard. The only people who used the space were smokers.

Sky Bar (Deck 9 aft): Grab a beer or fruity cocktail between dips in the aft pool at the adjacent Sky Bar.

Carnival Conquest Outside Recreation

Pools

Carnival Conquest has three pools and five hot tubs. The main pool and surrounding multi-tiered sun deck, located on Deck 9, midship, are the centre of activity on Conquest. As long as the weather is nice, the pool remains crowded with adults sipping drinks and kids splashing around. (The pool is rimmed with shallow water.) The nearby hot tubs (each capable of fitting about 10 or so adults) are similarly full. Live and DJ-spun music fills the air during the day, as do showings of concerts on the 270-square-foot movie screen suspended above the main pool. At night, the space transforms into the ship's outdoor Seaside Theater, with a new "dive-in" movie shown each evening on the big screen. Also throughout the day, the entertainment crew hosts a variety of poolside games and contests.

One deck up (or three Lido Deck tiers) is a smaller pool, adjacent to the end of the Twister water slide, which spirals two levels before splashing down. A third hot tub is nearby.

The ship's aft Sky Pool (Deck 9) is nominally adults-only, but because of its proximity to Pizza Pirate, there are always kids around (if not in the pool). It's a bit quieter back there but still crowded. Two hot tubs also are adults-only.

Pools are generally open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., except for the aft pool, which stays open until midnight. Children must be potty trained to use any of the pools.

Recreation

There's plenty of outdoor recreational fun on Carnival Conquest, from half-court basketball and volleyball on the Deck 11 Sports Deck (midship) to a nine-hole mini-golf course one deck up (only accessible via the sports court). Runners will appreciate the jogging track, aft on Deck 11; 10 laps equal one mile. Walkers can stroll around the outer perimeter of Deck 10 as well, though half of the time you'll be walking into the wind, which can be strong. Shuffleboard and Ping-Pong also are available.

Sun Decks

There are few outdoor areas on Carnival Conquest that are not also used as sun deck space. You'll find blue lounge chairs on decks 9, 10 and 11, both near the pools and along the port (left) and starboard (right) sides of the ship.

You'll also find lounge chairs on Deck 3 (port and starboard), but there is little to no sunlight.

Carnival Conquest Services

Carnival Conquest's Sunflower atrium rises nine levels from Deck 3 and is decorated with a beautiful mural showcasing bits and pieces of Impressionist paintings (many by the namesakes of the ships' lounges). On either side of the atrium's Artists' Lobby & Bar are the guest services and shore excursion desks.

Also on Deck 3 are the multi-use Cassat and Pissaro Rooms, which flank the entrance to the Renoir main dining room and are used for art exhibits or the Chef's Table.

One level up on Deck 4 is one of the saddest libraries ever encountered on a cruise ship. Multiple bookshelves are bare, with a smattering of foreign language books thrown carelessly about. Several board games are available, but all are missing pieces. The quiet space is, however, a good place to bring your own book to read or play a game of cards.

Opposite the library is the Pixels photo gallery, where every night (or while at sea during the day) glossy photo after glossy photo of cruisers living it up onboard is on display for purchase. Also for sale are photo albums, scrapbooking supplies, frames and digital camera accessories.

Further aft on Deck 4 is the small four-station Internet cafe, tucked away in a corner of Alfred's, though bow-to-stern Wi-Fi also is available. Cruisers can choose from three Internet plans. The Social plan gives users access to popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, What'sApp and Snapchat. The Value plan gives all the same access as the Social plan but adds email, news and sports sites, weather, banking and finance. The most comprehensive plan is the Premium and gives users access to just about any form of Internet-based communication, including Skype and FaceTime video calling. Speeds also are three times faster than those of the Social and Value plans. If you're using the Internet Cafe, keep in mind that no one is on hand to help.

Cruisers looking to book their next cruises will find the Future Cruise sales desk on Deck 5 across from Fans Cafe. Around the corner are Carnival's Fun Shops, including scoop-it-yourself candy store Cherry on Top. At the other shops, you'll find everything from designer purses, daywear and watches to Carnival-branded tees, magnets and stuffed animals. Snacks, toiletries and cold and seasick pills are also available, as is a large selection of duty-free alcohol, cigarettes and perfume. An ATM is conveniently located outside the shops, though no cash is actually accepted onboard the ship (except in the casino, which is right down the hall).

For those who can't wait to do laundry until they get home, DIY launderettes are available on decks 1, 2 and 6 through 9. You'll need lots of quarters. Each room has an iron and ironing board for passengers to use free of charge.

There is a medical centre on Deck 0.

The Spa

The spa and salon are located on Deck 11, aft. There, you'll find all the usual spa treatments from massages (Swedish, bamboo, Thai poultice, hot stone) and facials (tri-enzyme, hydralift, microdermabrasion) to wraps, scrubs and ionithermie detox sessions. Other treatments include acupuncture, teeth whitening and medi-spa wrinkle treatments.

Catalog prices can be high ($195 for a 75-minute hot stones massage, for example), but specials are offered every day, especially for late-evening and port-day treatments. A typical special might offer a 75-minute Thai poultice massage for $159 instead of the usual $195 or La Therapie hydra-lift facial for $99 instead of $139. Also look for mix-and-match specials, and keep in mind if you purchase three treatments, you'll receive 10 percent off the first, 20 percent of the second and 30 percent off the third.

The full-service salon offers haircuts, styling and hair treatments, along with waxing, manicures and pedicures, as well as men's grooming options like deep cleansing shaves and beard trims, among others.

The spa is simple -- no ornate decor and no relaxation room in which to await your treatment. Instead, you wait inside the salon, which, depending on the time of day, can be a bit noisy.

Fitness

Also located on Deck 11, the gym is accessed via the changing rooms inside the spa. Inside you'll find a selection of LifeFitness machines, including ellipticals, recumbent bikes, treadmills, free weights and resistance machines. Classes are offered in the fishbowl aerobic studio (small, glass-enclosed and everyone's looking in at you) and include free and for-fee options. It'll cost you nothing for the sunrise stretch and fab abs classes, but you'll have to pony up $12 for yoga, Pilates and indoor cycling classes. Want to participate in the four-day body sculpt boot camp? That'll set you back $120.

Personal training also is available for an extra fee.

Free Dining
Complimentary dining options abound on Carnival Conquest. You'll find two main dining rooms, a buffet, a burger joint, Mexican fare, fish and chips, and pizza. Most of the food gets average to high marks, with a handful of standouts; the Cezanne buffet is the ship's weakest culinary offering.

On sea days, breakfast is served in the buffet (6:30 a.m. to noon) and at the BlueIguana Cantina (7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.). Brunch is served in one of the main dining rooms (8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.), while lunch is only served in the buffet and BlueIguana Cantina (both noon to 2:30 p.m.) and Guy's Burger Joint (noon to 6 p.m.).

On port days, breakfast is served in the buffet and one dining room. Times vary depending on port arrival time but are generally 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the buffet and 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. in the dining room. The BlueIguana Cantina also is open for breakfast (7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.). Lunch on port days is only available in the buffet, BlueIguana Cantina and Guy's Burger Joint.

Room service also is available 24 hours a day, though breakfast choices are all cold options (cereal, yoghurt and pastries).

With almost all of the dining venues onboard Carnival Conquest included in the cruise fares, passengers will find just a handful of culinary options with surcharges.

Monet and Renoir Restaurants (Decks 3 and 4): The two-deck Monet and Renoir Restaurants, named after famous impressionist painters, are Carnival Conquest's two main dining rooms. Passengers may choose from two dining scenarios. With traditional set seating, cruisers are assigned an early (6 p.m.) or late (8:15 p.m.) time slot in either Monet (both decks) or the upper deck of Renoir. Those who crave more flexibility may choose Carnival's "Your Time Dining" program and eat in the lower level of Renoir anytime between 5:45 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. If you like having the same waiter each night but have Your Time Dining, just ask to be seated in the same section, or request a specific waiter each night. (Other than at opening, we never saw long lines of cruisers waiting to be seated for the Your Time Dining option.)

Dinner menus are the same in both restaurants and consist of "everyday" options, as well as daily selections that change nightly.

Everyday choices include: chilled shrimp cocktail, fried vegetable spring rolls and a Caesar salad for appetizers; broiled fillet of Atlantic salmon, grilled flat iron steak, grilled chicken breast, Indian-style vegetables with lentils and basmati rice, and southern fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy as entrees. Sides available all nights are baked potatoes, steamed white rice, French fries and steamed vegetables. For an extra $20, cruisers also may order grilled lamb chops, filet mignon or New York strip from the Steakhouse any night of the cruise.

Options from the rotating menus can include anything from seafood delicacies (broiled Maine lobster, jumbo black tiger shrimp) to meat dishes (roasted prime rib, barbecued pork spare ribs, beef stroganoff) and Italian favourites (minestrone, lasagna, spaghetti carbonara). There are always vegetarian options (chilled peach cream soup, black bean and vegetable enchiladas) and a "Didja" (as in "did you ever") choice that might include spicy alligator fritters, frog legs, and shrimp and redfish ceviche.

You can choose as many appetizers and sides as you like, have an entree as an appetizer or vice versa, or combine parts of one entree with another. (We frequently combined the grilled chicken -- which was never too dry -- with sides from the rotating menu.)

Desserts also change every night, but Carnival's heavenly warm chocolate melting cake is always available, as are fresh fruit and a selection of ice cream flavours. Other choices might include apple pie, baked Alaska, tiramisu and a variety of sugar-free and low-fat cakes.

The quality and variety of food in the main dining room is good; the lobster, in particular, got first-rate reviews from diners (many of whom had more than one lobster tail). Italian dishes also were quite tasty. Waiters asked every night how the food was, whether it had been cooked well enough and if the temperature was okay.

Breakfast in the dining room consists of traditional morning items, including eggs your way (omelettes and Benedict included), pancakes, waffles and French toast, various sides (corned beef, sliced ham, hash browns, sausage, bacon), cereals and breakfast pastries. (The mini chocolate chip muffins were delicious.)

Cezanne Restaurant (Deck 9): Cezanne, the ship's buffet, located on the Lido Deck, is the weakest link in Carnival Conquest's dining offerings. Other than a generic salad bar, most of the food choices are heavy, and there isn't much choice, especially for anyone with food restrictions. (The gluten-free bread on offer at the Deli is not very good and can't be toasted.)

Cezanne is divided into several distinct areas. Comfort Kitchen (called Good Eats for dinner), located near the main entrance, offers a variety of pasta, meat and fish options. Near the back of the buffet is a section called, on a rotating basis, Caribbean Favorites, Italian Favorites and American Favorites. The carving station is located there. On port days, only half of this section is open during lunch.

You'll also find two dessert stations inside Cezanne. The smaller of the two is in the front and offers one cake choice, plus a variety of puddings. At the back of the buffet is the Sweet Spot, which typically has four or five cake varieties to choose from.

Self-service beverage stations with lemonade, water, tea (iced and hot) and coffee are scattered throughout Cezanne, as well as near the aft pool outdoor seating area.

In addition to these buffet-style sections, you'll find one-off speciality food item venues within (or near) Cezanne as follows:

Carnival Deli (11 a.m. to 11 p.m.): Situated (port side only) inside Cezanne between Comfort Kitchen and the Favorites buffet, this place serves up deli-style wraps and sandwiches. Cold choices include turkey wraps, tuna sandwiches, smoked salmon on a bagel, and arugula and pepper with mozzarella on ciabatta bread. Hot selections are pastrami or corned beef on rye, a grilled Reuben sandwich, roast turkey on a roll, grilled ham and cheese or an all-beef hot dog.

Fish N' Chips (noon to 2:30 or 3:30 p.m.): You'll need to go up the steps at the back of Cezanne to get to this small food station, serving classic fish and chips, along with other items like seafood ceviche and fried oysters. Dipping sauces include tangy tartar, sweet chilli and English mustard.

Pizza Pirate (open 24 hours): Located at the back of the ship, just outside Cezanne, near the Sky Pool and Sky Bar, Pizza Pirate is the only spot on the ship to grab a slice of pizza. But don't expect to grab and go. Every time we stopped by during lunch, there was always a wait. Choices include Margherita, mushroom, pepperoni and four cheese. 

Swirls (open 24 hours): Ice cream 24/7. There are three Swirls self-service soft ice cream and yoghurt stations located on Deck 9 -- two on either side of the entrance to Cezanne near Guy's Burgers and BlueIguana Cantina, respectively, and one near the aft Sky Pool.

Guy's Burger Joint (Deck 9): This poolside Lido Deck venue comes to Carnival cruise passengers via a partnership with celebrity chef Guy Fieri, and it's a burger-lover's paradise. You can build your own or choose from five pre-designed burgers, from the Plain Jane to Chilius Maximus (a burger with super melty cheese, an onion ring, donkey sauce and chilli) or the Pig Patty (a patty made out of bacon topped with cheese and donkey sauce). There's also a toppings bar with everything from lettuce, tomato and pickles to caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms. Lines during prime lunch hours are long, but they move fast. Vegetarians can ask for a veggie burger instead of a beef burger. There are no turkey burgers (nor are there any to be had in the buffet). Fries come standard, as well. Guy's Burger Joint open noon to 6 p.m.

BlueIguana Cantina (Deck 9): This is the place on the ship for tacos (fish, chicken or beef) and burritos (shrimp, chicken or beef). Tortillas are available in wheat or jalapeno (or just have them serve it all up on a platter if you don't want the wrap), and add-ons include all the necessities: refried beans, cilantro lime rice, black beans, diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce, roasted corn, sauteed onions, guacamole, sour cream, Monterey jack cheese and pico de gallo -- there's also a salsa bar with even more toppings! Don't forget, while BlueIguana Cantina is hopping for lunch, breakfast there is quiet; the scrambled egg burritos are to die for. (Hours vary but are generally 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and noon to 2:30 p.m.)

Fee Dining

The Point Steakhouse (Deck 10 mid); $38: Located in an intimate spot on Deck 10, the Point Steakhouse is a great date or special occasion spot. The service is first-rate and the food excellent. Menus consist of an appetizer, salad, entree and dessert choices. Start with escargot, grilled Portobello mushroom, beef tartare or a New England crab cake (just to name a few of the choices). Then move on to a salad before choosing from four steak options (New York strip, cowboy, ribeye, filet mignon), plus surf and turf, broiled lobster tail, rosemary-infused chicken, grilled lamb chops, Maine lobster ravioli and a grilled fish of the day. No matter what you choose, you really can't go wrong. Hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Sushi at Sea (Deck 9, aft); a la carte: On offer are four sushi or sashimi options, as well as rolls. Prices start around $2 per piece. Diners place their order at the counter, are given a pager and then paged when their order is ready.

The Chef's Table (location varies); $75: Available on all Carnival ships, the Chef's Table is the closest you'll get to a gourmet experience on Carnival Conquest. Before the multicourse meal is served, diners are invited to tour the ship's galley with the head chef while sipping complimentary wine. The event is limited to a dozen passengers; it's held once to three times per cruise, depending on demand.

Cafe Fans (Deck 5, midship); a la carte: Located on the interior Promenade along Deck 5, Cafe Fans serves up speciality coffees, teas and chai lattes, plus milkshakes, hot chocolate, cookies and slices of swoon-worthy cake. Prices range from $1.95 to $5.95.

Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast (main dining room, Deck 3); $6: Offered just once per cruise, this fun family-centric breakfast is for Dr. Seuss-lovers (young and old alike). Held in one of the main dining rooms, the decor is decidedly Seuss with red and white tablecloths and napkins and pompom-esque centrepieces. The Cat in the Hat and Things 1 and 2 make appearances and pose for photos with kids. The best part is the menu with items like green eggs and ham (they really are green!), French toast coated red and blue and topped with Fruit Loops, regular and red pancakes stacked high, and striped yoghurt parfaits.

Carnival Conquest offers five basic room types (or categories), which are further subdivided depending on location, view and size.

Room colours are muted with light-coloured walls, golden wood furnishings and red or blue carpets. Cabins are fairly spacious with plenty of drawer and closet space for two to three adults, even in the smallest rooms. All have twin beds, which can be pushed together to form European kings. Two bedside tables have small reading lamps on top and storage space below. Most cabins sleep three to four, with either a pullout sofa or pulldown bunks.

Each room comes with a desk/vanity with several drawers, some shelf space and either a stool or chair. Oceanview cabins and higher-category rooms also have sofas and coffee tables. By the desk are each room's only 110V and 220V outlets. (Bring an outlet expander if you've got more than one item to plug in.)

All cabins also have at least three side-by-side closets, with two hanging sections and one with shelving. Hangers are available, though limited in number; just ask your room steward for more. You'll also find two hooks on the wall for hanging jackets or sweatshirts.

In-cabin amenities in all rooms include bathrobes, mini-bars, flat-screen TVs, hair dryers and safes.

Bathrooms are comfortably sized and have plenty of shelf space by the sink for all your toiletries. Wrapped bar soaps are there for you to use. You'll find no shelf space (other than a tiny soap dish) inside the showers, but you will find the dreaded shower curtains that stick to you if you accidentally brush up against them. Inside the shower are two dispensers -- one with shampoo and another with shower gel.

On the TV, you'll find live feeds of the ship's pool deck, as well as exterior images from the on-ship cameras, a map of the ship's current location, shore excursion videos, pay-per-view movies and free daily movies, as well as channels that include ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, the Cartoon Network and others.

Carnival Conquest has no family-specific cabins, but it does offer several connecting cabins in a variety of categories. Accessible cabins are offered in all cabin categories.

Interior: Inside cabins (185 square feet) each come with a small, circular table and a stool to sit on while at the desk/vanity. Some interior rooms also have Pullman beds.

Ocean-view: Most ocean-view rooms feature portholes, rectangular windows or obstructed views (usually by one of the lifeboats) and are 185 to 230 square feet. Grand ocean-views are much larger at 320 square feet and boast slanted floor-to-ceiling windows.

Balcony: Most balcony cabins are 185 to 195 square feet with 35-square-foot balconies, though aft balcony rooms are 185 square feet with 60-square-foot balconies, and premium large or wraparound balcony rooms are 185 square feet with 75-square-foot balconies. Balconies in these rooms each come with two patio chairs and a small drinks table.

Junior Suite: Junior suites are 275 square feet and have 50-square-foot balconies. Bathrooms feature a shower and either a whirlpool or tub and double sinks. A walk-in dressing area with vanity table affords more storage space. Passengers in junior suites receive priority check-in during embarkation.

Suite: The three types of suites available on Carnival Conquest are Ocean Suites, Grand Suites and Captain's Suites. Suite passengers receive VIP check-in, priority embarkation and debarkation, and a deluxe bathroom featuring a shower, whirlpool tub and double sinks (and no clingy shower curtains).

Ocean Suites are 320 total square feet (560 for accessible Ocean Suites), with 275 square feet of inside space and a 65-square-foot balcony. They can comfortably sleep three to four. Rooms that sleep three each have a single sofa bed, while others have double convertible sofa bed. There is no separation between the main bed area and the sitting area, though there is a walk-in dressing area with vanity table and chair. The balcony has three or four chairs, depending on the room's capacity.

Grand Suites are 430 total square feet apiece, with 345 square feet of interior space and an 85-square-foot balcony. There is no real difference between Grand and Ocean suites, besides their size.

Captain's Suites are the largest rooms on the ship. They're 806 total square feet (548 interior with 258-square-foot balcony) and can sleep up to five adults. Each suite has a separate bedroom and living area. The bedroom has two twin beds that can convert to a European king, as well as a large closet, flat-screen TV, full bath with shower and whirlpool tub, and a picture window. The living room has a double sofa bed and a lower Pullman bed, along with a sofa, armchairs, flat-screen TV and coffee table. There is a bathroom with shower off the living room. The entrance to the balcony is from the living room.

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