When Carnival introduced its new “Fun Ship 2.0” initiative in 2012, I had the opportunity to experience it firsthand with my mother on the new Carnival Breeze in December 2012. I loved the improvements it brought to the cruise line: the new eating concepts, the ramped-up entertainment options and the colorful décor throughout the corridors. So when I was offered the chance to experience the Fun Ship 2.0 changes to the Carnival Conquest with my children (and my mom), I immediately said yes. My husband and I had discussed cruising with our children (ages 7 and 4), but had yet to get serious about planning a trip. Taking them along with me on the Conquest provided the perfect opportunity to see how they would take to cruising. Not surprisingly, they had … wait for it … FUN!
We set sail from New Orleans bound for the Western Caribbean with planned stops in George Town, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, Mexico. But first we had two full days at sea. Now, I love days at sea. My favorite part of cruising is being out on the ocean–er, Gulf of Mexico in this case, surrounded by dark sapphire waters, clear blue skies and warm, yellow sunshine. I wasn’t sure, though, how my children would handle this aspect of the trip.
Thankfully, there is Camp Carnival, the onboard kids’ program. Geared for children ages 2 to 11, Camp Carnival offers a full schedule of activities starting at 10 a.m. As I expected, my kids loved Camp Carnival and went every day, usually for about three hours each day. My daughter even signed up for the Camp Carnival talent show, where she sang a song while her new friend Kimberly jumped rope (yes, I know it’s weird, but that’s kids for you.). Both kids even opted to go to their respective “Fun Farewell” parties on the final night of the cruise.
Another big hit with my children was “Hasbro, The Game Show,” which is a pared-down version of the “Hasbro Family Game Night” show on the Hub network. Featuring larger-than-life versions of such games as Sorry, Connect 4, Simon and Yahtzee, “Hasbro, The Game Show” runs just like a TV show. Cruise guests can win their spot in the show by correctly playing games like Guesstures, Scattergories and Trivial Pursuit. Needless to say, my daughter was determined to make it on stage. I reminded her that the way to do so was to show a lot of excitement, jumping up and down and screaming. When she actually was chosen, I was so happy for her. And, her team won their round of Simon Flash. Although she wasn’t the ultimate game winner, she was thrilled with her results. She also was excited when I was chosen to play in the next day’s show. Unfortunately, my team didn’t win our round of Operation: Sam Dunk, but it was fun being on stage anyway.
Of course, you can’t cruise without eating, and thanks to the new Carnival Fun Ship 2.0 eating concepts, the food couldn’t be better. I love the fresh burgers you get at Guy’s Burger Joint, which was developed by Guy Fieri. The hand-cut French fries that come with it round out the meal. I also love the BlueIguana Cantina, where you get fresh, made-to-order burritos and soft tacos. To complete the trifecta, I recommend Pirate Pizza, where you can choose from four different handmade pizzas. Because the Conquest is an older ship, it does not have the complete array of Fun Ship 2.0 amenities available on the newer ships (I missed the Mongolian Wok and Cucina del Capitano), which was most apparent in the outdoor activities. While my children loved playing mini golf, I was disappointed they couldn’t experience SportsSquare with its ropes course or the full water park, complete with water slides, water cannons, sprayers and a dumping bucket.
That being said, we had an incredible trip, and the entire Carnival staff was so warm and welcoming. It was so heartwarming to see how each staff member not only responded to my children, but also went out of their way to learn their names and engage them in conversation (Our head waiter, Eric, was truly outstanding in this aspect!). The Carnival Conquest definitely delivered the fun, and I know my husband and I will be planning a family trip in the future. The kids are already asking when we’ll set sail! Disclosure: Karon and her family sailed on the Carnival Conquest as guests of Carnival Cruise Lines.