We just took the Conquest 6/27/04. Rarely noticed smoke the entire cruise. It felt more like a smoke free ship. Maybe it depends who else is on your ship?
This was are only Carnival out of two cruises, so I can't compare them.
Tom: You are right about the "luck ... "or should I say unluck" of the "draw" (no pun intended). We went on the Holiday in July of 2003 and had absolutely no problem...very few smokers. However, we went on the same ship in October 2003 and there were a ton of smokers. With the Conquest being a newer ship, I guess I expected some new technology in air filtration. The smaller bars really held the smoke for the few number of people smoking in there. More people smoking on the Fantasy 2 months later, did not have as much of a smokiness to it.
While I applaud Carnivals' efforts... I still say that if Carnival had put the time, money and effort into decent air filtration systems on all its ships that it put into a "test non smoking ship"....they would have been eons ahead of the game. With the technology out there today, this should no longer be a problem on new ship. Carnival has done a remarkable job of covering all smoke smell in the cabins between cruises. I have very sensitive to that smell (and while in all our cruises certainly we have gotten a cabin someone smoked in) I have never had one problem with residual smoke.
BTW< the residual smoke smell may stink, but it is not the health hazard that active second hand smoke is. It just stinks and I can live with that. Someone passing gas stinks, but it doesn't contain 3,000 toxins.
Have been on both the Triumph and the Destiny. Basically the same. However, my two cents is if you don't care about size, go with newer ships.
There is just something about them. But you also get different crowds depending on the size and age of the ship, something you need to ask around about. In general, you're going to have a great time, no matter. They should all be delivering the same type of service....they do have a brand image to maintain.
As for my reasoning behind going with the newer ships is from when I was younger and went on the brand new (at the time) Sovereign of the Seas (RCCL) and then on the Fair Princess (Princess) which was extremely old and about ready to retire. I don't remember much but how dissappointed my parents and my aunt and uncle were with the ship.
Here's what I've been on:
Song of America - RCCL
Sovereign of the Seas -RCCL
Fair Princess - Princess
Carnival Triumph (July 2000)
Carnival Destiny (April 2001)
Adventure of the Seas - RCCL (July 2004)