Booked this cruise about 2 months ago for my mother (age 59), sister (age 28) and myself (age 39). This was to be the first cruise for my mom and sister so I figured it would be better to do a short jaunt instead of a longer one if they didn't like it.
We chose to park offsite in a lot about a mile or so away. It was called Premier Parking. They own lots in several different cities and airports across the country so I felt they were reputable. The lot was easy to get to and fenced in. It cost only $25 for my 3 night cruise. That is a HUGE savings from the port. The shuttle was waiting when we arrived. They loaded our luggage, we tipped them and they dropped us off at the port (about a 5-10 minute drive with traffic). They gave us little yellow stickers to wear when we were waiting to be picked up after the cruise.
We arrived around 12-12:30 and encountered no lines, no waiting. It couldn't have gone smoother. No complaints whatsoever. It took us about 20 minutes from start to finish, but that was with a stop to the restroom so my sister could put on some makeup.
Once on the ship, toting around a ton of carry-on luggage, we made our way to Lido deck for lunch at the buffet. WHAT A MAD HOUSE!!!! OMG! My advice is to wait until AFTER 1:30 to eat lunch at the buffet. 1;30 is when most rooms are ready and the people in the buffet trail off by then. When we arrived, there were people stalking each other's tables, no seating available at all, it was raining and the lines on both sides of the buffet were 20-30 people deep. We did manage to finally find a place to sit (after about 20 minutes) and ate lunch.
Around 2pm, we headed off to our room to unload our carry-ons. We were on Main deck 153 right in the center of the ship by the elevators. I booked a Florida resident rate and chose to have an assigned cabin by Carnival, it was much cheaper that way. No complaints on location, it worked just fine. I've never traveled with more than 2 people per cabin so I didn't know that they would pull down the bunk bed later that evening. I thought that it would be ready when we arrived. We called the room steward shortly after we arrived to ask him about the bed, also for an additional robe and wine glasses. He made sure to tell us that he had to go up to obtain the glasses somewhere (the restaurant/bars/whatever). When he arrived the first time, we tipped him $20 to make sure that our ice stayed filled and had fresh wine glasses each day. This didn't really work out. I thought that the extra money would entice him to take better care of us, I don't think he really cared. He did bring us glasses the second night after I left him a note. On the 3rd night I had to go get the glasses from the bar myself. I understand that the workers are from other countries, but damn did I have trouble trying to figure out what the heck he was even saying to me. Difficult to understand and sometimes I wondered WHY he was telling me certain things. I don't care where you have to get the glasses, JUST BRING THEM TO ME and be done with it!
What a major pain in my a$$!! I don't remember this being such a project on other ships! First of all, they don't do a good job of even reminding you or letting you know that you have to go to the muster drill at all. They also don't tell you WHERE your location is. Sure, the sign and sail card says "Muster station C", but nobody tells you where C is. We watched the TV to find out, they don't tell you either. So we wandered and wandered and finally found the place. We sat there for what seemed like FOREVER. Then instead of the staff in front of you telling you what to do, we had to wait to hear the overhead announcements. IN BOTH ENGLISH AND SPANISH. Really? After literally almost falling asleep, we were herded out to the deck where we all stood like soldiers on the battlefield while we sailed away from the port. My mother was flipping out that she couldn't take pics as we pulled away, she started to get agitated, the people around us were rude, talking, not paying attention etc. This was NOT a smooth process and NOT a good way to start off our cruise.
The first night there was a show in the main theatre that I thought was going to be one of those production shows, instead we went in there after dinner and it was the cruise director asking stupid questions of people and trying to be funny. It was truly awful. Why would anyone want to sit through that? We left after about 15 minutes and went to hang out on the deck and take in the evening air. It was a nice night outside (despite there being rain for the first 2 hours). We went down to the Serenity deck, seriously one of my favorite places on the ship. It was quiet with minimal wind. There were 2 jacuzzis there, which had a few people in them, but nothing overwhelming. We decided to go to the 11pm comedy show with Anthony Acosta. We arrived around 10:45pm and there was still plenty of seating, but by 11pm, the place was jammed. This comedian was very raunchy, very non-PC, LOTS of cursing....if you're easily offended, this is NOT the place for you. WE LOVED it! It was hysterical. Probably one of the highlights of the cruise. The second night (night in port in the Bahamas), we missed all the entertainment it seemed. By the time we got out of dinner, all that was going on was a poolside dance party with ghetto music. So if that's your thing, you'll love it. But there was no late night comedy show that night and the production show only showed once. That was annoying. So there we were with nothing to do really (except drink of course!) The last night, we caught the early production show called "Cruisin". It was entertaining enough. Reminded me of my years of dance recitals I did. LOL! I like stuff like this, so we sat there and sang along, did the Macarena in our seats etc. Lasted about 40 minutes or so.
Food & Dining
We wanted late seating dining but ended up with anytime dining instead because late seating was all filled up. I waitlisted, but never got it. We ate at the MDR each night (Pride dining room) and the service was sooooooo slooooowwwww. We arrived between 8-8:30 each night. The first night there was no wait. The second 2 nights, we waited about 15-20 minutes (in heels). Found the food to be mediocre compared to the other fantasy class ships I've been on with Carnival. I remember the food to be outstanding and on Imagination it was hit or miss. My mother's fish the first night was filled with garlic and there was no mention of garlic in the descript. The last night she had to send her food back because it was cold. The waiter on our first night was very good and very friendly and nice. The second 2 nights were boring, not talkative at all. I guess this is one of the downfalls of anytime dining, you don't get to have the same waiter each night. The manager came around to our tables and had nice conversations with us each night though. He was from Colombia, remembered us from the night before and was very personable. All 3 nights we were seated at a private table with no issues. We didn't mind sitting with others, but we ended up on our own anyway. The one thing that was annoying was the length of time it took to go through all the courses, we're talking 1.5 to 2 hours total. We also found the process for ordering food and ordering alcohol confusing. Some waiters were for food only, others for refilling stuff only, others for bringing shots and yet others for selling wine/beer etc. They just never seemed to be around when we needed them. Kinda useless and completely confusing.
While it was not raining when we docked in Nassau, by the time we got off the ship, there was a storm brewing and it quickly turned into deluging rain for 2 HOURS. We were stuck inside a store in Nassau that didn't sell umbrellas. I brought an umbrella, but left it on the ship. We had to hunt for a store selling umbrellas in Nassau. And then dished out $30 for 3 umbrellas. But this was after basically getting soaked already. Do yourself a favor and pack AND BRING umbrellas with you. There was so much rain that there were flash floods in the streets in Nassau, it really was miserable. Finally it gave up enough to walk a bit and we went to the straw market. Those of you who haven't been to the straw market in a couple years, its been completely re-done in a new building. It is really quite nice. My mom got suckered in by one of the girls asking if we wanted to see the designer handbags in her shop across the street....so off we went. Sure enough, just across the street in a shop were about 10 booths selling designer knock offs. Just an FYI, for those of you who are looking for bags.
Later, after the rain stopped (still overcast though), we took the #10 jitney down to Cable Beach. First we stopped off at the Fish Fry for my mother who wanted fresh conch salad. The place was dead, service was still slow...island time. Then we jumped back on the #10 and proceeded down to the Sheraton where we walked the beach and sat at their bar and drank for awhile.
Around 5pm, we caught the jitney back into town and got back to the ship to get ready for formal night. What a pain it is to have formal night on the ONLY night we're in port. I don't understand this.
Later that night, we got back off the ship around midnight and walked down to Senor Frogs. For the first time ever, I did not feel comfortable or safe in Nassau. It was late, a saturday night and dark....and 3 blonde women were the minority. Senor frogs was filled with extremely drunk 20 somethings that looked to be a mix of locals and cruise passengers. It was not a good scene at all. I'm not sure what we expected, but we kept to ourselves, had 1 drink and went on our way.
Our last day was our sea day when we traveled back to Miami. Thank GOD the weather was perfect. Sun and warm. We laid on the deck ALL DAY, had lunch on the lido deck and swam. Well, maybe dunked in and out of the pool anyway. It is small and crowded, but big enough that I could get in, get wet and hang around on the deck with a drink for awhile. At the end of the day just before taking a shower for the night, my mother wanted us all to go down the water slide, so we went up to the top deck and climbed the stairs and went down the slide. It was actually quite fun, remember the heavier you are, the faster you go. That's why the adults come spitting out of there like bullets!
overall, it was what I expected it to be. Got a Florida resident rate and it was worth what we paid. The clientele on the ship left much to be desired. I have never seen so many rude, obnoxious people dressed inappropriately in my life. If you're looking for classy or even average, you won't find it in the people on this ship. The staff overall were not very friendly at all. I was disappointed with this since I had encountered really really friendly people on the Sensation several times before and that's also a Fantasy class ship. I don't think I would choose this sailing/ship again, but it wasn't the most terrible experience I've ever had.