I've always read cruise forums and see many people looking for help along with lots of people with nice things to say and alot of complainers. I've never written a review but was asked for help by another cruiser on a different site and thought it was so detailed that I could help others on different cruise sites who are looking to sail the Carnival Imagination 4 day western caribbean cruise. If you're a first timer, or cruise expert I think this may help. I know it's long but it's what the last blogger was asking for. Everyone has a right to their own opinion and remember two cruisers on the same ship can have two different experiences. So please respect that I've sailed the Imagination many times with my wife and this is just based on my experiences. I've only written this to share with others inquiring about sailing this cruise - and am not looking for anyones opinion on my experience.
My wife and I have sailed the 4 day western caribbean Imagination before, and last one was as recent as 8 months ago. We are in our late 20's and love it. I feel that age is indicative to your experience so I always list our ages and when we took the cruise. For instance if when I were 15 and were to write a review I would most likely say the whole cruise "sucked" because you're full of angst in those days and there's not much for teens to do on the 4 day cruise. Yet everyone from 21 - 50's that I talk to on 4 day imagination cruises have a great time, while SOME in more of a senior citizen age seem to like Royal Caribbean better because it's more of a relaxed atmosphere. Yet if you're in the target age group then you'll most likely love it as they are truly the "funships".
A cruise is truly what you make of it. Most reviews I've read that are negative tenddd to be by natural complainers, or people who had a bad time because of a certain incident. Not all of course, but most. I say this because I hate people getting to scared to experience certain ships for themselves because of negative nancys reviews. For example you know cruises run 24/7. Cruisers from the previous ship are off by 10am and a new batch is let on by 12:00pm and you're let into your room by 2 o clock and departure happens at 4pm and all the activities on the jam packed itineraries must begin on time. The staff and crew must work hard and fast to cook, clean, prepare and do everything all over again in a short amount of time. Of course a few things may go wrong sometimes, especially plumbing. I actually saw a cruiser once be mean to the stateroom maid because of a little flooding from her shower whom then of course said "I'm going to give this ship a negative review". I mean how many times have you had to call upon a plumber, electrician, carpenter etc. for your home because of things malfunctioning, now imagine a 24/7 ship out at sea. Most people who give negative reviews base their whole trip on one thing going wrong. For instance I remember prior to sailing the imagination in my adult life reading how rude the staff could be, yet I've never had come across a rude crew member yet. The only people not smiling are the people who clean up tables after you eat (and I mean honestly if that was your life 24/7 would you be so cheery especially if you're out at sea away from your family sometimes for 9 months on end) The only thing I could say about staff rudeness is that It seems to depend on how you act towards them. Even if I had complaint I'd go up to the guest services desk with a smile on to inquire about a problem. Which seems to be how society should work you'd think right, yet I've seen people talk to these crew members with such an attitude because what...they didn't get ice the minute they asked for it? Another person lost their wallet so of course had nothing good to say. I honestly have had no complaints about any of my times on this ship (last one 8 months ago). The only thing not to our particular liking was how some of the food was cooked, as my wife loves to cook with many spices and some entrees tasted a little bland to us, yet other cruises downed plate after plate. So to each is own, right? =). You can't go wrong with breakfast and that was our favorite, especially since you're allowed to bring the trays to your state room.
Also a cruise seems to be best if you keep a positive attitude and good company. Don't bring a debbie-downer or person who won't want to join you in any festivities on the fun ships. (For example my ex girlfriend just liked to sunbathe and that's all she did which kind of soured my experience as I wanted to explore other things). If you and your party are out to have a good time, on a dime the 4 night Cozumel Key west cruise is the way to go. On the ship itself is always so much to do that I've sailed it many times before and am still yet to do everything they have to offer. My wife and I are from NYC so we are big on night life (dancing, and comedy). The comedy club was packed every night and the comedians were hilarious. YET of course you'll have complainers who go to comedy clubs with closed narrow minds. Everytime went everyone was laughing to tears, but on some reviews you'll see people complaining how the jokes were too "racy" (so just be open minded when going to a show).
There's literally so much to do now from running a small track, and an indoor gym if you like to keep up your daily fitness regimen. To a life sized chess set, mini golf and a ping pong table if you like outdoor games. A mini arcade for all ages with air hockey, a casino, card tables, and computer lounge if you like indoor activities. 3 adult club/lounges which every night/ every couple of hours play all different kinds of music for all ages, a karaoke bar, 4bars - 1 with an in hall salsa band half the time, other half with a singer/guitarist, a teenage club, and kids area, comedy club, magic show, broadway style shows and more if you like indoor late night activities. Night time music playing with a dj and stage area, night pool with music etc. if you like late night outdoors activities. A full spa, plentyyyy of lounge chairs, and MY FAVORITE adults only "Serenity area" which has sunbathing opportunities yet also shade under the ledge or umbrellas, equipped with two jacuzzis and a shower head to wash off after if you like some kind of kid free relaxation. (Though children don't seem to be a big problem on this ship as they usually stay in the waterpark area or daycare, plus people with children in my experience usually go more for Disney family cruises so it's fun for kids here but at the same time never too packed with screaming children at every turn lol). 24 hour food including room service. Also if anyone complains about the room service it's because they don't understand cruise lines. They don't give you amazing movies/tv to watch or amazing room service options because this is not a hotel, a 12 nighter or relaxation cruise...they want you out and about spending money at the bar and enjoying all the activities, so yes room service is still on the eh-okay kinda basis (though after a late night of drinking a turkey sandwich and soda tastes like a 5 star restaurant =) ). I always love the random things the ship has to offer like break dancers performing in the atrium, to their classics like their lido deck games (hairy chest contests, ice scalping, dance alongs , newly wed games etc.etc. etc.) Their are two kids water slides, one infant water slide and one big kid/mostly adults water slide with many sprinklers and lots of longue chairs in the water park. Also a mini in-ground pool with two hot tubs on both sides of it. I could go on and on about all their is to do but I will move on.
The 4 day cruise goes to Key west, then Cozumel Mexico with one full day and night out at sea. As for Key West my wife and I love the Bike tour. At first my wife was like oh-no I'm on vacation and not about to petal in the heat. But it is the complete opposite of what you expect and we fell in love with the excursion. They took you over to the heart of Key West from the ship on a trolly which is like a mini excursion in itself because the trolly driver tells you all about the places you pass on your way and stops for short periods of time to explain the history of some interesting sites. When you get to the bike tour site you get a Cruiser bike and bottle of water, the cruiser bikes are AMAZING you petal once and are able to cruise for minutes without having to petal it is beautiful as most of the trail is shady and you get a guided tour of the beautiful island and it's history. You stop on a beautiful beach which is also a restroom stop as well. Once it's finished you still have plenty of time to walk around Key West to souvenir shop, explore on your own then back on the nice windowless trolly ride back to the ship at a perfect time. This time around (in 2 months from now) we are going to try out the Conch ride as we hear nothing but great things about it.
As for Cozumel Mexico, we go to www.cozumelcruiseexcursions.com as they have more to do than Carnival excursions itself has to offer and for a lot cheaper (and 100% legit). We love the Aura resort day pass excursion as it is an Adults only resort and is amazing. Once off the ship you walk through the entrance areas to the taxi cab hub and tell the taxi driver that we we're off the the Aura resort and as they drive crazy in Mexico you will get there fast. It's of course all inclusive resort that is adults only we love the drinks and food and included in the all inclusive pass is snorkeling gear. The water is crystal clear and light green out on the horizon it is the most beautiful place ever (the Island of Cozumel). I get my wife the on-beach massage (which isn't included but only 80 bucks for an hour right on the beach and she melts-points for me) as I relax in their waterfall wading pool then we swim in their larger pool and relax with margaritas on their white sand beach. After a couple of hours the cab comes back to get you and you have plenty of time to enjoy authentic Mexican food at their many restaurants and of course souvenir shop. The island is truly mesmerizing. This time as we're bringing our son we will be going to the family friendly resort which has plenty of children's activities.
ONE THING about the day out at sea is WAKE UP AT THE CRACK OF DAWN. There is no where to go-as in no island to explore, no excursions it's just everyone on the ship out at sea. So I always suggest you get sleep the night before to wake up early and claim your a spot, a spot you would like to spend the morning hours. EVERYONE wants to tan and everyone is on the ship so even though there are plenty of seats, and lounge chairs ...prime spots are usually packed. For instance if you don't want to deal with the kiddies, serenity can not accommodate every adult of the ship so wake up and claim your spot if you'd like to spend the morning in serenity. The pool and water parks will be full of the children and not prime if you do not want to get splashed. Yet the water park lounge area is prime for tanners, so if you love to sunbathe there is not one bit of shade in that area and seats go fast. Yet the fastest seats go around the pool in the lido deck- because that is where the "fun crew" do the games like (hairy chest contest, and ice sculpting) and play music etc. What i've learned is we wake up really ealier and one of us claim our spots, as the other gets breakfast (bring towels as you'll most likely sweat, and or get wet and you're not going to want to get up and lose your spot). BUT I PERSONALLY PLESAE ASK that all cruisers not to be D*cks about seats. On our first cruise together it took an hour of my wife and I walking around to find a spot to sit together. AND OH THERE WERE PLENTY of seats available but people like to use their towels to claim chairs (Which would be okay if you get hungry and just want to get up to get some food or need to use the restroom...but i HATE when I literally sit there for HOURS and watch TOWELS use seats that could've went to others who want to sit especially to eat! The people who "claim" seats "just in case" they want to sit but are in the pool allll day and afternoon or elsewhere). It happens all the time and just a simple message to everyone please be considerate. People like to go out and party the night before as it is a vacation and shouldn't have to wake up super early just because there are people who ruin it by letting seats go to towels aka to waste. ANYWHO
As for staterooms I could only give my opinion on where I like to stay, as I feel like those reviews truly depend on where you are in the ship. I feel like an ocean view review differs from an interior, and same for a suite. Plus the persons preferences really come into play here on this subject. On another ship I've sailed in an interior stateroom and hated it simply because you could never tell what time it was or where the ship is (are we still out at ship, or are we docked - since you can't feel if the ship is moving it's nice to see where you are out the window). I personally feel like a suite/balcony wouldn't be worth our budget because we hardly spend time in our stateroom (we're either eating, enjoy activities of the ship or out on an excursion/island as it is only a 4 day cruise we don't like to waste time, and only really are in the room to sleep and get ready). I guess if I were doing a 12 nighter it would matter immensely. Yet our ocean view rooms are perfect for us (two people). The beds are extremely comfortable and the blankets are thicker and warmer than most hotels than I've stayed in (and my wife has scoliosis). The closets are big, and fit all my wifes clothes and shoes and even come with towel robes, a safe that only you can get into, and plenty of hangers. The shower has great water pressure, and is bigger than ones on the royal caribbean. The room itself is pretty big (big enough for us two and we take up quite a lot of space between us and our things sprawled out everywhere.) You always have plenty of towels, ice, and they even supply you with plenty of toiletries such as shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, soap, Gilette razors, face cleaner etc. etc. The room is always clean and the crew are like true ninjas as they usually tidy up every time you leave the room. The air conditioning works amazing and even gives us a little chill when we first get back to our room (really refreshing after you sweat in the Mexican heat). Ocean views are really great because you can choose to be woken up naturally by the sun and know exactly where the ship is, or use the black out shade for some darkness.
Little tips regarding the stateroom. To open the safe you use a credit card so only you can get into it, I don't ever trust swiping a credit card or any other important card anywhere. So I bring an old credit card that is expired as my safe key (it opens up for only your magnetic strip so what card you use doesn't matter). Also we usually do the "tips included" option but remember it's 10 dollars a day spilt between a million people, so I usually tip the head of the chamber maids a few extra bucks the day they come to greet you. As just, you know a better guarantee of getting that great service (they do work really hard). Also yes the showers tend to leak out because there is no door to close you only close the shower by curtain, so their are drains in the middle the bathroom to catch the spill over but I like a dry floor. So prior to entering the shower I like to roll up a large towel and place it at the base of the shower. Also although the keep everything really clean my wife doesn't trust the microscopic germs that may be lurking lol. So we like to bring Colorox brand clean wipes and they are God sent. Once we enter a state room we unpack the Colorox wipes and wipe down all door knobs, the toilet seat and basically anything that is touched and they kill 99% of all bacteria and it makes her happy. (It's good for anyone I see cause you never know- these maids can't take sick days and live on the ship if they have a little cold you don't want to risk catching it and ruin your whole trip ....never seen any sick people on our ships but just a little tip from us as semi- germaphobes lol). Also they only have one outlet so BRING A POWER STRIP if you have more than two things that need to be charged. Power stripes help us a lot. We like to plug it into the outlet and than we're able to charge our phones, ipad, blow dryer, blender and camera all at once - maximizing our time to spend out of the room.
There is so much more I could say but as this review is getting lengthy I'll end here. Any further questions you may ask me and I'll try my best to answer. We will be boarding this ship again in April. Have fun!