i sailed on the Imagination from 7/13 until 7/17. We decided to fly into Fort Lauderdale the day of the cruise, which could have been a disaster. Our plane arrived about a half an hour later than scheduled, however we still had plenty of time to catch the Carnival transfer to Miami. Embarkation was very easy, slightly disorganized when you first walk into the building, there were a lot of people just standing around not knowing where to go. We were given our sail and sign cards (my boyfriend and I) and our room keys and got right onto the ship without a hassle. I don't like how this ship gives you a separate room key and card, the keys were a nuisance to carry around.
Once we boarded, we went up to the Lido buffet for some lunch. It can get very crowded in the buffet and there are a lot of people that will walk right into you if you don't watch out for them. The turkey and the stuffing were IMO excellent, however be sure to tell the man carving the turkey to give you more if you're not satisfied with your piece.
Room: The room was spacious but lacking in any kind of decor that I have seen on other ships. The desk unit didn't work properly, I had to pry open the drawers. The bed was very comfortable and we enjoyed the large window in the oceanview stateroom, definitely worth the extra money. The bathroom and closets were also a decent size.
Food: The food in the dining room was a crapshoot. for example, on the formal night my lobster tail was excellent but my boyfriends was tough and tasteless. Another night my beef was very good but my boyfriends pork was tough. The deserts were good, although there was not much variety. I enjoyed the desserts at the buffet much more. Breakfast at the buffet is definitely something to be skipped. The eggs were runny, the bacon greasy, and the line for the omelets not worth the wait. The pizza was good for a late night snack. Room service was convenient, I'd suggest the tuna on an english muffin or BLT and of course the amazing fudge brownies.
Service: Service also just barely met my expectations. I knew what to expect for a Carnival cruise, however some things surprised me. For example, our head waiter stopped giving us dessert menus on the last 2 nights of the cruise opting instead to give us whatever the "special dessert" was. I knew there were supposed to be other options because I had read the menu prior to entertaining the dining room, and the second time it happened I requested another dessert. Our assistant waiter was very friendly and accommodating, always all smiles (Thanks Pudgie!) We never actually met out room steward, and one night he never came to clean the room at all. He also only mad a towel animal one night, something that I was very disappointed about. Room service was prompt and the people at the information desk were very helpful.
Facilities: The ship, for its age, was in very good condition for the most part. Some of the statues showed a little wear and tear and the handrails were not shiny, but I'd attribute that to the number of children dirtying them up and not on the staff themselves.
Entertainment: I was actually surprised at how lackluster the entertainment was. We'd seen the comedian who performed the first night on another cruise and he did the same exact routine. The first show was terrible! Can you say cheesy? There were no sets and the entire performance was like a bad high school attempt at a review. Probably more the person who wrote the show's fault than the performers themselves. The grand gala buffet was lovely, but the food was very odd (olives in some kind of clear gel and way to much raw fish) or just awful tasting (a chocolate mousse cake that jiggled and was not creamy). Karaoke in the Xanadu Lounge was fun, but I was surprised at the lackluster turnout in each of the entertainment venues. My boyfriend and I could never find a bar or lounge that had a large enough number of people to make it enjoyable. The only place I ever saw a lot of people was at the Illusions disco, but the loud techno/rap music was not what we were interested in doing (Keep in mind we're not old, 20 and 26, it was just not an appealing party).
Ports: Key West gets old after a few day long visits, You're not in port long enough to do anything substantial. We walked down to the southernmost point, did a little shopping and got back on the ship early.
Calica: As many people have written, Calica is an industrial port with NOTHING there. Taxis and rental cars were waiting at the ship. Carnival got a HUGE two thumbs down on getting off the ship this day. We were supposed to be there from 12 to 8, the ship didn't dock until 12:30 and we weren't able to disembark until 1:15. By this time the line to get out went up 5 flights of stairs and all the way back through the hallway of each floor. It was a madhouse! There was only one part to exit the ship! It was a disaster! Also, the excursions through Carnival are a rip off. My boyfriend and I rented a car and drove to Tulum for 34.50 per person (including car and admission), the Carnival excursion is 69 per person.
Disembarkation: We decided to do self assist, where you carry your bags off and are the first ones off the ship. Also a mess, like the Calica disaster. The stairwells were overcrowded and hot and you had to prop your luggage up on stairs while you were waiting. Only do this if you have an early flight as it is not worth the aggravation.
Overall, I knew what to expect before going on this cruise and I think it's very important that you do so you are not disappointed. There were a lot of unsupervised children, so if you're looking to avoid those annoyances, I would suggest a different cruise line and a longer itinerary. I'd cruise carnival again, but at a different time of the year and on a longer itinerary on a newer ship. My boyfriend however, most likely would not. The day we returned home he had a stomach virus that we can only assume he contracted while on the ship. This is a good cruise if you want to get away for the weekend and eat a lot of free food in tropical locales.