Our family of six sailed on the Carnival Imagination on February 18, 2013. We are 2 adults, 3 teenagers and one 10 year old. We had previously sailed on RCL Oasis of the Seas so you could definitely say we were going from one extreme to another, but in many ways, we enjoyed ourselves just as much. That being said, it would be totally unfair to compare these two ships, as they are in their own leagues. But when I think about a vacation and what we except for the cost that we paid, I was very pleased with Imagination.
Embarkation went very smoothly. We arrived around 10:30am and we were on board by 11:30am. We were very pleased with our two cabins on the Riviera deck .... clean and plenty of room to store things in the closets. The Sail Away party was very fun and the crew really try to get everyone involved and having a great time. We ate dinner in the Spirit dining room all four nights and had an amazing waitstaff and didn't have long waits for food as others have mentioned, nor was it rushed. I found all the food was very good - some of it excellent. By the third night, we were worried that creme brulee wouldn't be a choice, as it is our daughter's favorite dessert. When we asked our waiter, he said that they don't normally serve it on the 4-day trips, but that they would place a special order. Sure enough, the next night our table had 6 delicious creme brulees! Our cabin steward was also top notch. Both he and our waiter knew all our names by the first day and often talked with us. The whole crew was fantastic.
We planned our own shore excursions so I won't go into detail regarding Key West or Cozumel. I definitely wished we could have been at Key West longer, but it was a fun morning. The sea day was relaxing. My husband and I did the "Behind the Fun" tour and I highly recommend this! We got to see so many areas of the ship that are off-limits and I really appreciated what these folks do to keep the cruise comfortable, safe and enjoyable for the guests.
I also recommend having breakfast in the dining room on the last morning. It was relaxed and a great place to wait until our disembarkation number was called .... so many people were sitting in uncomfortable places, all jammed together, by the casino, etc. Yuck!
As a recap, I thought the food, cabins and crew were wonderful. Entertainment is lacking .... let's just say we watched a lot of karaoke!! The comedians were OK, as were the dancers, but that was the part of the cruise that couldn't even come close to holding comparison to Oasis. But, again, I felt we certainly got what we paid for in quality overall - actually, more! I will look forward to trying other Carnival ships in the future and my snobby opinion of Carnival being just a low-budget cruise line has changed.