Before I start my review, I'd like to give a little more background about myself. I'm a 30 year old female that took this vacation 2 weeks after returning from Afghanistan. I'm low maintenance and so is my husband who is also in the military. This was both of our first cruise and we have nothing else to compare it to. So please keep this in mind when reading this. Here goes...
Parking and Embarkation- I'm glad we did the research before the cruise and avoided paying the ridiculous amount of money to park at the cruise terminal.We had gone to Disney the day before and drove from Orlando. Make sure you bring cash. We paid about $4 in tolls from Orlando to Cocoa Beach. We self-parked at Cruise Parking of Port Canaveral which is about a 10 minute ride to the cruise terminal. It was $30 for 5 days. The staff was very nice and loaded our bags for us onto the shuttle bus. They even had a playroom for children- nice bonus. As soon as we got off the bus at the cruise terminal, the porters unloaded our bags and put them on the cart to be taken to our stateroom. We already had our luggage tags printed out so this was not an issue. Embarkation was a breeze! (I wish it was that simple at the airport...lol) We were traveling with only our birth certificates and didn't have any problems.
Ship info: My husband seemed to be impressed by all the purple lights. I wasn't. The decor looked a little tacky to me. But whatever, no biggie. Our stateroom was located on the main (5th) deck. The main issue I had with the ship was the elevators. It seemed like there was always an elevator out of service. But again, not really a big deal. It gave us a chance to use the stairs and work off all of that pizza and ice cream we ate. But overall the ship appeared to be clean with a few signs of normal wear and tear.
State Room: We had an interior room. Even with no windows, we never felt cramped. Our 3 year old enjoyed being in the pull out bed that high up. We just made sure we put pillows all around her so she didn't fall. Our steward was wonderful. Our room was always clean and he always made a point to greet us by name. Our daughter also got a kick out of the towel animals.
Children's Clubs: Our daughter enjoyed Camp Carnival. Her age group was 2-5. It was perfect for her age. But I could see it being a bit too babyish for a five year old. She enjoyed playing with children her age and always came back to us with a project that she did. (candy art, coloring book, dinosaur that grows in water). My husband and I were also given a cell phone that only worked on the ship that we could use to keep in contact with Camp Carnival. They never had to call us and we never had to call them.
Dining: I found the breakfast and lunch buffets to always be hot and tasty. If can't find anything you like to eat on a cruise, you're way too picky. My daughter enjoyed the 24 hour pizza and ice cream. I really enjoyed the grilled rueben at the sandwich bar. We were assigned Your Time Dining at the Fantasy dining room for dinner. My husband and I ate there 2 out of the 4 nights on board. The service was good, we never had a bad meal, and the drinks that we ordered were always nice and strong.
Port and Shore Excursions: We didn't pre-book any shore excursions. In Freeport, we took a van for $7pp one way (3 y/o was free) to Junkanoo Beach. It was nice and relaxing day at the beach. We were only in Freeport from 8-5. In Nassau, for $30pp, we took a guided tour in a van with a guy named Marco. It was fantastic. He took us all over the island, giving us history and facts about the island. He took us to the Queen's Staircase, Atlantis, and let us play on the Paradise Island beach for 2 hours. He was friendly, knowledgeable, and prompt. Later that evening, we dropped the kid off at Camp Carnival and left the ship again for some adult fun. whoo hoo! lol. We got drinks at Senor Frogs and later did karaoke at a place called Via Cafe. Bahama mamas at Via Cafe were sooooo good. We had so much fun. We didn't leave Nassau until 1am. So the partying continued on the Lido Deck until about 3am when we had to go pick up our daughter.
Disembarkation: We opted to do self-assist debarkation. Just like embarkation, it was a breeze. We were off the ship before 9am. We waited about 15 minutes for our shuttle and were taken back to our car. Because we got off the ship so early, we decided to go to Disney's Animal Kingdom before heading back to South Carolina.
The Sensation was a nice introduction to cruising. The next time we will probably book a balcony room and pre-book shore excursions. But overall, we had a blast. There were no deal-breakers or show-stoppers. We can't wait until our next cruise and my 3-year old daughter is still talking about the ship.