Carnival Sensation, sail date Aug 4, 2013
Before sailing, we read a pretty bad review so I was a bit apprehensive. We checked in fairly quickly, perhaps because we arrived early enough that there were only two people ahead of us. I am not sure why only two stations were staffed; perhaps they opened others as more people arrived. One person in my party had a bottle of wine in her luggage, which she checked. AFTER the luggage check point, there was a sign that said this should be hand carried.
I found the staff efficient and pleasant. The staff in the Lido deck was on top of things you barely finished your meal when they were clearing the table! Our cabins were kept clean. My cabin was freezing; we could not turn down the air any more. My sister's cabin, across the hall, was warm. I know we could have called maintenance but if I was too cold, I wore the Carnival robe and we were very comfortable under the bed covers. The rest of the ship, however, was freezing and I hadn't thought to bring a light jacket.
We all know the food is probably the most important aspect of any cruise. Since I was diagnosed pre diabetic about two months prior to the cruise, I really wanted to watch what I ate. The ship had a healthy alternative for dinner each night, which I tried. One night, I got the chicken. I am sure it was cooked alright; I just didn't care for the flavor of it. There were 12 people in our party, all sampling different appetizers and dinners. Everyone thought the food was delicious. The dining room menu had a didja item each day. Did you always want to try something but were afraid to? One night was alligator, one night escargot. I thought that was a nice touch.
The Lido deck buffet had a different type of food each day, for example, French one day, Caribbean another. I bring this up because a friend of mine recently sailed on a more expensive cruise line and said that the buffet had the same food every day. There was a good variety of food. Another critic complained that the desserts were bad and that they threw them away. We did not find that to be true. The bottom line is that you won't go hungry and my only regret is that I couldn't eat more!
What I didn't like were the children and the booze. I think some parents just released their kids on the ship and picked them up when the cruise was over. They dominated the hot tub, which I thought was for adults only. They were unruly on the ship. Keep in mind, that because Carnival gives you the biggest bang for the buck, you have more families and young adults on board.
As far as the booze: I have sailed before so I know the wait staff will offer drinks. I found they were pushier on this cruise. I wanted to wear a sign around my neck that said no booze! Every time the assistant cruise director introduced an act, he pushed the booze. There was a certain type of drink for $5.95 but if you bought four of them, the cost is only $20! At one point, security was called to the pool. I am not sure if it was because the 20-somethings were loud and boisterous or because they had the kind of container you can't have by the pool. The wait staff didn't seem concerned with underage drinking.
Excursions: we took the excursion for the glass bottom boat in Freeport. Other critics commented that they thought the entire boat was glass bottom and were disappointed to find otherwise. Since I expected this, I thought it was ok. While we were waiting for the bus to take us to the boat, we were told we had to sign a waiver. This waiver absolved the boat company of any liability even if they were negligent! Some of my fellow passengers balked at this, but the bottom line was if you didn't sign, you couldn't take the excursion, nor would you get your money back. So beware! My husband and I just signed with fake signatures. The tour was ok, despite the soaking rain. The ship's description of the excursion led you to believe there was food to be purchased on board the excursion went from 10:30 to 1:00 PM. There were only drinks to be purchased, unless you count the fish food you could buy!
Disembarkation went like clock work. My husband remarked that it was probably the fasted and easiest we ever got off a ship. We did the self disembarkation.
One other thing. We booked directly through Carnival. I noticed that the price went down for the cruise. I contacted them and asked for the lower price, citing their lowest price guarantee. I was told that the lower price guarantee was only if you found the lower price within 48 hours and that we had paid for the cruise two months in advance. I had this issue elevated to a supervisor. I explained that we were REQUIRED to pay for our cruise by a certain date! The supervisor could not (read: would not) decrease the cost of the cruise but he upgraded all three cabins to ocean view. Since I was already supposed to get a $50 credit, he also gave a $50 to each of the other cabins.