Carnival Sensation Cruise Review by floridageek: Carnival Sensation-less
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Overall a mediocre experience however I will be fair in my review.
Boarding the Sensation was a breeze. We carried our own luggage on board and our room was ready immediately which was a nice surprise. Room was a fair size, clean, and met my expectations. The bathroom was larger than what I was expecting too which was also a plus.
Having heard Carnival were "The fun ships" and hearing other people talk about their Carnival experiences my partner and I wanted to give Carnival a try. When embarking the port we were shocked there was no party going on deck. Having sailed on Liberty of the Seas once before, I expected people to be enjoying themselves swimming and drinking as we departed while the crew played music and entertained us. This was far from the case. The deck was near empty! There was no music or anything going on on deck. The only fanfare embarking was a toot of the ships horn. A bit disappointing.
Exploring the ship was a bit difficult. There are More several decks that have no through access to the other side of the ship so you must go up or down a few decks to cut over. The ship design is a bit old but she's an old ship and I think they did what they could with her. I understand that she's had some upgrades.
We were excited about the waterworks feature of the ship but when we arrived it felt like a kitty playground and we were a bit apprehensive to go down the water slide thinking it might only be for kids. We eventually made our way up and down the "twister" slide. Your back could feel every seam in the slide and it was a bit painful. We did not go down it again. The smaller racing sliders were a bit more comfortable, but not a lot of fun for an adult. The kids in the area seemed to enjoy it so I think the waterworks area is better for children.
We were disappointed to find that there was only one pool and it was very small. At times it was empty and other times it was so full I don't know how you could swim in it. I must have saw a different ship plan prior to booking because I really thought there was another pool.
Finding food on the Sensation was like going on a scavenger hunt. It seemed they rotated the location of food and that only one station was open at a time. This is not what I was used to and thought most food stations would be open at least during normal hours. Often times we found only the Pizza place was open so that was all we were able to eat. I'm not sure if they were understaffed but there was one guy serving a huge line almost all the time and the line moved very slowly. I think they make the pizza fresh, but the downside is when it's the only place open all the time, it takes forever to get one slice of pizza. Even then you best take what they have cooked or you'll have to wait another 15min for them to make the kind of pizza you want to eat.
When you were lucky to find food other than pizza it was decent but nothing to go crazy about. The formal dinner was nice and the crew there were timely and polite. At the end of dinner they did a little dance that was very amusing.
Our favorite area of the ship was the Serenity deck. This is a 21+ only area aft right at the back of the ship. It has two hot tubs and staff that walk around to take your drink orders. The service crew however were hit and miss. When leaving Nassau we ordered a round of drinks from the waiter who came by and asked us if we wanted anything. We ordered some beer and the guy NEVER returned with our order. We stayed in our deck chairs for the entire departure which was about an hour.
Another time in our stateroom we called room service for ice which also seemed to be a hard commodity to find. It took 3 phone calls and 3hrs to finally get it. Our stateroom attendant never came by to greet us and we had no idea who he/she was. Anytime someone delivered something to our room it was someone different. A few of the nights we also never received the ship itinerary. This ship is old and does not have the nice touch screen maps and guides like some of the newer ships. I felt like I never knew what was happening on board, what to do or where to go until I was finally able to get a hold of the itinerary.
Be advised that Carnival will auto add stateroom gratuity to your bill, which we did not know. Having only sailed with Royal Caribbean before, we were expecting to get envelopes for each attendant for tipping. If you want to increase or decrease tips you must go to guest services. I was not informed this was their policy so I feel the crew might have felt it was ok to slack off because they were going to get auto-tipped. Completely bogus.
There were only two crew members on the pool deck that I thought did a decent job with getting drinks and showing us a good time.
We didn't see any shows because we were enjoying the serenity deck too much. Our dinner table companions said the adult comedy show was very good and I wish we would have seen it.
Overall I was very disappointed in the crew and their service. The ship itself was OK. Overall it was mostly clean but sometimes hard to navigate with a dated deck plans.
Leaving the ship at ports and back at the home port was a painless process and very speedy.
I doubt I will cruise with Carnival again. Less
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Cabin review: 5AM22
Cabin was a good size. Portholes allowed for a nice sea view. The room is in the forward of the ship so in choppy seas you can feel the ship rocking around.
Port and Shore Excursions
We did the Kayaking and Nature tour. It was fantastic despite the rain towards the end of the tour. Sam, our guide, was friendly and entertaining. We took a bus to the Lucayan National Forest while he talked about the history of the island. The only part I DID NOT LIKE was that we got pulled over by some shading looking guy in a white car on a deserted road. This guy was lost and angry and when we stopped he got out of his car and walked over to the driver's door. This make us very uncomfortable. Being in a foreign country and knowing that the Bahamas has a crime problem, I thought we were in the making of a "I shouldn't be alive" episode and the guy might pull a gun on us or something. Fortunately it was just some angry guy and after Sam gave directions he pulled away and tried to lighten the mood by making some jokes. The bus ride was about 30min. Arriving at the launch site, we took kayaks down a very gentle creek lined with beautiful mangroves. The water was clear and we could see fish and ancient fossilized oyster beds. After the kayaking we took a "Tom Sawyer" raft across the river to a short hiking trail head that took us to a beach and picnic area where he had a light lunch. Unfortunately this is when it started to rain quite hard but a lot of folks didn't care. We swam in the beautiful blue ocean water anyway. We stated here for about an hour and a half then took a scenic route through the trails when the rain stopped and Sam explained some of the local wildlife and fauna and let us feed some fish in the creek. Then he took us on a drive through Freeport and showed us around town then took us back to the ship. Overall a very great time!
Get ready for some culture shock! We planned on exploring the town ourselves before arriving. The night before arriving we received a warning letter in our stateroom saying Nassau is pretty dangerous. This made me very uneasy but we already decided to go exploring. If you want to go exploring Nassau I would highly advise that you travel in large groups and stay close to the tourist areas and busy streets. Do NOT go on the other side of the hill (where the fort and queens stairs are located). For my LGBT friends, Nassau is not LGBT friendly. I observed several natives staring hard core at my partner and I at times and not in a pleasant way. Mostly this was just on the streets while going from location to location and made me very uncomfortable. I felt ok once we got inside a bar or something. Every now and then you do run in to some very nice people (the lady at the historic library and the server at the pirate bar were exceptional). If you get lost only ask directions from a police officer. When we asked locals on the street we got very different directions to the same location each time (obviously they were trying to mislead us). Trust your gut and if a person or street looks shady stay clear of it.
Traffic is crazy. There's a lack of stop signs and traffic lights and people just drive around like they want honking and yelling. It's very aggressive. If you're from the US, don't forget traffic comes from the other direction because they drive on the left side of the road like the brits.
The straw market and tourist area right by the ship is overwhelming with the most pushy and aggressive sales people I've ever seen in my life. They make a point to call you out and drag you over to their booth and start shoving things you don't want down your throat. When you politely decline you don't want it some of the vendors got angry and a small few even yelled at us. Vendors will barter and if you do buy something make sure you have EXACT CHANGE! They will pretend to not have change to get a few extra bucks out of you. Very shady!
We did manage to check out the art museum which was nice and found a hidden resort next door which was beautiful. They have a pizza, chocolate, and cigar shop there as well and the pizza was delicious. Being a resort though it was very expensive. The people here were friendly except for one gardener who would not let me use the restroom for no reason and kept telling us to turn around and go out the front entrance. I don't think he wanted us there.
I have no desire to go back to Nassau. If for whatever reason I find myself there again, I will get a taxi right off the ship and go to Atlantis or some beach near it to get away from all the crazies. Our dinner companions said they went to a beach near Atlantis and played volleyball all day and were not bothered. This probably would have been the better choice.
Overall this was quite an experience I'll never forget.
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