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 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.