A couple of months ago I decided to invite my family on a vacation. The first place I thought of was a cruise to the bahamas since I live in central florida and Miami is a 3 hour drive and Port Canaveral only 45 minutes away. I have previously cruised once before and knew that after the initial planning stages of researching, booking, budgeting and paying for a cruise there isn't much more to plan so you can relax more and worry less. Once your onboard you don't have to worry about travel time between destinations, everything is onboard and all food, gratuity, and activities are included. There are always excursions that you can purchase once you dock at any port (which I highly recommend) and they're usually entertaining but they can come at a prize.
After some price comparison I found the Carnival Sensation ship to the bahamas for around $180-$280 so I knew that it was accessible for more people in the family to join in. I recommend using Cheaptickets.com
Fast forward a couple of months and 10 of us are boarding the Carnival Sensation. Here are my thoughts on the ship:
Port Canaveral parking and boarding
The parking was $60 for a 4 day cruise and walking distance was 5 minutes from car to terminal. There are cheaper parking options outside of the port but you have to take shuttles to the terminal and usually require reservations. The boarding process was very smooth and the check in line was very quick.
The ship design and its Rooms
The Atrium feels spacious and at night the lights reflecting from all the glas look really glitzy but the 90s feel is very evident throughout the ship. In the Empress floor (#7) is where you can find guest services.
I chose a room with a window view instead of a balcony. The first time I took a cruise I got a room with a balcony and the only time I went on it was to see that I had a balcony. The rooms are of decent size and provide a couple drawers to store certain things but not much. I do wish there were some drawers to place clothing. After a day or two my luggage can become messy.
The room has one power outlet which I thought was going to be a pain to charge my phone, and camera battery but it proved not be an issue. I can see how this can be a problem if you have two or three people trying to charge multiple devices.
Pool Deck and Waterworks
The Sensation has pools, jacoozies, water slides, and kids water playground
all over the ship with the main pool being in the (#10)Lido deck. During the day the main pool which is not very big is full of adults and some children. In my early 20?s this would of been the place to be, but since I was trying to enjoy time with the family and not necesarily 'pary it up' I found the waterworks area to be very good. The space is spacious with tons of relaxing space and the the water works has 3 slides, 2 short straight drops and one much taller one that twists, kids were loving it. There adult areas with 2 Jacoozies running all the time and no children guaranteed.
At night half of the Lido deck (#10) turns into a party with music going on untill 11 where thereafter the DJ moves to the night clubs in the Promenade Deck (#9). The MCs do an exelent job of getting a lot of people to dance, and participate. All the currently popular music and even a full deck Harlem shake. The other half stays open and it's a much chilled out environment for a late night swim.
Clubs and Casino
The clubs and lounges are located along a long corridor on the Atlantic deck (#9). Along this corridor you will find the casino, a karaoke lounge, a comedy club with scheduled shows, a coffee bar, a regular bar, a dance club, about 5 different photography backdrop setups, a live band. This ship has a lot of lounging areas but truly has only one beat pumping, booty shaking club called kaleidoscope.
The casino is of a decent size. Having recently been on victory casino this place seems like it lacks gaming. There are abou 8 black jack tables, 4 electronic tables and tons of slot machines. Probably enough to have a fun night making some money or throwing it all away, maybe just breaking even.
The breakfast buffet has all the essentials for a nice breakfast. It serves from 7:30-10:30 so no need to get up in a hurry. They serve, eggs bacon, French toast, omelet , fruit, and a crazy variety of pastries. Coffee, orange juice, and lemonade as well. Throughout the day on the Lido deck you can eat all types of food like american burgers, chicken, hotdogs, Salads, Mongolian stir fried noodles, Italian pizza and pasta, deli sandwiches, and much more. Like in the morning here are pastries galore. The food is pretty good just be sure not to over indulge yourself at it is very easy to do. Later in the evening you can dine at different dining restaurants where you can get Steak, Lobster, Mahi Mahi, Aligator fritters, and more. Food is always available and plenty of it.
Staff - From the moment we boarded to the moment we disembarked the service was outstanding. The crew was very friendly, courteous and any question I had was always answered. A couple of minutes after we walked into our room the steward introduced him self and comfirmed our names. From that point on he was awesome.
Check Sail and Sign Card balance ' In order to check your daily balance you have to go to the guest services in the atrium and they are super nice to give it to you. You can also use a kiosk located there. All purchases are done using onboard expenses so no need to carry cash or credit cards unless you anticipate purchasing products.
What I wish the Carnival sensation had:
Kids indoor play area ' The Sensation has Camp Carnival which I didn't clearly understand and had what I think are limiting hours. There really isn't an indoors child playground like those you find at shopping malls were at any time you can sit and hang out while you watch your kid play and get tired.
24 hour gym ' The gym was open for 4 or 5 hours a day. I did'nt even see it because I would have to plan for it.
Cheaper Wi-fi ' Access to the internet was sold in packages starting at $30 for 45 mins. You should be enjoying the ship and it's destinations instead of surfing facebook anyways.
Check out this review with pictures here: http://aeiousy.com/bahamas-carnival-sensation-cruise-review/
When you arrive al the port, you go to the hang way to get off the ship. There is a little market place with live music but other than some siuvaniers there isn't much to see here. Best bet if you're strapped on cash is to walk past the port and go to the downtown area where there is a straw market, a bunch of little shops and a couple of restaurants like Senor Frogs. You can also take a 10min. taxy cab ride to Paradise Island for $4 a person and walk around the Atlantis hotel and it's surrounding shops. If you're party is not too large and you have about $100 per person to spend I would suggest you take advantage of the excursions or a day pass at the Atlantis hotel.