Last week I enjoyed a 4 day Caribbean cruise with 3 of my girlfriends (my 6th cruise, their 1st). We took this trip without hubbies and without kids. We chose the Imagination because of the itinerary, length of cruise and price. We flew into Fort Lauderdale at 11:30 the morning of the cruise. We used SAS transportation to get to Port of Miami. They were efficient, reliable and well priced as usual. At the Port we gave our bags to the Porter whom reminded us that he would like a tip and we went into the terminal. We were through security and on the ship within about 15 minutes. Everything was so smooth and organized. I can't understand why anyone would want to purchase the "faster to the fun" as we got to the fun as fast as we could walk....We immediately went to the Lido deck to eat lunch and got started on our cruise fun. Over the next 4 days we ate well, met great people, had loads of fun and enjoyed the sun and wonderful facilities. Here is a summary of my thoughts....
Food: We ate buffet breakfast and lunch each day. The buffet was standard for Carnival - decent selection of salads, hot items, desserts, etc. I have always felt and still do that I'd rather pay a bit more money to see some more variety of fruits and veggies. I'd love to see peppers, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc but this is not the case. Don't get me wrong, we were well fed, but a little more variety with some of the tastier fruits and veggies would be nice. Hot items were changed frequently enough to keep it interesting and the eggs made to order station helped make breakfast better. I enjoyed eating at Mongolian Wok which I chose the first day - this was the only day that there wasn't a long line there so I'm glad I went first thing. I didn't try a burger but heard they were mediocre, they didn't look nearly as yummy as the Guy's Burgers on the Breeze. The other grill items (chicken fingers, fries, nachos, etc were tasty. My friend enjoyed wraps from the deli a few times and we all had some pizza which was okay but not great. We loved to eat on the back patio above the serenity deck. Not many people find that special place so it's peaceful with a great view of the ship's wake. We thoroughly enjoyed dining in the Pride Dining Room, any time seating. We had Milan as our waiter each night and he was fabulous. Good service, food came out correct, quickly and the right temperature each time. He was friendly and fun to converse with each night. The food was all quite good but after 5 Carnival cruises in a row the menu is getting boring. Highlights included lobster, brisket, pumpkin soup, iced capp cake, key lime pie, spring rolls, and the Indian dish.
Entertainment: We skipped the big productions just due to our timing, but I had seen Divas on a previous ship and thought it was lame. We enjoyed the late night Comedian each night - very funny. We also had fun at the disco most nights. In the day we enjoyed watching the pool games although at times I wished that there was a second pool with peace and quiet. The serenity deck was nice but there just isn't enough space. The pool was way too small and it was green for most of the cruise (algae?) We jumped in to cool off once but it seemed like human soup. We didn't use the waterslide area but I know my kids would've loved it as they have in the past.
Cabins - spacious, nice layout, clean but outdated looking. Our toilet seat was broken which I was surprised was left unaddressed. You couldn't miss it if you were cleaning a toilet each day. We finally asked on day 2 to have it fixed as it was pinching our bottoms. We went out for a few hours and came back to a new one. Our cabin stewart was in and out without detection. He kept our cabin nice and clean. My only complaint about our cabin was that I could hear the cabin beside us through the connecting door. I've never heard cabins around me before so I'm guessing the door isn't as sound proof as a wall would be. Also we could periodically hear a banging noise out our window which was annoying. It happened about 1-3x every 24 hours so it was bearable. We were in cabin R100.
Drinks - great service on the pool decks. Reasonable prices. Nice selection. I love the fact that milk is included as I drink several little cartons a day on a cruise. The lemonade and iced tea are nice too.
Ports - we did not purchase Carnival excursions as I always find we can do better on our own. In Key West we rented an electric car and toured all the sites on the island. In Cozumel we spent the day at Mr. Sanchos which was absolutely fabulous.
Ship - the décor is a little outdated but improved since the last time I sailed this ship. The ship is looking tired in many places (carpet looks old and worn, statues are peeling, etc) but it's still beautiful. The layout is easy to navigate. As noted above I wish it had another pool area.
Crowd - I know people say Carnival is a party ship, well we had a blast. I only saw one really inebriated woman but otherwise people let their hair down and had some fun but were respectable. I felt it was a really accepting crowd. No need to be self-conscious about body image, clothing, etc. We saw it all and everything was accepted. Very few upturned noses, just down to earth happy people. I hardly saw anyone being rude. Most people just seemed genuinely happy and friendly. It was a great mix of people and we met some cool people.
Every single staff member we encountered was friendly and very helpful. They all work so hard.