Carnival Sensation - Bahamas: Carnival Sensation Cruise Review by booboomonkey
Overall Member Rating
Carnival Sensation - Bahamas
Embarkation: Port Canaveral (Orlando)
Travel to port and embarkation- We drove to Melbourne Beach, FL (16 hours) and spent the night with DH's parents who have a place there. It is about 45 minutes from Port Canaveral an easy drive up A1A to the port. Signage was good and it was easy to find where we needed to be dropped off. You pull into the luggage drop-off area and unload your bags with the porter. The walk from there to the terminal was approximately 75 yards. We entered the terminal around 12:00 and were on board by 12:35 at the latest. Hint: fill out the Bahamas immigration form More while you wait in line. They lead you to believe you must fill it out at one of the kiosks provided, but the time in line is sufficient to fill out the forms would have saved us 5 minutes or so. This was a very organized embarkation compared to others we have endured! Staff was very organized and friendly.
Stateroom- We had booked a 4A (Riviera interior), but decided to upgrade (for only $10) to a 6A (Riviera outside) after the price went down about 3 weeks prior to sailing. The window is kind of nice for looking out in the morning and knowing whether it is daylight or you are in port, etc. However, we have had interior cabins before that are just as nice, and the darkness is welcomed at times! I believe I read that the outside cabins have 5 more square feet of space. I couldn't really tell the difference. The bathrooms in these cabins are very large by most standards, as are the cabins. You can take a shower without having to touch the wall or curtain. Hot water was plentiful. I did have a shower mishap while in port at Nassau. The ship was docked with a slight list to the port (left) side and I'm not sure how I didn't notice water going over the little edge at the base, but I ended up with a floor full of water (and wet clothes on the floor). Never had that happen before. It did give me an opportunity to check out the laundry facilities - very adequate.
Ship info- We had sailed on Sensation in November 2001 on a western Caribbean itinerary for 7 days. It had pretty much the same appearance as I had remembered it. The ship was clean and well maintained. Plenty of deck chairs available from what I could tell given the poor weather we had. Everything looked nice, if you can get past the late 80's color scheme. Interior areas were bright where appropriate. Elevators were fast and in good working order. The ship's layout is good, and it takes only a day or two to have a good mental picture of how to get where you want to go. Most indoor activities take place on Sensation Boulevard located on the Promenade deck and most outdoor activities on the Lido Deck near the main pool.
Dining- We ended up with the latest seating at 8:30. Much too late for my preference. I did meet with the Maitre the first day and we were put on a waiting list for an earlier seating, but were not successful. Food was great as always. I enjoyed every dish I tried. I liked the lobster tail. It was larger and tastier than I remember from past cruises. The steak that is on the alternative menu every night was really good. Salads were very tasty. The best dessert was the Chocolate Melting Cake. You must try this. It was available every night. We took pictures of the food and I will post on the Carnival message board here soon. The three of us were seated with a father and his 2 teenage children. It was a perfect match. They were great tablemates. I did notice that the service seemed a bit slower than we've had in the past. We wondered if they had reduced table staff recently. Service was friendly. There was much less of the dancing wait staff than on previous cruises also. Lido deck food was the usual fare. Pizza was good as always. There was sometimes a wait of 10 minutes at the grill for burgers. Plenty of free iced tea, coffee, lemonade, OJ, and fruit punch available (no need to buy the soda pop card in my opinion). Bring an insulated mug with you to avoid repeated trips to the drink station as well as to keep your drink warm/cold. Food is plentiful.
Camp Carnival- Our 10 year old son enjoyed about half of the Camp Carnival activities. We let him select which activities he wanted to attend. He particularly enjoyed the games, scavenger hunts, and other competitive events. We did purchase the late night party for him, which is a party lasting from 10:00 pm until 3:00 am one night. They bring the kids back to their cabins at 3:00. Nice way for parents to be able to stay out later and have time in the cabin without the kids ;-) and well worth the $26. I will try to post the Caper for the 9-11 year olds on the Carnival CC board.
Entertainment- We went to the late-night R-rated comedy show and found it to be pretty funny! The last night, we went to the 80's themed Far from Over show. It was great! The number of costume changes was amazing. If you like the shows, don't miss that one. Lido band was good on embarkation day. Unfortunately, the weather was so bad the rest of the cruise I can't say more than that. No pool games to speak of because of the weather either. Karaoke was always really good and well attended. The piano bar was not hopping at all! It was always dead in there. The win-a-cruise bingo was well attended. I didn't go to any of the other bingo sessions. Good choice of in-room movies was a plus with the weather we had :-)
Casino- In our case, the casino deserves its own category, separate from entertainment! We ended up there a lot more than usual probably due to the weather in part (cold/windy). On the other hand, we like to gamble when cruising, so we spend way too much time there anyway! DH tried his hand at Blackjack. He did well some days and bad other days. I played the slots. I must say that Carnival's slots are much tighter than those on NCL. I did not win more than $20 at any given time. However, I must compliment the casino staff on their service. I had one drink server who was outstanding. She was nice, always smiling, prompt, and knew me by name and what I wanted to drink by the first night. Bonus: I got comped 2 free drinks on the third day! That has never happened on any cruise or any land-based casino I've been to. I did go over 1000 points on their card system, so maybe that was it! Again, the weather was bad, so what better way to spend the extra time than in the Casino???
Service- Overall, service was very good. As I said above, the dining room seemed slow, but it was not a major issue, and they were very friendly. The bar staff were excellent. Casino staff were excellent. The room steward introduced himself the first afternoon and did very well until the final evening when we did not have turndown done. Not sure what happened there. He did miss filling the cooler with ice the first day, but did keep it filled for us after that. All staff members encountered in the halls/elevators were cordial and would say hello. My son dropped a plate in the Lido restaurant and someone was there in a split second to help us. We did have an issue with the room safe. It took them about an hour to come fix it for us (battery died and we couldn't open it). Purser's desk was friendly and efficient. I went there a few times to check our balance, add cash, ask about the weather forecast, get change for the dryer, etc. I believe this was one of the friendliest cruise ships as far as the staff went.
Shore excursions- We decided not to book any excursions as we had been to the Bahamas before and were unsure of the weather. We had been on a November cruise last year and all water-based excursions got cancelled due to weather. We took a taxi to the beach in Freeport. The beach was very nice with white sand and clear water. There was a nice shopping area where the taxi drops you off. It is about a 20-minute ride. The taxi driver was knowledgeable about the island and about American culture too. He made the ride very interesting. It cost $5 per person each way. We got a $5 discount on the way there because my son had to sit on my lap (this was offered, I didn't request a discount). The weather in Nassau for us was really too bad to do anything but go to the straw market and hunt for souvenirs. DH did get off to take some photos of all the other ships there too.
Disembarkation- This was a breeze. We did check one bag, which was easily located on the pier. We were off by 9:00. It is annoying that they don't want you to wait to be called from your cabin (NCL does this). However, I do understand the crazy turnaround time they have for getting the cabins ready for the next cruise, so it is not a big deal. We went outside sort of near where we had been dropped off 4 days earlier and waited for our ride. Easy in and out for drop off and pickup.
In all, it was a great cruise. I would recommend it to anyone! I am beginning to wonder about the Bahamas in late November as far as weather though. Two bad-weather cruises in a row for us! I think we'll skip this itinerary during the winter from now on. I like this size of ship. We had been on Carnival Celebration and NCL Majesty, which are smaller than Sensation and had more problems with motion. We do like the ease of getting around on smaller ships. Perhaps we'll try a mega ship next time just to see how it is different. Less