My husband an I live near so we did this as a romantic getaway. The longest time away from our two year old twins so I was checking out family friendliness as well.
Embarkation: we arrived around 1pm and though the line was short it took 40min. We were able to.go straight to our room to drop some stuff off. We walked around.d the ship and had lunch and were finished exploring by muster at 4:30pm.
Ship: small but nice. The refurbishment left some nice amenities but they could be approved upon.
Pool: one pool and two hot tubs that were almost always filled with kids. Great for families bad for adults. They did have a solarium area with two hot tubs reserved for 21 and over but it wasn't very big so you had to stalk anyone leaving to get a chair during sun times. The water park slide area was two decks above so you could hear the kids saying " we can't go down there it is 21 and over"! Also buffet seating was right above the art area so people sometimes got More
loud up there. Also no music was playing.
Food: I thought some things were great and others ok. I had one soup that was extra salty and inedible ,but mostly it was great. I realized the pizza and pan is in the buffet too. Brunch was ok but the portion sizes especially on the steak were tiny. Tea was a joke and while I wasn't expecting real tea it wasn't as nice as the ones I have had on princess.
Entertainment: We skipped the game.show but attended almost all the Comdey shows and both of the song and dance shows.Divas was ok so if you.like that stuff attend but if not you didn't miss much. The rock show was excellent and Patrick was an excellent singer, even my husband commented on how he liked it and how " that guy can sing". Sea day entertainment was hit and miss and we mostly did our own thing.
Spa: My husband won $100 in the spa giveaway the first day so I used it for a spa treatment ( facial) as everything was expensive and you couldnt use it in the salon or specials. I had it right after Catalina and while pleasant she used a lot of my 50 minutes to consult and sales pitch. I almost fell over when she told me one of the products was $110. They ran a lot of specials so maybe one of those but I wouldn't pay full price for what I got.
Room: It didn't feel small but the lack of a couch let me new it was. Plenty of storage with two small closets and a full shelf unit with safe. Decent size for a cruise bathroom. We thought there was a lot of room and the room would have worked fine even with the kids. They also had the bed on the left wall instead of straight at the back like most rooms and I think this gave us more space. The bad was everything on this ship was on the upper decks. Being on Riviera meant we were far from everything. (Execpt ports, but then they usually sent us the other way so we still weren't close). We were forward and everything seemed to be aft when we left the room. Next time I would be aft or pick a higher deck but we booked a month before so our choices were limited.
Port: old news for us so we walked around on our own in CatalinA and played mini golf. Ensenada we got our own taxi and negotiated our own wine tour. We did three wineries ( two of the same from the cruise tour) and paid less then the cruise ship (though we had to pay our tasting fees at the winery but it was still cheaper).
Overall a fun trip. Not the best cruise by any means ( I have been on more then 20 including Rccl, Disney, NCL an Princess) but for convenience for west coasters I thought it was fun. Next time I want to take my kids because I thought this cruise especially in the summer was great for families. Less
Carnival Imagination Cruises to the Mexican Riviera