This is my favorite ship in the Carnival fleet. I have been sailing on the Carnival Imagination since the early 2000's and the ship never ceases to amaze me. I booked this cruise shortly after I returned from another cruise on the Destiny. I usually like cruising in mid to late October or November to avoid large family reunions and lots of kids. This is my solo time and really enjoy the quiet. I flew into Miami on the day of departure on a Monday from Atlanta and took the Carnival transfers. I was at the pier by 12:30. The check in process is one of the fastest in the cruising industry. I was onboard and in the buffet by a little after 1PM. For this cruise I carried on everything I needed. I did not have a problem with having my luggage with me while at the buffet. They opened the ship up about 3PM so you could get to your cabins. I chose the lowest catagory cabin 4A inside. I could not get the one I had last year, but this cabin was great. Empress deck aft. The best location for access to the Promenade and Lido Buffet area only a few decks up.
This cruise left on a Monday. I had never taken a cruise that left on a Monday and I really enjoyed that. Just knowing that everyone else was headed to work was a plus. The ship left a little behind schedule at about 4:30PM. The muster drill lasted a bit longer than normal. It was smooth sailing all the way to Key West.
The only bad thing about visits to Key West on a cruise is the short time that you have there. It would be nice if Carnival would extend the stay or get there the night before. You arrive by 7-8AM but the stores don't open until 10AM. I did enjoy just walking in the early morning around Key West before it got too crowded or hot. Mid October and it was over 80 before 10AM. I would suggest renting one of the beach cruiser bikes and just get out and explore. Being a very flat place, its easy to peddle around and just have fun.
Our second stop was Cozumel Mexico. I never got off the ship for this trip. I spent the time reading and truly relaxing on deck. The ship was a virtual ghost town. The funny part was about an hour after we pulled in and let people off, the skies opened up and it rained cats and dogs for about an hour. The sun came out and it was a beautiful day. Believe it or not, my cell phone worked and I was able to call home. I wasn't worried about roaming charges because its a prepaid phone that I loaded before I left with $50. Didn't cost as much as I thought it would.
I chose anytime dining for this cruise because I normally don't eat in the MDR when on a solo cruise, but this option allows me to do so on my schedule. It was fast and easy. Just show up at the dining room assigned and they seat you either alone or with others. I met some great folks also there relaxing like me.
I didn't go to any shows or play bingo. I spent alot of my time in the casino. The games are fun but the dealers make it really fun. I had my best luck on the slots, which are normally a big no-no for me. Who knew.
Our slow journey back was very smooth and the water was very calm. The only thing that was a bit over the top was our cruise director. Karl with a K. The at sea day was a non-stop barrage of announcements about this and that. He did his job well so Carnival should be happy.
Disembarkation is the easiest thing on this ship. I had an 12:30 flight and I was off the ship by 8:30. I did self assist and was one of the middle group of people that left the ship. The transfers back to the airport were quick and easy. I was actually able to get on an earlier flight.
This cruise was a time of rest and recovery for me and it provided all of that and more. This was my 5th cruise on this ship and I am ready to book again for the same time next year. This ship is just the right size and has just the right amenities for those looking to get away and decompress.