My two cousins and I left the kids behind and took a "girls" cruise on the Carnival Sensation for 3 nights on 4/15/10. This was a great little getaway for all three of us.
We drove to the port and arrived just after 10:30 AM. Only one car was at the baggage gates at the same time as us, and even the interior of the terminal had few people this early. I was surprised, but as it turned out, this sailing wasn't even close to full. We checked in right away and sat down to wait for our zone, 8, to be called. They started calling zones pretty early, just after 11 AM, and we were up in the Lido restaurant by 11:30. Perfect.
We tried a few items from the buffet as well as had our first Funship Special (my favorite Drink of the Day). Food on the buffet was good (not outstanding, but enjoyable), and the one slice of pizza was very good, as usual. (Side note - I have been on Carnival and Disney multiple times each. I never have a problem finding good food on either line. However, pizza on Carnival is far better than Disney, while Disney buffets tend to be great instead of just good for Carnival.)
The doors to the cabin hallways stayed closed until 1:30, so we spent the time walking around the ship and sitting at the Atrium Bar with a second Funship Special. The cabin itself was standard oceanview on Main deck, M184, with two twin beds and a pull down. I had thought the pull down would be from the ceiling, but instead, it was from a contraption that was attached to the wall over one of the twin beds. My cousin found it to be plenty comfortable. Our room steward did a great job, though we didn't actually see him until the second day, and that was only because we were running back to the cabin to gather items for a scavenger hunt, else we would have missed seeing him altogether!
We had 6:00 PM seating in the Ecstasy dining room, and were seated at table 249 with another group of three ladies who turned out to be quite nice and fun, so one of the best tablemate matches we've had. They did leave before the dessert on the first night due to feeling a little motion sick, so we enjoyed the "Low Low Low" show ourselves with dessert. Our wait team was fantastic - Aleksander was one of the best head waiters we have ever had. Especially considering he had to put up with another table with people who consistently showed up for dinner AFTER dessert was being served. Absolutely rude. If you can't make it within 15 minutes of dinner time, go to one of the many other options available for food on the ship - no need to disturb everyone else's schedule so rudely.
All of our dinners were good to great throughout the cruise. The Lasagna Bolognese was a stand-out, never tried it before, but will get it again every time its offered! Panko shrimp with plum sauce was also outstanding. I enjoyed the pumpkin soup and onion soup, as well as the lobster, the warm chocolate melting cake, and the Grand Marnier souffle. The only thing I really didn't care for at all was the Veal Parmigana. Rather tough and chewy, not much sauce or flavor.
The first night's show was Far From Over - an 80s music review, and it is my favorite Carnival show so far, don't miss it! The other production during this cruise was Curves, which was good. It has more of the Vegas style thongs and dancing. There was also an adult comedy show the first night with TC Tahoe, who was amusing. The second night had a juggler-comedian who was very good and a lady comedian who was very funny, and who also did an adult comedy show the third night, which was hilarious. Definitely an adult show, not for the kiddies.
We dropped just a little in the casino and a little at bingo, had no luck. We participated in some of the trivia games and the scavenger hunt on the promenade deck, and two of us won ships on sticks! We watched the Hairy Chest competition which was fun, but unfortunately, the girls who were the judges got oddly confused, and when it was time to make the first cut, they gave the runner up medals to the two best guys there. When the guys left the stage, the girls got all upset when they realized they got rid of the ones they meant to keep. Kind of a shame for those two guys, they were a lot of fun and did deserve to win.
The Serenity deck is outstanding, we loved laying out in the sun, and also loved being able to sit in the shaded area once it got too hot. My only complaint was on the sea day, the FunTimes gave the hot tub opening times as 8 AM, but they didn't open until 10 AM. Same for the pool on lido deck. They really should stick with the times they print, especially on a sea day.
The new Waterslides are so awesome - we did them over and over. So much better than the old pool slide on the Fantasy class ships, and I also like them better than the single twister slide on the larger ships.
The Carnival Sensation is an older ship, but I feel that she wears well and has a great crew. The new waterslides and Serenity area are a great addition and go far in keeping the ship fun. I've seen the Sensation get low reviews, and I understand that the smaller ships can be hit or miss, especially during Spring Break or holidays when you have a larger group of people looking for an affordable and fun getaway. However, this is my second time sailing on her and I loved her just as much as I did the first.