This is my third cruise with Carnival. My first two were both on the Sensation and this is my first, but definitely not last, time on the Imagination.
I went with my 17 y/o nephew as a graduation gift for him. His mother and sister could not make it due to work and school. So to begin with, this was my first time in Miami. We flew in the night before and stayed at the La Quinta Inn and suites in Fort Lauderdale. I stayed there because they offered a free shuttle to the Port of Miami. The hotel was nice and offered a continental breakfast the next morning, nothing really fancy just basically hard boiled eggs, bagels, toast, juice, coffee, tea and a waffle maker. Nothing to write home about but enough to take the edge off your hunger until you boarded the ship. There was nothing really close near the hotel that was in walking distance, except the Bennigan's restaurant next door(don't eat there!). If you wanted to do any sight seeing or get some last minute things for your cruise, you are going to need a car or take a taxi to get to there as nothing was near the hotel.
I should mention that I used SAS transportation to get from the Fort Lauderdale airport to the hotel and also used them to get picked up from the port after the cruise. They were great! When I got into FLL I went to call them to let them know we arrived and needed to be picked up when I realized that I had not locked there number into my cell phone. I went into full panic mode when someone called( I forget the young man's name) saying he was from SAS and was calling to see if we had made it in yet. He was very professional and told us what we needed to do once we came back from the cruise. My driver from the cruise port, Mike, was also very professional and both drivers were courteous and arrived right on time. I never waited more then ten minutes before they arrived. Great service.
So we finally get to the Port of Miami and did the self check in kiosk which I really liked using and made our way onto the ship. I think we got to the port around 10:30 and was on board by 11:30 so that was not bad at all. I have to say that I really liked the Imagination much more than I liked the Sensation. The ship was beautiful. It was well maintained and just immaculate. They really kept it clean and not once did I ever see any lingering dirty dishes on the tables in the Horizon Grill or on the lido deck. I also liked how the dining staff would come around with a cart with different juices, coffee, tea and desserts and what not to see if you wanted a refresher of anything. The staff was great and not once did I encounter any rude staff members. Everyone was friendly and polite at all times. I found more rude guests on the ship more than anyone else.
So onto the destinations. Key West was our first destination. My nephew wanted to do the Conch Train Tour and so we ended doing that. I really enjoyed the tour and the aquarium that was included with the tour. However, I was not overly impressed with Key West itself. If I were to go again, I would probably stay onboard the ship. Maybe because we didn't have a lot of time to do much and that may have colored my view some, but I really was not impressed. My nephew however loved it.
The night leaving Key West was elegant night. I think another reviewer talked about how that night we experienced rough seas when leaving Key West and that could not be any truer. My poor nephew was really looking forward to elegant night, but was so sea sick he finally just had to leave before even finishing his starter. I was able to finish my meal, but skipped dessert to head back to the room to see about him. I don't usually get sea sick but that night even I stayed in for the rest of the night. I heard a lot of people were ill. I don't think the waters smoothed out until the next morning.
Our next stop was Cozumel. Cozumel was absolutely beautiful! The weather was great and we couldn't have asked for a better day. Our first stop was Nachi Cocum. I had read a lot about Nachi from different reviews and although I had a good time and it was a great price for all the amenities that came with it, I've seen better beaches. This is just my personal view, and I really didn't see what was so spectacular about it, but they did give you your money's worth of food and drinks. Like I said the weather was great and I really enjoyed being in the water, my nephew did not bother to get in but ran around taking pictures of everything, but we both enjoyed our short time there. The cab ride is $15 there and $15 back. We went back to Puerta Maya and my nephew wanted to do a tour of the island. We ended getting a cab for $ 70(flat rate) that would give us a two hour tour around the island. Our driver was James and he was great. He was full of interesting facts and stories relating to the island and its inhabitors and would even stop along a few places for my nephew could take pictures. It was definitely worth it. By the time we headed back to the ship it had started pouring down rain and I was so glad that we were able to do everything before we got drenched waiting to get back on the ship :)
The day at sea is always my favorite. I just love laying on the deck looking out at the sea with a good book in hand. I really liked the band that played on the lido deck. I played a little at the casino but didn't win anything. I just overall had a great day at sea.
So, I really had a great great time on the Imagination and think this is probably going to be one of my favorite ships. The food was really good, the staff wonderful, the entertainment was good and I enjoyed my destinations. I really am thinking about another cruise on her again soon. I think I would just skip Key West but I would definitely do more in Cozumel the next time.