I was taking my daugter on a graduation cruise and thought that this 4 night trip on the Imagination would be perfect. I was wrong. At best I would describe our cruise as ok, but Carnival has really changed from the Fun Ships to the Not Much To Do Ships.
Embarkment from Miami went pretty smooth, although I am not a fan of the self check in. It was crowded and not very organized as the machines are almost right on top of each other and 2500 people are trying to use them in a matter of a few hours.
Cabin. We stayed in an interior upper/lower room and were very surprised at the size. It was spacious, had 2 big closets, and all the new bedding. My only complaint was only one outlet in the room, so bring along an outlet strip if you need to charge anything and plan to use a hairdryer (which also was NOT included in the room). We did not have a rerigerator, but our cabin steward kept our ice bucket full. We did not see our steward the entie time we were there, but the room was always clean.
Key West was a very, very nice, quaint port that I would love to spend more time in. We did the customary things on foot and it was all within a good walking distance. We went to the Mel Fishers Museum which was also a little disappointing from an artifact standpoint. There was not much on exhibit, but a lot of information on his life and his discovery. There was a huge downpour while we were there which a local told us had not happened in 5 months. I know they needed it, but really? Could it not have waiting until we were back on board?
Cozumel. We did not do an excursion here and opted to just stay at the port where there are lots of shops and a few bars. Lots of very drunk teenagers at Fat Tuesdays from the other Carnival ship, Elation, which was already in port when we got there at 1pm. Nothing special about this stop.
Ok. Now for the ship. The ship itself is very, very nice. There are upgrades from all the tackiness, but the Atrium is still 8 floors of red and blue neon. Not too bad, but still dated. The lounges were nice, without all the wild carpet that makes you dizzy to look down. We saw one show which was a little cheezy and needed to be rehearsed a lot more before they get it right. The comics were hysterical, which has always been a plus for Carnival. The food in the dining room was excellent and the service was impeccable. Food came out fast, hot and delicious. The food on the Lido deck was standard. There were LONG lines ALL day at all 4 areas for food. I saw the same people in these lines all day long and I would swear that they had made a pact to eat as much food as it would take to pay for their cruise. The outside drink machines were out of order for the entire cruise, so it made the inside machines extremely crowded.
pros...lots and lots of deck chairs all over the ship. Air conditioning on the ship worked great. Food was awesome, lots of opportunities for formal pictures even on the non formal night, and reasonably priced drinks. Oddly, the domestic US beers were more expensive than the imported ones.
cons....long lines at the Lido buffets. They are still playing the same old poolside games after all these years (hairiest chest, bean bag toss, etc) with LLLLOOONNNGGG periods of nothing to do in between. Carnival has gotten really lame with the daily entertainment. There were a lot of kids in the 18+ shows and neither the parents or the staff asked them to leave. The pool is VERY< VERY small now that they have added the water slide area in the back of the ship. They removed the other pool to do it, and there were not that many kids taking advantage of it. I think this was a really poor decision on Carnival's part because it really takes away from the cooling off areas. The same for the Serenity area. It is a nice area with upgraded chairs for the 21 and over set, but it was loud and crowded on the sea day and again, no staff member to ask people to quiet down.
All in all, my daughter and I had a nice time. Will I cruise on the Imagination again? Probably not. Will I give Carnival another chance, yes but on a bigger ship. Maybe I am just too old and less tolerant than I was on my first 4 cruises with them, but I want what I want now, and the Imagination did not leave me wanting to come back.