I originally scheduled a Hemingway Museum and Sloppy Joes excursion, but it was canceled. I planned to stay on the ship at first, but a fellow passenger convinced me to go into town and walk around. So I did. Imagination docks at Outer Mole, a US Navy port, so you have to take a shuttle into town. The shuttle drops you off at a downtown area. A worker at a boat rental place was nice enough to give me a map of old Key West and mark it up with places I asked him about.
STREETS OF KEY WEST
Think of the town as Old West meets Caribbean. There are a lot of old buildings with quirky architecture and many eclectic shops. Many of them are tourist-oriented, but not in an in-your-face touristy kind of way. For example, there's a Walgreen's store situated in a former theater building. Store workers are very nice and helpful to tourists, and there are even tourist information booths along Duval Street, which is where I spent most of my time. Make sure to try the chocolate-covered key lime pie on a stick; I wish I could remember where I bought it. The pie was creamy and flavorful, and the chocolate was really good, nothing like the Hershey kind. It rained the day I was there, but that did not stop me or most other ship passengers. It was fun to watch many people walk around in Carnival ponchos around the streets.
HEMINGWAY HOME AND MUSEUM
This was the house where Ernest Hemingway actually lived with one of his wives. The building has Southern Colonial or New Orleans architecture style, with ground-to-roof columns and wraparound porches. Inside, there are rooms looking just as they did in the late 1800's. There's also a swimming pool commissioned by Hemingway himself, the first one in Key West. There are cats virtually everywhere: under bushes, on benches, and one was even sleeping on top of an HP printer. You're allowed to pet the cats but not pick them up.
This old bar is very mellow and laid back, and so are its workers. There are bands playing country music, but there was still a lot of people there. Various country's flags hang on the ceiling. During the worst part of the rain, I took cover in this bar, and I'm glad I did. I loved the atmosphere.
Read LandlockedCruiser01's full Carnival Imagination cruise review