Launched in 1993, Carnival Sensation is the third in the line's series of eight 70,367-ton, 2,052-passenger Fantasy-class ships. Sensation's sisters include Ecstasy, Fantasy, Fascination, Imagination, Inspiration, Elation and Paradise. While Sensation and company are getting up there in age, Carnival has pumped big bucks into keeping these now-classic ships relevant.
In January 2009, Sensation spent more than a month, an eternity in dry dock time, under the knife. Big-ticket additions included a 300-foot-long corkscrew waterslide, a children's aqua park, a tropical-themed mid-ship pool area, 98 balconies to cabins and an adults-only retreat space. The line also refreshed cabins, which gained flat-screen TV's, and updated numerous public spaces from the main dining room to the piano bar.
But even with the major refurbishment, the ship can feel dated. Case in points: While the addition of 98 balconies roughly tripled the number of cabins featuring verandahs (from 54 to 152), the ship still offers only a very small proportion of balcony accommodations (some 15 percent). Sensation also lacks a dedicated alternative dining room/supper club. Both are major factors on newer vessels.
Negatives aside, Sensation is still a fantastic value for first-time cruisers and families. The ship features the line's wildly popular Camp Carnival with programs for youngsters between the ages of 2 and 17; a nightly sushi cart that's a major draw; an exceedingly congenial and up-for-anything crew; and the aforementioned sun deck additions (waterslide and adults-only space). Couple those amenities with Sensation's three- and four-night Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral, and you have a short-and-sweet cruise option perfect for those looking to make a quick getaway.
Sensation is a hit with families. It's size, itinerary and activities make it a natural for a family cruises. It is quite common to see three -- or even four -- generations traveling together to celebrate great aunt Jane's 75th birthday or Jeffrey's 21st!
Sensation is as casual as it gets, but shorts and muscle shirts are still not acceptable dinner wear. One formal night is scheduled per cruise, and a nice shirt with a sport jacket works most often for male passengers, while women tend to dress a bit glitzier. Casual night dress might be a sports shirt and slacks for men, and pants or skirt and blouse for women. Swimsuits are not allowed in the dining room, but are perfectly acceptable -- with a cover-up -- for the Seaview Bar & Grill.
Carnival recommends $12.00 per person, per day. The guidelines allocate $6.10 to dining room services, $3.90 to cabin services and $2 per day for alternative services, which include kitchen, entertainment, guest services and other hotel staff members. The amount is automatically added to your shipboard account, but it can be adjusted in either direction at the guest services desk. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar bills. Tipping a couple dollars for room service at delivery is expected (and appreciated) by the service staff. Note: On sailings departing September 1, 2016, or later, gratuities will increase to $12.95 per person, per day ($13.95 for those in suites).