Carnival Imagination Review

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Why Choose Carnival Imagination?

  • Great value for money, first-time cruise choice
  • Sails short Caribbean cruises from Los Angeles year-round
  • Get wet with the water park's slides and sprinklers

Carnival Imagination Overview

By Marcia Levin, Cruise Critic contributor

Editor Rating

Carnival Imagination was one of the original "Fun Ships" and now, after a costly 2008 refurbishment -- to the tune of over $40 million as part of the lines' $350 million Evolutions of Fun Fantasy-class initiative -- Carnival has added some thoroughly modern touches in a setting that has proven to be popular with passengers through the years.

I miss the gigantic sculpture that was once the centerpiece of the Atrium. It's been replaced by the Atrium Bar, but it is still the Promenade on Deck 9 that is the heart of the ship (though now less visually stimulating). Lining the Promenade are a disco, lounges, casino, coffee and sushi bars. Guests don't have to look far to recognize the va-va-voom of the original "Fun Ship" concept -- consider the gilt-painted mythical winged deities decorating every part of the ship depicting some form of happy creature (exactly what it is, no one can identify.) Today, instead of the neon and glitz of the ship's earlier persona, lots of happy red and blue LED lights are everywhere.

The 2008 refurbishment introduced the Carnival WaterWorks, with jets, slides -- one 300 feet long -- and sprinklers galore created for kids of all ages. Also new is the delightful Serenity Area for adults, a touch of quiet overlooking the sea with some of the best lounge chairs around. (The introductions of these "Evolutions of Fun" upgrades are scheduled for all Fantasy-class ships. Upgrades have so far been completed on Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Sensation.) The program ushers in a new era for Carnival, and carries a whopping $250 million price tag -- an onboard extreme makeover and makes its competitive with newer vessels offering these amenities. Also just introduced are plush new soft goods and redone bathrooms. Families will notice that the ship now has 50 connecting staterooms and an updated Camp Carnival where kids of all ages (from 2 to 17) appear to be having fun whether in the water park, on scavenger hunts or at teen discos.

Carnival Imagination remains a good ship for a great getaway, and with the makeover almost appears new (despite a decidedly dated design -- note paucity of balconies). Because of its itinerary of short cruises, the ship attracts many first-timers as well as veteran cruisers who enjoy the casual attitude and the comfort of the familiar.

Carnival Imagination Fellow Passengers

Carnival passengers skew all over the place. Expect to see honeymooners and young, young families, groups of singles, seniors, parties of three of more generations, and many first-timers. On my January cruise many passengers represented the Western U.S.

Carnival Imagination Dress Code

Tuxedos are a rare find on formal nights with most men opting for dark suits. Casual nights seem "dressier" than on past Carnival cruises with nice, collared shirts for men and sweaters/silk tops with slacks for women. On a five-day cruise expect one formal night.

Carnival Imagination Gratuity

Carnival recommends $12.95 per person, per day ($13.95 per person, per day, for those in suites). The guidelines divide the amount for dining room services, cabin services and 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 appreciated by the service staff.

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Carnival Imagination Member Reviews

The embarkation went really smoothly. We were on the ship by noon. The ship had just been refurbished to include Guy Fieri's Burger Joint and a Taco/Burrito bar. I had previously sailed on this ship in November 2015 and found the food ... Read more
Going on the ship, I did not expect much due solely on reviews but I really loved and enjoyed my experience! The food was good, nothing to complain about. It's all included in the cost, so what is there to complain about. All you can eat. The ... Read more
My husband and I had previously cruised on Cunard and Royal Caribbean (11 times total) and were looking for a short "introduction to cruising" cruise experience for his brother and wife who would be going with us. Carnival was a poor ... Read more
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Carnival Imagination Ratings

Editor Rating 3.0 Member Rating
Public Rooms
Spa & Fitness
Family & Children
Shore Excursions

Sailing From

Los Angeles

Cruises To

Mexican Riviera

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