229 Carnival Imagination Caribbean - Western Cruise Reviews

Having cruised with Carnival previously on Destiny we decided to go with Carnival again for a winter break. Let me just say that cruising in the winter is VERY risky weather wise. The first day and a half it rained and was very cool out. ... Read More
Having cruised with Carnival previously on Destiny we decided to go with Carnival again for a winter break. Let me just say that cruising in the winter is VERY risky weather wise. The first day and a half it rained and was very cool out. This also meant that the water was rough during our travels. Miami (Embarkation)- I sailed with a friend and we saved a lot of time by doing the online check in through the carnival website. Once we passed security we just had to pick up our keys and we were on our way. We were in the ship by 1:30 pm and we were able to go straight to our rooms. We chose to go with an interior room only because on my previous cruise I spent little to no time in the room and felt that a window or balcony wasn't necessary. The room were clean and spacious. Key West- Very pretty! We did have a sunny day but it was very chilly out, about 55 degrees. Even the residents there were surprised by how cool it was this day. We took the shuttle to the downtown area and visited the Ripley's Believe it or Not. We also did some shopping at the local shops and sat at a bar for drinks before heading back to the ship. The ship was only docked in Key West for about 5 hrs. Our ride to Cozumel was rough! Almost half of the ship had was sea sick!!! (My friend that I was cruising with included) I so happened to be fine because i took Dramamine ahead of time. I decided to go with the buffet this night and the ship was the emptiest that i have seen throughout the entire trip. There was no line for the dining room and no one sitting in any of the common areas and this was about 7:30 pm. Cozumel- The weather SUCKED!! It was raining/ drizzling and was very windy. We decided to go with a van tour which ran us about $25. The tour guide took us to all the "hotspots" of Cozumel. He also gave us time to get out at a restaurant for lunch/ drinks as well as the beach once it stopped raining. After the tour we decided to head back to the ship due to the weather. Fun Day At Sea- FINALLY some sun! It hit about 85 degrees that morning and everyone was outside taking in the sun. We sat on the Serenity Deck for a couple hours for quiet relaxation. I must say that the Serenity Deck was a great move on Carnivals part. Its quiet and only 21 & over. It also had 2 Jacuzzi's. We later headed to the Lido deck for all the fun and games. Caught some shows and more sun before getting ready for dinner. I think this was the most fun day on the ship. The comedian even thought so! Food/Drinks- Overall the food was good. I am a picky eater and i enjoyed the food. In comparison to Destiny I saw less lines on Imagination. I am a cooker and was a bit annoyed with the omelet station because my eggs were always burnt. I enjoyed the Lido Deck food better than the Dining room food. Although I did enjoy the dessert in the dining room. Bare in mind that although they provide room service there maybe a long wait during times where outside is cold, bad weather, and around dinner time. Yes! The drinks are expensive but are very strong. I had to send back a drink because there was more liquor than mixer. Miami (Debarkation)- We decided to go with the relaxed debarkation. On debarkation morning we had breakfast on the lido deck and was informed that customs would doing a vigorous scan on everybody. This did make the process a lot longer but the line was getting a bit ridiculous so they just stopped doing the scan. Transportation- When I cruised on Destiny i went with Carnivals transportation which like all the other reviewers said was expensive and we had to wait for a full bus to leave the airport/ port. This time around i did some research and went with SAS transportation (ridesas.com). They have a website that I booked the pick-up/ drop off. They were very reliable and prompt. As soon as i got off the plane in FLL they were calling and they called me when I was going through customs for debarkation. It was $15 each way which was the cheapest i found from FLL airport. Their drivers were very courteous and provided a mini tour on the way lol. Ship/ Staff- The staff were all nice. On our last night on the ship we got a bad waiter in the dining room and we didn't even make it to dessert before we left and that was after sitting there for about and hour and a half. The ship was remodeled in 2010 and was a lot newer than Destiny. The lounges and common areas were more modern than Destiny. For the most part the staff did a good job at keeping the ship clean and tables cleared on the Lido Deck. Entertainment- I must say that the entertainment is far better than i remember in the Destiny. I really enjoyed the shows in the Dynasty Lounge. The shows looked a lot more professional and the singers are a lot better. Overall, I would cruise with Carnival again but on their newer ships and definitely not in the winter! It was a good idea for a hot trip in the winter but just not on a boat! Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
The decor of the ship is quite out dated in style (like an old Fremont Street resort), but that seems to be the case for many carnival ships anyway. Overall, the cabin and public areas are clean and spacious. Perhaps because of the ... Read More
The decor of the ship is quite out dated in style (like an old Fremont Street resort), but that seems to be the case for many carnival ships anyway. Overall, the cabin and public areas are clean and spacious. Perhaps because of the September dry-dock, the carpets look very new, and all the cabin and basic public facilities worked very well. Therefore, it serves very well as a moving hotel with all the basic facilities and services you will expect from a cruise ship. Embarkation: The embarkation process moves smoothly. We arrive at the airport at 12:00, and was able to board the ship and enjoy the Mongolian Wok at around 1:30. Public areas: I noticed that a few reviews in Nov and Dec mentioned the smell in the ship. I was a little bit worried about this before I board the ship, as I am quite sensitive about smells. But during the whole treat I have never smell anything bad. I guess the smell in the last few trips might be due to the dry-dock maintenance (paintings or something else), but I can assure you that things were perfectly fine during my trip in this respect. There're plenty of seats in the open deck areas. Serenity is a good place to relax. But I prefer the seats above the serenity, outside the buffet, as that area is also quiet, and with more proximity to drinks and desserts. The area around the water slide also has great views. But there's more wind and motion up there. The gym and sauna looks very new. The main pool is quite small, but didn't expect to swim there anyway. Cabin: The room was in the aft area of the main deck. Not much noise and motion. It's clean and spacious, and all the facilities worked very well. Room service is good. The room was always kept very clean. We ordered the continental breakfast from the room service every day. It's great to have plenty of yogurt and orange juice in the morning. Beds are very comfortable. Toilet is clean. The window is muddy from the outside, but not a major concern. The room has connecting feature. Luckily, not much noise comes from the other room. Can't understand why they put the bed against the connecting door. Other than that, the room lay-out is generally reasonable and convenient. Entertainment: For a short cruise like this, there're lots of activities and shows to choose from. The cruise director did a great job in organizing and explaining the activities. The epic rock show was good. And the live musics at Promenade were very enjoyable. I didn't go to the bars a lot, but I do recommend the piano bar. The pianist is truly amazing! The water slide looks good, but it was closed most of the time during our trip as we were experiencing heavy winds and rough seas. Dining: For the main dining room, the overall quality of the food is OK, with some really great choices occasionally. I do love the Sushi at the last night's appetizer menu. Beef steaks were ok: a little bit overdone but still delicious. Waiters did a good job in serving and entertaining the guests. For the buffet, there are plenty of choices of desserts and teas. But lemonade was the only juice available. We didn't go to the buffet a lot except for the desserts, drinks and for the Mexican night. For the lunch, the Mongolian Wok is a big success. Yes it's popular and there's always a long line there. But I never waited for more than 20 minutes in the lines. Don't expect any "white-star standard" here, otherwise you would probably yell-out mad. But the ship does remain very decent and capable of delivering fun despite its age. Most importantly, it's clean and well maintained. The service is not particularly impressive but generally enjoyable and there's nothing to complain about. Given all these qualities, and considering the bargain price I paid for it, I will give it a perfect rating as it definitely meet our expectations well. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We took the cruise to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. It was early January, and I wouldn't suggest doing a cruise at that time due to the weather. It was cold and rainy in both places. The cruise had ok food (pizza was very blah), ... Read More
We took the cruise to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. It was early January, and I wouldn't suggest doing a cruise at that time due to the weather. It was cold and rainy in both places. The cruise had ok food (pizza was very blah), except for the Chocolate Melting Cake. Definitely get that! Stay away from the Horizon Bar which is the informal dining. Unless you go during very off times (ex: 3:00 pm), it is so crowded that you cannot find a seat even out on the deck in the rain. The only other restaurant is the dining room, which was better, but I suggest getting a specific dining time unless you like waiting and lines. Speaking of lines, you better get used to them! There were way more people than seats on the deck, seats in the restaurants, room in the one pool and small whirlpools, etc. There were 2000 people on the ship and probably room for 500 in the public areas. When one person would leave a seat, four or five would rush in to get it! The cruise activities were a lot of fun, especially the comedians! But get there early - otherwise, you guessed it, you won't get a seat. The cabins were very nice and so was the crew. If half of the people were booked, it might have been a nice vacation. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We have only sailed on Carnival, so we can only compare this cruise to other Carnival cruises. Perhaps overshadowing this cruise, the seas were very rough and the skies were cloudy and raining the entire time. Embarkation was easy at the ... Read More
We have only sailed on Carnival, so we can only compare this cruise to other Carnival cruises. Perhaps overshadowing this cruise, the seas were very rough and the skies were cloudy and raining the entire time. Embarkation was easy at the POM. We had the usual sail away drink and buffet food on the Lido. Our expectations were not too high, so the experience was about in line with what we expected. Our room ... We stayed in Cabin U-3. This is very far forward and on the starboard. This was the first time (and last time) we get a porthole room. As said, the seas were very rough and the motion was amplified in the bow. Both of us (DW and I) had difficulty sleeping due to the motion and we are both experienced cruisers. Of course, our cabin steward exceed our expectations - we have been either very lucky over past cruises or Carnival has a great training program. An aside ... We called room service for a corkscrew and, instead of receiving a corkscrew, waiter appeared to open our bottles of wine and graciously re-corked them for us. The shows were 2.0 and we LOVED them! We thought they were much more contemporary than the usual, older Carnival fare. I'm not sure Dad appreciated the music, but we rocked out to the Divas and Rock Show. There we fewer singers/dancers than non-2.0 shows, but the modern music more than made up for it. The MDR was acceptable. The ship has not received the new menus and still uses table clothes for all meals, so we have yet to experience that evolution. Other than a longer than unusual wait on the last night's dinner, the wait staff and food were good. My growing nephew asked for double entrees and they were very accommodating. The warm, melting chocolate cake was excellent ... As expected! The Key West excursion was much too early (0700), but I won't harp on that because the ship is repositioning to LA. Cozumel was ... well, what can I say? Cozumel was Cozumel. We love it there even though our SNUBA excursion was cancelled due to rough seas. Gotta go to Señor Frogs, again! The casino was the only disappointment. I played hard because we booked the room on a casino rate. At reaching 1,000 points on the third night all I received was $10 credit. I went beyond that (of course), but the casino boss never reached out. During our last cruise we got a bottle of wine at dinner and comped drinks ... However, we didn't even get a nod this time ... Very disappointing, especially when the action in the casino seemed so light - maybe she was in LA mode already. We still played the slot tourney, which I recommend, and the DW got a t-shirt even though she did not win. The comedian (guy with the last name of Little) was funny in the Punchliner. We have been pretty happy with the comedians so I think the affiliation with George Lopez is working well. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Having travelled long haul worldwide for 30+ years and lived in Europe, the Middle East and the USA I have never been on a cruise and didn't really relish the idea. However, meeting UK family for New Year in Miami, with 14 & 15 ... Read More
Having travelled long haul worldwide for 30+ years and lived in Europe, the Middle East and the USA I have never been on a cruise and didn't really relish the idea. However, meeting UK family for New Year in Miami, with 14 & 15 year old kids we decided to take a short cruise over new year so at least the kids had a party in their back yard and we didn't have to go find one in an unfamiliar town. I was pleasantly surprised with the cruise and I do have considerable experience to compare to. Although the Imagination is one of the oldest and smallest of the Carnival ships, and the interior décor was tacky casino style, our cabin on Empress deck 7 was very clean, more room than expected, the bathroom was well planned, spotless and even had thick plushy towel robes and great shower. Our cabin steward was really awesome. Food onboard was OK - some really good items, some so-so items. Wasn't really a fan of the waiters dancing and hated the Pirate and endless photo ops, but clearly a lot of the guests enjoyed it. For those complaining about the Mongolian Wok - I agree, the wait was horrible, food was ok-ish. We only did that once, lesson learned. Same with the junk food buffets. The dining room food was good (everyone turned up to eat at 8pm so long lines - we ate 7pm and almost no wait at all), service in the dining room, bar service on Lido deck, cabin service was very good. Spa service was excellent. I had almost no issues on this cruise. Did not see or smell anything particularly unpleasant, and did not think the cruise was overly crowded. No trouble, surprisingly, despite the partyers and NYE over-indulgence. Carnival DID nickel and dime you for everything and our bill for 2 adults, 2 (non-charging) teens was $1100 - we each drank probably 4-5 cocktails a day by the pool plus a glass of wine at dinner, 2 one-hour spa treatments and the rest was automatically applied tips. I can imagine if you party hard all day you are going to spend thousands and will probably be paying for it for a long long time... in which case I would recommend you just fly to Koh Samui or some other exotic destination for probably the same price and a lot longer in paradise. Excursion in Cozumel on the Catamaran to the snorkeling and beach party was great! Beach was beautiful but looked like a movie set with guests arriving and leaving every hour. One recommendation for Carnival - if you ARE going to run really dumb (but occasionally funny) competitions such as men vs women synchronized swimming contest, stretch yourselves a bit by giving $10 bar credits as prizes or something a little less worthless and tacky than 25c Oriental Trading medals or trophies. Your customers ARE providing the entertainment after all. Jeez... Music was not current - lots of stuff from the summer, mixed stuff from the 80s and 90s and the usual line dance stuff like Wobble, Cupid Shuffle etc. A bit boring after a while. Have to give a shout out for the awesome guitar guy in the Atrium Bar area - you should put him in permanent place of the piano bar entertainment which was alarming at best. Definitely recommend the Fast 2 Fun purchase - on and off the ship first gave us lots more time. Luggage was a bit of an issue - embarking, one of our tags came off and luggage took 8 hours to get to the cabin; disembarking someone jumped on our brand new, 1st time use, suitcase denting the main steel side struts like it had been hit with a sledgehammer. Carnival have offered to replace it, so no issue there either. Generally, very enjoyable, no real issues, first cruise experience. Staff work too long hours. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This was my 14th Carnival Cruise (17 overall). I take this cruise as a birthday gift to myself each year. I’ve grown to enjoy the IMAGINATION and her crew very much during the four previous trips and will miss sailing on this ship once ... Read More
This was my 14th Carnival Cruise (17 overall). I take this cruise as a birthday gift to myself each year. I’ve grown to enjoy the IMAGINATION and her crew very much during the four previous trips and will miss sailing on this ship once it is moved to the west coast in 2014. This time I was traveling with a good friend and left for a relaxing get-a-way from the Northeast cold weather. The price was too good to pass up and I managed to grab a porthole room (E-9) as an added bonus. EMBARKATION: I arrived at MIA international and easily grabbed a Taxi (Flat fee $24) to the port of Miami. It’s a short 20 ride. We arrived at the port about 11:00 am. Since I am Platinum the VIFP check in was quick and we boarded very shortly after arriving at the Port. My room was ready as soon as I boarded to drop my knapsack before heading out into the ship. The IMAGINATION is really a nice ship and very easy to navigate. I very much liked the new 2.0 upgrades. It was a nice change mostly noticeable to the Dynasty Lounge performances. I like how all of the performers have a bigger commitment to singing over past shows where there may have been one male and one female lead. The new “Playlist Productions” are shorter and repeat on different days allowing you to choose to take part in other activities on certain days if wanted. ROOM STEWARD: JOHN (Barbados) was our room steward and his assistant Santosa. They were extremely courteous and always took the time to say hello. They never disturbed us at any point during the day and I’ve said in in all my reviews, IMHO is what makes a good room steward; one that knows your name and schedule and can work around it without disturbing your vacation. We increased their gratuity directly to them in personal thank you cards at the end of the cruise. They really eliminated ANY worries regarding the cleanliness and status of our stateroom. They are an asset to the Carnival crew. CABIN: E9 PORTHOLE forward.... The setup with one bed on the bathroom wall and the other bed along the far wall under the window opened the space up nicely. Shift your beds like this it just seemed to create a lot of space. NO FRIDGE, but I knew that. This is your typical stateroom; perfectly located on deck 7, just up the hall from the Main Atrium and service desks. There was all NEW lighting in the rooms. It is also conveniently located just around the corner from the self-service laundry which came in handy after our muddy ATV excursion in Cozumel. One drawback is it is located just above the Dynasty Lounge so does get a loud thumping from the production shows at night. If you are a night owl, this probably won’t affect you, but if you turn in early you may not wish to book these rooms up front. ITINERARY/ PORTS: Miami-Key West-Cozumel-day at sea-Miami. One formal night on day two and a great quick getaway cruise. KEYWEST: Carnival is only in this port for a short time, but you can easily get a taste of the Key West atmosphere while there. One thing to keep in mind is that many of the local shops do not open until 9am so the early 7am arrival will be a bit quiet when first docked. Our ship had a medical emergency which caused us to arrive 1.5hrs late. They did extend our departure time by 30 minutes. Arriving at the Navy station you need to take a short Conch train to the Mallory Square area. My friend and I walked 2-3 blocks to the end of Front Street and rented biked for $10/day. We rode down to Southernmost Point for a photo and then up to HIGGS BEACH where you can pick up the bike trail. We made our way back through town and to my favorite stop KEYLIME PIE FACTORY 412 GREENE ST to grab a couple of my favorite Coconut Lime drinks and a pit-stop. The location to return the rental bikes is conveniently right next to it. KAI-KAI SANDALS and KINO SANDALS is just across the street as well as a cigar shop to grab a Key-Lime flavored cigar for a friend back home. We were back on board for a late lunch, waving goodbye to Key West and sitting by the pool by 2:00. COZUMEL, MX: I have been to this port several times and have done detailed past reviews which have included excursions for: JEEP/SNORKEL, AMAZING SECRET RIVER and CAVERN EXPLORE, DUNE BUGGY & BEACH, ADVENTURE SUBMARINE, SNUBA, COZUMEL (San Gervasio) MAYAN RUINS and the famous MAYAN RUINS of TALUM. You can check them out in any of my past reviews. This time we decided last minute for a little adventure and chose the ATV JUNGLE ADVENTURE and BEACH CLUB excursion. WHAT A BLAST! It did start raining while we were in Cozumel, however it just made the ATV excursion that much more fun. They take you via charter bus to the ATV location and after a safety briefing and a short instructional video you are on your own ATV and off into the jungle. This is an extremely BOUNCY and ROUGH ride. You WILL get dirty so a change of clothes might be a good idea. Small lockers are provided for $2 and you must have close toed shoes. After a 15-20 minute hands on training run, you begin a 70 minute ride through the jungle dirt and muddy paths. This is a very exhilarating and fun excursion all by itself. Well worth the Ship cost of $79. After returning your ATV, they do offer a photo to buy and you are back onboard the charter bus heading to a private Beach Club where you can purchase food as well as take part in additional excursions (at a reasonable price) like Parasailing & Wave Runners. These prices are actually less than the ship excursions charge. If you do not wish to stay the 1.5 hours at the Beach club you may opt to take a taxi back into town at your own cost, otherwise you take the charter bus back after the beach club stop. They do have (outside-open) showers, food menus and nice lounge chairs to use. After returning to the ship we did a quick shower and change into clean dry clothes and went back out into the port for some quick duty free shopping. COZUMEL for me never disappoints! It’s a nice Caribbean stop with much to do. FOOD/DINING: I chose “LATE DINING" on this cruise. It is an easy option so there is no rushing back onto the ship on port days. Since this was more or a laid-back casual trip we did not pack any formal night attire and simply grabbed something to eat at the buffet that night. It was less to pack and more flexibility to try other dining options. Once again I have nothing bad to say about the food on the ship. It was always hot, minimal waiting and delicious. The food & service in the Dining Room was as good a standard as any restaurant and could not have been any better. Our table mates were fun and we had great conversations. It is one of the nice things I like about cruising, meeting new people. CRUISE DIRECTOR- SKIP: He is funny and informative without being annoying like some others could be. ENTERTAINMENT: I do miss seeing the HIP-HOP crew FUNFORCE performing in the Atrium that was on my past Imagination cruises. They were a lot of fun. I did enjoy the new production shows and the new “George Lopez” PUNCHLINER’s CLUB seems to becoming a good asset to the cruise line on board. I did not use the SPA or CAMP CARNIVAL so have no comments to make here. SUMMARY: ITINERARY, FOOD, SERVICE, and CLEANLINESS of the ship, ADULT SERENITY deck and the Punchliner’s Comedy Club. Even though I have taken this exact ship and itinerary multiple times I always have fun and meet new people. I try and do different types of excursions and activities while on board. Its a vacation and while some people choose to rely on the "cruise host" to make the best of it, I do not, I choose to make the best of it for myself. Yes, it rained in Cozumel, we had a delay arriving in Key West, there was thumping music under my stateroom one night I decided to turn in early and I didn't win in the casino this trip, but I'm not one to allow those minor things to ruin a vacation. There were too many positives and relaxing memories I chose to take with me. I found a deck chair when I wanted one, I didn't have any worries to drive, clean my room or cook for the whole trip. I ate plenty, I had a few drinks, I laughed, I met a few new friends and took away more wonderful cruise memories. I know other lines offer different things, but with this trip I received exactly what I was expecting and looking for. This is why I gave this trip a 5+ stars rating. I would definitely do this cruise again, but looks like it will need to be on a different ship since the IMAGINATION is being re-positioned to the west coast. Feel free to check out my other reviews and/or contact me with any questions. wiskt Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Carnival Imagination is a tired ship that shows its age. There is nothing particularly outstanding about this ship, and much of the decor is quite garish. The main atrium is neon from top to bottom and the dining room is also appointed ... Read More
Carnival Imagination is a tired ship that shows its age. There is nothing particularly outstanding about this ship, and much of the decor is quite garish. The main atrium is neon from top to bottom and the dining room is also appointed with strings of neon lighting. We felt the economy nature of this cruise in the service--very slow in the dining rooms, no extra assistance by other crew members. While on other cruise lines the staff go beyond the call of duty to make passsengers happy, on this ship there's little effort beyond the basics. We were surprised that the very impressive entertainers did the exact same show on the first and last nights of the cruise! The second show was also very similar in style and content as well. The water park is old and not particularly impressive, especially when matched against Disney or other more modern ships. We had an ocean view cabin for 5 (two adults and three kids). The beds and bedding were comfortable. With all clothes unpacked and stored on shelves/in closets and luggage stored, there was some room to maneuver. Bathrooms are basic, but the shower curtain was rather disgusting--especially at the bottom. The plug in the bathroom was above the sink facing down, and did not hold the connection making charing of devices difficult. Cabin windows were very dirty and in need of being washed. It was actually difficult to see through the windows because of built up grime. Various details of the ship are really in need of updating...we noticed burnt out light fixtures, shabby paint jobs, and the windows of our cabin were so dirty and in need of being washed that it was hard to see out of them. It's hard to beat the value of a Carnival Cruise, but know that a lot of corners are cut in the process. Definitely buy the Fast Pass to Fun--totally worth the expedited boarding and disembarkation. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This was our first cruise so I can't really compare it to anything we've done before. We went the week before Christmas and took our grown kids for their Christmas gift. There were eight of us in four cabins total, and we all had ... Read More
This was our first cruise so I can't really compare it to anything we've done before. We went the week before Christmas and took our grown kids for their Christmas gift. There were eight of us in four cabins total, and we all had an amazing time! The Carnival Imagination is definitely older and the decor is dated, but it's still really nice. They keep everything very clean, with the exception of the pool which looked kind of green one day. But the next morning it was clear again, so I assume they do clean it daily. The hot tubs (there were 4 total) were almost always full. You really had to stalk one to get a chance to use it. The ship could definitely use another hot tub or two. I loved the adults only Serenity deck. The lounge chairs were very comfortable and it was a nice place to relax. The vibe was laid back out there most of the time, but one day there was a crowd in the hot tub who were drinking heavily and getting annoyingly loud. We just went and found a quieter place to hang out elsewhere on the ship. Our sailing was full but I never felt that the ship was too crowded. There are plenty of places to find peace and quiet if that is what you want. I loved watching the sunsets from the deck. That was one of the highlights of the cruise to me! The crew was for the most part amazing. Service was mostly great, and at times extraordinary. Only one bartender was unfriendly and unattentive, and maybe she was just having a bad week. We just avoided that particular bar because there were plenty of other bars to get a drink served with a smile. It pays to make friends with the crew, tip them a little extra, and they will take really good care of you. Our room steward, Trevor, was fantastic. He always greeted us by name, and was quick to respond to any request. Our cabin was cleaned throroughly at least twice a day. I absolutely adored the little towel animals that we found on our beds every evening. What a nice special touch that was. The cabin (we had an inside cabin) was small but not too small. There was enough room for us and our stuff. I did bring, thanks to tips from Cruise Critic's forum, an over the door shoe holder, which was a fantastic idea to keep stuff in so that you don't have to take up all the counter space, which is very limited. We might try a balcony room next time just because it would be nice to relax in the privacy of your own cabin and watch the sea. But I can't imagine spending a lot of time in a cabin, with all there is to do on the ship. I thought the entertainment was good. Not broadway quality of course, but still entertaining and diverse. There were many choices in the evenings, with different types of music and activities to choose from. I can't imagine people who say they get bored on a cruise ship. There were shows and activities I missed that I wish I had found the time to do. There's always next time! The food was good, but not great. It was about what I expected. It's not gourmet quality, but I would say more banquet quality. If you consider that it is included in the price of your fare, it's a great value. There is something to eat at all times, 24 hours a day, as much as you want. We all had no problem finding somethng that we liked, both on the buffet and in the dining rooms. The buffets were beautiful presented, and the lines weren't too terribly long, except for the Asian Wok station. It seemed to be a favorite at lunch, with lines easily 30 to 45 minutes long. I braved the long line on the last day, and found it good but prbably not worth the wait. The main dining room had the best food. I am a bit of a foodie, and I was satisfied, although not overly impressed. It met my expectations and I was never disappointed. We visited two ports, Key West and Cozumel. Key West was fun, but would have been so much better a little later in the day. We were there in the morning. I would like to visit again in the afternoon or evening. Cozumel had beautiful clear water. We visited Paradise Beach and The Money Bar. Paradise Beach was fun but very touristy. The snorkeling from the bank was the best from the shore I have ever done. I think next time I would pay for an offshore snorkeling excursion though. I imagine it would be amazing to go out to reefs. Shopping in Cozumel is fun. I enjoyed haggling with the shop keepers and getting great deals on souveniers. My overall impression of the part of Cozumel we saw was that it doesn't really feel like Mexico. It seems to be very Americanized, and very touristy. But I supposed that is to be expected at any Port that caters to cruisers. I have read a lot of vacation reviews, including a lot of cruise reviews. I think the people who complain are those who set their expectations too high. If you go on a cruise expecting gourmet 5 star restaurant food, you will be disappointed. If you go with reasonable expectations and the realization that they are feeding thousands of people on a boat, and that the price of your cruise includes not only room and board but pretty much all the food you can eat 24/7, then I think you will be happy. The same goes with the service, entertainment, and overall experience. You are not at a 5 star resort. But it's a great experience, lots of fun, and it will not be our last cruise! I want to try a bigger and newer boat next time, but I would definitely consider cruising on the Imagination again at some time in the future. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
My wife and I cruised on the Imagination on December 9th, 2013 for the four day Key West/Cozumel trip. Having just completed a 7 day Eastern Caribbean sailing the week before on the Glory we were very disappointed with this ship. The ... Read More
My wife and I cruised on the Imagination on December 9th, 2013 for the four day Key West/Cozumel trip. Having just completed a 7 day Eastern Caribbean sailing the week before on the Glory we were very disappointed with this ship. The ship's decor, to me, screams 70's downtown Vegas style. The buffet area is kind of darkish with neon-type lights above and is kind of dreary. I was told that the Imagination is the smallest ship in Carnival's fleet and it shows. It is missing the expansive spaces and high ceilings of their larger ships. I read above that the ship was refurbished in 2008? Wow! I wonder what they spent the money on. I was thinking that it was original. The basics: The buffet food was average. The Pride dining was good. The overall service and friendliness of the crew were below par. It seems that the Imagination is were they train new employees before putting them on the nicer ships and, perhaps, where they put more senior employees for disciplinary action. I was surprised to see one of the busboys on the lido deck had a neck tattoo and others with arm tattoos exposed. To me they almost looked like gang members. The cabin: Ocean view cabin window was so dirty that it was unpleasant to look through. Stowed Pullman bed takes up precious cabin space. No fridge. Temperature control for shower is ineffective. The temperature you get is what you get. No cover on electrical box above cabinets. The cabin is just old and tired. Your fellow passengers: Well, let me just say that, hmmm...that...about 30% of the passengers were...I'll just say that it felt like we were in a bad neighborhood on the south side of Chicago or Detroit or East St. Louis. I was glad that we didn't get mugged at the buffet! Seriously, I did wonder sometimes if our room would be safe while we were away or if a fight would break out in the crowded areas. It never occurred to me that ghetto dwellers are cruising nowadays! I wanted to go on vacation to get away from this stuff so keep this in mind when you are thinking of what a great deal $150 for a cruise is. Oh, it was no surprise that on the second morning a flyer was placed in everybody's room telling us that people were missing luggage from the first day when they deliver them outside the cabin door. In conclusion, I don't think we'll ever do a cheap cruise again. It is worth is to pay extra to get a better ship, better service and better neighbors... Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
My family of 4, hubby & 2 daughters, sailed the Imagination for Thanksgiving this year. As much as we tried to love this little cruise we just couldn't quite get there. Some of it really wasn't Carnival's fault. So with ... Read More
My family of 4, hubby & 2 daughters, sailed the Imagination for Thanksgiving this year. As much as we tried to love this little cruise we just couldn't quite get there. Some of it really wasn't Carnival's fault. So with that being said we probably will try to cruise with them again. We had a nice cabin. It is an older ship but our steward was great. Everything was clean. The food I found to be pretty awful. There were some things that were okay. My omelettes in the morning were good and they prepare a great flat iron steak in the dining room we were in. We had really rough seas and high winds. So WaterWorks was frequently closed as was the Mini-Golf. A great deal of stuff was cancelled in Mexico as well. Again not Carnival's fault but it made our trip less enjoyable. My ongoing theme of this review is, you take your chances. You take your chances sailing in November. My daughter, 7, loved Camp Carnival. And with good reason they did a wonderful job. I loved all the activities they had planned for the kids and so did she. On another note, was the crowd we were with. I do not consider myself hard to get along with I really enjoy people and having a good time. However, the rudeness and level of tact was hard to work with. There were some shining stars who were nice to meet but overall it was as rough as the seas. A great deal of cussing, pushing, and zero politeness or respect for others. It made me sad more than anything. So again as my title says, You Take Your Chances. You may have a better crowd and better weather, which could make your experience better than ours. I heard the crowds are rougher on all lines for the shorter and smaller ships. Next time we may go bigger and stay longer to see if that makes a difference. Happy Sails! Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We booked the Carnival Imagination for the 4 day cruise out of Miami, FL to Key West and Cozumel leaving on a Monday and returning on that Friday. We flew in the night before and stayed in Miami (glad we did! What a fun night!!) at the ... Read More
We booked the Carnival Imagination for the 4 day cruise out of Miami, FL to Key West and Cozumel leaving on a Monday and returning on that Friday. We flew in the night before and stayed in Miami (glad we did! What a fun night!!) at the Biscayne Bay Hilton (GREAT hotel- seems to be a good place, great views, and offered a cruise package which was $199 at the time for a Jr. King Suite, breakfast for 2, and transportation for 2 to the Port of Miami- plus they even gave us early transport to the Port which helped immensely!) After reading some reviews initially (after accidentally stumbling on it), we bought the Faster to the Fun for the $50 charge- WELL WORTH IT! If you are questioning it, don’t- just do it! We got early embarkation, priority service at Guest Services and got early debarkation. Getting on board early made it worth it enough because it added about 2-3 extra hours to the trip. Got to the cruise terminal around 10:45ish AM on Monday and a porter took our bags (which you also get quicker to your cabin as part of the F2F program) and we immediately cleared security. The line at checkin was empty which was nice and we immediately got our F2F “boarding pass” and room keys and our accounts set up. I didn’t time it but I think we waited in there for about 45 minutes to an hour by the time we started boarding (right after the Platinum and Diamond guests). As this was my first time being on any Carnival ship, let alone the Imagination, I didn’t know too much of what to expect. I did know it was an older ship (was told by a CS agent when I’d called a couple weeks prior) but that’s about it. When we boarded we got on through the atrium on Empress, Level 7. This was also where our cabin was (E160). The doors were closed and posted with the signs they were still cleaning the rooms, but we snuck in anyway hoping our room was ready so we could drop our backpacks off and head up to the Lido Deck (and yes it was, and I know, we are THOSE people). Once we dropped our stuff off, we made our way up, while exploring, to the Lido Deck. We grabbed some drinks and sat down by the pool. One thing I did notice that kinda bugged me through out the trip was the servers are a little pushy with drinks. It seemed as the minute you said no to one of them, another one was already asking. But, we did get a server when we wanted our second round and we was GREAT (albeit with that ‘pushy’ factor). He remembered our drink orders (Banana daiquiris and Budweiser tubs) for the whole trip- as well as our folio numbers!! It was absolutely beautiful in Miami that day so we’d worn our swimsuits on board and it was a wise choice! We dipped our feet in the pool and enjoyed the sun and stayed there until it was time for the lifeboat drill. Lifeboat drill was a little behind schedule (supposed to start by 3:30- cast off at 4 PM). Our station was ‘F’ which was on Lido Deck. We had to wait for all other stations to get up to Lido to know where their boats were in case it was needed- and this was going on while we start casting off. I have always LOVED cast off- especially since other ships were at the Port and everyone waved at one another. The crew deliberately blocked people from moving around (understandable) but they also blocked us from watching out the doors (which I didn’t get and kinda bugged me ). By the time the drill ended, it was a free for all to the back of the ship to watch- and got very crowded! Everyone was taking their pictures and watching as we passed by Miami Beach and the parks (cool scenic views!). and then we headed back to the pool area where the DJ was playing music and a lot of people are doing line dances and just dancing for the sail away party- I always love these! We wandered the ship for a little while longer after the sail away party before relaxing in our room and cleaning up for dinner. We did Anytime Dining which is nice- never have a set time I’m hungry. Our service seemed a little slow by the staff (they were slammed but it seemed to take longer than 10 minutes just to get bread and water at the least. However, we sat in the same area 2 other nights and we LOVED Danny our waited and staff!). The crew dance was great- I like that Carnival does it every night rather than just at the end of trip like other cruise lines. The food for the whole trip was Eh. It wasn’t great, nor horrible. Some items were AMAZING and others, well, couldn’t finish them. I had heard that their food wasn’t the best prior to going on the trip so I wasn’t expecting 5 star cuisine. I definitely had my fair share to eat though! On Tuesday we got into Key West around 7:30 AM. We ordered cabin service for breakfast knowing that the buffet would be slammed and we didn’t want to get up any earlier than necessary to hit the MDR. We were kinda peeved that no announcements were made that we could get off the ship but, it was maybe 15 minutes or so that we missed. We caught a trolley into town and started walking. I would recommend visiting Key West for sure- just not at 8 AM! Nothing was open. We decided we wanted to go see the Southern Most Point Buoy at the end of the island. It’s a decent walk- at least 1.5 miles- if not more. Some stores were opening on our way down to the SMP and we took note of others that weren’t so we could stop by on our way back to see them. We got some good pictures- there’s a line that is well respected and no one is pushy about it either- we got 4 pictures total which was nice. We loved seeing the chickens running all over the island and saw a momma chicken with her chicks as we left the SMP. We stopped and had chocolate covered Key Lime Pie for the first time (it’s delicious!!) and made our way back to the trolley to get back onto the ship (because we docked at the Naval base, you CANNOT walk on your own to the ship- police and security check your photo IDs and cruise cards… and I did enjoy the Key West Police Officer who so kindly jumped up as I took a picture of the ship yelling “photo bomb!” Got a bunch of us laughing.). I wish we would have had more time other than about 4.5 hours (we had to get back in line for a trolley back to the ship at 12:30 to get everyone on by 1:15 to leave at 1:30. We definitely could have used more time here for sure !! We’ve decided though we want to take a separate trip to Key West to further explore though!) Once back on board, we went up to the pool deck and after another sail off party, some drinks, and LOTS of sun, took a bit of a nap. It was Cruise Elegant night and even though it was only a 4 day trip, almost everyone was very dressed up! Due to the fact we’d gotten up very early and had a long day, we went to bed pretty early so I don’t know too much about the shows or club that night. **Places to check out in Key West** Kermit’s- where we got our chocolate covered Key Lime Pie. They have other Key Lime stuff too- juice, chips, candies, but I love the little shop! Kai-Kai Sandals- The most COMFORTABLE flip flops I’ve ever worn- well worth the $60 price tag after walking all over in them in Cozumel… I’m hooked! Plus when you send them back after wearing them out they give you 40% off on a new pair. Last Flight Out- Cool store with shirts and items founded by a local- cool back story too! Tervis (at Mallory Square)- these are the coolest cups! Once you start, it’s like Pringles… you can’t stop! I’ve got the 16 oz ones, 24 oz. ones, and a water bottle! Loved the Key West exclusive cup, chicken and SMP patches, etc. Plus they’re nice to have on the ship so you can get your coffee/tea/water and they stay VERY warm! Wednesday morning we were able to sleep in because we weren’t due into Cozumel until about 1:30 PM. It was raining in the morning so we couldn’t sit out on the Lido Deck like we wanted but none-the-less we were able to wander some more and played Bingo (hoping for beginner’s luck and it didn’t pan out- oh well!). We got into Cozumel early- around 1 PM- and docked next to the Carnival Elation (sister ship to Imagination - except Elation has a basketball court on top and Imagination has the kids water slide). There are some cool shops as you leave the ship and duty free area so if you’re looking for a last minute souvenir, give them a look. We took a cab down to the all inclusive at Nachi Cocom- a little pricey for the $80 or so that it costs but OMG the food was amazing!!! If I could have lived on their cheese enchiladas and tortilla soup the whole trip, I would have been just fine with that!! It did rain later on in the day but considering we were already swimming in the ocean, it didn’t bother me much. I doubt I’ll do an AI like this again since we stayed for maybe 4 hours, but it was a good experience (by the way, to save $5 per person, bring a towel from the ship! The ones we got as “rentals” we nappy and torn- yuck!). It was a torrential downpour as we headed into town but it stopped and dried off probably an hour or so later. Walked up and down, took pictures and got shopping done- we did a LOT of walking so dress for that! I think we finally got back on board around 7:30 or so and we were exhausted and after walking through the water from the sewers that flooded- we stunk too! Took a shower and ate in the MDR for dinner. Enjoyed the sail away party again- due to the rain, they moved to the Verandah deck… it was AWESOME! Entertainment staff handed out glow sticks and beads and everyone got in on the dancing… probably one of the best sail offs I’ve seen in awhile! We went and watched the 60 second challenger (won a medal for the stacking buckets game!) and danced in the club for a little bit (first time dancing in jeans, Toms, and a sweatshirt, but hey… it’s not dress to impress like South Beach! LoL). We got hungry late into the night- like 1 AM and we knocked out a whole pizza from Pizza Pirate (not bad for cruise fare… and nothing like “free” when at home that was easily an $8 or $9 plus tip pie1). Finally knocked out after a great, adventurous, long day! Thursday was a sea day. Finally got a chance to sleep in- of sorts. Got up lazily, got breakfast, and laid out. It was VERY windy so the pool was closed off but we laid closer to the breakfast area and it wasn’t as bad. The entertainment staff did the Groove for St. Jude which is a good cause (give up getting one drink and give them the money instead- it’s for a great cause). We didn’t do too much on our sea day aside from relax. Packed later on in the evening- couldn’t believe how much I’d bought in the 4.5 days! (By the way, if you like scrapbooking and memory stuff, I HIGHLY recommend getting one of the scrapbooking kits Carnival sells. They’re $14.99 and worth it for everything you get!! I love the idea because you won’t find the logo or even towel animal stickers anywhere else!). We watched the Songs of the 80s show that night- due to the rocking of the ship they cancelled the dancing for the dancers’ safety but the singing was GREAT! We did last minute souvenir looking and looking through our pictures and finally called it a night. In the morning of debarkation we ordered cabin service for breakfast again. We stayed in our cabin as long as we could until the room steward finally told us they needed to clean. The whole process from leaving our cabin to getting on the transfer bus to Miami airport was about 30 minutes- we also took our luggage with us. We initially got priority debarkation but asked for the last one so we could stay as long as possible. I would definitely do that again! I’d also book an earlier flight- sometime between 1-2 PM because it just added to the boredom sitting at Miami International (even after killing an hour at the airport Chili’s). I was once a skeptic of Carnival- thinking of it as nothing but a dirty party boat with kids running amok- the Triumph fire didn’t help my thoughts either! But for the price, you can’t beat it. There were some kids running amok, but nothing I haven’t experienced on any other line. Yes, the decorations were slightly cheesy but it was an older ship so it’s to be expected. I am so impressed I’ve booked another trip for us- this time the Conquest in July. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Last week I enjoyed a 4 day Caribbean cruise with 3 of my girlfriends (my 6th cruise, their 1st). We took this trip without hubbies and without kids. We chose the Imagination because of the itinerary, length of cruise and price. We flew ... Read More
Last week I enjoyed a 4 day Caribbean cruise with 3 of my girlfriends (my 6th cruise, their 1st). We took this trip without hubbies and without kids. We chose the Imagination because of the itinerary, length of cruise and price. We flew into Fort Lauderdale at 11:30 the morning of the cruise. We used SAS transportation to get to Port of Miami. They were efficient, reliable and well priced as usual. At the Port we gave our bags to the Porter whom reminded us that he would like a tip and we went into the terminal. We were through security and on the ship within about 15 minutes. Everything was so smooth and organized. I can't understand why anyone would want to purchase the "faster to the fun" as we got to the fun as fast as we could walk....We immediately went to the Lido deck to eat lunch and got started on our cruise fun. Over the next 4 days we ate well, met great people, had loads of fun and enjoyed the sun and wonderful facilities. Here is a summary of my thoughts.... Food: We ate buffet breakfast and lunch each day. The buffet was standard for Carnival - decent selection of salads, hot items, desserts, etc. I have always felt and still do that I'd rather pay a bit more money to see some more variety of fruits and veggies. I'd love to see peppers, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc but this is not the case. Don't get me wrong, we were well fed, but a little more variety with some of the tastier fruits and veggies would be nice. Hot items were changed frequently enough to keep it interesting and the eggs made to order station helped make breakfast better. I enjoyed eating at Mongolian Wok which I chose the first day - this was the only day that there wasn't a long line there so I'm glad I went first thing. I didn't try a burger but heard they were mediocre, they didn't look nearly as yummy as the Guy's Burgers on the Breeze. The other grill items (chicken fingers, fries, nachos, etc were tasty. My friend enjoyed wraps from the deli a few times and we all had some pizza which was okay but not great. We loved to eat on the back patio above the serenity deck. Not many people find that special place so it's peaceful with a great view of the ship's wake. We thoroughly enjoyed dining in the Pride Dining Room, any time seating. We had Milan as our waiter each night and he was fabulous. Good service, food came out correct, quickly and the right temperature each time. He was friendly and fun to converse with each night. The food was all quite good but after 5 Carnival cruises in a row the menu is getting boring. Highlights included lobster, brisket, pumpkin soup, iced capp cake, key lime pie, spring rolls, and the Indian dish. Entertainment: We skipped the big productions just due to our timing, but I had seen Divas on a previous ship and thought it was lame. We enjoyed the late night Comedian each night - very funny. We also had fun at the disco most nights. In the day we enjoyed watching the pool games although at times I wished that there was a second pool with peace and quiet. The serenity deck was nice but there just isn't enough space. The pool was way too small and it was green for most of the cruise (algae?) We jumped in to cool off once but it seemed like human soup. We didn't use the waterslide area but I know my kids would've loved it as they have in the past. Cabins - spacious, nice layout, clean but outdated looking. Our toilet seat was broken which I was surprised was left unaddressed. You couldn't miss it if you were cleaning a toilet each day. We finally asked on day 2 to have it fixed as it was pinching our bottoms. We went out for a few hours and came back to a new one. Our cabin stewart was in and out without detection. He kept our cabin nice and clean. My only complaint about our cabin was that I could hear the cabin beside us through the connecting door. I've never heard cabins around me before so I'm guessing the door isn't as sound proof as a wall would be. Also we could periodically hear a banging noise out our window which was annoying. It happened about 1-3x every 24 hours so it was bearable. We were in cabin R100. Drinks - great service on the pool decks. Reasonable prices. Nice selection. I love the fact that milk is included as I drink several little cartons a day on a cruise. The lemonade and iced tea are nice too. Ports - we did not purchase Carnival excursions as I always find we can do better on our own. In Key West we rented an electric car and toured all the sites on the island. In Cozumel we spent the day at Mr. Sanchos which was absolutely fabulous. Ship - the décor is a little outdated but improved since the last time I sailed this ship. The ship is looking tired in many places (carpet looks old and worn, statues are peeling, etc) but it's still beautiful. The layout is easy to navigate. As noted above I wish it had another pool area. Crowd - I know people say Carnival is a party ship, well we had a blast. I only saw one really inebriated woman but otherwise people let their hair down and had some fun but were respectable. I felt it was a really accepting crowd. No need to be self-conscious about body image, clothing, etc. We saw it all and everything was accepted. Very few upturned noses, just down to earth happy people. I hardly saw anyone being rude. Most people just seemed genuinely happy and friendly. It was a great mix of people and we met some cool people. Every single staff member we encountered was friendly and very helpful. They all work so hard.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Husband's been struggling with cancer for years and it recently moved to his brain, so we had little time to complete two cruises and reach platinum status before his late October surgery. He's had an uphill battle since, but is ... Read More
Husband's been struggling with cancer for years and it recently moved to his brain, so we had little time to complete two cruises and reach platinum status before his late October surgery. He's had an uphill battle since, but is beginning the recovery period and talk of future cruises finally got me motivated to submit a review. We didn't have more than 10-days for this trip, so we chose back-2-back from Miami, sailing first to Nassau Oct 11-14 (with an overnight stay) and then to Key West & Cozumel Oct 14-18. First time we didn't book a balcony in forever, so we had some reservations about being disappointed. Happy to say, we weren't. Had a wonderful cabin steward (Harry) on Riviera deck who took very good care of us and was totally charming. Since the Oct 11-14 cruise was technically our 9th, we weren't expecting much in the way of VIP boarding, but they allowed it for that departure because we didn't do a 'real' disembarkation before the Oct 14-18 sailing. Had we known how nice, convenient, relaxing VIP boarding could be, we would've made a much better effort to hit platinum level sooner!!! Since we were flying in to Ft. Lauderdale (for our Miami departure), we decided to go the day before instead of doing a dawn-departure on the day of. Found a hotel that was more reasonable than our usual park&fly place near our home airport (we LOVED Hollywood Beachside Boutique Suites; booked direct after reading reviews on Trip Advisor), so we decided we'd do MetroLink (light rail) to/from our airport (another savings)....but we had to figure transportation from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami on arrival, and then on to the pier the next day and back to Miami at cruise end. After researching shuttles, we checked rental cars. Got an overnight rental for less than $50 when we landed in Ft. Lauderdale that we were able to return it at the Miami airport on departure day, and the car company (Alamo) provided transfers to the ship! We got off and back on and repeated the process again in Nassau. Wasn't sure about being docked almost 24-hours, especially since we'd been there many times, but with no rush to do anything, we were in leisure mode and loved it. The 'not really disembarking' between the two cruises could have gone better...if we'd only followed the instructions on the letter left in our room. Instead we trusted the instructions given to us as we prepared to follow the letter's directions and spent almost two hours getting off and back on. Total confusion, chaos and lack of leadership. We were told by others that this was not standard, so we may try it again down the road...but we may also just take longer single sailings. The second cruise, Oct 14-18, was a blast from start to finish, even though we'd been to these ports many times too. Did the bar crawl in Key West and had a great time. Just the right amount of every ingredient to enjoy some early morning elbow bending. There were a few in our group who 'insisted' that one drink per bar was not sufficient, but other than that/them, it was very fun and nice to go beyond the usual tourist bars. In Cozumel, we thought about returning to Nachi-Cocom (beach day excursion [not offered by the ship] worth every penny of the $55 cost: lunch, unlimited beverages, private beach, pool, water toys), but my husband wasn't feeling up to it, so we opted for our own bar crawl mixed with shopping at the pier. Husband came home with a gorgeous white topaz ring (proving he could barter better than the salesman) and I chose a carved coconut monkey beverage holder from the ship :-) Disembarkation went smoothly, as it always seems to with Carnival, and we used SAS transportation ($30 for 2) for the return to our Ft. Lauderdale flights. Best we'd ever done with ground transportation: just $90 for both of us (round trip), including tips, AND we had a car to use the day before. Will always do this on future Miami departures (because we always fly Southwest to Ft. Lauderdale). We've never had a problem with CCL food & ate everywhere without complaint. Went to a few shows (all enjoyable), played lots of trivia and enjoyed all seven days. In fact, writing this review makes me want to enjoy another seven soon! Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Just returned from our second attempt at enjoying a vacation with Carnival Cruise Lines aboard the Imagination sailing the western Caribbean. This cruise (like our first aboard the Fascination) was subpar at its best. The good: 1. ... Read More
Just returned from our second attempt at enjoying a vacation with Carnival Cruise Lines aboard the Imagination sailing the western Caribbean. This cruise (like our first aboard the Fascination) was subpar at its best. The good: 1. EMBARKATION. at the port of Miami was very smooth and we were able to board the ship much earlier than expected. 2. ROOM. was ready on time and was clean. 3. COZUMEL. excursion "Twister" to Isla Pasion was a lot of fun. 4. COMEDIAN. Jorge Solano. Jorge is actually a former cruise director himself and his comedy act, both the family friendly and adult show, we're great. The bad: 1. THE FOOD. All the food was bad. The dining room food was bland, over cooked, clearly frozen and service was slow. The horizon grill on the lido deck was usually better but still less appetizing than a cica 1990s trip to the Golden Corral. The lines were super long and the staff seemed irritated and at times, angry. 2. THE CRUISE DIRECTOR. Skip....we never actually saw skip in any kind of organic setting. Skip and his super fake disposition made an appearance at the "welcome aboard show" and then again before the adult comedy show. At this juncture he made a disgusting joke about blow jobs and his rejection of the gay lifestyle when it was "his turn." Pretty pathetic. Other than that skip just kept running in a loop on our television, where there should have been a movie playing instead. His debarkation video was especially condescending and fake. I will be having nightmares about skip's voice. 3. THE POOL. Two words .... Human bouillabaisse. I have never seen such a small pool so very crowded. It was gross and we couldn't even bring ourselves to put a toe in the water. My children witnessed two people having sexual relations in the hot tub by the pool around 10pm which seemed to be substantiated by the fact that only that particular hot tub was closed the following morning. Why no one puts a stop to this type of behavior is beyond me. 2. ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS. Our room was clean, However it was SOOOO humid and uncomfortable that it was not the cool, restful haven away from the crowds that a cabin should be. The ugly: 1. THE SHOWS. "Living in America" and a Fifties themed show that started out with "born to be wild." The female lead was pretty good, albeit generic, but the male lead was aweful! He had no business covering Marvin Gay. Singing louder does not equal singing better. The dancers were victims of cheesy, dated choreography. One of the female dancers was clearly a transsexual and stuck out like a sore thumb. It was just plain awkward as he was overcompensating with exaggerated style that didn't blend with the other female dancers. The pyrotechnics were silly and added nothing but an unwelcomed scare to older passengers. I have seen better shows in high schools. Having said that however, the band was good despite the sophomoric singing and dancing. We will not be cruising again with carnival. Unfortunately the bad far out weighs the good and as a result, the type of passengers the the cruise line attracts are not who we would otherwise choose to spend our free time with.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
When my wife and I first talked about going on a cruise for our 35th Anniversary we shopped around for good prices. My wife browsed the internet sites and found a great deal on priceline.com.When we told others we were going on a Carnival ... Read More
When my wife and I first talked about going on a cruise for our 35th Anniversary we shopped around for good prices. My wife browsed the internet sites and found a great deal on priceline.com.When we told others we were going on a Carnival cruise they all thought we were crazy. We thought with all the bad press of the recent events that the odds were in our favor.We booked a 4 night cruise aboard the Imagination from Miami to Key West, and Cozumel. Found wicked cheap airfare from Providience to Ft.Lauderdale on Southwest.I looked on the Internet for a shuttle service from Ft.Lauderdale to the port of Miami.We used easyexpress, Excellent service and free return trip to airport.we also took advanges of Carnivals Faster to the Fun, for one fee per cabin we received, priority boarding,access to our cabin when we boarded, priority disembarkation at all ports, and when we returned to Miami we were among the 1st wave off the ship, which was a huge plus seeing we had an early flight back home. Our cabin was Great, on the Empress deck, center of the ship with and ocean view. Cabin was beautiful, ultra clean and the cabin Steward Roberto was a joy to be around.We made our way up to the Lido deck to enjoy the views of Miami, and the sail away party on the deck,what a blast!!!! We were greeted by Suadnyana! what a blast this drink server ended up being my "best" friend for the week. I have never seen anybody work as hard as this guy does and ENJOY his job.Always with this beaming smile and a never ending desire to make you feel like a king or queen. We made our way to the Lido buffet restaurant and found a endless variety of food choices,all off the food from breakfast to lunch choices were endless. During the first night we had Dinner in the Pride restaurant and again were not disappointed with the food or the service. This is where we meant our new friends from Seattle. The evening stage show was the only real downside to the cruise, the performers well they are just not that great!We did find the comedians on board the Imagination in the comedy club were GREAT!!! The second day we docked at 0800am in Key West Fla.We booked the Key West Pub crawl!!!! What a blast,the mission 5 bars in 2hrs before 12noon!!! We were met on the pier by our tour guide Jo, this girl was a hoot!!!We boarded the conch train and into town we went, Jo lead us to some of Key West famous watering holes,for a taste of some great tasting drinks,,, and by the way not watered down at all, with the sound of the conch shell being sounded we moved on to the next location for yet another livation!!!! At the end of the tour we had a conch shell blow off for a chance to win the beads!!! I won!!!!!!! what a blast. A very shorted visit as we had to be back on the ship by 130pm.. They need a longer stay in Key West!!!! We set sail for Cozumel, The "dress up" night for dinner was a good time many different settings to take formal pictures were set up around the ship. We arrived in Cozumel at 1pm the next day. The area right off the ship provided many shops to purchase many Mexican items. The shopkeepers are a little high pressure but that was expected outside. The shots of Tequila in many shops kept me very happy as my wife shopped! While in Cozumel we went to Jimmy Buffett"s Margaritaville bar and seaside restaurant,,, Great food and drink, and a place to snorkel a beautiful reef. We asked one of the locals to recommended a beach where we could take in the sands and waters of Cozumel, He sent us to the Ocean VIP resort, south of the port. The local Taxis are a trip in its self. No real set rates, you can barter the $$ you want to pay them... when we arrived at the "Ocean Resort" it was kind of like going into someones back yard???? The host met us and said "use of the beach and chairs were "free" if we purchased drinks and food!!!! The beach was small and the water had kind of a funny smell. Also only 10yards out it became very rocky!!! Not what we were hoping for.... We returned to the port area to do some additional shopping. We did great deal on a piece of jade jewelry for my wife. The day at sea sailing back to Miami was relaxing watching some of the sites on board the ship, and enjoying cocktails while getting some sun!!!! As a 1st time cruisers we can say it was a good time and have already begun looking for bargains for sometime next year... Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Our experience from start to finish was wonderful. Embarkation took less than 30 minutes; baggage was at our cabin door as we entered our hallway; staff-110% accommodating, Spirit dining room staff were totally accommodating and watched ... Read More
Our experience from start to finish was wonderful. Embarkation took less than 30 minutes; baggage was at our cabin door as we entered our hallway; staff-110% accommodating, Spirit dining room staff were totally accommodating and watched over my husband's Diabetic diet like a family member; food-can't complain (water machine on Lido deck needed to be maintained better, however staff always had pitchers of fresh water standing by); upgrades to ship are great-loved the salt water pool,hot tubs on Serenity deck were sooo relaxing; loved the water slides-nothing like not having to wait in line for them; we were missing the basketball courts; shows were very enjoyable-comedians were a riot. We participated in several games and more times than none, came back with either a ship trophy or medal. Loved Key West and the free shuttle into town; Cozumel was awesome-would love to visit both ports again to enjoy them longer, especially Key West-wished we could have been there for more hours than the half day visit. Disembarkation took a minimal amount of time. Looking forward to another Carnival Fun Ship cruise. Negatives: maintaining the outside of the ship was a bit disturbing, but I know it must be done. Also, sure wish the great photographs were offered at a more reasonable price-just didn't feel the deals were enticing enough. Heck-the left over photos were being tossed anyway. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
My boyfriend and I decided to go on this cruise to celebrate my college graduation. We had never done a cruise before, but we managed to get a very good price on an interior state room on a low level of the boat so we decided to give it a ... Read More
My boyfriend and I decided to go on this cruise to celebrate my college graduation. We had never done a cruise before, but we managed to get a very good price on an interior state room on a low level of the boat so we decided to give it a try. We flew in to the Miami Airport and stayed at the Comfort Suites North, which offered a free shuttle to the port. We arrived at the terminal at about 11am (our actual boarding time on our passes said 1-3pm) and check in was very quick (we had done already done most of the things online). When we got on to the boat, we went to our room to put our bags away before heading to the pool. The rooms were fine, nothing special. The only thing that was slightly annoying was that there was only one outlet. In the future, I would bring a power strip. Overall, it is very clear that the boat is old. I read somewhere that the ship was built in 1995, and you can tell that the decorations were cool during that time. The whole boat basically looks like a casino. After checking out the room, we went up on to the pool deck and jumped in the hot tub. The servers on the deck were very aggressive and were CONSTANTLY coming up to us asking if we wanted drinks, even when we had drinks in our hands. We literally had people coming up to us every 3 minutes to try to sell us alcohol, which got very annoying. After the first day we chose beach chairs on the upper most deck above the pool (deck 12) to avoid the servers. Right off of the pool deck, there is a large buffet area. Part of it is outside, and there is a larger buffet inside with a good amount of seating. We ate at the buffet for one or two meals and had late night snacks there, but we mostly ate in the dining room. The buffet food was pretty good, but they pretty much had the same thing every day so it got a little old. As I mentioned, we spent most of our meal times in the dining room. We did not have an assigned dining time, and we were on what Carnival calls the "your time" dining. Essentially, they have a separate dining room for "your time" guests, and you can show up any time with about a 4 hour window for dinner and they will seat you as soon as they can. We were a little worried that we would have to wait a long time to sit and eat, but we never had to wait at all. We only had two people in our party so that probably made it easier, but there always seemed to be a lot of open tables. The food in the dining room was AMAZING. We had escargot, lobster, steak, stuffed mushrooms, cheese plates, and everything was so good. We couldn't believe that people were waiting in the long buffet lines by the pool to eat chicken fingers and fries while the dining rooms with the gourmet food were half empty. The breakfasts and lunches were good as well. We had bagels and lox and eggs benedict as well as eggs to order and everything was great. As far as entertainment went, we didn't really see a lot of things on the schedule that interested us. We aren't really big gamblers so we didn't every go to the casino, and there were a lot of competitions inside during the day, but we didn't really want to spend time inside when it was so beautiful out. During the days there were different contests on the stage by the pool such as a "rubber chicken olympics" and bingo. There was also a "hairy chest competition" that we found rather inappropriate considering that there were children around. Essentially, the men in the competition gave some of the female passengers lap dances and were dancing on poles in the middle of the day on the pool deck while a bunch of little kids were sitting right there. Although some of the activities on the schedule were listed as 18+, this one was not but was definitely not appropriate for the 8 year olds by the pool to watch. In the evening, we went to karaoke one night and had a pretty good time, although there weren't a ton of people there. We really enjoyed the two comedians that were on the boat and we went to watch their shows on two separate nights. They offered family shows as well as 18+ shows and they were very funny. Perhaps due to the lack of activities, it seemed that the only thing on this boat to do was drink. People were VERY drunk all day and all night, especially after everybody got back on the boat from Mexico and our day at sea. On the second day of our cruise, they actually had to drain and scrub the whole pool because some drunk person puked in it. The pool was essentially a place for the drunk people to stand, so we felt kind of bad for the little kids trying to actually swim in there. I think that the intoxication level was pushed even further by the aggressive servers by the pool, who we later found out make an automatic 15% gratuity for each sale they make, and only make a base salary of ~$40 per month, which explains why they are so eager to make sales. We were very surprised because it essentially seemed like there were no rules, no limits, and no consequences for any behavior. Aside from the aggressive pool servers (who were friendly enough, but annoying), the quality of service really varied a lot. Our steward for our state room was super nice and helpful and our room was cleaned well twice a day which was great. The dining staff in the buffet area was sort of unpleasant and crabby. In the dining room, people were kind of quiet, not really friendly but not really rude or unfriendly either. Overall, the service was okay, but didn't really live up to the stories about exceptional service that I've heard from friends and family who have cruised before. The ports of call for our trip were Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. In Key West, we purchased a bar crawl excursion through Carnival. We had a really amazing time and our tour guide, Beau, was super knowledgeable about the area and the history of Key West and he was very friendly. The only part about the port that was unfortunate was that we were only there from 7:30am-1pm. We basically started drinking at 10am (we are college students so it wasn't a problem) and got back on the boat with our group and kept drinking when we were done. We actually got up early and got off the boat right away when we docked at 7:30 and explored the area while a lot of people slept in and didn't get off until about 9-10am, but we figured that we would spend all the time we could off the boat since we had such a short amount of time there. Although we enjoyed our excursion and thought it was a good deal (basically a walking tour with 5 specialty drinks included for $40), some of the friends we made on the boat were able to find some really good deals when they walked off the boat. They were able to go para sailing for $20 a person and were with people that booked through Carnival for $90 just by walking up to the business directly. I'm not sure if this is common or just because we cruised during off season, but it is definitely something to think about. The next day in Cozumel, we booked a snorkel excursion through Expedia. We arrived in Cozumel at 1:30pm and got back on the boat at 9:30pm. Getting off the boat in Cozumel was a real mess. We had to get off the boat right way at 1:30 to take a cab over to our 2pm excursion or we would have waited a half hour for all the craziness to die down. Everybody was itching to get off the boat and it was just really hectic. Crew members were being pretty rude and screaming at guests trying to get off the boat and it was not a very pleasant experience. We expected there to be a lot of people on our excursion but we were the only two. It was really nice because we basically got a private sail boat ride and snorkel lesson. At one point, a boat full of about 40 cruise ship guests pulled up near us for the snorkel excursion they booked through Carnival. There were so many people and it was completely crowded and nuts. A lot of people were screaming and freaking out because of the fish. I was very glad that we were on a different, smaller tour. The next day was our day at sea. As I mentioned earlier, there wasn't a lot to do besides drink on the boat. It got pretty crazy watching the drunk people. We got sick of the high drink prices and couldn't justify paying for drinks anymore by the time our day at sea rolled around, but there were a lot of drunk people by the pool all day and at the comedy club that night. Disembarkation went pretty smoothly for us. It started at about 8am on the last day of the trip. We got breakfast in the dining room one last time and we took our luggage with us up to the pool deck to wait to get off the boat. They let the guests get off in zones to keep the process smooth. Our flight didn't leave Miami until 4:30pm and we were in no hurry to get off the boat, so we just waited for all the other zones to get called before we got off and went through customs. Overall, this was a good first cruise. We learned a lot about what is important to us in a cruise and what to look for in the future. We would definitely recommend looking in to the types of activities that are offered on the boat and seeing if they interest you. We would also probably book on a ship with more pools/water slides. I think that we would probably also look for a ship that offers an unlimited drink card option because there were a lot of times that we would have enjoyed drinks but couldn't justify spending $9 for one. We also weren't particularly impressed with the service and would probably try another cruise line in the future. It was a good time and we had fun for not a lot of money (especially considering that if we had gone on a vacation to a resort we would have had to pay for our food), but it was definitely a learning experience for us. Although we did not have any kids with us in our group, I would really advise that anybody with kids think hard before bringing them on this boat. There are a lot of activities that are not kid friendly and there are basically 2 water slides and a very small kiddie pool for them to play in unless you sign them up for the "camp carnival" activities. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was a spring break/senior trip for my daughter and I, and we had an amazing trip. The Imagination was the perfect ship for this 4 night adventure. Embarkation-The Port of Miami is organized, clean, and kept the line moving. We ... Read More
This was a spring break/senior trip for my daughter and I, and we had an amazing trip. The Imagination was the perfect ship for this 4 night adventure. Embarkation-The Port of Miami is organized, clean, and kept the line moving. We arrived at 12:30 expecting huge lines, but were pleasantly surprised to see all lines open. We were onboard in a matter of minutes. We were surprised to see that there were very few people taking advantage of the beverages you are allowed to take on board. Don't forget each person is allowed 12 sodas or waters and everyone over 21 can bring on a bottle of wine. I opted for a screw top Flip Flop brand so I didn't need an opener. Ports of Call-Key West was warm, sunny, cozy and laid back. We opted to do some walking around in Old Town Key West. The tram drops you off on the north side of Duval Street, and because it was only 7:30am, we walked down to the southernmost point giant concrete bouy to take pictures. We were the only ones there because the tram tours hadn't gotten that far yet. So nice not to have to wait to have our picture taken there. We took our time coming back stopping by the Hemingway House and Lighthouse which are right cross the street from one another. We didn't go in either, but enjoyed looking. We walked up to Mallory Square, did some picture taking and some shopping. Anyone looking for an amazing bargain on some amazing sandals needs to hit Kinos at the corner of Firtgerald and Greene. They are made on site, super cheap, really cute and last forever. Second stop was Cozumel. We took a private tour through Cozumel Bar Hop and this was our favorite thing about the whole trip. It's a private tour that I HIGHLY recommend. They take you to 4 bars on the eastern side of the island where the scenery is to die for, there is no electricity, and the drinks are strong. They provide a drink at each bar and a t-shirt along with a history of the island. We met some great people and had a terrific day. The ship-Relaxing, easy to navigate, and very well kept. We did anytime dining and never had to wait. The food was good and my daughter teasingly asked the waited for lobster at every meal. The Lido buffet was never crowded and my favorite thing was the Mongolian Wok where you got to choose your own veggies, meat and sauce and they cooked to order. We ordered room service for our day in Key West when we knew we were docking early. We asked for a 6am delivery time and they showed up at 5:40am so be prepared for them to show up while you are still sleeping. The Serenity area was very quiet and relaxing and I never saw one child there for more than a minute. Room-We had an interior room for this trip and it was perfect. Who needs a window when all you do is shower and sleep in there anyway? Our room steward, Rommel, was an angel and when I told him I was taking him home he said "Ok, Just let me go pack", lol. He called us by name EVERY time he saw us. Impressive. My daughter, who is a huge nap fan, said her favorite part of the whole trip was the bedding which is super lush. Entertainment-The comics were hysterical and the shows fill up fast so get there early. We enjoyed the pool games and even won a coveted Ship on a Stick. The Newlywed game is always a riot. There was a lot of poolside dancing which my daughter loved, but I miss having the live calypso style band playing. It just makes me think vacation...and oh yeah...bring me another special of the day. Speaking of the drinks, the poolside staff are a little pushy with the drinks and will ask every few minutes if you want something from the bar. Debarkation-Can we all say nightmare? We decided to do self assist debarkation because we had an 11 hour drive ahead of us. They call you in the order of the deck you are on, but most people don't pay any attention to this. Whether they are just plain rude or really feel entitled, they didn't feel like they had to follow the rule. It would have been nice for Carnival to regulate this at all and try to make people actually wait their turn. Customs was checking everyone that day do it took us almost 3 hours to get off the ship and back to our car. All in all, this was a great trip. I took this one 2 years ago with my oldest daughter when she graduated and will do it again a few years from now with my son. The Imagination is beautiful and I look forward to coming back. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We live in Central Florida so we are able to drive to any of the Florida ports in 5 hours or less. This made it easy to decide to look for a reasonably priced short break from work viaa one of the multiple cruises available in the ports ... Read More
We live in Central Florida so we are able to drive to any of the Florida ports in 5 hours or less. This made it easy to decide to look for a reasonably priced short break from work viaa one of the multiple cruises available in the ports near us. We saw the price drop to a good rate for the cruise to Key West and Cozumel in the weeks following some of Carnival's problem cruises so we booked the cruise and quickly started planning shore trips. Many of our friends asked if we were sure about booking Carnival, but we just joked with them about taking big paddles with us. Both my daughters, their husbands, and my 16 month old grandson were going, and the itinerary seemed to suit us quite well--long enough to relax a bit and short enough for my grandson to tolerate without too much difficulty. On embarkation day, we drove to Miami. I'm not a big fan of the port at Miami, but it was better this time than when we were there a year ago. We chose to park at the port and pay the $20 per day fee. Last year we tried off site parking and waited over an hour for the shuttle when we got back. This time we decided it just wasn't worth the small savings because we would be dealing with a toddler during all that wait time. Embarkation went fairly smooth. We arrived at the port at about 11:30 and were on the Lido deck by 12:15. A couple of the security agents were rather difficult and not understanding about the extra time it takes to get a toddler and his cargo all the security checks. One was pretty pushy about making us separate and take the baby on upstairs as he was calling for his mom, who was still gathering his materials from the x ray machine. Surely a little understanding could be shown, but that's just the way some agents are. This was my first time on Carnival and I found the ship more difficult to navigate than the others lines I've been on. We found the Lido Deck and the mob at the buffet. The outdoors grill with hamburgers and hot dogs had a line that wrapped down the side of the ship. My SIL waited over 20 minutes for a burger. I decided the stations at the buffet would work for me as did everyone else in our party. I'm not terribly demanding about food, and I thought it tasted good. My DD reported that the sandwich from the Deli station was excellent. Our cabins were ready about 1:30 and they had unobstructed ocean views. They were larger than the cabin I had on both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian and everything was spotless. I unpacked my bags and stored them under the bed. I found the storage space more than adequate with one drawer and two shelves empty. The staff on the Imagination was very friendly. Our room steward called us by name in the hall and was responsive to any of my requests. I didn't realize Carnival didn't have hair dryers in cabins and asked if he could bring one. It appeared in less than 5 minutes. Everything was kept clean and fresh throughout the entire cruise and we had ice every day. I had to request it one day, but I preferred that to having the ice melt while I was out on an excursion. I had a new towel animal each evening and had no needs that were not met. The waiters in the Pride Dining Room were excellent--always polite, friendly, and responsive to our requests. Staff members we met in the halls smiled and said hello. We picked anytime dining, and we found navigating to the entrance of the Pride Dining Room frustrating. For some reason, we kept getting on the wrong elevator and having to backtrack to get to the right spot. I consider myself a bit directionally challenged, but my SIL is great with navigating, and he also found it a challenge. A minor issue really but still a bit frustrating. We ate breakfast in the buffet one morning and the food was fine; however, I prefer the dining room. It's just calmer and more peaceful to sit and enjoy coffee while someone else does the serving. On excursion days we did lunch in the buffet and found the food quite good. The mashed potatoes were especially good on the American station day. On sea days we did the dining room--again calmer and more relaxing. I never had any food that I did not enjoy. Some meals were better than others, but overall no one in our group had any complaints with the food. One night rainbow trout was my choice, and it was truly delicious. One note about dessert. So many people I know have raved about the chocolate melting cake, which I did not find that good. It wasn't bad but just did not live up to its reputation in my opinion. In Key West no one in our party booked excursions. One of my daughters and her husband walked off the ship and rented bikes. They had studied a map of Key West and knew where they wanted to go while we were there. The bikes were a perfect mode of transportation for them and they raved about the tour the took of the Hemingway House. The rest of us walked off and bought Conch train tickets from the kiosk. I was so glad we had not booked them through the cruise line. We saved a little money but the cruise ship excursion train was packed! Our train was not nearly has packed, and it is the exact same tour as the other except you have to walk to the station to get on the train. I believe the ship tour train came to the pier for pickup. The tour was quite enjoyable with lots of history and tidbits of information about the various architectural styles in town. In Cozumel, we again split for shore excursions. My daughter and her husband booked a tour of the ruins on the mainland. The rest of us stopped at the store at the pier and bought water. They told us on the ship that you are not supposed to take food or beverages off the ship. Water was a bargain at $1 per 32 ounce bottle. Then we got taxis at the pier and went to Chankanaab National Park for the afternoon. We negotiated a one way fare of $12 for the trip to the park which covered all five of us. Admission at the park was $21 per person. The park is beautiful with a small shallow beach area that was perfect for my grandson. There was also a swimming pool and a great area for snorkeling and swimming on down the side of the island. We took turns watching the baby and swimming in the beautiful clear waters. We also saw the sea lion show. There are multiple optional activities at the park, but we didn't really have time for any of them. Our taxi ride back to the ship was $11. This was an inexpensive shore excursion for us--Water, taxis, and park admission totaled less than $120 for all five of us. It could be much more expensive if you chose to do the various optional activities. One area that I found a bit lacking on the cruise was entertainment. The shows on the Imagination were OK but not up to the caliber of what we saw on either Royal Caribbean or Norwegian. Maybe some of Carnival's newer, bigger ships offer more, but these were OK but certainly not great. Back to Miami and the port. I don't know why but it's just harder to disembark here than at other ports. It's not a cruise line issue because it was even harder last time when we booked through Royal Caribbean. I prefer to sail from other ports, but that didn't keep this from being a good cruise. I would some this cruise by saying great staff, good food, and enjoyable. Some negatives with the port and entertainment but overall a nice time for all of us. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Sometimes I chuckle when I read a Fantasy class ship review from someone who has cruised on the Conquest, or another larger class ship. More often than not they are disappointed about the lack of a specialty restaurant, or an ice rink, ... Read More
Sometimes I chuckle when I read a Fantasy class ship review from someone who has cruised on the Conquest, or another larger class ship. More often than not they are disappointed about the lack of a specialty restaurant, or an ice rink, etc. Fantasy class ships have a draw to them, they are the workhorses of the Carnival fleet and you will find some of the most dedicated people working aboard. For that reason and many others we flew to Miami to sail aboard the Imagination. Some logistics, my wife and I are platinum with Carnival, having been aboard the Mardi Gras, Celebration, Legend, Ecstasy, Elation, Conquest, Triumph and Magic. We are both mid 50's and not big party people. So why did we go on a spring break cruise from Miami? Price! This was a cruise built around a teacher's spring break and the need to attend a wedding at the end of the week, so Carnival and the chance to see anything other than Progreso again lured us to Florida. We elected to let Carnival plan our air travel, and I'd never do that again. We were on United from Houston To Ft Lauderdale and American for the return flight. Different terminals for parking and a tram ride once we returned were the end result. Mix in American Airlines in Dallas is the biggest collection of jerks in air travel and they tried to ruin the last day of a vacation. They failed. Embarkation was a breeze; we arrived at the terminal and were headed aboard in about ten minutes. The ship was as expected, clean, nicely retrofitted from the updates and staffed with a friendly crew. Our cabin attendant was in and out quickly and made sure we had ice and extra towels. I had ordered flowers for my wife and bottled water, and those, along with our cruise pins were in the cabin. Lunch was standard fare, and the weather was gorgeous in Miami. We really like the fantail decks that are aft of the casual dining so we opted to sit outside. Here's where we saw the first signs of Carnival cutting back on staff. These tables were all dirty, not from people just finishing their meal, as they stayed that way for a while. I cleaned one off for my wife and I and for the duration of our lunch no one else came to sit or clean. The menus were the same from our most recent Triumph cruise, and with 800 (my estimate) spring break school age kids we expected to see main dining empty. A pleasant surprise when we met two other couples close to our age. We loved their company, and even did our excursions with them. Wait service was prompt, and the food was predictable. We knew what to expect, and for those that haven't cruised in a while it might have been a surprise in the limited food selections versus from the past, but we found something we liked every night. In Key West we did the bike ride, and I cannot recommend this enough. It's a leisurely paced tour around the island with stops at several of the landmarks. The host was well educated, giving a history of the island, the Flagler family and some of the idiosyncrasies of life in the Conch Republic. This is a short day in port, so get a tour quickly or find yourself wandering Duval Street. This was our first time to dock on the military base, having been to Mallory Square when we were aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas. No big deal, just a required tram ride to leave the pier. No worries on arrival, but a madhouse for return to ship. For the life of me I cannot see why anyone would stand in the sun with their family and wait in line. I did the same thing as when in Grand Cayman and found a shady spot across the street and waited for the line to be less than fifty people. We found ourselves riding with a group of Florida State kids that had thoroughly enjoyed the island. We waited for a couple of stragglers, but I didn't hear anyone being paged and we sailed for Cozumel around 2:00pm. The seas were the roughest for most of the next twenty-four hours, especially as we approached shallow waters. Wind speeds on this evening and the sea day were in excess of 25mph. In fact, on the day at sea Carnival used the ever so attractive Crime Scene Tape to block off the stairs to the upper decks, but more on that later. Cruise Elegant Night was quite a study in who was aboard. For those of us with fixed dining times the crowd was about the same for most evenings, or about full. For the My Time Dining venues the lines were long, long, long. There is good reason we have never tried it, and if that's your favor, then great. I just would rather walk in the dining room and be seated with a Coke at my plate. The Bottomless Bubbles option has taken on a new life, or it did for this cruise. We were asked for our cards more than once and our photos were verified. This happened in three different bar areas. We never waited long at bars for a soda, but as the cards reflected platinum status that might have been a factor. I didn't use any of the other benefits, just an observation. Cozumel. My wife and I have enjoyed almost twenty trips here aboard a ship or direct flight from Houston, and this time was not a disappointment. We booked the Jeep and Tequila Traditions Tour (I think that was the name) and in retrospect, alcohol, Jeeps and crazy drivers in Mexico... what could go wrong? The "other side" of the island is just beautiful, and I had wished we went to the beach first and skipped the tasting stops. We shared a Jeep with a couple from Raleigh, NC who were really nice. He is a disabled veteran, and shared how he was shot in Desert Storm. Powerful testimony, and I was glad to be his designated driver. With a late departure time from port we enjoyed the shops in the immediate area, and kept tradition with a new watch while my wife found some earrings that needed a new home. I had done my research and captured screen shots from two online companies and Amazon, and Diamonds International matched the Amazon price. The wind picked up as we left Cozumel, and the reported 6-8 foot seas were evident. We made it aboard with a slice of pizza in mind after a run, but the wind up on deck, coupled with the rocking made that a little tough. Hello pizza instead of exercise. The sea day bordered on gale force winds, so Carnival brought out the nifty yellow tape and closed the top deck. Chair hogs never had a chance, as all the loungers were full before 11am. In the shade it was most comfortable with a sweatshirt and shorts, but I anticipated this, having cruised on many prior spring break vacations. Entertainment onboard went from predictable to good. The Welcome Aboard Show I know from memory, so "looking good" and "uptight, outta sight" was a sing-a-long. The final night's show was Shout. I wanted to sit with our new friends in one of the circular loungers the Fantasy Class ships are famous for, so I staked it out for the last ten minutes of the early performance. Some say a bad cruise director can ruin a trip, but I disagree. The good news is Marcello from the Conquest has been promoted to cruise director and he's absolutely one of the funniest people at sea. All of us loved his spontaneity and ability to work a room. Wished I could say the same for the comedians aboard... I'm not a prude, but enough F-bombs were dropped in the first five minutes to meet a Sirius Raw Dog Channel quota for the balance of 2013. I find that bad language is a lousy entertainers idea of covering for bad talent, and this guy must have been on sale. Trying to tell jokes in a Polish dialect didn't help his material get better from his native tongue. Other items of note: the casino was smoky from about noon and never got better. I tried roulette and cards and took the carcinogen express out the door. The little coffee bar off the side of the casino was excellent. My wife and I rewarded our zero weight gain cruise with a great slice of carrot cake the last night, and it was super. Perfect vacation? No. But a nice trip, nice ship, nice people and a real need to increase the manpower for cleaning and it are a bargain. If you are looking for the Emperor, Allure, Gargantuan of the Sea or whatever go see the anchor folks. If you have a comfort level with Carnival (we do with both, living close to Galveston) and want to sail without breaking the bank then look into a Fantasy class ship and compare prices. With the Triumph out of the picture and me getting over my "it's Carnivals fault" attitude it we booked this inside of a month before the trip. A rock wall was not worth $1000 for me. Pics Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/leeusry...57633027276278 Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We sailed on Carnival Magic on March 22nd to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. We've sailed on cruises 6 times with our kids (8, 17, and 19) and have traveled both the eastern and western Caribbean. This was our 2nd cruise on ... Read More
We sailed on Carnival Magic on March 22nd to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. We've sailed on cruises 6 times with our kids (8, 17, and 19) and have traveled both the eastern and western Caribbean. This was our 2nd cruise on Carnival in the last 3 years and the first on the Magic. I'll make this brief as I read lots of reviews before we booked any of our cruises. This cruise is ok but definitely NOT Royal Caribbean (but easily could be much closer). The cost savings for 2 rooms (balcony and inside on deck 8) was almost $600 over RC. We traveled out of Galveston and got down a day early and stayed at The Hilton in Galveston which was nice and offered free parking for the week for those that drive. Embarkation was very smooth and took about an hour from the time we left until we were on the ship. The ship is nice but the common areas are laid out very poorly. The rooms, both balcony and inside, felt slightly larger than RC, Disney, or NCL. An important note on the balcony rooms is that they had an outside door that automatically closed as opposed to a sliding glass door that you cox leave open on other ships. Sounds petty but it really made a difference. As for the common areas, too many hallways to get from one end of ship to the other. The promenades on RC are laid out much better and do not feel as crowded. The pools are surprisingly small for a ship this large. The food in the Lido on deck 10 is ok but just like RC and NCL. I STRONGLY recommend a reservation at the steakhouse and italian restaurant as both were very good. Now for some good news. The kids play area was large and comfortable and had lots of activities but the water park and obstacle course on the top of the ship was outstanding. Lines were a little long but that was to be expected on sea days. The spa is VERY nice and recommended albeit a little expensive. The ship very clean with workers constantly cleaning and wiping all over the ship. Rooms were spotless and the cabin stewards were very friendly. They did a very cool thing on the 2nd to last day and made towel animals on ALL pool deck chairs in the morning. Lots of people taking pictures. Disembarking was by far, the fastest we have ever experienced. Off the ship, got our bags, through customs, and in our car in 1 hour. Very pleasant. Things Carnival needs to do better to compete with the larger RC ships; ship layout, dining lines at lunch (very long but expected), better entertainment and more of it (kinda cheesy and not what you'd expect), different ports of call would be recommended as Jamaica is really BAD and the stop at Grand Cayman is only 6 hours but you only get about 4.5 with the tendering process. All in all, we all rated it a 3.5 out of 5. We gave RC Freedom of the Seas a 4.25 last year. Its not bad at all but RC is definitely better and we've travel RC 3 times on 3 different ships. You get what you pay for. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Alright, Where to start with this ship. This is a long review but having terrible guest service and pee coming out of your sink deserves something long. When we first went through embarkation- it was a breeze and could not wait to get on ... Read More
Alright, Where to start with this ship. This is a long review but having terrible guest service and pee coming out of your sink deserves something long. When we first went through embarkation- it was a breeze and could not wait to get on the ship and have some FUN on the "Fun Ship" since this was our first time with carnival cruise lines. When finally arriving on the ship looking at the inside of the ship seemed somewhat of an 80s scene but it was okay. We found our room and quickly noticed that we had 4 girls in a 3 person bedroom. Which is not what the Carnival agent told me I was picking when I ordered my room. We went ahead and put on our bathing suits and went outside to see the ship leave before we went to Guest Services about this problem. After departing we went straight to Guest Services where they told us that all we could get was a trundle bed. This would have been okay if the Carnival agent would not have told us that we would have two twin beds and two twins coming out of the wall. After going back and forth with Catalina, the ever-so rude guest service rep, we asked to speak to the manager. She then said to us, "You don't want to talk to the manager she will be mean to you, I will not go get her" WAIT!!! Is this actually guest service!?!?! NO!!!! I am in the Hospitality Industry, and will be graduating with a Hospitality Management Degree this May. This is NOT okay!! Later, George, another rude guest services member, asked us "do you even know the definition of a trundle bed, like do you know what it is?" Yes, we know what a trundle bed is we have not been living under a rock for our whole lives. After speaking with several (rude) guest service reps we finally reach Giselle, a manager. She was not nice- although she did not give us the four person. We ended up, 4 girls with a lot of luggage, with a trundle bed. It was pretty clean in the room so it wasn't that bad till we had PEE coming out of our sink, but I will handle that later. After our first horrific incident I was pretty sure that I would never cruise with Carnival again and stick with Royal Caribbean (which is what I normally cruise). The food was not very good, ever. Mediocre at best. The only meal of the day I would throughly enjoy was breakfast. The Mahi-Mahi on the last night of the cruise was close to the consistency of steak. I normally just ate pizza or salad every day because thats the only thing I could count on to be okay. The workers were worthless for the most part. Their answer for everything was "I don't know" How do you not know things about what your working and living on? Could not even give directions on how to get to the gangway. WORTHLESS. Day 2 was not bad because we were stopped at Key West for a couple hours. Key west was amazing and I would love to take a trip solely to Key West- simply beautiful. Coming back onto the cruise was kind of a let down, but I was going to give carnival another chance. Day 3 we went to Cozumel, which was nice. However, it was too windy and too much under toe to get into the water at Playa Del Mia. So we just sat around, had drinks (from the open bar), and took plenty of pictures. I liked the fact that we stayed till around 9:30 pm in Cozumel because we also got to experience Fat Tuesdays, which was TONS of fun! The next day was the day at sea. It was very relaxing yet cold! Had to wrap up in our towels! That day was the day that we encountered Pee in our sink. I seriously wish I could post a picture of this incident because I have one. Anyways, one of the girls was using the restroom and had the water running and it was a brownish-yellow color. We let it run for about 8 minutes and it stayed like this. So, we stopped up the sink and let the water run in it so that we could take a picture. I seriously am wanting to vomit rethinking about this situation. It was simply that disgusting. Smelled like pee and everything. We went straight to guest services where we talked to George, yet again. We told him and showed him the picture that we took. He said "Oh yes we have had other complaints about that you have to let it run for a little bit and it will get better." We told him that we let it run for close to 10 minutes. and we wanted to have an engineer come check it out. He said okay. We asked him why is was doing this, because this is simply disgusting. He beat around the bush a little but essentially said this in short," The pipes get loose and the engineers have to tighten them." Then said a lot of unnecessary things and then said this " Our storage tanks have gotten mixed up so you will eventually get clean water" Whoa whoa whoa, wait ? So pretty much I have been drinking the water and brushing my teeth with water that gets mixed up with the USED toilet water? This was the last straw. I was disgusted. Obviously could not brush my teeth for the rest of the time on the cruise. This has NEVER happened to me before on multiple other cruises by Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Carnival has some serious things to change after all of their problems with not just this ship. I think I hit most of the terrible things that happened on this cruise. I still had fun when hanging out with the fellow cruisers- but everything else about the situation was terrible. Wish I would have cruised Royal. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This was my first cruise as an adult and I have to say I was underwhelmed by the boat itself. there were only 12 decks and I felt that the boat was very small with few options of night time entertainment. The main night time activity was ... Read More
This was my first cruise as an adult and I have to say I was underwhelmed by the boat itself. there were only 12 decks and I felt that the boat was very small with few options of night time entertainment. The main night time activity was a bar called illusions. This was a great place to hang out and dance but they tried to schedule different theme nights that just didn't happen. For example, on 80s night they got a great crowd that brought in some of the older members of the cruise and yet they never played a SINGLE 80s song. I enjoy the club music just as much as the next lady but I think they could have diversified the play list night to night to bring in different people and change the mood. Also, they could smoke in the bar which was awful for me and my friend since she is allergic to cig smoke and I lose my voice if I spend too much time around it. I know it sounds like I am complaining a lot but we spent every night there so it could not be that bad! The food on the boat was only so so. They did not really understand Italian food at all. The Pizza was like cardboard warmed up and the other Italian food from the dining room was overly salted and not very good. They had some healthy options which were ok but all in all nothing really special. Otherwise, we made some great friends and had a very memorable time. We were always able to find space away from the hoards of children and young families. The kids were managed very well, you barely noticed them on the boat if you didn't want to. All in all I would recommend this ship but with lessened expectations. They show it as a very large and glamorous place but it really felt more like a small boat from the 90s. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Our family of six sailed on the Carnival Imagination on February 18, 2013. We are 2 adults, 3 teenagers and one 10 year old. We had previously sailed on RCL Oasis of the Seas so you could definitely say we were going from one extreme to ... Read More
Our family of six sailed on the Carnival Imagination on February 18, 2013. We are 2 adults, 3 teenagers and one 10 year old. We had previously sailed on RCL Oasis of the Seas so you could definitely say we were going from one extreme to another, but in many ways, we enjoyed ourselves just as much. That being said, it would be totally unfair to compare these two ships, as they are in their own leagues. But when I think about a vacation and what we except for the cost that we paid, I was very pleased with Imagination. Embarkation went very smoothly. We arrived around 10:30am and we were on board by 11:30am. We were very pleased with our two cabins on the Riviera deck .... clean and plenty of room to store things in the closets. The Sail Away party was very fun and the crew really try to get everyone involved and having a great time. We ate dinner in the Spirit dining room all four nights and had an amazing waitstaff and didn't have long waits for food as others have mentioned, nor was it rushed. I found all the food was very good - some of it excellent. By the third night, we were worried that creme brulee wouldn't be a choice, as it is our daughter's favorite dessert. When we asked our waiter, he said that they don't normally serve it on the 4-day trips, but that they would place a special order. Sure enough, the next night our table had 6 delicious creme brulees! Our cabin steward was also top notch. Both he and our waiter knew all our names by the first day and often talked with us. The whole crew was fantastic. We planned our own shore excursions so I won't go into detail regarding Key West or Cozumel. I definitely wished we could have been at Key West longer, but it was a fun morning. The sea day was relaxing. My husband and I did the "Behind the Fun" tour and I highly recommend this! We got to see so many areas of the ship that are off-limits and I really appreciated what these folks do to keep the cruise comfortable, safe and enjoyable for the guests. I also recommend having breakfast in the dining room on the last morning. It was relaxed and a great place to wait until our disembarkation number was called .... so many people were sitting in uncomfortable places, all jammed together, by the casino, etc. Yuck! As a recap, I thought the food, cabins and crew were wonderful. Entertainment is lacking .... let's just say we watched a lot of karaoke!! The comedians were OK, as were the dancers, but that was the part of the cruise that couldn't even come close to holding comparison to Oasis. But, again, I felt we certainly got what we paid for in quality overall - actually, more! I will look forward to trying other Carnival ships in the future and my snobby opinion of Carnival being just a low-budget cruise line has changed. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We took our first cruise last week, from February 4-8 on the Carnival Imagination. It was myself, my fiancee and her 2 children (an 11 yr old girl, and 13 yr old boy). The ship stopped in Cozumel on Wednesday, Key West on Thursday and ... Read More
We took our first cruise last week, from February 4-8 on the Carnival Imagination. It was myself, my fiancee and her 2 children (an 11 yr old girl, and 13 yr old boy). The ship stopped in Cozumel on Wednesday, Key West on Thursday and back in Miami on Friday. We were both nervous about sea-sickness, but that was a complete non-issue. We splurged a little and got one of their grand suites (we wanted as much space in the room as possible and I insisted on having a balcony....which was a huge bonus in my eyes). The cains were kept incredibly clean by the staff, which must have been a helluva chore with as messy as her kids are! LOL. An impressive thing for all of us was that as soon as the first day, the housekeeping staff was calling us by name as we walked from our room to the different decks and back...they really know how to make you feel important. If traveling with kids, I would HIGHLY recommend a suite like this, as the size is most definitely a positive. The seas were so calm on the entire cruise, we slept each night with our balcony deck open to hear the ocean waves. It was incredible. With all the things to do on the ship, we didn't hit half the stuff we wanted to. The kids were a handful, and refused to give any of the kid-specific options a try, as well as hunting us down no matter where we went so we didn't get to do a whole lot on our own and of our own complete choosing. This was a family vacation though, so that is not a horrible thing at all...just wish we could have had a little more time to catch one of the many shows, or to spend a little more time together in the casino or the serenity adult retreat. It was definitely nice having the kids along to give me an "excuse" to give the water slides a try.....what a blast those were! I don't know if the 11 year old had anything other than iced cream the entire trip! LOL. We dined in teh Spirit Main Dining Room both of the first two nights and even got both of the kids to try escargot off the "didja" offering which was funny. The boy loves lobster, so on Elegant night we scarfed his down and was embarrassed to ask for more. I asked for him and they brought out another tail in no time flat and seemed more than happy to do so. The girl was up in the air between two deserts, so I told her to order both. Again, without a hitch, they brought both right out for her. While it took a while of waiting between servings, these were good dining experiences that we would have taken advantage of more if it were just adults, but kids were wanting to spend more time in the pool so we ate in the Horizon buffet the last two nights (which has plenty of good options as well). In the end, if you can't find anything you like to eat....you aren't looking! In Cozumel we booked a shore excursion through Carnival to swim with the dolphins. There were a few options, I think it was only about $30 more per person to actually get to swim and fully interact with the dolphins. THIS WAS WELL WORTH IT!! You are in the same area as those who chose to only get some of the interaction, and they don't get to swim out into the deeper part of the holding ponds and ride the dolphins, etc. Trust me folks, spend the extra money and do the actual swimming with dolphins part. We then hit the shops and I got to teach the girl how to haggle over price....hope that sticks with her! It was a wonderful day. The next day was Key West. I'm guessing it would have been much funner without children along. We had booked an excursion here to go on a catamaran and snorkeling tour, but the catamaran had issues that day and it was cancelled, so we were kind of left to our own devices. There are plenty of other options available, but nothing the kids could agree on, so we just kinda wandered around town all day. I think we were all still kind of worn out from the day before as well. Unless you are prepared to pay a ton for transportation, this can catch you off guard, be prpared to do a LOT of walking. We ended up going back to the ship fairly early and spent the later part of the afternoon and early evening swimming in the lido deck pool and munching away. It was still a good day, but with the cancellation of the excursion and no real backup plan, might have been better to just stay on the ship all day...but that is just a personal preference. All in all, it was an incredible experience. If you are taking kids on their first cruise, I'd say it is worth the time to really spend a lot of time talking with them about spending time in the kids-specific Camp Carnival and Circle C as well as the O2 places specifically, there were so many kids that looked to be having a blast. We just didn't spend enough time ahead of the cruise trying to get them willing to shed their shyness. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Carnival Imagination Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 4.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 5.0 4.0
Rates 3.0 4.3

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