The Introduction: I am a 24 year old male in the public service field. This was my fifth cruise with Carnival, and my second on the Sensation. I was accompanied by my girlfriend, mother, aunt and grandparents. The cruise was scheduled for ... Read More
The Introduction: I am a 24 year old male in the public service field. This was my fifth cruise with Carnival, and my second on the Sensation. I was accompanied by my girlfriend, mother, aunt and grandparents. The cruise was scheduled for three days out of Port Canaveral to Nassau. Both grandparents are elderly, and my grandfather is wheelchair bound due to a stroke. That makes this review possibly useful for disabled or elderly passengers, or those traveling with them.
The Embarkation: We arrived at the cruise terminal around 12:30 PM and quickly unloaded the luggage and parked. The process at Port Canaveral is very smooth. I have sailed out of Miami and Tampa; neither can match the ease of Canaveral. This is mainly due to the port not being in a metropolitan area. The Bee-Line expressway (SR. 528) takes you right to it, and there is no city traffic to deal with. There is no parking garage at the Sensation's pier, only a big lot, which is either bad or good depending on one's preference. Once inside the terminal, embarkation went quickly. There were elevators for the handicapped that were easily accessible. There were also attendants at the gangway to help us get my grandfather on board. They also sent two crewmen to their room before the life boat drill to assist my grandfather and escort him through the process. They lead him back to the room afterwards, and were very friendly. This was very nice, since he is in his 80's, and had trouble navigating the ship.
The Ship: I took a seven day cruise on Sensation in 1999 when it was based in Tampa. The ship has held up fairly well, and was immaculately clean. There were visible signs of wear in the staterooms, but nothing out of the ordinary for a 15 year old "fun ship" that has seen its fair share of kids, teens and blue collar folks. The ship got minor upgrades to certain areas, but not the staterooms. If Carnival fully remodels the Sensation like they did the Fascination, it will look great again. Anyone planning a cruise on the Sensation needs to keep in mind that it was built in 1993, and the dEcor has not been upgraded much since then. There is lots of neon purple everywhere. Being a fan of the 1980s, I always got a kick out of the "Touch of Class" piano bar. It has two huge plastic hands (one black, one white) complete with nail polish that frame the doorway to the bar. The same huge hands adorn the walls, and act as bar stools. Every time I entered, I thought I would hear Duran Duran playing in the background. My grandparents had a fully accessible handicap room. It was set up very well, and they had no problems. It had an even floor from the room to the bathroom, where the normal cabins have a step up. There were rails around the commode and shower. It also had wider doors to accommodate my grandfather's power chair. The Food: As with any cruise, there is never a shortage of food. I found the meals in the dining room during dinner to be top notch. We had the 5:45 dinner in the Ecstasy dining room. Our wait staff was superb. Our waiter was excellent and even cut my grandfather's food for him since he has no use of his right side. The food in the Seaview Bar and Grill was also good. The Sensation's 24 hour pizzeria was the best I've had so far.
The Entertainment: The only show we attended was the Newlywed Game, it was funny. We wanted to see the late night comics, but were too tired to stay up late. The live performers on the Promenade at night were also very good. The Port: Getting off at Nassau was easy, but the pier was very crowded. There were three other large ships (Enchantment of the Seas, Disney Wonder, and Carnival Glory) there with us, as well as another smaller one (Regal Empress). We figured that there were approximately 10,000 people exiting the ships. It was also very crowded in Nassau, and hard to get around all the people. We went back to the ship early to get away from the melee. If it wasn't a family cruise I may have gone back into town to go to the bars since the ship was in port overnight until 6 AM.
The Debarkation: Unlike other Carnival ships I've been on, the Sensation does not provide for early-off "self assist" debarkation. We still carried off our own bags, but had to wait with everyone else. They did provide assistants for my grandparents to help the over the gangway. If you're not in a hurry it is much easier to just sleep in, eat breakfast and wait for everyone else to get off before traversing the gangway. It is much less stressful that way.
The Bottom Line: This was another great cruise that I recommend for almost anyone. Carnival went out of its way to accommodate my grandparent's special needs. They had a good time in spite of rough seas the first night. We all came away happy and full. I can't say much for Nassau, but it's nothing that Carnival can control. There are some people who judge Carnival harshly for being the "Wal-Mart" of cruises. I prefer an analogy that I read in another cruiser's review; that going on a Carnival cruise is like going to your friend's house. The ships are nice, but not super fancy, so your kids can run around without you worrying that they will break something. The crew treats you very well, but not like royalty. The food is great, but tailored to the masses. I like that! I'm a blue collar kind of guy, and I don't want to have to wear a suit on vacation, or worry about using the right fork at dinner. If you are looking for an ultra premium cruise, then Holland America or Celebrity Cruises can give you that. If you want a high value, reasonably priced, fun and relaxing vacation then Carnival is for you. I am a confirmed Carnival fan, and I plan on taking many more cruises with them. We are already booked on the Carnival Glory for a seven day cruise in September, so I will hopefully have another positive review then! Read Less