First of all, I must say that the embarkation process at the Carnival terminal was the fastest, easiest embarkation process I have EVER,EVER had. The bus arrived at the terminal at 12:30PM, and I was enjoying lunch by the pool at 1:00. Of ... Read More
First of all, I must say that the embarkation process at the Carnival terminal was the fastest, easiest embarkation process I have EVER,EVER had. The bus arrived at the terminal at 12:30PM, and I was enjoying lunch by the pool at 1:00. Of all the cruise lines' embarkation processes I have experienced, none has gone as smoothly or as fast as this one. When boarding the 4,000 passenger MSC Divina three years ago, We stood in line outside the terminal for hours. Once inside the terminal it was another hour at least. Yes, this ship had half the passengers, but MSC could take a page from Carnival's book.
This ship was launched in 1993, which means it's about 100 years old in cruise ship years. I can understand why Carnival keeps it around.....for the short, cheap cruises; but seriously, even though this ship was recently refurbished, it is not the glamor and glitz ship you are looking for. Maybe it has been refurbished as far as common areas, but the theme of the decor is so 70s. A big disappointment is that there is no continuous promenade deck circling the ship. It is also inconvenient and confusing that not all decks go through from stern to bow.
The "shops" primarily consist of duty-free liquor, cigarettes, jewelry, and perfume. The actual "Fun" Shop with logo items was the size of a dressing room.
There is one pool and two hot tubs, and a fun-looking water slide and water play area for kids, plus a mini-golf course.
The eating options are: two dining rooms with free-style seating, and places on the lido deck, including: the buffet restaurant with two lines featuring a different nationality of food every day at lunch. Away from the buffet line is a salad bar and the dessert station, plus a soft ice cream machine. There is also a deli station, and pizza station, but I never saw anyone eating there. There are two small machines where supposedly you can "pour your own beer", but the only time I saw an attendant there was at 10:00 in the morning. Really?
Outside around the pool deck is a Guy Fieri burger station, another small buffet station that makes omelets in the morning, two bars, and a VERY limited taco and burrito place called the Blue Iguana. If you like Mexican food, this place is a joke.
The food, generally, is palatable, but nothing special. Some of the dinner dishes in the dining room were exceptional, but the same food is served in the buffet restaurant in the evening, with the exception of prime rib and steaks.
It is hard to find a place on board that was quiet to read, write in a journal, or relax. I finally settled on the Alchemy Bar outside the Plaza Lounge. The bar is only open when there is something going on in the Lounge, so it's pretty quiet during the day.
The main theater is not wonderful. The floor is flat, and sight lines are interrupted by posts. Aisles are wide enough to have tables and a walkway, but all this does is provide for a constant stream of waiters taking orders or bringing drinks, or late arrivals to the show.
Shore Excursions were mostly beach visits. I did enjoy the trip to Gumbalimba Park to interact with beautifully colored parrots and cute monkeys who like to get up close and personal. This was at Mahogany Bay of Roatan Island, Honduras. Our only other port call was at the island off Cozumel, off the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. The shore excursion I booked, lunch at a Mexican restaurant (duh) and dance show was canceled due to not enough people signing up for it. I have been to Cozumel before and been to Tulum on the mainland,which is most beautiful and interesting, and the water around Tulum and Playa del Carmen is a spectacular show of shades of blue and turquoise. Since I didn't want to go to the beach or have my hair braided, I stayed on the ship.
The staff of waiters and cabin stewards was, without exception, very friendly and meticulous in their duties. No complaints here.
Since I was on a charter, I cannot speak to the caliber of activities provided. I enjoyed the cruise immensely because of the entertainment provided by our hosts. It's just that the Sensation is an old gal, and has seen better days.
Before the cruise I spent two nights at the Marriott Biscayne Bay. The stay was fine, nice dining venue and friendly staff. They can sign you up for transportation to the pier on a bus. It's $7/pp and cheaper than a cab.
The post-cruise transportation to either MIA or Ft. Lauderdale sold by Carnival is efficient and well organized. Read Less