Here it is! My LONG mini review of my 4 day cruise last weekend on the Imagination. If anyone has any specific questions, feel free to email me at Lunyma@aol.com. EMBARKATION - Got to port about one o' clock and although the crowd ... Read More
Here it is! My LONG mini review of my 4 day cruise last weekend on the Imagination. If anyone has any specific questions, feel free to email me at Lunyma@aol.com. EMBARKATION - Got to port about one o' clock and although the crowd looked intimidating, the process went a lot faster than I thought it would. There were many Carnival reps on hand and the lines moved quickly. We showed our docs, ID's, and activated our sail and sign cards and were onboard in probably 15 or 20 minutes. Although we were hoping for an upgrade, the ship was sold out and alas, we had to deal with a Cat 1A cabin (upper and lower)... didn't matter to me since I wasn't traveling with my hubby. We found our cabin easily and unpacked right away. The cabin was bigger than I expected with LOTS of storage room. Our S&S cards were waiting for us and the Funvision was working just fine. Brought all our stuff in carry-ons, so no waiting for luggage. Started touring the ship, taking mostly the stairs as I wanted to get SOME exercise. The ship is laid out in a manner that it is very easy to find anything and everything with no problem. Stopped at the Horizon for Pizza and Caesar salad. The lifeboat drill started late, as did sailing, and it was HOT standing outside in those life jackets. Could have done without all the stupid jokes as it took up lots of time. Went back in to cool off, found the sushi bar and indulged. None of the sushi was raw and they were all Maki Rolls, 4 choices and all delicious. Sake also available but was not hot the first day (it was after that). We had late seating dinner so we went to the Casino for a Rum Swizzle party. It wasn't easy finding a server with a tray of drinks, but we did. We also had our first encounter with the Video Diary team there. Played some "face up 21" for a while and headed for dinner in the Pride dining room. We had a table for 10, all women, ages 28 to 49. Everyone seemed cordial and we talked and got to know each other. Dinner was a LONG ordeal that first night and we were the last table to leave the dining room. Went to see part of the welcome aboard show, which was OK if you like that sort of thing (doesn't thrill me) and then off to a lounge to see the Curveball Brothers. They play mostly 70s and 80s music and are pretty good, except...one of the guys was distracted by some blonde wearing very little clothing, and the other guy was trying to get people to buy him shots which he downed one after another. Went to the late buffet, but I wasn't hungry so didn't eat much of anything and then to bed... slept like a baby in the upper bunk! I woke up the next morning REALLY feeling the movement of the ship, but did not get sick. Thank goodness for Bonine! SERVICE - Service in the dining room was not that great, in fact, the first night it was disastrous. Our waiter Rey was fine but very quiet and reserved. Our Asst Waiter Matia was a nervous wreck with no personality and never a smile. It took forever to get a bottle of wine and even longer to get it opened. My friend's bottle of wine was delivered to the wrong table so hers took even longer. When the head waiter Leland came around to check on us, we complained about the service and he assured us that it would improve. It did the next day, a bit, but Leland also made promises he didn't keep and never returned to the table till the last night, no doubt looking for a tip, which he did not get from anyone at our table. The Maitre' D never showed his face at our table once. No tip for him either. Service on the Lido deck was fantastic. Look for Tomasz or Ali and tell em Pamela says hi! Our room steward, Ricky, was shy but friendly and efficient. Our room was always clean and we had 2 ice buckets always filled with fresh ice. We had a towel animal one night. FOOD - We ate breakfast in the dining room each day and it was nicely presented and good. For lunch we did Caesar salad and pizza nearly every day. It was fast, convenient and delicious. Try the goat cheese and mushroom or the Neapolitan (peppers, green and black olives, and mushrooms). We had dinner in the dining room each night except for the day we were in Cozumel where we were otherwise occupied at Carlos and Charlies :) The only thing I didn't like was the lobster, and I LOVE lobster. Mine was mushy and I returned it for quail which was delicious. The rack of lamb, Tilapia, and prime rib were all wonderful as well and all prepared as ordered (med rare). For appetizers, the wild mushroom ragout and hand-cut smoked salmon were great but the shrimp was just OK. I am not a sweet eater, but I had to try some desserts as well and was pleasantly surprised at how good the Grand Marnier souffle was (how do they do that for all those people at once)? and the Cherries Jubilee was also very yummy. WHAT WE DID - In Key West, we walked to town, about a mile or two and just shopped and looked around. Went back to the ship, had some lunch, took in the sun and then back for more sushi! This was formal night and everyone looked like they took their time getting ready. We went to the Captain's cocktail party, had a few drinks, and went to dinner. They took lots of photos after dinner (none of which I bought) and we had a few more drinks. The next day was Cozumel. We had breakfast, went to the shopping talk which was horribly boring and hung by the pool for a while. We took a taxi to Playa del Sol. Nice beach, free chairs, restaurant, immaculate bathrooms and good Pina Coladas ($4). After nearly 3 hours in the scorching sun, I had my hair braided and then we took a taxi to town. After some shopping we went to Carlos and Charlies for dinner and drinks. By the time we got back to the ship, it was too late for sushi : ( as they are only open from 5:30-8:30. We visited the casino, hung out and later went to the deck party. You could tell that night who was having a good time for sure! Our last day was at sea and we spent nearly all of it at the pool only taking a break for the debarkation talk. I took a little nap and back for more sushi (of course). At dinner we exchanged email addresses and said our final farewells to our tablemates. We were up at 6am to get ready to disembark. After a little breakfast and closing up the cabin, we opted to wait on Lido deck. We got an extra hour of sun as the ship kept paging someone that refused to go to immigration. We disembarked at about 11am. I did not see any dogs and I did not see anyone being pulled aside at all to be checked. Everyone just seemed to walk right out. The average age of cruisers on this ship was probably 30-50, both couples and singles, although it seemed like more women traveling alone than men (darn!). There were kids and teens onboard as well and were all well behaved when we saw them and all seemed like they were having a good time. Our cruise director was OK, her name is Shawn Bussey and we rarely saw her. Most of the support staff was very friendly, always smiling and saying hello. All in all, I had a FANTASTIC time and can't wait to go again. Next cruise, Ecstasy, this September, and hoping to book one for December with my kids as well. Read Less
My wife and our 16 year old daughter took our first cruise Nov 30th, 2002 on the Carnival Imagination and had a good enough time to ensure we'll cruise again. We chose Carnival due to their reputation for kid friendliness. It turns ... Read More
My wife and our 16 year old daughter took our first cruise Nov 30th, 2002 on the Carnival Imagination and had a good enough time to ensure we'll cruise again. We chose Carnival due to their reputation for kid friendliness. It turns out they are kid friendly, but not necessarily teen friendly. The teen events were few and far between, and, no fault of Carnival, very sparsely attended. It seemed that the only "kids" on the ship were 14 and under which left our daughter feeling very "old" and bored much of the time. If you are taking a teenager I'd suggest taking one of their friends. Beyond that, I can tell you that the food was good, not great, thought the service, especially in the main dining room, was excellent! Simona and Mihela, our servers, were attentive, offered great suggestions, and remembered all our needs from night to night. They also stuffed us with some very good food. The food on the Lido decks was fine, not great. The breakfasts were very also ok, with nothing exotic.. eggs, bacon, sausage... that's about it. As many people have said, the pizza (24 hours a day) was great and whenever we needed a little bite we'd grab a slice and go sit on the deck. Ocho Rios was a blast. We got tons of trinkets for just a few dollars each and had a lot of fun just walking around talking to the locals. We will definitely walk the falls (you'll hear all about it) next time. Don't skip this! We were very unimpressed with the Caymans... unless you need banking or jewelry you could almost just stay on the ship that day. We did do the Stingray trip (booked thru Shoretrips.com) and had a blast, but the town and the people seemed as uninterested in us as tourists as anyplace I've ever been. While I won't travel the Imagination again (very glitzy - like a casino) I would consider Carnival again. Bottom line though, based on our experience on the Imagination with its VERY smoky decks and corridors (people seem to smoke everywhere but the formal dining room!) and its overall adequate food, Carnival won't be my first choice next time. I think we'll try to step up just a little bit.December 2002 Read Less
This was my 2nd cruise on Carnival, having been on the Fascination last year. I took the cruise because of the great price, $199... and got what I paid for: not much. First, I will say that our itinerary was changed the day of ... Read More
This was my 2nd cruise on Carnival, having been on the Fascination last year. I took the cruise because of the great price, $199... and got what I paid for: not much. First, I will say that our itinerary was changed the day of sailing to avoid Hurricane Lili off the coast of Cuba. A lot of folks were upset about the last minute change, but I had no problem with this, just give me the sun and no rain. We were going to substitute Nassau for 24 hours instead of Belize, still giving us 2 days at sea, wandering around before Key West. Embarkation took much longer than normal, because of the requirement to have the Bahamian visitor cards filled out. These were handed out to us in line, which slowed this down even further. It took 80 minutes from the time we got out of the hotel van, until we arrived in our cabin. The security checks were out of hand. Don't get me wrong, but if you are in a sterile area, there is no need to keep checking ID 4 (yes four) times from the front desk to the ship. We were bewildered that check-in was as long as this at 2:00 pm, considering that only two Carnival ships were boarding (Imagination and Fascination). It made me wonder what happens when the larger ships (Spirit class?) are boarding as well. There were 3 of us in an outside cabin, M138. Carnival does have plenty of room in their staterooms, but the Imagination is showing her wear-and-tear from the short trips. Chipped wood on the dresser, closet and beds, faded carpets and worn tile greeted us inside our room. The window was dirty on the outside, and got worse as the week went on. Our cabin steward introduced himself within the first hour, we told him our personal requests (extra towels, 6 more pillows), and that was that. He was seldom seen, but his work was great. No complaint here. The dining was another story. We were originally seated at the last table in the back of the dining room on chairs that I would describe as fancy lawn chairs. They were not the same padded chairs as the rest of the room, and were obviously placed there because the ship was full. We changed tables for the next night, and things got better. The food itself was hit-and-miss. Out of my 10 cruises, or about 70 days at sea; this was the first time ever I got up and walked out of dinner. A tablemate and I had ordered prime rib and potato, which arrived cold in the middle (the potato). We both informed our waiter, who sent for yet another potato. This arrived 5 minutes later, and the knife only went 1/3 of the way through, when I called the waiter again, and said, "here, you try". He cut the potato in half, only to discover a rotten middle. My tablemate's new potato was still cold. The waiter left, only to return with sour cream and horseradish for the prime rib (now cold with the congealed grease). I told him no, I want hot food please. He replied he would get me another potato! I quietly placed my napkin over my food and left; headed for the Horizon grill. I was informed that the Maitre d' never appeared, or was advised of the situation. That experience also happened on the last night of the cruise, which really soured my week of "dining elegance on the "Fun Ship Imagination". As I said earlier, the food was hit-and-miss, never seeming to be hot or cold, just lukewarm (like the church at Laodicea, read Revelation to find out what happens next. :) I would always try to find something good with every meal, but sometimes it was really a stretch. Service was fair, I have gotten used to waiters/busboys knowing who likes tea, who wants lemon, who will drink coffee with dessert; but that didn't happen once on this trip. There were 7 of us at our table, and every night we would request the same thing. I thought it was only me that noticed this, but others commented also. Minor thing, but still? Activities on board were geared toward making money for Carnival. Art auctions, bingo, horseracing were hawked every hour or so, but the free stuff (like trivia) rewarded 1 person with the $0.50 "ship on a stick" prize. I will say that there were plenty of deck chairs and towels for the sea days, and we didn't feel crowded outside. I never got the story straight on why the hot tubs and pool closed at 7 pm on the aft Lido deck, I heard 3 stories from 3 different employees. Oh well, at least they waited until 11 pm to close the mid-ship hot tubs. I can't comment a lot about Nassau and Key West, as I've been there before; and didn't take any shore excursions. If you're going, just rent a bicycle and set out on your own. On a related note: NO ONE on the cruise staff was unhappy that we didn't end up in Belize, they are NOT impressed with this port. Disembarkation was very easy, we had early flights out of Miami, we were off the ship by 8:45 am, and checked in at the airport by 10 am. Carnival lost me as a customer over this cruise, but again; for $199, maybe I shouldn't have expected more than a mediocre Waffle House and rundown Super 8. AMREmployee@AA.com December 2002 Read Less
EMBARKATION My family and I took a 4-day cruise on Carnival Cruise Lines' Imagination. When we went from our hotel, the Sheraton Biscayne Bay, to the terminal, the bus driver told us that we had to find our luggage outside ... Read More
EMBARKATION My family and I took a 4-day cruise on Carnival Cruise Lines' Imagination. When we went from our hotel, the Sheraton Biscayne Bay, to the terminal, the bus driver told us that we had to find our luggage outside and then we could go in. Embarkation was easy. We walked in, showed a lady in a uniform our blue book that we had received and she let us proceed. We put our carry on luggage through the x-ray machine and were allowed to proceed again. We waited in a short line for someone to show our tickets to. After that, we went up one level, and had our pictures taken. We then went and got our room keys and waited for them to open the gate that would let us onto the gangplank. When they opened the gate, everyone walked across and we had boarded. OUR CABIN My family and I were in cabin U179, so it was easy to get to our cabin. We walked down the corridor on the Starboard side all the way to the last elevator lobby and went down one deck to the Upper Deck (you enter on Empress Deck), turned out and were at our cabin. The cabin was larger than we had expected. It was 65 square feet bigger than we had on Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas. It had a large bath with shower, two closed closets and one open closet, a safe, a large vanity, big picture window, a television set, two twin beds, and a rollaway for our son. The cabin was a mauve and almost peach color inside. DINING On our first night, we realized on our Sail & Sign Cards that the ship had us down as late seating in the Spirit Dining Room. We had originally requested the early seating but they had messed it up. After we found out who was sitting at our table we decided not to change because we liked the people that we sat with. The dining room was nice and was more decorative than the one we had on Royal Caribbean. The servers we had, Coco & Saim were really nice. They waited on our hand and foot. The food was great because they had normal things that we liked like Prime Rib, Salmon, and Chateubriand. We enjoyed the dining but the one thing we did not like was the tea. What ever you do, don't get the tea. Everything else was good especially the pizza. THE SHIP Overall, the ship was very nice. We had more things to do onboard than we did on RCCL in 1992. My favorite room was the Grand Spectrum if you would consider that a room and my other favorite would have to be Illusions. The karaoke in Shangri La was funny, there were a few people who could sing but not many. Up on deck, the Conga Line and the Line Dancing was fun. I would have to say that we liked this more then we did Royal Caribbean. There was over 500 kids on board which was better for our son. We just had a really great time. P.S. If you go to Cozumel, stay on the pier. Don't worry about downtown. Take the Atlantis Submarine tour. The shore excursion selection onboard was great. Read Less
This was my 15th cruise, 6th on Carnival, and second time on the Imagination. It was my husband Chuck's first time on this ship, and 14th cruise. We are 43 and 56 and live in the Chicago suburbs. We booked this cruise less than 3 ... Read More
This was my 15th cruise, 6th on Carnival, and second time on the Imagination. It was my husband Chuck's first time on this ship, and 14th cruise. We are 43 and 56 and live in the Chicago suburbs. We booked this cruise less than 3 weeks before sailing, as Chuck had been working a lot of overtime and felt like he needed to get away before our next booked cruise in November. Although we could have chosen another ship and/or cruise line, some friends of ours were getting married on this sailing and we decided to surprise them. Our documents arrived just one week after we booked and although the air from Chicago to Miami was a bit higher than what we usually pay, it was not unreasonable. We arrived at the Miami airport at about 10 am and were at the port before 11. As we walked in, we were asked if we were part of the wedding party, and I explained that we were there to surprise the bride and groom. Regardless, we were escorted to a special check in room for the wedding guests. As we were waiting to check in, the groom spotted us, with a somewhat surprised look on his face. He told us that his wife to be had a suspicion that we might show up, but wasn't sure. She didn't see us for awhile, despite walking past us twice! After we checked in, I snuck up behind her and asked if she was having a rough morning. I had already heard that they had a few mishaps that day, and knew she was kind of frazzled. Yes, she was surprised, as she thought that if we were to come to the wedding, we would have shown up the night before. The previous cruise did not disembark as planned, as we later found out that 3 or 4 people were unaccounted for and the INS would not clear the ship. I think we finally got onboard at about 12:30, much later than the wedding party had planned, as the ceremony was supposed to take place at 1pm. Carnival moved back the wedding for them, to 1:15. We had just enough time to check out our cabin, M39, outside on main deck forward, and go upstairs to the Lido deck for a quick lunch. The buffet was plentiful and the salad bar, my favorite. After eating, we went to the Shang Ri La lounge for the wedding. There were about 43 family members and friends present, and us. Although the bride showed up a little late, the wedding was pulled off without a hitch, and was beautiful. The bride wore a light colored Hawaiian dress with flowers down the side, and the groom wore a matching Hawaiian shirt with white slacks. The groomsmen and bridesmaids wore the same, with a black background. They all looked great! A small reception was held afterwards with canapEs and drinks. In my opinion, Carnival did a great job organizing this wedding. After the reception, Chuck went to take a nap, and I took off to re-familiarize myself with the ship and try to change our dining assignment from 8:30 to 8:00. The maitre de told us that we would be on a waiting list and if they could change us, we would be sent a note the next day. This never happened :( I had seen it all when it was finally time for the muster drill. Our muster station was in the Dynasty show lounge, along with many others, and I have to say that this was the WORST muster drill I have ever attended. After waiting a long time for the thing to even start, we were then taken up to our actual lifeboat station. We waited there too, in the heat, wearing our life jackets. I think the whole drill took almost 40 minutes, nearly twice the time it usually takes. Sailaway was uneventful, as I had left the port of Miami many times in the past couple years, but we went out on deck anyway to finally realize that we were on vacation. After sailaway, we unpacked our luggage, which had actually arrived before the muster drill. I headed up to the sushi bar myself, while Chuck stayed in the cabin to relax. We had left our house at 4am that morning, and he was just too tired to walk around. The sushi bar is open from 5:30-8:30, each night, and the sushi, though not raw, was very good, as was the hot sake. Rather than give a detailed diary of our cruise, I will break down the rest of this review in to sections. Dining room We were seated at table 175 in the Pride dining room, at the second late seating, 8:30. We would have preferred that this be changed to 8pm in the Spirit dining room, but this was just not to be. Our table for 10 was near the front, next to the Captain's table, which was only seated one night, with the purser's staff. There was a piano player each night, just in front of the Captain's table as well, and the music was soothing. Our tablemates were *probably* chosen for their proximity in ages to us, but we had absolutely nothing in common with any of them. This was the first time we ever cruised, where we dreaded going in to the dining room each night. Yes, I know that we could have asked for a table change, but honestly, I didn't think about it till 2 days later, and I thought that things would improve. Normally, Chuck and I are pretty chatty at dinner, but after the first night of introductions, our whole table was silent. Our team head waiter was Royston, and the waiter, Alina. Both were wonderful at their jobs and addressed us by name each day, and remembered all of our preferences. Our water glasses and iced teas were constantly being refilled, and the service overall was excellent. I had a couple bottles of wine which were always on the table when we sat down each night, and only once did I have to pour a glass for myself. Because of the tension at the table, and the fact that I don't eat many sweets, Chuck and I politely excused ourselves before dessert on most nights, and did not see any of the *song and dance* waiter shows. Dining Room Food The food in the dining room, at breakfast was just ok. The eggs benedict were a bit dry for my taste, and when I requested extra hollandaise sauce, I was steered away from it by Alina, who told me that it was not even warm. The poached eggs on toast were better, and the bacon was served crisp, as we asked for it well done. We did not eat any lunches in the dining room, but had all dinners there. I normally find the food on Carnival to be quite good, for as many people they're serving, and there was no exception here. I did not have a bad meal, and would rate the quality of their dishes high. All meats were served as ordered, all soups were served hot, and there were many things to choose from. My only complaint would probably be that they seemed to serve broccoli with almost every meal. I love broccoli, but would have liked to see a bit more variety in their vegetable selections. The only dessert I ate all week was the grand marnier soufflE, and it was cooked perfectly, and delicious. As a side note, cappuccino and espresso are still served at no charge in the dining room. Horizon Court We ate at the buffet, grill, and pizzeria for a couple breakfasts and lunches. The food was plentiful and good for buffet style. There was always a fresh pasta at lunch, and the salad bar has all the toppings you could ask for. We never had to wait for the pizza of our choice at the pizzeria, and it was always hot and tasty. At breakfast, you could order omelets made to order, fresh eggs, or choose from French toast, pancakes, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, and other breakfast goodies. Unfortunately, no lox though. The grill served up hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken sandwiches, and GREAT French fries. Overall, I felt that the selection and quality of the food here was very good. Our Cabin I had booked a 6A guarantee, less than 3 weeks before sailing, and was upgraded to a 6B, one deck higher. Although I had heard many complaints of dirty windows, ours was clean throughout the trip. The cabin was of ample size, with more than enough storage for 2 people. The bathroom was large, for cruise standards, especially the shower. We were supplied with all the soap we needed, and a basket of samples that included disposable razors, shampoo, body wash, Tylenol pm, mints, facial cleanser, and some sort of hairspray. I never did see a hair dryer in the room, but I don't use one anyway, so it didn't matter. Our cabin steward, Rigoberto did his job well, cleaning the room twice daily, and refilling the two ice buckets we had in there each time. He also made towel animals each night, after the first. If we needed something, we would leave a post it note on the mirror, and he took care of it immediately. Don't forget to ask for a king size sheet on the bed, on the first night. There are not enough for everyone, and if you don't ask right away, your beds will be made up as 2 twins, even if put together. Although we prefer a balcony cabin, this outside was quite comfortable for us, for the 5 night trip. Entertainment We opted against going to the production shows, but did see most of the others. The magician, Alex Romanov, was EXCELLENT, and the comedian, Kenny King, was hysterical. At first, he reminded me of Carrot top, and I thought the show would be lame, but I was laughing till I cried. My only regret is missing his midnight *R* rated show that night. The other shows we did see were good, but not as memorable. Overall, we were very pleased with the offerings. Poolside Despite not so perfect weather (it was cloudy and rainy for the bulk of our sea days), there were still the dreaded chair savers. On the first sea day, it appeared that things might clear up, and after breakfast, Chuck and I took a couple chairs near the main pool, at about 9am. At this point, several chairs around the pool had already been *marked*, but plenty were still available. At 10am, a woman came to stake her claim... 8 chairs! Since we had no plans to go anywhere, I was curious as to when these people would show up again. (these chairs were right behind us). The first woman came back at noon with her husband, another 2 at about 1:00, and the final 4 didn't show up till 2pm!!! I've seen this on other ships, and cruise lines, so I wasn't surprised, but I was slightly infuriated that security didn't notice the empty seats for so long. Security DID however, enforce the no children rule in the hot tubs surrounding the main pool, at all times. Also, the slide was open almost the whole day on sea days, and even often on port days. Some things good, some things bad. The Casino and Ocean Players Club The casino on this ship is quite large. There are plenty of blackjack tables, a 3 card poker table, specialty blackjack, Caribbean stud, and Caribbean draw. There is also at least one craps table and a roulette table, not to mention the many slot machines and VP available. As an Ocean Player's Club member, I was treated quite well. You can join the club for no fee, and all points accumulated are paid in cash back on your next cruise. If you notify them before you sail, you are in for a treat. Since my cruise was sold out before sailing, I was not able to get any additional upgrades, but we did have our cabin decorated, a bon voyage cake, a large fruit basket with nuts, cheese, and wine, 2 key chains, and 2 large bottles of Evian. All of this was in our cabin when we embarked. I also brought along with me my letter of credit from our last Carnival cruise, which gave me some cash to start playing with. In the casino, I knew that the OPC office had called ahead, as once one person heard my name, EVERYONE knew me. I was treated like a VIP, and it was great. Rosie, the casino manager, remembered me from my Spirit cruise last November, and the rest of the staff were just amazing. I'd like to thank Malou, especially, for her wonderful service. Even when you're losing, ESPECIALLY when you're losing, it's a comfort to have such wonderful people cheering you on. Kudos to the whole casino staff on the Imagination! I had a great time :) Pursers Desk and Excursion Staff I didn't have to deal much with the *information desk*, except when we lost some items purchased in Jamaica, believed to fallen out of our bag in the x ray machine. Although I checked twice, we believe that these things were probably picked up by another passenger, as they never showed up in lost and found. Either way, the pursers were quite friendly and eager to check for us, a few times. As for shore excursion help, we had previously had a problem with a shore excursion on an earlier cruise, and supposed to get a free shore excursion (up to $32 ea) on this one. We approached the shore excursion desk on the first day, and dealt with Peter Anderson. We explained the problem and showed him the letter we received from Carnival. He told us that he had already booked us on a tour, but unfortunately, it was not the tour we wanted. We explained the problem and he corrected it immediately, sending us tickets for our chosen tour, by early the next morning. THIS is customer service. Even though the tour we had chosen was a few dollars more than the one they originally gave us, AND we offered to pay the difference, Peter would not allow this, and gave us our tour at no additional cost. Thank you, Peter, and Carnival :) Next... ports and shore excursions... Grand Cayman As I mentioned previously, we opted for the Stingray Sandbar tour, which was on the house, due to a previous tour problem on another ship. Although I was leery, hearing that this particular ship's tour often has as many as 100 people on it, I was quite surprised that our boat to Stingray City, the Sundancer, had less than 50 people aboard. I had done this trip back in January, with Port Promotions, but my husband had never experienced the Stingrays before. Needless to say, he loved it, and I was much more comfortable with these gentle creatures than I was the last time. After the tour, we stopped in town to purchase a rum cake, a hat, and nothing more. In my opinion, the prices in Grand Cayman are high for most items. We went back to the ship and were able to enjoy a bit of sun on a very quiet Lido deck. Ocho Rios A couple years ago, we went to Ocho Rios with our kids, and took a tour with Ionie McBeam (www.ocho-rios.com). We enjoyed ourselves so much, that I recommended her to many people who have since used her as a tour guide. Ionie and I have kept in touch over the last couple years, and we were looking forward to seeing her again. My friend's family, from the wedding, also booked Ionie for the day. Since Ionie was to take them to some places we didn't care to see again (the falls), her husband, Lewis took Chuck and I on a private tour. We went from one end of the city to the other, and stopped at many out of the way places. After touring, we stopped at Soni center to pick up a few things for the kids, and relax a bit. Lewis was to pick us up at a certain time, and either he was late, or we were early, but we still had a bit of time to kill. I decided to look in one more jewelry store window, where I saw the exact same ring I had fallen in love with, in Cozumel, a few years ago. Sure enough, we went in and ended up buying the ring, an early anniversary gift :) After the extravagance, Lewis took us to Bibibips for lunch, where we met up with our friends and their families. This was our second time there, and just as good as the first. After lunch, we went back to the ship to drop off all of our goodies (except my ring, of course), and then it was off to check out Island Village and Margaritaville. The weather wasn't so great, and we did get caught in some rain, but it was a welcome cooling off from the heat and humidity. In my opinion, Island Village was nothing spectacular, but because of the negative publicity that Ocho Rios often gets, I can see it becoming quite a *hot spot*, due to its proximity to the pier. Margaritaville was nice, but we only went in to check it out, and didn't stay. Other than the bar slide, it wasn't much different from any other Margaritaville I had been in. We walked back to the ship, in the rain, and went straight to the cabin to dry off and relax. Another wonderful day :) I'm not sure what else to say, other than a few observations.... The cruise director was Amy. I'm not positive, but her name seemed familiar, and I believe that she was a singer/dancer on a previous cruise I had been on. She wasn't obnoxious, but she wasn't great, either. Announcements were few, and far between. I don't recall ANY announcements about the art auctions or bingo. Security was on the ball, kicking little kids out of the hot tub, all the time. I never saw any drunk teens (or adults), puking anywhere. The ship was clean. Yes, there were stains on the carpet in various places, but I have seen this on all the ships I've been on. At this point, it doesn't bother me. The staff was friendly. I was always greeted by staff members, pleasantly, wherever I was on the ship. The food, overall, was good. I have no complaints. Chair savers are on ALL ships. This was no exception. If you want to go to the midnight comedy show, get there EARLY! We arrived at 11:55 and it was standing room only. People sitting behind where we were standing, got up, and told us that we were blocking their view. The staff onboard are human beings, trying to make a living. Tip them AT LEAST the minimum, and more, if they exceed your expectations. I guess that's it. I'm sure I've forgotten a lot! If anyone has any more questions, feel free to email me at lunyma@aol.com.June 2002 Read Less
Just arrived back at home AARGH!! 90 in Grand Cayman, -11 with a -27 wind chill in Maine!! QUICK SUMMARY: Our cruise was on Carnival's Imagination leaving Miami on 2/8/03. We visited Grand Cayman and Jamaica with 3 days at sea. ... Read More
Just arrived back at home AARGH!! 90 in Grand Cayman, -11 with a -27 wind chill in Maine!! QUICK SUMMARY: Our cruise was on Carnival's Imagination leaving Miami on 2/8/03. We visited Grand Cayman and Jamaica with 3 days at sea. This was our 1st cruise. We went with friends that had cruised RCI before. WE LOVED IT!!!! The ship was ok, the excursions great, the food great, the drink even better, and the people friendly & fun! Our 5-day cruise was with picture perfect weather. The seas were calm with beautiful sunsets. The temps were 70s+ leaving to around 90 in the Grand Cayman. Since it was before normal Northeast school vacation, we had a limited number of kids on-board. We enjoyed that. We have traveled a lot, seen & done a lot of things, and have lived & enjoyed the weather of Florida for several years prior but we had never cruised. Big mistake!!! Where can you get a room with a view, eat for free, enjoy 1st class entertainment for free and generally have a blast! It was hard to beat the price per day we paid when compared to other vacation types. We will cruise from now on for our vacations. We would like to try a more upscale cruise company though unless maybe we travel with our children. BOOKING: Booked back in Feb 2002 (we really wanted to cruise!!). Booked directly from Carnival but had to book our own air (not available from Carnival from our location in Maine). I would use a TA next time. Our friends were better informed about cruise info than us due to TA. They got upgraded 1st and told us, seating assignment confirmed, etc. Lots of waiting through Carnival reservations/customer service. Use a TA!! I watched the price of cruise drop from $725 to $329 and was able to negotiate a $500 on-board credit. Our friends then got a $400 credit. FREE MONEY!!!! ARRIVAL FOR EMBARKATION: We flew into Miami on Thursday for a Saturday cruise. We didn't want to take chances on weather. We also knew we had a good chance of a volunteer air bump that could pay off since everyone goes South from North in winter. We were right, $200 each for flying into Ft Lauderdale instead of Miami and Delta transported us via Town car to Miami airport. It added only 2 hours to our flight (I love free $$). Mistake #1 - I booked our hotel online after looking around A LOT!! We stayed at the Crown Plaza airport. Chose it based on free airport transfer, free shuttle within 5 miles of hotel, its upscale appearance & chain reputation, and our discounted rate of $95 night vs. regular rate of $149+ (I'm a frequent guest of this chain so lower rates, late checkout, etc.). The mistake was its location. Right in middle of little Haiti. No restaurants around, unappealing hotel bar/dining, very little to view or do. There was a multiplex movie theatre next door. The shuttle never could take us anywhere. They said it was to far away, etc. We walked to Big K mart and Dunkin Donuts. The pool and hot tub needed refurb but were ok though. I choose this over the Marriott hotels nearby thinking it should be excellent. This hotel is strictly convention/meeting hotel. Next time I would either go discount (Days Inn, etc.) or go for the South Beach locale. EMBARKATION: Called Carnival several times and was told could not get on ship until 1:30. Had read from others that they got on as early as 11:30. Took a chance and left hotel at noon, arrived at pier at 12:15. Paid porter to take bags, went right in terminal. Straight through carry-on checkpoint, small line to check-in (ID, etc.) and sign up for our Sign & Sail card. Small line to get our cabin keys and actual Sign & Sail cards. Waited about 10 minutes in 2 lines, 1st to scan Sign & Sail to get on ship ramp and 2nd to actually get on ship. By 12:45 we were in our cabin, by 1:00 we were drinking on the Lido deck!!! We talked & drank and mingled & drank and drank & drank & drank!!! Our friends flew in from Iowa by mid-afternoon and we all drank more. Oh Yea, the buffet was serving so we ate too, burgers, salads, pasta, fried fish (the beginning of lots of eating & drinking!). The ship set sail at 4:30 on a beautiful Miami day. Went back to our cabin and surprise, our luggage was already there! You have a mandatory life jacket drill at 4 pm, which was a joke. We mustered on the Lido deck and basically stand around and watched the other guests practice (our location was in the center so we didn't have to). OUR CABIN: We had an outside cabin located on the Upper deck. Our room was as expected from the web site visual tour. It was probably bigger then we thought. We had twin beds that you can push together but can't really use together unless you like the big hole between them and no full size sheets. We only briefly met our cabin steward and he did not speak English!! His service was good. Each night our beds were turned down, a mint on each pillow and a new towel animal. He always cleaned, replaced our towels and filled our ice bucket twice a day. Our friend's steward was outgoing and talkative and they ended up giving her the majority of their assigned tip money. The cabin was a little worn and the carpet near the door needed cleaning but overall was comfortable. I was surprised by the free movies playing on 3 TV channels continuously (Minority Report, Banger Sisters, Transporter and others), the pay per view movies available, the ability to see what you had spent on your Sign & Sail instantly on your TV and the availability of regular primetime TV at night (resting before going out for the nightlife & midnight buffets!). Hot water and water pressure was a little light on early morning showers though but still able to shower comfortably. We were also surprised by the basket of freebies in our bathroom. Crest toothpaste, body wash, hair conditioner, deodorant, and other samples. We did see some of the other cabin styles as we walked the halls. I must say the suites on our deck looked very roomy and next time we will get one. They had a full size bed, couch and chairs. NOTE: The pillows are foam. If you prefer down/feather bring your own. They do not have any available, we asked. DINING ROOM DINING: We were assigned early dinner, 5:45, in the Spirit Dining Room. 1st day is casual, shorts allowed. We were placed at table 286. We met our wait staff, actually again, I had talked to the person busing the tables on the Lido deck and presto, here he was. His name was Gopi, a nickname he told us to use. The assistant was named Dagmar. Gopi was from India and Dagmar from Slovakia (Gopi told us later that Dagmar had quit after 3 weeks and this was her last cruise). Our table was a small table for 6 (we had requested to be seated with our friends) in the middle of 4 large round tables. Mistake #2 - Since we requested this smaller table we were basically stuck between the bigger tables. We had no view and the other tables wait staff had to dance around us. Our wait staff also had other tables further away from us thus our service was so-so at best. We were constantly waiting for something, water, to place order, next course, etc. Our friends had cruised RCI before and noticed many differences. Casual dining is not fine dining as on RCI. Little things from placing your napkin on your lap, greeting at the door, removing settings/meal dishes, etc. It took us 2 days to finally get them to permanently remove the 2 extra place settings at our table. We never met the Maitre d' although he did leave us an envelope for a tip on the last day, NOT!! I must say though those are the negatives by far the food in the dining room was excellent. 1st class restaurant quality. We had 4 or 5 choices of starters, entrEes, desserts, etc each meal. The food was prepared correctly to our requests, was appealing to the eye, and if we wanted another choice or seconds they fulfilled our requests. We were disappointed with our staff though. The surrounding tables staff was jovial and entertained their tables. I guess if you went to another restaurant the service would be considered good but when we watched the others we were disappointed with not being entertained. We want to make it clear that his service was good (not great) but our location and lack of entertainment tainted our enjoyment. Our waiter was reserved and quiet. Our friends were VERY disappointed. They actually adjusted their tip downward at the end of the cruise. My wife and I compared the experience to a regular dining experience and were satisfied. We actually tipped Gopi well after the final meal because we felt that if we had paid for this quality of food, at this type of dining establishment elsewhere, the SUGGESTED TIP WOULD NOT BE SUFFICIENT!! (We have worked at jobs based on tips before!!) NOTE: If you are celebrating anything be sure to let your TA or Carnival know BEFOREHAND. They will bring you a cake and sing to you. Also, Don't skip dinner because the servers entertain you on some nights. OTHER DINING & DRINKING: We tried everyplace and everything. The Horizon offers both inside and deck side buffet dining. Burgers, salads, different fast food type entrees, etc. Inside also has the 24-hour Pizza bar and the dessert tables. The salad selection is larger inside as well. They state they have early breakfast at 6 am at the Horizon but actually it is only pastries, coffee and juices until 8 am!! Breakfast is buffet style at the Horizon. They offer eggs, cereal, ham, sausage, pancakes, French toast, bagels, etc. Made to order omeletes are available too. Juices, coffees, and waters are free. NOTE: Wait until about 8:15 am before getting your food. The food is lukewarm at 1st until the steam tables heat up and the crowds larger. The Pride dining room offers regular sit down breakfast dining at 8 am for anyone except the last day when you go to your regular dining room for breakfast, (7 am early seaters, 8:30 for late seaters). I enjoyed sit down breakfast but the rest of the party preferred to get on deck ASAP and eat at the buffet. Room service has a limited menu but is fast, efficient and free (be sure to tip the delivery person!!). The lounges were varied. Most were not busy and kind of dull until later at night. We enjoyed the Shangri-La best. Live band, small atmosphere, and good service. The Karaoke was large and since not many people were there it made it appear boring. The lounge singer at the casino bar was good but the smokers tended to hang out at that bar and drove us off. The piano bar opened later and was small. The smoke also was a problem there. The bars at the Lido deck are open during the day, 2 forward and 1 stern. Sometimes all were open, other times only 1 or 2 open. No real rhyme or reason it seemed. Lots of servers for drinks on the Lido deck. Always ready to sell you the drink of the day (larger with souvenir glass only available on Lido deck), $6.25, refills $4.95. The Dynasty lounge isn't really a lounge but a show room. All the big shows take place there and they have ample servers before and during the shows. I have to say you will NEVER go hungry or be without a drink unless you chose to. ENTERTAINMENT: My wife and friends went to all the shows, I missed a few. The Dynasty lounge was the location for most shows. The music shows were the BeBop and Imagine It. Both were Vegas style with good sets, great singers and dancers, and overall entertaining. They felt a little much for this type of cruise though. Imagine It was a mishmash of music and dance styles. BeBop was very good though. The Dynasty also hosted the Game Show, Bingo, Scavenger hunt, Magic show, some comedy routines, the Captains cocktail party, the past cruisers cocktail party and a few other get togethers. The game show always left you laughing. Cindy had a way of making any contestant a fun target. The scavenger hunt (In the Bag they call it) was too easy. They only looked for common items. It was kind of funny though since the contestants had to find Cindy and deliver the items to her and she was constantly moving & hiding. The only problem with the Dynasty was seating. It is 2 levels with a glass half wall upstairs. Shorter people seated in front upstairs have to look through a metal rail. On the big shows the best seats are taken up early. Sometimes they had bingo, etc. before and if you weren't involved you had a hard time finding a decent seat. MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT: We were told to leave the Dynasty after the Captains party so they could clean up, thus our great seats were now lost to people waiting outside in line. This was the only time you had to leave after anything! Carnival claimed it was because they had dishes to clean up but the mess was no worse than after bingo or the past cruisers party!!! It was on the night of the magic show so I was disappointed. Lots of contests and dancing takes place on the Lido deck. ALL ARE FUN!! Go to them! The 1st late night comedy show takes place in the Karaoke bar. He started out great but a drunk heckler/participant got him flustered and he began to ramble. The 2nd comedian was much better only because of this. Both shows were great. As before the lounge singers in the ShangiLa and casino bar were very good. SHORE EXCURSIONS & SHOPPING: Carnival isn't very good at explaining the excursions. The descriptions were vague before we arrived and the FunVision booking/explanation TV system was not working correctly. We were told to book early but weren't allowed until after 5:30 on the 1st day. No biggie though, our friends had some ideas on what they wanted to do and we requested 2 tours and got both. Weird though, you don't know if you got your 1st choice until they deliver the tickets to your room. This was kind of nerve racking not knowing for sure what we are going to do. Also, because our room steward was not as attentive, our friends knew several hours before what their excursions were. We booked the Stingray City tour in Grand Cayman and the Jamaican Party Boat/Dunn's fall in Ocho Rios. THESE WERE THE BEST!!! THESE EXCURSIONS MADE OUR TRIP!! In Grand Cayman you have to take a tender into the dock and we had to wait some especially on the return trip. The Stingray city tour started out a little rough when we were loaded on an old school bus with no a/c. I'm tall and was kind of squished and the city part of the tour was nothing more than pointing out buildings as we drove to the marina where we boarded our boat for the ride out to the Stingray sand bar. The real excursion was the stingray swimming. The boat is a 2-story open party boat style. It has a small restroom below and a little bar with chips, soda, beer (only after swimming, $4), and a few gifts. The boat crew was excellent. They were friendly and informative. They explained how to use the equipment, how to feed they stingrays and picture taking tips. They sell the squid you feed the stingrays for $2 plus a $2 deposit on the plastic cup (they want to make sure no trash is left in the water, good environmental sense). 1 cup is enough for 2 people. We ended up getting a 2nd cup after we had already fed the stingrays in the water. When I went onboard to get my $ for the second cup the girl just gave it to me and told me to pay her later. This saved me from getting my things wet. Excellent touch. The ride out took about 10 minutes and we arrived at the clearest, bluest, 80-degree water I had ever seen!! They handed us each masks with snorkels attached from a big plastic pail that smelled like some kind of sanitizer (Carnival tries to sell you a snorkel for $5 saying it's better/safer, I was worried about using someone else's snorkel but it was unfounded. Save your $5, use the boat's equipment). The water was waist to chest deep. We climbed down a small ladder into the water one at a time. You basically hold the squid in your closed hand with it sticking up from your fist and the stingray smells it, swims on top of your hand and sucks its in. It was COOL!!! They crew is in the water taking digital pictures that you can buy on the boat trip back. They hold up a stingray so you can have your picture taken. We had our own waterproof cameras (bring one from home $8 at Wal-Mart because on ship it's $15, on shore $20+) and after watching how they held the stingray was able to do it ourselves. On the boat trip back we had a couple of beers (Caymans own Stingray beer, tasted like domestic, or Bud Light) and soaked up the perfect warm sun!! The bus driver dropped us off in the middle of town and we shopped around. The shops offered the typical tourist trinkets, t-shirts, etc. Prices were a little high and varied from shop to shop. Look around and you can get some fair prices. Some liquor was available at about 60% of USA price. The currency is the Caymans dollar, which is about 25% above US dollars. Most places had prices listed in US dollars though and there is no tax on purchases. The island was clean and friendly. I spent 1/2 hour talking to a police officer while the girls shopped some more & more & more. He was friendly and informative. I would go back and/or move there in a second!! Our next stop was Jamaica. The ship docked in Jamaica and we de-embarked next to the smelliest run down pier I've seen. The line off the ship was huge and stretched into the halls as well as up the stairs. We arrived late and it was almost 8:30 before we started to leave the cruise ship. Not good considering we were supposed to leave on our excursion at 8 am. Luckily the excursion tour waited and it was the first one right at the end of the pier. It wasn't looking too good. We boarded via a plank under the pier. I had to duck since it was only about 4 feet tall under the pier. The boat looked okay and we departed listening to music while the crew acted out to one of the songs. Immediately after, they began trying to sell us the CD of the music for $20 and offered to braid my wife's long hair for $70 (yeah right!). It took about 25 minutes to get to Dunn's Falls. We landed on the dock and again walked the plank. We were introduced to our falls guides (you must have a guide to climb the falls). The guides explained what we were going to do and added jokes and laughter. You must have water shoes (you can rent at falls for $3) or sandals with secure straps, no floppy style sandals. You can leave your items you don't want to get soaked on a picnic table that a member of the crew watchers over while you climb the falls. NOTE: Everything you bring up the falls will get soaked!!!! (They do take wet money at the shops up top though HA! HA!). Bring a waterproof camera. The guides will take several pictures for you as you climb, just ask. We were here to have fun, and our group was in the front of the line, so we started our own version of the wave. The climb up the falls was fairly easy as long as you step lightly looking for hidden rocks under the water. The water churns and is white as it rolls down the falls so you can't see where you are stepping. You have a couple of high climbs as well as some level/pool climbs. As you climb there is a videographer filming the trek and a few stops for photos, (Later at the beach they sell the photos for $6 and the video for $30). Once at the top the guides are looking for tips then they let you go. There is a little flea market like shopping area, Jamaica style. That means everyone surrounds you, asks your name, heaps praise on you, tells you they're your friend, 1st customer, etc. and starts asking 4 times the price they will take for what ever they are selling. Almost all the vendors have the same items for sale. Hold on to your $$$ tight, split it up between your party & pockets (if they see it, they know what you have to spend!) and don't take the first offer. They have some good deals. You can buy everything from t-shirts to carved wooden giraffes. We bought some embroidered heavy t-shirts for $10 and some other small gifts. Later down at the beach we heard all sorts of prices paid for the same items from $5 to $25 for the same t-shirts!! Many vendors will give you something free just to get you into their lean-to type shop and all try to sell (or give 1, buy other) a set of mahogany fertility statues. They all ask about $40 but we bought ours for $10 just to get out of there, RUN, RUN, RUN!! (The best price we heard was $5). Remember how you got into the market because it is like a maze in there. They try to keep you in there. Keep an eye on others in your party because they try to divide and conquer!! You walk down to the bottom of the falls to the beach. The signs aren't very good but head towards the falls and walk the boardwalk down. Once at the bottom our fun began. The beach is nice and the water warm but for our excursion we headed back to our picnic table where the free rum punch flowed. We spent about an hour drinking and talking and drinking and drinking and drinking!! I don't know much about rum but this was smooth going down!! It was rum with a hint of punch, MMM MMM good! We bought the video and a great picture of us on the boat. By the time we walked the plank back on the boat, we were ready for fun. A quick bribe/tip to the bar and to the girl pouring the punch made sure we were never without! They started playing dance music but there were chairs all over the bottom floor not leaving much room to dance. Our friends are from Iowa with not much rhythm but started to move their hips to the music. That was enough for me; I began to dance up a storm (maybe because of the rum!!). It was just us 4 dancing with the bar maid but with some non-stop lobbying I quickly got the bottom floor dancing, one by one. As they got out of their seat, one of us stole their chair, handed it to the captain who quickly stacked them up. No place to sit so you had to dance. The final couple sitting was an older (70ish) couple. I grabbed the lady and my wife grabbed her husband and there we were, dancing fools. The crew started a Conga line that went up the stairs. Once there the bar maid and a crew member began to teach the crowd some Jamaican dance steps. Well, I just couldn't see the point of her dancing with him so a quick leap up on the life jacket storage unit and I'm dancing above the crowd. Later as I walked the cruise ship many people recognized me but I had little recall of my antics (AH the rum!). We arrived back at the dock but again I don't recall arrival or how I got to my cabin. Tonight was formal night so as we lay in our cabin I asked my wife if it was time to shower and dress for dinner. She looked at the clock and announced "Honey, it's only 12:15" (AH the rum). I couldn't just lie there so we went up to the Lido deck and found a table on the ship's stern overlooking the pier. Needless to say, for the rest of the afternoon I entertained the arrivals and most of the Lido decks guests. People would later run into my wife or me saying it was fun and funny, I don't recall (AH the rum). ON-BOARD SHOPPING: There are lots of shops on the ship. They vary from jewelry to liquor to trinkets. Liquor was cheap although you can't actually get it until the last day. Bailey's was 2 for $25, Tanqueray was 2 for $23, etc. Each day there is something for sale in the hall of the Galleria. Liquor the 1st day, t-shirts another, chains another, watches, etc. All purchases are tax-free. Consult your duty free schedule for your country for what you can buy duty free. We bought some liquor, gifts and I got a nice new leather wallet. It was all tax and duty-free. All during the cruise someone is taking or asking to take your picture. The pictures are displayed on the wall in the Photo Gallery and divided by occasion (i.e. formal night, embarkation, etc.). We had several taken and ended up purchasing about $60 worth. The 8 x 10 are $20, 6 x 9 are $8 (I think) and 3 x 5 $5 (I think). You can have reprints or different sizes only AFTER you buy the picture on display. They also develop film onboard for $8.88, 24 exposure, 4 x 6 double prints, with next day service. NOTE: They also sell different photo albums in the gift shop. Look around before you buy your at the Photo Gallery. We liked the white "Cruise Memories" album only available in the gift shop. CREW: Most of our interaction was with our dining room staff and the drink servers. Our cruise included a built in tip on our Sign & Sail card so the steward and dining staff knew what their tip was. When you ordered drinks they also added a 15% gratuity into the price. This made me wonder if they would have tried harder if they didn't know this. I liked it though not having to think about tips. We did increase our tip on the first day to our dining room drink server and after that whenever we showed up where she was, we had her there waiting on us. Her name was Dunka and she worked the ShangiLa lounge in the evenings. Our dining staff was fine. They did their job but not anything extra. The Galleria (ship's shopping area) staff was friendly but the gift shop itself seemed to be always under staffed. Each day, at the entrance to the Galleria, the staff had a special sale (liquor, t-shirts, jewelry, etc.). These crewmembers were very nice. The Information Desk/Purser staff was efficient and friendly. They handled any requests we had very well. They also were understaffed though especially after Dynasty lounge info meetings and last night before arrival. They are open 24 hrs except the last night. Plan your visits at off times. The cruise director was excellent. He made the boring info sessions fun. He has a long name M***** something. The assistants AJ, Cindy, & Cindy (yes 2 Cindy's) were great too. Although I can't recall names or specific locations, the rest of the staff seemed friendly and efficient. DEBARKATION: I had heard horror stories about this. They were not true. You are instructed to pack your bags and have them outside your door the night before between 6 pm & midnight. You have colored tags given to you that coincide with your cabin location. Be sure they are properly filled out and you remember the color. They take the luggage all through the night. It can get noisy at times. They also close the middle set of elevators strictly for luggage transport. We set ours out at about 8 pm and it was gone by 9 pm. We kept our carry-ons with a change of clothes for morning showers. You find your luggage the next day in the customs building. It has been divided by your tag color. We taped our handles with colored duct tape, which made it easy to spot in the piles later. They deliver your bill under your door early a.m. (ours was there when we awoke at 6 am). You are instructed to have your duty form filled out with your picture ID and your birth certificate or passport with you for exiting the ship. NOTE: At the info meeting they instruct you how, where and when you have to be for getting off the ship. The non-USA guests had to meet at 6:30 am in the Library to meet Immigration. If you do not show up on time it slows down the entire ship and you are fined $250 per person. Of course we had about 6 parties that had to be paged! The day of arrival you can eat breakfast at your respective dining room, 7 am for early seaters, 8:30 am for late seaters. You can also eat at the Horizon. We ate at our dining room, which had hardly anyone there. That was fine for us, calm atmosphere and excellent service. We ate as much as we could because we thought we wouldn't get off the ship for a while and we wouldn't get fed on the 1st flight. I slipped Gopi an extra cash tip when we left. You are instructed that you can hang out at the Lido deck, in the Promenade, or Photo Galley. They don't want you downstairs clogging up the area around the ramp. They call the handicapped and people with special needs 1st followed by the top cabins working their way down. We went to the Lido deck and hung out in the sun. If you want anything else to drink or gifts it is cash only now! Most of the shops are closed at 9 or 10 am. It seemed like they were always announcing someone's name on the intercom (Did you max out your credit card? miss immigration?). It wasn't until about 9:30 that they actually started calling decks/guests. I think it was because they were waiting for non-USA guests and people that had maxed their cc. Our deck got called about 10:15 and we went to the ramp. A quick scan through the ships Sign & Sail security checkpoint, down the ramp to the Customs Agent with our Ids. He asked a few questions from our Ids and we were on our way to the baggage area of the Customs building. I found our luggage in a flash, grabbed a porter and was on our way to the final Customs checkpoint. The porter breezed through, I handed the Duty form and walked right out. My wife was not so lucky, she got hauled aside and her carry-on checked. A few seconds later she was on her way to the bus with us. The whole process off the ship took maybe 5 minutes. We had bought a transport ticket the last day of the cruise (something I didn't know I could do) for $10 each to Miami Airport. I was going to take a taxi but decided to play it safe instead. If I had a bigger party, I would grab a taxi. It's about $20 to the airport. We waited on the bus about 15 minutes and were off. 2 plane flights later we were home to cold, cold Maine. ourhouse@hotmail.com May 2003 Read Less
AIRPORT AND TRANSPORT We arrived at the Miami airport at 11:30 AM. We easily found our luggage and there were Carnival reps waiting for us at the baggage claim. The reps were hard to understand with their accents but still managed to keep ... Read More
AIRPORT AND TRANSPORT We arrived at the Miami airport at 11:30 AM. We easily found our luggage and there were Carnival reps waiting for us at the baggage claim. The reps were hard to understand with their accents but still managed to keep order. We were told that we would need to walk a block and a half to get to the buses that would take us to the port. We followed the reps down the sidewalk towards our buses. Over half of the crowd decides to smoke at this time. So here we are walking in this huge cloud of smoke. This really sucks if you don't smoke. We get to the station where the buses are and we are asked to show our IDs and transport tickets. It was soooooooooo crowded and people are still smoking like its going out of style (which I hope it is). We get on our bus and the driver tells us he is Jamaican and he will be taking us to the port. He also mentions that the mic is broken so he will have to yell. If you take the route we did you will pass the Orange Bowl and the arena where the Miami Heat plays. We pull into the port after about a 15-minute, NON-SMOKING, air-conditioned ride. EMBARKATION We are sitting on the bus while they unload our luggage. Believe me people they are not easy with it. As the luggage is being unloaded the bus driver will tell you over and over how his tips are not included in your tour package. After a 10-minute wait we got off the bus. We watched the porters take our luggage and tipped the bus driver. We entered the building and waited in line for about 10 minutes to get through the metal detector. The security people were very nice and the rubber glove was more than pleasant (just kidding). The physically challenged were allowed to go ahead of everyone, which was appropriate, however one guy was really rude and was pushing through everyone. Sometimes you just wish you were standing on a steep incline. We get through the detectors with no problem and get into another line. This time we are waiting to get on board and to activate our sail and sign cards. There were at least 20-30 Carnival reps working. This went fairly quick. The reps were very friendly! You have to give them your tickets to get on board and a credit card to activate your card. PLEASE HAVE THIS STUFF READY, it makes the line move faster. You will walk up a flight of stairs and there will be a table set up. You will then receive your sail and sign card and your cabin keys. After you get your card you will get your picture taken for security purposes. Then you come to another security guard and they will check that your name on your card and your ID are the same. We then walked down a long hallway and were greeted by a cameraman. CHEESE! Welcome aboard. GETTING ON BOARD So we are finally on the ship. It's about 12:45. We found our cabin and tucked away our belongings. My wife and I tried to get naughty for our 5th anniversary but my mother knocked on the door (just like high school). The safe works just as promised. We played around with the TV (instead of each other) for a bit but couldn't figure out the Funvision. (Funvision is the Carnival channel that has a schedule and also lets you check your balance. I'm so excited that I just have to eat so we hear to the Lido deck to the Horizon Grill. The line is short and fast. I tried a hamburger and it was decent (7 out of 10). I needed a drink so I tried the tea (1 out of 10). I would rather drink toilet water in Cozumel than to drink that crap again. I switched to lemonade (9 out of 10) and was hooked. LIFE BOAT DRILL The lifeboat drill started around 4:30. Our cabins had to report to the Dynasty lounge. This was horrible. They gave us life jackets and showed us how to put them on. We were then escorted to our lifeboat stations and stood out there while they told us if the ship started sinking we are to remain calm. Uhhh ok. This lasted probably 20 minutes. Too long. CRUISE CRITIC PALS We set sail at around 5:00 PM. People were all over the place. We walked to the curiosity library and met with some fellow Cruise Critic users. Buddy and Janet are very nice. We also met a lady named Molly and her 2 kids, along with her mother. They were very nice but we never saw them again. We set around and talked to Buddy and Janet for about and hour. They are wonderful people and a pleasure to cruise with. If you meet people online I strongly suggest making a meeting time. It's always good to make new friends. PRIDE EARLY DINING 6:15 Ok I didn't pick the dinnertime. My mother who cruised with us picked the time but this was too early. We stood outside the dining hall for about 20 minutes waiting to get in. We finally made it and took a seat at table 142, a table set for 6. We knew everyone at the table as they came with us Tom, Charma, Jason, Amy, Mary (my wife) and Bo (Me!) Our assistant waiter came by to say Hi. His name was Han and he is from Thailand. We tried to make conversation but....oh well. Our waitress came by and she was hot! She was from Romania and her name was something like Ladonna or something. WOW! She took our order and I ordered the barley soup, salad and lamb chops. The barley soup (7 of 10) came out about 10 minutes later. All we had was water, no beverage service as of yet. The salads came and they were ok. Everyone that ordered the ranch dressing hated it. I got French so I was somewhat satisfied (6 0f 10). Next came the lamb chops and they were beautiful! I couldn't believe how pretty they were and they tasted very good (9 of 10). My wife tried the NY Strip and she was satisfied. They brought us a dessert menu and I ordered the chocolate decadence. If you do not like VERY RICH CHOCOLATE do not order this. It was good (7 of 10). We never did get the beverage service. FUN TIME We went to the Dynasty Lounge and watched the welcome aboard stuff. This was kind of boring. They had bingo ready to start and we bought 3 cards for $20. They played 2 games. The first was for $200 and the second for $500. I lost. They played some game show games this evening and they were pretty funny. They were giving away trophies or as the assistant cruise director David called them "24 karat gold, plastic ship on a stick" They played 3 games for the trophy then a game with the winners of the 1st three for a bottle of champagne. Buddy (who we met on Cruise Critic) won although he thought the happy birthday song was played at weddings. We also watched a dance class. They learned the Cha Cha. It was funny to watch some people with 2 left feet. We also got our first taste from the "GODFATHER OF COMEDY" EDDY CAPONE. He was very clean and very funny. WASTING TIME/ DRINKING We walked around the ship for a while and drank a few. Ok, I'm not a big drinker but some of these drinks were watered down. I also paid 4 bucks for a warm can of beer at the pool bar (4 of 10). We also tried the strawberry daiquiri (7 of 10). THE MIDNIGHT BUFFET/ BEDTIME So we get to the buffet and get in line. We had to wait 5 minutes or so. I tried the hot wings (8 of 10), the roasted potatoes (9 of 10) and the BBQ Ribs (10 0f 10!) I'm stuffed, so we head to the room for some naughty time. Our beds were turned down with a mint on the pillow. No world famous towel animals. A basket of goodies was left (a razor, some shampoo, some soap, some Tylenol). I can't believe my wife and I are finally alone. Oh yeah. KNOCK KNOCK....."what mom?" Mother: "What time do you want me to get you up?" Uggghhh. HINT #1 Pretend you are not in the room when your mom knocks on the door at 1:30 AM! DAY 2 10-15-02 FUN DAY AT SEA We slept through the Dining room breakfast and went to the grill for the breakfast buffet. I tried the eggs, sausage, bacon, and hash browns (all together a 6 0f 10, the hash browns only get a 3 of 10). GAMES IN THE LOUNGE/ SHORE TOUR SEMINAR They played trivia in the lounge. This was kind of boring and people were cheating everywhere. Really unorganized. The assistant cruise director Dominiqua is great! Our Cruise Director AJ came out and started the Excursion talk. He advised everyone to take a tour in Belize. He went over the main tours and told us what to expect. This lasted about a hour....BORING. You can buy your excursions on Funvision in your cabin if you can figure it out. HINT #2 THE SHORE EXCURSION SEMINAR IS A WASTE OF TIME TO SEE LIVE, IT WILL BE ON TV ALL WEEK LONG CONTINUOUSLY. LUNCH TIME We went and had the pizza (9 of 10). Very good and quick. We stopped at the poolside bar and bought a SODA CARD $24.95. This entitles one person to a shot glass full of coke whenever you want. That's about the truth. You can use them anywhere but if you use one of the waiters they will roll they're eyes and take forever to get it. Kind of a hassle. Would be great if you had kids! THE TOPLESS DECK So my wife and I are looking for a place to lay out and cant find a lounger. We then pass a set of stairs that says adults only. We go up and discover the topless deck. I had no problem getting topless nor did my wife. There are way too many single men walking around on this deck. Perverts. Yeah, like we really believe you are lost. Plenty of loungers for everyone. People are very nice. It was very windy. I had my shirt off for 15 minutes without sunscreen.........HINT #3 WEAR SUNSCREEN! YOU MAY BURN! That hurt. THE SURVIVOR GAME We went to the Dynasty lounge to watch SURVIVOR Carnival style. They chose 10 people from a drawing and they were invited on stage and put in 2 teams of 5. They then played games for immunity. The host asked each player what they did and where they're from. One guy worked for Carnival! Some lady named Sue was wearing a bikini top. ooohhh la la. Some dude named Larry won. It was funny. BINGO I played bingo...I lost. FORMAL DINNER We didn't go. Were not into that kind of stuff. The hallways are packed and you can hardly walk. Everywhere you turn they are taking pictures. We decided to go to the room to get out of the way. If you don't get dressed up YOU WILL FEEL INFERIOR! I make good money and live very comfortably but if you put someone in a tuxedo beside a man in Bermuda shorts, they do treat you like a peasant. Some people have real ego problems. DINNER We went to the buffet (surprise!) and tried some stuff. They had veal stroganoff which I didn't try (see hint #4) I had some kind of pasta (5 of 10) and some potatoes (8 of 10). There were 8 people in our party, 6 had the veal (neither my wife nor I ate it). They all got diarrhea. LOL Mary and I were fine. HINT #4 DO NOT EAT THE VEAL STROGANOFF UNLESS YOU HAVE A LOT OF TIME AND SOMETHING TO READ LATER THAT NIGHT. THE MAIN SHOW- IMAGINE IT We had to sit in the top balcony. The drink service was pretty good however the Margaritas were weak. My wife ordered a Miami Vice which is a pina colada, daiquiri mix. We used the Coke card again and it took forever. The show was ok. The lead singer was named SUSAN...sound familiar? She was in the Survivor game earlier. CARNIVAL should prohibit employees from playing the games. This show was ok (6 of 10). About half way through the show a Russian couple came out and did a dance type thing. The woman was very flexible and they were amazing! (10 of 10 for the dancing Russians). We left the show and went to the casino. HINT # 5 GET TO THE SHOW 1 HOUR OR EARLIER TO GET A GOOD SEAT. CASINO I'm not a big gambler. My wife headed to the nickel slots and lost a quick $10. I stood waiting to get a seat at a blackjack table but a seat never came up. There are probably 20 tables in the casino, maybe half were open. oh well. THE EDDY CAPONE R RATED SHOW (R Rated Review) We went to the Xanadu lounge and got a front row seat to the Eddy Capone show (10 0f 10). They had a warning announcement before the show about the foul language. How bad could it be? Eddy Capone came out and immediately started to single out people in the crowd and made fun of them (including me). He was very vulgar and very, very funny. There was an elderly couple in the front row who spoke no English. He gave them a very hard time and they had no idea what he was saying. Funny. Near the end he asked the men what they call their penis. Some of the names were Elvis, Johnson, Woody, Big Boy, Willy etc..................then he asked the ladies what they call their spouses penis, then some lady said, "I don't call it....it just comes." WOW! That was a good one. Eddie ended the show by singing Good Bless the USA. I had 7 Fuzzy Navals and a few beers. Visit Eddie at godfatherofcomedy.com. HINT #6 GO SEE EDDY CAPONE! HE IS VERY FUNNY! IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE DO NOT GO! HE WILL MAKE FUN OF YOU. NO ONE IS SAFE! BUFFET Ok....I know you're saying you just ate. We got to the buffet and had...get this, PRIME RIB! Oh yeah (10 0f 10). BEDTIME We went back to the room and got our first towel animal, a frog. The beds were turned down and a mint on the pillow. Good Nite! WEDNESDAY 10-16-02 PORT BELIZE CITY, BELIZE Knock Knock....My mother again. She said to get up. We did and looked out our window and saw a beautiful view of the waters around Belize. Shower (fits 2 people by the way). We ordered room service the night before for this morning. They wheeled it in early. A Bagel and a milk (4 of 10). A man's gotta eat. BREAKFAST We went to the breakfast buffet. The bagel just didn't do it. Same thing as yesterday. I tried an omelet which was pretty good (8 of 10). The announcement came over the intercom that the ship was cleared and you needed to meet with your excursion host in the designated spot. GULF CAY SNORKELING We had to meet in the Dynasty lounge at 9:45. They exited row by row to get on the tenders. The front row goes first. HINT #7 SIT IN THE 1ST ROW AND LEAVE FIRST FOR THE TENDERS. We went down the steps to get on the tender. Make sure you have ID and sail and sign card ready. We got on the tender, which fit around 30 people. Carnival says it is a 40-minute ride to the Gulf Cay snorkeling excursion, the tender ride was around 15 minutes and was worth the price of the excursion itself. We got to the Cay and had to wade to shore or you can stay on the boat and they will take you to deeper waters. HINT #8 WEAR SWIM SHOES BECAUSE THE ROCKS ARE SHARP. ALSO BRING TOWELS (CARNIVAL PROVIDED), SUNSCREEN, WATERPROOF CAMERA, A HAT, SUNGLASSES AND CASH. The island they take you to would fit easily inside the Dynasty lounge. The waters are crystal clear and there are no waves. They have a small hut set up where you can buy souvenirs from Belize. HINT #9 SOUVENIRS WERE CHEAPER HERE THAN IN BELIZE CITY. They also have a hotdog stand that sells food and beer. A beer and hotdog is $5. The Belize beer is called BELIKIN and it is good. HINT # 10 TRY BELIKIN BEER, TASTES A LOT LIKE HEINEKEN. Ok here is what sucked about this excursion. Here you are sitting on this little island with crystal clear waters. They have porta potties set up in case you ate the veal yesterday (see hint #4) which are pretty clean. There are also people from Norwegian Cruise lines on the beach with you and guess what.....while you are eating a $3 hotdog they are eating a catered lunch that Norwegian Cruise Lines provided. BBQ Chicken, potato salad etc. That was a let down. They also had free water and free RUM PUNCH! They were also provided chairs...we set on the hot sand. So were setting on this beautiful beach and this weird looking boat pulls up. It looked like a hut with lawn chairs and lots of shade. It was the N.C.L's bathrooms with flushable toilets and loungers! UGGHHHH. All in all the island was beautiful (9 of 10) and the beer was great (9 of 10). Carnival needs to cater a lunch or at least a picnic lunch. This is a very good excursion of you want to see some beautiful water do some snorkeling and see some fish and the reef. I give it a strong 9 of 10. The boat ride gets a 10 of 10 and the guides get a 10 of 10. They were very funny and gave us a history lesson on Belize. TENDERING BACK TO IMAGINATION AND TO BELIZE CITY We took the tender back to the ship and changed clothes. We took another tender to Belize City. This ride took about 15 minutes (Carnival claimed it took 45 minutes) and you can get some great pictures of the Imagination. We arrived to the shore and got off the tender. There are around 30 shops right on the dock in the visitor area. You can buy many Belizean artifacts. Lots of carved wood items and jewelry. The people are not pushy at all. HINT # 11 DON'T PAY FULL PRICE...THESE PEOPLE ARE EASY TO HAGGLE DOWN. I TALKED A GUY DOWN ON A HAND CARVED PIPE FROM $65 TO $30. THEY NEED THE MONEY. The shops are crowded so be careful. You break, you buy. There is a pharmacy in port and you can buy drugs without a prescription. Some stuff was 70% cheaper than US prices. Viagra is $6 a pill. You can't get it up here for that price (no pun intended). Wanna try some ethnic food? Try Taco Creole in the plaza on port. A taco (which is half the size of a Taco Bell taco) cost $2 but they are hotter than hell! Also try the nachos at the internet cafe. HINT #12 TRY THE NACHOS AT THE INTERNET CAFE, $3 GETS YOU A BUNCH OF FRESH WARM TORTILLA CHIPS AND SOME REALLY FRESH HOT CHEESE. You can see all the shops in about and hour. There are quite a few people performing on the street. You can see Belize City from the port. It is very poor and looks like hell. The people are very friendly. We got back on the tender and headed back to the ship at 3:00 PM. The last tender leaves at 4:15 and they will leave you. HINT #13 MAKE IT BACK TO THE SHIP ON TIME OR YOU WILL BE LEFT BEHIND. BACK TO THE SHIP We got back to the ship and ordered room service. I had a ham sandwich (9 of 10) and some milk. I took a nap till 5:00 and was awaken by my mother. We showered and got ready for dinner at 6:15 (too early). HINT #14 TIP THE ROOM SERVICE PEOPLE, THEY DO A GREAT JOB. OTHER SHORE TOURS Ok, We only went on the Gulf Cay Snorkeling Tour so I'm only giving you hearsay. Some people we were with went on other tours and this is what we were told. HORSEBACK RIDING- We were told it was long, painful and hot. They said a person who has never rode a horse may want to skip this. Great views of the jungle. Good food at the end. WARNING- The people on this tour had to run back to make the last tender to the ship! CAVE TUBING- The most popular tour. We were told it was really pretty and a lot of fun. But you have to be in relatively good shape. They said the bus ride was horrible then you have to walk through the rain forest. They had a good time but also had to hurry to the last tender and had no time to shop. BELIZE CITY TOUR- They said this was a humbling experience. Its not everyday you see this much poverty. It could be a life changing tour or it could be a 3-hour waste of time. RIVERBOAT RIDES- The most I heard was its ok. RUIN TOURS- We were told it was pretty good but you have to like that kind of stuff. Long ride on crowded bus. SHARK RAY ALLEY- Deep water snorkeling. They said that it's not what you think. They said its better in the Caymans. NO TOUR- Ride the tender, shop, go back to the ship. If you want to shop do this but DO NOT GO INTO THE CITY! DINNER- PRIDE EARLY SEATING Our waitress welcomed us back and briefly asked about Belize. Han filled my water glass and after 3 days the beverage person finally showed their face. It was this cute lil' Oriental girl. Mary ordered a coke with her SODA CARD and 10 minutes later she had a coke. The girl read her name off the card and began to call her Miss Mary. Mary liked that. I had the duck starter and the Roast Chicken main course. The duck was horrible (1 of 10), it tasted like raw bacon (which is probably at least a 2 of 10). The roasted chicken was really good (9 of 10) and came with some potatoes. Mary had a tenderloin. It was the size of a quarter. She had to order chicken also just to have something to eat. Dessert was apple pie for most, I had mud river cake which was a piece of white cake sitting in chocolate milk (3 of 10). The maiter de was ok. He walked around and talked to all the tables except ours...very disappointing. HINT #15 IF THE MAITER DE FORGETS TO ACKNOWLEDGE YOU, FORGET TO TIP HIM. MAIN SHOW- MAGIC We pretty much ran to the main show. In front of the Dynasty Lounge there are many little shops including a duty free liquor store. They had a table set up and were giving away free shots of liquor that you can buy. I was in line and the crowd was huge. There was some pushing and shoving and then someone knocked the free liquor table over busting several bottles of rum. They ruined it for everyone. The show started and the magician came out. He was pretty good, he did some cool card tricks and used the audience a few times. He had some assistants wearing thongs (10 of 10 for the thongs) that I was more than happy with. The magic show was good (7 of 10) but could have been better. After that show a comedian came out. I think his name was Kenny Something? He was funny and did a G Rated show. He played some guitar and did a song or two. That show was a (7 0f 10). I went and walked around a bit with my beautiful wife. We went to the front of the ship and watched the ship cut through the waters in the moonlight. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever saw (10 of 10). Only one thing could make this night anymore special......not naughty time but.....HINT #16 GET THERE EARLY FOR A GOOD SEAT. ...MIDNIGHT BUFFET We headed to the buffet and had some steak and roasted potatoes. (7 of 10). BEDTIME We decided to go back to the room and skip the Lido Deck party which I heard was boring. The beds were turned down and we had a towel pig on our bed. I fell asleep immediately. THURSDAY- FUN DAY AT SEA 10-17-02 We grabbed breakfast at the buffet and I discovered the French toast is really good (9 0f 10) The service was descent. SHOPPING TALK We went to the dynasty lounge and sit through another boring talk on what to buy and where to buy it at Key West. This lasted about and hour. HINT # 17 SIT NEAR THE FRONT BECAUSE THIS GUY GIVES OUT FREE STUFF. He throws out T-shirts, necklaces, rum cakes (I got a rum cake) and other crap. You can also watch this on TV all week long. WASTING TIME- HAIRY CHEST CONTEST/ ICE SCULPTURE We walked around for a while and stumbled upon a hairy chest contest on Lido deck. They take 6 guys and they get shirtless. They then pick a woman to judge. All of these men were hideous. HINT #18 DO NOT EAT BEFORE WATCHING THIS SHOW AS IT COULD BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH. They should call it the hairy back contest. The men had to dance over to the lady and use a pick up line. Some nasty looking dude won with a lame pickup line like "Do you cruise here often?" I preferred "hey baby wanna ride on my fun ship?" They had an ice sculpture demonstration here too. Kind of boring (5 of 10) but worth seeing. We laid in the sun for a while then got in the hot tub. We met one of the Survivor contestants from Boston. She was nice. There was an older couple in the tub and the man was picking dead skin off his wife and releasing it into the tub! HINT #19 IF SOMEONE IS PICKING OFF DEAD SKIN INTO THE HOT TUB, SMACK THEM VERY HARD. BACK TO THE CASINO We headed to the casino and played roulette. I lost a quick $20. THE GALLEY TOUR- KITCHEN FOR YE' LAND FOLKS If you've been in a restaurant kitchen you've been in the ships kitchen. (4 of 10). THE LOVE QUIZ AND THE NEWLYWED GAME We got to the Dynasty Lounge late but we sit with our new friends from Boston. The love quiz (5 of 10) was pretty funny. I, of course, lost. I mean what kind of man is escorted by his mom on his 5th wedding anniversary cruise. The winner got a bottle of champagne. The winner was Janet, our cruise critic pal! For the newlywed game they took the couple who was married the longest (which was 61 years) the youngest marriage (3 days) and the middle, Buddy and Janet again (they must pay off someone to get picked all the time) they were married 30 some years. This old couple was so funny. He didn't understand any of the questions. The last question was "IF you were stranded on a island, who would you'd rather have...a missionary or a hooker?" The old man answered, "A hooker in the missionary position!" They all won champagne. DINNER- PRIDE EARLY SEATING We get there and have a seat. The lil' beverage girl automatically brought Mary a drink and called her Miss Mary again. I had the chicken tortilla starter(6 of 10), a salad (6 of 10) and some beef thing (6 of 10). Desert was a cake with thick icing (9 of 10). The waiters and kitchen staff started a conga line around the dining room. It was really cool. MAIN SHOW- BEE BOP We ran like the wind and got a pretty good seat. This was the best show yet (10 of 10). They played hits from the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's. Many costume changes and lots of pyro and lasers. I would skip dinner to get a good seat at this show! HINT #20 GET A GOOD SEAT EARLY TO THIS SHOW....BY FAR THE BEST SHOW. By this time the bar staff knew our favorite drinks. VIDEO DIARY I heard there was a video diary team on board but we never saw them. What a disappointment. My wife and I had our camera so we took it around and filmed the ship. WASTING TIME We wasted some time on the lido deck and listened to the Caribbean sounds of the band "Ocean" (9 of 10). They were good. We then walked down to the promenade to hear this rock band that was supposed to play at 10:30. They were horrible. They called themselves rock but all they played was Barbara Streisand and Tony Bennett. HINT #21 SKIP THE "ROCK BAND." LATE NIGHT COMEDY WITH KENNY SOMETHING? We got there early and set in the front row again. We once again got the warning about the language. This guy was very funny (10 of 10) and also made fun of people and what they were drinking. He also played some tunes. HINT #22 SIT IN THE FRONT IF YOU WANT INVOLVED IN THE SHOW. BUFFET As usual. Same old same old. Went for pizza also. Damn good this time (9 of 10). BEDTIME On the way to bed we stopped at the front of the ship again. It was so windy you couldn't stand up. We got back to the room and had a towel elephant. We then laid in bed and watching "Like Mike" starring the wonderful, Oscar winning actor Lil Bow Wow...LOL.....actually a cute movie. FRIDAY- PORT KEY WEST, FL 10-18-02 BREAKFAST Guess where we went? Buffet! Had the French toast again (10 of 10). That's good stuff. GETTING OFF THE SHIP We didn't get an excursion for Key West because we just wanted to shop. If you were not a US citizen you had to be in the Dynasty Lounge at 7:30 for immigration so they could clear the ship and we could get off. Someone in cabin u60 (they announced it 50 times) was late. We were finally cleared at 9:15 and some people were late for their excursions. We finally got off after standing in a long line. Took about an hour. We road a trolley to downtown and shopped a while. Carnival was selling trolley excursions that toured all of Key West in a hour for $29 on board. They are 1.5 hours if you buy them on shore and only $20. HINT #23 BUY YOUR KEY WEST TROLLEY TOUR ON BOARD...TAKE THE CONCH TRAIN TOUR You get to see all the sites on this and the guides are very knowledgeable and friendly. We tried to go to Sloppy Joes for lunch but the place was packed. The Bull was also crowded but the had an Elvis Impersonator. We ate at Burger King. We made it back to the ship around 3:00 and customs searched our trolley. I got I t all on video. DISEMBARK TALK We went to this talk and it sucked. AJ was funny but it just made people aware that your vacation was almost over. A real downer. DINNER- PRIDE EARLY SEATING Prime Rib and baked potato (10 of 10) and some kind of pudding for dessert. All the staff got together and sang GOD BLESS THE USA. Very touching. HINT #24 TIP YOUR WAITRESS AND STAFF EXTRA IF THEY DID A GOOD JOB. MAIN SHOW- TALENT SHOW This was really good. The 1st guy did some Willie Nelson, some lady did opera, a guy played harmonica, someone did Perry Cuomo, some dude did a sing a long, another lady did Streisand (ugggh) and then these two ladies got up and did a horrific Whitney Houston...they knew it was bad...they were laughing." I believe our children are the future...." GAME SHOW and BINGO I lost at bingo...again and they did the game show again. LATE NIGHT COMEDY- X RATED They had some guy come in to do late nite comedy again. He was a longhaired dude and he did some magic. It was horrible. He should be fired. I didn't laugh once and most of the people walked out. HINT #25 IF THIS LONG HAIRED GUY IS THERE WATCH IT BECAUSE YOU CAN TELL YOUR FRIENDS YOU SAW THE WORST COMIC EVER. BUFFET Chinese food or something (2 of 10). Didn't look good at all. BEDTIME- HAPPY ANNIVERSARY Do I even have to tell you. Actually you have to pack your crap and leave it in the hallway. Make sure you leave out some clothes for Saturday, your ID and sail and sign card. SATURDAY- PORT MIAMI 10-19-02 Got ready and went to the breakfast buffet. They could have something different on the buffet just once. But as always, I had the French toast. We heard an announcement saying that our cabins could get off the ship. LEAVING THE SHIP Make sure you have your sail and sign card and your customs declaration page ready. We found our luggage and drug it out. Lots of rude people pushing and shoving. We made it off the ship in about 20 minutes and got on the bus to the airport. HINT #26 WATCH THEM PUT YOUR LUGGAGE ON THE BUS. Some lady lost a garment bag with a cocktail dress and a tux because she didn't do this. Bus ride to the airport takes 20 minutes. Took about 30 minutes to check our luggage. Our flight didn't leave until 7:00 PM so we shopped and walked around. Well people that's it. I was as detailed as I could be. I hope you enjoyed. If you have any questions or comments write me at c21vance@aol.com. I would love to hear from anyone. I am going to book another cruise for the spring this week. C21vance@aol.com January 2003 Read Less
Just returned from a cruise on Imagination and it was fabulous. The ship was beautiful, the service excellent, and yes we are now suffering from the Cruise Blues. The information we obtained on the boards prior to the cruise was very ... Read More
Just returned from a cruise on Imagination and it was fabulous. The ship was beautiful, the service excellent, and yes we are now suffering from the Cruise Blues. The information we obtained on the boards prior to the cruise was very valuable so, we thought we would pass along some information that might be useful. Our party included ten which was made up of two families of five and included four adults, five teens, and one 10-year old. All of which would rate the cruise 4 stars plus. Arrival: We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at approximately 11:30AM. We proceeded to baggage pickup where we were met by a gentlemen holding a "Carnival Cruise" sign. We were instructed to collect our luggage and meet back at a designated spot. Once all luggage was collected, we were lead outside to an area where our luggage was loaded on a truck. We then went back inside to wait for the bus which would take us to the port in Miami. The whole process took less than 45 minutes. We arrived in Miami around 1:30P.M. Embarkation: It was not anything like the horror stories we heard. It went fast and smooth. When you arrive at the port, you will proceed into the building marked for your cruise ship. You will go through a line until you reach the desk where a representative will ask to see your birth certificates or passport and photo id for anyone over 16. This is where they also ask for your credit card to register to you for the Sail and Sign Card. You can designate any or all of your family members to have charge access while on the ship. Everyone gets a sail and sign card for id purposes. However, you must specify which individuals you wish to have credit privileges. We authorized both adults and one of the teens from each family and that was more than adequate. After the registration process has been completed, you are directed to proceed to the ship. Along the way, you will stop at a table to pickup your cabin keys and have a photo taken. The photo will be on display the next morning in the Photo Gallery. Stateroom - We had an Oceanview Room and were very pleased with it. We were located on the Main Floor and would probably only upgrade if considering a balcony room. Otherwise, the Oceanview Room and deck would not make much of a difference a level up or a level down. We did not have to wait long for elevators and actually choose to take the stairs quite often. We were fortunate to be near the elevators and stairs. There are 2 robes provided in the Oceanview Rooms but requesting extras was not a problem. There are no blow dryers or irons in the rooms. Beach towels will be provided for the days in ports. Our cabin steward seemed fairly new but did a good job of meeting our needs. I guess what surprised us the most is that you do not see too much of him throughout the cruise. Although, they can be reached if you need them and they manage to get in and out your room to tidy up several times a day. Room Service - A nice added perk is the room service that is available to you. Although, our group rarely missed a dining room meal we did take advantage of room service for snacks and coffee. One morning the kids had bagels and fresh fruit delivered instead of going to breakfast. There is no added charge but a tip is expected. We never waited more than 10 minutes for a delivery. Dining - Dining is definitely the event. The food was excellent. We choose to eat most of our meals in the dining room and would definitely recommend you to take full advantage. There is a different menu every day that is posted outside the dining room the evening before if you want to check it out. You can have as many appetizers, entrees, desserts as you wish. Everything is of excellent quality. We were very fortunate to have a terrific waiter named Agusto. He took very good care of us. The entrees included lobster, prime rib, quail, duck, veal, steak and many other fabulous choices. The dress code for the first night on the ship is relaxed. In fact, shorts were permitted in the dining room the first night. There was one formal night and styles ranged from very fancy to nice casual. All other nights were nice casual at the very least. No shorts, T-shirts or tank tops. We did not care for the buffets served on the Lido Deck. There is one when you arrive as a "Welcome Aboard" lunch and then during the late evenings. It seemed like it was some sort of rice dish every night. The "Gala Buffet" held in the dining room on one of the evenings was very beautiful but we did not particularly care for the choices when it came down to eating it. The "24 Hour Pizza" is very good. We often found ourselves snacking on this rather than the late buffets. Another late-nighter not to miss is the "Crepe Buffet." Activities - Each evening you will receive a copy of the "Carnival Capers" that gives you the run down on all the activities planned for the next day. There is something for everyone. On the days at sea, we enjoyed the pool, Jacuzzi, and sun bathing during the day. However, there is bingo, classes, demos and many other activities to keep you busy. The bingo is a little expensive. You purchase one card for $10.00 for one game. Shows - Don't miss the shows. We attended two of the three Las Vegas shows held. They were spectacular. Try to get to the show a little early. It tends to fill up fast. The best seats are gone within 15 minutes prior to show starting. Our group also enjoyed the Comedy Shows. There are both family and adult version of the shows held throughout the cruise. Our Cruise Director Troy was great entertainment himself. He found a way to make even the informative sessions (excursions/debarkation) very entertaining. DRINKS - The drink coupons which you can purchase from the "Bon Voyage" Department at least 1 week prior to cruising are an excellent purchase. They cost $3.75 a piece and include the gratuity. We used our coupons for the mixed drinks (includes even the fancy drinks) which when purchased on the Sale and Sign Card cost $5.75 plus gratuity is added. It is also more convenient than signing the bill for the Sale and Sign card to be charged. The soda cards for kids are okay. They give you a juice size glass for your drink and some of the bars where the kids can use the soda cards seemed to give the kids a run around sending them to another bar for the drink. Photo Gallery - We probably spent more than we should have at the photo gallery. You can have your photo taken with several backdrops before and after dinner. They snap a few during diner and some times throughout the day but not as often as I had imagined. The first day or two they offer 5X7's for $6.00 or $8.00 and then they start to put out 8X10's which are naturally more expensive and you must buy the picture that is on display before you can order smaller reprints. SPA - The 1 hours facials were excellent. They were a little pricey $89.00 for 1 hour. The girls had 1/2 hour sessions for $45.00 and found them to be okay. The only complaint we had was that they were not on time. One thing you hate to do while on the cruise is waste time which leads me into my next topic. Time - Timeliness or lack of it would be the only negative thing I would have to say about the cruise. Although, it was not excessive it is an area that Carnival could improve upon. On the first day there is an Emergency Drill. We waited quite a while for the drill to start after we arrived at the designated area. We also waited a long time to get on to the islands which was not all Carnivals fault. However, it would help if they allowed for this time and post depart times a little later. Probably, the most amount of time wasted is waiting for debarkation. You will be instructed to report to your designated area at 9:15AM on the morning your are to deport. We waited in that area from 9:15AM until 11:30AM. It would help if there was something to take your mind off waiting. They could even show a film on other cruise offers. They need to do something. After all this is your last impression of the ship before you leave. Ports of Call: Grand Cayman - We highly recommend the Sting Ray City Snorkeling Excursion. It is advertised at 2 1/2 hours but you actually only spend about an hour swimming with the stingrays. It was GREAT. The water is only about 3-4 foot so you don't have to be a swimmer. They do say it can be anywhere from 5-6 foot when getting off the small boat that takes you out to the sandbar where you snorkel with the stingrays. However, they have lifejackets available on the boat as well as snorkel masks. Remember to take an underwater camera. You do not have a lot of time on Grand Cayman so other than 1 excursion we only had a couple of hours to shop but it was enough time. Calica - The other port that we stopped at was Calica which is a 10 minute cab ride from Playa del Carmen and 30 - 45 minute cab ride to Cancun. This port does not require small boats to get you to port as Grand Cayman will have. Therefore, it is easier to go on and off the boat throughout the day as you desire. When you get off the ship there will be many Mexicans selling goods. Wait till you return in the evening to purchase. We had intended to go to Cancun until we got some very good advice from a couple who had been to both Cancun and Playa del Carmen. They recommended Playa Del Carmen over Cancun because it was more authentic and the beaches were beautiful. Playa del Carmen was absolutely beautiful. We spent the entire day there. Little bars are along the beach and serve you. The store fronts, huts, restaurants gave you a picture of just what you would expect Mexico to look like. It was great! Cabs will only allow 4 passengers and they also stop at checkpoints along the way so don't be afraid if your driver pulls to the side of the road. It costs $20.00 per roundtrip for a cab to Playa del Carmen. Tipping - You will receive instructions on tipping at the debarkation session. In Summary, it was an experience of a lifetime. We expected it be a good vacation but it was fabulous. We will definitely go again!08/11/00 Read Less
Just off the Imagination for the 4 day itinerary, I'm going to attempt to comment on the main areas of the ship, (both good and bad). If anyone would like further details please let me know and I will answer to the best of my ... Read More
Just off the Imagination for the 4 day itinerary, I'm going to attempt to comment on the main areas of the ship, (both good and bad). If anyone would like further details please let me know and I will answer to the best of my ability. Background: this was the 2nd cruise from me and DH, (both on Carnival). I am 30 and DH is 32. During this review you will see several comparisons between this cruise and our first one Triumph). As hard as we tried to NOT make comparisons, it was inevitable. Embarkation: Since we live in FL it was a short 4 hour drive to the Port of Miami. We arrived at 1:45, checked our bags with the curb side porter, tipped the porter $1.00 per bag and proceeded into the terminal. Went through the X-Ray machine for the hand held luggage, and on to the line to wait to be checked in. The line moved along swiftly, we were only there about 15 min. At the desk we produced our Drivers licenses and birth certificates. I had my marriage license with me, but I was never asked for it. Next stop was the table to pick up the Sail and Sign cards and room keys and a quick photo they use to identify you when you get on off the ship at ports. There was a short line for the welcome aboard photo and we were on the ship. This whole process only took about 25 min. The Carnival staff was very friendly and helpful. Cabin: Our cabin was E159, an outside cabin located on Empress deck. Since this is the same deck you enter the ship on we were in our cabin within 5 min. of getting onboard. Cabin was spacious with ample closet space. Bathroom was decent with a large medicine cabinet. There was also a basket on the sink filled with samples of shampoo, razors, Tylenol, etc. Also in the cabin were 2 Carnival robes to use during the trip. The bedspreads were very worn, but this did not bother us. Throughout the cruise we were thrilled with the location of our cabin, we were close to everything! It was only 1 floor up to our dining room, and 2 floors up to the promenade. Prior to the cruise I was getting slightly worried due to our cabin being directly below the galley, but the noise was minimal and we barely heard anything. Room Steward: I cannot tell you the name of our room steward, as he never introduced himself to us throughout the entire cruise. He did a very good job keeping the room clean and tidy, as well as turning the beds down at night, complete with the chocolates on the pillows. 2 nights there were towel animals. We needed to page our room steward twice during the cruise once because the remote control to our TV did not work, and once because he forgot to leave our colored luggage tags on the last night of the cruise. Both times he never arrived after several pages (yes, we paged during his posted working hours). Not too big of a problem as we were on the same floor as the information desk and they assisted us with both issues. Lido deck buffet: The food was similar to a Morrison's cafeteria. This was by no means bad food, but it was nothing to get excited about. Several items on the buffets throughout the cruise were exceptional, and there was always a good variety, we only made it to 2 of the late night buffets and they were both very good as well. Breakfast was the same items every morning, but on the positive side, the made to order omelets were very good. We did not try the grill where the hamburgers and hotdogs were served, but we heard good reviews from others who enjoyed them. The 24 hour Pizzeria was exceptional, Cesar salads were awesome! Dining Room Food and Service: There were good and bad points to our Dining Room experience. We were in the Spirit dining room, 5:45 early dining, table 201. We were seated at an 8 top table with 3 other couples, all close to our age group, all very pleasant people. We had a beautiful view of the ocean for the window next to our table. I cannot tell you the names of our waiter and assistant waiter, they probably introduced themselves, I just missed it. We ate in the dining room 4 times, (3 dinners, and 1 lunch). The selection of food on the menus was exceptional with lots of variety. One of our tablemates ordered 2 entrees every meal, even ordering steaks that were not on the menu and everything was brought out with no problem. Twice I had to send undercooked food back to the kitchen, once for the salmon which was so undercooked it was cold and slimy, and once for a baked potato that was so hard I could not stick a fork in it. Both items were replaced very quickly and with a smile. Twice the waiter placed my DH's food in front of one of our tablemates, and it took several minutes to catch the mistake and switch the plate around. Fortunately the tablemates had not started eating the food, so no harm was done. Desserts were very tasty, with the grand Marnier soufflE being to die for! Casino: We did not spend a lot of time here, but we did have fun with the nickel slots, and the dealer at the face up blackjack was very nice. We only lost about $25.00, but we had a lot of fun doing it. The slots appeared to be the loosest on the first evening. Entertainment: Entertainment was very good, with something going on all the time. The shows in the Dynasty lounge were first rate, with a pair of Russian dancers that were amazing. There were midnight comics practically every evening. We did not attend, but we heard they were all very funny, pool entertainers were excellent, lots of tropical music playing all the time. Cruise director was Mark Price. He was fairly good. Unfortunately on the Triumph we had John Heald, so it would have been difficult for Mark to measure up. We were slightly disappointed in the piano player in the piano bar, he was very mellow and played more Barry Manilow style music, as opposed to Billy Joel/Elton John type. No big deal. There were lots of other bars/lounges and we found all types of music on the ship, and had a blast every evening. Bar service: Bar service was excellent. You never went very long with an empty glass! One of the most amazing things on the cruise was my DH'S favorite bar waitress on the Triumph was on the Imagination, and she remembered us! Right down to the type of beer that we drink! Her name is Catherine (from the Philippines). If anyone runs into her, please tell her Kevin and Tammy said hi! Ports of call: We were only in Key West for a short time 10-2 and this did not leave time for much. We mainly walked around and shopped. The bars on Duval street were partying hard very early. For those of you wanting to party in Key West you should have no problem! Sloppy Joes appeared to be where most of the action was. We attempted to walk to the southern most tip of the US, located at the end of Duval street, made it within 3 blocks and were way too tired. The people who toured the island on the Conch train appeared to get the most sightseeing done. The bus drivers to and from the ship were a riot and very entertaining! Cozumel: We booked the Passion Island tour through the Fun Vision in our cabin. The cost was $65.00 pp. This was the best tour we have ever been on -- absolutely beautiful beach, crystal clear water, with small tropical fish swimming all around you, not crowded with just enough people to make it fun. They served an excellent Mexican lunch, and there was open bar all day. I highly recommend this tour if you're looking to get away and have a relaxing day on the beach. This tour also gives you the option of being dropped off in town on the way back to the ship. This is a bonus if you were planning to go to Carlos and Charlie's. It will save you the cab fare into town. Debarkation: We very well organized with people being allowed to wait either on Lido deck, Promenade deck, or the Dynasty lounge. Our luggage tags were the 2nd ones called and we were off the ship in no time. All in all this was a good cruise. I tend to believe that the automatic tipping to the Sail and Sign that is now going on has taken away from the personalized service that we enjoyed on our first cruise. The personnel just don't go that extra mile to earn their tip, and it is noticeable. Final note: Smuggling alcohol- for anyone interested we did manage to smuggle 2 cases of beer in our checked luggage, and it arrived in our room with no problem. The above review is my opinion only. I tried to be as well balanced as possible. Please don't bash me for saying some negative things (I do love Carnival), and please don't point out my spelling and grammatical errors (I tried). Thanks. ttrombl@mclaneco.com February 2003 Read Less
Since I have nothing to compare to, I am giving you my unbiased opinion of this cruise. Overall for what we paid ($303.75 pp) for a 4 day cruise, the value was awesome. But here are some of my thoughts: 1. Cabins: Were the most ... Read More
Since I have nothing to compare to, I am giving you my unbiased opinion of this cruise. Overall for what we paid ($303.75 pp) for a 4 day cruise, the value was awesome. But here are some of my thoughts: 1. Cabins: Were the most impressive part of the cruise along with the food. They were bigger than I expected and the room stewards were very timely, courteous and left a towel folded into an animal every day. Bring your own shampoo, lotion, etc. Only small bar of soap is provided. I recommend an outside room so you can see the daylight, it's easy to oversleep. We were on Riviera which was not too bad at all. 2. Food: The sit down dinner food was especially good. Room service food was "iffy" and buffet foods were good. The pizza was really good and available 24 hrs a day. I was disappointed that you couldn't eat the beautiful midnight buffet food that they create just for picture taking. That was a tease. 3. Casino, if you like gambling, there is plenty of it here, enough said. Very smoky though. 4. Drink Coupons: DO NOT BUY THEM!!! We bought $225 worth and no one had any clue what to do with them. Carnival finally ended up reimbursing us and also throwing in $100 for the trouble and free wine with dinner. These are a big hoax! You have been warned. 5. Service: Was sufficient. Crew were friendly for the most part but I was not bowled over by the dining room staff. They are in your nose all the time trying to sell you a drink. This is where they make their money. Language barriers seemed to be a little problem at times which was annoying. 6. Ports of Call: Key West is fun. We rented a scooter and spent the day touring the town since we had been there before. Don't miss the Blue Heaven for lunch and a stroll down Duval. Cozumel was a disappointment for me, especially the snorkeling excursion Carnival offered. I would suggest going off on your own and doing your own snorkeling (you can rent equipment on board and go the same place the excursions do for half the price) but be sure you are back in time. The shops in Cozumel are neat at first but become repetitious after a few blocks. Carnival really pushes the jewelry here. Be sure to visit Carlos and Charlies if you like to drink..you won't be disappointed there. Shows: Were incredible for a cruise ship. The cruise director (Troy) was also very humorous and informative. Don't miss the shows if you can help it, comedians were good too. OVERALL OPINION: Personally, I liked cruising but the Imagination was way too big for me. It was overwhelming in size and number of people. Dollar for dollar, you can't beat it and they do make you feel special. One more thing you should know is the debarkation takes forever. We sat for 2 hours waiting to clear customs. Bring a good book to read, and they don't serve food or drinks during this time. I'd cruise Carnival again but definitely on a smaller ship. Read Less
Carnival's slogan is "Exceeding Your Expectations!" That's pretty ambitious. Although my expectations were generally met during the cruise, I can't really say that they were exceeded. We sailed on Imagination ... Read More
Carnival's slogan is "Exceeding Your Expectations!" That's pretty ambitious. Although my expectations were generally met during the cruise, I can't really say that they were exceeded. We sailed on Imagination on October 14, 2002. The cruise was for five days and left on a Monday from Miami. The itinerary included stops in Belize and Key West. We arrived at the airport in Miami at 10:30 in the morning and when we made contact with the representatives from Carnival we were told that the first shuttle would leave at 11:30. We asked if there would be something to eat available when we got to the ship or should we get something to eat at the airport. They advised us to eat at the airport, so we did. The shuttle arrived and we were transported to the docks. There were a group of men lined up by the bus who put the luggage on a cart to be transported to the ship when you showed them what to load. They continually announced that they would be the people responsible for your luggage and they all had their hands out for tips for picking up your bag and putting it on the cart. I noticed everyone complied with the demand for tips. We did, after all, want to get our luggage back intact. The processing of passengers onto the ship was done efficiently until the point of actually boarding the ship. Then, of course, the obligatory embarkation photographers created a pretty substantial bottleneck that delayed boarding for about a quarter of an hour. When we got on the ship we found our cabin quite readily. It was a nice cabin. The beds had not yet been put together to make a queen size bed, but we knew that the cabin steward would take care of that when we asked him to do it (and he did). We set out to familiarize ourselves with the ship and were a little put out to find that a lunch buffet was being served on the Lido deck after we had been told to eat at the airport. Being typical cruises, although we weren't hungry, we ate again anyway. Our luggage arrived outside our room much faster than it ever has on any other cruise. That may count as exceeding my expectations. The ship itself was a very attractive, well maintained one. I've been on Celebrity's Century and Galaxy. We've also been on the Grand Princess. This ship was older than those and had seen a little wear but it was still a very nice ship. The activities that I participated in on Imagination were much better attended than those on the other cruises. A trivia contest on Celebrity or Princess might attract ten people, but on Imagination it was more like one hundred participants. The talent show on Princess garnered three acts. On Imagination they allowed for eight acts and there were enough people to fill the show bill. The people on Carnival, I'm assuming here, are more likely to be active participants. This is worthy of note. I had always heard that the passengers on Carnival were likely to be a rowdy drunken lot especially on shorter cruises. I found no difference in the type of passenger on Carnival than on any of the other cruises I've been on. Having said that, there were more children than I had seen on any other cruise. Maybe it was because of the time of year or maybe it was because of Camp Carnival. There was a rule that you were not allowed to throw children overboard. I thought that that was a little unreasonable. We had one day at sea and then arrived at Belize. There is no dock at Belize so we anchored in the ocean and tendered. Belize City is an impoverished place from what I've been told. We didn't get there. We went on a shore excursion that picked us up from the ship and took us directly to a reef area called Shark/Stingray Alley. It was quite a long boat ride to the site and we were cramped in a small boat. We stopped at San Pedro to get snorkeling equipment and although there were vendors hawking trinkets, they were neither obnoxious nor overly aggressive like they are in Mexico and Jamaica. When we got to Shark/Ray Alley we saw the nurse sharks and rays but as soon as we got in the water the sharks left. The boat was so cramped that putting on your equipment was an ordeal. If this had been my first time snorkeling I would have never snorkeled again. Getting off the boat into the water was difficult and the tour guides kept us so close together that all you saw under the water were legs. Also you had a good chance of getting kicked in the face. After we got back on the boat we went to San Pedro and had lunch. The food was good and plentiful and the people in San Pedro were uniformly pleasant. Talking to the people who took the other shore excursions I decided that most of them had an OK time, though nothing spectacular. After another day at sea we stopped in Key West. The only problem with Key West is that you need a lot more than a day to explore. Key West is great! I've been there before and it's always such a pleasure. We rode the Conch Train and then went shopping and exploring on our own. The Conch Train is a good way to get an overview before starting out on your own. We went to the Hemingway House and liked that tour a lot. We ate at The Hard Rock Cafe and bought T-shirts at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Cafe. Great town! Love it! Meanwhile, back at the ship....The food on Carnival is, as you've probably heard, not great but not bad. The buffet in the buffet restaurant is pretty monotonous. The pizza is good but not "to die for" as I had heard. Although our waiters were great guys, they would occasionally not let you see the dessert menu but just bring you whatever the kitchen had prepared too much of. This wasn't their fault. I'm sure it was a policy. If you said "I don't want that. Bring me the menu" they would. We never saw the Maitre, D the entire cruise though he would interrupt dinner occasionally with a boring talk over the public address system. Then the cruise director pressed for everyone to give him a tip because it wasn't automatically added to your bill like the other staff. I didn't tip him. One big problem was announcements. Once in the middle of the night we got a booming announcement several times in our cabin that was "for crew only" asking the whereabouts of some casino supervisor. I called and told them she wasn't in my room and was curtly told that it was an emergency so I should live with it. So I did. Debarkation was delayed several times while some foreigner was paged continually for immigration purposes. Our departure from Key West was delayed for an hour while we waited for some couple to get back to the boat. I guess if I had been the couple I would have been quite grateful. In general, the cruise was quite pleasant with a caring and courteous crew and staff. It did not "exceed my expectations" but it was a good value. There were always enough activities going to keep one entertained, day or night. I'd certainly cruise on the Carnival fun ships again. JerryKinsey@aol.com February 2003 Read Less
My husband and I took the Imagination cruise from 9/14/2000 - 9/18/2000. We had minor problems, but most were taken care of by Carnival. Overall Carnival did a great job, and we would definitely cruise with them ... Read More
My husband and I took the Imagination cruise from 9/14/2000 - 9/18/2000. We had minor problems, but most were taken care of by Carnival. Overall Carnival did a great job, and we would definitely cruise with them again! We will tell you the good and the bad, but overall Carnival did a terrific job. You couldn't ask for better customer service. EMBARKATION We weren't sure if we were going to make the cruise. We live in Ft. Lauderdale, and it just took longer than anticipated dropping the kids off at their Grandparents house. We arrived at the port at 3:15P. We had to wait in line for about 30 minutes. When we arrived at the counter, we were told that the lines had finally died down, that it was extremely busy most of the day! THE CABIN We had cabin E2. It was in a nice location and had a port hole. There were 2 robes in the cabin. There was a complimentary basket in the bathroom filled with a man's and woman's disposable razor, sample shampoo and conditioner, soap, etc. The only problem with the room was that it smelled of cigarette smoke. We told the cabin steward, and he said that he would spray the room while we were gone. We came back to the cabin and it smelled better. Later that night we came back to the cabin and it smelled of cigarette smoke again! It was 1:00AM, and we called the purser's office to complain. They had someone come out at and spray the room again. We told them we wanted another room, because this one smelled so bad. We realized that the smell was coming from the vents. They found a room on the Main floor. We walked to it and found a Do Not Disturb sign on the door. The pursuer's office said that they did not understand why there was a sign on the door, because no one should be there. They sent someone to check on the room. By that time it was 2:15A, and we wanted to go to sleep, so we said if the room smells bad again tomorrow we would try to get another room then. The next day the smell was back, but we decided to stick it out in the room. At 3:00AM the phone rings. It wakes us up and it was room service delivering champagne from the pursuer's office, to apologize for the smell, and to inform us they found another cabin. I thought that was a nice gesture, but not at 3:00AM! When I called and complained, I was told, that the champagne was supposed to be sent out the next evening. We finally went back to sleep, and then at 4:00AM, we wake up with the ship rocking strongly, and it felt like it was jumping out of the water. When you looked at the port hole, you could see water going over the window! That was scary. We have been on 6 different cruises, and this was the first time that we were ever scared! The captain announced the next morning that we went through a tropical storm! Our arrival in Cozumel was delayed by 2 and ½ hours, but the captain delayed departure from 10:00PM to 12:00AM. PORTS OF CALLS Our first stop on Friday was in Key West. We had a nice time. We walked down Duval Street. We saw the Ship Wreck museum. It was great. They had displays of treasures that was found from shipwrecks, and there was an observation tower you could climb. When you reached the top, you could see great views of Key West. I think they said the tower was 90 Feet up. Our next stop on Saturday was Cozumel. We decided we were going to see the Mayan Ruins of Tulum. When we heard that there may be bad weather in Cozumel, we decided to try to sign up for the Mayan Ruins of Tulum tour on the ship, but it was sold out. We decided to see if a taxi cab could take us there. We spoke to one and they said yes. When we started out I was surprised we were not going to the Ferry. He said that we were seeing the ruins on Cozumel which was an 1 and ½ hour drive. We told him that we specifically asked for the Tulum ruins. He said these are better and easier to get to. We told him that we were not interested, and only wanted to see the Tulum ruins. He drove us to the ferry, which cost $8.00. The ferry was a 45 minute ride to Playa Del Carmen and cost $14.00 round trip. We went to the bus station and stood in line for 20 minutes. When we finally got up to the window the bus was sold out! The next one wasn't scheduled until 4:45P, and the ruins closed at 5:00P. We found a taxi to take us there for $19.00 round trip. They said that cost was for up to 4 people. We requested a taxi with air conditioning, since we knew that we had an hour ride. We made it to the ruins, with an hour to explore before they closed. The ruins were beautiful. It overlooked the ocean. Make sure you wear a bathing suit in case you have time to take a swim. Since we were only there for an hour we never made it into the water. We had a great time until the end. When we were leaving I was going down the steps and my foot twisted. I got up and limped back to the taxi. In the taxi my foot started throbbing, and began to swell a little bit. I had to walk back to the ferry, with my foot throbbing. By the time I got off the ferry, I could hardly walk on my foot. We found a taxi that took us back to our ship ($5.00) and had somebody get a wheelchair. I had to go to the infirmary on the ship, and found out that the doctor was not on board. I saw the nurse and she told us that they did not have an x-ray machine on short cruises, only on 7 days or longer cruises. She said that I needed to go to the emergency room as soon as we arrived in Miami. She said not to go to the hospital in Mexico, because there X-ray machines were not that great, and probably could not pick up anything. She wrapped my foot with an ace bandage, lent me crutches, and a wheel chair. I had to turn in the crutches the next night or be charged $68.00. I had to keep my foot elevated and iced. The one advantage to the wheelchair was that we were one of the first ones to get off the ship. When I came back to Miami, I went to a hospital by my house in Ft. Lauderdale, and found out that I broke my foot! SHIPS ACCOMMODATIONS WHEN YOU ARE INJURED The crew on the Imagination went beyond the call of duty. They found us a handicapped accessible room. The only problem with the room is that it didn't have a window, so it was hard to tell when it was night time or day time. The other room was impossible to maneuver because I couldn't get over that huge step to use the bathroom. We were unable to eat in the dining room the last 2 nights. On Saturday night we ate in alternative dining, and Sunday we had room service. Since alternative dining was not an option the last night, and I could not sit in the dining room, because the table we were at was a booth seat, they sent over the dinner menus from the dining room. They delivered the formal dining dinners to our room. It was delicious! FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT There was plenty of food. Mostly everything was delicious. The pizza was great. There were lines many times, but they went fast. If there was something you didn't like you could send it back and they would bring out something else with a smile. There was a comedian name Philadelphia on the cruise. HE WAS GREAT! The cruise director Troy was a great entertainer. Read Less
It's a long process - - just be patient! This was our first cruise, so we purchased the Fly Aweigh package and received our documents about one month prior to departure date. Our flight from Charlotte to Miami was uneventful. Once ... Read More
It's a long process - - just be patient! This was our first cruise, so we purchased the Fly Aweigh package and received our documents about one month prior to departure date. Our flight from Charlotte to Miami was uneventful. Once we departed the plane, a Carnival rep was waiting to direct us to baggage. Once we retrieved our luggage, a Carnival rep directed us to the bus that would take us to the pier. It's about a 15 minute ride to the pier from the airport. Upon arrival at the airport, our luggage was unloaded and we had to "reclaim" it just so it could be transferred by the porter and he could get his tip. This was a very frustrating and confusing process with a bus load of people grabbing for luggage! Once we reclaimed our luggage and tipped him, we did not see it again until it arrived at our cabin. We proceeded inside to a long line to turn in our cruise documents and activate our sail & sign card. Make sure you have them completed before you get there! Then it was on to the ship. We boarded at approximately 1:45 p.m. The Ship The ship is huge! It's hard to imagine how big it is until you see it for yourself! We found our cabin with no problem. We were in U110. Our cabin steward was Jaimie, and he did a great job keeping our cabin straight and our ice bucket full. Part of our luggage arrived at 2:00 and the rest at about 5:00. There is plenty of storage space and the bathroom and shower were a good size. The ship was clean and I noticed the crew cleaning different areas throughout the cruise. We went directly to the poolside grill to eat. The line was very long, but the food was pretty good, your standard hamburgers, etc. We then explored the ship and then bought the "drink of the day" to sip as we watched Miami shift to the horizon. The Food We ate in the Pride Dining Room each night (Table 146) and the food was always good. We had the late seating and never felt rushed. Our waiter, Garry, and his assistants did a great job each night. We ate in the dining room once for breakfast, but preferred the food in the Horizon Bar and Grill. We never had to wait in line for breakfast there, and there was a good selection. We ate at the Pizzeria twice and it was excellent, but be prepared to wait! The lines were always long, no matter what time of day it was. We ordered room service once through FunVision, and we received it in about 10 minutes. The cookies and brownies were very good. We went to one midnight buffet, but it was to take pictures only. It's incredible what they can do with food, so don't miss this! Entertainment We went to the show each night and each was no less than fantastic - - make sure you see them! Our cruise director was Troy Linton and he was hilarious! Excellent wit and timing! Kevin King was aboard the last night and he was very funny and performed some great magic tricks! Key West: We did not schedule any tours for Key West; we opted to explore on our own. It's a quaint little place - - make sure you have a slice of key lime pie! We went to the Maritime Museum and enjoyed it. It was hot and humid the day we were there. Our dinner companions did the Trolley Tour and said it was very good. Cozumel Due to Hurricane Keith, our day here was cut a bit short. Instead of arriving at 1 p.m. and departing at 10 p.m., we arrived at 11 a.m. and departed at 6 p.m. All tours were canceled, but we did not have one scheduled. We had planned to take a taxi ($10) to Chankanaab Park to snorkel. Snorkeling equipment was $5 each plus $3 for a life vest. The water was choppy, but we enjoyed our first snorkeling experience and can't wait to do it again! We spent about 2 hours in the water before a heavy rain began. We took a taxi back to the ship and changed clothes before we did our shopping. Prices at the pier were very good we thought. We haggled on some items with shopkeepers and were satisfied in the end. Day at Sea Our last day was our day at sea. We slept in and had a late breakfast. We played bingo and attended the disembarkation talk with Troy. We played the slots and laid by the pool some. It was a very relaxing day. Disembarkation We got up early and had breakfast on the Lido Deck. You can leave your carry on bags in your room until you finish breakfast. We then went to get our carry ons, purchase our last nights' pictures from the photo gallery and then to our assigned area to wait. We left the ship at approximately 10:15 a.m. We had a great view of Miami from where we were assigned to wait, so the waiting was not too bad to us. Miscellaneous/Tips -One night before dinner, our outlet quit working. We called the Purser's desk and they sent an electrician within 5 minutes. He fixed the problem immediately. It is a very good idea to bring an outlet strip for using more than one appliance at a time. -No need to bring extra hangers, we had more than enough. -If you have an inside cabin, you might want to bring a night light. -If you plan to use a video camera, bring a heating pad to lay it on when you're not using it, otherwise it probably will not work outdoors due to the humidity. We had this problem several times since we forgot to bring a heating pad. -If you are cold-natured, bring a jacket! -Bring a tote bag with you to carry your beach towels in when you go ashore. -Prior to our cruise, we purchased drink coupons and they worked great! -You will have lots of opportunities to have your picture made with multiple backdrops. -It's easier to purchase your pictures from the photo gallery on a daily basis, otherwise at the end of the cruise, you must thumb through STACKS of pictures to find yours. One final note: On the last day of the cruise, I accidentally left a very expensive ring my husband had just given me for our anniversary in a ladies bathroom. I was devastated and figured it was gone forever. We filled out a lost report at the Purser's desk. My husband tried to get someone to announce it over the P.A. system, but that's against policy. Our good friend, Maryl, had it announced by Troy during a bingo game and, lo and behold, a group of ladies who had found it jumped right up and turned it in to Troy. Troy brought it to my room personally and I was just overjoyed to say the least. He did not know their names but if you are one of them and you are reading this review, thank you from the bottom of my heart! You don't know how relieved I was to have this very special ring returned to me. It will never leave my finger again! Read Less
4-day, Key West & Cozumel Oct. 26th - Family of five, children ages (3.5, 6, 13) AIR TRAVEL We purchased our air separately during a USAirways.com Internet special, therefore saving $120 p.p. USAir provided on time departures ... Read More
4-day, Key West & Cozumel Oct. 26th - Family of five, children ages (3.5, 6, 13) AIR TRAVEL We purchased our air separately during a USAirways.com Internet special, therefore saving $120 p.p. USAir provided on time departures and arrivals, getting us to Miami at 10:40 am. Baggage claim was extremely slow, with just several pieces of luggage arriving on the carousel at one time. It took a long time, maybe 30-40 mins. to claim three pieces of checked luggage. GROUND TRANSPORTATION We took a van right outside Baggage Claim for $18.00 per taxi or van (not per person). 15 minute van ride to Port of Miami! EMBARKATION Booked in a Cat.12, we were eligible for the Skipper's Club and directed to a side office where a Carnival rep. took our documentation and had us checked in quickly. After which, we were escorted past lines of people, up a private elevator and to our suite, arriving at 12:10 pm, just 90 mins. after touch down. This service alone is worth the extra $$$, when you have three children that have been up since 5am. SUITE U90 UPPER DECK Located mid-ship, a spacious suite with verandah, see Page 16 in the 2000-2002 Carnival brochure. Large bathroom with tub, walk-in closet with lots of storage, refrigerator and wet bar. Everything in working order, however the upholstery on the sofa and chairs needed either a good cleaning or replacement, as they were quite dirty/worn. CAMP CARNIVAL Go to the Orientation Meeting held soon after the Life Boat Drill and the Family Welcome Aboard Party around 8pm. My children participated in three different age groups, 2-5, 6-8 and 13-15, generally from 10am-Noon and again from 8pm-10pm. The activities changed every 30-40 minutes. Being off-season, the child/counselor ratio was great. Counselors were kind and although most had strong accents, they spoke English well. The Playroom was clean, well organized and safety seemed to be an important part of the Camp. Each parent was supplied a beeper for the duration of the cruise, you lose it - a charge of $75 will show up on your Sign & Sail account. If you think your child will participate in the Talent Show, take props, be prepared and sign up early as this is a big event. During certain activities, 4-5 year olds could join the 6-8 group. The 13-15 year olds met at various locations on the ship, I never saw much "organized" except for the Video Arcade Challenge (free games) and the Disco Party at night. I understood the 9-12 age group was free to sign themselves in and out of camp, not sure I would find that acceptable for a 9 year old. DINING, FOOD AND SERVICE BREAKFASTFirst morning in the DR, service was extremely slow, food fair, portions tiny - food served at different times, eggs one minute, bacon the next. Remainder of the cruise, we ate in the Horizon Grill, omelets good if you wanted to wait, lots of variety, great continental breakfast items (fruit, yogurt, pastries, cereals). Major disappointment, hash browns - Burger King hash rounds! Not good! If they have people who can carve a block of ice into a piece of art, they have people who can peel and chop REAL potatoes! LUNCH Once again, Horizon Grill, plenty of variety, lines long at times, good salad bar with tasty seafood salads, desserts fair - not enough chocolate and no pick-up desserts for kids like cookies or brownies. DINNER Service EXCELLENT! Caesar salads great, lobster wonderful, my 13 yr. old ordered a second! Did not have a bad meal, everything good and well presented. Again desserts okay, would prefer to order from a dessert cart/tray, or menu which included specialty coffees. Kids menu needs work, looked like Denny's. No seafood items, pasta or veggies. My daughter shared my adult meal, my 6 yr. old ate chicken nuggets every night. 24-Hour Pizzeria good. NOTE TO MOTHERS The Horizon Grill is buffet dining cafeteria style, however no trays provided, even though I asked each day for one. Carrying food for 2-3 people/children required 4-6 trips to the line. Try to recruit a server before you start this task, otherwise you may never get to eat. This issue was added to my "suggestion/comment" card. ROOM SERVICE Excellent, although not an extended menu, whatever we ordered was at our door within five minutes! DRINK AND BAR SERVICE Good, however they need to stop by the Baby Pool Deck more often, as parents cannot always leave to get a refreshment. Also Carnival should reserve this area for families, it was frustrating to go to the Children's Pool and the parents had no loungers! CABIN SERVICE Excellent, our Cabin Steward understood and spoke English well, responding quickly to any request we had, he made a bunny, snake and swan with our bath towels! ENTERTAINMENT Good, go early and sit on the lower level. PORTS OF CALL Key West, if you are not interested in a "tour," use the Bone Island Shuttle (white buses) for $5.00 per person, all day, goes all over the island. Smythers Beach for swimming/sunning. Mallory Square for shopping. Cozumel - Chankanaab National Park, $8.00 cab ride from the ship, $10 per person admission to the park for anyone over 5 years old, snorkeling equipment $5.00, great swimming area for small children, soft sand - aqua shoes not required, snorkeling from the beach area, food and drinks available as well as lockers and changing rooms. TIPPING Prepaid gratuities were added to our Sail & Sign on the last day of the cruise, we tipped our Cabin Steward and Waiter an additional $20 each, however not sure they realized part of their tip was prepaid. Seemed to be a lot of confusion with this new policy, not sure we would prepay again. DISEMBARKATION Painless, Carnival now allows you to wait in your cabin! Once the ship was cleared at 9:50am - we were off the ship at 10:20am, second deck to be called. POST CRUISE Avis at the Port, Service slow, 40 mins to get our prearranged rental car! I had read on these boards that Avis picked you up at Port and dropped you right off at your car, not us! Clarion Hotel & Suites Miami Beach - 71st & Collins Avenue, Great location, clean and spacious two room suites, small private pool and private beach access, 20 mins. to airport. THINGS I LEARNED MYSELF OR UTILIZED FROM THE CRUISE BOARDS * Take a collapsible beach bag. * Tag luggage with a neon label or tape for easy identification during disembarkation. * Skippers Club - You've paid for it (Carnival does not always advise guest of this perk.) * Do not miss Camp Carnival orientation even if you think your children might not participate - by cruise end, they probably will... * Take advantage of getting a Family Portrait on formal night, it beats getting everyone up on a Saturday morning at home! * Motorola Walkie Talkies - a must with teens, take plenty batteries! * Check Internet airfares, even staying post cruise one night, rental car and taxi to Port on arrival, we saved over $400. Thanks, Lisa in VA we are ready to go again!!!! :-)Momagain97@aol.com11/4/00 Read Less
Embarkation went very well, arriving at around 11:40am and was on board by 12:30. Went to our cabin and got things situated. It was a 5A (porthole) that we purchased at the last minute, basically. The cabin was ... Read More
Embarkation went very well, arriving at around 11:40am and was on board by 12:30. Went to our cabin and got things situated. It was a 5A (porthole) that we purchased at the last minute, basically. The cabin was fine and our steward did a great job through the entire trip. Great water pressure! The first day at sea, en route to Key West, was great. We had cocktails throughout the day and evening and received excellent service from all the pool bar staff. That was the tone for the trip -- excellent bar service and poolside service. I wish we could have said the same for the dining room. We had an 8:45 seating in the Pride Dining Room. Of course, we were promptly seated at 9:15 on the first night. Our tablemates were rather quiet and each couple pretty much kept to themselves, which was fine. You certainly cannot hold that against anyone for wanting to keep to themselves. However, the head waiter isn't necessarily supposed to be so quiet. He wouldn't say anything -- not even when asked. We must have been the last table in the rotation of service, as we were not even approached to get tea before other tables around us were getting their appetizers and salads. We always had to ask for any drink service. The food quality was OK at best, until the last night when my girlfriend's chicken came out raw. Now, how this happened is beyond me because they took so long to bring the thing. One other couple at our table left and didn't return, so my comments are not unique. For the record, though, the buffet upstairs was fine and the wait staff actually looked like they cared. Our dining room waiter and MD did not, or didn't know how to show it. Maybe it was this new late seating thing that wore the staff out -- who knows and I was never given an answer. Other people we met had varied thoughts. Some had positive results, others like us, did not. It was a crap shoot and we lost. The ship overall was in very good condition I thought, very clean and well maintained. The casino staff was very nice and went out of their way to help others. Key West and Cozumel were as advertised. I never get tired of going to Key West! Very good stops, very convenient to the ground transportation and all the excursion staffing were as helpful as they could be. In general, I am lucky to say that we were not so upset at the dining room situation that we let it ruin our cruise. It clearly did not. I was disappointed that the food was not all it was cracked up to be in comparison to RCCL - it was NO better for sure. We had a great time -- it's simple too, don't allow the negatives to ruin the positives of where you are at and what you are fortunate enough to be doing. We enjoyed the trip in spite of the dining room thing -- just head to the buffet! Disembarkation went very smoothly as well, of course we were about the last off -- so it's so much easier to find your bags. It's easy to find them though when the areas are marked as well as Carnival did it. 12/02/00 Read Less
November 27 - December 2, 2000 We got a small upgrade from an inside forward to a midship inside on the Empress deck. We left for Miami, full of anticipation, November 26. The traffic was awful (post Thanksgiving Holidays) and it rained ... Read More
November 27 - December 2, 2000 We got a small upgrade from an inside forward to a midship inside on the Empress deck. We left for Miami, full of anticipation, November 26. The traffic was awful (post Thanksgiving Holidays) and it rained the entire trip, however, we were determined that this wouldn't "dampen" our spirits. We arrived at the Best Western Marina Park just before 7:00 PM. I had made reservations through www.budgethotels.com for $49.00 per night and in the comments section had requested a bay front room. We thought no way since I had gotten such a great rate and we were right across from the Bayside Market and the Port of Miami. We checked in and went up to our 10th floor room where we had the most spectacular view of the bay and a king-size bed. Upon opening the curtains were treated to a Carnival Ship coming into port fully lit, beautiful. The hotel and staff was very and nice, everything was clean, the location was excellent and I would highly recommend it. We went over to Bayside Market for dinner and walked around, very nice. The next morning we took a quick trip to Florida City for a little shopping at a dive shop there that we like, the traffic was much better today. We pulled up to the port at 11:45, the porter took our luggage (never even held out a hand for a tip), and hubby parked our truck (parking must be paid in advance $10.00 per day with cash or travelers checks). With fully completed boarding papers, birth certificates (or passports if you have them), and photo ID (just birth certificates for kids) we entered the line to the ship, within 35 minutes we were checked in, room key in hand, and boarded the ship. Make sure you have all of you boarding papers completed it really makes things go faster. The first glimpse of the IMAGINATION'S Grand Atrium was lovely. We were directed to our cabin E100, midship inside Empress deck, just off the Grand Atrium, and very centrally located. We were surprised at how much room there was in the cabin, with 6 pieces of luggage and dive gear we were afraid there would be no room for us, it wasn't a problem at all. We had a goody basket but no robes (no big deal here), our Sail & Sign cards, and the first of the Carnival Capers newspapers detailing the schedule and activities for the day. Fresh flowers greeted us and a chocolate ship sent by friends for our anniversary. Again, we were pleased. We met our Cabin Steward; a nice girl named Michaela from Transylvania. I heard from friends that if you wanted any kind of Spa services to book those right away, we didn't use them. All reports were that the services and staff were great although the prices were somewhat high (but that was to be expected). The first of many buffets awaited us on the Lido deck, we had grilled cheeseburgers and fries (other selections were available) and ordered drinks from the bar ($10.80 for 2 Pina Colada's including tip on the Sail & Sign card). We explored the ship and returned to our cabin to call several people I had conversed with on the Cruise Critic board (I never got in touch with anyone, but I tried). Around 3:30 we had the lifeboat drill, about 45 minutes, a necessary pain in the butt, everyone around made the best of it. Back on deck to watch Miami fade into the distance. We were underway! More exploration of the ship and determining what activities we would like to do for the evening. We returned to our cabin to find that Michaela had filled our cooler with ice for our cokes that we had brought with us (she did this all week) and our luggage awaited us. We dressed for early dinner in the Pride dining room, we requested late but got early 6:45, 4 times are available and if you don't like the time your given the Maitre'D will change it if possible. Dinner was nice (5 course meal, with several selections to choose from), our tablemates were wonderful, couples about our same ages that we ended up hanging out with the entire cruise. We received our drink and photo coupons at dinner. We attended the Welcome Aboard talk given by Haste (Cruise Director); he was funny and extremely nice. Played Bingo, checked out some of the Bars (using our drink coupons was no problem at all, we bought wine at dinner (4 coupons = 1 bottle), frozen drinks, shots and mixed drinks with them, you couldn't buy the drink of the day with them but everything else was OK). We then went to the Late Night Buffet (great variety of food) and then to bed after a full day. Our bed was turned down and mints on our pillows. We left a Breakfast request for coffee hanging on our door. We were awakened the next morning with coffee as requested. We choose to go to the Lido deck for Breakfast, as we did everyday, we enjoyed Breakfast on the deck instead of the more formal Breakfast offered in the dining room but both are available. We went back to our room and booked our excursions through the "Funvision" on the TV very easy, charged directly to the Sail & Sign card. The tickets were delivered later that evening. No problems getting exactly what we wanted. Hung out today around the pool, played Bingo, contributed to the Casino, attended the Travel & Adventure Talk (details of the shore excursions), so many activities so little time. Had lunch on the Lido deck again (we really liked it there), you can partake of the buffet, order a grilled hamburger or a little known fact even order a grilled New York Strip Steak if you want. The tea really sucks, lemonade, fruit juice, tropical punch, milk, coffee, water (not bottled, you have to pay for that but bring your own, the same with cokes/pepsi's, even alcohol if you want) are always available, just don't drink the tea!! Tuesday was formal night and the Captain's Cocktail Party. Drinks (all kinds from Champagne to mixed drinks) and Hors D'oeuvres were complimentary courtesy of the Captain from 5:15 'til 6:45, very nice. Open Bars everywhere!! Formal dinner was again wonderful, you can have coffee, coffee with amaretto/kahula, etc., expresso or cappuccino with dessert at no charge. We were presented with a cake for our Anniversary at dinner and the staff sang to us! They have no hot drinks at any of the bars, if you want coffee with amaretto (my husband loves it) or Irish Coffee, etc. while in one of the bars, you can go down to the Lido deck and get coffee and pay for a shot of amaretto or whatever, this worked out great for hubby. The first of the two Las Vegas style shows was tonight, good show. They have a Russian Ballerina who is exceptional! The shows that Haste does are so funny, make sure you see them! Of course remember the Late Night Shows are NOT FOR KIDS! More bar hopping, dancing, and 2:00 AM Pizza. Life can't get better than this. Wednesday - GRAND CAYMAN. The boat cannot dock at the port because it is too shallow, but a transport runs constantly and it's only about a 5 minute ride. Booked Sting Ray City for 7:30 AM, wonderful, Don't miss it! The water was great, the Sting Ray's so gentle and friendly. Great Trip! Friends did the Island tour along with Sting Ray City said that was great too. Whatever you decide to do in Grand Cayman you can't miss, We loved this port! Arrived back at the pier around 10:45 and were scheduled to go Scuba Diving (booked through the ship) at 11:45, went back to the ship and gathered up Scuba Gear and were ready back waiting to go diving by 11:15. Diving was outstanding!!! Couldn't have asked for better. If you want details be sure to email me. After our two dives we were back on the Imagination by 3:00 and ready to leave port at 4:00, we would have loved to spend a week in Grand Cayman. Formal dinner again, always was outstanding. I tried something new every night and was never disappointed. Attended both the early and late Comedy Shows, if your easily offended do not go to the late shows. You can get teased but it was all in fun and we had a blast. To anyone who attended this night, my Husband was dubbed the Gibster and me the Giblet! (Sorry you just had to be there!) Gala Buffet was held today! Don't miss it! Spectacular! How can you eat Art! Dancing, drinks, music followed. I never want to go home! Thursday - CALICA. Calica is an Industrial port, nothing there but you can come and go as you please. We took a Taxi to Playa Del Carmen ($20.00 round trip for 4 people), would not go there again. The street vendors are intimidating. But we had fun at Senor Frogs, watch the drinks they will get to you quick! The beach was beautiful. Would recommend Xcaret (we had friends go there and loved it), or Tulum (got really good reports). Lots of people, of course, went to Carlos and Charlie's during the evening we didn't but everyone said it was great! Cancun is about an hour away but you have plenty of time in port. You can also go to Cozumel from Playa Del Carmen on the ferryboat for $14.00 per person round trip. We had dinner in Playa Del Carmen and returned to the ship early evening! Went to the Dream Bar (Piano Bar), watched the ship leave port at midnight and tucked in early! Friday - At Sea. Last day, it went so fast, could hardly believe it's all coming to an end. We did all of the shopping we wanted to do aboard ship, bought picture using our picture coupons (great value - we just used it as $15.00 off our purchase because we wanted more pictures than the package offered). Watched Debarkation Talk on Funvision, while we packed. We wanted to get it out of the way early so we could play in the evening. Did all of our paper work for customs. Had lunch in the dining room for the first time, was lovely. Relaxed by pool. Nice day! Met up with all of our new found friends at dinner (we put out our luggage before we left and it was quickly taken away, be sure to leave out clothes for the next day, including clean underwear one of us forgot that part), attended the last Las Vegas style show (really good), played team Bingo (we all chipped in for cards, it was fun never won anything). Watched the Guest Talent Show, wonderful! One of our dinner companions was a formally trained opera singer! Crystal Frazier, sang Ava Maria, she was outstanding and she and her husband John will be long-time friends. We went on to the Late Night Comedy show and had a wonderful time. We realized that we had a number of drink coupons left so we proceeded to close down several bars that night until they were all used up. The Curveball Brothers (70's & 80's Rock & Roll) were great and because we were all having our last Tequila Shots of the cruise extended their set just for us! Great, Thanks Guys! Our group (4 couples) proceeded to the Pizzeria where we ordered non-stop Pizza and Calzone until 3:30 AM. Then it was off to get a few hours rest until morning. Hugs all around and friends we hope to stay in touch with forever. Saturday - MIAMI. So sad. Hubby visited Customs in the Library to declare the extra rum we were bringing home, because it wasn't much (2 bottles) they didn't even charge us the 10% tax on it. We decided to pay most of our Sail & Sign card off with the traveler's checks we had rather than leave it on our credit card, no problems at all. We went up on the Lido deck to wait to disembark. Once you leave your room the Steward takes over to clean for the next group. We had breakfast and chatted with friends. Our color was called about 9:30, we passed customs disembarked found our luggage quite quickly, it was sorted by location of your cabin, the porter was right there waiting to assist and by 10:00 we were in our truck ready to go. Our cruise was wonderful. We had some small issues that we thought could have been better but not enough to mention or let alone spoil our fun for one hour. The ship was well kept, clean, I can't say enough how much we enjoyed ourselves. We're ready to go again. Our next cruise is planned for June, itinerary yet to be determined. Email me if you have questions turtle_val@hotmail.com . I have the details of shore excursions for the cruise and the Carnival Capers newspaper. Sorry this was so long.12/04/00 Read Less
Well, we've been home for over a week, and I think I'm settled in enough to write an objective review. My family decided to go forego Christmas presents this year, and take a cruise with the money we'd usually spend. ... Read More
Well, we've been home for over a week, and I think I'm settled in enough to write an objective review. My family decided to go forego Christmas presents this year, and take a cruise with the money we'd usually spend. There were 5 of us all total, my husband, myself, our 2 children, 22 and 25, and our daughter's fiancee. It was the first cruise for both boys. Because they are known as the "Fun Ships" we decided on the Carnival Imagination. Hubby and I were in a Category 12 and the "kids" in a 6A. As I said at the beginning, I will try to be objective. There were good points to our cruise. After all, what cruise can be bad when you're on the ocean, not cooking, and not cleaning. Cabins Our suite was large. The verandah held two chairs and a lounge chair. I expected Carnival to be more glitzy than our previous cruises, and we're not ones to look for wear and tear. Suffice it to say that the suite was fine. The 6A was a little cramped, but served it's purpose. Both had ample space for clothes, and the washrooms were a good size. We all enjoyed the basket of "samples" that were left for us to use. Service This was one of our main complaints. We had no glasses for taking medication. No room directory, and this is a bit funny, the 6A got the robes, but we had none. We had to use the martini and wine glasses in our bar to take our daily medication. We used the 3 bottles of soda that were left for us, and they were never replaced. The glasses we drank from sat on our coffee table from Saturday to Tuesday, and then again from Tuesday until we disembarked on Thursday. (I sure hope they disappeared for the new "tenants".) Ice was something that never appeared. And, every night at 7:15, as we got ready for our late seating dinner, there was a knock on our door from the room stewardess asking if she could turn down our bed. Now after the second night, you'd think she'd know we had a late dinner? No, it continued for the remaining 3 days. Our waiter was HORRIBLE!!! We were always the last to be served. Rolls appeared without butter. Water glasses were never filled. Beverages ordered with dinner arrived half way through. The table was never cleaned between courses. It literally took us 2 hours to complete dinner. And, our waiter only had 2 tables to serve. In fairness to the maitre d' when we complained, he was very kind and made sure our service was better. Kudos to the wait staff on the pool deck. They were prompt and friendly. They couldn't do enough to help you. Carlson and Martin were fantastic. They knew what you were drinking, whether soda or a libation, and had it for you before you could even request them. Thank you to both of them. Food I'm from Chicago, and we have many fine pizza restaurants. Carnival pizza can compete with any one of them. Other than that, the food in the dinning room was horrible. In all fairness, this could be because by the time we got our food it was leukewarm. When we received the food hot, it was ok, still nothing exceptional, but ok. Lobster was mushy, steaks were tough. But, it was plentiful. Food in the Horizon Cafe was pretty good. We ate breakfast and lunch there most days. There was a good variety to choose from. A big salad bar with many choices. And a station set up every day with something different. One day cesaer salads made to order, one day pot stickers. And, a desert bar with many different choices. You had your choice between 3 or 4 different entrees, plus a grill serving hot dogs, hamburgers, and cheese burgers. (Parents, please watch your children at the buffet. I saw many little fingers picking out watermelon, then sticking them back in for another piece.) Entertainment First the good. The shows, especially the late nite "adult" shows were exceptional. The best we've seen on a ship. New Years Eve was WONDERFUL!! The best one we've had in several years. The guitar player, Les (I'm sorry, I didn't get the last name) in the Casino bar was EXCEPTIONAL. When he started playing, the crowds came, and everyone started dancing or at least foot tapping. But, why they call Carnival a "fun ship" is beyond me. Days at sea were BORING. Bingo was scheduled at the same time as the ship tour. Horse racing was 15 minutes later, and only one day. The band at the pool only played for a short time, and only on one day. There was one pool contest one day, and two on the next sea day. There was absolutely nothing scheduled for 2 or 3 hours at a time. I thought that every nite would be like New Years Eve, but I guess I was mistaken. So much for being a "fun ship". In conclusion, I thought that what I found disappointing was only because I had higher expectations, but that wasn't the case. Three of 4 people I spoke with felt the same way. Our table mates our avid Carnival cruisers, and they found the ship lacking things to do, service not up to par, and the food only fair. Perhaps it was because this cruise was on an older ship and only 5 days. Did we have a good time? Definitely. A cruise is what you make of it, and we made our own fun. Will I sail Carnival again? Perhaps. If the price is right. If it's a newer ship. If the itinerary is one we like. But then again, that's a lot of if's. IndpendntWitch@aol.comMarch 2003 Read Less
Sail Date: March 2003
This was our first cruise on Carnival and our fifth cruise overall. The first thing we noticed is that there was a much younger crowd than we had seen on other cruises. Carnival obviously caters to the younger party groups but also ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Carnival and our fifth cruise overall. The first thing we noticed is that there was a much younger crowd than we had seen on other cruises. Carnival obviously caters to the younger party groups but also included middle agers like myself. And for an older ship, we were impressed that it was clean and well kept. The embarkation on this cruise was the smoothest of any we had done in the past. We arrived via taxi (spent the night before in a hotel downtown) at the pier at 11:30 and by 12 noon we were in our stateroom. The Carnival folks do this very well especially if you are early and don't arrive with a bus load or several bus loads. The food was very good on this cruise and the staff was as good if not better than other cruise lines that we have cruised with. The pizza is definitely as good as other cruise reviewers have stated. I had the beef on most nights and was pleased with the quality. The shows were good and there seemed to be a lot of activity going on all over the ship. Embarkation As I stated a very smooth and well organized process. Carnival does it right. Our Room Near perfect. Got the room with the portals as we got a much better deal for these rooms and still had a window with a view. Room was nice size yet it lacked a loveseat for setting and we had a small chair or the bed to set on. They still don't do so well with the twin beds pushed together as the crack gets wider through the night. Our room steward was great, was always working around our schedules. Still missed the balcony room and will go back to that on the next cruise. But...very nice and did the job. The razors, toothpaste, floss, etc. in the bathroom was a nice touch. Entertainment Good entertainment. The "R" rated comedians are a nice touch but the one I attended was only 30 minutes long. The other main shows were well done and very professional. Food Food was very good. Pizza is a ten and is available at all hours. Service Our waiter, Ricky, from Philippines was great, as was our housekeeper, Clinton, from Jamaica. We had read many reviews with people having trouble with the service and their staff, but we found it to be quite good. Our Assistant Waiter, Wasan, from Thailand was a hoot. My wife enjoyed the spa and was pleased with the staff and the service. We both used the gym and found it nice although a bit crowded early in the mornings. Fun and Games Bingo was a bit pricey as it was $10 a card or three for $20. Seems other cruise lines had more games and lower prices. Pool games had many participants although we did not attend any of them. The deck area is a bit crowded on the days at sea. There is also the optional bathing area for those that choose to do so. It was well marked so that younger persons would not accidentally go there and no cameras allowed. Shore Excursions In Grand cayman we had booked our own tour through an internet site and rode a 50 ft Catamaran to snorkel and swim at Stingray City, Coral Gardens, and the Barrier Reef. Our trip lasted from 10:30 until 2:30 and cost $39. We therefore had much more time on the boat and snorkeling than the cruise ship excursions. We heard that folks that did Stingray City had many many more people on their boat, had to wait longer before getting into the water and had less than 30 minutes time in the water with the stingrays. I think the cruise ship Stingray City tour is over $40. In Och Rios we did the Cool Runnings Party Boat through the ship's tour excursion. It was a lot of fun and the Dunn's River Falls is well worth the effort. All should do this for the experience. Jamaica has cleaned up the hustling trinket sales persons at the falls and now there are none bothering you to buy their products. And on the last day we decided to do the Everglades trip in Miami. It cost $35 but what we got was an organized way to get off of the ship by going as a group. After our Everglades trip, we were taken to the Airport (built into the excursion) and instead of catching our plane, since we were staying the Saturday night in Miami, we waved down our hotel shuttle and he took us to the hotel for free and made a stop at a gas station for us to get beer and snacks to take to the hotel. Our next cruise is scheduled on the Carnival Legend in November and we may look on the internet to find shore excursions again. Debarkation Just as easy and well organized as the embarkation. Carnival does this right as well. The Weather Every day was high 80s or low 90s and no rain. We were lucky enough to have had perfect weather. The Negatives This was the rockiest ship we had ever been on even though the seas were pretty smooth. We could not understand this but had to deal with it daily. At debarkation, there were to many people setting in areas blocking stairs, elevators, and hallways. We were not to high on the seating of six of us in both style seating in the Pride dining room making it so that persons on the end would have to move for the middle person to get up. Bottom Line The positives were more so than the negatives and would we go on a carnival Cruise again? The answer is yes as we are scheduled to go to Barbados, Martinique and St. Maarten this fall with a group of 13. This cruise our group was six. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2003
Imagination cruise May 31, 2003 Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman We are some of the folks that were displaced by the Tragedy on the SS Norway, We booked this cruise on wed, sailing the following Sat, My wife and I with our 2 girls 16 and 14, We ... Read More
Imagination cruise May 31, 2003 Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman We are some of the folks that were displaced by the Tragedy on the SS Norway, We booked this cruise on wed, sailing the following Sat, My wife and I with our 2 girls 16 and 14, We had 2 outside cabins on Riviera deck. (Remember unless you get a suite all the rooms are the same you just pay more to be higher up.) Arrival: Port of Miami: This was probably the only hassle we had the entire week, and by no means am I complaining or blaming Carnival, This is a port authority issue, anyhow we live in Florida. So we drive to the port. It was Saturday so there were 5 ships in port and that made for congestion. We waited in our car bumper to bumper for 45 minutes before we even got close to the ship. As we approached the baggage drop off my wife noticed after we drop the bags we have to go back around in line again (good call on her part). So we just went directly to the parking lot and wheeled our luggage to the ship. Saved at least 45 minutes (we arrived at 1 p.m.). We have never encountered this before but have arrived much earlier. Embarkation: Since we had only booked a couple of days earlier we had to pick up our Doc's at the will call box (no line, had everything in 2 minutes) We then had to fill out all the stuff we usually do at home. No big deal as desk and pens were provided. Then off through baggage check and in line at the main concourse to set up our account with a C.C. This took all of 5 minutes, very fast. Off we were to get our room key and the picture that has become so famous ( Imagination uses a separate room key other than your sail and sign card.). We ate some lunch toured around the ship and got ready for life boat drills. This is so much fun (I put in there suggestion box that they should have one every day). The best thing was we were actually done before we set sail. We have not been so lucky the last few cruises (we think sail away is one of the best parts of a cruise). We ordered drinks and just relaxed until our dinner time. We had late 8:30 I felt this was a little late for me considering we had to be back on ship at all ports by 3.p.m. We had dinner and went to the show and off to bed about 1. Day 1 sea Day: We awoke kinda early and headed off to breakfast, We had breakfast in the dining room instead of the buffet because of lox and bagels or eggs Benedict, 2 of my wife's favorite (every thing else can be had at the buffet). Another little note, they make omelets to order at the buffet also. Most people don't realize you can order fried eggs as you like at the omelet grill. All you have to do is ask. My wife headed to the pool and I headed to the casino. Note: you have to check out towels on the pool deck and check them back in when you leave or they will charge you $22.00. You can check out as many as you want. She said she had no trouble getting chairs all week at any time. Later we meet up for lunch (notice this food thing is very important to us). In the after noon we played trivia game and Bingo. This is also formal night so we headed back a little early to nap and get ready for dinner (dinner this night was Lobster and or Prime rib Both were very good [snicker]). After dinner we went to the first big production show a tribute to the 50s and 60s. It was very well done. We played at the casino awhile and headed to bed. Day 2 Grand Cayman: We were looking at all the shore excursions offered and the only one that interested us was a reef and Stingray city trip. This was $69.00 p.p. X 4 = $276.00. I'm not cheap but do cruise on a budget. So we decided to go down to 7 mile beach on our own (Grand Cayman does not have dock so every one has to use tenders). So we tendered to shore about an hour after shore tours already had left. When we got to the main terminal there was a guy sailing coral reef and Stingray city tour for $30.00 p.p. Guess what? We did it and it was great, we had a blast and saved some money also. Just remember you are not on a ship tour so leave plenty of time to get back. We had plenty of time. After we got back on ship we got ready for dinner and a night out and about. Day 3 Ocho Rios: We did book a shore tour here. $48.00 per person on a large sailing Catamaran done to Dunn's River Falls and back. Free cocktails and all. This was a very good tour and well worth the money. The falls are so beautiful and fun to climb. After we returned back to the ship we walked down to Margaritaville where they have a water slide running throughout the bar. It's a nice way to cool off. We stayed there till it was time to leave and catch the ship. We got ready for dinner and then attended a comedy and magician show (Very Good) and with all the rum we had it was night night for us. Day 4 Sea Day: We pretty much did the same thing as we did on the first sea day, JUST RELAXED and we really enjoyed this. Overall, I would rate every part of our cruise an A+. This was our 11th cruise and 2nd on Imagination but we all felt this had to be the best all around experience we have had cruising. The only draw back was it was way too short. ED Read Less
Sail Date: August 2003
Cruise: 8/4/03 Imagination, 5-day, Belize/Key West Pre-Cruise: This was our second cruise, the first being last year on the Grand Princess. The four of us (mom, dad, 16 and 11-year-old daughters) flew from Providence to FLL - cheaper ... Read More
Cruise: 8/4/03 Imagination, 5-day, Belize/Key West Pre-Cruise: This was our second cruise, the first being last year on the Grand Princess. The four of us (mom, dad, 16 and 11-year-old daughters) flew from Providence to FLL - cheaper than tickets to Miami. Our first snag of the week happened when the "meet and greet" town car reserved from Tri-County failed to show. However, we called them from the baggage area, but no problem - there was a car waiting right outside. We booked a room at the Sheraton-Biscayne Bay. Nothing fancy, but very clean, with a view of the pool and the bay. Well worth the $35 through Priceline. The hotel did not have pre-cruise booking as this was a Monday cruise, with hardly enough cruisers to warrant it. Spent some time at Bayside Market Place, taking in the bayside scenery, a little shopping, and then a late lunch at Bubba Gump's, with great shrimp and great Gump dEcor. Monday Embarkation: This went very smoothly. We took a cab to the port ($10) and arrived at 11:30 for registration and virtually no line for the sail & sign card. Can't complain - we were in our cabins by 12:00! Even though there were signs saying to wait before going to the cabins, we headed down to the Main deck anyway. Our cabin was all ready and we met Sheng, our steward, who was absolutely wonderful, always went out of his way to ask us how everything was, and kept the cabin spotless. As for the cabin, we had an inside quad, which was roomy enough with plenty of storage. The only downside to the inside cabin - no bridge cam or other means of viewing outdoor weather conditions on the cabin TV. Carnival definitely could improve on this. We dropped our stuff, and headed off to check out the ship. Tuesday Sea Day: Our girls were not interested in the organized kid/teen program but (armed with walkie talkies) met kids their age while spending time at the ping pong table, video arcade, etc., and then teaming up with their new-found friends for karaoke and other teen activities. Hubby went off to the casino (doing quite well I might add!), and I spent time lounging in a deck chair. Tuesday was also formal night. Now here is where I noticed a big difference between Princess formal and Carnival formal. On Princess it seemed the big decision was, hmm, jacket or tux/short dress or long dress? On Carnival it was, hmm, jacket or shirt or maybe I can just get away with a jogging suit? So it seems that formal meant something different to everyone. There was quite a variety of attire, from jacket and tie (I saw perhaps one or two tuxes) and ballgowns, all the way down to shirt and jeans, and I never saw anyone turned away on formal night, or any other night for that matter, because of their choice of dining room attire. So if you're sailing Carnival, don't worry about clothing - it seems that anything goes. Food: We thought the food was excellent everywhere - the dining rooms, the pizza, the ice cream, the Horizon court buffet (both breakfast and lunch), and the room service. The only disappointing entrEe was the lobster tail on formal night - it was a bit chewy and a bit overdone, I think. Desserts were outstanding! We ordered room service one night which came in no time at all, and served BLTs and peanut butter and jelly, things the kids couldn't get at the buffet line! Our wait staff was wonderful (brought a cake to the table for our anniversary) and the maitre de, Joe, was very personable and professional and the waiters all sing and dance after dinner! The only thing we would do next time is change our seating to a late one. We were not always hungry at 5:45. (Here is where we preferred the Personal Choice dining of Princess, where you could head to the dining room pretty much any time you wanted.) Midnight Gala Buffet: We are not late-night people, but on formal night we managed to stay awake for the gala buffet, and what a presentation it was! Pools: Just to warn you, be careful on the tiles surrounding the pools - they are extremely hot from baking in the sun, as we found out on our first trip to the main pool, burning the bottoms of our feet. The pools are jammed with people on sea days, but you could always find a chair somewhere - my favorites were in the rear pool area by the railing - great place to check out the ocean view and it is a bit quieter. We weren't crazy about the salt water pools, but the water, although very warm, was refreshing. Activities: Besides the casino, we also checked out the art auction. This turned out to be informative and a lot of fun, with free champagne! We bought a couple of inexpensive pieces and one which was a little more pricey, but what the heck - hubby had just won big at the Casino! Wednesday-Belize: Belize was a bust - not because of Belize itself, but because the Coral Breeze snorkleling tour we planned, so highly recommended by so many people, left without us! I partly blame Carnival for this. First of all, the ship was late arriving in Belize, and as anticipated, the ship's tours left the ship first. So I figured we'd have enough time to meet the tour people as long as we got on the first tender. My gripe with Carnival? An announcement was made to head to an appointed area to pick up tickets for a tender at 9:00 a.m. and not to arrive before then - I repeat - do not arrive before 9:00, as they would not be passing any out before then. Well, we arrived there at 8:40, expecting a line. Well, they were already passing out the tickets, and those for the first tender were already gone, so we only got on the second tender, arriving at the port after 10:30. We asked around and discovered that Coral Breeze couldn't wait any longer and departed. I was devastated, but my family took it well and were just as happy, after a bit of shopping, to return to the ship and enjoy it without the crowds - which I have to admit was very nice after all. The lesson I learned? From now on it's the ship excursions or no excursions! As for Belize, a lot of people were disappointed - except for the shops at the port, there really is nothing there for those who do not want to spend money on an organized tour. I will not be disappointed if Carnival drops this port. Thursday Sea Day - See Tuesday Sea Day - except that, for laughs, I checked out the men's hairy chest contest - what a hoot! Shows - We caught were the Welcome Aboard Show which included Dana's (the cruise director) attempt at comedy, luke-warm at best, and another very funny comedian followed him. We saw a magic show and comedian another night, which were also very good. Our favorite was the "Imagine It", a song and dance extravaganza. Friday Key West - Because the ship has to clear Immigration before allowing passengers off, we had to wait until well after 10:00 a.m. We had no excursion planned and since we had never been here before, we took the Conch Tour train. This gave us a nice view of the highlights of the island, although passing by them a little too quickly. The next time, I would take the trolley, which allows you to get on and off, in case you want to spend some time at a favorite attraction. The Island is very beautiful and I would definitely want to go back again when we can stay longer. Saturday Disembarkation: Thanks to Carnival's color-coded system and the bright orange tape on our luggage, we retrieved it in no time at all. Since we had a late flight from FLL, we booked the South Beach tour, which we enjoyed, and this is another location I would like to check out again when we have more time. In fact, next time I would try to get a pre-cruise hotel in South Beach. High points: Food, great weather, the beautiful ocean, service, casino, auction, pools, shows, the great show band Low points: The disappointed Belize experience that never happened, those painfully hot tiles by the pool, the absence of outdoor info for inside windowless cabin passengers Imagination is a very pretty ship and we would definitely sail her again. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2003
The purpose of this cruise was a family reunion of sorts - just the sibs to celebrate Mom's 80th Birthday, her first cruise, her first time in a casino and sadly enough the first trip out of the country after my Dad's death. We ... Read More
The purpose of this cruise was a family reunion of sorts - just the sibs to celebrate Mom's 80th Birthday, her first cruise, her first time in a casino and sadly enough the first trip out of the country after my Dad's death. We teased our children that you had to be over 30 to join us and since none of Mom's grandchildren were in that bracket we were going without the kids and their kids! The planning was intense since after all of us looked at our calendar it had to be in November and my sister was afraid to be on a cruise for more than 4 nights. I dealt with Carnival directly. I was pleasantly surprised and the gal did a fantastic job! She was able to put us on the same floor- 2 suites and 2 inside rooms adjacent to each other. I have personally taken several cruises. So I was the unofficial cruise director and knew what to expect. Mom, Sister and I flew down to Miami Thursday early am from Tampa, met brother #1 and #2 with sister-n-law. The ship was in great shape, the staff went out their way to assist you, they were friendly and pleasant. I saw the Captain several times talking with other passengers. The rooms were in great shape. I have been on several upscale cruise lines and I must say the food was very good! The staff made a "big fuss" over my Mom. We had a great time. Would I go on the Imagination again? You bet! So the rest of my family has been bitten by the cruise bug! Mom and my Aunt (her Sister) have already announced that they are planning a cruise next year and this time everyone down to great grandchild is invited. Oh boy! intense planning will begin shortly after the Holidays! If anyone had questions, please feel free to ask! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
Our first lesson learned is never fly the day of embarkation. The stress of delayed flights, overbooking, etc. is unbearable. Our flight did not arrive in Miami until 3:10. We had been in constant contact with Carnival on the airplane so ... Read More
Our first lesson learned is never fly the day of embarkation. The stress of delayed flights, overbooking, etc. is unbearable. Our flight did not arrive in Miami until 3:10. We had been in constant contact with Carnival on the airplane so they were aware we were arriving later than expected. Carnival told us we would not be allowed to board any later then 3:45. We were met at the arrival gate by an unfriendly, indifferent Carnival agent who ushered us to baggage claim. At 3:30, we were told we would not be able to wait any longer for our luggage even though Delta was announcing that they were still unloading baggage from the plane. So we left the airport with no luggage and were put on a shuttle bus. We were the only people besides another couple (they were on a different boat than us). The driver of the bus and the unfriendly Carnival rep made idle chit chat for about 7 minutes while we sat and fumed on the bus that we could have been retrieving our luggage. We arrived on the boat thankful that we made it and proceeded to our cabin where we changed into bathing suits (thank goodness our travel agent told us to pack bathing suits on our carry-on so we could go to the pool). Our children (ages 5 and 6) were so excited to go to the pool. It had no water in it! We had early dining and since we did not have our luggage were unable to shower and change into appropriate clothing so we had to eat the buffet. We do not care for this style of dining however the food was mediocre at best. We went to bed early due to the stress of the day. We could not understand a word our room steward said to us the entire cruise. He was Columbian, although he kept our room spotless and the beds were very comfortable. The water pressure in the shower was a joke. My daughter has very thick curly hair and it was extremely difficult to wash her hair without any water pressure. Day Two: Ate buffet breakfast again. soggy eggs and greasy bacon, long lines, rude fellow passengers. Went to kids pool again- no water in it again! Were told it was too dangerous to have water in the pool because of rough seas. The other 2 pools onboard did have water but our children could not enjoy because of the depth. Words can not express how we felt. We wanted to go home but were looking forward to Grand Cayman the next day. Had our clothes sent out for laundry service so we could have clean clothes. We were charged $52.00 to have 4 pairs underwear, 1 child's shorts, 1 child's dress and 1 man's shirt cleaned. We were told we would not have to pay due to the delay in receiving luggage. I am still fighting to have this charge reimbursed. Day 3: Woke up and saw that we were off shore of Grand Cayman, loud speaker announced that due to rough seas we would not be able to get off the boat. Devastated we went to kid's pool again and it finally had water in it. After several hours the boat sailed to the other side of the island and we were allowed to get off the boat. The line to get off the boat started on the seventh floor and ended on the third floor. Absolutely ridiculous. We laughed and went back to the pool and waited for 3 hours for the lines to dissipate. We finally made it off the boat about 12:30 and got to enjoy 2 and a half hours of Seven Mile Beach. We had the best meal of our vacation on Grand Cayman. Stood in line for 45 minutes to get back on the boat. What a joke. Got back to room and thankfully our luggage was there. Our room steward made it clear that our luggage was very heavy so we felt obliged to tip him $20.00. At least we got to go to our dining room for the first time. Our waiter Jimmy was the highlight of the cruise. He made us feel like we were the only people on the ship. He asked where we had been the two previous nights and said he was worried. The meal was excellent and the service was impeccable. We even had complimentary champagne (due to another inconvenience I won't even mention). Oh I forgot to mention that we didn't even get to enjoy formal night because we had no clothes! Day 4: Jamaica- Not! Due to rough seas port authority closed the ports and we were not allowed to get off the boat. Unbelievable. Later we received a letter informing us that Carnival is reimbursing us $25.00 per person for port charges. Wow! The only activity we could find on that ship was Bingo. We forced the kids to go to Camp Carnival where it was overcrowded and the Caregivers seemed stressed. We picked the kids up after 2 hours and they were unimpressed. We headed back to Miami a day early. Day 5: The most beautiful day. Why we were not allowed to go to a different port is a mystery. We spent the day at the kid's pool with every other bored to death family. Our whole cruise we met not one person who was happy or impressed with carnival. There was no one to serve you drinks on the kids deck or any kind of music or any entertainment at all. We could not wait to get off this ship. When we got back home and started the process of getting our money back we were offered a 20% discount on our next Carnival Cruise. No thank you- never again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
The cruise was wonderful! It was our 4th time cruising with Carnival and we find cruising is our best vacation overall. The food was excellent on the buffets, however, the dining room was not up to par with other ships and we enjoyed the ... Read More
The cruise was wonderful! It was our 4th time cruising with Carnival and we find cruising is our best vacation overall. The food was excellent on the buffets, however, the dining room was not up to par with other ships and we enjoyed the Horizon Grill and the Lido Deck better than the dining room. Don't get me wrong - it was still good, just not as good as the dining rooms on other Carnival ships (Destiny being the best by far) we've sailed, and certainly not as good as the food presented at the grills. But there is always food on Carnival! The entertainment was okay . . . the Karaoke was fun except for a couple of untalented guys took over thinking they were funny when they were just drunk and really had no talent at all -- so we just left and came back when they were done. But the host in the Xanadu Lounge hosting the Karaoke was wonderful. We would like to see an old fashioned juke box in one of the lounges so that people could choose the music they would like to dance to. People who cruise with Carnival like to party - that's a given. (There are plenty of cruise lines for those who do not). So why not give them the choice of selecting the songs they like to dance to? Rather than trying to find a band diverse enough to play genre for all ages, a juke box will allow passengers to select the special songs that they like to dance to. The comedian on the last night was a riot - we enjoyed him very much. The first night's comedian was okay - but typical. Jokes were tired - even heard some before . . . maybe even on carnival (maybe we saw him before?). They had a magician one night. We left Miami on Thursday, April 22nd and headed for Key West. We shopped in Key West On Friday for a couple of hours but returned to the ship early to enjoy the activities on deck, the tropical cocktails and the beautiful weather. (We were celebrating our anniversary . . .) Saturday, we arrived in Cozumel. We went on the excursion to the Mayan Ruins in Tulum - it was awesome. The ferry ride (40 minutes across the open sea) was a little scary (I don't swim . . . and it's not quite the same as being on a cruise ship . . .) but the little pill my husband got from the purser's desk took care of the seasickness, so that wasn't a problem although I noticed other passengers suffering with that problem. Unfortunately, my husband only took one package (containing 2 tablets) so he did not prepare for the trip back . . . if you take that excursion, you may want to take a package for the trip back. WE had to go to a Mexican drug store and buy the tablets for $9 a package and they were not quite the same -- they had 2 other ingredients (an anti-histamine and another cold-type medication that make you very sleepy, not like the medication the purser has) so we couldn't stay awake that night). As are all the Carnival ships, Imagination is a beautiful ship. Its staff is professional, friendly and courteous. Our room steward was superb. The bathroom was cleaned with bleach every morning -- it sparkled and smelled fresh and clean. We love cruising and we love Carnival Cruise Lines. We will cruise again - but 4 days is just not long enough!!! We need 7 days. Karen & Joe Amenita Florida Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
I would like to begin this narrative by stating that my intention is to provide lots of detail primarily for first time cruisers. I spent a great deal of time before my cruise reading cruise reviews and message boards in preparation for a ... Read More
I would like to begin this narrative by stating that my intention is to provide lots of detail primarily for first time cruisers. I spent a great deal of time before my cruise reading cruise reviews and message boards in preparation for a great vacation. At that time I decided I would take notes while I was away so that, upon my return, I could return the favor and give as much information as possible to those who use this forum for help. That said, past cruisers will probably find my information redundant so I will also slip in some of the hilarity that inevitably accompanies three wild and crazy gals on vacation. My friends (Kathy and Veronica) and I are each thirty-something and are fellow classmates at a local university here in Florida. We decided to go on this cruise to do something fun together, to ease the pain of a difficult semester, and to celebrate Kathy's graduation. Kathy and Veronica are both "married with children" and I am engaged so this was not a singles' excursion...although I must admit we were hoping for a really cute cabin steward. V and I have never been on a cruise and K's last cruise was many years ago. We spent approximately 2 months preparing by reading the reviews and boards, making lists, and shopping, shopping, shopping...for those not in the know, a cruise is a great excuse to buy new clothes! Although we did not use 90% of the information we gathered due to time constraints etc., I do not at all consider the research wasted time as a great deal of vacation fun for me is in the planning. It is for those unusual people like me that I am writing this review. Pre-Cruise We booked online, not through Carnival directly, a guarantee window cabin category. We ended up on the Empress Deck with 2 twin beds and a pull down that was only one category below a mini-suite. Our room number was hidden on the back-side of our tickets which we saw some people on the message boards had located. Besides the planning, Veronica and I very sneakily decided to surprise Kathy with a Carnival embarkation gift. We chose the Congratulations decoration and cake package, which I ordered. The decorations consisted of streamers, a balloon, 2 Carnival key chains, a Congratulations sign in the window, and a vanilla cake with cream and apple filling. Decorations were a nice surprise and the cake was delicious. The only downside was that there were 3 of us but only one plate and set of silverware...did they think we wouldn't demand a slice?? V had also decided to buy a soda card and did but turned out to be a waste of money. There is plenty to drink on the ship that is included and the card is only good for a glass of soda not cans or bottles. Day 1 We live approximately 2 hours north of the Miami Port and decided we wanted to arrive early so we aimed for 11am. We used the directions from Carnival's site and, although we missed an exit, we did arrive shortly after 11 and had little trouble finding the building. You do need your drivers' licenses and tickets to enter the port so have those ready. Once we arrived at the building, we were able to pull up and unload our suitcases easily. One note here: I was told that the porters would check at that time to see what our cabins were and give us new luggage tags (for guarantees you are given TBA silver tags). He actually handed us a clipboard and had us look up our own cabin and then write it on the old silver tags although I saw a box of new colored tags right there. He was not friendly or helpful at all. Not a complaint as I don't let things like that ruin my vacation...just a note to let others know what to expect. We did tip him as we already had our money ready. I bid my fiancE (who kindly drove us to the port) farewell and we then took our carry-ons and headed the few steps to the building. We had decided to use beach bags as our carry-ons thinking that we could also use them the days we were in port and not carry pocket books for safety and convenience reasons. We entered the building and used the ladies room (I did warn that this would be detailed) before going through the metal detectors, which had no lines. I "beeped" and was told to take my shoes off and walk through again—yuck! Since we had completed our fun passes online, we were able to bypass a long line. We then got in a line for a long counter which was set up like an airline or bank counter with several "tellers" who called next in line which made the line move quickly. At this point you will need your tickets, license, birth certificate or passport, and credit card or debit card handy. When we were called, we went as a group and asked for 2 additional (one comes with your tickets) sail and sign forms as we wanted them linked to our own separate credit cards. Kathy and I used credit cards and Veronica used a debit card. We had all called our banks and companies the week prior to tell them to expect unusual expenditures and had no problems during the trip. This whole process took no longer than 10 minutes. You will see signs when you get on the ship to go to the information desk to activate your sail and sign card but, if you have already given your credit card at this point, that is not necessary. We then walked down a hallway and up an escalator to a large room where we received our sail and sign cards and room keys. We were then directed where to sit by a man we dubbed "little Hitler" who pointed out restrooms and vending machines and constantly reiterated that no pictures could be taken in the building. It was so attractive with its gray walls and black seats that we were really disappointed in not being able to memorialize it on film. Anyway, we were seated in such a way that, when boarding began, those who arrived first boarded first...excellent whiner prevention! When our section was called we proceeded down a hallway and needed to show our sail and sign cards before going up an escalator, posing for our first pic, putting sail and sign card into machine that takes ID pic, and entering the ship. At this time you will be given a "map" of the ship...I did not find it to be any help at all. Next time I will bring the detailed layout map that is included in the cruise brochure. You enter the ship on the Empress Deck in the Atrium Plaza. It was a bit smaller than what I had pictured (after walking the ship I amended this "small" idea a great deal) and is as "flashy" as described in other posts. The information desk is located here as well as the excursions desk. I wanted to drop my bag in our cabin but V overruled that idea and we headed for the Horizon Buffet on the Lido Deck. We headed up in the glass elevators and walked aft (see, I did pick up some cool nautical terms) through the pool area which was already jammin' and loud enough to overwhelm non-club types like me. We waited in a short line, picked out some food, and sat at a table near the salad bar. Now please bear in mind for the rest of this review that if I don't have to cook it or clean up after it, most food tastes great to me! I thought the lunch was very good (and it must have been as our plates were clean and we each sampled 3 desserts...ok, we each ATE 3 desserts) but I was disappointed that the tea is not brewed. I did see on the boards several "tea discussions" and had held out hope but it was dashed. However, being Queen Make Do, I brewed a cup of hot tea and poured that over a glass of ice when I couldn't take the mix tea any longer. No big deal...I'm on vacation!! I will say here in print that V was absolutely correct in her decree of lunch first as, when we left, the line was very long and the tables full. We headed to our cabin, saw the decks, and examined the room and our window. Unfortunately, the twin beds were pushed together and made up as a king bed and, when we tried to call our cabin steward Mu, we were ignored so V and I shared the bed the first night. Not a big deal but I did not like being ignored. I literally ran across Mu the next morning in the hallway and asked him into our room. We explained the bed situation and also that the rail on K's pull down bed was broken and he fixed everything that day. Much better as, when the beds are separated, the room has much more area to move around in. Speaking of size, I thought the room was fine size wise even for 3 and I did not see any problems with the bathroom at all. There was plenty of room for all of our things although we did utilize every available space. We had each packed a large suitcase of clothing and I had sent along with my suitcase a box packed with a case of bottled water. I kept that stored in the corner bin that holds the lifejackets. We also put our own beach towels in there (we brought them for port as we knew we'd be charged if anything happened to the ship's beach towels). There were two closets and I had brought extra hangers and we each had our own shelf in the closet plus one drawer apiece plus 2 shared drawers for brushes, papers, etc. I brought a store coupon card that had a magnetic strip which I used to activate our safe and then we hid it in the room so we'd all have access when necessary. K brought a Mary Kay cosmetics bag that had several compartments and we hung that in the bathroom to use for all of us plus there was lots of room in the medicine cabinet. All in all I thought the room was more than adequate and the only thing we wished for was a balcony...ok, a balcony without paying for it. I am getting a bit ahead here...before our suitcases arrived and we unpacked, we did go back up to the Lido Deck and sat outside to have drinks (V-margarita, K-coffee, me-brewed iced tea) and took some pics of the port and then went back to grab our life jackets for the dreaded drill. Let's just say that if the ship ever sank, I think everyone would strangle in the life jacket before they ever got around to drowning. Our muster station was back up on the Lido deck and we sat there choking and sweating and feeling even hotter as we watched the Carnival workers choking and sweating in polyester suits. Yuck! It was over quickly and we headed back to our cabin to unpack. Before dinner, I did go to one of the dining rooms to see about changing our dinner seating from 5:45 to 6:15 and to see about getting a table for 4 so we wouldn't have to sit with strangers. After being assured that we did not have to be in the DR at 5:45 on the dot and seeing (on the computer) that we were at a round table for 10, I decided to leave everything as it was and that turned out to be the best idea all around. Upon entering the DR, we were seated at an all female table...V, K, and I, Carmen and her daughter from NJ (originally from Puerto Rico), Liz, Katie, and Kristen from Boston, and Ophelia and her friend from Detroit. What super tablemates!!!! Honestly, when we discussed the dining room pre-cruise we thought that probably after being in port all day we would just want to order room service for dinner but after that first night, we ended up going to the dining room every night for the company and also because of our wonderful waiter Marco. After we had all arrived at the table and introduced ourselves, Marco (from Romania) gave us each a menu and some suggestions, his assistant Nabahat (from Macedonia) filled our water glasses and gave us bread. This was the routine each evening. The menu offered a list of appetizers that usually included soups and other choices, a choice of 2 salads, a list of main courses, and a wine list. Marco would then take down our choices (some nights we would have 2 appetizers instead of salad and choices like that are never a problem) and a server would come and ask if there were any requests from the bar (you must have your S&S card handy). I requested iced tea from Marco and from this night on, tea was poured for me without my ever having to ask. One evening, K and Ophelia's friend ordered the Caesar salad and felt that it did not have enough of an anchovy taste...next thing I knew they had a plate of anchovies in front of them! Little things like that made the dining experience wonderful. After the dishes were cleared, Marco would bring each of us a dessert menu. The desserts were wonderful and I would usually order 2 so that I could have ice cream or something that I knew I would like and then could also try something new. Unfortunately, many of the desserts had alcohol in them, which I do not like, but everyone else at the table loved them. We had such a good time each evening that we were usually the last table to leave. After dinner that evening, we headed to the Dynasty Lounge as they were having a game show similar to Jeopardy. K and I put our names in a hat and also filled out a slip for V who was in the ladies room. We had lots of fun watching but I was having trouble thinking fast enough to answer the questions so I told V if they called my name she had to go up for me. Of course, even though the lounge was full and only 9 names were called, they picked my name! V courageously kept her promise and went up for me. Even though she had a slow start (one of the contestant's boyfriend was calling out the answers so the MC called him onstage and sent him to the corner), V ended up winning and she received the ship on a stick and a bottle of Champagne which she grabbed before the MC could ask what she wanted, LOL. We then headed up to the Sports Deck to get some air and look around before heading to our cabin and dropping into bed exhausted. It was a spectacular day! Day 2 At Sea We had filled out the room service card and hung it on our door the night before and our order arrived right on time. We did this each morning and just ordered more on the days we were going to be in port and would not have time for breakfast. K needed her coffee fix and V and I liked to have a little something like a bagel or pastry in our stomachs. We usually tipped $1 per person. We took our time getting ready and headed up to open seating in the DR (we had planned on eating in the Horizon but I had spotted windows in the DR the night before) and we were seated right by a window and, low and behold, Marco got stuck with us for breakfast! A brief review of ship breakfast food: eggs are not "real" unless they are fried, potatoes are hash browns on a par with McDonald's, V said eggs benedict best she's ever had, southerners said grits tasty but not quite thick as they like. After breakfast, V spent some quiet time in the library writing in her journal and then went to the art auction. She later reported that it was deserted until the free champagne was handed out, LOL. K and I headed out to find a quiet spot to sunbathe and ended up above the Verandah deck which is the topless deck...I must say this spot is ideal! Quiet and restful but you can sit above pool deck and still see what's going on without the loud music. K slept and I read and it was heavenly. It was at this point that we finally realized that you do not have to go back to the atrium to find your way around the ship...we had elevators mere steps from our room that led to the Horizon, Pride Dining Room, etc. Again, bring a better map with you to get a sense of the layout of the ship. We went down to Horizon buffet (only two flights of steps down) and grabbed some pizza and tea for lunch and took it back with us. Afterwards, I felt the sun really start to cook so I headed back to the room to get showered as this was formal night. We went to the Captain's cocktail party which was held in the Dynasty Lounge where the Captain introduced some of the crew and we had free drinks and appetizers and saw lots of set-ups for formal portraits which they did every night. The Dynasty Lounge is very comfortable with typical theatre style, bench, and banquette seating. We then headed to dinner. Our tablemates looked fabulous and we had a picture taken of all of us which we purchased even though I do not usually succumb to buying "extras" ($8 for a 9X6 which I am going to copy for V and K). This was lobster night and the others said it was great...I do not care for lobster (yes, I know, crazy girl!!) so I had the prime rib and it truly was superb! After dinner we headed back to the Dynasty Lounge for a show and the Captain's Cocktail Party for the second dinner seating was taking place. Don't bother to get a seat at this point as they empty the theatre to clean it and you must get in line to go in. I went to Las Vegas for the first time last summer and I thought this show was comparable to a "traditional" Vegas show only I was more impressed because these people performed on a rocking (literally) stage. I will take space to note here that the ship does move more than I expected. We each took a different seasick medication the first few mornings (Bonine, ginger, etc.) and never had a problem. I noticed that some people changed after dinner and some did not and that the ensembles at dinner ranged from "prom night" to dirty jeans. After the show we headed to bed...noticing a theme here? Day 3 Grand Cayman After our substantial room service breakfast, we grabbed our beach bags (packed them the night before-be sure to bring Sail and Sign card, License, and excursion tickets or info) and headed to the Atrium Plaza to figure out where to go to disembark. The signs in the lobby said to head to Deck 3 but the Capers said to head to the Dynasty Lounge if you had booked a tour that left before 9am. Now although we had booked a Stingray City tour, we had not done so through the ship but I felt as though that did not matter so we headed for the Dynasty Lounge. I took a copy of our faxed itinerary to the girl who was facilitating the groups leaving for tours and she said we could wait in the lounge and leave with the last group at around 9am and that, after that, they would open another tender area and the rest of the people could leave the ship. I would like to make 2 important points here: #1 when you plan your shore excursions please bear in mind that although the ship's itinerary says you will be in port from 7 am till 4 pm, that is completely inaccurate as it takes approximately 1 hour to clear immigration or whatever it is they do so you really don't start leaving till 8 and then you must be on the tender to return by 3:30 at the latest so you do not have as much time as you might think. I know this seems like common sense to you cruisers, but as a first timer I thought the times should be stated more accurately. #2 Grand Cayman and Jamaica DO NOT observe Daylight Savings time so when we arrived in Grand Cayman it was 7am on the ship and 6 am on the island. This is important if you book a tour online and not through the ship as we did. When we "fall behind" and go back an hour, ship time and the islands' time run concurrently. Ok, back to Grand Cayman. We left the Dynasty Lounge and followed the others down to Deck 3 where we showed our Sign and Sail cards and boarded a tender. These are little ferry-like boats with bench seating. The ride to the island was brief. We booked a tour through Soto's approximately a month before our departure to see Stingray City. We did hit one snag as we booked for the wrong date but we cleared that up the moment we arrived on the island. Let me say here that the people of Grand Cayman we met were EXTREMELY friendly and helpful and even gave us money to make a local phone call. We met the Soto's van in a nearby parking lot along with a couple from our ship. How do I know they were from our ship? Once we were in the van, V turned around and asked them which ship they were from (the Sensation was also docked) and they said the Imagination and wasn't she the Jeopardy winner? See, one night on a cruise and we already had a celebrity in our group! We picked a few more people on the way and then arrived at Soto's dock where we paid ($24, a bargain compared to the ship!), signed a waiver, got snorkeling equipment, and boarded the party boat. There was the Captain, his assistant, a videographer, and approximately 20 tourists. There was a bathroom onboard (vertical coffin but adequate) and fresh water shower (they hose you down after the last stop). They took us out to 3 locations: the Corral Gardens, a reef, and the Stingray sandbar. To truly describe this experience would take many more pages and I'm sure I've filled enough already so I will be as brief as possible. This trip was incredible. V described it as the most amazing thing she has ever done. Bring a water camera particularly for the stingrays...I have some great pics of my friends and a nice memory of myself screaming my way back to the boat. Yes, I am a chicken. But even with being scared, it was still one of the best experiences of my life and I would do it again in a heartbeat. If you have children: 3 toddlers were taken on this trip. None got in the water. Not a trip for small children. We left the parking lot at 9:30 and returned at 12:30. We were starved so we headed to a restaurant across from the port called the Landmark (upstairs). The prices were GC dollars and I got some mini jerked burgers that were marked $5 but were $8 US. My friends each got a rum punch at $7 US apiece. The food was expensive but it was one of those times when you've been out in the sun and exercised and are truly hungry and truly relish the meal so it was well worth every penny and everything we had was delicious. The bathroom there was nice so I decided to change out of my swimsuit...I hate sitting around in a wet swimsuit. After lunch, we hurriedly souvenir hunted close to the port and then headed back to the ship on the tender. We had to show our Sail and Sign before boarding and again once we were back on the ship and we had to send our bags through a scanner. We headed to our room to shower, dress for dinner, and relax. When we arrived in the dining room, Katie told me that she had looked at the menu before dinner (they are posted outside of the dining rooms each day) and had not found anything that appealed to her but she came anyway because of the atmosphere at our table. This was the night that we found out that "the girls", Katie, Liz, and Kristen, were actually close to our ages. We thought they were younger because they managed to stay out later clubbing and going to karaoke. We figured that was because they're single...it's much easier to cook and clean for one and you have more energy, LOL. I will not go into any detail about the dining room entertainment because first timers should be surprised...even after all my research I was and it was delightful! After dinner we stopped by the casino to drop a few nickels and then hit the stores. We didn't buy anything at this point because we heard the sales are better the last day and we also knew we'd be spending money in Jamaica. Off to bed...early again. Day 4 Jamaica We had ordered room service for 7am and it was there right on time. We headed off the ship (no tenders here) about 8:15 and I must say the port was stinky. Trash. Yuck. Hurry through this part but not too fast as we saw one guy on our return who had slipped and fallen and was scraped badly. We exited the gates and started looking for a JUTA cab which I had read are the "legal" guys and they charge $5.50 for a round-trip to Dunn's River Falls. A guy came from across the street and grabbed V who was in the lead. He led us across the street and, when I caught up, I asked how much and he said $20 for all three of us. Well, I knew this was wrong because of all the info I'd read but was too late at that point as my friends were in the van. I panicked once we left because I thought he was driving the wrong way. To make a long story short: this guy called himself "Music Man" and we ended up striking a bargain for him to take us to the falls and then to the craft market and then back to the ship for $10 apiece which he said later he had undercharged and I do believe he did from what I've read. Although he did as he promised, next time I will get a regular JUTA cab (they are vans as well) and pay more just so I feel safer. V has traveled much more extensively than I and she felt he was trustworthy but I have found myself to be a bad judge of character so I like the safer more "touristy" routes unless I really know what I'm doing. Anyway, it all worked out and we arrived at the falls, paid the $10 entrance fee, walked to the lockers, paid our $8 ($5 rental $3 deposit that is returned when you return the lock), put our things in the lockers and headed for the falls with just our water cameras. V had decided that she was not going to climb the falls as she considers herself "klutzy" at times so she stationed herself on a deck that was next to and about half-way up the falls. K and I headed down some steps, arrived on the beach, and started our climb. I will say 2 things here: one, the falls are an amazing not to be missed sight and two, the climb is much more difficult than described and I think that anyone who is too young, elderly, or out of shape should not attempt it especially starting all the way at the bottom. I am not in the best of shape but grew up near a river so knew to take my time and be VERY careful so K and I made it with only a few slips. For anyone unsure, I say start in the middle where the water is calm and the rocks are less steep and slippery and you can get off onto the steps at any time. Even if you don't want to climb or swim, I still say go and see them...amazing and beautiful! After our climb, K and I grabbed our things from the locker and headed to the changing rooms (outside stalls...decent but felt like a circus performer making sure no part of my body touched the ground and K cut herself on the door which was rusty so I was glad I had a first aid kit on the ship but should have brought it to the island). Of course we got tricked into following the signs and running the gauntlet of the craft market. Avoid this if possible by ignoring exit signs and heading back the way you came in. Music man was 20 min. late but did pick us up and we headed to the craft market. We spent about an hour shopping and it is intense. Usually 5 people at you at once to see their wares or offering to braid your hair. If you really want to buy, and we did (I wanted to get Christmas presents), then be patient and if you are not a good bargainer, have one with you. K did all my bartering and I am very grateful as this is a skill I do not possess. She got some great buys for all of us and we left pleased. Note: we did need the suggested bug spray here as V got bitten by some tiny, gnat-like bugs. We headed across the street to Soni's to buy some coffee as I read it is not a good idea to buy it in the craft markets. K and I got some Blue Mountain coffee in the first shop we came to while V asked for a good place to eat (we had done research ahead of time and had planned to go to The Ruins for lunch but did not have time plus were not really hungry enough for a buffet). We went right back across the street to a little place called the Jamaica Inn. We were seated in an outdoor, covered courtyard which was pretty and tropical and we ordered some jerked dishes which were delicious. V had an apple maple jerk chicken salad that was really different and very tasty. The ladies room here requires you to go up 2 steps to the "throne" which was kinda neat. We relaxed for a bit, decided we'd had enough of shopping, and even though Music man wasn't due for another hour, we headed to the rendezvous point. Thankfully he was there early and we headed right back to the ship. We tipped him a few dollars, took some pics, and boarded the ship to get ready for dinner. Same procedure: sail and sign card, scanner. Before dinner we hit the internet cafe ($16.50 per ½ hour or $40 per hour) to let our families know we were having a fabulous time without them (kidding!) and then went to have some sushi which does not open till just before dinner and has a long line. The sushi lover of the group enjoyed it very much. Another fun meal in the dining room and "the girls" invited us to go to karaoke later that evening. In between that and dinner, we went to the Dynasty Lounge to see Dr. Phil trivia and then Survivor. Survivor was hysterical! I actually laughed till I cried...you know, Carnival should seriously consider paying the passengers who participate in this stuff as they provide the best entertainment, bar none! LOL We only caught 3 songs at karaoke as this was the passenger talent show night. Off to bed. Day 5 At Sea K and I had promised not to wake V early for once so we quietly ordered coffee and hot chocolate from room service and then wrote in our journals sitting by our window. So relaxing and what a view! Once V arose we headed to breakfast in the dining room and again snagged a window seat. After breakfast, K decided to lay out before her scheduled facial in the spa, V very nicely offered to attend the debarkation talk (held in the Dynasty Lounge by the cruise director), and I had decided to do laundry. Yes, I said laundry. Why? Because I'm crazy. Because I did not want to go home with a bunch of dirty clothes. This is all I'm going to say because I do not want to remember the horror of spending $7 and over 3 hours doing one load of laundry on my last day of vacation: DON'T! Although the experience did prompt me to make a commitment to finally stay up late and see what nightlife on the ship was like. I finally completed my laundry and packed by 3:30 and V and I headed out to do the galley tour. We accidentally caught the end of high tea, which I thought I made us miss, and then hit the tour. Interesting but sadly some very rude people stayed too long at each "demonstration point" blocking everyone's view. They had demos of making drinks, decorating cakes, making towel animals, and folding napkins plus a walk through the galley. After this we got ready and headed to dinner. V headed to a comedy show afterwards and I headed to our room to change into something comfortable and help K pack. K and I found an unidentifiable towel animal from Mu...still not sure what it was but it was definitely phallic...what's up with that? I don't think I should go into K's antics with the towel but I do have a video and I am taking bids... We met up with V just in time for karaoke and "the girls" joined us there. V and K finally got enough booze in them to get up and do Madonna's "Holiday". Sooooooooo much fun! We headed back to our cabin just before 12 to put our suitcases in the hall and then K and I headed up to the Horizon for a midnight snack. Unfortunately, we missed the gala buffet but we'll be sure to go next time...if we can stay awake! We took our snack out on deck and enjoyed our last night on the ship and, of course, did a "Titanic" pose pic...on top of the world! We grabbed a snack for V and headed back to our room. We finally stayed up late! We're not total grandmas yet! Day 6 Debarkation I won't dwell too much here because the end is always the worst part of a vacation. We arose early, finished packing our last minute stuff and headed to the dining room. Tip: world traveler V had her original small carry-on, light and breezy. K and I had our original carry-on's filled to the brim, another full bag, and K also had a box of booze. By the time we got picked up I thought my arms were coming out of my sockets. I didn't want my gifts to get broken but there's got to be a better way. I ignored V's smirk as K and I huffed, puffed, and groaned our way off the ship. Anyway, they called our tags while we ate so we finished up, grabbed our stuff, and headed to the Atrium Plaza. You must have your Customs form (filled out), ID, Sail and Sign, and Birth Certificate or passport handy. The line to leave did not take long and we ended up in a large room searching for our bags. They are sorted by colored tag so it did not take us long to find them. Again, cunning V grabbed a porter and he loaded our luggage on a cart, followed us as we handed in our customs form, then took us out to wait for our ride. We tipped him and shortly thereafter, V's hubby picked us up. Time to go home. Conclusion (whew!) I had the time of my life and cannot wait to do it all over again. I absolutely loved every minute (sans laundry fiasco), every person, every adventure, and can't say enough about the way the staff treated us. I have wanted to go on a cruise for over a decade and, while it was worth the wait, I'm not waiting that long again! If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me as I have the whole summer to re-live my trip until I have to face the books once again. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
Imagination Review Four Day 6/17 - 6/21, 2004 Background When my husband and I returned from our Honeymoon with stars in our eyes back in 2003 we thought it would be a great idea to plan a family cruise. Originally it was going to be ... Read More
Imagination Review Four Day 6/17 - 6/21, 2004 Background When my husband and I returned from our Honeymoon with stars in our eyes back in 2003 we thought it would be a great idea to plan a family cruise. Originally it was going to be his family and my family, but it got too complicated to try to coordinate schedules and we decided just to make it his family. The planning process was still difficult...we wanted to go in a less expensive time of the year but several members of his family wanted to go in June. We also did not want to go out of Miami so that we could possibly drive but we lost out on that also. So we sucked it up and spent about $700 pp between the cruise, flight and transfers knowing that we might never be able to pull this off again or it wouldn't be for a long time down the road. So the cruise consisted of myself, my husband, his best friend, his parents, his two brother and their wives, her sister and her husband and six of our nephews ranging from two to fifteen years old. Yes, I know I am a cool wife to let my husband's best friend go (and stay in our cabin) and travel with ALL my in-laws! Travel to Florida We flew USAir from Charlotte. Got delayed about 30 minutes. Arrived at Ft. Lauderdale about 1:00 (It was about $80 cheaper pp to fly to FLL). We spotted a Carnival rep by the baggage claim and signed up for the transfer to the pier. Waited for our baggage. Didn't have to wait too long for the bus to fill. The ride to Miami was pretty quick, about 35 minutes. Embarkation Got off the bus, the porters were right by the bus to take our luggage. They made us make sure we saw all our bags before they put them on the cargo carriers. We had to wait in line about 30 minutes. The terminal is definitely not as nice as Tampa or Pt. Canaveral. I guess it's just older. We got on the ship and found our room...Empress 172. This was an Aft oceanview room. The location was very convenient. We were close to the stairs that took you one level up to the entrance of the Spirit dining room. The only thing was that there was a crew door right across from ours. I am a light sleeper so every morning about 6 or 7, I was awakened by big carts and big bins full of towels being rolled out that door (there was some kind of metal along the floor in the doorway). It was so loud, it sounded like they were in our cabin. And after being awakened by my husband and his friend coming in the room once the casino closed, and then awakened early in the morning it didn't make for a good night's rest. The Ship The ship was fine...just as I expected. We were familiar with the layout b/c of being on the Inspiration. There are definitely signs of wear and tear but I don't go around looking for that kind of thing so it doesn't bother me. I think the atrium area was a little different on Inspiration. There were several more shops on Inspiration than there were on Imagination. The Crew Our steward, Benny, did a pretty good job. He was nice and friendly. I did notice that he didn't take our glasses that we used and bring us new ones, so we never really had clean glasses. He also didn't bring us new pool towels after we used them the day in Cozumel, but we just got them out by the pool. Our dining room staff was Alberto (Albi) and Jurgita. They were both very nice. Albi did a good job. I wasn't as impressed with Jurgita. I had to ask for a tea every night and she was sometimes slow about refills. We had really really excellent waiters on Inspiration so I guess I was a little disappointed. But they both did good to deal with our two big tables full of our family. I, along with several of my family members, experienced rude encounters with other crew members. A lot of the crew seemed just downright grumpy. The Bar service lady who came around at dinner had a sour-puss look on her face every night. My husband told her he wanted a "coke and smile." She grumbled some and then finally admitted that she had 21 days left on the ship. On formal night, the photographers were going around taking pictures at the dining room tables. One photographer asked my brother-in-law (who was in the middle of eating) to move to the other side of the table for the picture. He was a little slow and grumbly and apparently she said to him very rudely "TODAY!" I didn't hear it but was astounded when he said something after she left. She did come back around and muster up an apology and mentioned something about "other duties." That still doesn't give you the right to speak to passengers that way. Also, at lunch one day, I asked one of the ladies who was cleaning the table where we were going to sit in the Lido Deck buffet for some place settings. She told me she was busy and pointed across the tables to where they were located for me to get them myself. Hmmm... Overall I was pleased b/c the crew we had to deal with everyday (steward, waiters) were nice but a lot of the rest of the crew seemed to have bad attitudes. Food We had the 8:00 seating in the Spirit dining room. The food was pretty good. I had filet the first night and prime rib the second night. I don't really like seafood but had a bite of the lobster and it tasted good. My husband liked it so much, he ordered two. I had a hard time finding an entree the third night and the fourth night I had some not so good fettuccine alfredo. The Lido deck buffet was o.k. The gala buffet was pretty neat to look at but there wasn't much I really wanted to eat. The food was much better on Inspiration and I think the food my mom and I had on our four night Sovereign of the Seas was much better than this cruise. Entertainment I hit all the shows with my mom on our cruise, but hubby likes to spend most of his time in the casino. We went to the welcome aboard show the first night. There was a comedian. I had to use the bathroom and he wasn't very funny so we got up and left. We didn't go to the show formal night. I think it was called Shout...our family went and said it was really good. The show the third night was one of the ones you have to go to before the late dinner so none of us went. And the fourth night my father-in-law actually sang in the talent show. He likes to karaoke and has never really performed in that kind of setting so I give him credit for having the guts to get up and perform like that. The first two women were "professionals"...well not really but one was a music teacher and one was a choir director who has sang in opera companies. He held his own and was so proud of his "solid gold plastic trophy." Hubby spent most of his time entertaining himself in the casino. And let me tell you it was expensive entertainment! I preferred laying out by the pool listening to the band. Port: Cozumel We were on one of the cruises that unfortunately had to miss Key West b/c of the work on the pier. We spent all day Saturday in Cozumel. We slept in and had a late breakfast on the Lido deck. We got off the ship about noon. My husband, his friend, his brother and wife, and our 10 and 7 year old nephews took a cab to Paradise Beach. Cabs for 4 were $12 one way and vans were $26 so we all seven hopped in a van. It was about a 15 minute ride. There were plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas and as they filled up the staff put out more chairs. I had a yard stick margarita ($12) and laid in the sun for a while. There were kayaks you could use for free so my nephew and I paddled around in the water. They also had snorkel equipment for a $10 deposit, which we got back when we returned the equipment. I had heard that snorkeling isn't very good at that beach. We saw a few fish and found a reef pretty far out that had a lot of fish. It was my first time snorkeling and I thought it was pretty neat that they have the equipment to rent for free. They also have a big rock climbing glacier thing that you can climb up and slide down and a water trampoline. My husband got a massage...I think it was $1 per minute so he enjoyed that. We went up on the open air second level of the restaurant and had some really good guacamole dip and fajitas. The food was very good and reasonably priced. We stayed at the beach until about 4:30 and then caught a cab back to the shopping area by the pier. We shopped for a while and then got back on the ship. Overall it was a great day and for just the price of the cab and our meal it was well worth the trip to Paradise Beach. Disembarkation We met all of the family for breakfast about 8:30. We had just finished eating when our color was called. We, along with my father and mother-in-law (who had a different color), left the ship with no problems. We found our bags easily since they were lined up behind signs for each color. We were told where to find the Carnival FLL airport transfer...waited about 20 minutes for the bus to fill up and were on our way. I think I checked my watch once we were inside the airport and it was 11:20...plenty of time for our 1:20 flight. Our flight was again delayed until 2:10 and then we were delayed for another 30 mins. b/c they were not allowing take-offs to the north. I worked on Wed. before the cruise and then came right back to work Tues. I have to admit it's been hard this week. I guess it was just a tiring trip and since I didn't get really good sleep at night I've been tired all this week. It was definitely hard to get everything together Wed. night and have to get up early to get to the airport. If you can take the time off from work, I definitely think it's worth it to go a day ahead of time. I was so tired and cranky after the lifeboat drill I had to have a nap so I missed us leaving Miami...but it was kind of dreary and rainy anyway, so I didn't care. All in all it was a pretty good cruise. I just hated that it was so expensive but you don't have a lot of flexibility when you are planning with 15 other people. Between the cost of the cruise, the plane tickets and what we lost in the casino it was a very expensive 4 day vacation. But I am, of course, looking forward to our next cruise whenever that may be. Read Less
Carnival Imagination Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
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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