Carnival Sensation - Bahamas: Carnival Sensation Cruise Review by cruise-again

Carnival Sensation 2
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Carnival Sensation - Bahamas

Sail Date: March 2006
Destination: Bahamas
Embarkation: Port Canaveral (Orlando)
My son, daughter-in-law, twin grandchildren and I are always on the lookout for new and interesting cruise vacations. When we spotted an advertisement for the Carnival Sensations return to normal cruising (it had been leased to FEMA for six months following Hurricane Katrina), with stops in Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos, Holland Americans private island of Half Moon Key, and Nassau we jumped at the chance. The trip coincided with the twins spring recess, and departed from Port Canaveral, which was only a two hour drive for everyone. Both Grand Turk and Half Moon Key were ports none of us had visited before, and were looking forward to.

When we arrived at Port Canaveral, we were presented with a notice that due to propulsion problems the ship would not be stopping at Grand Turk, but instead would substitute a day at sea, and then stops in Half Moon Key, Nassau, and Freeport. Im not sure what the real truth is, but I notice that Carnival has changed all future More sailings eliminating both Grand Turk and Half Moon Key. As a platinum club member, we were whisked through the embarkation process in no time, and were aboard the ship by 12:30. As the cabins were not to be ready for a while, we spent some time exploring the ship. In the period between FEMA duty, and its return to regular sailing, the Sensation spent some time in dry dock for some refurbishment. New carpets have been installed in most public areas. As we wandered around the ship we found many areas that were either neglected, or incomplete. Hot tub maintenance panels were rusted off their hinges, major stains on the decks that will require sanding and refinishing, bathrooms that were not adequately cleaned. Large sections of the deck were roped off for refinishing (the entire deck needs it); modifications were being made to the basketball court, so that entire area was off limits.

The cabins we were assigned (one 4A-inside and one 6A-ocean view) didnt show any visible sign of newness, but were standard Carnival issue (Carnival has upgraded the bed mattress and linen fleet wise recently, and it is great). We were greeted by our cabin steward, who went out of his way to try to make everything as good as he could. During the entire cruise, he was constantly doing everything that he could to try to make the best with what he had to work with. On a number of nights, the water was shut off to the cabins so that the supply system could be worked on, and of course the following few days the water came out with air mixed in and the color of rust. The public address system didnt seem to work on our deck (although that may have been a blessing, as we didnt have to listen to the promotions for the spa, art auction, formalities, and other shops). The Carnival Capers (daily information sheet) didnt arrive until late, and was often wrong.

In the dining room, we were fortunate to get a fantastic team as waitress and assistant. Most of the wait staff on Carnival is good, but ours were outstanding. The dining room food was quite good and the recent changes Carnival has made to its menu have all been positive. The changes, while not major, have corrected minor problems. For example many people didnt like the pâtE and pastry on the Beef Wellington, and the new dish has been changed to a much better one. The Lido restaurant needs a lot of work. Many areas were not up and running; it was the fourth day before any omelet stations were available, ice and coffee machines were out of order, and other shortages were encountered.

Camp Carnival was up and running full speed! The number of children on this cruise was extremely large, due to spring break. The councilors were all extremely competent, and friendly. The twins wanted to spend as much time with the program as possible, and we had to encourage them to eat with us occasionally. The only problem we encountered was when rude adults tore down signs reserving seats for Camp Carnival in the theater, and refusing to move when asked by the crew. Although this cruise had a very large proportion of children and young adults on board because of spring break, they were all very well behaved. There was little running up and down the halls and mischievous behavior. Other than the pools and hot tubs being filled, it was a pleasure to have them around.

The stop at Holland Americas private island, Half Moon Cay, was a highlight of the trip. The island is the perfect example of the picture you image when you think of a paradise island. The beach is gorgeous, the water the most beautiful shade of blue with a gradual slope. The facilities, while simple, are more than adequate for a day at the beach. The Carnival Crew seemed to have some problem adapting to the facilities, but I think this was Carnivals first time there, and given their unfamiliarity with the island, they did a good job. Nassau was Nassau, OK for the first time, but every cruise ship that leaves the east coast stops at Nassau, and it wears thin. Freeport has little enough to offer, but when we arrived we were informed that all shore excursions were cancelled. I never did find out why.

Entertainment was generally of high quality; the resident staff shows were great, but much of the rest was thin and seemed to be put together on the fly. I think the crew was as much in the dark as to what was happening with the schedule as the passengers were, and were doing their best to adapt.

Disembarkation was not very organized (at least what we saw of it). We chose to use the self help early disembarkation where you carry your entire luggage off the ship yourself. Platinum guest were given letters the night before instructing them to be in the Touch of Class Lounge at 7:15 am. When we arrive there, there was no one there, and crowds were blocking the ship entrances, although everyone had been instructed to keep the main atrium clear until called. No one attempted to clear the area. It was almost 8:15 before clearance was received, and then it was like a stampede to get to the exit. Things may have cleared up later when normal disembarkation started, but we were gone by then.

In general my overall impression was that the MS Sensation was not ready to sail on 3/27. There were too many things that had not been completed, and too many issues unresolved. The crew tried to do their best to work with what they had, but it was a losing battle. Every cruise has a number of things that dont go exactly as planned; things break, weather doesnt cooperate, or the unexpected happens. Those things can be overlooked or endured; but on this cruise there were just too many things that should have been anticipated. I am sure that in a few weeks, the crew will have corrected most of these problems, and the ship will again live up to the normal Carnival standard, but until then beware! Less

Published 04/18/06

Cabin review: 4AR125 Interior

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