Not what I expected: Carnival Sensation Cruise Review by spincalf
Overall Member Rating
Not what I expected
Embarkation: Port Canaveral (Orlando)
The ship was apparently built in the early 90's, but it looked like an 80's disco. Everything was purple and blue and pink and neon. It smelled like stale smoke EVERYWHERE except outside. Our room was on the main deck and was WAY too small for the four of us, with one tiny bathroom. The kids' beds came down over ours like bunks. To use the restroom at night I had to crawl over the bottom of my bed, under my daughter's bunk and around furniture. The room was hot all the time, and smelled like it had previously been a smoking room. We were miserable. The people at guest services (and the rest of the boat staff, More as a matter of fact) had heavy foreign accents of all kinds, and it was extremely difficult to understand many of them when they talked. Back to guest services...they rarely smiled and were very unfriendly. We never complained about anything, just asked questions about where to find things, ports we were docking at, etc. They stared at you like you were taking up their precious time.
We're also always very careful with our money, and did not realize how much MORE money we would need once we got on the ship. They get you coming and going. I don't know if other cruise lines are like this, but it was nerve-wracking. You couldn't bring more than one bottle of wine, so we had to buy most alcohol on the ship, and it was not cheap after having to do that for four days. The coffee was REALLY BAD, so to get a good cup it had to be bought at the coffee bar, which cost more money. I felt like their hands were constantly in my pockets.
I also felt kind of bad for some of the service staff. The cabin stewards were mostly Asian men, who cleaned night and day (did a wonderful job...were friendly) and the buffet and dinner service workers were running around all the time looking afraid of doing anything wrong. We saw the head of the dining staff get really angry and yell at a couple of them for mistakes. It was embarrassing to watch. We found out that they are on the ship for 6 months at a time. Our waitress one night was from the Phillipines. Her husband was also a waiter, but worked the night shift so they rarely saw each other. They had a 5 year old daughter who had to live at home with their in-laws during the 6 months on the ship. I felt really sad for her, and she looked upset telling us the story. I don't think we realize what some of the staff go through just to make a living.
The excursions cost hundreds of dollars for a family of four. If you didn't want to pay that, you ended up having to pay someone else to drive you to a beach, which also was expensive. Then, you'd get to a beach, have to pay to get in, have to pay too much for a chair, have to pay too much for an umbrella, and on and on and on. Normally I bring those things myself, but you can't when you're on a ship. You're at the mercy of the locals, and they are constantly barraging you with offers, haggling with you about everything, following you around, trying to get anything and everything from you that they can. I was always on the watch and nervous about my surroundings. If I HAD to do it again, I would pay for the excursions just for the mere safety factor.
Then, back on the ship, every day there were the duty-free sales for the art, watches, jewelry...like a circus every night...people trying to grab this watch, or that bracelet, before someone else could get it, and LOTS of gambling.
All in all, this was not a family-friendly vacation, and I really regret having spent the money on it. We could have stayed in a nice hotel on the beach and had a much more relaxing, entertaining vacation. Less
Cabin review: M259
Hot, tiny, miserable, smelled like smoke.
Port and Shore Excursions
You can't go anywhere unless you pay about $15/person for a taxi, plus renting everything you need at a beach. Beaches were dirty. Probably would need to pay for an excursion if you want those things taken care of.
You WILL be hounded constantly by the locals to buy things from them, or use their services. Almost to the point of being harrassed. I would do this port completely differently given a second chance. The beaches are much cleaner, but again, if you don't go on an excursion, you pay someone to take you to a beach, pay $10 for a chair, $10 for an umbrella, $10 for a drink, unless you haggle, which I hate. I would pay the extra for an excursion and go to the beach at Atlantis.