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My family (DW, DD, father, and stepmother) booked adjoining interior cabins on the Sensation for a 5 night cruise to Half Moon Cay, Freeport, and Nassau. DD is a first-time cruiser (she's 4. We'll forgive her), while DW and I have been on several, and my father and stepmother are experienced (Platinum with RCI, have also sailed Holland America and Carnival before). We were a little leery of the interior cabins and the general reviews of the ship saying it was "worn down" and "small." Fortunately, it seems the reviews we read were wrong. Our cabins (4B interiors) were plenty spacious for all 5 of us to get together for pre-dinner conversation and wine for the adults (we bring our entire allotment of wine onboard, so we had 4 bottles between the 2 cabins). I could see it being cramped-feeling with 3 or 4 non-preschool-aged people, but even with the bunk lowered, getting around wasn't really a problem. From peeking into exterior cabins (ones left with the doors open!) while walking down the hall, it seems that our interior cabins were the same layout, the only difference being that ours had a false window. No biggie; the lack of natural light in the morning made it so dark that I actually slept in a couple of times (habitually, I wake up at the crack of dawn when not vacationing). Our cabin steward, Wanwan, was gracious and accommodating for a couple of basic requests (wine glasses left in the cabin, and ice daily). He was thorough in cleaning for us -- the man even paired up shoes left around the cabin and placed them all together! Food in the MDR (we ate dinner there 5 nights out of 5) was squarely in the "very good" range, with one or two exceptions. However, our waiter, Elbert, did his best to steer us away from them; after realizing what he was doing the second day, we just rolled with it if he said "You want [mediocre entree]? Should I bring you [really good entree] as well? You'll like it, I know!" and took the suggestion. No bad meals after that! He also was very, VERY nice to DD, who can be a bit picky. He'd bring a fruit plate for her every day without even asking (she loved the fruit), and after two nights of requesting honey mustard with her chicken nuggets, that came without needing to be asked for, for the rest of the cruise. The Lido buffet was a little hit-or-miss, but that's to be expected when you're serving so much food that's kept in warmers. On the whole, the Lido was a solid choice for lunches, where you'd get 2 or 3 things, and usually 1 or 2 of them were very good and 1 was "meh." The pizza station was busy all the time, for good reason -- the white pizza with Gorgonzola was a hit with me, although DW didn't like the funky cheese, and the mushroom pizza was great. Ditto the deli next to it; I loved the Reuben, and DW raved about the Italian sandwich. DD proclaimed the grilled cheese to be satisfactory, and finishing the half that she didn't eat, I agree with her assessment. LIDO PROTIPS: there are two outdoor seating areas aft of the Lido (doors port and starboard of the pizza/deli counter), they were generally under-utilized. It was an excellent place to have coffee and breakfast if you wanted to watch the sun rise. There are also two P.Y.O.B. machines that offered draught beer for roughly half what bar service would cost (it was $3.95 for a 14-ounce pour, and shorter pours were commensurately less pricey, so you could have a 7-ounce for $1.97 or so if you just wanted a taste). On our cruise the choices were Heineken and Red Frog red ale. The other food-related thing of note is that there is no through passage to the aft of the ship (where the Ecstasy dining room is) on deck 8, as the galley is in the way; you can access the dining room easily by either using the elevator/stairs far aft, or going through deck 9 and down the stairs in the dining room by the Polo Lounge. It's a little weird bit of layout, but that's how the ship is laid out. Other amenities that we took advantage of were the waterslides (excellent, although enforcement of the minimum height seemed arbitrary; on Day 2, my daughter was tall enough, but on Day 4 she wasn't. Boo.), the piano bar (fun! Even DD liked it, but she has eclectic tastes in music, so she requested "Hound Dog."), the shows (well-produced and fun; they kept DD's attention and had her wanting to "rock and roll" when she hit the stateroom afterwards), and the casino (typical bad odds at blackjack -- 6:5 on a blackjack, continuous shufflers, and weird side bets. $5 minimum for craps and roulette). Our cruise went to Half Moon Cay, Freeport, and Nassau. Half Moon Cay is, in a word, paradise. Soft, cool sand beach, clear azure water, enough beach chairs for a small army, it's a beachgoer's heaven. 5/5, would visit again. Freeport.... well, Grand Bahama got pretty well whacked by Hurricane Matthew, to the point where rebuilding is ongoing (we still saw power poles broken in half), but aside from Carnival's excursions, there was not a lot to do other than taxi to a beach club to pay for the same experience as Half Moon Cay, but not as nice. There wasn't much shopping aside from the port and a small straw market. I'd probably stay on the ship next time. Nassau is... well, Nassau. Lots of shopping, lots of bars (I recommend Pirate Republic craft brewery -- their toasted coconut porter was excellent!), some history, and a pretty decent walk down the pier through the crowd of 3 ships' worth of people (we were in port with NCL Escape and the Carnival Liberty). You can easily find something fun there. There were a couple of downsides to the ship; on Deck 4, there was a weird smell near the amidships elevators, sort of like burnt rubber and soon-to-fail fluorescent lamp. Also, our cabin's main lights flickered to life when the switch was hit; getting them all on took 4 or 5 seconds. There was also an aft elevator that seemed to like to stay on Deck 5, rather than going up or down. Ultimately, because the Sensation isn't the "newest and best," it's less expensive than it's bigger counterparts. I felt that the value for dollar that the ship offered was quite high, though, and wouldn't hesitate to book another cruise aboard her (or another Fantasy-class ship, for that matter).

Older, smaller, but still quite nice

Carnival Sensation Cruise Review by Cork-dork

14 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2017
  • Destination: Bahamas
  • Cabin Type: Interior
My family (DW, DD, father, and stepmother) booked adjoining interior cabins on the Sensation for a 5 night cruise to Half Moon Cay, Freeport, and Nassau. DD is a first-time cruiser (she's 4. We'll forgive her), while DW and I have been on several, and my father and stepmother are experienced (Platinum with RCI, have also sailed Holland America and Carnival before). We were a little leery of the interior cabins and the general reviews of the ship saying it was "worn down" and "small."

Fortunately, it seems the reviews we read were wrong. Our cabins (4B interiors) were plenty spacious for all 5 of us to get together for pre-dinner conversation and wine for the adults (we bring our entire allotment of wine onboard, so we had 4 bottles between the 2 cabins). I could see it being cramped-feeling with 3 or 4 non-preschool-aged people, but even with the bunk lowered, getting around wasn't really a problem. From peeking into exterior cabins (ones left with the doors open!) while walking down the hall, it seems that our interior cabins were the same layout, the only difference being that ours had a false window. No biggie; the lack of natural light in the morning made it so dark that I actually slept in a couple of times (habitually, I wake up at the crack of dawn when not vacationing).

Our cabin steward, Wanwan, was gracious and accommodating for a couple of basic requests (wine glasses left in the cabin, and ice daily). He was thorough in cleaning for us -- the man even paired up shoes left around the cabin and placed them all together!

Food in the MDR (we ate dinner there 5 nights out of 5) was squarely in the "very good" range, with one or two exceptions. However, our waiter, Elbert, did his best to steer us away from them; after realizing what he was doing the second day, we just rolled with it if he said "You want [mediocre entree]? Should I bring you [really good entree] as well? You'll like it, I know!" and took the suggestion. No bad meals after that! He also was very, VERY nice to DD, who can be a bit picky. He'd bring a fruit plate for her every day without even asking (she loved the fruit), and after two nights of requesting honey mustard with her chicken nuggets, that came without needing to be asked for, for the rest of the cruise.

The Lido buffet was a little hit-or-miss, but that's to be expected when you're serving so much food that's kept in warmers. On the whole, the Lido was a solid choice for lunches, where you'd get 2 or 3 things, and usually 1 or 2 of them were very good and 1 was "meh." The pizza station was busy all the time, for good reason -- the white pizza with Gorgonzola was a hit with me, although DW didn't like the funky cheese, and the mushroom pizza was great. Ditto the deli next to it; I loved the Reuben, and DW raved about the Italian sandwich. DD proclaimed the grilled cheese to be satisfactory, and finishing the half that she didn't eat, I agree with her assessment.

LIDO PROTIPS: there are two outdoor seating areas aft of the Lido (doors port and starboard of the pizza/deli counter), they were generally under-utilized. It was an excellent place to have coffee and breakfast if you wanted to watch the sun rise. There are also two P.Y.O.B. machines that offered draught beer for roughly half what bar service would cost (it was $3.95 for a 14-ounce pour, and shorter pours were commensurately less pricey, so you could have a 7-ounce for $1.97 or so if you just wanted a taste). On our cruise the choices were Heineken and Red Frog red ale.

The other food-related thing of note is that there is no through passage to the aft of the ship (where the Ecstasy dining room is) on deck 8, as the galley is in the way; you can access the dining room easily by either using the elevator/stairs far aft, or going through deck 9 and down the stairs in the dining room by the Polo Lounge. It's a little weird bit of layout, but that's how the ship is laid out.

Other amenities that we took advantage of were the waterslides (excellent, although enforcement of the minimum height seemed arbitrary; on Day 2, my daughter was tall enough, but on Day 4 she wasn't. Boo.), the piano bar (fun! Even DD liked it, but she has eclectic tastes in music, so she requested "Hound Dog."), the shows (well-produced and fun; they kept DD's attention and had her wanting to "rock and roll" when she hit the stateroom afterwards), and the casino (typical bad odds at blackjack -- 6:5 on a blackjack, continuous shufflers, and weird side bets. $5 minimum for craps and roulette).

Our cruise went to Half Moon Cay, Freeport, and Nassau. Half Moon Cay is, in a word, paradise. Soft, cool sand beach, clear azure water, enough beach chairs for a small army, it's a beachgoer's heaven. 5/5, would visit again. Freeport.... well, Grand Bahama got pretty well whacked by Hurricane Matthew, to the point where rebuilding is ongoing (we still saw power poles broken in half), but aside from Carnival's excursions, there was not a lot to do other than taxi to a beach club to pay for the same experience as Half Moon Cay, but not as nice. There wasn't much shopping aside from the port and a small straw market. I'd probably stay on the ship next time. Nassau is... well, Nassau. Lots of shopping, lots of bars (I recommend Pirate Republic craft brewery -- their toasted coconut porter was excellent!), some history, and a pretty decent walk down the pier through the crowd of 3 ships' worth of people (we were in port with NCL Escape and the Carnival Liberty). You can easily find something fun there.

There were a couple of downsides to the ship; on Deck 4, there was a weird smell near the amidships elevators, sort of like burnt rubber and soon-to-fail fluorescent lamp. Also, our cabin's main lights flickered to life when the switch was hit; getting them all on took 4 or 5 seconds. There was also an aft elevator that seemed to like to stay on Deck 5, rather than going up or down.

Ultimately, because the Sensation isn't the "newest and best," it's less expensive than it's bigger counterparts. I felt that the value for dollar that the ship offered was quite high, though, and wouldn't hesitate to book another cruise aboard her (or another Fantasy-class ship, for that matter).
Cork-dork’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Interior
Cabin 4B R71
185 square feet seems small, but it's surprising how roomy it can be when it's well laid-out. We never really felt like we were on top of each other in the cabin; I could see it being a little tight if you've got 4 adults, but for 2 adults and a preschooler, it more than sufficed. R71 and R75 were nicely convenient to the fore elevators, but not so close that there was a ton of elevator noise.
Main Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins