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Just got back from the Sunday-Thursday Carnival Imagination cruise to Catalina and Ensenada. This was our 4th or 5th trip on this cruise in addition to other cruises that were more high end. The cruise has a nickname; "booze cruise" and it is accurate if you are young and looking to party. If you are new to cruising, you will have a great time. If you are looking for rest and relaxation, you may want to consider other options. PRO: Overall staff was friendly, accommodating and good at their job. Haydee was our primary server in the Pride Dining Room (anytime dining) and she was fantastic. Very warm and hospitable. Old school style cruise server. The food was mediocre at best in the dining room and inexpensive Downtown Vegas style buffet on the Lido deck. This was a great example of "you get what you pay for." We were looking to economize on this cruise and were willing to accept an interior cabin. We upgraded for slightly more money to a room with port holes and it was a good alternative to a cabin with a large window. We were in room E1 and were satisfied. Check in was easy. We spent under $250 on our sign and sail card including gratuities. Again, we were very aware of our budget and were able to keep it that way. CON: Internet was pricey and horrible. Very slow and limited. Although the room was adequate and the steward was friendly (Wayan), he was limited to freshening up our cabin to only once a day unless specifically asked. This is a big change to the personal level of attention experienced cruisers are used to. To me, it says that Carnival has cut back on staff and therefore, the steward does not have time to take care of the guest in a way they once could. Public restrooms frequently needed attention. A subtle clue to the lack of personnel was the lack of trash cans and crew members in the public areas. A lack of trash cans says that there are not enough people to keep them empty and the ship tidy. Meal portions were small and the number of courses were limited from previous. We had a bad experience on one of the nights because the waiter was not supported by other staff and was overworked. It was not his fault but again, speaks to the lack of staff. The Maitre D noticed that we were not happy and made great amends to make up for it. That is where Haydee really shined. Again, not the original servers fault. Our room was ok but my daughter and son-in laws room (R140) was in poor condition with rust, mold and mildew in the bathroom. The bed was made up with stained yellow sheets and the bed, including the pull out bunk, was very uncomfortable. They complained that the walls were thin and they could hear everything coming from other cabins. we also had the experience of smelling the horrible odor of sewage when we disembarked into Catalina and Ensenada. We could smell it in E1 but it was very strong as you came out of the ship. In Ensenada, the photographers held up the line with each passenger so they could take numerous photos for later sale. Each time the line was held up, we would have to breathe in the odor. The photogs should have been positioned elsewhere so we could get away from the smell quickly. Last but not least, I was witness to a near violent episode between passengers in the wee hours of the morning on the Lido Deck. Although it was not surprising, given the alcohol and volatile guests, security failed to arrive even though they were called by another crew member at the Pizza Pirate. This could have been very bad and I had to get involved to keep things from escalating further. Overall, I think this may have been our last time on this cruise. Carnival seems to have cut corners with staffing and the destinations are not appealing. Gratuities are preset and added to your bill regardless of the level of service. That can kill incentive to go above and beyond and tells the guest that they are required to subsidize the crew members salary so Carnival can save money. Overall, I like Carnival but this time only gets 2 stars.

You get what you pay for

Carnival Imagination Cruise Review by Steve in Simi Valley

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Just got back from the Sunday-Thursday Carnival Imagination cruise to Catalina and Ensenada. This was our 4th or 5th trip on this cruise in addition to other cruises that were more high end. The cruise has a nickname; "booze cruise" and it is accurate if you are young and looking to party. If you are new to cruising, you will have a great time. If you are looking for rest and relaxation, you may want to consider other options.

PRO: Overall staff was friendly, accommodating and good at their job. Haydee was our primary server in the Pride Dining Room (anytime dining) and she was fantastic. Very warm and hospitable. Old school style cruise server. The food was mediocre at best in the dining room and inexpensive Downtown Vegas style buffet on the Lido deck. This was a great example of "you get what you pay for." We were looking to economize on this cruise and were willing to accept an interior cabin. We upgraded for slightly more money to a room with port holes and it was a good alternative to a cabin with a large window. We were in room E1 and were satisfied. Check in was easy. We spent under $250 on our sign and sail card including gratuities. Again, we were very aware of our budget and were able to keep it that way. CON: Internet was pricey and horrible. Very slow and limited. Although the room was adequate and the steward was friendly (Wayan), he was limited to freshening up our cabin to only once a day unless specifically asked. This is a big change to the personal level of attention experienced cruisers are used to. To me, it says that Carnival has cut back on staff and therefore, the steward does not have time to take care of the guest in a way they once could. Public restrooms frequently needed attention. A subtle clue to the lack of personnel was the lack of trash cans and crew members in the public areas. A lack of trash cans says that there are not enough people to keep them empty and the ship tidy. Meal portions were small and the number of courses were limited from previous. We had a bad experience on one of the nights because the waiter was not supported by other staff and was overworked. It was not his fault but again, speaks to the lack of staff. The Maitre D noticed that we were not happy and made great amends to make up for it. That is where Haydee really shined. Again, not the original servers fault. Our room was ok but my daughter and son-in laws room (R140) was in poor condition with rust, mold and mildew in the bathroom. The bed was made up with stained yellow sheets and the bed, including the pull out bunk, was very uncomfortable. They complained that the walls were thin and they could hear everything coming from other cabins. we also had the experience of smelling the horrible odor of sewage when we disembarked into Catalina and Ensenada. We could smell it in E1 but it was very strong as you came out of the ship. In Ensenada, the photographers held up the line with each passenger so they could take numerous photos for later sale. Each time the line was held up, we would have to breathe in the odor. The photogs should have been positioned elsewhere so we could get away from the smell quickly. Last but not least, I was witness to a near violent episode between passengers in the wee hours of the morning on the Lido Deck. Although it was not surprising, given the alcohol and volatile guests, security failed to arrive even though they were called by another crew member at the Pizza Pirate. This could have been very bad and I had to get involved to keep things from escalating further. Overall, I think this may have been our last time on this cruise. Carnival seems to have cut corners with staffing and the destinations are not appealing. Gratuities are preset and added to your bill regardless of the level of service. That can kill incentive to go above and beyond and tells the guest that they are required to subsidize the crew members salary so Carnival can save money. Overall, I like Carnival but this time only gets 2 stars.
Steve in Simi Valley’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
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Cabin Review

Porthole
Cabin PT E1
See above. Low rating is for R140 and not E1.
Empress Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins