1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Carnival Imagination
Long story short. We were scheduled to take a week-long Caribbean cruise out of FL and the plans had to be canceled for reasons beyond our control. We decided to convert the original cruise plans to something cheaper, shorter, and near where family resides. We booked this cruise having a fairly clear idea of what to expect. As the saying goes, all suffering is unmet expectation. So, the key to appreciating this cruise is to set the bar level at old-school Las Vegas, just as described by other reviews. If you keep that always in mind, the cruise will be enjoyable. Note: the weather was dreadfully cold for So-Cal. 40-50's. So, the bulk of the guests stayed inside nearly the whole cruise. It limited our experience a great deal because any pool-side and other such outdoor activities were hard to bear. The wind was cutting. I wore my coat all day and evening because the inside was likewise chilly from time to time. It was nippy in Ensenada, even. Carnival lived up to its reputation. Every economic stratum, every shade, and every age was present, which was pretty cool. It felt like all of Hands-Across-America boarded the boat. The best food on the ship was the Guy Fieri burgers -- best burgers we have ever had (and we are foodies), chocolate lava cake in the restaurant, and the taco bar was "incredible," says our 14-yr-old. There was always a few dishes in the buffet that was second-helping worthy. Kids clubs left us wanting. They are rarely open, and if you are cruising during cold weather, then it really depresses the kids' experience. However, our three teens all made friends and ran in little herds throughout the cruise. Our youngest spent his time with us because his club was rarely open. Not ideal for those wanting a date night. We do not drink, smoke, or gamble, and were at total ease on the boat. We were never approached to order alcohol after an initial "no." Our waiters never offered wine after the first night. Promenading through the ship, one is not forced to walk through the casino, thus gambling felt truly optional rather than encouraged. Two-thumbs up there. Warning: there are no coin dispensers in the laundry room. Come armed with quarters or you'll be wandering the boat begging for coinage. Not much help from the staff, either. For excursions, we simply did a hike around Catalina and then took an independent excursion in Ensenada. Because we did not use up all our on-ship bonus money, Carnival reimbursed us immediately after the cruise was over. Our cruise director was born for the job. He was so approachable and fun. Great rep for Carnival. The musicians and DJs were good, too. It must be mentioned that embarkation and debarkation were glorious compared to Disney cruises. As the theme parks demonstrate, that world-class company has world-class lines, that that goes for cruising, too. Carnival smashes Disney in the boarding process and we came out of it feeling like we were truly on vacation rather than draining us of all enthusiasm through an unconscionable wait and paperwork process.

Cruising with kids on the cheap

Carnival Imagination Cruise Review by amisella

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2019
  • Destination: Mexican Riviera
  • Cabin Type: Ocean View
Long story short. We were scheduled to take a week-long Caribbean cruise out of FL and the plans had to be canceled for reasons beyond our control. We decided to convert the original cruise plans to something cheaper, shorter, and near where family resides. We booked this cruise having a fairly clear idea of what to expect. As the saying goes, all suffering is unmet expectation. So, the key to appreciating this cruise is to set the bar level at old-school Las Vegas, just as described by other reviews. If you keep that always in mind, the cruise will be enjoyable.

Note: the weather was dreadfully cold for So-Cal. 40-50's. So, the bulk of the guests stayed inside nearly the whole cruise. It limited our experience a great deal because any pool-side and other such outdoor activities were hard to bear. The wind was cutting. I wore my coat all day and evening because the inside was likewise chilly from time to time. It was nippy in Ensenada, even.

Carnival lived up to its reputation. Every economic stratum, every shade, and every age was present, which was pretty cool. It felt like all of Hands-Across-America boarded the boat.

The best food on the ship was the Guy Fieri burgers -- best burgers we have ever had (and we are foodies), chocolate lava cake in the restaurant, and the taco bar was "incredible," says our 14-yr-old. There was always a few dishes in the buffet that was second-helping worthy.

Kids clubs left us wanting. They are rarely open, and if you are cruising during cold weather, then it really depresses the kids' experience. However, our three teens all made friends and ran in little herds throughout the cruise. Our youngest spent his time with us because his club was rarely open. Not ideal for those wanting a date night.

We do not drink, smoke, or gamble, and were at total ease on the boat. We were never approached to order alcohol after an initial "no." Our waiters never offered wine after the first night. Promenading through the ship, one is not forced to walk through the casino, thus gambling felt truly optional rather than encouraged. Two-thumbs up there.

Warning: there are no coin dispensers in the laundry room. Come armed with quarters or you'll be wandering the boat begging for coinage. Not much help from the staff, either.

For excursions, we simply did a hike around Catalina and then took an independent excursion in Ensenada. Because we did not use up all our on-ship bonus money, Carnival reimbursed us immediately after the cruise was over.

Our cruise director was born for the job. He was so approachable and fun. Great rep for Carnival. The musicians and DJs were good, too.

It must be mentioned that embarkation and debarkation were glorious compared to Disney cruises. As the theme parks demonstrate, that world-class company has world-class lines, that that goes for cruising, too. Carnival smashes Disney in the boarding process and we came out of it feeling like we were truly on vacation rather than draining us of all enthusiasm through an unconscionable wait and paperwork process.
amisella’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 7 to 9
Ages 10 to 12
Ages 13 to 15
Ages 16+
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Carnival Imagination price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Ocean View
Cabin 6B R196
Basic and comfortable enough. We heard voices from the neighbors right next to us pretty frequently, but they were gone nearly every night and we slept well.
Main Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews