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Carnival Sensation Cruise Review
3.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,024 Reviews

Our not-Cuba cruise that became a great get away

Carnival Sensation Cruise Review by tammyjw305

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Nov 2019
  • Destination: the Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Interior

We are a 40'ish couple from Texas traveling without our kids. We chose the cruise to get to visit Cuba and had it booked before the latest change in June that Americans cannot travel to Cuba, so cruise ships would not longer be able to stop there. Carnival offered a free cancel or a generous OBC due to the change. The airline offered no generous change option. We are not Carnival's target audience; we are not fun enough and don't stay up late partying. We stayed on the cruise, and it was a great get away.


Embarkation was super quick. We had the 11:30-12:00 check-in time slot. We arrived and the boarding passes that I had printed did not have or printed without the barcodes, so they sent us to a lady standing nearby who quickly printed us each a boarding pass from a mobile device. It was then 11:27am, so they put us in the early/late line. There was no line, so we showed our passports, husband got his picture taken since his passport is older when he looked younger, went through security quickly, the allowed 12 can soda went through the x-ray machine with no extra table with people ripping them open. Then, we walked right on with no wait, just some twists and turns which seemed like a good amount of walking :). They also take your picture right before entering the gangway for face recognition that was used again at disembarkation.

Muster was faster than our other Carnival cruise, which was good, but always seems silly to have those who slower leave first.


It is an older ship and gets some bad reviews. My husband was trying to orient himself and noted the midship staircase was purple; I replied that I thought that they were all purple. I was not a big fan of the purple staircases/elevator areas and the colorful ship direction signs were bold. The buffet is small. I liked the layout of the theater; there is a row of two person tables and then space to walk so no climbing over people. That was on the lower level; the upper level looked hard to see from any seat, though we did not try to sit up there during a show. We also missed the promenade deck for after dinner walking, took a few windy night walks on the top jogging trail. But overall, the ship is fine and in good condition.


We enjoyed Lowell Sanders stand up show; we attended the PG show. We had seen and enjoyed his act on a previous cruise. I was not a big fan of the previous comedian’s show. He did not have much material and was just interacting with the audience/possibly picking on some in the audience. We also went to the Clue game and did some trivia. Both were fun. With just one sea day, that is all we made it too. We did the water slides after already Grand Turk since we were already wet. We played putt-putt one day. It is challenging in the wind and with ship movement with the foam balls. I read to bring a real golf ball to avoid the issue but decided not to bring extra stuff. I will when the kids go with us over spring break, so they can play. The Alchemy drinks were good. I attached a picture of the full cruise entertain summary.

Lastly, food:

The food that was very good: teriyaki salmon, cakes (Carnival excelled at cakes and desserts in general -- Baked Alaska, cakes with good gauche icing, and creme brulee), and from the local menu: pepper steak. There was other good items from the local menu, but I have forgotten. The jumbo shrimp on formal night were not so jumbo. The buffet was missing India food, which my husband loves on cruises. The deli does not have the dark chocolate chip cookies on the sign menu. The pizza place menu has a hand tossed Caesar salad advertised, but I found in the evening that they just sent me to the salad bar. I had one deli sandwich that was pretty good. We did not try the pizza and missed the hot dog at the pizza place.

I did not think the breakfast burrito was as good as our last cruise. I thought they had regular pork sausage before. The choices now are chicken sausage (not very good) and ham (not good quality – well formed and pressed). I had 2 guys burgers – very good. The first day they were trying to go really fast to get the line served, but it was leading to having trying to talk fast enough – no mayo, no that sauce, and many tossed out top buns.

The MDR was slower the first 2 nights. Then they sped up, so much so, that the last 2 nights I felt we were being rushed. However, the last night we did make the 7:15 pm comedian show. With the exception of Sea Brunch, all of our waiters were excellent. Sea Brunch Caesar salad and filet were excellent. The waiters performed/danced in the MDR every night. I had a paid filet the last night; it was very good. We went to the MDR every night and had your time dining.

Breakfast in the buffet was not as crazy as we feared (it is a very small buffet). We grabbed some items from by the pool because it was less crazy. One day, up earlier for Nassau excursion, there was no one in the omelet line, so I got one of those. They also have a bagel/toast line (with no line), toaster, and cream cheese outside.

The water on the ship was gross (normally I like ship water), but overly chlorinated this time. Luckily, our included past cruiser bottles of water were huge. We would also use our overnight melted stateroom ice and ate the good Sonic-type ice from the buffet.


Disembarkation had more of a line, but not bad. We did the Carnival face recognition and then walked through customs.

tammyjw305's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review


There is an adjustable AC on the ceiling. We were on deck 4 which always seemed colder; as one went down the stairs it got colder. Our shower never got hot until last night. The toilet stopped flushing one morning. Our vanity/desk lights, next to the bed, blinked all night while off like they had low voltage current always running through them (bring an eye mask). The fake inside window did not do anything for me. We took bets on how many times we would try to look out. They need to at least put a pretty picture behind it :).

Room steward was great; he always kept us in plenty of towels, towel animals every day, and ice twice a day. For the most part the room was quiet with some creaks at night and mooring sounds one morning during docking. We like the ship to rock us to sleep, but a few nights it was shuttering instead of a nice rock. The TV was missing the navigation channel/with the ship location on the path and current weather. Also, missing a channel with the announcement over the TV that were not made in the rooms. For our next cruise with kids, I was happy to see that they had Cartoon Network and Nick still.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Grand Turk

The port provided free chairs and umbrellas -- go left after getting out the port area. We brought snorkeling equipment and snorkeled. There was some cool stuff to see, though not the best Caribbean snorkeling. Husband also tried snorkeling on the right side of the port, which had a very rocky entrance. He said the other side that we did together was better. We then walked around a little; the port area reminded me a little of Mahogany Bay in Honduras.

Princess Cays

We also snorkeled here; it was better snorkeling than our previous day. Many cool, big fish and more coral. We went to the snorkeling area past the crow's nest, left from the tender dock. Snorkeling first was not a good idea; the buffet lines were empty when we arrived about 11am but crazy when we finished snorkeling. We visited the crow's nest and did a little shopping and then went back to the ship to eat. I read that all the vendors took ship cards, but there were local vendors ("straw market") that only took cash, which we did not bring.

Atlantis Resort

We took the Atlantis Aquaventure with lunch tour from the ship. I read it was disorganized, so worried about that. Especially because buying it beforehand had very little info, did not mention a shuttle (only saw one mentioned in the reviews). I did not find it disorganized. They had us meet in the theater 30 mins before, sign the waivers, gave us a map of the park, and gave us our food vouchers. They walked us to the bus. The people all looked like Atlantis employees with Atlantis jackets on and off the ship. Then they took us in, gave us some quick info, and let us go. The only complaint is the shuttles were noted to run every 30 mins on the hours and half hours between 1-4. We rushed to get to the 2:30 bus and had to sit on the bus, waiting for it to fill, for 30 mins before they left. Geez – we could have spent 30 mins more exploring the resort. I also read that the current owner was trying to sell the resort so service had dropped, but most employees that we saw were very friendly and eager to help.

We arrived before the water slides opened at 10am, so were able to find a chair for our stuff, visit the restroom and beach, and get a few pictures. The park was not too crowded and slide lines not long, surprisingly because there were 6 ships in, I believe. The water was chilly, but I did fine (I'm the cold wimp). It was challenging to ride the Power Tower rides because one is supposed to ride the Rapids River in between. The rapids were fun, but there are areas that one gets stuck that are annoying. The Power Tower has 3 coaster type inner tube slides that are fun and one body slide that is scarier but ends in a cave with aquariums around. The Mayan Pyramid had 3 body slides that were scarier too ;). One slide goes through the shark tank, but there was too much water spraying from sliding that one could not see even if one did leave their eyes open. There was also an inner tube ride through the shark tank that the inner tube slowed through, so one could see well there. This one was my favorite.

With our lunch vouchers, we got one meal at a time to share and try some things. We had fried fish, fries, and can of soda first, which was good and conch fritters, fries, and soda fountain soda with refills later.

We explored the resort grounds and aquariums. It was very nice and lots to see.

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