Sorry this is so long, but I'm a frustrated writer I guess.
We sailed on the 3 day cruise to Nassau on Nov 13, 2009.
Getting there: We live a 3 1/2 hour drive from the port of Miami. I was advised by a CC user to avoid ... Read More
Sorry this is so long, but I'm a frustrated writer I guess.
We sailed on the 3 day cruise to Nassau on Nov 13, 2009.
Getting there: We live a 3 1/2 hour drive from the port of Miami. I was advised by a CC user to avoid Biscayne blvd, so I took NE 2nd Ave instead. That was the right choice, we got right to the ship after getting off the highway. I drove up to the ship, gave the bags to the porter, and Momma went and waited in the terminal. I drove back around to parking garage "C" and parked. $20.00 per day, paid as you drive in. They take some credit cards, but not every one. Visa and MC, but no Discover, and I don't recall about Amex. They charged me $60.00 for all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning. Apparently they charge by 24 hr increments, starting when you park. Chalk one up for Miami. They probably could have gotten away with charging me an extra day for Monday. I went to the area where the shuttle back to the terminal stops. No shuttle in sight, and the sign said it runs every half hour?? It was a beautiful day, and I wasn't carrying bags, so I just walked back to the terminal. But don't plan on doing that if it's hot, raining, you are carrying your bags, or have difficulty walking. That would be a killer.
Embarkation: We were inside the terminal around 12:30, and on the ship by no later than 1:00. No long lines, hitches, glitches, or mess ups. We went to our room not long after 1:30 and it was ready. We dumped our bags in the room and had lunch at the buffet. Tip to Newbies..... when you walk past the pool you'll find an outside buffet. That buffet is only a portion of the entire Lido deck food. It offers Asian food, as well as burgers. But if you go past it, and into the main food area, there is much more food available. The Muster (lifeboat) drill was a joke, albeit a pleasant one. Instead of standing out on deck in the hot sun with your life vest on, Carnival has you Muster inside without your life vest. Our Muster station was the very comfortable area outside the Casino. We sat around on padded seats while the crew demonstrated how to put on a vest. Many folks came with their drinks and didn't miss a beat. I was fine with that, but I tell you, no one learned anything there. That was at 3:45 to about 4:15. We went back to our room right after that, and our checked bags were already there. At that point, our Steward introduced himself and apologized for not saying hello earlier. That made me laugh. The reason is because my only other cruise (a very major competitor of Carnival) we never met or saw the Steward even once on a 4 day cruise. Although, he DID keep the room every bit as well as the Carnival steward. The Carnival steward was a heck of a nice guy, and it really was pleasant chatting with him numerous times during the cruise. We never called him for anything, because we never needed anything. And for those of you who love the towel animals, they were waiting for us each night.
Dining: We selected anytime dining. Although there are 2 main dining rooms on board, we were assigned to the Pride main dining room. We got the same table two nights, and the one next to it on a third night. We had the same wait team each night. I have heard that the anytime waiters don't care as much as the assigned dining time waiters. The anytime diners eat in the same dining room as the assigned time diners. Our wait staff was coolly professional. They were very good at what they did. In the assigned time area, the waiters and guests were all getting to know each other, and have a fun time joking, and chatting. Ours barely said a word, and it looked about the same across the anytime area. So, my suggestion would be that if you want the camaraderie that seems to go with the traditional cruise dining, you should select assigned dining times. And if you want cool and efficient (more like a land restaurant) try the anytime. We went twice at aprox. 6pm. No wait, un-crowded, and the food arrived pretty quick. I would say start to finish was up to an hour. One night we went at about 8pm. It was really jammed at the door, because the diners assigned to late seating were waiting to get in. It only took about 5 minutes to get in that night, to my pleasant surprise. That night the anytime dining was very crowded. Service was slower, as one would expect. I guess that dinner took about 1 1/2 hrs, perhaps a tad longer to complete. There is a small selection of entrees and appetizers that changes every night. They also offer tried and true entrees every night, like Flatiron steaks. On the first night I had the Flat iron steak Med Rare. It was cooked perfectly, and was pretty good. I would say "The Outback steakhouse" quality. I was very pleased considering what I was paying for the cruise. The second night I had the Prime rib, again Med rare. It was cooked to the perfect doneness, but was just slightly dry. Not real bad, but not quite right. It was tasty so I didn't get upset. Again, these cruises are so darn cheap, I can't figure out how they can serve anything besides Alpo. The third night I had the Veal Parmigiana. THAT was the stand out entree. You just can't get good Veal any longer. But Carnival got some good Veal somewhere. It really reminded me of years ago before there were restrictions on Veal. We also had breakfast in the Pride dining room twice. Service was fast, and the typical breakfast food was served hot and tasty. We had two lunches in the buffet. I'm not big on ship buffets, but this one was certainly acceptable. Food selection was pretty good, and the quality was okay if you just wanted to grab something while you were in your bathing suit. Added points to the Pizza and sandwich stands. The Pizza wasn't real good, but it wasn't bad either, especially after the late night buffet closed at 1am.
Cabin: We had a 6E Oceanview cabin, mid ship on the Empress (7) deck. The cabin was rather plain, although the closets were deep rich wood. The cabin and bathroom were very comfortable. The only complaint is that it is a tight squeeze for the person sleeping on the window side to get in and out. But I accept that in place of a smaller bed. It's not a big deal I guess. The shower was large enough for two, unlike my previous cruise where it was debatable if the shower was really large enough even for one. The water pressure was annoyingly low in the shower. There was nothing wrong, they just used a very low flow shower head. The controls for the shower were a little odd. But after the first use, it wasn't a problem. Steward kept the place clean, turned the bed down at night, kept the ice bucket filled with ice. What more can you say? The room does not have a fridge or mini-bar. There are 6 sodas and an Ice bucket, that's your mini bar. The room also has no hairdryer. So Ladies, be prepared. We went down to the gift shop, and thinking back, I don't recall seeing hair dryers for sale. The closets are perfect for two people. Decent shelf and drawer space (counting the desk area) too. Are you taking a CPAP or other appliance? The only electric plug was at the end of the desk next to the bed. I didn't need the extension cord for my CPAP. I just slept on that side of the bed. My CPAP did get a little goofy a couple of times when I first turned it on. The processor wasn't running correctly. I had no problems before or since, so my guess is that the power may have been a little low, or perhaps the ship isn't right at 60 cycles. But after a few resets, it took off and ran all night each night. If you need to use several electrical items at a time, you need to plug something in to expand the outlets. I used a surge protector strip with a short cord. That way I could run my CPAP, and charge some batteries at the same time.
Casino: We love to gamble, and took this cruise because it was so much cheaper than a trip to Vegas, Atlantic City or Biloxi. The ship has a very nice casino with very low minimums. ALL the blackjack tables are $5.00 min. With one exception, they use continuous shuffle machines. You can only split aces once. Out front, they have a "FUN-21" table. On that table only, they offer surrender, any 21 beats the dealer, and a bonus for 21 with three 7's. They pay 3:2 on blackjack, so I still haven't figured out what you had to give up to get those rules. This table uses a 6 deck shoe. Funny thing, I had my worst luck in the casino on that table, so I only tried it once. Roulette was only a $1.00 min. Craps was $5.00 min with 2X odds. The craps table crew was very good. It's the only table, so it can get very-very fast and furious. The dealers are honest, but do watch for mistakes when the table is crowded. 'Nuff said. But they were a great bunch.
Ambiance: This ship has a somewhat gaudy Las Vegas type theme, complete with lots of Neon. Me, I couldn't care less. All I want is things to be clean and in good repair. But if your sensibilities will be assaulted by some neon, don't go. Clubs et al: We didn't spend a lot of time in the clubs because there are so many of them, and we were more interested in gambling. But a good time was had in each, and baby, the Carnival cruise crowd knows how to party. Although it would have been nice if they could have mixed it up a little better. All they really seemed to offer was the lowest common denominator music. Thump-thump-thump.... shake your drunk butt all over the place music. Oh well. All around the ship drink service was quick. The drinks themselves were inconsistent though. I drank the same drink the whole trip. One would be great, the next would be weak as dish water. I never did take it up with the server, so I don't know what they would have done if I complained.
Shows: First night was mostly the cruise director Brad, and the comedian Al Romero telling jokes. Nothing off color at that show. Comedy is a personal taste. I thought Brad was more funny than Al Romero. Al made me laugh a few times. I think most of the other cruisers thought he was pretty funny though. The first night Al Romero does a late night "R" rated show. We skipped it. But I was near by for a few minutes of that show, some of his stuff was pretty funny. Second night was "Livin in America." A full blown musical review. I didn't care for it, but I don't care for musical reviews much. Third night was the salute to Rock and Motown called "SHOUT!" It was much better than I expected. Some in the crowd gave a standing ovation, so perhaps that tells you something. The show band is really really good, so that helps a lot too. Complaints. Not many. We had seen the tail end of two bingo games. The emcee really seemed to make it a whole lot of fun. We decided to go to the last game of the cruise. That game he blew through the numbers really quick. He really didn't do anything to make it fun. He even called the same number twice, confirmed quite verbally by about half the players in the theatre. But he would have none of it. He just wanted to plow through to the end. It was the last day, and the theatre was being used for many different things that day. Maybe he didn't have the time to make it a fun game, but I was still disappointed.
Children: Our kids are grown, and didn't come with us. So why am I bringing up kids? Because there were over 300 kids on board, and you hardly saw them. I can only assume that means that the Carnival camps and clubs work really well. Never saw one running crazy, under foot or anything else. It was great.
Nassau: We had been to Nassau before. This time we took the SeaWorld Explorer excursion. I found it to be very disappointing. Perhaps I'm confused on the definition of a Coral reef. But I've been snorkeling on Coral reefs, and I sure didn't see one here, and they mention reefs in their ads. They threw out some food and a whole lot of the same kind of fish showed up to eat. That's pretty much the whole trip. We spent the rest of the afternoon getting some lunch and shopping. We had intended to go out that evening for a nice dinner and gambling at the Atlantis resort. Heavy dark clouds blew in, and it looked like the heavens would open up. Since it's a pretty good walk down the pier to the taxis, we figured we'd get soaked. It was formal night on the ship, so we dressed up a little and stayed on the ship. You know, I can't imagine we would have had more fun if we had gone out. Chalk another one up for Carnival. On the subject of formal night. You don't need a tux, suit, or even a jacket. I wore nice slacks and a nice dress shirt. I didn't feel out of place. Not many men wore suits and tuxes, only a few. Many of the folks who didn't dress up at all, I thought looked a little sheepish, like they felt out of place. Take a nice shirt and pants. If you're a young and single guy, dress up. All the single girls went all out. You'll have a better chance with them if you leave the schlub clothes in your cabin that night.
Debarkation: If you have an early flight, and can show them your itinerary or tickets, they will give you priority to get off the ship first. The rest of us were given numbered tags to attach to our bags. You pack the night before, and put your bags out in the hallway between 8~11pm the night before you disembark. In the morning they let you go by calling your number. We found out later that you could just wheel your own baggage out yourself after the priority folks left. But the number system worked well enough. The line to get over the gang-plank wasn't a killer, and the bag was on the conveyor when I walked up.
I was very pleasantly surprised. For whatever reason, all through the years I had a bad impression of Carnival. My first cruise was with a major competitor of Carnivals, and I liked it just fine. But this cruise on the Imagination was better in almost every way. Read Less