This is one time that a cruise actually taught me a valuable lesson: never let someone else's opinion sway your own. We had always heard about Carnival's "reputation" (rowdy, party boat with lots of drunks, etc), and ... Read More
This is one time that a cruise actually taught me a valuable lesson: never let someone else's opinion sway your own. We had always heard about Carnival's "reputation" (rowdy, party boat with lots of drunks, etc), and we felt that we this type of cruise experience would not be our cup of tea. But, after 17 cruises, we decided to try them. After all, it was a 3-night cruise so how bad could it possibly be? Wow, talk about misconceptions! We had an incredible time!
Since we live in Florida, it is relatively easy for us to jump on a cruise ship for a 3-nighter. We have done the Majesty of the Seas twice and the NCL Sky once, so we thought to try Carnival's Imagination. What a great choice!
EMBARKATION: Quite smooth actually. Since we drove to the port, we dropped off our luggage at the terminal and then parked our car. $20 a day for parking is not my idea of a great way to start a cruise, but I already knew it was expensive so I was prepared. Still, $20 a day? That's pretty steep. The whole process of going through security and registration took less than half an hour. Finally, time to get on board!
When you get on board you enter right into the atrium. I like that there is a musician right there (a guy named Jerry on guitar who was a pleasure to listen to) and that there is a bar there as well. Not that I am a drinker or anything, but I like that the bar was situated in the atrium.
STATEROOM: We were in cabin E43, an ocean view room that was actually a decent sized room, and far bigger than I thought it would be. The bathroom was a normal sized cruise cabin bathroom, but the shower seemed larger than you would expect. I also liked the samples of toothpaste, Tylenol PM, Pepcid AC and my wife liked the ladies razor. I don't know if they do this all the time, but what a great idea! I have only two small issues with the stateroom: you could not control the temperature (though the room was comfy the entire time) and the position of the TV. It is in the corner on the same side of the cabin as your headboard. In other words, you can't comfortably watch TV in bed, you have to angle yourself to see it. Weird, but not that important.
FOOD: This is where I have to give Carnival much higher marks than I was expecting to. Even the first day's buffet was far better than I was thinking it would. Not a large variety of food, but decent and I loved everything I tried. The pizza station made some excellent pies, and I liked the sandwich station as well. The dining room was always a treat, especially the beef dishes. Very tasty all the way around. I have no complaints about food at all.
STAFF: Very courteous, though there were times that they did not meet your eye and say hello. Some cruise companies do that better than others, but this is a minor point, since all of the staff seemed very friendly.
ENTERTAINMENT: High marks again, especially the two shows in the lounge (theater). Very well done and very entertaining.
KIDS STUFF: We don't have kids so we can't say how good or bad they are in this department.
SHIP: this is one of the more amazing elements of this cruise. This ship is 14 years old (with a refurb in 2007) but for the most part she is well maintained and quite clean. She shows here age in some areas, but for 14 she looks pretty good.
DEBARKATION: This is one area where they could do much better. I thought we'd get to sail on the next cruise, that's how long it seemed like we waited. I'm not complaining since we didn't have a flight to catch or any time issues, but it did take a long time.
ODDS and ENDS: Cruise director "Karl with a 'K'" was great and really seemed to enjoy his work instead of phoning it in like many other CD's we've had. We also thought that the different games that they played on board were better than on other ships. Even their junk prizes were not the usual (keychain, luggage tag) variety. All in all, what a great cruise!
For those of you who are first timers, this would be a perfect cruise to cut your teeth on. For those of us who are cruise junkies, this is a great "quick fix," but since they do such a good job, this cruise will go by way too fast for you. For fellow Floridians, if you haven't jumped on this ship yet, what are you waiting for?
To say that we have egg on our face would be an understatement. Since we felt going into this cruise that we wouldn't have a great time but that we would at least give it a try, we actually lowered our normal expectations. Carnival not only met our lowered expectations, but the actually exceeded our usual expectations! If you are one of those "anti-Carnival snobs" like we were, please give them a try. You may be as pleasantly surprised as we were, and we are now looking forward to many more cruises, and best of all, being able to add Carnival to our list of possible cruise line choices. Read Less