17 Carnival Imagination Cruise Reviews for First-Time Cruisers Cruises to Caribbean - Western from Miami

We took the cruise to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. It was early January, and I wouldn't suggest doing a cruise at that time due to the weather. It was cold and rainy in both places. The cruise had ok food (pizza was very blah), ... Read More
We took the cruise to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. It was early January, and I wouldn't suggest doing a cruise at that time due to the weather. It was cold and rainy in both places. The cruise had ok food (pizza was very blah), except for the Chocolate Melting Cake. Definitely get that! Stay away from the Horizon Bar which is the informal dining. Unless you go during very off times (ex: 3:00 pm), it is so crowded that you cannot find a seat even out on the deck in the rain. The only other restaurant is the dining room, which was better, but I suggest getting a specific dining time unless you like waiting and lines. Speaking of lines, you better get used to them! There were way more people than seats on the deck, seats in the restaurants, room in the one pool and small whirlpools, etc. There were 2000 people on the ship and probably room for 500 in the public areas. When one person would leave a seat, four or five would rush in to get it! The cruise activities were a lot of fun, especially the comedians! But get there early - otherwise, you guessed it, you won't get a seat. The cabins were very nice and so was the crew. If half of the people were booked, it might have been a nice vacation. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Having travelled long haul worldwide for 30+ years and lived in Europe, the Middle East and the USA I have never been on a cruise and didn't really relish the idea. However, meeting UK family for New Year in Miami, with 14 & 15 ... Read More
Having travelled long haul worldwide for 30+ years and lived in Europe, the Middle East and the USA I have never been on a cruise and didn't really relish the idea. However, meeting UK family for New Year in Miami, with 14 & 15 year old kids we decided to take a short cruise over new year so at least the kids had a party in their back yard and we didn't have to go find one in an unfamiliar town. I was pleasantly surprised with the cruise and I do have considerable experience to compare to. Although the Imagination is one of the oldest and smallest of the Carnival ships, and the interior décor was tacky casino style, our cabin on Empress deck 7 was very clean, more room than expected, the bathroom was well planned, spotless and even had thick plushy towel robes and great shower. Our cabin steward was really awesome. Food onboard was OK - some really good items, some so-so items. Wasn't really a fan of the waiters dancing and hated the Pirate and endless photo ops, but clearly a lot of the guests enjoyed it. For those complaining about the Mongolian Wok - I agree, the wait was horrible, food was ok-ish. We only did that once, lesson learned. Same with the junk food buffets. The dining room food was good (everyone turned up to eat at 8pm so long lines - we ate 7pm and almost no wait at all), service in the dining room, bar service on Lido deck, cabin service was very good. Spa service was excellent. I had almost no issues on this cruise. Did not see or smell anything particularly unpleasant, and did not think the cruise was overly crowded. No trouble, surprisingly, despite the partyers and NYE over-indulgence. Carnival DID nickel and dime you for everything and our bill for 2 adults, 2 (non-charging) teens was $1100 - we each drank probably 4-5 cocktails a day by the pool plus a glass of wine at dinner, 2 one-hour spa treatments and the rest was automatically applied tips. I can imagine if you party hard all day you are going to spend thousands and will probably be paying for it for a long long time... in which case I would recommend you just fly to Koh Samui or some other exotic destination for probably the same price and a lot longer in paradise. Excursion in Cozumel on the Catamaran to the snorkeling and beach party was great! Beach was beautiful but looked like a movie set with guests arriving and leaving every hour. One recommendation for Carnival - if you ARE going to run really dumb (but occasionally funny) competitions such as men vs women synchronized swimming contest, stretch yourselves a bit by giving $10 bar credits as prizes or something a little less worthless and tacky than 25c Oriental Trading medals or trophies. Your customers ARE providing the entertainment after all. Jeez... Music was not current - lots of stuff from the summer, mixed stuff from the 80s and 90s and the usual line dance stuff like Wobble, Cupid Shuffle etc. A bit boring after a while. Have to give a shout out for the awesome guitar guy in the Atrium Bar area - you should put him in permanent place of the piano bar entertainment which was alarming at best. Definitely recommend the Fast 2 Fun purchase - on and off the ship first gave us lots more time. Luggage was a bit of an issue - embarking, one of our tags came off and luggage took 8 hours to get to the cabin; disembarking someone jumped on our brand new, 1st time use, suitcase denting the main steel side struts like it had been hit with a sledgehammer. Carnival have offered to replace it, so no issue there either. Generally, very enjoyable, no real issues, first cruise experience. Staff work too long hours. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
My boyfriend and I decided to go on this cruise to celebrate my college graduation. We had never done a cruise before, but we managed to get a very good price on an interior state room on a low level of the boat so we decided to give it a ... Read More
My boyfriend and I decided to go on this cruise to celebrate my college graduation. We had never done a cruise before, but we managed to get a very good price on an interior state room on a low level of the boat so we decided to give it a try. We flew in to the Miami Airport and stayed at the Comfort Suites North, which offered a free shuttle to the port. We arrived at the terminal at about 11am (our actual boarding time on our passes said 1-3pm) and check in was very quick (we had done already done most of the things online). When we got on to the boat, we went to our room to put our bags away before heading to the pool. The rooms were fine, nothing special. The only thing that was slightly annoying was that there was only one outlet. In the future, I would bring a power strip. Overall, it is very clear that the boat is old. I read somewhere that the ship was built in 1995, and you can tell that the decorations were cool during that time. The whole boat basically looks like a casino. After checking out the room, we went up on to the pool deck and jumped in the hot tub. The servers on the deck were very aggressive and were CONSTANTLY coming up to us asking if we wanted drinks, even when we had drinks in our hands. We literally had people coming up to us every 3 minutes to try to sell us alcohol, which got very annoying. After the first day we chose beach chairs on the upper most deck above the pool (deck 12) to avoid the servers. Right off of the pool deck, there is a large buffet area. Part of it is outside, and there is a larger buffet inside with a good amount of seating. We ate at the buffet for one or two meals and had late night snacks there, but we mostly ate in the dining room. The buffet food was pretty good, but they pretty much had the same thing every day so it got a little old. As I mentioned, we spent most of our meal times in the dining room. We did not have an assigned dining time, and we were on what Carnival calls the "your time" dining. Essentially, they have a separate dining room for "your time" guests, and you can show up any time with about a 4 hour window for dinner and they will seat you as soon as they can. We were a little worried that we would have to wait a long time to sit and eat, but we never had to wait at all. We only had two people in our party so that probably made it easier, but there always seemed to be a lot of open tables. The food in the dining room was AMAZING. We had escargot, lobster, steak, stuffed mushrooms, cheese plates, and everything was so good. We couldn't believe that people were waiting in the long buffet lines by the pool to eat chicken fingers and fries while the dining rooms with the gourmet food were half empty. The breakfasts and lunches were good as well. We had bagels and lox and eggs benedict as well as eggs to order and everything was great. As far as entertainment went, we didn't really see a lot of things on the schedule that interested us. We aren't really big gamblers so we didn't every go to the casino, and there were a lot of competitions inside during the day, but we didn't really want to spend time inside when it was so beautiful out. During the days there were different contests on the stage by the pool such as a "rubber chicken olympics" and bingo. There was also a "hairy chest competition" that we found rather inappropriate considering that there were children around. Essentially, the men in the competition gave some of the female passengers lap dances and were dancing on poles in the middle of the day on the pool deck while a bunch of little kids were sitting right there. Although some of the activities on the schedule were listed as 18+, this one was not but was definitely not appropriate for the 8 year olds by the pool to watch. In the evening, we went to karaoke one night and had a pretty good time, although there weren't a ton of people there. We really enjoyed the two comedians that were on the boat and we went to watch their shows on two separate nights. They offered family shows as well as 18+ shows and they were very funny. Perhaps due to the lack of activities, it seemed that the only thing on this boat to do was drink. People were VERY drunk all day and all night, especially after everybody got back on the boat from Mexico and our day at sea. On the second day of our cruise, they actually had to drain and scrub the whole pool because some drunk person puked in it. The pool was essentially a place for the drunk people to stand, so we felt kind of bad for the little kids trying to actually swim in there. I think that the intoxication level was pushed even further by the aggressive servers by the pool, who we later found out make an automatic 15% gratuity for each sale they make, and only make a base salary of ~$40 per month, which explains why they are so eager to make sales. We were very surprised because it essentially seemed like there were no rules, no limits, and no consequences for any behavior. Aside from the aggressive pool servers (who were friendly enough, but annoying), the quality of service really varied a lot. Our steward for our state room was super nice and helpful and our room was cleaned well twice a day which was great. The dining staff in the buffet area was sort of unpleasant and crabby. In the dining room, people were kind of quiet, not really friendly but not really rude or unfriendly either. Overall, the service was okay, but didn't really live up to the stories about exceptional service that I've heard from friends and family who have cruised before. The ports of call for our trip were Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. In Key West, we purchased a bar crawl excursion through Carnival. We had a really amazing time and our tour guide, Beau, was super knowledgeable about the area and the history of Key West and he was very friendly. The only part about the port that was unfortunate was that we were only there from 7:30am-1pm. We basically started drinking at 10am (we are college students so it wasn't a problem) and got back on the boat with our group and kept drinking when we were done. We actually got up early and got off the boat right away when we docked at 7:30 and explored the area while a lot of people slept in and didn't get off until about 9-10am, but we figured that we would spend all the time we could off the boat since we had such a short amount of time there. Although we enjoyed our excursion and thought it was a good deal (basically a walking tour with 5 specialty drinks included for $40), some of the friends we made on the boat were able to find some really good deals when they walked off the boat. They were able to go para sailing for $20 a person and were with people that booked through Carnival for $90 just by walking up to the business directly. I'm not sure if this is common or just because we cruised during off season, but it is definitely something to think about. The next day in Cozumel, we booked a snorkel excursion through Expedia. We arrived in Cozumel at 1:30pm and got back on the boat at 9:30pm. Getting off the boat in Cozumel was a real mess. We had to get off the boat right way at 1:30 to take a cab over to our 2pm excursion or we would have waited a half hour for all the craziness to die down. Everybody was itching to get off the boat and it was just really hectic. Crew members were being pretty rude and screaming at guests trying to get off the boat and it was not a very pleasant experience. We expected there to be a lot of people on our excursion but we were the only two. It was really nice because we basically got a private sail boat ride and snorkel lesson. At one point, a boat full of about 40 cruise ship guests pulled up near us for the snorkel excursion they booked through Carnival. There were so many people and it was completely crowded and nuts. A lot of people were screaming and freaking out because of the fish. I was very glad that we were on a different, smaller tour. The next day was our day at sea. As I mentioned earlier, there wasn't a lot to do besides drink on the boat. It got pretty crazy watching the drunk people. We got sick of the high drink prices and couldn't justify paying for drinks anymore by the time our day at sea rolled around, but there were a lot of drunk people by the pool all day and at the comedy club that night. Disembarkation went pretty smoothly for us. It started at about 8am on the last day of the trip. We got breakfast in the dining room one last time and we took our luggage with us up to the pool deck to wait to get off the boat. They let the guests get off in zones to keep the process smooth. Our flight didn't leave Miami until 4:30pm and we were in no hurry to get off the boat, so we just waited for all the other zones to get called before we got off and went through customs. Overall, this was a good first cruise. We learned a lot about what is important to us in a cruise and what to look for in the future. We would definitely recommend looking in to the types of activities that are offered on the boat and seeing if they interest you. We would also probably book on a ship with more pools/water slides. I think that we would probably also look for a ship that offers an unlimited drink card option because there were a lot of times that we would have enjoyed drinks but couldn't justify spending $9 for one. We also weren't particularly impressed with the service and would probably try another cruise line in the future. It was a good time and we had fun for not a lot of money (especially considering that if we had gone on a vacation to a resort we would have had to pay for our food), but it was definitely a learning experience for us. Although we did not have any kids with us in our group, I would really advise that anybody with kids think hard before bringing them on this boat. There are a lot of activities that are not kid friendly and there are basically 2 water slides and a very small kiddie pool for them to play in unless you sign them up for the "camp carnival" activities. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
When my wife and I first talked about going on a cruise for our 35th Anniversary we shopped around for good prices. My wife browsed the internet sites and found a great deal on priceline.com.When we told others we were going on a Carnival ... Read More
When my wife and I first talked about going on a cruise for our 35th Anniversary we shopped around for good prices. My wife browsed the internet sites and found a great deal on priceline.com.When we told others we were going on a Carnival cruise they all thought we were crazy. We thought with all the bad press of the recent events that the odds were in our favor.We booked a 4 night cruise aboard the Imagination from Miami to Key West, and Cozumel. Found wicked cheap airfare from Providience to Ft.Lauderdale on Southwest.I looked on the Internet for a shuttle service from Ft.Lauderdale to the port of Miami.We used easyexpress, Excellent service and free return trip to airport.we also took advanges of Carnivals Faster to the Fun, for one fee per cabin we received, priority boarding,access to our cabin when we boarded, priority disembarkation at all ports, and when we returned to Miami we were among the 1st wave off the ship, which was a huge plus seeing we had an early flight back home. Our cabin was Great, on the Empress deck, center of the ship with and ocean view. Cabin was beautiful, ultra clean and the cabin Steward Roberto was a joy to be around.We made our way up to the Lido deck to enjoy the views of Miami, and the sail away party on the deck,what a blast!!!! We were greeted by Suadnyana! what a blast this drink server ended up being my "best" friend for the week. I have never seen anybody work as hard as this guy does and ENJOY his job.Always with this beaming smile and a never ending desire to make you feel like a king or queen. We made our way to the Lido buffet restaurant and found a endless variety of food choices,all off the food from breakfast to lunch choices were endless. During the first night we had Dinner in the Pride restaurant and again were not disappointed with the food or the service. This is where we meant our new friends from Seattle. The evening stage show was the only real downside to the cruise, the performers well they are just not that great!We did find the comedians on board the Imagination in the comedy club were GREAT!!! The second day we docked at 0800am in Key West Fla.We booked the Key West Pub crawl!!!! What a blast,the mission 5 bars in 2hrs before 12noon!!! We were met on the pier by our tour guide Jo, this girl was a hoot!!!We boarded the conch train and into town we went, Jo lead us to some of Key West famous watering holes,for a taste of some great tasting drinks,,, and by the way not watered down at all, with the sound of the conch shell being sounded we moved on to the next location for yet another livation!!!! At the end of the tour we had a conch shell blow off for a chance to win the beads!!! I won!!!!!!! what a blast. A very shorted visit as we had to be back on the ship by 130pm.. They need a longer stay in Key West!!!! We set sail for Cozumel, The "dress up" night for dinner was a good time many different settings to take formal pictures were set up around the ship. We arrived in Cozumel at 1pm the next day. The area right off the ship provided many shops to purchase many Mexican items. The shopkeepers are a little high pressure but that was expected outside. The shots of Tequila in many shops kept me very happy as my wife shopped! While in Cozumel we went to Jimmy Buffett"s Margaritaville bar and seaside restaurant,,, Great food and drink, and a place to snorkel a beautiful reef. We asked one of the locals to recommended a beach where we could take in the sands and waters of Cozumel, He sent us to the Ocean VIP resort, south of the port. The local Taxis are a trip in its self. No real set rates, you can barter the $$ you want to pay them... when we arrived at the "Ocean Resort" it was kind of like going into someones back yard???? The host met us and said "use of the beach and chairs were "free" if we purchased drinks and food!!!! The beach was small and the water had kind of a funny smell. Also only 10yards out it became very rocky!!! Not what we were hoping for.... We returned to the port area to do some additional shopping. We did great deal on a piece of jade jewelry for my wife. The day at sea sailing back to Miami was relaxing watching some of the sites on board the ship, and enjoying cocktails while getting some sun!!!! As a 1st time cruisers we can say it was a good time and have already begun looking for bargains for sometime next year... Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We took our first cruise last week, from February 4-8 on the Carnival Imagination. It was myself, my fiancee and her 2 children (an 11 yr old girl, and 13 yr old boy). The ship stopped in Cozumel on Wednesday, Key West on Thursday and ... Read More
We took our first cruise last week, from February 4-8 on the Carnival Imagination. It was myself, my fiancee and her 2 children (an 11 yr old girl, and 13 yr old boy). The ship stopped in Cozumel on Wednesday, Key West on Thursday and back in Miami on Friday. We were both nervous about sea-sickness, but that was a complete non-issue. We splurged a little and got one of their grand suites (we wanted as much space in the room as possible and I insisted on having a balcony....which was a huge bonus in my eyes). The cains were kept incredibly clean by the staff, which must have been a helluva chore with as messy as her kids are! LOL. An impressive thing for all of us was that as soon as the first day, the housekeeping staff was calling us by name as we walked from our room to the different decks and back...they really know how to make you feel important. If traveling with kids, I would HIGHLY recommend a suite like this, as the size is most definitely a positive. The seas were so calm on the entire cruise, we slept each night with our balcony deck open to hear the ocean waves. It was incredible. With all the things to do on the ship, we didn't hit half the stuff we wanted to. The kids were a handful, and refused to give any of the kid-specific options a try, as well as hunting us down no matter where we went so we didn't get to do a whole lot on our own and of our own complete choosing. This was a family vacation though, so that is not a horrible thing at all...just wish we could have had a little more time to catch one of the many shows, or to spend a little more time together in the casino or the serenity adult retreat. It was definitely nice having the kids along to give me an "excuse" to give the water slides a try.....what a blast those were! I don't know if the 11 year old had anything other than iced cream the entire trip! LOL. We dined in teh Spirit Main Dining Room both of the first two nights and even got both of the kids to try escargot off the "didja" offering which was funny. The boy loves lobster, so on Elegant night we scarfed his down and was embarrassed to ask for more. I asked for him and they brought out another tail in no time flat and seemed more than happy to do so. The girl was up in the air between two deserts, so I told her to order both. Again, without a hitch, they brought both right out for her. While it took a while of waiting between servings, these were good dining experiences that we would have taken advantage of more if it were just adults, but kids were wanting to spend more time in the pool so we ate in the Horizon buffet the last two nights (which has plenty of good options as well). In the end, if you can't find anything you like to eat....you aren't looking! In Cozumel we booked a shore excursion through Carnival to swim with the dolphins. There were a few options, I think it was only about $30 more per person to actually get to swim and fully interact with the dolphins. THIS WAS WELL WORTH IT!! You are in the same area as those who chose to only get some of the interaction, and they don't get to swim out into the deeper part of the holding ponds and ride the dolphins, etc. Trust me folks, spend the extra money and do the actual swimming with dolphins part. We then hit the shops and I got to teach the girl how to haggle over price....hope that sticks with her! It was a wonderful day. The next day was Key West. I'm guessing it would have been much funner without children along. We had booked an excursion here to go on a catamaran and snorkeling tour, but the catamaran had issues that day and it was cancelled, so we were kind of left to our own devices. There are plenty of other options available, but nothing the kids could agree on, so we just kinda wandered around town all day. I think we were all still kind of worn out from the day before as well. Unless you are prepared to pay a ton for transportation, this can catch you off guard, be prpared to do a LOT of walking. We ended up going back to the ship fairly early and spent the later part of the afternoon and early evening swimming in the lido deck pool and munching away. It was still a good day, but with the cancellation of the excursion and no real backup plan, might have been better to just stay on the ship all day...but that is just a personal preference. All in all, it was an incredible experience. If you are taking kids on their first cruise, I'd say it is worth the time to really spend a lot of time talking with them about spending time in the kids-specific Camp Carnival and Circle C as well as the O2 places specifically, there were so many kids that looked to be having a blast. We just didn't spend enough time ahead of the cruise trying to get them willing to shed their shyness. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
My wife and I recently sailed on the Carnival Imagination from Miami>Key West>Cozumel>Sea Day>Miami. It was my wife's first ever cruise and my second, my first one being in 1996 on Carnival Fantasy, a sister ship of ... Read More
My wife and I recently sailed on the Carnival Imagination from Miami>Key West>Cozumel>Sea Day>Miami. It was my wife's first ever cruise and my second, my first one being in 1996 on Carnival Fantasy, a sister ship of Carnival Imagination. While we were in port in Cozumel on Wednesday, January 23, 2013, there were three other cruise ships in port at the same time - Disney, Holland America, and another Carnival ship. While enjoying a seaside margarita, we ran into some people from the Holland America cruise, and they asked us how we liked the Imagination. I choose to describe the ship using a baseball stadium metaphor, so if you're not a baseball fan, this may not make sense to you, but here goes. In 1992, the Chicago White Sox unveiled new Comiskey Park. It was a fine, functional baseball stadium, built much like many of the stadiums that came before it. It was (and still is) basically a concrete donut. It serves its purpose, but it doesn't really inspire anyone. The same year, the Baltimore Orioles unveiled Camden Yards, which was a revelation in baseball stadium construction. It's unusual lines, its incorporation of the city skyline of Baltimore, its classic yet modern design, and its attention to the entire fan experience inspired and influenced baseball stadium designs for the next 25+ years. The Carnival Imagination is the Comiskey Park of cruise ships. She was debuted at almost the same time as Comiskey Park (1995), and much like the Chicago stadium, she gets the job done, but doesn't really inspire anyone. I have a sense that shortly after the Imagination debuted, a renaissance of sorts began in the cruise ship industry. I think there are many other ships (Carnival and otherwise) that are grander and better designed than the Imagination. Yes, she did have a major upgrade in 2008, but she's still just your "basic" cruise ship. The brass and neon everywhere and the winged "creatures" looking down from every edifice give away her age. She's clean, and our cabin was very comfortable, but she was nothing special. (My wife compared it to staying at a casino hotel in old downtown Vegas, as opposed to the glitz of the Strip.) The Good Check-in on sailing day was a breeze. I completed most of the paperwork online a few days ahead of time (including setting up my Sign&Sail account), and this saved some time. Our cabin steward was professional, courteous, and took the time to call us by name on multiple days. The comedians were funny and worked hard. The "Serenity Deck" on the aft of the ship was heavenly, an adults-only (21+) oasis with comfortable lounge chairs, two hot tubs, and drink service. We spent an entire afternoon between Key West and Cozumel just lounging and watching the sea go by. The OK The food was plentiful, but not all that special. It tasted like it was mass-produced (it was), but I hear that other lines can feed thousands of people and still make it taste fresh and made-to-order. Carnival prides itself on being "The Fun Ships," and the deck parties were rocking, and people really seemed to cut loose and enjoy themselves. However, some of the entertainment was just so-so. The casino had been retrofitted with electronic tables for blackjack and poker. If you played on the electronic tables, drinks were on the house. (A dangerous way to spend the sea day.) We enjoyed a couples massage in the spa, which was OK. The ship draws ALL KINDS of people, from retirees to families with small children to college students to international travelers. It's quite the "eclectic" crowd. The Not Great We opted for the Your Time Dining, which meant we could show up in the dining room between 5:45 and 9:00 and be seated. This was convenient, but the service was S...L...O...W. I imagine that this is because different tables are on different courses, but we didn't have a single meal that took less than 75 minutes. We weren't in a hurry per se, but when more than a half hour passes between appetizer and entree, something is amiss. When you consider that my wife and I spent about $600 TOTAL for our room, board, entertainment, taxes, and port fees, I'm pretty sure that Carnival's margins were razor-thin to start. Therefore, Carnival seems to work extra hard at the "upsell." Everywhere you turn on the ship, you're being asked if you want a drink, if you want your picture taken, if you want a bingo card or a raffle ticket, if you want a spa treatment, if you want a shore excursion. I realize that these are the places where Carnival makes its money, but the constant selling got old after a day or two. The cruise docked at 7:30 in the morning in Key West and departed at 1:30 p.m. That's a pretty short port call, and not much time to do anything other than shop, see the southernmost point, and down a few drinks as you hustle back to the ship. Carnival's pier in Cozumel is actually at Puerta Maya, which is a kitschy shopping and restaurant area right off the pier. Downtown is an $8 cab ride each way. The Bottom Line With Carnival Imagination, what you see is what you get. She's nothing special, but she gets the job done. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
This was my 3rd cruise - 2nd with Carnival. I cruised with my 2 adult daughters and my mom (her first cruise). We figured a shorter 4 night cruise would be a good break and the ports of Key West and Cozumel are easy to navigate. ... Read More
This was my 3rd cruise - 2nd with Carnival. I cruised with my 2 adult daughters and my mom (her first cruise). We figured a shorter 4 night cruise would be a good break and the ports of Key West and Cozumel are easy to navigate. Good: We stayed in porthole rooms. These were very spacious and overall I stayed in this type of room again. It was nice to have the small view. The food in the dining room and the buffet was overall very good. The only downside was that my oldest daughter loves pasta and had a hard time finding anything that didn't have a cream sauce on it. There are lots of places to relax. We never had a hard time finding a place to sit either inside or outside. The waterpark in the back of the boat was a nice place to cool off without the loud music. There weren't many kids on the ship so there was plenty of space. Bad: The music by the pool was extremely loud. It's hard to find a place to sit outside to enjoy a view. The oddest thing on this ship is that the outside decks all have lifeboats in front of them so you can't really see much. Carnival can't help the weather, but the sea day the weather was bad because of hurrican Sandy and so everyone was forced to be inside. There wasn't much to do and the ship was rocking pretty good so this made for a very long day. Ugly: The evening entertainment was non-existent. They said there was some problem with the lighting so there weren't any shows until the last evening when they did a portion of one show. The singers weren't very good - it was like watching bad karoake and the dancers were just ok. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
I am a veteran cruiser, and have cruised on Princess (and loved it) recently, but have not been on Carnival in a very long time. Last month I sailed with my family and friends (50+ of us) ranging in age from 5 -- 85 on the Carnival ... Read More
I am a veteran cruiser, and have cruised on Princess (and loved it) recently, but have not been on Carnival in a very long time. Last month I sailed with my family and friends (50+ of us) ranging in age from 5 -- 85 on the Carnival Imagination. We chose this ship because; it was one of a few ships that did not sail to the Bahamas; we had children sailing with us and most importantly, we had first time cruisers with varying budgets. Embarkation & Disembarking from the ship was a breeze, but it is a very small ship and I did not expect this would be an issue. What did surprise me in light of the "Costa" backlash -- was the indolent way in which the Coast Guard Safety Drill was performed. We were assembled in a lounge and no one checked us in or had a list to ensure we were indeed in the correct muster station. The ship itself was okay -- and since I was not expecting a new ship I was not troubled by the traditional "Carnival" decor. The Serenity Pool was very small and not worth the effort it took to find it. I was surprised to find people walking about the ship in their bare feet with other bare assets exposed as well. Tiny bathing suits with no cover ups at breakfast were a bit much. Our rooms were on Empress, Upper and Main decks. All ocean-view and absolutely nothing to rave about. It did take a day or two before we found the air condition controls -- which were located on the fan in the ceiling. The room had no mini-fridge and no storage in the bathroom. We had to repeatedly ask for ice and cold water in the room even though temperatures topped 100 degrees. Missed having places to sit when people came to visit -- as we had just 1 chair in the room. Also, our room remained un-serviced until after dinner on two of our four days. The towel animals each day were nice, but skip the chocolates -- they are not worth the calories. Even though this was not an "upscale" cruise, we were hard pressed to understand why -- no fewer than 4 of our staterooms on different floors had "clothes" from the previous guests left in closets and drawers when family members arrived at their rooms. The biggest complaint our group had was the lie Carnival told us about "Trundle Beds" for the 3rd or 4th guests in the cabin. Since we had families sailing -- 1/3 of our group had a 3rd or 4th person in their room. We were told that a Pullman or a Trundle bed would be in the stateroom, but 7 months in advance they could not tell us which rooms had which type of beds. We arrived to find the "Trundle" was actually more like a pallet with a mattress -- approximately 1" off the floor! We were very upset to find out that the price paid did not even warrant a roll away! Dining - Lines in the Horizon Grill where out toward the pool even at breakfast. The worst issue by far was during the first night's dinner. Our group was spread across 8 tables and as I ordered dessert -- I heard the Waiters singing "Happy Birthday", "Happy Anniversary" etc. to members of our group at another table -- 2 days early. By the time I got the error straightened out, my table companions were beginning to leave. I asked our Waiter if I could have my Key Lime pie wrapped up so that I could enjoy it in my room and he replied "No" and removed it from the table without another word! I have NEVER had that happen before! Entertainment -- was the saving grace of this cruise. The Comedy Shows, Latin Band, Acoustic Guitar player and Karaoke were a big hit with my family & friends. Camp Carnival also got high marks from the parents in our group. But the Theater Shows were not that great and I noticed a few people sleeping. The Crew on Carnival - with the exception of our Group Coordinator, was very apathetic. They answered questions, but made you feel like you were "bothering" them. I witnessed two Guest Relations staff members raising their voices at an older guest who did not like "MY Time" Dining and blaming the guest' Travel Agent for the issue. This was in full view of 4 other passengers including myself while we waited in line for assistance. I also kept wondering why it took 2 staff members to berate this poor lady instead of the other staff member making sure the line was being serviced. Our excursions were varied: I took the Hop on Hop off Trolley in Key West but purchased our tickets before we left home. (Saved a lot of money since children under 12 were free and the fare was only $17.00 and not $29.99 if purchased via Carnival.) And we had a beach day in Cozumel since I was just there in February while sailing with Celebrity. Lastly, Photographs -- We made arrangements six months in advance for a group photo and we were very disappointed. The Photographer arrived on time, but did nothing to block the stairs while we took pictures -- he took 7 shots and he never even made sure that our group was looking in his direction when he took the pictures. (We had other people waving and making foul gestures in the background.) He was gone in exactly 15 minutes. When I went to purchase them later that day the ONE shot they printed was blurred and not in focus. We had to ask 2 Managers to print or at least show us the other 6 shots. They denied my request for a discount and I wound up purchasing 2 photos at $21.99 each and have taken them to a professional to see if he will be able to Photoshop and fix the issues. We would have done better with our own cameras but wanted to ensure everyone was in the photo. And yes, I filled out the survey, but as of yet I have not heard one word from Carnival. This was the 1st cruise EVER that I only tipped the requisite amount -- no extra $$$ for anyone! I went into this cruise experience with low expectations -- I only wanted to receive "good service" -- and somehow Carnival managed to set the bar even lower..... Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
TRANSPORTATION TO PORT OF MIAMI: We took a taxi from the Miami International Airport to the Port of Miami. There is a flat rate of $25 to the port, but we did not confirm this with the driver before we departed. Unfortunately, the driver ... Read More
TRANSPORTATION TO PORT OF MIAMI: We took a taxi from the Miami International Airport to the Port of Miami. There is a flat rate of $25 to the port, but we did not confirm this with the driver before we departed. Unfortunately, the driver charged us by the meter and took a local route, so we paid almost $40, including tip. To make matters worse, he dropped us off at the wrong entrance and we had to walk to the correct one. Before you enter the taxi, make sure to confirm with the driver that you will be charged a flat rate of $25 to the port. EMBARKATION: When we arrived, we gave our bags to the porter at the entrance. It was a little chaotic outside of the entrance due to the long line of embarking guests and the crowds of debarking guests trying to get transportation to their next destination. The security check and check-in process went smoothly. My only complaint was that it took several hours for our bags to be delivered to our cabins. Next time, I will probably carry my bags onto the ship myself. CABIN: My family stayed in cabins M195 (two twins converted to king and one upper) and U123 (two twins). M195 was a little cramped for three people, but we managed. Pros: clean, comfortable beds, plenty of closet space, safe operated by magnetic stripe card. Cons: bathroom toilet smelled like a urinal, no exhaust fan. The cabin steward changed our sheets, made our beds, provided new towels, and cleaned the room in the afternoon. After dinner, we would come back to a cute towel animal surprise. PUBLIC AREAS: The main pool on the Lido deck was a lot smaller than I expected. However, there was plenty of deck space to lay out throughout the ship. We laid out at the adults-only Serenity. But there were only two Jacuzzis; I would have preferred to have an adults-only pool there too. The Lido deck was probably the most popular place to hang out, relax, dance, and listen to the music. The Atrium was also a popular spot. Since this was my first cruise, I cannot really compare Carnival Imagination to other cruise ships. But the ship itself appeared to be strong and stable, contrary to previous reviews that it should be retired. DINING: We always had breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck. The food was OK and there were always long lines, but there were lots of variety and options. Finding seating inside was usually not a problem, but it was a little frustrating outside, especially during popular meal times. We had the "Your Time" dining for dinner at the Pride Dining Room every night. The food started off bad on the first night, but it definitely improved by the end of our stay. The warm chocolate melting cake for dessert was awesome, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. I also liked the sushi bar, although they were small portions. They offered late night buffets too, but I did not try them since I was always still full from dinner. Overall, the food was good but not amazing. ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES: I really enjoyed the evening shows and I laughed a lot. There was a singing and dancing crew that danced well but did not do as well with the singing. On the Day at Sea, there were several activities on the Lido deck stage, including the "Hairy Chest" contest and a male vs female synchronized swimming competition. We did not spend time in the club and bar lounges because they were dead. In general, the entertainment and activities were enjoyable but nothing really blew me away. SERVICE: Excellent, excellent, excellent! I have never experienced such outstanding service before, ever. Service by the cabin stewards and dining staff exceeded my expectations. The cabin stewards and the Lido dining staff were very friendly. The members of the Pride Dining Room wait staff were very accommodating. They provided fast service and they allowed us to order as many dishes as we wanted. They entertained us with dancing and singing, and they constantly sang to guests for their birthdays, honeymoons, and anniversaries. Honestly, I would compare the service we received on Carnival Imagination, especially in the Pride Dining Room, to the service that kings and queens receive. All of the staff members worked hard and I do not have one complaint about the service they provided. FELLOW PASSENGERS: A diverse mix of kids, college-aged adults, parents, and older people. I would say the the majority were in their 30s-40s. There were also many kids and teens who dominated the main pool and Jacuzzis, but they were well-behaved. Overall, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and stayed involved with the activities onboard. KEY WEST: We booked the Key Lime Bike Tour by ourselves. The bike tour lasted about 2.5 hours for $40 per person. We were the only ones, so we had our own private tour of Key West. The meeting place was about a 5-10 minute walk from the port. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable, we learned a lot of historical facts about Key West. At the end, we enjoyed a sweet tastings at a key lime pie shop. I enjoyed the tour and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a laid-back glimpse of Key West. COZUMEL: We booked the Everybody Loves Rays excursion online through Carnival. It lasted about 3 hours for $62 per person. The first part was feeding and handling the stingrays. The second part was snorkeling with the stingrays. My only complaint is that the use of cameras was prohibited during the first part because they had a photographer taking pictures of us. We were allowed to purchase pictures from them, but most of them turned out blurry and looked unprofessional, so we opted not to waste money on them. Cameras were allowed for the snorkeling part, but we did not have a waterproof camera. Therefore, we did not bring back any pictures from the excursion. Otherwise, this was a fun experience and I would recommend it to anyone. DEBARKATION: We had a quick breakfast before debarking the ship. We opted for the "Self-Assist" option in which you carry your bags off the ship by yourself. The other option was "Relaxed Debark" in which you leave your bags outside of your cabin the night before debarkation and wait until they call your zone number to debark and pick up your bags at the terminal. Again, the process went fine and it was not hectic at all. We went through Customs fairly quick too. We got a taxi to the airport and made sure that we were only going to be charged a flat rate of $25. Overall, I had a great first cruise aboard Carnival Imagination. I would definitely cruise with Carnival again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
It was my first cruise ever, and despite the reservations I had about cruising in general, I decided to take the leap and try it out. So I booked a 4-day cruise on the Imagination, sailing out of Miami, with ports in Key West and Cozumel, ... Read More
It was my first cruise ever, and despite the reservations I had about cruising in general, I decided to take the leap and try it out. So I booked a 4-day cruise on the Imagination, sailing out of Miami, with ports in Key West and Cozumel, plus a post-debarkation excursion to Everglades. PRE-CRUISE HOTEL I stayed in La Quinta Inn Miami Airport North. The hotel itself was pretty good. The only minus was room entrances directly at ground level or to balcony-like hallways. Young women going alone or families with small children might be bothered by that, so FYI. The room was quite basic, but for a one-night stay, it did the job well. The neighborhood is boring; there's a shopping mall next door with a Pollo Inka (a Peruvian restaurant with good food), two gas stations nearby, and fast food, but not much else. Unless you rent a car and drive somewhere, the only thing to really do is walk along 36th Street. PORT OF MIAMI AND EMBARKATION The port was simply OK but the workers were nice. The building is boxy and industrial-looking, and the baggage check process was chaotic, because the entrance to board Imagination was different than originally scheduled. But once I gave my bags to the porter and found the right entrance, it went smoother from there. The workers who collected my boarding pass and gave me my Sail & Sign card were very friendly and patient with my lack of knowledge about the process. Even security personnel actually smiled when I asked then questions about where to go. DINING I heard people on here complain about the food, but I loved it. The meals in the main dining room were delicious and filling. It felt like a Thanksgiving meal every day. The portions aren't big, but you can order as many dishes as you like. Just as a courtesy to crew members, eat what you take unless you didn't like it, since many of them come from cultures where wasting food is highly looked down upon. The Lido buffet food is more basic, but still good, and the choices are plentiful. Imagination, like other Fantasy class ships, does not have a for-fee steakhouse. ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT The Fun Times daily newsletter is your best friend for this. There's always something to do: crew performances, line dances on the deck, towel folding classes, etc. Evening shows range from cheesy (in a good way) to spectacular, but they're always fun to watch. Most of them involve costumed performers singing and dancing. They're timed against the assigned dinner schedules, so don't worry about missing dinner if you go to one. If you're at any point wondering what to do, just check the Fun Times. Or, just wander aimlessly around the ship; that can be entertaining in itself, particularly right after embarkation. SERVICE Great service! I saw crew members always cleaning and wiping down surfaces, making sure the ship looks presentable. Waitstaff and food service workers asked people what their preferences, and apologized profusely if something wasn't available. My cabin steward remembered me on the first day and always said hello, and kept my room very clean; I returned the courtesy by not leaving too much of a mess. Entertainment staff always looked very upbeat, happy, and energetic, sometimes putting on spontaneous performances when they saw things looking too quiet. PUBLIC AREAS AND LAYOUT Given the fact that it's Carnival, the decor was quite loud and Las Vegas-like. A lot of fake neon lights using LEDs, sparkly signs, and decorations in bright colors. There are plenty of seating areas on the Promenade deck, with couches right along windows. Now, there's a a shortage of dance floors on the ship, so oftentimes, dance parties were held right in the hallway, and more often that not, there was Latin music. The Lido deck has plenty of tables to sit at and two bars; the port bar closes in the evenings, but the starboard bar is open late. The layout is a confusing at first, but once you get a hang of where's forward/aft/port/starboard, finding places on the ship becomes a snap. MY CABIN I stayed in M21, in the forward starboard section of the Main deck. The cabin is pretty small, with the king-size bed taking up most of the room, but the ledge in front of the portholes is big enough to fit all the but the largest suitcases. It's a great place to put your suitcase, since there's almost no room anywhere else. The safe opens with a magnetic stripe card; for safety, use an expired credit card or an empty gift card. Now, you will feel the rocking and feel the vibration from the thrusters quite a bit. I actually liked it (I saw it as a non-verbal reminder than I'm on a cruise), but if you're prone to seasickness, FYI. I only have two minor gripes. The bathroom doesn't have an exhaust fan, so open the door to vent out the steam after a shower, and use a travel-size Axe deodorant as an air freshner. And the shaver outlet is in the ceiling above the mirror; and the rocking of the ship was strong enough to shake the plug right out of the outlet (it's kind of big to begin with, but still). FELLOW PASSENGERS I went on April 30, which I'm sure made a difference. There were very few kids, and they were polite and well-behaved for the most part. The crowed ranged mostly from 30 to 55. There was a sizable crowd of 20-somethings, but I've never seen them cause trouble, only party it up at appropriate times and places. I had assigned dining, and my tablemates were great. We all got along well and had fun conversations, which makes a difference when you're cruising solo. No one on the ship even said any of those "how brave of you" comments, let alone give me hard time over that. Quite the opposite, a few people even complimented me on the decision. DEBARKATION It was organized, but tedious and depressing. Passengers who were once talking up a storm and laughing warmly were now only making polite conversation. If you self-debark, like I did, you take your luggage to an assigned waiting area (it was the Mirage Bar on the Atlantic deck for me), and wait until you're told to debark. Not sure how it goes if you leave your luggage outside your cabin to be picked up. At the end, you go to your car, an airport shuttle, or your tour bus; the directions they give you are very clear. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We were very concerned after reading some of the reviews on Carnival Imagination on this board. While the ship may be somewhat older, the amenities on the ship are very good. We stayed in a hotel near FLL the night before and took a ... Read More
We were very concerned after reading some of the reviews on Carnival Imagination on this board. While the ship may be somewhat older, the amenities on the ship are very good. We stayed in a hotel near FLL the night before and took a ride to the port of Miami. We also flew back on an 11:45am flight from FLL, so we disembarked with the "early disembarkers" at 0830am and that worked out well. My daughter has many food allergies: she is severely allergic to eggs, wheat, milk and gluten. So a varied, nutritious and tasteful diet for her can be a challenge. We were very happy with the food overall on our cruise. Because of my daughter, we almost always ate in the dining rooms (not on the Lido deck), either in Sprit or in Pride. On all occasions, the service was superb. It takes longer to eat in dining rooms, but we enjoyed the leisurely meals. Volha Yafimik, Junior Hostess (act BV Hostess) was gracious and always very helpful. Every evening, she would ask my daughter what she would like for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and voila! the chefs made sure that the special meals were tasty, nutritious and allergen free. Volha and the dining staff provided exceptional service. We could not have asked for anything better. The other, non-allergic ones in our party, chose the meals from the ones offered, and enjoyed almost all of the entrees, and all of the desserts. We also really liked the Sushi on 2 of the 3 evenings. The comedy shows were also very enjoyable, specially the one for married couples (PG-16+). The staff was very attentive. They did all they could to make our stay comfortable. The room service was great, and so were the break dancers. We did not enjoy the dance shows as much, as the music was somewhat dated; and needs more songs from the 80s and 90s. The dance shows seemed for geared for 70+ audience, even though the demographic was quite different. I disagree with the reviewer who mentioned the "staff doesn't speak English or is hard to understand". Though most of the crew is international - from South east asia (Indonesia, Philipines, Eastern europe etc.), they understand and speak English quite well. They have a tough life on the ship, but they serve with dignity and pride. We stayed away from noisy parties on the Lido deck, preferring instead to enjoy the sun from the aft deck (next to the water slides). Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
This was my second-ever cruise and my first was on a similar-sized ship (RCCL's Majesty of the Seas) with a similar cruise length (4 nights) and departing from the same port, Miami, so I was continually comparing the two cruise lines ... Read More
This was my second-ever cruise and my first was on a similar-sized ship (RCCL's Majesty of the Seas) with a similar cruise length (4 nights) and departing from the same port, Miami, so I was continually comparing the two cruise lines and how they handle different aspects of the cruise. Some things CCL did better, some things RCCL did better. I was travelling with my sister Cindy, who is disabled and generally needs a cane, and my mom Loralee and her husband Gaylord. This was my sister's first cruise, my mom's 20th or so, and Gaylord's 18th. MIAMI OVERNIGHT AND TRAVEL TO THE PIER: We drove down from Atlanta the Sunday before embarkation day and, based on reports right here on Cruise Critic's message boards, we stayed at the LaQuinta Miami Airport East since they would allow the car to be parked there for 5 days for free, and transport us to the pier (but NOT back) for free. The hotel itself was so-so; we couldn't get the TV (or the remote) in the room to work and for light sleepers, the sound of aircraft taking off overhead might disturb them. As promised, the mid-sized bus and trailer from KSA Transportation was there promptly at 9:45 to take us to the pier. We were then given an opportunity to purchase the return ride back to the hotel on Friday for $10 each, which we and several people opted for. We realized this was a colossal mistake on the way through Miami, when our driver, speeding on a one-way street, nearly collided with a tractor-trailer that pulled out in front of him. Everyone was thrown forward into the seat-backs, except Gaylord, who was sitting in the back bench with the aisle in front of him. He was thrown about fifteen feet down the aisle. Everyone was screaming, it was pretty bad. The driver eventually got up to check on Gaylord's condition -- amazingly, he only had a bruised/scraped elbow -- and we continued on to the pier. We have contacted the hotel management about reconsidering their contract with KSA. EMBARKATION: pretty much the same as on my previous cruise, perhaps a bit less taxing from a security standpoint. We were aboard by around noon. Then it was time to buy the "Bottomless Bubbles" sticker. This is something that Royal Caribbean handles much better than Carnival: RCCL allows you to purchase their unlimited sodas via their website before sailing, and they charge $6/day and do not add gratuity, so your sailing card already has the soda symbol embossed on it when you get it. They also give you an insulated cup that triggers a soda fountain located (on Majesty) right by the pool. Carnival also charges $6/day, but they add gratuity to it, make you wait in line to purchase it, and charge an extra $5 for the insulated cup -- which doesn't activate anything, since all sodas are served by the can and had to come from bars or restaurants. RCCL is the easy winner here. Staterooms were ready by 1:15 -- a bit early, but the ship was not sailing full -- and I went ahead and booked the "Behind the Fun" tour for myself at the Shore Excursions desk with no problems and, at that moment, no line. I got lucky. We had the Mongolian stir-fry barbecue for lunch -- it was great, one of the dining highlights of the cruise. Imagination's ship-design is quite old-fashioned and it shows in various ways. One of these is in the dining rooms, which are separated by the galley and there is no direct route between them. After finally finding our way to the Spirit Dining Room (named after one of Seabourn's ships, as is the other dining room, Pride), we had a great meal enhanced by a surprise birthday cake and serenade for ME, since it was my birthday. Really cool! Spent the later evening trying to escape the loudness of the Lido pool deck and went down to Serenity, which was great. It became my nighttime escape-place for the rest of the cruise. PORT DAY (KEY WEST): Since the ship arrived wayy early and departed Key West at 2pm, I didn't bother going ashore, electing instead to enjoy the ship's pool and outdoor deck with few people on board. We noticed that the hot tubs on Lido were much cooler than the ones on Serenity. The 'resort-style pool' is still pretty small and divided in two. Not sure why since both sides are the same depth. Dinner that night was really good again, and my sister had three lobster tails (!). She was happy after two, but Ben, our table waiter, encouraged her to get three. :) We have no complaints about the MDR staff except that, as far as I know, we never had a visit from the headwaiter, who still got 75 cents/day gratuity from us for....something. I should mention here that the winds and seas for much of the voyage were pretty high. During the run down to Cozumel the ship was rocking from side to side, sometimes heeling 3 degrees, and also bucking and plunging front-to-back. Winds were sometimes at or exceeding 30 knots. It made for an...interesting ride. PORT DAY (COZUMEL): Imagination arrives in Cozumel at around noon local time and departs late, at 9pm local time. This limits some shore activities like the beach clubs, which close at 5 or 6. With showers in the area and temperatures below 80 my sister and I opted to go to Paradise Beach, since it's cheaper than somewhere like Chankanaab. By the time we disembarked (there was a long line) and escaped the Puerta Maya shops and took a taxi ($13 flat rate) the beach was fairly empty since Carnival Legend was the only other ship in port and she was leaving in a few hours. The staff there were great, since they outnumbered us, and we thought the $2 we paid for beach loungers and the $15 we spent on food was a decent trade. The food -- jalapeno poppers and 'Mexican' fries -- was actually quite good! Snorkeling was poor, as I knew it would be. I'd brought my own snorkeling equipment so neither of us had to pay for a fun-pass (at $12). Returned to the ship just after 6pm, so we couldn't make our assigned dinner time and ate in the Lido buffet instead, which was good. (By this point our stomachs needed a break from the excellent, but rich, fare in the MDR. :)) I had prearranged with Carnival's Bon Voyage Department to have my mom's stateroom decorated with 'Happy Anniversary' on Wed. night, since Thursday was their 10th wedding anniversary. I'd been told it would be done while they were at their scheduled 6pm dinner in the MDR, but my mom didn't mention it afterward. I checked with Guest Services and they confirmed it had been scheduled for Wednesday night and would be done in a bit. It turned out that they DID decorate the room while my mom was away, but her husband was asleep in the room while they decorated it. (!) I'm glad he didn't wake up, as things would have gotten...awkward. I was also supposed to be receiving my ticket for the Behind the Fun tour that evening delivered to my stateroom, but it never showed up. I had to go to Guest Services to request one, and they cancelled the old one and rebooked it and handed it to me. Pretty odd, but it was resolved okay. Later, I found the Lido pool and hot-tubs inexplicably closed before the scheduled time (midnight), but the Serenity hot-tubs were nice and warm and they didn't come by and close them until 12:45. Bonus! :) FUN DAY AY SEA and Behind the Fun Tour: Thursday was our sea day, and I had to be in the ship's library by 8:45 for the Behind the Fun tour. There were ten of us, escorted by the ship's chief training officer, Debbie (I think), from South Africa. We went first to the galley for a presentation (and some free dessert) from the head chef, then down to the linen room, the laundry (huge washing machines), and then to "I-95," the corridor that runs all the way from bow to stern on Deck 3, where we saw the storerooms, the staff, officers' and crew messes, the training center, the garbage area (not as smelly as you might think), and then down the steep steps to Engineering Control where, to our tour guide's surprise, Chief Engineer Testa himself was present to show us the myriad displays and their meanings. It was a highlight of the tour and the entire cruise. From there we went to "Oasis" the crew lounge, backstage in the Dynasty Lounge, onto the forepeak (crew-only front of the ship), and then up to the bridge itself. By this time we were running almost 30 minutes late, but Captain Andrea Cavaliere was able to make time for us and for a group photo, which was later delivered to my stateroom by Debbie. Definitely a great tour! This was the first day of truly smooth sailing we had had, and for the first time in the cruise the pool deck and hot-tubs and the Serenity area were all really full, but my sister and I were able to find two loungers on the deck above and we had an enjoyable relaxing afternoon, although it was quite windy still. I even rode the big twisting slide twice -- the wind had to be 35 knots up there, tallest part of the ship -- and we had more of the Mongolian barbecue, which was awesome again! Dinner that night was good although for the first time I had to opt for something from the everyday menu. Others at our table had some minor complaints as well. Oh, well. Having seen firsthand how hectic the galley is, I can understand how challenging dinner preparations must be! I had prearranged to have an anniversary cake for my mom brought to our table that night, but SHE had also arranged the same thing in secret for her husband. I had cancelled my request the day before, but a lady still came to our table to verify the cancellation, which probably muted the surprise. Still, both my birthday cake and the anniversary cake were great! Back at our stateroom, another surprise awaited -- a dessert tray sent to me courtesy of the Behind the Fun tour, complete with strawberries decorated 'tuxedo' style with white and dark chocolate and some other desserts. Really nice surprise! Spent the later part of the night on the Serenity deck, relaxing in the hot-tub and watching the ship's wake curl away in the moonlight. Moments like that are why we take cruises in the first place. DISEMBARKATION: here I have to give the edge to Carnival and not RCCL. We opted to have our larger baggage taken out overnight, so we waited for our baggage number to be called. On this ship we could wait anywhere on Lido or Promenade decks, so we could get food and drinks (but not sodas or alcohol, as the bars were closed) and use the facilities. On RCCL we had been herded into one of the show lounges by zone number with less freedom of movement. Advantage: Carnival. The actual disembark and the Customs lines weren't as bad as my prior cruise, but again, the ship had not sailed completely full so that might have been a factor. Outside the pier, we waited for 45 minutes for the KSA shuttle bus to return us to the hotel (we had been promised 30 minutes max), and to everyone's horror, the driver was the same crazy guy as on the way out. We managed to avoid any crashes, though, and after dropping off some folks at the airport we were back at the hotel to pick up the car. Our fun vacation had come to an end. All in all, I had fun. I was surprised at a few things: no strolling musicians performing in the MDR, and no live 'island/party' theme band performing on the pool-deck, as there was on my previous cruise; the ship's design seemed more old-fashioned than even Majesty of the Seas despite being built 4 years later (but kudos for the Serenity area, which was great).... Of course I plan to cruise again, and wouldn't be averse to sailing CCL, but maybe not with this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
This was our long awaited first cruise and after plenty of research we are so happy with our choice on the Carnival Imagination. Our group consisted of 10 people ages 3 years old to 65 years old. We had 3 children, ages 3, 5 and 7 years ... Read More
This was our long awaited first cruise and after plenty of research we are so happy with our choice on the Carnival Imagination. Our group consisted of 10 people ages 3 years old to 65 years old. We had 3 children, ages 3, 5 and 7 years old. We were afraid of sailing in December which I read is when Cozumel had the most rainfall. Everything was perfect. Embarkation was fair. We had a little trouble in our registration instructions on the computer because 2 of our passports were expired so we used birth certificates. Make sure that if you use birth certificates, you have another form of picture ID. We were also told that soon Carnival will implement a fee for using birth certificates as form of proof of citizenship. The ship was glamorous, clean and well kept. We were greeted cheerfully. Our room was clean and bigger than I expected. We chose an interior for 5 people as we did not intend on using it for other than sleep. I have read complaint after complaint on previous reviews, but honestly the size was not bad for the five of us. Though, I cannot see an adult sleeping on the wall beds. We saw the balcony rooms and they were absolutely gorgeous. Activities on board : There was plenty to do all the time. We only went to our room to change or sleep. Every waking minute we spent on deck under the sun in the pool, which seemed small but surprisingly was never full and had plenty of room for leisure swim,in one of the 4 outdoor jacuzzi, playing mini golf, playing on the water slides, or lounging in one of the many chairs usually with a drink, ice cream, or coffee. ( all available, all the time ) You could literally spend a whole day on deck with the water slides. They were that fun and for all ages ! Great quality time for the whole family. We even brought lunch from the deck below and ate it in front of the slides overlooking the whole ocean. Breath taking ! When not outdoors, the shows were equally wonderful. We watched " Show Time " which is a Vegas style song and dance musical appropriate for the whole family. I watched all the comedy shows. There were 2 comedians on board. One hilarious, one not. Family comedy was not amusing. Adult comedy shows brought me to tears laughing. Had the luxury of leaving the kids with family. I didn't make the married couples game show because it was midday and we were on the outdoor deck but watched it late night before sleeping. They play all the activities through out the day over and over again on their channel. It was cute but I'm glad we spent that time in the water under the sun. Karaoke was good. Carnival Kids club : Free babysitting till 10 at night. Clean, safe, air conditioned area. Loved that they offer to give you a cell phone that allows you to remain in contact with them at all times. Care takers were unbelievable kind, patient and cheerful. My 3 year old who has never previously been left in a child care setting LOVED them. He talked about them all night and wanted to go back the next day. 5 and 7 year old seemed more bored. Although there was play station, not the games the loved. And one t.v./ game console against 10 kids, also not fun. Otherwise very satisfied with them. Food : So much variety, so many choices, available all the time. All delicious! Especially loved choosing my own fresh ingredients for Mongolian grill. Great selection for kids available all the time. If all else fails, the 24 hour pizza is very good. Room service was a great way to get something into the kids' stomachs while we got some extra sleep in the morning before going to breakfast. Service : I have read complaints before from other reviewers but I have to say the men and women who service on this ship were remarkable in every aspect. They went out of their way to make the journey spectacular. Small details I noticed in these humble individuals are things like the restaurant hostess kneeling down to tie my kids shoe, caretakers at the child watch making sure you were comfortable leaving your child there before you left, officers and cooks remembering your name from day to day. Every individual has a story. These people leave their families for months on end to earn a living and make our vacations that much more pleasurable in the process. Fully appreciate every one of them. Seasickness : I packed medicine and was worried prior to boarding but to our amazement, no one in our party became sick. Sure, in the beginning you feel the boat rock, then your body adjusts. On the way to Miami on the last day the weather was rough, very windy and all decks were closed off and not to be used. * Because we didn't go to our room much and they leave each days information in your room midday, I failed to read the info about leaving the luggage outside of your room door by 11 pm at night to be picked up and transferred off the ship in the morning. We had to carry off all our luggage but it would have been nice to take advantage of that assistance. Also, I thought we would have at least till 12 noon on debarkation day but we actually had to be out of the room by 8:30 am. A great vacation never to be forgotten ! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was our 1st cruise. We traveled without our children for our anniversary. We used the Amtrak Auto Train to travel down to Florida. Our cruise left Miami on Monday, July 11th and returned on Friday July 15th. Our cabin, U12, ... Read More
This was our 1st cruise. We traveled without our children for our anniversary. We used the Amtrak Auto Train to travel down to Florida. Our cruise left Miami on Monday, July 11th and returned on Friday July 15th. Our cabin, U12, had two portholes. It was bigger than I thought it would be. It had closet space, and a nice size bathroom with a shower. There was a strange odor in our area of the ship. It was not only in our room, but in the hallway as well. It was only on our end of the hall (about 6 rooms affected)and when I mentioned it to our room attendant she could not smell it. She sprayed some febreeze which didn't really help. We just lived with it. Our room attendant was very nice, but had a thick accent (from Europe). I had difficulty understanding her and had to ask her to repeat herself constantly. She did take care of cleaning and preparing our room each day which I was highly satisfied with. Just a note that most of the workers on the Imagination were foreign and difficult to understand. When I asked my waiter why so many were from other countries he said that they are the only ones willing to work the 70 hours a week. Interesting. My husband and I took advantage of both the sit down restaurant dining, as well as the self serve dining experience. I had seen shows on cruises and talked with others and I was expecting the food to be top-notch. I was disappointed. It was average, nothing fancy at all. The sit down restaurant's food was good except for the cheesecake which was horrible. The self service food was also average at best. The waiters in the sit down restauant were very nice and helpful and I enjoyed talking with them each day. I do think that the tables were so close together that it made it hard to have a private conversation with my husband. The self service areas were understaffed. Tables should be cleared in a timly manner and were not. There were long lines to get food and the bars were not cleaned in a timely manner also. We did not order room service, but noticed when others did and left their finsihed trays in the hallway the trays would sit all day without being picked up. This was a daily problem that can easily be corrected. In addition, there was supposedly a chocolate bar on the last day. If there was, we never saw it. We did look for it. There was one swimming pool that was way too small for 2,500 passengers and it did not have a lifeguard on duty. Because of the crowd in the small pool and the lack of lifeguard supervision, we felt it was too dangerous to use. There was a spa/gym also. We didn't utilize it but did take a tour and it was nice. There were activities, such as games and shows, but there were times that we had nothing to do because of a gap in the schedule. When that happened we stayed in the cabin and watched a movie. We did enjoy playing the games we went to and we also enjoyed the comedy show and the show on the Dynasty stage. The 2nd show was cancelled due to injuries and the crew came up with last minute activities. I think they should already have something in place when this happens. There was a lack of security on board. When guests were drunk and behaving inappropriately there was no one to take care of the problems. I was glad my own children were not there to witness some of the behaviors I saw, but I was sad for the children that were there. I saw a woman coming into the hall from her room naked exposing herself to people. And I saw people drunk, loud, and cussing in a vulgar manner. I really didn't think this was an appropriate cruise for children. One reason was because of the behaviors, but also because of the alcohol that is readily available. In addition, there is a store onboard where there is bottle and bottles of alcohol. Not setting a great example for children at all. And also when going to Cozumel we are forced to go through a long store which also has tons of alcohol for sale. This is not something I would like my children exposed to. We went on two excusions. One in the Keys and one in Cozumel. Both were great and I would do them again. The staff was vague on where we were to meet when we went and ended up in the wrong place, but thankfully still got where we needed to go. We took the behind the scenes tour and really enjoyed it. At the end of the tour we saw the captain and had our picture taken with him. Throughout the tour we spoke to many staff members who were very polite. I would do this tour again when we cruise on other ships. We were automatically charged the tips for service. I don't like that. I would rather tip on my own that way if someone did well I will reward them with more and someone who does poorly I will give them less. Instead we were charged $10 per day per guest for tipping. Getting on and off the ship was easier than I thought and that was the only time I saw good security. There were not enough working elevators for that many passengers. Laundry facilities on upper deck had 1 broken iron and two broken dryers. Lost money in the machines, but I was reimbursed without question. Not enough washers and dryers for the whole ship. The staff was great and vey friendly and helpful. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
I wasn't sure of what to expect on my first cruise. I was more excited about the ports of call than I was about the cruise itself. I don't know many people who DON'T like cruising, so I figured I'd enjoy myself even if ... Read More
I wasn't sure of what to expect on my first cruise. I was more excited about the ports of call than I was about the cruise itself. I don't know many people who DON'T like cruising, so I figured I'd enjoy myself even if I was just relaxing while on the ship. It rained our first day, so we were unfortunately stuck indoors for most of our departure. Carnival had some great activities to keep us occupied however. We enjoyed the trivia and informative cruise talks. Our itinerary got switched up so we had a day at sea the second day. Lots of activities as well. Went to the shopping talk - interesting stuff but clearly commission-based. Got a free margarita out of it though. Also went to the gemstone talk, learned a lot about diamonds which was very helpful! Dinner was fun, it was fun to see my mother's surprise when she was deciding between two entrees and the waiter brought out both for her! Everyone ordered double from then on. The rest of the evenings on the ship were OKAY. My siblings and I are younger so we didn't really want to go to the shows or bingo or gambling classes, which seemed to be the only things they offered after the first day. We usually ended up watching TV in our staterooms with room service - we were exhausted so it worked out, but it would have been nice to have had some twenty-something activities. The ship was smaller than I expected, but I think it was sort of nice. The pools were very small, almost the size of a backyard pool - NOT accommodating for 2,000 people! The deck area also seemed very cramped, but we soon discovered the top-most sun deck - empty because it was windy, but plenty of chairs and excellent sun to be found, quiet and we could see all of the activities below. The food was not the best, but I've been to college and I know how hard it is to give loads of people food that is not mass-produced (especially 24hrs a day). Dessert was by far the best - loved the mousses! - and the sit-down dinners were fine as well (small portions - order two if you are the hungry type!). Lunch was the same every day, hard to find healthy options that were not swimming in oil, cheese or fried-ness (I wonder how Vegans and Gluten allergies do on these cruises??). Every night ended with a trip to the bathroom, but I suppose you get what you pay for right? The crew was very friendly and I enjoyed talking to people from all around the world. Everyone was very helpful! Everyone had a smile, which I know can be hard to do when dealing with a lot of people. Can't complain about the service at all! All in all we had a very good experience and we definitely will be going on more cruises in the future! We learned some lessons that will hopefully make our next cruise even better :) Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Well, here goes........ My husband and I just got back from our first cruise. It left Miami on Dec. 13th, 2010. The East Coast was being hit with very cold temps and we felt it in Miami before we left. Once we hit the seas it was ... Read More
Well, here goes........ My husband and I just got back from our first cruise. It left Miami on Dec. 13th, 2010. The East Coast was being hit with very cold temps and we felt it in Miami before we left. Once we hit the seas it was rough to say the least. I never get motion sickness and I love thrill rides, etc. But, after going to my room for a sec to check on my luggage arrival I started getting the dreaded sea sickness. Once I felt the crazy rocking of the ship and saw the high waves and rough water along with being knocked around the cabin a bit, I felt like I got punched in the stomach. So took some meds, and went to upper decks to chill out for a couple hours. The meds kicked in and I was much better. Being my first cruise I didn't know what to expect. We were excited! Not to drag out my review with all the details this is the short of it. The ship was nice, the food was okay nothing very impressive. We enjoyed many meals in a variety of locations and can't say any one spot was my favorite. The way you are taken care of at dinner is nice, but the food was just okay. My hubby liked his Lobster on "Formal Night" very much. The eating areas were crowded and by the time we found a table my food was cold on many occasions but if you know what you are doing you will find a spot. I didn't do the soda card thing, but did notice they just opened canned sodas and put them in your special cup. So, no fountains to fill up cups. I did like being able to eat at any time and the variety in the bistro was good. On Cozumel day we ate before we left the ship and they had Mediterranean and that was actually my favorite food of the whole trip. Falafel, Hummus, etc......yum! The mixed drinks were good too! I vowed not to buy them but it's hard to resist sometimes so just go for it if you are hangin out by the pool. We danced in the Disco to the 80's and 90's night and had a blast, the PG comedy show was good. The Showtime entertainment was kinda corny. I was hoping for something better. The weather was cold so that did mess up our Key West day but we still had fun. Cozumel was enjoyable. Overall we enjoyed ourselves, we learned alot about cruising and what we would do in the future and what we would look for in our next cruise. Happy Cruising!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
He surprised me but also allowed us to chose together. We found a great deal for an Oct sailing. From beginning to end this cruise was amazing. We were a little nervous because we had heard so many negatives about Carnival. We had an ... Read More
He surprised me but also allowed us to chose together. We found a great deal for an Oct sailing. From beginning to end this cruise was amazing. We were a little nervous because we had heard so many negatives about Carnival. We had an ocean view room on the Main deck. The room was surprisingly spacious and well appointed. The shower was excellent and the bed was comfortable. My only complaints about the state room was that they did not supply hair dryers and the drawer space was limited. Our room steward was GREAT! Called us by our first names from the very first day. We chose the late seating in the Pride Dining room. Our server Mario and his assistant were just excellent. They never stopped pleasing us. The food was excellent. The buffet was so so. The pizza was not great. We only did one shore excursion which was the Key West Pub Crawl. Our leader was "Captain Ron". He was the funniest and friendliest person we ever met. We didn't go to the typical pubs ie:Sloppy Joes. He took us to some cool places and the group had a lot of fun. The drinks were pretty watered down since they were free. Cozumel-Well we got as far as the dock area which was a shopping mall from hell. We turned right around and got back on the ship. We had the ship pretty much to ourselves. If we go there again we will probably do an excursion. All in all the experience was excellent. We would sail with Carnival again. We are going on an NCL cruise in about a week and are now a little nervous that it won't be as great an experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Carnival Imagination Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 4.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 5.0 4.0
Rates 3.0 4.3

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