224 Miami to Caribbean - Western Carnival Imagination Cruise Reviews

We booked an Ocean View cabin, E16 on the Carnival Imagination for Jan 28-Feb 1st 2013. This was my 9th cruise and 8th cruise on Carnival. I have never been disappointed in Carnival and this trip was amazing. We flew from CRW (WV) to ... Read More
We booked an Ocean View cabin, E16 on the Carnival Imagination for Jan 28-Feb 1st 2013. This was my 9th cruise and 8th cruise on Carnival. I have never been disappointed in Carnival and this trip was amazing. We flew from CRW (WV) to FLL one day prior and had pre arranged a shuttle with Go Airport Shuttle to take us to South Beach and the Avalon Hotel on Ocean Drive. Nice location and we were upgraded to a partial Ocean view room, nice considering all we had to pay was tax as we used Hotels.com rewards points to pay for the room. Taxi the next morning from hotel to port was 18.50 and took about 15 minutes. We booked the Faster to the Fun and yes it is so worth the 49.95 per cabin. We dropped the bags with the porter who placed an extra tag with FTTF on them, then proceeded down the sidewalk towards check in. All I had to do was show the boarding pass with the FTTF logo on it, a lady compared it to her list and scanned it and escorted us to the front of the security line, so no waiting and snaking your way up to have your passport scanned. We then when through the metal detector and carry-on bags and soda xrayed and then directed upstairs and to the front of the line again to get our S and S cards and Priority Boarding card. Front door to S and S card was 10 minutes. We maybe had a 15 minute wait before boarding began and were able to walk right on. (Tip here,sit closer to Boarding area B to avoid the initial rush up the escalators and gangway to the ship.)Room was ready and as soon as we walked down the hall someone stepped out of a room and said you must be E16 welcome your room is ready and your bags will be right up. We went up to Lido to get lunch and as soon as we came back down, our bags were waiting for us. Again so worth paying the extra. The dreaded Muster Drill was at 3:30 pm and for us it was held in the Dynasty Show Lounge. What was different with this one compared to the Glory and Victory was all of the announcements were made in the lounge in English and Spanish and then we had to walk up two decks to the life boats. After all the stations were dismissed it was time for sail away. Food: Good as always, always able to find something to eat and plenty of food was always available. Only downside was Cozumel Morning the dining room was not open for Breakfast, so the lines on Lido to eat were long, long and really long. This needs to be improved.Shows: Welcome Aboard, the same as the past but still fun to watch. Living in America and Shout were the main production shows, and I have to say it is one of the best I have seen on a ship. There were plenty of activities to keep you busy and entertained, even on the sea day with strong winds and rain the the upper decks closed due to the winds. I really forgot how much I enjoyed the Fantasy class ships, it had been since 1996 when I was last on the Fantasy to Nassau and Freeport. I am looking forward to the next trip in May on the Paradise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
the room smelled like a cigar factory every day. Mostly we could ignore it but when you first entered the room you really noticed it. My husband figured out that the ventilation was not working it only gave cold air in but did not pull ... Read More
the room smelled like a cigar factory every day. Mostly we could ignore it but when you first entered the room you really noticed it. My husband figured out that the ventilation was not working it only gave cold air in but did not pull the stale air out, hence the stale smell. Since neither of us smoke or ever have, we were a little surprised. We did not have this on our first cruise at all but we were not in the back of the boat on that trip either and we were on the Empress deck as well. . We did not mention this to the cabin boy as we felt there was not much that could have been done about it. Other than that the cruise was great and we had a very relaxing four days. Gilbert was our cabin boy and he was super. Introduced himself on the first day and we were surprised he always knew our names after that. My spouse felt that the Horizon Buffet was better than the main dining room - (Pride) but I thought they were equally good. The breakfast in the Buffet was always great! I would recommend it to anybody. Entertainment was good, we did not go to a lot of it, but the Karaoke was fun, and we were tickled by the Battle of the Sexes show. We noticed that there were many more opportunities for pictures, even on the first night, which I do not think they did a year ago. Last time it was on Elegant night only,and the price has doubled from around $11 to $20 for the 8 x 10's. We also were surprised that there was a line to get in to the dining room, and figured out that they had split the dining rooms based on type of dining you had requested - since almost all had requested anytime dining, as had we, most of the diners went to the one dining area - causing a line. The ports were fabulous, we had been to Key West a long time ago, but it was still a great place to visit. Cozumel was good, should have researched it better as to what to do there, but all in all a super trip! Still the best "bang" for the buck IMHO. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
I cruised with a girlfriend for New Years Eve 2013. Chose Carnival Magination mainly because of the dates of our availability. My first time cruise with Carnival, have cruised with RCC before both in Europe & the Caribbean. I am not ... Read More
I cruised with a girlfriend for New Years Eve 2013. Chose Carnival Magination mainly because of the dates of our availability. My first time cruise with Carnival, have cruised with RCC before both in Europe & the Caribbean. I am not opposed to a fun cruise, as what I've been reading on reviews. Check in was amazingly breezy, was one of the first passengers walking in. Walked around to orient myself & had brunch at the Lido Deck while waiting for my friend from Canada to check in. We had an Oceanview stateroom in level 7. It was ready by 1pm & was suprisngly roomy with the narrow twin beds. The bathroom is clean & spacious. I loved the party fun atmosphere as we went on sail. I've never seen so many silicons & botox at one place at a time. The crowd is youngish, family with little children, some grandparents in tow. I'm estimating maybe 1/3 are N Americans, 1/2 the crowd are S.Americans & a minimal number of Europeans, like me & Asians. On the Key West, Cozumel cruise starting in Miami for 5 days for NYE Pros Easy going atmosphere, casual clothing Fun factor is the music at the Lido deck (while having lunch). Food was alright, smaller selection & more on the basic side. Dessert was a pretty sight but not tasty. I liked the soda station where you can serve yourself from the spender & not ready for grabs. MDR was better food. Our waiting staff were excellent! Angel, Wayan? Indonesian waiter & asst. were all friendly & efficient. Short entertainment programs like comedy shows, karaoke Sweet escape at the Serenity Area, squealing kids free area. Cons Depressing sight of hardworking tired looking people who are finally going on vacation with the entire family (grandparents, parents & grandchildren) don't get me wrong, I love kins. Service personnel aren't as friendly as other cruise ships. Small pool. The saving factor for me is the Serenity Area where I could watch the ocean & hear not much but just mild chattering from other passengers. I have 2 kids of my own, I always welcome some "me" peace time. I might consider going on the Carnival Breeze because its a newer ship, otherwise I'd try Celebrity cruise ships next time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
I recently went on the Holiday Cruise on Carnival Imagination...I like to say Carnival Un-imagination or un-inspriation. I bought this thing called "Faster to Fun", it should be called "faster to frustration". This ... Read More
I recently went on the Holiday Cruise on Carnival Imagination...I like to say Carnival Un-imagination or un-inspriation. I bought this thing called "Faster to Fun", it should be called "faster to frustration". This "faster to fun", should allow you the following features - 1. priority in embarkation (checking in and boarding), 2. Priority for Your time dining and 3. Priority in disembarkation. Well we only got 1 of the 3, the priority in disembarkation probably because the crew wanted us out of the ship as fast as possible. Embarkation and Checkin - First of all the person at the port did not know what faster to fun meant and told us to get on the 'normal" line, when i pointed out we had this "cool" feature she finally told us to get on the priority line, where we were the only ones in line. Once in priority, we were suppose to get the first available check-in attendant, but now the guy say only one person processes faster to fun people, but apparently this attendant also processes other people as well. So we had to wait for 15 mins before we got to see this attendant, in the mean time people who got in the regular time got checked in before we did. So clearly it was not faster to fun. When I voiced my objection to the guy he says I have no patience...I paid for this so obviously I have no patience. Check-in took 30 min even though we were the first in line at the priority lane, I guess Carnival has its own meaning of PRIORITY. Dining - According to the faster to fun, you should not have to wait in line to either get a table or get a buzzer for a table. But when we went to tell the restaurant manager in the Pride dining room, he told us that was not true and we had to get in line. After waiting for 45 mins in line another member of the restaurant team comes around checking the ship and sail card and lo and behold she says...Why the heck are you guys in line? and immediately gets us a table. Ok so I thought first day this could happen. But no the second day same thing, I had to get into a verbal confrontation with the staff again on the priority issue. I was not asking for a table then, but with the faster to fun I should have been given priority to be seated or at least given the pager. Again after much argument we finally get a pager. My conclusion on the Carnival Imagination - the management of Carnival need to train their staff better, if you are selling these "faster to fun" things make sure the staff know what it entails because as a consumer I know what I should be getting. Aside from this I did not see the enthusiasm from the crew that I was accustomed to in Royal Caribbean. Aside from my room steward, rest of the crew was very lack luster and I was very very disappointed by the whole cruise experience. If you are thinking of this ship ...Imagine something else Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
I recently returned from my 12/10/12 sailing on the IMAGINATION. This was my 4th time on this sailing, 12th Carnival Cruise, and I have also cruised NCL and RCL. Although I enjoy Carnival, I do critique what I see and my overall experience ... Read More
I recently returned from my 12/10/12 sailing on the IMAGINATION. This was my 4th time on this sailing, 12th Carnival Cruise, and I have also cruised NCL and RCL. Although I enjoy Carnival, I do critique what I see and my overall experience in hopes the cruise line and future passengers may benefit. I tend to cover multiple captions in depth and I hope that my experience is helpful to you. I recently sailed on the LEGEND in September and LOVED the upgrades from the first time I got to sail the Legend in 2006. My 9/12 Legend review was chosen as "Review of the Week" and can be found in the links below my signature on all my posts. The IMAGINATION is still among one of my favorite Carnival ships. I simply enjoy the itinerary, ports and layout of the ship all together. This is why I decided to sail solo for my birthday on this specific ship. The IMAGINATION is really a nice ship and very easy to navigate, even for the first time cruiser. Much of my review regarding the ship is the same as past Imagination reviews, but I try to do different excursions and things to change up my experiences. ITINERARY: Miami-Key West-Cozumel-day at sea-Miami. There is one formal night on day three, making this a perfect getaway trip. CARNIVAL TRANSPORT: MIA airport is a short fifteen minutes from the port. This trip I managed to grab a "hacker fare" with flights (two one-way flights) for a cheaper price. I took the first flight out and arrived in MIA early. Instead of purchasing the Carnival transport this trip I grabbed a TAXI to make my way to the port. For only one person with one bag it can save you a couple bucks. Usually I take the transport, but as I mentioned I like to change up different things and experience the trip different. You can get the transport right at airport in the luggage dept. Its only $16 1- way & worth the price if you do not want to the aggravation or a taxi to the pier. Charter bus and a short drive and you are at the pier. My Taxi ride was quick and only cost me $12 with tip. EMBARKATION: I arrived about 10:30-10:45. Since this was my PLATINUM sailing I was directed to the VIP lounge for check-in. I've been to this port a few times and it is very easy to navigate. Check-in was speedy and I was boarding very shortly once VIP and FTTF passengers were called. CABIN: E61 Ocean view mid shop. For location purposes, I was just off the Atrium and right near the elevators. It is located just under the FUN SHOPS to no noise from above at night when they are closed. The only drawback is there seemed to be a little more than usual traffic being right off the Atrium and near the MAIN glass elevators. I would take this stateroom again for convenience, but would opt to be a little farther away from the MAIN ATRIUM if I could. The stateroom itself is same size and shape as a regular ocean view cabin No Fridge, but I knew that. Typical stateroom, 2 beds that convert to a KING, SAFE, 32" flat screen TV, water and soda to purchase in the room. Two robes hanging in the closet. Conveniently located on the same deck as the laundry room if needed. My suggestion is to do any ironing LATE the first night and get it over with while it is empty. I was in and out in 10 minutes ironing a couple shirts and touching up pants. COMPLIMENTARY BATHROOM BASKET which the items always switch so no need to list what I got. Shower: Shampoo & Liquid Soap (I brought shampoo w/conditioner, a travel Lysol spray & my preferred bar soap). The room itself appeared to be in great condition. Clean and kept. ROOM STEWARD: MICHAEL & his assistant were tending rooms later that night so I introduced myself. Both were extremely courteous and always took the time to say hello and ask how my day was. I was never disturbed at any point during the day and THAT, IMHO is what makes a good room steward; one that knows your name, schedule and can work around your vacation down time. They are an asset to the Carnival crew. PORTS: Key West, Florida & Cozumel Mexico KEYWEST: I wanted to rent a scooter or take the Conch train excursion, but after realizing I forgot my sandals I took the opportunity to shop. The short time you are there limits any extended plans, but it is enough to cover this port and get a taste of what it offers during the 6-7 hours you are there. The Aquarium is right in town center and if you walk up Duval Street a few blocks you will pass SLOPPY JOE's, HARD ROCK, JIMMY BUFFET's Margaretaville & some nicer shops. I remembered a friend on my last cruise refer me to KINO SANDALS 107 Fitzpatrick Street; about a 2 block walking distance from the drop off point. They are reasonable but have few men's styles to choose from. Not finding what I wanted I ventured up Duval St to window shop. This is a good port to grab some last minute items at CVS or pick up one of their famous KEY LIME items. COZUMEL: If you cannot find something to do here then something is wrong. Take an unexpected excursion or simply grab a taxi downtown and shop. During my time in port I was told that Donald Trump is planning on building a resort in Cozumel in the upcoming years, so enjoy it while you can for the culture and history Cozumel offers. EXCURSIONS: I've taken the TALUM tour in 2011 as well as coverage for the AMAZING SECRET RIVER 2010 & Sept 2012. Please check them out!! The excursion I chose this trip was the MAYAN RUINS, TEQUILLA tasting and BEACH excursion. (4.5 hrs) This was a very fun excursion and worth the price. We travelled by charter bus to "PEE-PEE" station gift shops. Ive been here in past years on other excursions and they apparently have expanded adding a short walk through park like setting and describe how Tequila is made. Ending the path is a TEQUILLA TASTING area with the option to purchase bottles of spirits. They are pre-wrapped for luggage transport and the staff was very friendly. Back on board the charter bus to the next stop: SAN GERVASIO MAYAN RUINS located on Cozumel island. You are in the center of a jungle setting and may want to pack a small bug spray to keep the flies and gnats away. These ruins are not as grand as the mainland locations of TALUM or CHICHEN ITZA, but still a nice visit. Although small, these "Ruins of Fertility" have their own historical contributions to offer. We were told that SAN GERVASIO purchased the land but did not realize he had also purchased the Mayan Ruins that were concealed in the thick jungle. After his death he donated the site to COZUMEL as a historic park which is now run by the National Institute of Anthropology & History. They will charge a small fee to bring in professional video recording equipment but small iPhone or still photo cameras are free. Finishing up we boarded the charter bus and headed to the beautiful beach at PLAYA PUNTA SUR. I was at this beach a few years ago and they have built up the facility nicely. I believe it was 2007 when I was here last. Now there is a nice bar, outdoor eating facility, relaxing wading pool, Hammocks and a MASSAGE HUT located right on the beach. If I had enough time after eating I would have indulged in the massage on the beach, but unfortunately took advantage of the sunset for photos. You will want to pull out the bug spray as the mosquitoes start to stir at sunset. We arrived back at the Port around 7:15-7:30. Enough time to do some quick port shopping. I managed to jump back on the ship, take a quick shower and change then head to my scheduled sit-down dinner at 8:15. I could have went back ashore to walk around and shop for souvies since we left at 10pm, but I've been to this port so many times I opted to stay on board. SAIL AWAY night we enjoyed a fun MEXICAN SAIL AWAY party on the Lido deck. FUN DAY AT SEA: On this day I chose to take the BEHIND THE FUN TOUR of the ship. Ive always wanted to take this tour, but never have. The cost of the tour was reasonable and worth the money. Cameras are not allowed on the tour at all. ALAN SUEN the HR rep. was a great informative guide for the tour. SCHEDULED: 2.5hrs tour of the ship included GALLEY, Laundry services, Engine control room, Loading/Unloading area, recycling areas, food storage, visit to behind the Stage productions, a visit to the HR DEPT learning about the training & working environment of the ship crew, Crew Entertainment room & Crew Galley, and a conclusion on the BRIDGE where we got to meet the Captain and some of his offer staff. A gift hat, lanyard and complimentary photo on the bridge are all included in the tour. You learn a lot of interesting things about the running of the ship & everything Carnival does to make your vacation a memorable one. This is a tour I wish I would have taken on other ships and will consider on future cruises as each ship is different. FOOD/DINING: I cruised solo this trip but still opted for sit down 8:15 LATE dining. I prefer the same servers each night and enjoy meeting new people and dinner conversation. Once again I have nothing bad to say about the food on the ship. Our waiter JESUS and his assistants in the dining room were excellent. They could not have been any better. While on the BTF tour we got to glimpse at the "Employee Recognition Board" where your comments on staff members are posted for them to view. YES, they are hearing you and get to see your praises and criticisms. Coincidentally, I happened to spot one regarding our waiter from a past passenger. Having him as our waiter I agree with everything that the past guest stated. STAFF: (I split this up into several captions) WORKING STAFF: Same as my last trips on this ship in 2009 & 2010. I have nothing bad to say about the crew on this ship. Information, Excursion, dining, housekeeping, officers, shops, bar service, casino were all great! I don't know how they keep up the positive attitudes day after day, week after week, month after month! B-R-A-V-O to all of you! The ship was always clean and they take care it. One of the reasons why the IMAGINATION is one of my favorite ships. CRUISE DIRECTOR- SKIP LYONS I liked this cruise director and have been aboard in 2011 when he was sailing. He has just enough humor and was not "Over the top" like some are. He was fun and informative. ENTERTAINMENT: (Some of this is a cut & paste from a past Imagination review) Carnival is discovering that the Main Atrium is valuable space for more entertaining than just the piano bar. The HIP-HOP crew "FUNFORCE" performs in the atrium after show times and always are fun to watch. Since this was a DECEMBER sailing there was SNOW 3 times a day with Christmas carols in the background. It was a nice unexpected touch out in the middle of the Caribbean. The Dynasty Lounge shows perhaps are becoming a little old for me. I still think they are handled well, and look forward to new upcoming productions that I hear are in the works with the new 2.0 upgrades. The CARNIVAL DANCERS in the shows on this trip were better performers than I've seen on other trips. The FEMALE lead singer "ARETHA" has a very good Voice and IMO was the highlight of the show. Same negative comment from last year: Dynasty lounge 2ND level is not as steep as other ships I've been on so some seats are limited visibility. For this ship I think lower level is better seating unless you arrive early and get a booth UP front on 2ND level. If Carnival really wants to make a major improvement to this ship I would tear out the entire 2nd floor of the Dynasty lounge and reformat the seating into stadium seating. The booths just do not work if you actually want to watch the performances. FELLOW SHIP PASSENGERS: This is a topic I usually try to cover in my reviews because although Carnival technically has no control on who books a cruise, it reflects the "type" of passenger that chooses certain itineraries as well as what the age-range to help others choose vacations times. I thought it was a another nice quiet relaxing vacation since it was just after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. Not as many kids on board as in the summer as you would expect. After several cruises over the past years I have noticed the less "ROWDY" crowds cruise during the week as apposed to the weekender get-a-way cruises. This was a full sailing, but did not feel overly crowded at any time. I did not use the SPA or CAMP CARNIVAL so have no comments to make here. DEBARKATION: As a platinum member I took advantage of the VIP SELF-ASSIST debarkation and was off the ship by 9am. I took the Carnival transport to the FLL airport for the 2nd half of my "HACKER FARE." FLL is an easy 40 minute estimated ride but I would still book flights no earlier than 12-12:30 in case of traffic or delays. SUMMARY LIKES: PRICE, ITINERARY, FOOD, SERVICE, CLEANLINESS of the ship, HIP HOP, mini-golf on deck 10 forward? And never forget the "WCMC": warm chocolate melting cake. mmmm DISLIKES: Dynasty Lounge-UPSTAIRS seating. Still No option to view your account in your room, but they now offer a kiosk-like machine by guest services to check on your accounts. In the end, this was my FOURTH sailing on the Imagination in 4 years, and I would definitely do this cruise again and recommend it to others. It is a nice FIRST TIME cruise itinerary and a good taste of the Carnival experience. If you have any questions feel free to contact me via cruise critic under handle: wiskt Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We love cruising. We've cruised on Carnival and Royal Carribean. So far, we like Carnival the most. I didn't like that we did not have enough time in each port. We sailed from Miami on Monday and got to Key West on Tuesday ... Read More
We love cruising. We've cruised on Carnival and Royal Carribean. So far, we like Carnival the most. I didn't like that we did not have enough time in each port. We sailed from Miami on Monday and got to Key West on Tuesday morning. We were there from 7:30am until 1:30pm. That was not enough time to get to do much. We took one of the City tours (jump on jump off), went to the Butterfly Conservatory, Southermost Point, did a little (very little) shopping, and headed back for the ship around 12:30 since we had to be back on the ship by 1pm. You had to be shuttled back and forth from the ship to Key west. The line for the shuttle was so long, about 2 1/2 blocks long, which I felt could have been done a little more efficiently. We arrived in Cozumel at 1:30 on Wednesday and was to leave at 10pm (had to be back on ship by 9:30pm). That seems like quite a bit of time but really wasn't when you consider the length of time it takes to do an excursion and then have enough time to do some shopping. If you want to shop away from the pier, you have to take a taxi which we decided to do after we went on a submarine excursion. Supposed to be a 2 hour excursion but most of that time was spent taking us to and from the submarine on a boat. We were probably in sub about an hour. The sub was nice, clean, and modern. We explored the reef which was pretty but couldn't see much as the water was not clear and there were not a lot of fish to look at. Kind of disappointing and not what I expected as we expected to see more fish.Thursday was a day at sea. Now here's my comments on the ship. The seats in the dining room (Spirit dining room) were dirty/stained. The menu seemed somewhat less fancy and with fewer selections than previous cruises. The wait staff (at our table at least) were not as friendly or helpful. The cabin was ok. We wanted to get a drink at the bar with a souvenir glass and was told we had to go to the pool bar to get one. We went there and was told we had to order off a certain menu in order to get the souvenir glass. They should make it so that you can order any drink and just pay a little extra for the glass. I think that's how it used to be years ago but not sure. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze, no problems there. Getting to the Port of Miami can be a little tricky but parking at the terminal was easy. Getting out, not so easy as there is construction. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Well this ship maybe old and small with no balcony cabins but still lots of charm. Embarkation at airport is a GREAT idea and a must do! Took bus to ship and arrived ~Noon. Wife was in wheelchair and being gold member helped alot to ... Read More
Well this ship maybe old and small with no balcony cabins but still lots of charm. Embarkation at airport is a GREAT idea and a must do! Took bus to ship and arrived ~Noon. Wife was in wheelchair and being gold member helped alot to streamline getting aboard. The ship was in good shape for her age and staff very friendly. The ship seemed much larger than I expected. This was a cheap short getaway for my wife after her bout with brain and lung cancer. Room was OK with large oceanview and close to elevators and easy to get to dining room. No welcome back party! Just 1 free drink in morning or afternoon and only redeemable in one small off the beaten track lounge! NO MORE NEXT CRUISE Certificates!! BAD IDEA Carnival!! This is a win/win what are you thinking?? Key West 7:30 AM to 1PM!! No one was awake on the island. Few stores opened till later and little to do except get a drink. Wasted port! Cozumel 1PM till 10PM again...what are you thinking?? Too late to do excersion...gets dark by 6pm.and LONG WALK off pier! No shuttles only pedcab...bicycle surry. At the end of pier do stop in at Three Emigos! Bat=rtender is amazing with drink tricks! We rented Jeep from Alamo for $65+ insurance=$90. and drove less then 15 miles total...not worth it! Drove to San Francisco beach...Dont go! Vendors wont leave you alone! Must ourchase $10 of food/drink each to use public beach! Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Here's a little background. This was my 5th Carnival cruise, and my ds-18's very first cruise. We were on a 4-day cruise from Miami to visit the ports of Key West and Cozumel. I booked this cruise as a pack and go special. ... Read More
Here's a little background. This was my 5th Carnival cruise, and my ds-18's very first cruise. We were on a 4-day cruise from Miami to visit the ports of Key West and Cozumel. I booked this cruise as a pack and go special. I think I booked it about 3-4 weeks out. I got a super bargain on an inside cabin that CCL was to choose for me. It turned out to be a great location for us. Our cruise departed on Monday, October 29. Pre Cruise We flew in the day before our cruise to MIA. By this time, Hurricane Sandy had already visited Miami and was getting close to wreaking havoc on the Northern Coastline. My prayers go out to all who are dealing with the destruction of Sandy. The weather was cool, I was glad I had brought my jacket. Our flight from DFW to MIA was uneventful. We stayed at the Holiday Inn near the airport using points. We did have to call twice for our shuttle at the airport to pick us up. But a nice apology was given and we moved on. The hotel was clean, and there was an IHOP next door that offered a discount by showing your room key. There also was a McDonalds along the way within walking distance and I noticed a Subway too. I had worked the night before so I was exhausted. After a quick lunch at IHOP, it was off to bed for me! We woke up very early the next morning and ds went downstairs to grab some breakfast. He brought me back a bagel. I am not sure of all the offerings for breakfast as I didn't go to the lobby, but there were several tables, coffee, juice etc I know for sure. It was free, so no complaints here. DS was satisfied. We purchased about 10 cans of cokes from the coke machine at the hotel for a buck each and loaded them in our carryon bag for the cruise. We signed up in advance with the hotel for a shuttle to the pier. It was $10 pp. At about 9:45 am the pier shuttle arrived, loaded us and a few others on to the van and off to our new home for the next few days. On a side note, there were two couples traveling with us in the van who were originally booked and boarded the Glory. They were onboard for about 4 hours they said, soaking in the hot tub and drinking, when they had to disembark the ship because the cruise was being cancelled. They said the Coast Guard closed the harbor and the ship could not sail. Smartly thinking, one of the dh's got on the phone, booked flights, contacted Carnival and got another cruise in its place at a great last minute price they said. I was happy their vacation was salvaged and not completely ruined by Sandy. Embarkation We arrived at the POM at about 10:15 am, and by 11:00, I was eating lunch on the Lido. At promptly 2:30, we went downstairs to check out our cabin and it was ready. It was a great location. I had booked a pack & go rate so CCL picked my cabin for me. About a week out, I noticed that my cabin had been assigned so I knew exactly where it was. We had an interior cabin on the Empress deck, # E188. The ship itself seemed to be in great shape. My cabin was clean and tidy but a few things were certainly worn out. Even though I had requested twin beds, we arrived to have King. I mentioned it to our steward and he kindly fixed it later that night-after showing me his documents stating "couple" meaning we were a couple and wanted a King. I on the other hand had documents showing 2 twin beds. We had a flat screen tv mounted on the wall, but our bedside table was coming apart-literally with pieces sticking out. I took photos of it, but I am not posting any photos online here at this time. Also, the light cover over the nightlight was busted, and partially missing. This cabin was also freezing the entire cruise. We did turn the switch to blow on low but it was still cold. If we were in the cabin, we were under the blankets on the bed lol. Also, our phone did not work properly as we tried to set up a wakeup call. Was it a bad cabin? No. Just a few things we noticed. Our room steward was nice and kept a tidy cabin. Something I did notice on this cruise that I have never noticed before is that every night we got a new towel animal, our old one disappeared. In the past, all of our animals stayed, and we could line them all up together and photograph them. Not this time. We were satisfied with our steward, and left tips in place no adjustments either way. Muster drill was late and sail away was late. I was glad they didn't sail away until after the muster was complete. We were scheduled to depart at 4pm but we did not leave until maybe around 4:30 or so. I'm not exact on the time however; I do know we were late. Our luggage arrived within an hour or so. All bags including rum runners made it safely onboard to our cabin. Rum Runners-5- CCL- 0 ? DINING My only complaint I think this cruise would have to be regarding dining. In my previous cruises, we have dined at assigned dinging times. We have had early and late seating in the past. Depending on if our youngest is with us determines our dining time choice. This time I requested late dining as I was traveling with my 18 year old son but we were waitlisted and we were assigned Your Time Dining instead. YTD was awful. Our first night, we expect it to be slow as everyone is adjusting to it. I know to expect this. Two dancing waiter shows later, we are still in the dining room. We were seated at a large round table with other guests in whom I enjoyed as I'm a social person. This time was no exception. Our tablemates were all friendly. However our wait staff was not. There was no greeting, no smile, barely an acknowledgement of our existence. Water glasses were filled around the table. I placed my hand over my glass before the robotic waiter could fill it with water and I requested iced tea instead. There was zero personality to our wait staff. This is my biggest complaint about the tipping structure that most cruise lines have. This waiter who didn't even speak to me received full tips from me and my son for the evening for doing little more than writing my order on a piece of paper along with the other people's order. He did little to deserve his tip. I don't care to debate it so don't bother. On another note...is it just me or did the food portions get smaller? Did the choices get smaller? I ordered the flat iron steak one night and I swear it was the smallest steak I have ever seen. Speaking of that steak, I had to send it back as blood was still running out of it-it certainly was not the way I ordered it. I had to flag down someone to send my waiter to me so I could as he did not come back to check on our meal after it was delivered. Once my steak was returned (actually a new steak) it was now cooked well done (not the way I ordered it either) and tough as shoe leather but I managed to eat some of it. Our overall experience in the dining room...a bust. I miss the assigned dining time and will be going back to that hopefully for all future cruises. I have never had a waiter walk away from me while I was in mid sentence trying to tell him what I wanted to order. Apparently he could read my mind. I must say even though we requested a different seating area and wait staff after the first night, it was only a slight improvement in service. At least I did manage to receive refills on my tea. Unfortunately I left all tips in place, no adjustments either way. Which by giving them full tips, it tells the wait staff that their service rendered was acceptable-and in my opinion it was not but I didn't want to mess with the hassle. Which I'm guessing is why it's the way it is. If you tell someone that they did a good job, they will believe it. Tipping for poor service is just that. I should have reduced tips but I didn't. The people at our large table agreed it was poor service as well. We ate in the dining room 3 nights. We ordered room service three times. Two of the three times they had our order completely wrong. Our breakfast on debarkation day was delivered just as we ordered it and on time. I do not know why it is so difficult to order a ham sandwich with no mayo. Entertainment We had fun. We did not do a lot of shows. Ds watched the marriage show, which I have seen in the past so I did not attend. He like it and thought it was funny. We both attended the late night adults only comedy show. We laughed and then it began getting raunchy and I was not comfortable sitting there with my son, so we both agreed to leave partially through the show. No complaints about it, but my son is 18, but still in high school so I chose not to hear the rest of it. Perhaps if my dh was there instead it would have been better for me. Willie our cruise director was great I thought. Thank God he was not on the PA system every 10 minutes! I have been cruising when I swear the CD just wants to hear his self talk. Thankfully Willie was only on the PA with important info. We participated in the Halloween costume contest, earning a spot on the stage. I was dressed as Flo from Progressive Insurance and my ds was Jake from State Farm Insurance. We had a lot of fun parading around and checking out everyone's costumes. We didn't win which was fine as there were a lot of fantastic costumes. We had fun and that was the goal. I tried my luck at the tower building game...a.k.a. Giant Jenga. It turns out I'm no good at it. I think I knocked it down every time but once lol. I received a pity medal for participation lol. I also tried my luck at Rock n Roll Trivia in which I scored myself a 24kt gold plastic ship on a stick. It turns out I know a lot about Rock n Roll...and the trivia isn't all about Rock n Roll (which I'm not sure why it's not called music trivia instead) I also tried my luck at another trivia game, where cheaters won. All I'm saying is it's pretty pathetic if you have to cheat to win. We visited the piano bar and the pianist was Marty. I have been to other piano bars where it's fun and hopping. This place was a snooze fest. Even a new friend I made onboard said that it was lame. So I'm not sure if we were too early (11pm) or what...but we ended up leaving there and went to the dance club. Great dj! He would judge the vibe of the crowd, and change the tunes as needed. We enjoyed our time here. Casino-well well. What can I say? I lost all my gambling funds. I was playing Hold em (I'm a pretty good player) lost two big hands to a guy who on his first hand hit runner runner for a straight flush. His second hand he again hit runner runner and hit a 4 of a kind to my full house. I'll lose to those hands any day of the week. I know I got my money in first with the best hand. That's the best you can do. He got lucky. That's poker my friends. I did not go back to the hold em table. Instead, I went to play black jack the next night. My second favorite casino game. Of course my bad luck would follow right. Dealer has a 5 showing, I'm dealt 8 8. Of course I split. Guess what, I get a 3. Double down right? Of course. Guess what on the second 8...a third 8. I split. I get a three and double down. All in all I had three or four 8's split, and doubled on every hand but one. And of course the dealer ends up pulling a 21 lol...lost it all but $5. And then I pulled out a $1 to play one more hand of black jack and lost that hand too. For those of you curious, yes, the electronic hold em table is there. Off and on there would be $2 black jack on the electronic bj table. Table mins on bj were $6. The highly addictive Vault game is there too. By the end of the cruise, about 5 prizes had been won. All in all the staff was fun and entertaining and involved as they should be. Ports Our first port was Key West. This was my first visit to Key West. Honestly in my opinion, 7:30 am is too early for this port. Sure the typical port stuff was open. But having to be back on board by 1:00 just does not give you enough time to really enjoy the port. DS and I had pre arranged online our parasailing with Fury water sports. If you order online you receive a discount. It was a great experience and wayyyyy cheaper than booking through the cruise line. If you want to parasail, this is the place to do it. Our crew was great. Due to the winds caused by Sandy, I was concerned that it may be cancelled but it was not. We were there on Tuesday and they said we were the first ones going out after Sandy. I was a bit nervous as it was really windy but that added to the thrill of it. Usually it is a slow relaxing ride. This time was a bit more exciting. We would not hesitate to book this again. There wasn't much for us to do here. An 18 yr. old cannot bar hop here. After our parasailing, we walked through a few of the shops and did a little shopping and just headed back to the ship. Our second port was Cozumel. This was also Halloween. We slept in, very late today after being up all night before. Once we finally got off the ship it was about 4 pm. It was fun to see everyone in port (the workers) dressed in their costumes. We did a little shopping, ate some lunch at Panchos backyard, ds had a XX and I did too. We did some more shopping and then we headed to Fat Tuesdays where ds decided he likes the mango margaritas lol. He also learned how stupid drunk people become-and loved watching "old drunk people dance on a pole". I also taught him about pier runners. But everyone was eager to get onboard for Halloween fun so no late night excitement for pier runners this time. I told him to search on you tube for reference lol. We were back on the ship by 7 pm. We skipped dinner in the MDR and got ready for Halloween. We ran to the buffet and got a little something to eat and then headed to the Promenade to see the parade of people in their costumes. There were some really great costumes. As I stated earlier, I was Flo and ds was Jake from State Farm. We had a lot of fun with these costumes and enjoyed participating. Some people were really creative in coming up with last minute costume ideas. I enjoyed this so much; I think I would like to book another Halloween cruise. The Ship I really liked this ship. I usually prefer the larger ships but for some reason I really "clicked" with this ship. I never had a problem finding a lounger in the Serenity area. The only negative I have to say about this area was there were never 2 hot tubs hot at the same time. Actually, there was never 1 hot tub hot...there would be one not heated at all, and then one barely heated, not even bath water warm. And it alternated as to which one would be "heated". I did love the serenity area, and spent quite a bit of my time here. There were not many children on the ship so no complaints about noise from the water area above. The only complaint regarding children I have is the horde of kids in the 3 cabins across from mine. There were several young children ages 6-11 I'm guessing and a toddler in a stroller. The stroller was parked outside all week long. No big deal for me, it helped me easily locate my cabin door. But they were loud. Every morning they (the adults) would meet outside the hallway about 6am and talk and laugh and cut up. I have no idea what they were saying as they were foreigners. It was not French and it was not Spanish. But I could hear every single word they spoke. It drove me crazy. I would just put the pillow over my head. I considered these people very rude as they allowed their children to run up and down the hallway early in the morning and squeal and laugh. Normally I don't mind kids so much, but have some common respect for other travelers at 6am. The buffet lines never seemed long for me. I think the longest line I waited in was for the Mexican Fiesta line. And yes, there were trays in the buffet lines and straws too by the drink station. I never spent time at the pool or the lido deck except to visit the grill once for a hamburger. The photo ops were everywhere. Some were really good. I ended up purchasing 6 8x10 photos. Debarkation this was the easiest I have ever experienced. However, this is also the first time I did self assist, and requested early off for an early flight. Let me just say this, DO NOT schedule a flight out of MIA before 11am. The ship was cleared at nearly 8:30 am we seriously were the first people in line going through customs, with our luggage in tow. We made it outside in record time. We were in line waiting for a cab. Two had left in front of us and there were none in sight. Seriously it was freaky. I don't know where they all were. A man from a "shuttle service" approached us. There was another man in line in front of us waiting on a cab who apparently had an early flight as well and he was freaking out a bit over the no cab situation. Anyways, there was a total of 4 of us struck up a deal with the van driver, providing he would leave right away-not wait for any other passengers and he offered it for $8 pp then he said $10 pp. We all agreed to it and he took us to his van. He tried to wait for more people but of course we put up a fight and he left and drove like a maniac to get us to the airport in a hurry. Seriously I felt like I was in Montego Bay as a passenger lol. Thanks to his crazy driving, we made it to the airport super fast. He received a nice tip from me and we headed in to the airport. We went and stood in line to check out luggage. Then we headed to the slowest security line ever. It's even worse than DFW and that's saying something! I asked the TSA agent standing at the entrance if she had any idea how long the line might be running and she told me 30 minutes. I thought to myself, no way! After 30 minutes, we had progressed through about 3 of the lines, she thankfully came and got us out of line and moved us up to a special line to go through. Finally we made it through and arrived at our gate just as they were boarding. Had this TSA agent not helped us out, we would have missed our flight. Our flight left out on time and we arrived home safe and sound. Afterthoughts Traveling during hurricane season is stressful, even when booking last minute. Rum Runners are still awesome! I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the Imagination. I tend to like the larger ships. I can hang with an 18 year old! Don't book early flights after your cruise. Warm chocolate melting cake is still the greatest thing onboard (except when they overcook it and it's just cake) I enjoyed meeting my CC friends. I really enjoyed the Halloween cruise. I think I'll book another! My thoughts and prayers go to all of you who were affected by Sandy in any way. I pray for a speedy recovery for all. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
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 had a really nice time on this cruise. My staff at dinner was excellent, but I didn't see my stateroom steward at all the entire trip. Nevertheless, (s)he did a nice job keeping my room in good shape. The staff at the casino was ... Read More
I had a really nice time on this cruise. My staff at dinner was excellent, but I didn't see my stateroom steward at all the entire trip. Nevertheless, (s)he did a nice job keeping my room in good shape. The staff at the casino was also excellent, however, I didn't find that random employees I came across on the ship were particularly friendly. Most of them would stare straight ahead and not say hello as I passed them in the corridors. This is unusual based on prior cruises. The ship itself is aging, but still is a fun one. I enjoyed the water slides. One thing I would have liked was a pool in a more quiet area. The serenity deck (adults only) had two hot tubs, but no pool. The other pool area included extremely loud music, making it hard to relax and read. I didn't attend the comedy routines myself, but heard they were ridiculously funny. Food was good--certainly not excellent. Definitely eat in the dining room as much as you can. I found the food there to be far better than that served on the Lido deck. I have previously sailed on the Glory, Liberty, and the Triumph (listed in order from favorite to least favorite). I found the Imagination to be relatively old and with a staff and food that left some to be desired. However, this cruise was still awesome and a good value for the price I paid. I remain a loyal Carnival customer. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
As first time cruisers we really didn't know what to expect. Reviews were mixed on this ship, either you liked it or you didn't. We didn't hate it but the next cruise we take will not be on the Imagination. Getting to the ... Read More
As first time cruisers we really didn't know what to expect. Reviews were mixed on this ship, either you liked it or you didn't. We didn't hate it but the next cruise we take will not be on the Imagination. Getting to the Port of Miami and checking in was easy. Once aboard the ship, that was a different story. They want you to go right to the Lido deck for lunch which is great except you and 3000 other people are lugging their carry on bags through the buffet. Not such a smart idea. Once we were able to go to our staterooms, nothing shocking there, small and cramped. My mother and my 2 children had a stateroom next to me and my husband (not connected). Their room was never set up correctly, instead of the bunk bed in the wall like I was told, my son slept on a cot that was partially under the vanity table. The room was not set up until late the first day on the ship (I had to talk to 2 different people). The staff at Guest Services certainly were not most helpful. Our 1st dinner service took much longer than expected, we did not receive our menus until 6:30-we had the 6:00 seating. We finally finished around 7:45. They certainly were not enforcing any of the dress code that was posted everywhere even on elegant night. The food in the dining room was fantastic, no complaints there. Our waiters at dinner were awesome...they remembered the kids names and what they wanted for desserts because it never strayed from the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake...YUMMMMM. The pool is too small for that ship, my kids were able to go in for about 30 minutes the day the ship was in Cozumel because there was no one on board. We did the water slides, they enjoyed that. I just wish that all of the items in the water slide area worked, some items were broken. Skip the cruise director sounded like a fun guy, but we only ever saw him a couple times (heard him all of the time). The assistant cruise director was always visible. The comedians were absolutely hilarious....definitely worth watching. The food at the buffet was great (except for 'France' themed day.) The kids loved being able to have ice cream whenever they wanted. The full cruise day was fun, but for some reason there was no Waite staff on the lido deck at night like there was every other night. It also would have been nice if they would have done something on the last full day of cruising....but there was nothing... The ports were fantastic, just wish there was more time in Key West. There was only about 5 hours and did not leave enough time for an excursion and shopping. Cozumel was awesome, never made it from where the boat docked, the shops there were fairly priced. Wish we could have made it into the City but didn't want to chance not getting back to the ship in time. Both of my children were signed up for Camp Carnival and Circle C. The enjoyed going but they did not always stick to the schedule. My son was supposed to do Break Dancing lessons on the day at sea and they never had it. Disembarking was easy but it took forever because those traveling on the ship cannot follow simple directions. all in all...it was worth the price but I would definitely sail on a newer ship in the future. The Imagination is definitely showing its age. The palm trees in on the Lido deck were never lit up at night and that was disappointing. Key West was a blast, just wish we had more time to sight see and shop.Tons of shops with great prices. My daughter picked up 4 sundress for $20.00. We were also able to pick up the shirts that change color in the sun for $5.00 as opposed to the ones that are priced $25-$30 in Mexico or on the ship. Awesome port...Can't wait to go back....so we can see the city. It was nice the day we were there because we were the only ship docked. Not fighting through crowds. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We took the 4 day Carnival cruise to Key West and Cozumel on July 16, 2012. We chose Carnival, quite simply, because of the value. We have cruised with them twice, and with young children, we feel like this is the best bang for your ... Read More
We took the 4 day Carnival cruise to Key West and Cozumel on July 16, 2012. We chose Carnival, quite simply, because of the value. We have cruised with them twice, and with young children, we feel like this is the best bang for your buck. We have looked at other cruise lines (obviously Disney among others)and will probably take one in the future....but Carnival doesn't disappoint...if you have realistic expectations. I have read reviews from others bashing this cruise line, and they usually are experienced cruisers who have sailed with other cruise lines. Then, they compare and complain, but forget the old adage, "you get what you pay for". They want Disney or Royal Caribbean quality at Carnival prices. It's like going from Macy's to Walmart. There's nothing wrong with Walmart...but it ain't Macy's. If you understand you are taking what I call a "value cruise", you will be fine. Embarkation: We sailed from Miami this year and found it easier and much less hectic than Port Canaveral was last year. We arrived around 10:45 and had no wait in line, either at security or check in. We sat in the waiting area and were on the boat before noon. Having cruised the year before, we knew to go to the Lido deck for lunch...we were actually planning on skipping it, but with no lines, we decided to feed our kids before heading to the splash pool. The kids loved the miniwater slides and we had a few drinks as the ship sailed before heading to our room. Room: we went for an ocean view this time because there were limited balcony options...we had one last time. Didn't miss it much. The rooms are small, but I'm told they are on most lines. It was clean...and kept clean. Our room steward made a towel animal for each child each night and called us by name on our first day. Crew: Most smiled and greeted you. I've read that they are not overly friendly, but I think that has a lot to do with the language barrier. They seemed to be working all the time. the Camp Carnival staff are great. My wife and I are both teahcers and are skeptical of leaving our kids with others at times, but the staff is friendly and helpful. Our 5 year old loves camp carnival. The children are separated into appropriate age groups and I never saw less than two staff in the 2-5 year old room. Our 3 year old doesn't like to be away from us and only went for a half hour on the first day...but they knew his name and asked him daily if he would like to stay. When we would see the CC staff around the ship they would speak to our kids, calling them by name. Food: Is it four star cuisine? No. Are there more than enough options for you to find something you want to eat? God yes. Again, it's a value cruise. The food in the main dining room is good. Not spectacular or great, but good enough. You have several options each night ranging from healthy to comfort foods. None of the meals knocked me off of my chair, but I didn't find any to be awful. The Lido restaurant is almost always open and you can wait in line for the cafeteria style food (which we almost never did)or get things like deli sandwhiches (good) or pizza (ok..but available all day). We had fresh omlettes every day for breakfast. It's almost embarassing, because if you don't like what you put on your plate, you leave it and get something else. The drinks may seem pricey to some, but if you go out at all, you know that they are not that overpriced...by the way, you are on vacation..what do you expect, a $2 beer? We only saw one show...a comedy show in the family time slot at 8. A.J. Jamal, I believe was his name, was hilarious...would have loved to go back for the late show..but not an option with kids. The pool is small and crowded, but we knew that going in, and chose the ship because of the water works for the kids...never have gone near the pool on either cruise. This seems like an area that Carnival should upgrade, if possible,on a smaller ship like this one. The crowd ranges from young families to old families to young couples. I never saw groups 20 somethings or teenagers roaming drunk around the ship. I did see a drunk or two, but no more than you would expect at a ball game, concert or town festival where alcohol is served....some people just can't help themselves. Excurusions: they are what you make of them. 7:30 was a bit early to get to Key West and it was a short stay..we took a trolley tour and were able to get on and off when we wanted to. In Cozumel, did a beach day..which the kids loved and had time to shop after. Debarkation: had a full breakfast service in the Lido restaruant around 8:30, and waited to be called around 9:30... got bags, through customs, and directly onto our airport transfer (that we booked through Carnival this time..and I would recommend) Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Carnival Imagination on 7-16-2012 Key West, Fl and Cozumel, Mexico / 4 day Cruise This was the one you fear and have read about before. Kids running amuck all hours of the night stomping and ... Read More
Carnival Imagination on 7-16-2012 Key West, Fl and Cozumel, Mexico / 4 day Cruise This was the one you fear and have read about before. Kids running amuck all hours of the night stomping and banging on doors. Food lines were closed down early all over the ship, fun times posts and Port Times are shortened! Waterworks slides were like a pool in the projects, line cutting. (attendant just laughed) Carnival excursions are expensive and short! Book Local !! The price was $150. Per day PP, the most I have spent in 7 cruises. Parking (in the sun) $20/ day. Ants infested our van there. MIAMI. Bar keep saw our coupons and ignored us. The tips were posted on my account at the highest rate ever. We had no ice in the room (for a day) , no refrigerator and no blow dryer. Which is common on that ship, I hear. The wait staff was rude on a night we seated 15 minutes prior to the next seat time. I reduced my tips at the guest services as a result. Carnival is not consistent, not vigilant, and has gotten too expensive. Our local excursions were cheap and great! I believe that the real "Carnival" is on the bigger vessels and anything less than 5000 persons now gets a "whatever style cruise". I only wish I had paid the "whatever style" price. Artificial reefs anyone? Getting off and on the ship was easy, getting food was difficult. Mongolian bar wait was 45 min... and it was terrible. Food lines closed 30 minutes early consistently with people looking around to eat... at $150.00 per person day?.... Really? Ports of call were great, port times were shortened from posted itineraries. Same tired menu and so so food on this cruise. We had a touch of the stomach bug from the first lunch, but bounced back. Sailing was nice. Service was reduced it seemed. One wait staff per table per course, I have seen up to three before. The shows were good and the comics were funny. It is still too much of the "you guys entertain each other" shows that save the cruise line money. Karaoke, game shows etc. ad nauseum.. Read Less
Sail Date July 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
This was our second cruise with Carnival after we sailed on the Liberty April 2011 where the service was excellent, so we decided to sail Carnival again. It was a great vacation and we would definitely do it again. The food was a touch ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Carnival after we sailed on the Liberty April 2011 where the service was excellent, so we decided to sail Carnival again. It was a great vacation and we would definitely do it again. The food was a touch better on Imagination, service was just as excellent as on the Liberty. The shows were not nearly as good as on the Liberty but still decent. The comedian Steve was one of the funniest comedians every anywhere. I was also more impressed with Imagination due to them having the adult comedy show in the front lounge where they could accommodate everyone. On the Liberty they had it in the back lounge which is way to small and hundreds were turned away. Imagination excellent in the comedy dept. Only issues were, my parents room water temp was too high. My girlfriends air was too warm but they fixed it within the hour. And y safe twice locked me out and had to call for help. I understand Carnival cannot control how much people fiddle with things so its not their fault. They did resolve the issues to satisfaction. We had a great time, I wish it did a 4 say Eastern instead of a 3 day. If so I would be booking it right now. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
I've always read cruise forums and see many people looking for help along with lots of people with nice things to say and alot of complainers. I've never written a review but was asked for help by another cruiser on a different ... Read More
I've always read cruise forums and see many people looking for help along with lots of people with nice things to say and alot of complainers. I've never written a review but was asked for help by another cruiser on a different site and thought it was so detailed that I could help others on different cruise sites who are looking to sail the Carnival Imagination 4 day western caribbean cruise. If you're a first timer, or cruise expert I think this may help. I know it's long but it's what the last blogger was asking for. Everyone has a right to their own opinion and remember two cruisers on the same ship can have two different experiences. So please respect that I've sailed the Imagination many times with my wife and this is just based on my experiences. I've only written this to share with others inquiring about sailing this cruise - and am not looking for anyones opinion on my experience. My wife and I have sailed the 4 day western caribbean Imagination before, and last one was as recent as 8 months ago. We are in our late 20's and love it. I feel that age is indicative to your experience so I always list our ages and when we took the cruise. For instance if when I were 15 and were to write a review I would most likely say the whole cruise "sucked" because you're full of angst in those days and there's not much for teens to do on the 4 day cruise. Yet everyone from 21 - 50's that I talk to on 4 day imagination cruises have a great time, while SOME in more of a senior citizen age seem to like Royal Caribbean better because it's more of a relaxed atmosphere. Yet if you're in the target age group then you'll most likely love it as they are truly the "funships". A cruise is truly what you make of it. Most reviews I've read that are negative tenddd to be by natural complainers, or people who had a bad time because of a certain incident. Not all of course, but most. I say this because I hate people getting to scared to experience certain ships for themselves because of negative nancys reviews. For example you know cruises run 24/7. Cruisers from the previous ship are off by 10am and a new batch is let on by 12:00pm and you're let into your room by 2 o clock and departure happens at 4pm and all the activities on the jam packed itineraries must begin on time. The staff and crew must work hard and fast to cook, clean, prepare and do everything all over again in a short amount of time. Of course a few things may go wrong sometimes, especially plumbing. I actually saw a cruiser once be mean to the stateroom maid because of a little flooding from her shower whom then of course said "I'm going to give this ship a negative review". I mean how many times have you had to call upon a plumber, electrician, carpenter etc. for your home because of things malfunctioning, now imagine a 24/7 ship out at sea. Most people who give negative reviews base their whole trip on one thing going wrong. For instance I remember prior to sailing the imagination in my adult life reading how rude the staff could be, yet I've never had come across a rude crew member yet. The only people not smiling are the people who clean up tables after you eat (and I mean honestly if that was your life 24/7 would you be so cheery especially if you're out at sea away from your family sometimes for 9 months on end) The only thing I could say about staff rudeness is that It seems to depend on how you act towards them. Even if I had complaint I'd go up to the guest services desk with a smile on to inquire about a problem. Which seems to be how society should work you'd think right, yet I've seen people talk to these crew members with such an attitude because what...they didn't get ice the minute they asked for it? Another person lost their wallet so of course had nothing good to say. I honestly have had no complaints about any of my times on this ship (last one 8 months ago). The only thing not to our particular liking was how some of the food was cooked, as my wife loves to cook with many spices and some entrees tasted a little bland to us, yet other cruises downed plate after plate. So to each is own, right? =). You can't go wrong with breakfast and that was our favorite, especially since you're allowed to bring the trays to your state room. Also a cruise seems to be best if you keep a positive attitude and good company. Don't bring a debbie-downer or person who won't want to join you in any festivities on the fun ships. (For example my ex girlfriend just liked to sunbathe and that's all she did which kind of soured my experience as I wanted to explore other things). If you and your party are out to have a good time, on a dime the 4 night Cozumel Key west cruise is the way to go. On the ship itself is always so much to do that I've sailed it many times before and am still yet to do everything they have to offer. My wife and I are from NYC so we are big on night life (dancing, and comedy). The comedy club was packed every night and the comedians were hilarious. YET of course you'll have complainers who go to comedy clubs with closed narrow minds. Everytime went everyone was laughing to tears, but on some reviews you'll see people complaining how the jokes were too "racy" (so just be open minded when going to a show). There's literally so much to do now from running a small track, and an indoor gym if you like to keep up your daily fitness regimen. To a life sized chess set, mini golf and a ping pong table if you like outdoor games. A mini arcade for all ages with air hockey, a casino, card tables, and computer lounge if you like indoor activities. 3 adult club/lounges which every night/ every couple of hours play all different kinds of music for all ages, a karaoke bar, 4bars - 1 with an in hall salsa band half the time, other half with a singer/guitarist, a teenage club, and kids area, comedy club, magic show, broadway style shows and more if you like indoor late night activities. Night time music playing with a dj and stage area, night pool with music etc. if you like late night outdoors activities. A full spa, plentyyyy of lounge chairs, and MY FAVORITE adults only "Serenity area" which has sunbathing opportunities yet also shade under the ledge or umbrellas, equipped with two jacuzzis and a shower head to wash off after if you like some kind of kid free relaxation. (Though children don't seem to be a big problem on this ship as they usually stay in the waterpark area or daycare, plus people with children in my experience usually go more for Disney family cruises so it's fun for kids here but at the same time never too packed with screaming children at every turn lol). 24 hour food including room service. Also if anyone complains about the room service it's because they don't understand cruise lines. They don't give you amazing movies/tv to watch or amazing room service options because this is not a hotel, a 12 nighter or relaxation cruise...they want you out and about spending money at the bar and enjoying all the activities, so yes room service is still on the eh-okay kinda basis (though after a late night of drinking a turkey sandwich and soda tastes like a 5 star restaurant =) ). I always love the random things the ship has to offer like break dancers performing in the atrium, to their classics like their lido deck games (hairy chest contests, ice scalping, dance alongs , newly wed games etc.etc. etc.) Their are two kids water slides, one infant water slide and one big kid/mostly adults water slide with many sprinklers and lots of longue chairs in the water park. Also a mini in-ground pool with two hot tubs on both sides of it. I could go on and on about all their is to do but I will move on. The 4 day cruise goes to Key west, then Cozumel Mexico with one full day and night out at sea. As for Key West my wife and I love the Bike tour. At first my wife was like oh-no I'm on vacation and not about to petal in the heat. But it is the complete opposite of what you expect and we fell in love with the excursion. They took you over to the heart of Key West from the ship on a trolly which is like a mini excursion in itself because the trolly driver tells you all about the places you pass on your way and stops for short periods of time to explain the history of some interesting sites. When you get to the bike tour site you get a Cruiser bike and bottle of water, the cruiser bikes are AMAZING you petal once and are able to cruise for minutes without having to petal it is beautiful as most of the trail is shady and you get a guided tour of the beautiful island and it's history. You stop on a beautiful beach which is also a restroom stop as well. Once it's finished you still have plenty of time to walk around Key West to souvenir shop, explore on your own then back on the nice windowless trolly ride back to the ship at a perfect time. This time around (in 2 months from now) we are going to try out the Conch ride as we hear nothing but great things about it. As for Cozumel Mexico, we go to www.cozumelcruiseexcursions.com as they have more to do than Carnival excursions itself has to offer and for a lot cheaper (and 100% legit). We love the Aura resort day pass excursion as it is an Adults only resort and is amazing. Once off the ship you walk through the entrance areas to the taxi cab hub and tell the taxi driver that we we're off the the Aura resort and as they drive crazy in Mexico you will get there fast. It's of course all inclusive resort that is adults only we love the drinks and food and included in the all inclusive pass is snorkeling gear. The water is crystal clear and light green out on the horizon it is the most beautiful place ever (the Island of Cozumel). I get my wife the on-beach massage (which isn't included but only 80 bucks for an hour right on the beach and she melts-points for me) as I relax in their waterfall wading pool then we swim in their larger pool and relax with margaritas on their white sand beach. After a couple of hours the cab comes back to get you and you have plenty of time to enjoy authentic Mexican food at their many restaurants and of course souvenir shop. The island is truly mesmerizing. This time as we're bringing our son we will be going to the family friendly resort which has plenty of children's activities. ONE THING about the day out at sea is WAKE UP AT THE CRACK OF DAWN. There is no where to go-as in no island to explore, no excursions it's just everyone on the ship out at sea. So I always suggest you get sleep the night before to wake up early and claim your a spot, a spot you would like to spend the morning hours. EVERYONE wants to tan and everyone is on the ship so even though there are plenty of seats, and lounge chairs ...prime spots are usually packed. For instance if you don't want to deal with the kiddies, serenity can not accommodate every adult of the ship so wake up and claim your spot if you'd like to spend the morning in serenity. The pool and water parks will be full of the children and not prime if you do not want to get splashed. Yet the water park lounge area is prime for tanners, so if you love to sunbathe there is not one bit of shade in that area and seats go fast. Yet the fastest seats go around the pool in the lido deck- because that is where the "fun crew" do the games like (hairy chest contest, and ice sculpting) and play music etc. What i've learned is we wake up really ealier and one of us claim our spots, as the other gets breakfast (bring towels as you'll most likely sweat, and or get wet and you're not going to want to get up and lose your spot). BUT I PERSONALLY PLESAE ASK that all cruisers not to be D*cks about seats. On our first cruise together it took an hour of my wife and I walking around to find a spot to sit together. AND OH THERE WERE PLENTY of seats available but people like to use their towels to claim chairs (Which would be okay if you get hungry and just want to get up to get some food or need to use the restroom...but i HATE when I literally sit there for HOURS and watch TOWELS use seats that could've went to others who want to sit especially to eat! The people who "claim" seats "just in case" they want to sit but are in the pool allll day and afternoon or elsewhere). It happens all the time and just a simple message to everyone please be considerate. People like to go out and party the night before as it is a vacation and shouldn't have to wake up super early just because there are people who ruin it by letting seats go to towels aka to waste. ANYWHO As for staterooms I could only give my opinion on where I like to stay, as I feel like those reviews truly depend on where you are in the ship. I feel like an ocean view review differs from an interior, and same for a suite. Plus the persons preferences really come into play here on this subject. On another ship I've sailed in an interior stateroom and hated it simply because you could never tell what time it was or where the ship is (are we still out at ship, or are we docked - since you can't feel if the ship is moving it's nice to see where you are out the window). I personally feel like a suite/balcony wouldn't be worth our budget because we hardly spend time in our stateroom (we're either eating, enjoy activities of the ship or out on an excursion/island as it is only a 4 day cruise we don't like to waste time, and only really are in the room to sleep and get ready). I guess if I were doing a 12 nighter it would matter immensely. Yet our ocean view rooms are perfect for us (two people). The beds are extremely comfortable and the blankets are thicker and warmer than most hotels than I've stayed in (and my wife has scoliosis). The closets are big, and fit all my wifes clothes and shoes and even come with towel robes, a safe that only you can get into, and plenty of hangers. The shower has great water pressure, and is bigger than ones on the royal caribbean. The room itself is pretty big (big enough for us two and we take up quite a lot of space between us and our things sprawled out everywhere.) You always have plenty of towels, ice, and they even supply you with plenty of toiletries such as shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, soap, Gilette razors, face cleaner etc. etc. The room is always clean and the crew are like true ninjas as they usually tidy up every time you leave the room. The air conditioning works amazing and even gives us a little chill when we first get back to our room (really refreshing after you sweat in the Mexican heat). Ocean views are really great because you can choose to be woken up naturally by the sun and know exactly where the ship is, or use the black out shade for some darkness. Little tips regarding the stateroom. To open the safe you use a credit card so only you can get into it, I don't ever trust swiping a credit card or any other important card anywhere. So I bring an old credit card that is expired as my safe key (it opens up for only your magnetic strip so what card you use doesn't matter). Also we usually do the "tips included" option but remember it's 10 dollars a day spilt between a million people, so I usually tip the head of the chamber maids a few extra bucks the day they come to greet you. As just, you know a better guarantee of getting that great service (they do work really hard). Also yes the showers tend to leak out because there is no door to close you only close the shower by curtain, so their are drains in the middle the bathroom to catch the spill over but I like a dry floor. So prior to entering the shower I like to roll up a large towel and place it at the base of the shower. Also although the keep everything really clean my wife doesn't trust the microscopic germs that may be lurking lol. So we like to bring Colorox brand clean wipes and they are God sent. Once we enter a state room we unpack the Colorox wipes and wipe down all door knobs, the toilet seat and basically anything that is touched and they kill 99% of all bacteria and it makes her happy. (It's good for anyone I see cause you never know- these maids can't take sick days and live on the ship if they have a little cold you don't want to risk catching it and ruin your whole trip ....never seen any sick people on our ships but just a little tip from us as semi- germaphobes lol). Also they only have one outlet so BRING A POWER STRIP if you have more than two things that need to be charged. Power stripes help us a lot. We like to plug it into the outlet and than we're able to charge our phones, ipad, blow dryer, blender and camera all at once - maximizing our time to spend out of the room. There is so much more I could say but as this review is getting lengthy I'll end here. Any further questions you may ask me and I'll try my best to answer. We will be boarding this ship again in April. Have fun! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Let me say before I left on this cruise I was nervous. In all honesty I read so many negative reviews on this ship. Well my trip on this ship was awesome. We departed from Miami and upon boarding, which went really smooth, I even had ... Read More
Let me say before I left on this cruise I was nervous. In all honesty I read so many negative reviews on this ship. Well my trip on this ship was awesome. We departed from Miami and upon boarding, which went really smooth, I even had a $20.00 onboard credit I was unaware of, I was in awe of the ship. This is my second cruise, the first was the Majesty of the Seas in August 2011. Now yes there are tons of colored lights but it fits the ship. If you want elegance try another ship, this was a comfortable, fun ship. We went to our stateroom E185 Upper/lower and AWESOME!!!!!! We had so much room. The beds were so comfy and was awesome. The ship is a little confusing with the layout but by day 2 we had it down pack. The food was average, and we ate anytime dining and never had a wait in the Pride dining room. The pool, waterslide and putput were amazing and the comedy shows were funny. I read in several reviews that the music was outdated that the DJ spun, but he played stuff that we hear on the radio in Ohio so we were totally pleased with the selections. All in all, yes there is nothing elegant about this ship, cruise Princess if you want elegance, Now if you want fun, comfortable quarters, and R&R, sail the Imagination. We truly enjoyed this ship and the ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
I have sailed with Carnival 8 times. Carnival, while priced at the low end, always stepped up to the plate in food and service until now. We sailed for 4 nights on the Imagination out of Miami. Check-in was smooth and the cabin clean. We ... Read More
I have sailed with Carnival 8 times. Carnival, while priced at the low end, always stepped up to the plate in food and service until now. We sailed for 4 nights on the Imagination out of Miami. Check-in was smooth and the cabin clean. We had open seating for dining in the Pride DR. Dining room front desk people have a lot of attitude. They were condescending and brusque while the wait staff was wonderfully accommodating. The food was what you'd expect from a Denny's buffet. If we stayed away from the meat and went with the fish we seemed to be better off. The casino is a confusing spectacle. While you can put cash into the slot machines your winnings are returned on your 'Ship Card'. Money has to be collected at the end of the cruise. If you are owed less than $10 US you MUST contact Carnival HQ to get your money back. I wonder how much Carnival pockets from cruisers too busy to be making calls to Carnival? The dining room desk people and casino managers are Eastern European. I can only assume that customer service in that part of the world is different than what Westerners have come to expect. Carnival pushes hard on photographs. Promenade deck is a gauntlet of photographers tugging at your sleeve. Same thing goes for the dining room (like to have your meal interrupted by a guy in a pirate costume? Ride Carnival.) Getting on or off of the ship requires you to pose for a picture. Cabins are stocked with $4 bottles of water and $2 soft drinks. Bring your own. Cocktails at the bars are $6 to $8 and a 15% gratuity is automatically added. Entertainment was pedestrian and the 'Adult' comedy acts were a tsunami of F-Bombs. Carry your own luggage and disembarkation is a breeze. Have Carnival do it and wait. Would not do this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date May 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
All in all the cruise would have been fine except for the employees and the food. On the ship the employees all seemed to be miserable and customer service was non-existent. The worst of the bunch was "Guest Services". Ha Ha. ... Read More
All in all the cruise would have been fine except for the employees and the food. On the ship the employees all seemed to be miserable and customer service was non-existent. The worst of the bunch was "Guest Services". Ha Ha. What a joke. The second worst of the bunch were those people standing around chatting with each other at baggage claim. Don't bother asking for help. They will just look at you like you are from a different planet and interrupting their uber important conversations about what they had for dinner the night before or how their kids are doing in Little League. The rest of the crew when you could find them, all looked like the were totally disinterested and it showed in their actions. My 8 y/o grandson even noticed. He said the only nice person was the cabin steward and with the exception of one of the bartenders in the atrium bar he was right. As for the ship itself, the pool is small and over crowded and the food was mediocre at best. Greasy bacon and cold mushy waffles at the breakfast buffet. Room service, which we ordered frequently in self defense had a limited menu but was at least edible. On a bright note, the bathroom in the cabin was very clean. Shore excursions were over priced. The Glass Bottom Boat in Key west was boring. Whatever you do don't go on the Jungle Island excursion in Miami. Very expensive bus ride to the airport with an extremely short diversion thrown in. They dumped us off there before the place even opened. Then when we got to the airport afterwards they dropped us off at the absolute furthest point from our terminal that they could get. We had to walk so far to our terminal we almost missed our flight. And don't call Carnival about it. They won't do anything and if you ask to speak to a supervisor they conveniently won't be able to find one (on a Friday afternoon) and will have to have one return your call. Within 72 hours no less. I'm still waiting for my call. All in all I have learned a lesson. Read, read, read as many reviews as you can and fully check out the ship you are going on. It is as important as where you are going. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
My wife and I went on this cruise because my cousin was getting married. We originally booked a grand suite and two weeks before the cruise they called and offered us an upgrade to the Penthouse Suite. Needless to say we were pretty ... Read More
My wife and I went on this cruise because my cousin was getting married. We originally booked a grand suite and two weeks before the cruise they called and offered us an upgrade to the Penthouse Suite. Needless to say we were pretty excited to have an upgrade and after researching the size of the room we knew we were in for a good time. The lady I booked with promised specific amenities and an escort to the room since it is not listed on the deck plans. When we got to the port to embark with the VIP checkin we were promised, they could not find our reservation. They sent us on the ship with guest passes and told us to speak with guest services once aboard. Guest Services was unable to do anything for us because their computers were not uploaded yet. This was not the way I wanted the vacation to start. We ported in Key West the second day and both my wife and I were flagged trying to leave the ship. They told us that we would again have to speak with guest services because our cards were not working (the ones we had just gotten from them the previous day). If the cards weren't working, why would they tell use to leave and deal with it later? This was the classic game of pass the buck we had experienced since we had gotten on the ship. The same thing happened when we attempted to return to the ship with the cards again not working. It was at this point I called Carnival directly since working with guest services was getting me nowhere. From that point on we did not have any problems with the cards, but due to the many we had up to that point, my wife did not enjoy the rest of the cruise. The food on this cruise was also the worst I have ever had and the service in the dining room was terrible. The servers were hard to find and seemed to not care about the experience of the cruisers. They are automatically tipped on the sail and sign account and you can tell they are not trying. One thing that irked my wife was the fact that her water glass was continuously empty (I didn't really get why that was so annoying, but she's a woman and I wasn't going to argue). Room service was helpful but slow. Orders would take up to an hour to reach our room and the food would be cold. Also whenever we called guest services for anything they were rude and acted put-upon that we needed something. The promised pool on the Serenity deck was a joke! Two hot tubs...combined those wouldn't even equal one pool. The only dancing club on the boat did not cater to everyone and was surrounded by security each night (we didn't go in). My wife had been talking about the shows she had seen on previous cruises and I was looking forward to seeing them. We went to one and did not go back. It was terrible! We fell asleep! The male singer couldn't sing and they kept yelping. I can go to karaoke to do that. The main entertainment for us came from counting everyone who left the show. The good points: Our room was always cleaned in a timely fashion. Our room steward was like a ninja. The bartenders in the Xanadu lounge were friendly and helpful and we enjoyed the piano bar. The room we were in was amazing but the problems that came with it made my wife wish we had stayed in our original cabin. My wife had cruised with Carnival before and stated at that point she would not go on another cruise with them but because of the wedding we decided to go for it. Big mistake. If you are looking for something with a little more class and something focused on customer service, do not cruise with Carnival. Never 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
It had been awhile since we cruised under 7nts. We chose this cruise in order to spend time with oldest daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. We took an outside cabin for myself, wife, and youngest daughter (13). Others took an inside ... Read More
It had been awhile since we cruised under 7nts. We chose this cruise in order to spend time with oldest daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. We took an outside cabin for myself, wife, and youngest daughter (13). Others took an inside cabin that accomodated the five of them...grandchildren are 7,8, and 3. Cabins were fine, pretty much what we expected maybe slightly smaller. I do not care for the Port of Miami. I think the parking is the highest at $20 per day, and the people are not as friendly as my favorit Port, which is Port Canaveral. We arrived and parked without incident. Since this was our 13th Carnival Cruise we are what they consider VIP and have priority boarding. Within 30 minutes or our arrival we were all on board at around 11:00am. Nice. Muster station drill was fine. They don't make you take life preservers with you anymore, which is nice. Our station was outside on the Lido deck by the stage. What I noticed was how maintained the ship was. It did not show its age at all. They did a wonderful job transforming the pool area and adding the Waterworks to the top area of the ship. Kids had a blast at waterworks and in the pool. Lido buffet restaurants all seemed to move very efficiently, which surprised me. I think they need to move the icecream machines out from inside and put them in the outer area though. Lots of crowd around the icecream machines inside. Maybe add another machine outside. Dinner in the Spirit dining room was nice. We had a great table for the 8 of us. Our Head Waiter Ramon was wonderful (thank you for that 2nd lobster). Lucie the Bar Waitress was very accomodating. We enjoyed the Cruise Director Skip Lyons. If I had to find one area of opportunity it would be the main shows. They were definitely lacking in talent and quality. Key West. Arrived on a beautiful sunny day. Went Parasailing with Fury, which we booked directly with Fury in advance and saved $50 per person. It was a great experience and highly recommend Fury in Key West for any watersport activity. Brad and Ryan were wonderful. Cozumel (Puerta Maya). We have been to Cozumel many times and love it. We have done a lot of different excursions in the past but this time decided just to do some shopping and then take advantage of the empty ship and let the kids play in waterworks. I was very disappointed with the shops in Puerta Maya this time. Their prices on simply souvenirs seemed high. When we tried to bargain they told us no the price was the price. This was the same with each shop we went into. So...we walked out of the plaza crossed the street and purchased the exact same items for half the price. I like the bargaining back and forth. Overall good day in Cozumel except for the shops in Puerta Maya. On this cruise we used Camp Carnival for the grandchildren and Circle C for our 13 year old daughter. They pick and choose the activities they are interested in. All had a great experience and my daughter has been texting all of her "cruise friends" she made ever since leaving the ship. So, overall this was a great trip. The ship is in wonderful condition, the onboard staff was terrific, the food was good. Everyone had a great time. We are already looking at itineraries for next year for 7 nt Carnival Cruise...4nts is just not enough. 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
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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