27 Miami to Caribbean - Western Carnival Imagination Cruise Reviews

My wife and I cruised on the Imagination on December 9th, 2013 for the four day Key West/Cozumel trip. Having just completed a 7 day Eastern Caribbean sailing the week before on the Glory we were very disappointed with this ship. The ... Read More
My wife and I cruised on the Imagination on December 9th, 2013 for the four day Key West/Cozumel trip. Having just completed a 7 day Eastern Caribbean sailing the week before on the Glory we were very disappointed with this ship. The ship's decor, to me, screams 70's downtown Vegas style. The buffet area is kind of darkish with neon-type lights above and is kind of dreary. I was told that the Imagination is the smallest ship in Carnival's fleet and it shows. It is missing the expansive spaces and high ceilings of their larger ships. I read above that the ship was refurbished in 2008? Wow! I wonder what they spent the money on. I was thinking that it was original. The basics: The buffet food was average. The Pride dining was good. The overall service and friendliness of the crew were below par. It seems that the Imagination is were they train new employees before putting them on the nicer ships and, perhaps, where they put more senior employees for disciplinary action. I was surprised to see one of the busboys on the lido deck had a neck tattoo and others with arm tattoos exposed. To me they almost looked like gang members. The cabin: Ocean view cabin window was so dirty that it was unpleasant to look through. Stowed Pullman bed takes up precious cabin space. No fridge. Temperature control for shower is ineffective. The temperature you get is what you get. No cover on electrical box above cabinets. The cabin is just old and tired. Your fellow passengers: Well, let me just say that, hmmm...that...about 30% of the passengers were...I'll just say that it felt like we were in a bad neighborhood on the south side of Chicago or Detroit or East St. Louis. I was glad that we didn't get mugged at the buffet! Seriously, I did wonder sometimes if our room would be safe while we were away or if a fight would break out in the crowded areas. It never occurred to me that ghetto dwellers are cruising nowadays! I wanted to go on vacation to get away from this stuff so keep this in mind when you are thinking of what a great deal $150 for a cruise is. Oh, it was no surprise that on the second morning a flyer was placed in everybody's room telling us that people were missing luggage from the first day when they deliver them outside the cabin door. In conclusion, I don't think we'll ever do a cheap cruise again. It is worth is to pay extra to get a better ship, better service and better neighbors... Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
My wife and I recently sailed on the Carnival Imagination from Miami>Key West>Cozumel>Sea Day>Miami. It was my wife's first ever cruise and my second, my first one being in 1996 on Carnival Fantasy, a sister ship of ... Read More
My wife and I recently sailed on the Carnival Imagination from Miami>Key West>Cozumel>Sea Day>Miami. It was my wife's first ever cruise and my second, my first one being in 1996 on Carnival Fantasy, a sister ship of Carnival Imagination. While we were in port in Cozumel on Wednesday, January 23, 2013, there were three other cruise ships in port at the same time - Disney, Holland America, and another Carnival ship. While enjoying a seaside margarita, we ran into some people from the Holland America cruise, and they asked us how we liked the Imagination. I choose to describe the ship using a baseball stadium metaphor, so if you're not a baseball fan, this may not make sense to you, but here goes. In 1992, the Chicago White Sox unveiled new Comiskey Park. It was a fine, functional baseball stadium, built much like many of the stadiums that came before it. It was (and still is) basically a concrete donut. It serves its purpose, but it doesn't really inspire anyone. The same year, the Baltimore Orioles unveiled Camden Yards, which was a revelation in baseball stadium construction. It's unusual lines, its incorporation of the city skyline of Baltimore, its classic yet modern design, and its attention to the entire fan experience inspired and influenced baseball stadium designs for the next 25+ years. The Carnival Imagination is the Comiskey Park of cruise ships. She was debuted at almost the same time as Comiskey Park (1995), and much like the Chicago stadium, she gets the job done, but doesn't really inspire anyone. I have a sense that shortly after the Imagination debuted, a renaissance of sorts began in the cruise ship industry. I think there are many other ships (Carnival and otherwise) that are grander and better designed than the Imagination. Yes, she did have a major upgrade in 2008, but she's still just your "basic" cruise ship. The brass and neon everywhere and the winged "creatures" looking down from every edifice give away her age. She's clean, and our cabin was very comfortable, but she was nothing special. (My wife compared it to staying at a casino hotel in old downtown Vegas, as opposed to the glitz of the Strip.) The Good Check-in on sailing day was a breeze. I completed most of the paperwork online a few days ahead of time (including setting up my Sign&Sail account), and this saved some time. Our cabin steward was professional, courteous, and took the time to call us by name on multiple days. The comedians were funny and worked hard. The "Serenity Deck" on the aft of the ship was heavenly, an adults-only (21+) oasis with comfortable lounge chairs, two hot tubs, and drink service. We spent an entire afternoon between Key West and Cozumel just lounging and watching the sea go by. The OK The food was plentiful, but not all that special. It tasted like it was mass-produced (it was), but I hear that other lines can feed thousands of people and still make it taste fresh and made-to-order. Carnival prides itself on being "The Fun Ships," and the deck parties were rocking, and people really seemed to cut loose and enjoy themselves. However, some of the entertainment was just so-so. The casino had been retrofitted with electronic tables for blackjack and poker. If you played on the electronic tables, drinks were on the house. (A dangerous way to spend the sea day.) We enjoyed a couples massage in the spa, which was OK. The ship draws ALL KINDS of people, from retirees to families with small children to college students to international travelers. It's quite the "eclectic" crowd. The Not Great We opted for the Your Time Dining, which meant we could show up in the dining room between 5:45 and 9:00 and be seated. This was convenient, but the service was S...L...O...W. I imagine that this is because different tables are on different courses, but we didn't have a single meal that took less than 75 minutes. We weren't in a hurry per se, but when more than a half hour passes between appetizer and entree, something is amiss. When you consider that my wife and I spent about $600 TOTAL for our room, board, entertainment, taxes, and port fees, I'm pretty sure that Carnival's margins were razor-thin to start. Therefore, Carnival seems to work extra hard at the "upsell." Everywhere you turn on the ship, you're being asked if you want a drink, if you want your picture taken, if you want a bingo card or a raffle ticket, if you want a spa treatment, if you want a shore excursion. I realize that these are the places where Carnival makes its money, but the constant selling got old after a day or two. The cruise docked at 7:30 in the morning in Key West and departed at 1:30 p.m. That's a pretty short port call, and not much time to do anything other than shop, see the southernmost point, and down a few drinks as you hustle back to the ship. Carnival's pier in Cozumel is actually at Puerta Maya, which is a kitschy shopping and restaurant area right off the pier. Downtown is an $8 cab ride each way. The Bottom Line With Carnival Imagination, what you see is what you get. She's nothing special, but she gets the job done. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
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
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
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
General Impressions: Overall, this is a smaller ship with a smaller feel. The crew is super laid back and probably will not introduce themselves unless asked. Embarkation: Two words...Super easy. We got to ... Read More
General Impressions: Overall, this is a smaller ship with a smaller feel. The crew is super laid back and probably will not introduce themselves unless asked. Embarkation: Two words...Super easy. We got to the port of Miami at noon and was on the ship by 12:30. This was by far the easiest embarkation of any of the 8 cruises we've been on. It was so fast I can't say anything more. Rooms: We got an ocean view and its pretty typical of other Carnival ocean view rooms. It has adequate lighting. The closet space is typical. The only down side is there is no sitting area. There is a stool for the desk and a single chair, other than that your stuck sitting on the bed. The other "issue" is there is only one real usable outlet. Fortunately, I brought a power strip. I highly recommend bringing one if you want to run or charge multiple gadgets at once. One tip, there was no hair dryer in our room so we asked our cabin steward and he gave us one. I got the feeling that they don't put them in the rooms unless you ask. Our room steward took great care of the room. It was done up twice a day with turn down service. The bathroom was always clean and well taken care of. Casino: It was dominated by mostly slot machines but they had some of the typical table games as well. The one craps table had 2X odds with 5 dollar minimums. There was one blackjack table with a 6 dollar minimum and it paid 3 to 2. They had other blackjack tables with higher minimums like $10 and $25. They also had a video blackjack machine with 3 dollar minimums. Dining: Buffet: We had lunch and breakfast there. It was your usual mix of buffet food. The dishes had more of an American feel as opposed to some cruises we've been on that have a more international mix. In general the food was good. There was ample staff to clear tables thus there were plenty of clean tables to sit at. The buffet did feel a little crowded but overall the food and service was adequate. Formal Dining: This was the most bizarre dining experience we've had to date out of the 8 cruises (4 of which have been with Carnival) we've been on. The wait staff never introduced themselves. The person we thought was our head waiter was rarely around. The actual service we got was acceptable but it was far from the best we've had on other ships. Overall, the menu was a little weak. They had some "every day choices" that ranged from your basic flat iron steak to a southern fried chicken. They also had daily offerings. On formal night they had lobster tail and shrimp which was good. It was cooked perfectly and had great flavor. I also had the flat iron steak and it was good as well. Desert options were pretty typical. They had the Carnival infamous melting chocolate cake which is great if you love rich chocolate deserts. The appetizers were ok but my wife felt like they were under seasoned and slightly bland. I will admit they had a crab cake on the last night that was probably some of the best food we had the entire cruise. The wine by the glass list (which was included in the food menu) was weak. It was just plan short. I think this may be a growing trend in the cruise industry. On the last couple cruises we've taken the wine list appear to be getting smaller and smaller. Additionally, on the last night my wife and I wanted to order a bottle of wine so I asked for the wine list. (They had remove the wines by the bottle list from the dinner menu after the first day.) The bar attendant looked at me like I was crazy. The attendant started asking other servers for a list. After 10 or so minutes the wine list appeared!! It just felt super disorganized. Overall, the dining rooms were acceptable but if your a foodie and expect the best you may be disappointed. We did go to the Pride dining room for lunch on the last day of our cruise. The menu was simple with limited options, one vegetarian dish, 2 beef based dishes and one fish dish. There were 4 simple starters and 4 or so deserts. The food was good. My wife's desert (a carmel themed dish) was mediocre. It didn't taste bad, in fact it didn't taste like anything. You couldn't taste any carmel at all. By far, the worst part of the experience was the service. It was horrible. The staff appeared extremely disorganized. It started as we entered the dining room. The maitre'd told the host to seat us at table 139. The host using a map finally found 139 which was occupied. So we waited for the host to go back to the maitre'd to find a different table. After being seated with our menus we waited over 10 minutes (I timed it) for someone to take our order. We saw other people with menus leaving because no one was serving them. At this point we still hadn't gotten water or bread yet. I asked for water which came a couple minutes later. In the mean time another server asked if anyone had taken our order. We got our appetizer about 30 minutes into lunch service. At that point someone finally asked if we wanted bread. We finished our appetizers and my wife excused her self to go check on the laundry we had going 2 decks down. When she got back we still hadn't gotten our meals yet. After eating the main course we moved on to desert. I asked for coffee and by the time it arrived my desert was almost finished. It took over an hour to eat a simple 3 course lunch. We had to ask for the basics, like water and the staff was short, and unfriendly. Overall, I would consider the lunch a pretty poor experience. In the end, the service in the Pride dinning room (both lunch and dinner) was below our expectations. The staff was unfriendly, and the service was disorganized. We've come to expect more out of Carnival. Onboard Activities: On the first night we went to Karaoke. It was fun. If you have big Karaoke fans in your group I would go. On the second night we went to the comedy show and saw Hank McGauley. This is actually the second time we've seen him. He was on the Destiny as well. His shows don't disappoint. They are just plain funny. Be forwarded, this is a "R-rated" show. If your not into that kind of comedy don't go. One note, he did recycle some of the jokes we heard on the Destiny over a year ago but the show was different enough that it was worth seeing again. We went to to see the second comic as well. His show was ok but we liked Hank's much better. It appears Carnival finally got the message and added more comedy to their cruises. Our 4 day cruise had 7 comedy hours, with 2 different comedians!! Pool Area: The pool area is small and gets crowded quickly. Our day at sea had mix weather early on so lounge chairs didn't get place on the upper deck. As the sun came out chairs were at a premium. It was kind of weird but additional chairs did not get placed out on the upper decks after the weather improved. The one pool was super congested and tough to relax in. We got in a couple times quickly just to cool off. We did use the hot tubs once but be forwarded they smell (not of chlorine) but more of a musty smell. Your swimsuit will need to be washed after using it. The Serenity deck was nice but was small as well. It had a separate hot tub and some nice lounge chairs. My wife and I concluded that we prefer ships that have an adults only pool. Spa: We didn't use the spa services but we did go to the gym on a couple occasions. The gym is nice with a several treadmills, stationary bikes, and elliptical machines. They have several different types of weight machines and have dumbbells as well. All the equipment was in decent shape. You will want to bring gym attire (which goes without saying). I did see them kick people out that didn't have proper foot wear on. The locker rooms did have shower, towels, storage lockers, a steam and sauna room. I didn't use the locker room but it looked nice. Laundry: The cruise line has a laundry service but if you want to do your own they do have 2 small self service laundry rooms. The machines took quarters. It was $3 a load ($6 to wash and dry) and $2 for detergent. The machines can get pretty busy especially on the day at sea so get there early or late. If you have a small amount of clothes it may be a better value to use the laundry service. They have some great deals which may be about the same cost as doing a load on your own. You should weight out your options. Also note, they have irons in the laundry room. So if you need to touch up a shirt for dinner you can do it there for free. Debarkation: It was easy. They were running a little behind schedule so we made our way to the coffee shop and had a coffee and danish while we waited. The ship was docked in Miami at around 7:30 AM and we were standing in the taxi line at 9:30 am. It wasn't the quickest debarkation we've experienced but it was orderly, and our bags were waiting for us when we got to baggage claim. Conclusions: Overall, the cruise was fun and the ship was relatively nice and well kept. The overall service was adequate but not great. With all that said, I don't think I can recommend the Imagination. I wouldn't go on this ship again. I think Carnival has similar ships at similar pricing that offer a better overall product (i.e. the Destiny). If you got an incredible deal it maybe worth considering but if you have other options at similar pricing I would explore them instead. One footnote, after 8 cruises, I think my wife and I are starting to prefer the larger ships. In the end, the bigger, newer ships have more entertainment options, a great mix in food choice, better facilities and we think the service is just a little bit better. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
My wife and I, while taking a RCCL cruise decided that we needed to take the kids on their first cruise. We have three girls 12, 10, and 7. We were basically looking for the cheapest cruise out there just to get them on a boat and have the ... Read More
My wife and I, while taking a RCCL cruise decided that we needed to take the kids on their first cruise. We have three girls 12, 10, and 7. We were basically looking for the cheapest cruise out there just to get them on a boat and have the cruise experience.Getting there:We flew into Miami from Atlanta the day before the cruise. We ended staying at the Airport Hilton for $79/night through "name your own price" at Priceline.com. We would highly recommend this approach.Embarkation:The cab ride from the Airport Hilton was $26 and about a 15 minute ride. Upon arrival we were met by a very rude porter who did not like the amount I was offering him. I asked him if he wanted to give me the money back, which he did and my family very easily rolled our bags ourselves to security. He tried to tell me they wouldn't allow us through with large bags, but that was a lie. Upon entering the terminal, we were told to fill out the standard paperwork and were pointed towards the kiosks. That was a crowded mess, and we detoured to the opposite line which led to the live person counter. This is a must! We breezed through embarkation , and the rest was uneventful.Cabins:We had two inside cabins on the Riviera deck 4. Our cabin (as opposed to the kid's) was adequate with two beds pushed together and a slightly larger than expected bathroom. The shower was twice as large as the one we had on RCCL, had plenty of water pressure, and the curtain didn't try to accost to me. In the cabin there was no hairdryer and only one outlet. We had to share this outlet to charge our cell phones.The lack of temperature control in the room was a bit bothersome. You basically have one vent above the bed with a dial that controls the amount of air let in. If that's not enough air or it's not cold enough, too bad. The kids' room was a completely different story. The smell from their cabin hit us like a wall as soon as we entered. T'was a very musty, dank, dirty smell. The kids didn't seem to mind, but I wouldn't have stayed in there. We left it alone because after the porter we were tired of confrontations, and wanted them next door to us. We saw our steward once officially. I didn't really get his name or his assistant's name and he didn't really make an effort to introduce himself properly. His job performance though was adequate and timely. We just missed having someone who we felt was treating us like family as we had experienced on RCCL.The Ship:I guess the best we can say about the Imagination is that it was clean. I almost began to think that they had people staged about to look like they were cleaning just to make you feel good about being on an old ship. I don't blame them. The ship looked dated but we expected as much. My main question was would it really be that hard to take down the cheesy neon in the atrium? The choices of things to do were limited at best. Do not choose the late dining. While they do perform two shows each night for the dining schedule, most of the fun things to do are during the late dining time. Our kids missed out on a lot and when we requested a change they told us to talk to the Maitre d. We never saw the Maitre d and didn't feel it was worth the effort. We would highly suggest choosing the "Choose your time" dining option. We were a little shocked by the hard selling of pictures. Every night the Promenade deck was covered in small "studios" where multiple photographers ask you over and over to take your picture. It became annoying. I guess if you want to pay $11.99 for the cheapest photo, that's your thing. It was not ours.Our youngest enjoyed the water slides for about an hour and then it was boring. As others have said, the one and only pool was extremely small and packed. This pool also was 4'9" deep. This was too deep for small children especially with that many people in it. Overall we didn't expect much from the ship itself. It's old. We knew that coming in. Give credit to Carnival for keeping her clean and in good (if outdated) repair.Food:Let's just get this out of the way. The lunch buffet was bad. Very bad. The pizza was bad. The desert was bad. The sandwich deli was decent. The fruit and salad bar had decent choices. The breakfast buffet was actually pretty good. Their French toast was very good although I did get a pint of spoiled milk on the last day that my wife and kids found hilarious. Now for the good. The pool grill was good since it's pretty hard to mess up hamburgers and hot dogs. We lived there for lunch. My wife particularly enjoyed the cheese fries.Dinner. One word. Excellent. With the exception of the seafood pasta, almost everything was good. Our dining staff was nice but there were several mix ups with drinks and such. Also there was that lack of personal touch. We enjoy becoming friends with our wait staff. This time they were just the wait staff.Camp Carnival:Our youngest generally loved it. The use of the Wii was a stroke of genius on Carnival's part. The arts and crafts they did were also creative and fun.Our ten year old went once and generally felt left out. She felt she was in between the young kids doing kid things and the teenagers doing really fun stuff. She didn't go back.Our oldest loved Circle C. She made new friends and really enjoyed the freedom of being away from mom and dad in a safe setting. It was nothing to let her stay out until one in the morning even though we had reservations about this in the beginning.Key West:Love, love, love this place. We weren't there very long but we would highly recommend the Old Town Trolley Tour. This is the tour trolley that will take you from the ship into town. When you get off the trolley Rocky will be waiting to give you a free map and info on whatever you'd like to do. If you've got kids the tour they offer was excellent. $30 for adults but kids 12 and under ride free. This was perfect for us and much better than just renting a golf cart. Our driver (April) was super informative and funny. After the tour, we ate at the Cuban restaurant (El Meson de Pepe) just off the square. It was excellent (if a little pricey) and our waiter (Alex) was extremely nice.Cozumel:Hot and touristy. If you're going to do an excursion, do it here because otherwise it's just a tourist trap with overpriced trinkets. We spent a couple of hours walking around, bought our trinkets, and got back on the ship. We didn't do an excursion because it wasn't in our budget and any good excursion would have been an extra $500 for a family of five.Entertainment:The shows were corny. Sorry. Not good if you've been on other cruises. The first show was bad, the second was ok, and the third they made good through sheer break neck speed. The R-rated comedian we saw (there were two) was funny. Not side splitting funny but more "raunchy shock" funny. This guy was really dirty but we were ok with that. The reason we didn't see the other comedian was because after 10pm Camp carnival charges $6.50/hr + 15% gratuity per child. We decided to only do this once in order to see the one comedian. Karaoke was fun and had a decent selection of songs to choose from.Debarkation:Do the self-assist if you have an early flight. While being well organized, we would have gotten off much sooner if we'd used the self-assist. Also, we found that while they call you down to leave by the number on your bags, if you decide to get in line early and get off, they just swipe your card and pass you through. In other words, it does well to organize the debarkation, but there is no enforcement to the rules.Final comments:Even though we have sailed on Carnival in the past, I don't see us sailing with them again unless it is on a larger boat at a heavy discount. It was an enjoyable experience for our kids, but we will probably pay the extra in the future to sail with RCCL. They basically spoiled us with their hospitality. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
My daughter and I took this cruise while she was on Spring Break. We wanted some place warm to go. We arrived in Miami and took the cruise shuttle to the port. It took about an hour -time for waiting for the shuttle to get to the port. ... Read More
My daughter and I took this cruise while she was on Spring Break. We wanted some place warm to go. We arrived in Miami and took the cruise shuttle to the port. It took about an hour -time for waiting for the shuttle to get to the port. Once at the port, embarkation was a fairly smooth process. We got on the ship and went directly to our cabin. It was decent size for the two of us. Inside cabin, no window. I didn't enjoy that. I'll be sure to get a window next cruises. Bathroom had shampoo and body gel, one disposable razor, samples of toothpaste, floss picks, breathe right strips and Ponds facial wipes. The cabin housekeeper came and introduced herself the first night. She left towel animals each night and chocolates with bed turn down. She was very friendly and asked if we needed anything to let her know. The dining room staff was great. Very attentive and efficient. I would say 97% of the food was good. There were plenty of choices. On Lido Deck was the other dining areas. The food was typical, hamburgers. hot dogs, chicken fingers, desserts, nothing that jumped at me and said "eat me". Breakfast was typical breakfast items. There was an omelet station that was good. At lunch it became the deli area. Supposedly, pizza station was open 24 hours. I did not see that it was. We tried to get pizza at 11 am and waited 10 mins. and no one came to serve us, so we tried the deli. Sandwiches were fine. The times places were open weren't very convenient. It would have been good to have more choices at extended hours. Two things that were bad: The "hurry Up" and wait for many things. Getting on and off at ports. We waited an hour in a crowded warm hallway to get off at Cozumel. Not much direction from the crew on where to go or when. The Dynasty Lounge was old and smelly. The clothe circular seating stunk. The views for the shows were obstructed in many spots. The shows were very good. "Shout" was better than "Living in America". The comedian show was funny, but way too short. Alcohol was definitely pushed. The pool area was small with one pool and not very long hours. Basically it was over-filled with drunk college students. Same for the water slides. There weren't enough deck chairs for those that wanted them. Activities were lacking for a complete day at sea. Key West was beautiful and warm. Tried para-sailing (not through cruise excursions) and got a good deal. Cozumel was warm. Tried snorkeling from a glass bottom boat tour (not through the ship excursion). It was wonderful. The water is so blue. Cozumel itself was a tourist trap, didn't impress me. Tried a cruise excursion in Miami to the Everglades. Again, "hurry up and wait". The tour guide was good, the driver worried me (using cell phone while driving and talking to the guide and not watching the road). The Everglades were ok. I can say I've been there, don't have to go again. The Gator show was all of about 5 minutes of a woman telling us the difference between crocs and gators. Wasn't worth the money. I felt that everyone was looking for a tip (which I gave). Probably will not go on another Carnival ship, but will definitely cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Let me start by explaining my position prior to booking this sailing. I personally am a RCL fan and I never planned to sail with Carnival. After much prodding from a relative i caved and gave it a chance. I had read the reviews here and ... Read More
Let me start by explaining my position prior to booking this sailing. I personally am a RCL fan and I never planned to sail with Carnival. After much prodding from a relative i caved and gave it a chance. I had read the reviews here and well, I wasn't Very optimistic about this. We arrived at port fairly early and we walked right on the ship with minimal time in line. Once on board the clerks quickly rearranged our cabins so the teens wouldn't be with the adults (a usually hour long process with RCL). First stop was the Lido Buffet. The food inside was mediocre and unappealing to me so I ate at the Mongolian grille. The food was a make your own stir fry where they cooked it for you and i was impressed, it was delicious and a great first impression on the cuisine. Soon enough we were in our rooms. I had a oceanview cabin which was a bit cramped for the two of us sharing it. I was honored to be a new member to the carnival brown water club when for a brief few moments is poured from our faucet and was not to be seen for the rest of the week. In general the room just felt dirty. There were stains on the sheets and spots on the carpet. The bathroom was unbearably small and no counter made it difficult to work with. There never seemed to be enough room for hanging clothes to dry. Also on the note of cabins, 3 of our 4 rooms would at around 3 am be FILLED with smoke as if a carton was lit in the air duct. It woke them up and two got sore throats for the last day. My room was fragrant until the last morning when it reeked of raw sewage in the morning. Key West was fun, but we departed at 2 so at most there were 5-4 hours to do things. Cozumel was next and it was decent, the Mayan Ruins + Beach excursion combo was possible the worst part of this week. It was 90 Degrees, nuclear mosquito, and if you want to see similar ruins I suggest you look at a pile of white rocks, alright you get the picture. Market was okay, hard to barter but the items were overall silver jewelry and purses. Onboard the ship i wont complain too much about the public areas. They were in decent quality, sadly they were decorated like a cheap casino. The staff was so relaxed and I met some really cool people with great stories (bartenders have the best, but it might be their way of getting tips) Now I saved the best part for last, FOOD!!! If you didn't care about the food on your cruise then you shouldn't cruise anymore. The buffet was mostly generic food. Nothing special. The single best tip I have is if you want breakfast you HAVE TO get it in the dinning room if you want anything decent, it had better coffee and the service was 30 minutes maximum. The dinning room food was alright, good, but not great, I say between Applebee's and Olive Garden. Overall its a good cruise for the price, just remember you get what you pay for... Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Embarkation: First, I have done the VIP check-in maybe one additional time, but I must say, it is truly the way to go. VIP check-in is for anyone with a Junior Suite (JS), Ocean Suite (OS), Verandah Suite (VS) or Grand Suite (GS) ... Read More
Embarkation: First, I have done the VIP check-in maybe one additional time, but I must say, it is truly the way to go. VIP check-in is for anyone with a Junior Suite (JS), Ocean Suite (OS), Verandah Suite (VS) or Grand Suite (GS) accommodations. On this vessel they only had the Junior or Grand Suite categories, so, I opted for the Grand Suite, which allowed me VIP embarkation. If you can handle the additional money, simply the best way to go! From the cab and on the ship in a matter of 15 minutes max! The Ship: Upon entering the ship, I thought I had stepped back 15-20 years. I thought the loud clad decorating, neon lighting, unimpressive "Grand Spectrum" atrium was a disaster and I thought this was one of the ships that had been refurbished? It had, but just not in the public areas. As I start to make my way through the ship, I must say, it was truly disappointing. After having been on the Conquest and Spirit class ships, which are larger and understandably newer and would have more amenities, I thought this ship had seen it's better days and if this is the way Carnival would want to introduce people to cruising, they had better continue to offer the lowest prices and over intoxicated rowdy crowds or they'd be washed up! I made my way to the pool bar, I was expecting this huge beautiful pool area with faux palm trees and tiki huts, well, they were there, but looked nothing like the on-line pictures. The Adults only area was nothing impressive or nothing to look forward to. If you weren't out there at 8:00 AM with a towel to "RESERVE" your chair, you'd be sitting around the only pool over run with kids (weren't that many on this sailing) and crowded. They need a dedicated bar in the "Serenity" area so, you can relax around a bar and sit out back if there aren't chairs available. Another issue, was the unnecessary annoying games constantly by loud people on the microphone at the pool with hardly any music being played and since this was the only pool, you almost had to deal with it because you had no other options. Dining/Service: The food on this sailing was just OK. I thought the wait staff did a good job, but the customer service on this ship left a lot to be desired. I asked one of the staff about prior guest events and she said "sir, you are on the lowest class of ship..." when she said that, it totally summed up my experience. The Suite: HUGE! Walk-in closet, huge over sized desk with granite top, huge bar with ample stemware, large balcony, this was the highlight of my ship time! I spent more time in my suite than I have on ANY other Carnival cruise I had been on before. The beds were comfortable, jacuzzi tub, large living room all with chairs and sofa. VERY VERY NICE!! PORTS: Key West and Cozumel. I had a great time in Key West, they have done a lot of new things to the island since I was last there and I would totally look forward to going back. Cozumel, was as always, very nice and I went to Mr. Santos Beach as the other beaches were totally too touristy and over crowded. But I always look forward to going there. Debarkation: A breeze. As stated above, category 11 and 12 allow you priority debarkation as well. Off the ship and to a cab in a matter of 15 mins! Final Thoughts: While I will more than likely book Carnival again, this sailing has really left me with a bad impression and if this had of been my first Carnival cruise, I'd probably not be booking again. I want to re-iterate, this is by no means meant to deter you from your trip or leave you with a negative impression for your upcoming sailing, just telling you as a Carnival loyalist what my experience was and while every one's impressions will be different, this is what I experienced. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
My husband, and his family, cruised on Carnival 1/4/10. The weather was terrible, but not much Carnival could do about that. We were in a Penthouse suite so embarkation was quick, and we were on board in about 10 minutes. Our first ... Read More
My husband, and his family, cruised on Carnival 1/4/10. The weather was terrible, but not much Carnival could do about that. We were in a Penthouse suite so embarkation was quick, and we were on board in about 10 minutes. Our first impression of the ship was it looks worn, and tired and that was the impression throughout. The staff were excellent, nicer than any cruise we have been on before, almost everyone greeted us as we walked along or entered public rooms. Our waitstaff, and room steward, were excellent. Our suite was large, but no amenities, but as this is Carnival we weren't expecting any. We had one of the few balcony cabins, but didn't use the balcony much as it was very cold the entire cruise. Food options are limited, dining room, room service or buffet, but the food quality was very good. We had a good time with our family, but the other guests on Carnival were the rudest, most obnoxious group of cruisers I have ever run into. We have cruised 8 times before, and I was really surprised by this. Could have been the weather really dampening down spirits. We would cruise again, if our family was with us!! The best thing about this cruise was the incredible value! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
For our third cruise, my wife, 15 year old son and I went on a quick four day cruise on the Imagination. This was our second cruise with Carnival (the first being a disastrous Spring Bahamas cruise). We were reticent to take the cruise ... Read More
For our third cruise, my wife, 15 year old son and I went on a quick four day cruise on the Imagination. This was our second cruise with Carnival (the first being a disastrous Spring Bahamas cruise). We were reticent to take the cruise because of our poor first experience with Carnival. Unsupervised teens made it unbearable. However, I am glad to report that this cruise was markedly better. First of all embarkation was quite orderly. We arrived via a shuttle from Dollar Rent a Car (we had spent the previous two days with family and visiting the Everglades (the Everglades is well worth a visit). We arrived at noon and were on the ship within thirty minutes. The only glitch is no one was available to take our luggage, so we had to take it on board ourselves. Since our cabin would not be available until 1:30, it was a minor inconvenience. We spent the time at the pool, eating lunch from the Horizon grill. The pool did not have any water in it during the first afternoon. The hot tubs were available. Our inside cabin was, well, an inside cabin. We had a double bed with a roll away for our son. Though cramped, it was totally suitable for the short four day cruise. The tv had CNN, networks stations out of Denver (not sure why Denver), some ship stations, and three movie stations. The movies included the most recent Harry Potter, Up, and GI Joe. I should note that the daily newsletter was not quite accurate regarding the specific movies. ON the ship,ESPN Desportes was also available. The cabin steward, Carl, was quite professional and efficient. We had two of our dinners in the main dining room (early seating). We were placed with a lovely, extended family from Denver. Our waiter, was efficient, though seemed to be distracted. However, his assistant was fantastic, always referred to us by name, and was the star of the "musical" number on the last evening. The maitre d's were basically invisible. The food was much better than I recalled from our previous Carnival cruise, though not as good as our Princess Alaska cruise (Star). There was some delay in obtaining our main course, but overall, service was adequate. One thing I did not recall (and I know did not happen on the Princess cruise) was all sodas were charged during dinner, not exorbitant, but seemed pretty petty. Since we did not participate in the formal evening, we did take advantage of the Lido deck buffet one evening. It was fine. Food seemed fresh, with a variety of choices. Our son particularly enjoyed the pizza station (he really enjoyed the calzone). Most of our breakfasts were from the Horizon buffet, but my wife and I had one breakfast in the main dining room. Quite frankly, I could not tell the difference between the main dining room breakfast and the buffet, other than the obvious service difference. As for the ports, in Key West we took the conch train. If you have limited time (the ship is only there until 2:00, with a 1:30 required return), this is the way to go. We really wished we had more time in Key West. We did get to sample the chocolate covered frozen key lime pied from Kermit's...Terrific! In Cozumel, we did not arrive until around 12;30. We only spent a few hours in town. It seemed like an Epcot Center version of Mexico. I wished I had time to go out snorkeling. Quite frankly, we wished we had more time in Key West and less in Cozumel. Parenthetically, we found it quite condescending the "required" picture with the costumed Mexicans as we left the ship in Cozumel. We did take the southbeach Miami Beach-Fort Lauderdale transfer tour at the conclusion of the cruise. We thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the commentary on the Art Deco and the two hours of free time in Miami Beach. We spent a little time in the casino and found the slot machines to be the tightest we ever experienced in any casino, ship or no ship. While we managed to win a $50 jackpot, we did not see anyone else win anything. The showroom entertainment was superior to what we have seen on other cruises. Shout was especially enjoyable with very professional lead singers (the backups are pre recorded) and capable dancers. THe "balancing" act was rather tedious on the second night. The comedian was okay. The lounge acts seemed to be less inspiring, especially the piano bar. The karaoke is obviously just a product of who participates, though the emcee was quite game. The atrium pianist was very good. We noticed the bingo was quite popular, with the assistant cruise director giving a great effort with what must be a tedious job. The cruise director, Brad, was very effervescent and what you would expect a cruise director to be. He seemed to be everywhere. One complaint, though minor, is the internet manager was quite cold. We knew the internet rates would be ridiculous (about 55-75 cents per minute), but were displeased that when the tv said there was a "special", the manager would dismiss it. My son enjoyed the waterworks slides, though he really wished there was a basket to shoot baskets as there was on the Princess Star. There is little miniature golf course that not many seemed to utilize. We used the exercise room quite often. Except for the sea day, there was plenty of space and machines available. There are no headsets for the personal monitors, so if you want sound you need to bring your own (I used my I-pod set). For sports fans, only the big tv and some of the sets get ESPN (desportes only, though it covers many of the same programs found on ESPN). Overall, a totally adequate cruise for four days. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
I understand that this is an older ship that has had a recent upgrade however, there is only so much that can be done to a ship. The Imagination appeals to families with small children, there were 750, who for the most part ran (literally) ... Read More
I understand that this is an older ship that has had a recent upgrade however, there is only so much that can be done to a ship. The Imagination appeals to families with small children, there were 750, who for the most part ran (literally) all over the ship even late at night and early in the morning. Also, it's not called a "fun ship" for no reason as there seemed to be more drinking (read: really drunk people, several of them underage) on this cruise than on our previous cruises with Princess and NCL. There was only one small pool on the ship which was packed with standing room only at all times. Lounge chairs were impossible to find. The deck area was often littered, although I do blame the guests as much as I do the crew for this. They also have the traditional dining as opposed to "anytime" while our table mates were nice people it's just not who we wanted to eat dinner with every night, despite the fact that we were assured a table for 6 when the cruise was booked. The food was another disappointment. Offering anything 24 hours a day is not enough if the quality is poor. The offerings in the dining rooms were fair to good (except the chocolate melting cake which was excellent. The buffet was just ok, the Deli sandwiches were usually a better bet. Again, better food with Princess and NCL. Service on the ship was like anywhere, some good some bad with a few exceptions on either end being excellent and awful. Bottom line, if you can afford another cruise take it and not the Imagination.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
We just returned from a Spring Break cruise on the Carnival Imagination. Here are a few things I wish I would have known before our sailing.... First, the Pros: The staff on the Imagination is happy and helpful. Almost everyone we ... Read More
We just returned from a Spring Break cruise on the Carnival Imagination. Here are a few things I wish I would have known before our sailing.... First, the Pros: The staff on the Imagination is happy and helpful. Almost everyone we encountered outside of the dining room was friendly and seemed genuinely happy to be working on the ship. The slides on the boat are a big attraction if you've got younger kids. However, they do close at 5pm every night. The pools are salt water, the water slides and hot tubs are chlorinated. We enjoyed the gym, the jogging track and the mini golf course on deck 12. The outside decks are pretty empty at night and it was easy to find a quiet romantic spot for star gazing. The melting chocolate cake was also a highlight. The staff at the shore excursion desk was great and went out of their way to get our questions answered. If you book in March like we did, just know that the water in Key West is about 73 degrees. The staterooms have ample space and are kept very clean. The hallways are surprisingly quiet at night and the bed was very comfortable. Embarkation and Disembarkation are a breeze, especially if you don't need assistance with your bags. Now the cons... We did not have a good experience in the dining room. The staff seemed very disorganized and the service was extremely slow. The food was mediocre with the exception of the cake mentioned above. Our 8 year old went to several Camp Carnival activities and her reviews were mixed. Our 13 year old went to Circle C once for a hip hop class and chose not to go back for any of the other activities. The ship's crew works very hard to keep this boat clean and well maintained, but it is obviously an older vessel. Bottom line...our overall experience was good. This is a nice, short cruise for families and first time cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
My husband and I have cruised several times on both Carnival and Royal Caribbean both by ourselves and with our young children (8 and 5). We have always said we preferred Carnival and that is why we chose the Carnival Imagination cruise to ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised several times on both Carnival and Royal Caribbean both by ourselves and with our young children (8 and 5). We have always said we preferred Carnival and that is why we chose the Carnival Imagination cruise to Mexico and Key West for our little anniversary get away with just the two of us. We were disappointed on so many levels, I am not sure we would choose Carnival ever again. Embarkation: This was a nightmare! We live in South Florida so we always cruise out of Miami and have become relatively familiar with the setup and procedures. This time was a different story. When we arrived at the pier at about 11:30, we had to drive around the "terminal circle" about 10 times to figure out where to park. There were absolutely no clear signs and the nearest open parking lot appeared to be Garage C which was probably half a mile from the terminal. We had NEVER needed to park so far away, so we thought we must've been missing something and continued around until we stopped to ask an attendant for help. Indeed our parking was in Garage C. Once we dropped our luggage with the porter (very smooth as always), we drove to the garage and parked the car. The spaces were ridiculously tight which pretty much ensured a dent in the car upon return (although parking is $80 for the 4 days!). We then had to walk all the way to the terminal. There was no shuttle that we could find and none passed us as we walked the half mile to the terminal. Once we arrived, we were given a "zone card". Check in was very fast and smooth, but then we had to wait for our "zone" to be called to board the ship. Again, we had never had to wait to board, we have just always got on right away, so this was a little frustrating. We had to sit in a waiting area for about 45 minutes to board the ship. Once we were on board we went straight to Lido deck and had lunch and then grabbed a pool side lounge chair and remained there until about 5 pm before we had to get ready for dinner. Dining: We have always requested main (early) dining and have always received our request. However, this time we received late dining. We weren't really happy at first and were told we could request a change, but because the ship was sailing full we would probably not be able to change the time. We decided not to change our time and were VERY happy with this decision. The late time was GREAT!! IT allowed us so much more time to do things before having to get ready for dinner and less down time between dinner and shows. Our experiences in the dining room were somewhat mixed. First, the dining room "opened" about 5 minutes late each night. The dining time is 8:15 and there were always long lines waiting to get in and the opened at nearly 8:20 each night which got a little annoying. On the first night, we waited about 30 minutes after sitting down to get water or bread. The assistant waiter seemed new and had to be directed several times about what to do. On the first night I ordered the New York Strip steak and was HUGELY disappointed. When the steak came out it was tough and not very good. I took about 3 or 4 bites of the steak and then moved the decorative garnishment (leaf) they put on the steak and to my horror discovered a caterpillar about 1 inch in length. I immediately showed my waiter and he looked shocked. He took my steak to the kitchen and a few minutes later a few people came out to apologize. I did not make a scene or demand anything. The only thing offered was a plate of strawberries the next night and a letter of apology. I would have expected more. The food in the dining room did get better each night after that and I had the warm chocolate melting cake each night (although the consistency of the cake was COMPLETELY different every night?) it was still good! The food on lido deck was not very good when compared to our other cruises. The lines were always very long and you had to really look around to see what food was being served where. The rotisserie was GREAT though! Chicken, corn, mashed potatoes, and mac and cheese every day was really tasty! Rooms: Our room was much larger than the last room we had on Royal Caribbean! The room was very clean and seemed quite large. There was plenty of storage space of our luggage and clothing. The stateroom steward was also wonderful. He did a great job in our room, even though we saw him rarely, which is what we like! Ports: We have been to Key West plenty of times, so we opted to remain on the boat which was great. We were at the pool by 10 and it was very quiet! In Mexico we booked the Beach buggy and snorkeling excursion. This was a lot of fun and probably the highlight of our trip! Entertainment: This was VERY lacking compared to other cruises! The first night there was a comedian who was brought on and the Carnival dancers performed a few numbers. The dancers were very out of synch and were awful! The singers were not very good either. The comedian however was hilarious! He was the highlight of the evening. He did an adult only show the next night that we weren't able to make it to. The second night we went to the dance show and left about 10 minutes after it began because it was so cheesy and bad. The third night there was a comedian/hypnotist that was equally bad. Then the last night it was another dance show. The music was better on this one, but the dancing was still horrible. After about 45 minutes we left. The highlight for entertainment was definitely the cruise director, Jorge. He is hilarious! By far the best and most funny cruise director of any ship we have been on. Make sure to check out the Love and Marriage show with Jorge, it is GREAT fun! Debarkation: Again, this was a long wait. We decided NOT to do self assist and checked our bags the night before. When you debark this way to call you to leave the ship in zones from zone 1 to 25. We were zone 7 and they called zones 1 to 7 at one time, after all the self assist were off. We were called to get off at about 9:15 and were claiming our luggage by 9:30. Then we waited in line for about 30-45 minutes to get through customs. Once we were outside we then had to get back to the parking garage (remember the one a half mile away)! Apparently there was one "parking garage shuttle" but they were loading everyone's luggage in the shuttle and then unloading at the garage (they should have shuttled one person from every party to the garage and that person drove back to terminal to get rest of party and luggage). We waited for about 10 minutes for the shuttle and then decided to walk it again rather than wait. By the time we got to the garage (it was a long, hot walk), found out car, paid and exited, the shuttle still had not picked up the people were were waiting with at the terminal! Final note: There were several indicators that this may have been a new crew. Several crew members we asked for things or for help said they were new to the ship (3 weeks). I am not sure how crew rotations work, but that may explain some of the issues we encountered. I am not sure if we would cruise Carnival again or not based on this experience. I think our new favorite may be Royal! Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
We took a 5 day cruise on the Imagination from the port of Miami over the Easter break, March 20 - 24th. There were seven of us - four teens ranging from 14 to 16, myself (mother of two teens) and another couple. We flew into Miami and ... Read More
We took a 5 day cruise on the Imagination from the port of Miami over the Easter break, March 20 - 24th. There were seven of us - four teens ranging from 14 to 16, myself (mother of two teens) and another couple. We flew into Miami and arrived at the port after a 20 minute cab ride. Embarkation was relatively painless. My son and I had VIP boarding but the rest of our group, who did not, was still able to embark virtually at the same time we did. The check in process was quick and relatively painless; faster than I recall on past cruises. My son and I booked a Verandah level "suite" on level 11 of the ship. The other three girls stayed in an inside room on the Atlantic level, and the other couple who traveled with us also stayed in an inside cabin on the Atlantic level. Their rooms seemed fairly spacious for inside cabins. I was surprised at how small our "suite" was, as I expected something a little bigger and fancier. While the room was nice and had upgraded finishes and decor, it did not seem any bigger than a typical ocean view room. Our balcony was barely big enough to fit two chairs and you had to climb over one to get to the other. Definitely a very tiny balcony and the room is not deserving of the term suite. It did have a flat screen TV and refrigerator with a small bar above, but there was really not much else to distinguish it from a regular ocean view room. Our steward, Walter was very kind and attentive, as were his assistants. He always greeted us by name and took very good care of us. My son was sick one day of the cruise and Walter kept checking in on him while I was out to make sure he was ok. One thing about our room, V-5 that I would like readers to know about, is that this room and its immediately adjacent neighbors are right under the gym. Specifically, right under the weights area. From 6:30 a.m. until late in the evening, we had to constantly deal with the BOOM of people dropping weights on the floor. Not only was this very loud and disturbing, but it made the room shake and it felt like someone was going to drop through the ceiling. I would therefore strongly urge fellow cruisers to be careful about booking any rooms directly under the gym area. Take it from me, it is really loud above you. The food on the ship was pretty good, although some dishes were fairly average. We took the 8 p.m. seating in the Spirit Dining room, and had table number 290. Our waiter, David, was very professional, friendly, attentive and courteous. However, the bar guy who delivered the drinks was rude and had an attitude. He clearly does not belong on a cruise ship, and at times was far too familiar in his comments to guests at the table, particularly the teen girls. We did find that the meats such as pork, filet, and beef wellington were often served the opposite of how they were ordered. I usually order meat medium rare, and always seemed to get mine well done. Others at the table ordered theirs medium well and received them rare. There is not a lot of room for customization of orders. The seafood dishes were all pretty good including the lobster. Overall we enjoyed the dinners and found most of the food to be of good quality, although very small portions. Desserts were generally good but not particularly amazing, most were rather ordinary. Quality of entertainment and shows was good but not great. Singers and dancers were of the usual cruise ship caliber - fairly good but not spectacular. Some of the comedians were just not that funny, and farting jokes seemed to prevail in their routines for some reason. Some of the other performers such as the piano bar singer and acoustic guitar singer were pretty good. The two ports we stopped at were Key West and Cozumel. The stop at Key West was very short, only 4 hours, barely enough time to really do anything except walk around Duval Street, which is your basic tourist trap. Cozumel is very pretty, and I have been there before, so this time we all went to Playa Mia, a beach resort where you pay $15 to get in and they provide chairs, towels, and non motorized water sports. The beach resort also has restaurants, a pool, climbing wall, water trampoline, pedal boats, water kayaks, hobie cats, an inflatable iceberg, beachside bar service, and paid activities like a banana boat ride, catamaran ride, and jet skiing. I took out a Hobie Cat but it was not without a lot of hassle, as the person who oversees the water sports kept pressing me for a tip for doing nothing, and insisted I could not "drive" the sailboat without a husband to assist me. I finally threatened to report him and he relented. The beach itself is very nice but somewhat crowded. The water areas around the beach are also very busy, and safety did not seem to be much of a concern as they allow people to take out kayaks and pedal boats without any life jackets. Between the jet skis and banana boats buzzing all around, it was a pretty congested area and I did not stay out long on the Hobie Cat. By the way, the cruise line offers this side trip to Playa Mia for around $39 per person, and if several of you take a cab and split the cost, it is much cheaper just to do this trip on your own than to do it through the cruise line. There is also an option to pay a higher fee which includes a free buffet and open bar at Playa Mia -again, best to do this on your own, not through the cruise line. We walked many of the streets and shops around the cruise terminal and found them to be your basic tourist traps, with many aggressive and annoying merchants hounding us to buy things. We did not feel that the prices were any kind of bargain here. The days at sea on the ship were spent mainly at the pool. It was really tough trying to find chairs, and too many were reserved by absent users who simply left their towels on a chair all day long. The water park was a nice feature and a welcome addition for both kids and adults. Overall, I felt like this cruise was ok but nothing particularly stood out as being really great. Also the ship layout is exactly like all the other carnival ships, so it kind of ruins the joy of discovery when you board and find out it is a duplicate of a sister ship. The decor has been updated in some places but the Lido deck dining room still has a very 80's look to it and needs modernization. The casino is very smoky so I didn't even bother to go in there. The kids did use the Carnival O2 club and said it was decent. They had a good time but mainly because they got to meet other teens. I would say that the Carnival cruises are a good value for the money, but offer nothing really remarkable. This ship is a good choice for value conscious cruisers, families, young adults, and new cruisers. For those who have been on multiple cruises, you may feel somewhat bored on the Imagination, which really offers nothing imaginative at all. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
THE GOOD and THE BAD LISTS: THE GOOD: 1. STATEROOM BATHROOM: Larger than the norm with real ceramic sink and large shower stall 2. "CARNIVAL" COMFORT BED: Definitely the best mattress of the major cruise lines 3. POOL ... Read More
THE GOOD and THE BAD LISTS: THE GOOD: 1. STATEROOM BATHROOM: Larger than the norm with real ceramic sink and large shower stall 2. "CARNIVAL" COMFORT BED: Definitely the best mattress of the major cruise lines 3. POOL DECK AND FURNISHINGS: Very tasteful with minimal plastics. Especially nice in serenity lounge 4. FOOD TEMPERATURE: We were never served cold food (that was supposed to be hot) 5. JORGE, THE CRUISE DIRECTOR: Most CDs are so slick they could cause an oil spill if they fell into the sea. Not Jorge Solana. He was genuinely humorous and very experienced (17 years with the line) 6. UPGRADED BED LINENS AND BATH/BEACH TOWELS: Thicker and softer than on rival cruiselines 7. PASSENGER TERMINAL BUILDING: A brand new facility with luggage carousels and wall to wall carpeting ... a great way to begin/end your cruise 8. EMBARKATION / DISEMBARKATION: Swift and painless. The self assist express option that allows you to remain in your stateroom until your group is called is a good touch. The muster station drill (conducted seated in the lounge not standing out on deck in the hot sun) was also quick and painless. 9. COMPLIMENTARY COCKTAILS: We received three flutes of champagne upon arrival on board and two complimentary drinks at the captain's welcome party. 10. ONBOARD PRICES: For cocktails, bingo, photos and excursions: they did not gouge relative to rival cruise-line rate-cards 11. SHOWBAND: The orchestra pit is stage left so Brett Bonnell and the Imagination showband remained a prominent theatre fixture at all times and sounded great accompanying all the acts 12. POOLSIDE ACTIVITIES: The deck is equipped with a large stage and they take maximum advantage of it. Trivia and a round of bingo (as well as the more traditional pool fun and games) were held here so you didn't have to give up your prime sunning/lounge spots to catch an activity of interest. 13. WIDE STATEROOM CORRIDORS: Much more expansive than on rival cruiselines 14. CASINO BYPASS: It was possible to take an alternative interior side route to get from the front/rear of the casino to other common areas... a rarity... on most ships they force passenger traffic flow thru the casino to increase "impulse buying" 15. STATEROOM FLATSCREEN TVs: They contain RCA jack plug ins for video camera review. Also there is a good selection of channels (including local Denver network outlets) 16: MINIMAL INTERCOM ANNOUNCEMENTS: They keep interruptions over the loudspeaker system (publicizing upcoming events) to a minimum 17. COFFEE: Reasonable tasting regular coffee is dispensed in the Horizon, dining rooms and at the poolside grille, specialty coffees are available at no extra charge at dinner dessert time and there is a Starbucks like cafe that serves excellent take-away coffee at reasonable charges THE BAD: 1. FOUL ODORS IN COMMON AREAS On parts of the ship (example, deck forward outside the Horizon Dining Room) one catches wafts of faint but noticeable sewage ODORS. 2. GARISH OUTDATED DÉCOR: There is way too many neon strips and colored lighting fixtures. Dining areas resemble casinos/discos. The spectrum is totally overdone. The "ancient Egypt" gold gilted wall ornamentation really needs to be replaced. I realize a cruise-ship is not a funeral home and that the line IS called Carnival, but a little more tasteful restraint would be appreciated. 3. DINING ROOM SERVICE: Crumbs are not removed from the tablecloth after the entrEe/before dessert, the fresh ground pepper mill and cheese grater are not offered without request upon service of foods that normally require those condiments. On one occasion, salt and pepper shakers were not placed on the table pre-meal. In another, our head waiter had to retrieve the cheese grater from another section (and it took him several minutes to locate one)! Some plates had a grease film on them. Silverware was well worn and unpolished. On one occasion a set of cutlery I unwrapped in the Horizon cafe had encrusted food remaining on it. 4. DYNASTY THEATRE SIGHTLINES: There are many sightlines that are obstructed by pillars. The lower level does not have stadium style seating. The wings of the stage are not visible to many of the seats on the upper level. 5. PUBLIC RESTROOMS IN COMMONS AREAS: Three problems: Inadequate facilities, not conveniently located and not well maintained. The mensroom on the pooldeck doesn't even contain urinals and has only two stalls. 6. LIMITED BREADS/PASTRIES SELECTIONS: You are generally only offered mini imitation fruit Danishes, mini-muffins, dry mini-croissants at breakfast and a choice of two bread selections (dinner roll plus one other) at dinner 7. THEATRE SHOWS & PERFORMANCE CAST: The singing / dancing troupe was very unbalanced. There was only one male (Jack Ryan) and female (Analyn Gepte) vocalist. Also there were may more women showgirls (9) than male dancers (3). The shows were more Vegas cabaret style than Broadway inspired and the costumes put the emphasis on skimpy rather than elegant. Also there were very few scenery changes although the shows were thematically unfocused. The two featured comedians were largely interchangeable, exploring similar themes (tho I preferred Roman Murray to Hank McGauley). Natalia and Andre, the Russian pairs dancers (featured during Shout) showed promise but were used very sparingly. No pianist or band provided live music in the dining rooms at dinner times. The pianist in the Atrium lobby bar had a particularly weak voice. (On the upside, there were three pianos in lounges) 8.. DESIGN OF COMMON AREAS: The floorspace does not flow well from bow to stern. The Spirit dining room can only be accessed via the front Spectrum from the floor above or below (due to the kitchen between the Pride (which adjoins the Spectrum) and Spirit dining rooms). The cigar lounge (Pinnacle Club) is located above the Spirit dining room and the smell of smoke wafts down. 9. PREMIUM SEAT/LOUNGE HOGGING: Not enough is done to prevent loutish passengers from saving blocks of seats in the theatre and hoarding lounges in premium locations for absent other members of their parties 10. NO WINE TASTING or PC LESSONS: A fixture on other cruise-lines, they were not offered here 11. SEPARATE CARD ENTRY KEY AND ON-BOARD CRUISE (SAIL AND SIGN) CARD: Most ships have gone to a single card entry (stateroom door-key) and charge card system. Having two cards make it double likely that you could lose or misplace a card. 12. ORANGE JUICE: Not even close to freshly squeezed 13. LIFEBOAT PLACEMENT: They are mounted high up on the ship above the pool deck obscuring some of the sightlines for sea views. 14. AFTERNOON TEA: A limited choice of two sandwiches (soggy crust-less cucumber finger sandwiches and smoked salmon) and four sweets (on that was basically a chocolate donut) was offered. Also the setting (in the Mirage Bar which features a beach ball design motif) didn't enhance the experience. The library has more of a Victorian England ambience! DAY BY DAY: DAY 1 We arrived at the Carnival terminal by 11:00. Our luggage was quickly handled by the porters as soon as our taxi pulled up at the beautiful brand new departure terminal / lounge. We were advised by the check-in clerk that we would board at 11:30. It turned out to be closer to NOON. She did NOT advise us that our room assignment had changed! (We found that out later when our room key did not unlock the door of the room we expected to be in!) After boarding we were handed complimentary flutes of champagne in the grand atrium. We were handed more upon arrival at the Horizon Court Grille and more later out on the deck. Our first three drinks were all gratis. We were learning fast why Carnival is called the "Fun Ship". First impressions of the ship: garishly decorated with gold glint and neon everywhere. A bit of an Egyptian tomb theme. We weren't admitted to our rooms until 1:00 PM so we finished lunch and lounged a bit first. Food was fine at the buffet. There were three food stations out on the open deck (a burger bar (real fried onions and sautEed mushrooms), a rotisserie bar and a mongolian grille). In the main buffet they have an international centre (featuring Italian cuisine today), a carvery area and a deli area in the centre. Dessert selections are limited. There is also pizza and ice cream available 24 hours and a sushi bar in the casino! When we finally got to our room (M4) we had mixed feelings. We are at the very bow of the ship (second from the front). Our "window" is two portholes set well back in the wall—lets light in but not much of a view! But, then again, we only paid for an inside cabin. The room is spacious and the bathroom / shower especially so... biggest I have seen on any cruise-ship. There is a real ceramic sink in the bathroom. They also have "carnival comfort" beds and special pillows. Both the pool towels and the bath towel are extra soft / thick. I rate the rooms very highly. The muster drill was very quick and painless. We were seated inside a lounge. You didn't have to wear your lifevest... just put it on briefly. We pulled out of port very promptly after the drill. The pool deck was quite busy. The crowd is very young. Lots of young families. There are two main dining rooms on board. Our seat assignment was also changed from Pride to Spirit. We are seated alone at a table for two (225) at the rear of the dining room. We spied lots of jeans and tees in the dining room. Gary (my travelling companion) ordered filet mignon and I had tilapia as our main entrees. My fish had a nice lemon-herb caper sauce. I had NY cheesecake for dessert... nothing like Lindys. Gary had black forest gauteaux... also a disappointment! We did have some nice cappuccinos (gratis) tho. Our waiters Albert and Andre provided reasonably competent / adequate service (tho we had to request the peppermill). Following dinner, we headed out to see the welcome aboard show (hosted by cruise director Jorge). Jorge showed a good sense of humor playfully interacting with the crowd. DAY 2: We retired last evening at 11:30 and were awakened around 7 by the noise of the ships' engines moving us sideways into the dock at Key West. We docked at the naval docks and not at the main city dock. First, we went for breakfast in the Pride Dining room which is basically the mirror image of the Spirit Dining Room we are seated in for dinner. There was no point rushing ashore since most shops and attractions are not open at 7:30. We were seated at a large table with a family of six, one couple and a young man (who sat across from me and spoke not a word.) Gary had a Belgian waffle and "baked apple" (that looked more like it had been poached). I had an omelette. Coffee was good. After we disembarked, we had to take a complimentary "conch shuttle" from the naval park down to Malllory Square. We wandered in Key West around the sponge market, along the Duvall bar strip and around the Westin complex (the pirate ship that was here when we ported on a previous 2005 Celebrity cruise is gone. We spent a few hours in Key West and then headed back to the ship (around 11:30) to avoid the rush back. We stayed from our return up until sailaway (at 2:00) in a shady area on the Serenity deck on two cushioned lounges. (The deck furnishings on this ship are a step above most ships... mainly teak looking wood... no cheap plastics). There was a couple seated beside us from Mexico, New York (near Syracuse) that Gary had a brief conversation with. Like us, they had cruised previously, but never on Carnival. They shared our impression that some "little touches" and attention to details appear missing / lacking in terms of services and polish. Gary fetched burgers from the poolside grille for lunch. We also had two cocktails a piece. Gary ordered a chocolate banana but wound up with a "dirty banana". He didn't care for it and only drank half (but still claimed to be feeling ditsy). Around 4:00-ish we returned to our stateroom (stopping en-route at the pizzeria) and had a nap. We awakened after 6:00 to prepare for the captain's welcome party and formal night. We had a bit of a scare when we found my suit trousers sitting heaped in the bottom of the closet (having fallen off a hangar) and badly wrinkled. It was too late to request pressing so we had to create a steam room in the shower to take the wrinkles out! The captain's welcome dinner was held in the Dynasty theatre. It wasn't as busy as we thought it would be (there was only one for both early and late dinner guests). We were each given two free drinks and there were plenty of canapEs being served (although it was right before dinner and we weren't hungry). Most of the officers were Italian tho most of the food and beverage staff were East Indian. Although it was formal night, there were plenty of people casually attired at dinner (and more (including the family beside us) who didn't show up at all... I presume they went to the buffet to avoid having to dress up). We saw one gentleman turned away at the entry by the maitre d (Gabriel) because he showed up in shorts. They had surf & turf: lobster tail and prime rib on the menu tonight. Gary went with the lobster (with grilled shrimp) and I had salmon. Both were good. I had shrimp cocktail for my appetizer and they were very flavorful (tho not served on ice.) We had cherries jubilee for dessert. It was not prepared fresh table-side over a flame (as I have seen done on other ships) and we were each only given about 4 whole cherries, but it was quite good. I also ordered some pineapple sherbet (just because I have never had it before.) The show tonight was a Vegas style revue entitled Living In America. The singing-dancing cast was very unbalanced. Only two vocalists (one male one female) plus 9 female and 3 male dancers. The female dancers danced with mannequins for some of the scenes. The costumes and sets were nothing especially striking. The showband was very good tho. Following the show, there was a photo-preview of the grand buffet in the Pride dining room. It was the longest buffet table I have ever seen at sea. Really exceeded my expectations. The buffet table also featured an excellent dragon ice sculpture (carved out of 4 separate slabs of ice, joined together). We went direct from the buffet preview back to the theatre to hear the late night (adults only) comedian. He has some amusing jokes but I did not find him split siding funny. The theatre then emptied back out over to the Pride dining room where the grand buffet was now being served. The line-up was long and moving slowly (and we really didn't need any more food... tho some of the cakes had looked tempting) so we decided to give it a pass. DAY 3: We awoke this morning around 8, still at sea. Our first stop after showering and dressing was at the excursion desk in the spectrum lobby. We signed up to bike through the jungle and swim/snorkel in a pool in the Chac Tun Mayan underwater caverns. We decided to forego the dining room breakfast experience to go to the buffet instead. The breakfast buffet items were not impressive. Mushy scrambled eggs and overly crisp (stuck together) bacon. (There was an omelette centre but the line-up was daunting.) We took our buffet breakfast trays to tables outside on the deck adjoining the horizon court to eat. Being an older vessel, you encounter wafts of sewage smells (that Gary's nose seems more fine tuned to than mine, courtesy growing up at a home with a sceptic tank system) at various points throughout. This odor hampered Gary's enjoyment of his breakfast. For my part, I was more disgusted by the dried food encrusted to the fork that I unfolded from the napkin in the first set of cutlery placed at the table (fortunately we were at a table set for four so I was able to find a replacement close at hand.) Breakfast gets failing grades on account of this. It's always little touches that let you down on Carnival. Like having to ask for the pepper mill or cheese grater at dinner instead of it being offered spontaneously. Following breakfast there were poolside activities (The Imagination has the largest stage area I have ever seen on the main pool deck. I could do without the tacky imitation palm trees tho) Brandon, the assistant cruise director (from Toronto) was calling out sports trivia questions as we arrived. Following sports trivia we participated in entertainment trivia (tho the Carnival Caper (the Carnival equivalent equivalent of the Patter or Compass for those who travel on Princess or Royal Caribbean) had claimed it would be 80s Name that Tune trivia). Can you believe that neither Gary nor I could recall the name of the movie Steel Magnolias (the question was "Name a movie starring Julia Roberts, Shirley Maclaine, Dolly Parton" etc.)? Memory loss is setting in young! We were no where close to winning the trivia! After the trivia there was "bargain bingo" also played on the ships' deck. It was a real bargain... you got three cards to use for two games for $10. The cash prize for each game was $250 cash. In the first game you had to get a single diagonal line. Gary was one number away. As the end approached, everyone needed an "I". When the first "I" was called, 8 people yelled bingo! In the second game you had to complete the second diagonal to form an X. That went very quickly and the prize was claimed by one of the winners from the first game (you simply continued on from where game 1 left off). We pulled into the port of Calico, 90 minutes ahead of schedule (the captain had forecast this the evening earlier). The port's primary function appears to be to serve as an industrial port used to ship out materials from a nearby mine / quarry (the company name is Vulcan!) to ships. Some very lush looking jungle and inviting colored seas tho! The port is used exclusively by Carnival. It's a 10 min cab ride from Calico to the better known port of Playa del Carmen. We had lunch in the Pride Dining Room before disembarking. Again we were seated at a large table for 12. There was a young couple, a single woman and a couple with a 9 year old obnoxious child (who coughed over the table) seated with us at lunch. The father of the child chatted incessantly in a thick Southern accent with the single woman about true crime stories and their theories on who committed what crimes. I felt like I was on the Nancy Grace true-crime themed group cruise! Food (unlike the company / conversation) was good tho. Gary ordered a German lentil soup, a pasta entrEe and apple cake for dessert. I ordered antipasto as an app with a trout entrEe (excellent) and a fruit dessert. We disembarked and met our tour guide "Moses" (phonetic not actual spelling). After a 20 minute ride in a mini-bus into Playa Del Carmen we pulled into the lot where the bikes were parked. The helmets provided with the bikes did not fit Gary and I so we had to be outfitted with substitute "Colonel Klink" style helmets. We rode about two or so miles in very hot temps (all were sweating, fortunately the bikes had water bottle holders) to the cave-site. To tour the caves we had to be outfitted with another helmet, life vests, goggles and a snorkel tube. When we first dipped into the underground river the water seemed very chilly. Apparently it was about 70 degrees F. But we soon adjusted and it was quite refreshing after the hot bike ride. The caverns were truly amazing. Well worth the $61 excursion charge. Gary bought a waterproof camera (onboard) and took a few photos in the caves. We will check out the footage I took on the video-cam on the flat-screen in our stateroom tonight. This evening for dinner Gary had pork tenderloin for his entree and I had beef Wellington. We both enjoyed our meals. We both got both shrimp cocktails and a cream of broccoli/cheddar soup as starters. I had tiramisu for dessert. The food quality was fine. We started to pull out of the dock was our dinner was ending. The photo-taking here is even more intense than on most cruise lines. They take pics during dinner every night. Tonight it was posing in a Mexican sombrero. They also take dining room exit pics. Last night it was with a pirate. Tonight is was with one of the showgirls. Despite all the picture taking so far Gary & I have only found one decent print that we consider buying. Tonight in the theatre the featured performers were the "Argentina fire gauchos"—a father and son team that drummed and performed a routine with whips and fire followed by another comedian (who I personally found funnier than the comedian on the first night). Drink prices are board are reasonable. Most featured mixed drinks (planters punch, margaritas et al) are $4.95, as is the featured drink of the day. Frozen drinks are usually $5.95. If you choose premium liquor (like Grey Goose vodka or Tankerauy gin, they add from 50 cents to a buck more.) Later in the evening, a Mexican poolside party was scheduled. Gary & I passed because the activities don't start until 11:30 and we are tired (from the bike ride / snorkeling) and not hungry at all. DAY 4 We slept in until almost 9:30 this morning! We must have been tired from the cave bike tour yesterday. Needless to say (since this was the sea day) lounge chairs were in scarce supply when we got up on the sun decks. We wound up securing some some chairs on the highest (sports) deck that sat in a narrow ring just behind the running track. Also, given our late wake-up hour, breakfast service in the Pride dining room had cut off (at 9:30) so we were forced to fend for ourselves at then buffet for breakfast again. The line-ups for freshly made omelettes were again too long to join so we ended up with the same mushy scrambled eggs, bacon, ham etc. The toppings for the French toast are also slim... just honey and syrup... no whipped cream, no warm apples or fresh fruit compote... not even any icing sugar. And the pastries are strictly "no frills" bargain batch style... tiny fruit danishes and croissants. And you need to toast your own bagels (at two four slice toasters in the centre "deli" island)! We vow to make it to the Pride dining room for a more civilized breakfast before disembarkation tomorrow. Overall, I would rate breakfasts very poorly on Carnival vs. Princess, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. It was very windy up on the top deck but quite warm. We were in direct sunlight so had to apply sunscreen liberally to avoid burning. We saw at least three other cruise-ships pass nearby, including another Carnival vessel heading in the other direction and a Royal Caribbean ship (Majesty of the Seas) that was travelling in the same direction and basically keeping pace with us. One strange custom they have on this ship: At noon, the navigator comes over the intercom to announce the time and strike the hour with a blast of the ships' horn. We had had enough sun by about 1:00 PM so left the deck (surrendering our chairs, which were quickly scooped up) to go for lunch in the Pride dining room. Recalling our experience with "the Griswalds" at lunch the day prior, Gary wisely requested a table for two only and we were escorted to a section by ourselves. Gary & I ordered identically... a fruit plate with sorbet for an app, fish and chips for the entree and a poached pear(with ice cream for dessert). The fruit plate was good but the orange sorbet tasted more like ice cream. The "fish" was basically breaded fish sticks. The fries were very good tho (beef eater style). The poached pear desert featured too little pear and too much ice cream. Also (inexplicably) the ice cream had chocolate drizzled over the top (like a sundae). Following lunch, we went inside to the Dynasty theatre to catch the newlywed / not so newlywed gameshow. The event was poorly attended (most people were still out sunbathing). They had a nice set but otherwise it was a disappointment. They didn't even bother to keep score. Some amusing moments (mainly courtesy of Jorge the host and his questions, rather than the couples and their answers). Gary & I ordered a Stella from the waitress and it took forever to arrive and wasn't really cold when it did (I think someone had to run to another area to get them... obviously Stella isn't a popular beer option on Carnival). In the end, all three contestant couples (one pair were newlyweds from the Hull Quebec area, who fared the poorest) were awarded champagne bottles. After the gameshow, we stopped by the "afternoon high tea" which was held in a bar (the Mirage bar) rather than a dining room. It was very sparsely attended and the tea options were equally slim. We were offered choices of sliced cucumber sandwiches and smoked salmon sandwiches first then a choice of four pastries from a sweets tray. There was no scones or clotted cream. After tea, we returned back up to the sun decks. This time we went to the back of the ship on the level on which the waterslides end. It was surprisingly quiet back there. Also the wind had abated somewhat. We stayed there until almost sunset (the first one we have seen) at which time we went down to grab a table on a lower deck to snap some pics. Following that we returned to our stateroom and watched Jorge's disembarkation lecture on TV. We decided to do the express self-assist disembarkation in the morning. Otherwise, we would be called in the 21st of 24 disembarkation groups! We will reach the port in Miami around 8:00 and disembarkation is expected to begin at 8:30, so we should have time for a leisurely breakfast and to go up on deck to watch us port. You are allowed to wait in your stateroom for the disembarkation call and do not have to go to any particular common area or lounge. We packed our bags and completed our comment cards before dinner. Jorge (the cruise director) told us that "meets expectations" was not good enough and that the crew is expected to get "exceeds expectations" ratings. Gary & I found it hard to give "meets expectations" on some questions and (to be honest) had to throw in a few "needs improvements". They do a draw for a free cruise from all the comment cards submitted as an incentive to get you to submit your comment cards. One surprise fact (from the disembarkation lecture): apparently Carnival has the highest repeat business factor in the industry... 63% of their guests are repeat customers! Gratuities were added to our room bill automatically. It was $40 per person ($10 per day). They only provided is with envelopes for the maitre d. So we did not extra bill our waiters. For dinner we both ordered chateaubriand as an entrEe. They are very big on beef dishes on Carnival. Pork chops and red snapper were also available as entrees and both looked good. Although the chateaubriand was good it reminded me too much of the Wellington (the prior evening's entrEe) and I wished I had ordered the pork chop... which looked thick and plump. The French onion soup appetizer was disappointing since it didn't have enough cheese on top. We ordered baked Alaska for dessert. The meringue, rather than being flamed, had candied fruit stuck in it. The waiters performed a dance to YMCA as a parting "treat" to their guests. They also have a bizarre ritual of switching on a light show in the dining room about 75 minutes into dinner every evening, where the dining room lights flash and change color. There was a round of picture taking again after dinner (that made one picture taken each night at dinner) and they had them printed and posted in the photo gallery within an hour of the dining room closing. Following dinner we headed over to the Dynasty theatre to play the final round of bingo. It was three cars for $20. Te guaranteed minimum pot was $1,000 but you could win $2,000 if you got bingo in 40 numbers or less (no one did) and claim a $3,000 if you got bingo on the "powerball". In the end three players split a $1,000 jackpot. Gary got down to two numbers. Following bingo was the second dance review with the Carnival singers and dancers. It was entitled "Shout" and had no real cohesive theme. It jumped from a 50s diner to a cowboy themed country ho-down to a spiritual theme. At one point the showgirls dragged three men out of the audience up on stage to dance the Macarena with them and wouldn't you know it that I was one of the ones they nabbed! Although I would have preferred to remain seated, I tried to be a good sport and to have fun with my time in the spotlight! The show also featured a pair of Russian dancers who were very impressive. The final entertainment event of the night featured the same comedian from the night before in another "adults only" show that started at midnight. It had its moments, but again I didn't find the comic especially funny. We returned to our stateroom for the final night in our "comfort bed" immediately after the show ended (I had caught Gary dozing off during the show) and I was amazed to see what a large group was still up and milling about on the ship partying. There were very few bags placed out in the halls for the porters to take out tomorrow so I am presuming most people are using the self-assist "express" disembarkation. We will see how that goes. Apparently there are only two ships that arrive in port in Miami tomorrow (a Monday) morning so immigration is expected to process us quickly. DISEMBARKATION: Following our final breakfast in the Pride dining room, they began to call for self-assist/express disembarkation at 8:30. Our floor was called at 9:00. The elevators were clogged/busy so we opted (along with many others) to drag our bags up two flights of stairs. The line off the ship moved fairly swiftly and customs also cleared us swiftly in the terminal. We hopped into a taxi within 30 minutes of leaving our stateroom to start the disembarkation process. There were actually three ships in port—ours plus the Carnival Fascination and the Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas (which is far more impressive than either of the Carnival boats). Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
We were supposed to go on the imagination to Ocho Rios and Grand cayman leaving on Aug. 18. Hurricane Dean had other plans. We are both educators so this is the only time we can travel. I had no word about a change of ports until Friday ... Read More
We were supposed to go on the imagination to Ocho Rios and Grand cayman leaving on Aug. 18. Hurricane Dean had other plans. We are both educators so this is the only time we can travel. I had no word about a change of ports until Friday the 17th. We called the cruise line directly and were told that the cruise ports had changed to Grand Turk, Nassau and Half Moon Cay. We had arranged for transportation through Carnival from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami. It was ok but they use Greyhound for the transfer. Old Greyhound buses and not well maintained. Needless to say the bus air conditioning failed 2 minutes after we boarded for Miami. Finally got to Miami and the lines were pretty long. Arrived about 1245 pm on the ship by 2pm. Up to the Lido deck for lunch. Typical Lido fare, but the ship was apparently sold out to a lot of large groups of high school, college, and sorority reunions. Had a nice surprise. We were upgraded to an outside cabin. The waves were high the Capt. said about 12 feet. I believe this as it was rolling pretty good. We are not novices as this is our 8th cruise. The first port of call was Grand Turk a nice port but a very small island. We had booked the Sea Trek helmet dive. It was unbelievable. Both of us are not strong swimmers but what we saw under the water was beautiful beyond belief. We ate all dinners in the Spirit dining room. I can't complain about anything there. Breakfast was in the Lido the same with lunch. The food is plentiful and served cafeteria style. Let me say something about the condition of the ship. It needs the retrofit badly. Stains on the cabin carpet. Scratches on our stateroom door. Molding missing here and there. The ship just needed some attention. The second port of call was Half Moon Cay. This is the Carnival private island. The water was really clear we could see down 20 feet. Had arranged the shore excursion to swim with the sting rays. Once again it was wonderful. Worth every penny. Last day was in Nassau. Been there, done that, only the traffic on Bay Street was worse than ever. Same old straw market. We went back to the ship early and relaxed in the whirlpool. This was on of the few times we were able to use it. I must say that this cruise had a different tone than other Carnival cruises we have taken. While this is one of the fun ships on a line known for its party atmosphere the partying was loud, constant, and at times lacking civility. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
This was my 3rd cruise with Carnival. This cruise was heavily discounted so it attracted mostly very pleasant working class, ethnic Florida families and a collection of very rude young couples who wanted to get drunk/smoke from all over US ... Read More
This was my 3rd cruise with Carnival. This cruise was heavily discounted so it attracted mostly very pleasant working class, ethnic Florida families and a collection of very rude young couples who wanted to get drunk/smoke from all over US and wear little clothing. We did not fall into either of these categories as we are a professional 40 something couple from the Northeast. We were shocked at how many children were cruising since it was not a holiday so it required missing several school days. We chose this cruise because of itinerary, price and date of departure. For the money you can't find a better deal, food was good, ship has a perfect easy to navigate layout, cabin was big/clean/basic, and all staff went out of way to be pleasant. Maitre d in the Pride dinning room and his team was as good if not better than we experienced on premium lines (Cunard, Holland America). Spa/fitness area was in need of a face lift, woman's changing area reminded me of a YMCA. Piano bar MIRAGE very fun, during the day this same spot served as a host to tea, a very enjoyable way to get a snack between meals and enjoy fine quality piano playing. We enjoyed some duty free shopping onboard. Surprisingly, a scheduled trivia game was never held without any explanation, 20 of us are still wondering why we wasted 30 minutes of our life waiting for it. This was management failure of the Cruise Director, Lenny. We explored Key West independently and in Calica, MX we chose the Talum coach tour from Carnival. The later was excellent if one enjoys history/culture, it is an experience of a lifetime to see these amazing structures and impressive cliff top. One should be aware there is an excellent sandy beach at the foot of the ruins, so if you enjoy swimming, bring/wear a bathing suit. There is a series of steep well made wooden steps to get to the beach therefore it is not accessible to all. The walk from the bus parking lot to the Mayan site is about 10 minutes, there is a trolley for $2 that is a round trip ticket, we chose to walk in but still was charged the $2 to return so would recommend just taking it both ways, since the walk in was on a poor surfaced road and uninteresting. Our tour guide was also our guide at the ruins, Manuel was excellent and spoke English better than most of the people we were cruising with on the Imagination. There is a sneaky shopping stop they slip in enroute to Talum, some of our fellow guests did not bring money/credit card for this and wish they had known. It is a touristy kiosk with masks, hats, ornaments, etc. all certified to be authentic. I would only recommend this cruise if you travel in a large group or are a young fun loving/rowdy couple. If you don't care about noise, don't mind being bumped into without an excuse me or if you don't mind being up late at night (late meaning 3am) than this may be the cruise for you. Even families stayed up late, children were running in halls at 2am after late night buffets/baby sitting services ended. We even had the unusual incident of domestic abuse onboard, a young couple had to be separated and the man was locked up by security. This is not a cruise for anyone who wants to have a restful escape, it is for people who want to mingle with the general masses at a cost effective price and to be served by the one of the kindest teams at sea. For the most part we knew what we were getting into from internet reports (that is why I share now) and from past cruises. The surprise was the excess amount of kids and the lack of supervision of them, we expected the young rowdies. It served our purpose as a cheap way to see campy cool Key West and awe inspiring Mayan Ruins, but next time we think we will pay a little more to get a bit more rest/relaxation, we did not get a full night's rest and were awoken every night. Need a vacation after our vacation ! Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
This was my first Carnival Cruise in over 15 years. As a college student, I would typically venture to the Caribbean with friends. We may be partly responsible for the "FUN SHIP" reputation. Now that I am in my early forties, I ... Read More
This was my first Carnival Cruise in over 15 years. As a college student, I would typically venture to the Caribbean with friends. We may be partly responsible for the "FUN SHIP" reputation. Now that I am in my early forties, I was eager to sail with Carnival and see the evolution of the largest cruise-line. This adventure was solo. EMBARKATION Having preregistered online, I moved smoothly through the lines and onto the ship in record time (less than 40 minutes.) ACCOMMODATIONS Traveling alone, I was surprised to see my inside cabin with 2 twin beds. I left a note for the steward asking to please put the beds together. When I returned from dinner, they were in fact together, but still made as 2 twin beds. I wasn't amused, but after a few cocktails I decided to strip the bed myself and remake it as one with the larger linens I found in the closet. Though the room was well maintained, I never met the steward (a first after 20 cruises.) DINING Overall I feel that Carnival has made vast improvements in the food department. Buffets were predictable but the dining room service was excellent. BEVERAGES It was my understanding that Carnival had led the way in improving food service and now they are focusing on the wines. What a joke! You could enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner - but I dare you to try and get the same glass of wine in the various bars after dinner. "we're out of that one" - I heard this many times! What I found even more shocking was that you could not get an after dinner drink with coffee in any bar. Even the cigar bar did not offer a coffee-back with your BAILEY'S, B&B, SAMBUCO, etc. I really shouldn't complain so much about the coffee because it was quite awful when you could actually get a cup. A final word on the cigar-bar: The staff were actually nice and the atmosphere was very friendly. The most annoying thing was to have 4 large flat-screen televisions playing simultaneously: 1-news 2-soccer 3-feature film 4-sitcom. Each had full volume competing with lounge music and the chatter of the bar patrons. I don't mind the TVs being played, but do you know anyone that will sit and watch a feature film?? Volume isn't necessary to keep tabs on a soccer game or other sporting event. World news is important, but we can all read the prompts on the bottom of the screen. ENTERTAINMENT The piano player and comedian were both quite good. The entertainment in the large showroom was actually the worst I had ever seen on any ship. EXCURSIONS I chose to wing it alone in the Caymans, but opted for a snorkeling trip in Jamaica. It wasn't well organized and we easily wasted over an hour waiting for the guides to collect and distribute the equipment. Once in the water, I saw few fish but did find 2 Pepsi bottles and 1 Coke bottle. CONCLUSION For the price I paid, I really can't complain too much. I knew that this was a bargain and "you get what you pay for." I would not suggest this venue for a honeymoon or landmark occasion, but if you want to get away for a few days on a budget, go for it. Happy sailing! Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
i sailed on the Imagination from 7/13 until 7/17. We decided to fly into Fort Lauderdale the day of the cruise, which could have been a disaster. Our plane arrived about a half an hour later than scheduled, however we still had plenty of ... Read More
i sailed on the Imagination from 7/13 until 7/17. We decided to fly into Fort Lauderdale the day of the cruise, which could have been a disaster. Our plane arrived about a half an hour later than scheduled, however we still had plenty of time to catch the Carnival transfer to Miami. Embarkation was very easy, slightly disorganized when you first walk into the building, there were a lot of people just standing around not knowing where to go. We were given our sail and sign cards (my boyfriend and I) and our room keys and got right onto the ship without a hassle. I don't like how this ship gives you a separate room key and card, the keys were a nuisance to carry around. Once we boarded, we went up to the Lido buffet for some lunch. It can get very crowded in the buffet and there are a lot of people that will walk right into you if you don't watch out for them. The turkey and the stuffing were IMO excellent, however be sure to tell the man carving the turkey to give you more if you're not satisfied with your piece. Room: The room was spacious but lacking in any kind of decor that I have seen on other ships. The desk unit didn't work properly, I had to pry open the drawers. The bed was very comfortable and we enjoyed the large window in the oceanview stateroom, definitely worth the extra money. The bathroom and closets were also a decent size. Food: The food in the dining room was a crapshoot. for example, on the formal night my lobster tail was excellent but my boyfriends was tough and tasteless. Another night my beef was very good but my boyfriends pork was tough. The deserts were good, although there was not much variety. I enjoyed the desserts at the buffet much more. Breakfast at the buffet is definitely something to be skipped. The eggs were runny, the bacon greasy, and the line for the omelets not worth the wait. The pizza was good for a late night snack. Room service was convenient, I'd suggest the tuna on an english muffin or BLT and of course the amazing fudge brownies. Service: Service also just barely met my expectations. I knew what to expect for a Carnival cruise, however some things surprised me. For example, our head waiter stopped giving us dessert menus on the last 2 nights of the cruise opting instead to give us whatever the "special dessert" was. I knew there were supposed to be other options because I had read the menu prior to entertaining the dining room, and the second time it happened I requested another dessert. Our assistant waiter was very friendly and accommodating, always all smiles (Thanks Pudgie!) We never actually met out room steward, and one night he never came to clean the room at all. He also only mad a towel animal one night, something that I was very disappointed about. Room service was prompt and the people at the information desk were very helpful. Facilities: The ship, for its age, was in very good condition for the most part. Some of the statues showed a little wear and tear and the handrails were not shiny, but I'd attribute that to the number of children dirtying them up and not on the staff themselves. Entertainment: I was actually surprised at how lackluster the entertainment was. We'd seen the comedian who performed the first night on another cruise and he did the same exact routine. The first show was terrible! Can you say cheesy? There were no sets and the entire performance was like a bad high school attempt at a review. Probably more the person who wrote the show's fault than the performers themselves. The grand gala buffet was lovely, but the food was very odd (olives in some kind of clear gel and way to much raw fish) or just awful tasting (a chocolate mousse cake that jiggled and was not creamy). Karaoke in the Xanadu Lounge was fun, but I was surprised at the lackluster turnout in each of the entertainment venues. My boyfriend and I could never find a bar or lounge that had a large enough number of people to make it enjoyable. The only place I ever saw a lot of people was at the Illusions disco, but the loud techno/rap music was not what we were interested in doing (Keep in mind we're not old, 20 and 26, it was just not an appealing party). Ports: Key West gets old after a few day long visits, You're not in port long enough to do anything substantial. We walked down to the southernmost point, did a little shopping and got back on the ship early. Calica: As many people have written, Calica is an industrial port with NOTHING there. Taxis and rental cars were waiting at the ship. Carnival got a HUGE two thumbs down on getting off the ship this day. We were supposed to be there from 12 to 8, the ship didn't dock until 12:30 and we weren't able to disembark until 1:15. By this time the line to get out went up 5 flights of stairs and all the way back through the hallway of each floor. It was a madhouse! There was only one part to exit the ship! It was a disaster! Also, the excursions through Carnival are a rip off. My boyfriend and I rented a car and drove to Tulum for 34.50 per person (including car and admission), the Carnival excursion is 69 per person. Disembarkation: We decided to do self assist, where you carry your bags off and are the first ones off the ship. Also a mess, like the Calica disaster. The stairwells were overcrowded and hot and you had to prop your luggage up on stairs while you were waiting. Only do this if you have an early flight as it is not worth the aggravation. Overall, I knew what to expect before going on this cruise and I think it's very important that you do so you are not disappointed. There were a lot of unsupervised children, so if you're looking to avoid those annoyances, I would suggest a different cruise line and a longer itinerary. I'd cruise carnival again, but at a different time of the year and on a longer itinerary on a newer ship. My boyfriend however, most likely would not. The day we returned home he had a stomach virus that we can only assume he contracted while on the ship. This is a good cruise if you want to get away for the weekend and eat a lot of free food in tropical locales. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
Review of Imagination sailing 2/23-2/27 This is our 12th cruise, Carnival 4X, RCCL 6X, Princess 1X, Holland America 1X. Overall the cruise was fun and we went for the R&R! I think the ship looked pretty well maintained considering ... Read More
Review of Imagination sailing 2/23-2/27 This is our 12th cruise, Carnival 4X, RCCL 6X, Princess 1X, Holland America 1X. Overall the cruise was fun and we went for the R&R! I think the ship looked pretty well maintained considering its age. The food in the dining room was surprising good, but the Horizon Grill was poorly organized and the food was terrible. The alternate dining option in the evening was awful, there were so many of us wishing to do so and they only had one side open and the line was always very long. In Calica, we did not get back to the ship until 8:30, by the time we got to the Horizon for some dinner. There must of been at least 100 people on line The activities and shows were OK We were lucky enough to get a penthouse suite cabin U88, you would think Carnival would put their experience steward/stewardess in these cabins. We had Martha, this was her second sailing as a cabin stewardess, she was very nice, but did not remember anything we asked for and then some! Never replace glasses and ice, On our last night, she took the robes and left no towels. We felt she was kicking us out of our cabin. This is the sailing that the Imagination pick up refugees on our way to Calica, because of the rescue, we were late getting to port, which is fine, Carnival did a great thing. But other than the one announcement that we be delay an hour and we will stay an hour later, there's was no other announcements. We were supposed to arrive at noon, we did not arrive until 1:30, we did not actually get off the ship until 2:30, it felt like the all the passengers were standing at the gangway at the same time. There was no one there to organize the process, when they finally started to let passengers off, everyone started pushing, it was horrible. The only reason we were there was because we purchase an excursion and needed to be out at the pier ASAP, (that's what we were told). We did not let all this get to us, like I said earlier, we were the for REST AND RELAXATION, and we made ourselves get that. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
We have been on many cruises but against friend's warning, we thought that we would give Carnival a chance. We left Miami on August 20, 2005. Embarkment was fine. The lines were long. On our last cruise with Royal Caribbean, there was ... Read More
We have been on many cruises but against friend's warning, we thought that we would give Carnival a chance. We left Miami on August 20, 2005. Embarkment was fine. The lines were long. On our last cruise with Royal Caribbean, there was seating for the lines making it less difficult with the hot weather. The ship was not that big but it was confusing because we did not receive a map. The food was fine but the lines were just terrible. We waited as long as one hour to get lunch. The rooms were large but the shower leaked and the smoke alarm in our room went off. After several employees accused us of smoking (NO WAY), they found that it was something mechanically wrong with no apology. The shore excursions were wonderful. On the night before we were to return to Miami, the Captain announced that due to Katrina, we would not be returning for three more days. There was a lot of chaos due to the fact the there was no cell phone service. We were told to use our phone in the cabins to let our families and employers know when to expect us back. Of course the lines were so busy that we could not get through until the next morning. There were no limits on calls made but we only made two. That included two cabins with six adults. We thought that we were set so we sat back to enjoy the rest of our vacation. We went to the disembarkment meeting with Brett, our cruise director. A question was raised as to gratuity for the extra days. He told us that the company pays the employees that gratuity when something like this occurs. He also said that the phone calls were all set too. Early the day that we were to disembark, we received our bill. We were shocked to see that we were charged for the gratuity and the phone bills. We stood in line at the pursers desk for six hour only to be told that the desk was closing and that any concerns can be resolved from home. As soon as we got home I called Carnival. The person on the phone took my information and said that I would receive an answer within a week. A month passed and I called again with my case number. This was October 3, 2005. I was told that a letter was sent to me a week ago. and that all of our charges were not going to be credited. She was so rude. I guess that all of Carnival's charm disappears once they have your money. I did receive a letter on October 4th. It was dated October 3rd. A great deal - NO...Cruise on Carnival again - NEVER Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
This was my first cruise with Carnival and my wife's second, although her first was more than ten years ago. Most of our experience has been with Disney Cruise Lines and we went into the cruise realizing that Carnival probably ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Carnival and my wife's second, although her first was more than ten years ago. Most of our experience has been with Disney Cruise Lines and we went into the cruise realizing that Carnival probably wouldn't measure up to our experience with Disney. For most of the cruise we were pleasantly surprised at how well Carnival actually held up against our other experiences. We sailed from Miami on Thursday afternoon. I was quite impressed with how quickly our bags were delivered to our door and it was a very big plus to be unpacked and settled before dinner. We found the stateroom to be spacious enough for our needs and we were impressed with the cleanliness of the room. The embarkation process was seamless and smooth and we were on the ship by 1:00 on Thursday. We decided to eat some lunch and then explore the ship. Lunch was wonderful! We had a nice view of Star Island from our deck table and we had a wonderful turkey lunch. The turkey was both tender and juicy. After lunch we went on a spa tour, which turned out to be a very good idea because most of the hair appointments for J.C. were already booked up. The only appointment that my wife, Deanna, could get for that day was 6:00, which with a 6:15 dinner time would mean missing dinner but we took that time. I guess this is a good time to brag on J.C. a little. J.C. is from South Africa and has been doing hair for something like fifteen years. He told us to trust him and let him pick a hair style and color for Deanna. We were a little nervous but decided to put her hair in his hand, literally! J.C. cut, colored and styled Deanna's hair and though she is always very beautiful the end result was absolutely stunning. He picked the right style for her face shape and a color that nicely accents her eyes. You can tell that he takes pleasure in making women beautiful. Ladies if you cruise on the Imagination I highly recommend J.C., but remember book early because his time goes quickly. Since we missed our dining time we decided to eat on the Lido deck again and had a nice dinner, although not as nice as the dining room would have been. By the way for cruisers unfamiliar with the Imagination here are a few tips for you. Please remember to take your hair dryer because they are not provided in the staterooms. Also washcloths are only provided by request and strangely enough you must request them each day or they disappear again. I found the whole washcloth thing a bit strange but only a minor complaint in the big scheme of things. Some people had towel animals in their room the first night, however, we did not. We found the stewards and crew we encountered on our first day to be very friendly and helpful. Oh by the way one more little tip for day one, the life jackets are stowed in a box under the television, which is not real clear when you're looking for them and muster is only minutes away. We wrapped up day one by going to bed early so we had lots of energy for Key West the next day. After a kind of rough ride from Miami to Key West we awoke to a beautiful cool morning. We ate breakfast in the dining room since we still had some time before we could get off the ship. We exited the ship and took a shuttle to McKinley Square where we went off on our own. We had a nice walk down Whitehead Street to the Hemingway House. The weather was cool but not cool enough to require a jacket. Some people were complaining of being cold but as year round residents of Orlando who bake all summer we found the weather a nice break from the heat. Deanna and I are both cat lovers and we went to the Hemingway House specifically to see the cats. It was quite interesting there and we both decided that "Archie" is our favorite. He's a big orange marmalade male that's more fluff than substance and he absolutely loves having his chin stroked. We were also very happy to get a good camera shot of "Charlie Chaplin" when she took a brief break from her nap to say hello (yes Charlie Chaplin is a girl- go figure). We also enjoyed seeing Charley, Ivan and Frances, the three kittens born during our hurricane riddled month of August this year. After leaving the Hemingway House we decided to climb the lighthouse across the street. It affords a beautiful view of the island in all directions. We were both surprised that in the liability worried society in which we live that you can still climb that thing, take advantage of it while it's available. We then walked to a place that is called The Secret Garden. Truthfully it's pretty much a tourist trap and we regretted spending the six bucks to get in. After a little shopping we went back to the ship for lunch. We were only in Key West for six hours, which proved to be enough to have a very enjoyable morning. Our departure was delayed by a medical situation on the ship. It's sad to watch a family carry all of their suitcases out to the ambulance and think that their long awaited vacation came to such an abrupt end so early in the cruise. As it turned out day two was formal night on board. We had been told before we sailed that there was no formal night on the four day cruise so sadly I was not prepared and had nice clothes but no tie or jacket. I decided we'd never see these people again so I swallowed my embarrassment and went to dinner in a nice sport shirt and slacks. Dinner was wonderful and lobster was the fare of the evening. Our table companions seemed more interested in drinking than eating but we managed to have a nice time anyway. After dinner we went to the show called "Living in America." The dancers were very good and the singers were awesome, but the dancers could have used a little more material in their costumes. Deanna and I both agreed that had our 7 and 14 yer old daughters been with us we would have been a little embarrassed at the lack of material in the female dancers' costumes. After the show we decided to retire for the night. On day three we rose early, as is our habit, and awaited our arrival in Cozumel. In Cozumel we had booked a Mexican cuisine and tasting excursion. The advertisement described an air conditioned bus ride to a resort where we would cook our own three course meal, being coached by a chef, and then eat our creation and enjoy the beach resort. The "air conditioned bus ride" turned out to be a ride in a rough taxi with an insane driver that almost killed us when he passed a car by cutting between it and an oncoming vehicle, making three cars wide on a two lane road. When we arrived at the resort we met "Peppi" who was our chef for the afternoon. I consider myself and my wife to be better than average cooks and we both know our way around a kitchen very well, but Peppi seemed to have a problem with some of the ways we did things which squelched some of the enjoyment for us. Our meal turned out very good and we enjoyed our time at the resort. The only other problem with this excursion was that they would only pay for our return taxi ride to the ship if we stayed until 7:00. On our visit we were done with our dinner and it started to rain at about 5:00. With really nothing to do for the next two hours we decided to pay the money to take a taxi back to the ship. Overall I think we both wished we had done something different and I can't say I recommend this particular excursion to others. Day four was our sea day and we pretty much spent the day enjoying all of the normal shipboard activities. We decided to eat our last evening dinner on the Lido deck rather than subject ourselves to a dinner with our less than desirable table partners. This proved to be an ill fated decision. Every dinner we ate on the Lido Deck up until then was just as good as the ones served in the dining room and offered a beautiful array of desserts. This particular evening the food was bad, but there was hope because they also had a fettuccini bar. When I went to the fettuccini station I was told it was closed for the evening and though all of the stuff was still sitting there I couldn't have any -- This at 6:15! We also soon discovered that there was no dessert to be seen. After dinner it became obvious to us that it must be the crew's night off because there was barely any crew to be found and the level of service on the ship just seemed to plummet. The pools were closed and the deck chairs put away, the library was closed and there really weren't any activities going on. When we returned to our room we found no towel animal, no mints, our bathrobes were gone and the clean sheets for the next day's new cruise were neatly folded and stacked on top of our television set. I found the sheet thing to be beyond tacky and picked them up and threw them in the steward's closet out in the hallway. Of course all of this last day stuff came up after we had filled out our cruise comment card. Overall for three days I would have rated this cruise experience to be better than expected and excellent, but the day four disappointment will forever relegate this cruise to merely average. It's so important to finish well. First and last impressions last forever, however, in this case Carnival lost their opportunity to leave us with a good last impression. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
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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