124 Miami to Caribbean - Western Carnival Imagination Cruise Reviews

Having cruised with Carnival previously on Destiny we decided to go with Carnival again for a winter break. Let me just say that cruising in the winter is VERY risky weather wise. The first day and a half it rained and was very cool out. ... Read More
Having cruised with Carnival previously on Destiny we decided to go with Carnival again for a winter break. Let me just say that cruising in the winter is VERY risky weather wise. The first day and a half it rained and was very cool out. This also meant that the water was rough during our travels. Miami (Embarkation)- I sailed with a friend and we saved a lot of time by doing the online check in through the carnival website. Once we passed security we just had to pick up our keys and we were on our way. We were in the ship by 1:30 pm and we were able to go straight to our rooms. We chose to go with an interior room only because on my previous cruise I spent little to no time in the room and felt that a window or balcony wasn't necessary. The room were clean and spacious. Key West- Very pretty! We did have a sunny day but it was very chilly out, about 55 degrees. Even the residents there were surprised by how cool it was this day. We took the shuttle to the downtown area and visited the Ripley's Believe it or Not. We also did some shopping at the local shops and sat at a bar for drinks before heading back to the ship. The ship was only docked in Key West for about 5 hrs. Our ride to Cozumel was rough! Almost half of the ship had was sea sick!!! (My friend that I was cruising with included) I so happened to be fine because i took Dramamine ahead of time. I decided to go with the buffet this night and the ship was the emptiest that i have seen throughout the entire trip. There was no line for the dining room and no one sitting in any of the common areas and this was about 7:30 pm. Cozumel- The weather SUCKED!! It was raining/ drizzling and was very windy. We decided to go with a van tour which ran us about $25. The tour guide took us to all the "hotspots" of Cozumel. He also gave us time to get out at a restaurant for lunch/ drinks as well as the beach once it stopped raining. After the tour we decided to head back to the ship due to the weather. Fun Day At Sea- FINALLY some sun! It hit about 85 degrees that morning and everyone was outside taking in the sun. We sat on the Serenity Deck for a couple hours for quiet relaxation. I must say that the Serenity Deck was a great move on Carnivals part. Its quiet and only 21 & over. It also had 2 Jacuzzi's. We later headed to the Lido deck for all the fun and games. Caught some shows and more sun before getting ready for dinner. I think this was the most fun day on the ship. The comedian even thought so! Food/Drinks- Overall the food was good. I am a picky eater and i enjoyed the food. In comparison to Destiny I saw less lines on Imagination. I am a cooker and was a bit annoyed with the omelet station because my eggs were always burnt. I enjoyed the Lido Deck food better than the Dining room food. Although I did enjoy the dessert in the dining room. Bare in mind that although they provide room service there maybe a long wait during times where outside is cold, bad weather, and around dinner time. Yes! The drinks are expensive but are very strong. I had to send back a drink because there was more liquor than mixer. Miami (Debarkation)- We decided to go with the relaxed debarkation. On debarkation morning we had breakfast on the lido deck and was informed that customs would doing a vigorous scan on everybody. This did make the process a lot longer but the line was getting a bit ridiculous so they just stopped doing the scan. Transportation- When I cruised on Destiny i went with Carnivals transportation which like all the other reviewers said was expensive and we had to wait for a full bus to leave the airport/ port. This time around i did some research and went with SAS transportation (ridesas.com). They have a website that I booked the pick-up/ drop off. They were very reliable and prompt. As soon as i got off the plane in FLL they were calling and they called me when I was going through customs for debarkation. It was $15 each way which was the cheapest i found from FLL airport. Their drivers were very courteous and provided a mini tour on the way lol. Ship/ Staff- The staff were all nice. On our last night on the ship we got a bad waiter in the dining room and we didn't even make it to dessert before we left and that was after sitting there for about and hour and a half. The ship was remodeled in 2010 and was a lot newer than Destiny. The lounges and common areas were more modern than Destiny. For the most part the staff did a good job at keeping the ship clean and tables cleared on the Lido Deck. Entertainment- I must say that the entertainment is far better than i remember in the Destiny. I really enjoyed the shows in the Dynasty Lounge. The shows looked a lot more professional and the singers are a lot better. Overall, I would cruise with Carnival again but on their newer ships and definitely not in the winter! It was a good idea for a hot trip in the winter but just not on a boat! Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
The decor of the ship is quite out dated in style (like an old Fremont Street resort), but that seems to be the case for many carnival ships anyway. Overall, the cabin and public areas are clean and spacious. Perhaps because of the ... Read More
The decor of the ship is quite out dated in style (like an old Fremont Street resort), but that seems to be the case for many carnival ships anyway. Overall, the cabin and public areas are clean and spacious. Perhaps because of the September dry-dock, the carpets look very new, and all the cabin and basic public facilities worked very well. Therefore, it serves very well as a moving hotel with all the basic facilities and services you will expect from a cruise ship. Embarkation: The embarkation process moves smoothly. We arrive at the airport at 12:00, and was able to board the ship and enjoy the Mongolian Wok at around 1:30. Public areas: I noticed that a few reviews in Nov and Dec mentioned the smell in the ship. I was a little bit worried about this before I board the ship, as I am quite sensitive about smells. But during the whole treat I have never smell anything bad. I guess the smell in the last few trips might be due to the dry-dock maintenance (paintings or something else), but I can assure you that things were perfectly fine during my trip in this respect. There're plenty of seats in the open deck areas. Serenity is a good place to relax. But I prefer the seats above the serenity, outside the buffet, as that area is also quiet, and with more proximity to drinks and desserts. The area around the water slide also has great views. But there's more wind and motion up there. The gym and sauna looks very new. The main pool is quite small, but didn't expect to swim there anyway. Cabin: The room was in the aft area of the main deck. Not much noise and motion. It's clean and spacious, and all the facilities worked very well. Room service is good. The room was always kept very clean. We ordered the continental breakfast from the room service every day. It's great to have plenty of yogurt and orange juice in the morning. Beds are very comfortable. Toilet is clean. The window is muddy from the outside, but not a major concern. The room has connecting feature. Luckily, not much noise comes from the other room. Can't understand why they put the bed against the connecting door. Other than that, the room lay-out is generally reasonable and convenient. Entertainment: For a short cruise like this, there're lots of activities and shows to choose from. The cruise director did a great job in organizing and explaining the activities. The epic rock show was good. And the live musics at Promenade were very enjoyable. I didn't go to the bars a lot, but I do recommend the piano bar. The pianist is truly amazing! The water slide looks good, but it was closed most of the time during our trip as we were experiencing heavy winds and rough seas. Dining: For the main dining room, the overall quality of the food is OK, with some really great choices occasionally. I do love the Sushi at the last night's appetizer menu. Beef steaks were ok: a little bit overdone but still delicious. Waiters did a good job in serving and entertaining the guests. For the buffet, there are plenty of choices of desserts and teas. But lemonade was the only juice available. We didn't go to the buffet a lot except for the desserts, drinks and for the Mexican night. For the lunch, the Mongolian Wok is a big success. Yes it's popular and there's always a long line there. But I never waited for more than 20 minutes in the lines. Don't expect any "white-star standard" here, otherwise you would probably yell-out mad. But the ship does remain very decent and capable of delivering fun despite its age. Most importantly, it's clean and well maintained. The service is not particularly impressive but generally enjoyable and there's nothing to complain about. Given all these qualities, and considering the bargain price I paid for it, I will give it a perfect rating as it definitely meet our expectations well. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This was my 14th Carnival Cruise (17 overall). I take this cruise as a birthday gift to myself each year. I’ve grown to enjoy the IMAGINATION and her crew very much during the four previous trips and will miss sailing on this ship once ... Read More
This was my 14th Carnival Cruise (17 overall). I take this cruise as a birthday gift to myself each year. I’ve grown to enjoy the IMAGINATION and her crew very much during the four previous trips and will miss sailing on this ship once it is moved to the west coast in 2014. This time I was traveling with a good friend and left for a relaxing get-a-way from the Northeast cold weather. The price was too good to pass up and I managed to grab a porthole room (E-9) as an added bonus. EMBARKATION: I arrived at MIA international and easily grabbed a Taxi (Flat fee $24) to the port of Miami. It’s a short 20 ride. We arrived at the port about 11:00 am. Since I am Platinum the VIFP check in was quick and we boarded very shortly after arriving at the Port. My room was ready as soon as I boarded to drop my knapsack before heading out into the ship. The IMAGINATION is really a nice ship and very easy to navigate. I very much liked the new 2.0 upgrades. It was a nice change mostly noticeable to the Dynasty Lounge performances. I like how all of the performers have a bigger commitment to singing over past shows where there may have been one male and one female lead. The new “Playlist Productions” are shorter and repeat on different days allowing you to choose to take part in other activities on certain days if wanted. ROOM STEWARD: JOHN (Barbados) was our room steward and his assistant Santosa. They were extremely courteous and always took the time to say hello. They never disturbed us at any point during the day and I’ve said in in all my reviews, IMHO is what makes a good room steward; one that knows your name and schedule and can work around it without disturbing your vacation. We increased their gratuity directly to them in personal thank you cards at the end of the cruise. They really eliminated ANY worries regarding the cleanliness and status of our stateroom. They are an asset to the Carnival crew. CABIN: E9 PORTHOLE forward.... The setup with one bed on the bathroom wall and the other bed along the far wall under the window opened the space up nicely. Shift your beds like this it just seemed to create a lot of space. NO FRIDGE, but I knew that. This is your typical stateroom; perfectly located on deck 7, just up the hall from the Main Atrium and service desks. There was all NEW lighting in the rooms. It is also conveniently located just around the corner from the self-service laundry which came in handy after our muddy ATV excursion in Cozumel. One drawback is it is located just above the Dynasty Lounge so does get a loud thumping from the production shows at night. If you are a night owl, this probably won’t affect you, but if you turn in early you may not wish to book these rooms up front. ITINERARY/ PORTS: Miami-Key West-Cozumel-day at sea-Miami. One formal night on day two and a great quick getaway cruise. KEYWEST: Carnival is only in this port for a short time, but you can easily get a taste of the Key West atmosphere while there. One thing to keep in mind is that many of the local shops do not open until 9am so the early 7am arrival will be a bit quiet when first docked. Our ship had a medical emergency which caused us to arrive 1.5hrs late. They did extend our departure time by 30 minutes. Arriving at the Navy station you need to take a short Conch train to the Mallory Square area. My friend and I walked 2-3 blocks to the end of Front Street and rented biked for $10/day. We rode down to Southernmost Point for a photo and then up to HIGGS BEACH where you can pick up the bike trail. We made our way back through town and to my favorite stop KEYLIME PIE FACTORY 412 GREENE ST to grab a couple of my favorite Coconut Lime drinks and a pit-stop. The location to return the rental bikes is conveniently right next to it. KAI-KAI SANDALS and KINO SANDALS is just across the street as well as a cigar shop to grab a Key-Lime flavored cigar for a friend back home. We were back on board for a late lunch, waving goodbye to Key West and sitting by the pool by 2:00. COZUMEL, MX: I have been to this port several times and have done detailed past reviews which have included excursions for: JEEP/SNORKEL, AMAZING SECRET RIVER and CAVERN EXPLORE, DUNE BUGGY & BEACH, ADVENTURE SUBMARINE, SNUBA, COZUMEL (San Gervasio) MAYAN RUINS and the famous MAYAN RUINS of TALUM. You can check them out in any of my past reviews. This time we decided last minute for a little adventure and chose the ATV JUNGLE ADVENTURE and BEACH CLUB excursion. WHAT A BLAST! It did start raining while we were in Cozumel, however it just made the ATV excursion that much more fun. They take you via charter bus to the ATV location and after a safety briefing and a short instructional video you are on your own ATV and off into the jungle. This is an extremely BOUNCY and ROUGH ride. You WILL get dirty so a change of clothes might be a good idea. Small lockers are provided for $2 and you must have close toed shoes. After a 15-20 minute hands on training run, you begin a 70 minute ride through the jungle dirt and muddy paths. This is a very exhilarating and fun excursion all by itself. Well worth the Ship cost of $79. After returning your ATV, they do offer a photo to buy and you are back onboard the charter bus heading to a private Beach Club where you can purchase food as well as take part in additional excursions (at a reasonable price) like Parasailing & Wave Runners. These prices are actually less than the ship excursions charge. If you do not wish to stay the 1.5 hours at the Beach club you may opt to take a taxi back into town at your own cost, otherwise you take the charter bus back after the beach club stop. They do have (outside-open) showers, food menus and nice lounge chairs to use. After returning to the ship we did a quick shower and change into clean dry clothes and went back out into the port for some quick duty free shopping. COZUMEL for me never disappoints! It’s a nice Caribbean stop with much to do. FOOD/DINING: I chose “LATE DINING" on this cruise. It is an easy option so there is no rushing back onto the ship on port days. Since this was more or a laid-back casual trip we did not pack any formal night attire and simply grabbed something to eat at the buffet that night. It was less to pack and more flexibility to try other dining options. Once again I have nothing bad to say about the food on the ship. It was always hot, minimal waiting and delicious. The food & service in the Dining Room was as good a standard as any restaurant and could not have been any better. Our table mates were fun and we had great conversations. It is one of the nice things I like about cruising, meeting new people. CRUISE DIRECTOR- SKIP: He is funny and informative without being annoying like some others could be. ENTERTAINMENT: I do miss seeing the HIP-HOP crew FUNFORCE performing in the Atrium that was on my past Imagination cruises. They were a lot of fun. I did enjoy the new production shows and the new “George Lopez” PUNCHLINER’s CLUB seems to becoming a good asset to the cruise line on board. I did not use the SPA or CAMP CARNIVAL so have no comments to make here. SUMMARY: ITINERARY, FOOD, SERVICE, and CLEANLINESS of the ship, ADULT SERENITY deck and the Punchliner’s Comedy Club. Even though I have taken this exact ship and itinerary multiple times I always have fun and meet new people. I try and do different types of excursions and activities while on board. Its a vacation and while some people choose to rely on the "cruise host" to make the best of it, I do not, I choose to make the best of it for myself. Yes, it rained in Cozumel, we had a delay arriving in Key West, there was thumping music under my stateroom one night I decided to turn in early and I didn't win in the casino this trip, but I'm not one to allow those minor things to ruin a vacation. There were too many positives and relaxing memories I chose to take with me. I found a deck chair when I wanted one, I didn't have any worries to drive, clean my room or cook for the whole trip. I ate plenty, I had a few drinks, I laughed, I met a few new friends and took away more wonderful cruise memories. I know other lines offer different things, but with this trip I received exactly what I was expecting and looking for. This is why I gave this trip a 5+ stars rating. I would definitely do this cruise again, but looks like it will need to be on a different ship since the IMAGINATION is being re-positioned to the west coast. Feel free to check out my other reviews and/or contact me with any questions. wiskt Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This was our first cruise so I can't really compare it to anything we've done before. We went the week before Christmas and took our grown kids for their Christmas gift. There were eight of us in four cabins total, and we all had ... Read More
This was our first cruise so I can't really compare it to anything we've done before. We went the week before Christmas and took our grown kids for their Christmas gift. There were eight of us in four cabins total, and we all had an amazing time! The Carnival Imagination is definitely older and the decor is dated, but it's still really nice. They keep everything very clean, with the exception of the pool which looked kind of green one day. But the next morning it was clear again, so I assume they do clean it daily. The hot tubs (there were 4 total) were almost always full. You really had to stalk one to get a chance to use it. The ship could definitely use another hot tub or two. I loved the adults only Serenity deck. The lounge chairs were very comfortable and it was a nice place to relax. The vibe was laid back out there most of the time, but one day there was a crowd in the hot tub who were drinking heavily and getting annoyingly loud. We just went and found a quieter place to hang out elsewhere on the ship. Our sailing was full but I never felt that the ship was too crowded. There are plenty of places to find peace and quiet if that is what you want. I loved watching the sunsets from the deck. That was one of the highlights of the cruise to me! The crew was for the most part amazing. Service was mostly great, and at times extraordinary. Only one bartender was unfriendly and unattentive, and maybe she was just having a bad week. We just avoided that particular bar because there were plenty of other bars to get a drink served with a smile. It pays to make friends with the crew, tip them a little extra, and they will take really good care of you. Our room steward, Trevor, was fantastic. He always greeted us by name, and was quick to respond to any request. Our cabin was cleaned throroughly at least twice a day. I absolutely adored the little towel animals that we found on our beds every evening. What a nice special touch that was. The cabin (we had an inside cabin) was small but not too small. There was enough room for us and our stuff. I did bring, thanks to tips from Cruise Critic's forum, an over the door shoe holder, which was a fantastic idea to keep stuff in so that you don't have to take up all the counter space, which is very limited. We might try a balcony room next time just because it would be nice to relax in the privacy of your own cabin and watch the sea. But I can't imagine spending a lot of time in a cabin, with all there is to do on the ship. I thought the entertainment was good. Not broadway quality of course, but still entertaining and diverse. There were many choices in the evenings, with different types of music and activities to choose from. I can't imagine people who say they get bored on a cruise ship. There were shows and activities I missed that I wish I had found the time to do. There's always next time! The food was good, but not great. It was about what I expected. It's not gourmet quality, but I would say more banquet quality. If you consider that it is included in the price of your fare, it's a great value. There is something to eat at all times, 24 hours a day, as much as you want. We all had no problem finding somethng that we liked, both on the buffet and in the dining rooms. The buffets were beautiful presented, and the lines weren't too terribly long, except for the Asian Wok station. It seemed to be a favorite at lunch, with lines easily 30 to 45 minutes long. I braved the long line on the last day, and found it good but prbably not worth the wait. The main dining room had the best food. I am a bit of a foodie, and I was satisfied, although not overly impressed. It met my expectations and I was never disappointed. We visited two ports, Key West and Cozumel. Key West was fun, but would have been so much better a little later in the day. We were there in the morning. I would like to visit again in the afternoon or evening. Cozumel had beautiful clear water. We visited Paradise Beach and The Money Bar. Paradise Beach was fun but very touristy. The snorkeling from the bank was the best from the shore I have ever done. I think next time I would pay for an offshore snorkeling excursion though. I imagine it would be amazing to go out to reefs. Shopping in Cozumel is fun. I enjoyed haggling with the shop keepers and getting great deals on souveniers. My overall impression of the part of Cozumel we saw was that it doesn't really feel like Mexico. It seems to be very Americanized, and very touristy. But I supposed that is to be expected at any Port that caters to cruisers. I have read a lot of vacation reviews, including a lot of cruise reviews. I think the people who complain are those who set their expectations too high. If you go on a cruise expecting gourmet 5 star restaurant food, you will be disappointed. If you go with reasonable expectations and the realization that they are feeding thousands of people on a boat, and that the price of your cruise includes not only room and board but pretty much all the food you can eat 24/7, then I think you will be happy. The same goes with the service, entertainment, and overall experience. You are not at a 5 star resort. But it's a great experience, lots of fun, and it will not be our last cruise! I want to try a bigger and newer boat next time, but I would definitely consider cruising on the Imagination again at some time in the future. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We booked the Carnival Imagination for the 4 day cruise out of Miami, FL to Key West and Cozumel leaving on a Monday and returning on that Friday. We flew in the night before and stayed in Miami (glad we did! What a fun night!!) at the ... Read More
We booked the Carnival Imagination for the 4 day cruise out of Miami, FL to Key West and Cozumel leaving on a Monday and returning on that Friday. We flew in the night before and stayed in Miami (glad we did! What a fun night!!) at the Biscayne Bay Hilton (GREAT hotel- seems to be a good place, great views, and offered a cruise package which was $199 at the time for a Jr. King Suite, breakfast for 2, and transportation for 2 to the Port of Miami- plus they even gave us early transport to the Port which helped immensely!) After reading some reviews initially (after accidentally stumbling on it), we bought the Faster to the Fun for the $50 charge- WELL WORTH IT! If you are questioning it, don’t- just do it! We got early embarkation, priority service at Guest Services and got early debarkation. Getting on board early made it worth it enough because it added about 2-3 extra hours to the trip. Got to the cruise terminal around 10:45ish AM on Monday and a porter took our bags (which you also get quicker to your cabin as part of the F2F program) and we immediately cleared security. The line at checkin was empty which was nice and we immediately got our F2F “boarding pass” and room keys and our accounts set up. I didn’t time it but I think we waited in there for about 45 minutes to an hour by the time we started boarding (right after the Platinum and Diamond guests). As this was my first time being on any Carnival ship, let alone the Imagination, I didn’t know too much of what to expect. I did know it was an older ship (was told by a CS agent when I’d called a couple weeks prior) but that’s about it. When we boarded we got on through the atrium on Empress, Level 7. This was also where our cabin was (E160). The doors were closed and posted with the signs they were still cleaning the rooms, but we snuck in anyway hoping our room was ready so we could drop our backpacks off and head up to the Lido Deck (and yes it was, and I know, we are THOSE people). Once we dropped our stuff off, we made our way up, while exploring, to the Lido Deck. We grabbed some drinks and sat down by the pool. One thing I did notice that kinda bugged me through out the trip was the servers are a little pushy with drinks. It seemed as the minute you said no to one of them, another one was already asking. But, we did get a server when we wanted our second round and we was GREAT (albeit with that ‘pushy’ factor). He remembered our drink orders (Banana daiquiris and Budweiser tubs) for the whole trip- as well as our folio numbers!! It was absolutely beautiful in Miami that day so we’d worn our swimsuits on board and it was a wise choice! We dipped our feet in the pool and enjoyed the sun and stayed there until it was time for the lifeboat drill. Lifeboat drill was a little behind schedule (supposed to start by 3:30- cast off at 4 PM). Our station was ‘F’ which was on Lido Deck. We had to wait for all other stations to get up to Lido to know where their boats were in case it was needed- and this was going on while we start casting off. I have always LOVED cast off- especially since other ships were at the Port and everyone waved at one another. The crew deliberately blocked people from moving around (understandable) but they also blocked us from watching out the doors (which I didn’t get and kinda bugged me ). By the time the drill ended, it was a free for all to the back of the ship to watch- and got very crowded! Everyone was taking their pictures and watching as we passed by Miami Beach and the parks (cool scenic views!). and then we headed back to the pool area where the DJ was playing music and a lot of people are doing line dances and just dancing for the sail away party- I always love these! We wandered the ship for a little while longer after the sail away party before relaxing in our room and cleaning up for dinner. We did Anytime Dining which is nice- never have a set time I’m hungry. Our service seemed a little slow by the staff (they were slammed but it seemed to take longer than 10 minutes just to get bread and water at the least. However, we sat in the same area 2 other nights and we LOVED Danny our waited and staff!). The crew dance was great- I like that Carnival does it every night rather than just at the end of trip like other cruise lines. The food for the whole trip was Eh. It wasn’t great, nor horrible. Some items were AMAZING and others, well, couldn’t finish them. I had heard that their food wasn’t the best prior to going on the trip so I wasn’t expecting 5 star cuisine. I definitely had my fair share to eat though! On Tuesday we got into Key West around 7:30 AM. We ordered cabin service for breakfast knowing that the buffet would be slammed and we didn’t want to get up any earlier than necessary to hit the MDR. We were kinda peeved that no announcements were made that we could get off the ship but, it was maybe 15 minutes or so that we missed. We caught a trolley into town and started walking. I would recommend visiting Key West for sure- just not at 8 AM! Nothing was open. We decided we wanted to go see the Southern Most Point Buoy at the end of the island. It’s a decent walk- at least 1.5 miles- if not more. Some stores were opening on our way down to the SMP and we took note of others that weren’t so we could stop by on our way back to see them. We got some good pictures- there’s a line that is well respected and no one is pushy about it either- we got 4 pictures total which was nice. We loved seeing the chickens running all over the island and saw a momma chicken with her chicks as we left the SMP. We stopped and had chocolate covered Key Lime Pie for the first time (it’s delicious!!) and made our way back to the trolley to get back onto the ship (because we docked at the Naval base, you CANNOT walk on your own to the ship- police and security check your photo IDs and cruise cards… and I did enjoy the Key West Police Officer who so kindly jumped up as I took a picture of the ship yelling “photo bomb!” Got a bunch of us laughing.). I wish we would have had more time other than about 4.5 hours (we had to get back in line for a trolley back to the ship at 12:30 to get everyone on by 1:15 to leave at 1:30. We definitely could have used more time here for sure !! We’ve decided though we want to take a separate trip to Key West to further explore though!) Once back on board, we went up to the pool deck and after another sail off party, some drinks, and LOTS of sun, took a bit of a nap. It was Cruise Elegant night and even though it was only a 4 day trip, almost everyone was very dressed up! Due to the fact we’d gotten up very early and had a long day, we went to bed pretty early so I don’t know too much about the shows or club that night. **Places to check out in Key West** Kermit’s- where we got our chocolate covered Key Lime Pie. They have other Key Lime stuff too- juice, chips, candies, but I love the little shop! Kai-Kai Sandals- The most COMFORTABLE flip flops I’ve ever worn- well worth the $60 price tag after walking all over in them in Cozumel… I’m hooked! Plus when you send them back after wearing them out they give you 40% off on a new pair. Last Flight Out- Cool store with shirts and items founded by a local- cool back story too! Tervis (at Mallory Square)- these are the coolest cups! Once you start, it’s like Pringles… you can’t stop! I’ve got the 16 oz ones, 24 oz. ones, and a water bottle! Loved the Key West exclusive cup, chicken and SMP patches, etc. Plus they’re nice to have on the ship so you can get your coffee/tea/water and they stay VERY warm! Wednesday morning we were able to sleep in because we weren’t due into Cozumel until about 1:30 PM. It was raining in the morning so we couldn’t sit out on the Lido Deck like we wanted but none-the-less we were able to wander some more and played Bingo (hoping for beginner’s luck and it didn’t pan out- oh well!). We got into Cozumel early- around 1 PM- and docked next to the Carnival Elation (sister ship to Imagination - except Elation has a basketball court on top and Imagination has the kids water slide). There are some cool shops as you leave the ship and duty free area so if you’re looking for a last minute souvenir, give them a look. We took a cab down to the all inclusive at Nachi Cocom- a little pricey for the $80 or so that it costs but OMG the food was amazing!!! If I could have lived on their cheese enchiladas and tortilla soup the whole trip, I would have been just fine with that!! It did rain later on in the day but considering we were already swimming in the ocean, it didn’t bother me much. I doubt I’ll do an AI like this again since we stayed for maybe 4 hours, but it was a good experience (by the way, to save $5 per person, bring a towel from the ship! The ones we got as “rentals” we nappy and torn- yuck!). It was a torrential downpour as we headed into town but it stopped and dried off probably an hour or so later. Walked up and down, took pictures and got shopping done- we did a LOT of walking so dress for that! I think we finally got back on board around 7:30 or so and we were exhausted and after walking through the water from the sewers that flooded- we stunk too! Took a shower and ate in the MDR for dinner. Enjoyed the sail away party again- due to the rain, they moved to the Verandah deck… it was AWESOME! Entertainment staff handed out glow sticks and beads and everyone got in on the dancing… probably one of the best sail offs I’ve seen in awhile! We went and watched the 60 second challenger (won a medal for the stacking buckets game!) and danced in the club for a little bit (first time dancing in jeans, Toms, and a sweatshirt, but hey… it’s not dress to impress like South Beach! LoL). We got hungry late into the night- like 1 AM and we knocked out a whole pizza from Pizza Pirate (not bad for cruise fare… and nothing like “free” when at home that was easily an $8 or $9 plus tip pie1). Finally knocked out after a great, adventurous, long day! Thursday was a sea day. Finally got a chance to sleep in- of sorts. Got up lazily, got breakfast, and laid out. It was VERY windy so the pool was closed off but we laid closer to the breakfast area and it wasn’t as bad. The entertainment staff did the Groove for St. Jude which is a good cause (give up getting one drink and give them the money instead- it’s for a great cause). We didn’t do too much on our sea day aside from relax. Packed later on in the evening- couldn’t believe how much I’d bought in the 4.5 days! (By the way, if you like scrapbooking and memory stuff, I HIGHLY recommend getting one of the scrapbooking kits Carnival sells. They’re $14.99 and worth it for everything you get!! I love the idea because you won’t find the logo or even towel animal stickers anywhere else!). We watched the Songs of the 80s show that night- due to the rocking of the ship they cancelled the dancing for the dancers’ safety but the singing was GREAT! We did last minute souvenir looking and looking through our pictures and finally called it a night. In the morning of debarkation we ordered cabin service for breakfast again. We stayed in our cabin as long as we could until the room steward finally told us they needed to clean. The whole process from leaving our cabin to getting on the transfer bus to Miami airport was about 30 minutes- we also took our luggage with us. We initially got priority debarkation but asked for the last one so we could stay as long as possible. I would definitely do that again! I’d also book an earlier flight- sometime between 1-2 PM because it just added to the boredom sitting at Miami International (even after killing an hour at the airport Chili’s). I was once a skeptic of Carnival- thinking of it as nothing but a dirty party boat with kids running amok- the Triumph fire didn’t help my thoughts either! But for the price, you can’t beat it. There were some kids running amok, but nothing I haven’t experienced on any other line. Yes, the decorations were slightly cheesy but it was an older ship so it’s to be expected. I am so impressed I’ve booked another trip for us- this time the Conquest in July. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Husband's been struggling with cancer for years and it recently moved to his brain, so we had little time to complete two cruises and reach platinum status before his late October surgery. He's had an uphill battle since, but is ... Read More
Husband's been struggling with cancer for years and it recently moved to his brain, so we had little time to complete two cruises and reach platinum status before his late October surgery. He's had an uphill battle since, but is beginning the recovery period and talk of future cruises finally got me motivated to submit a review. We didn't have more than 10-days for this trip, so we chose back-2-back from Miami, sailing first to Nassau Oct 11-14 (with an overnight stay) and then to Key West & Cozumel Oct 14-18. First time we didn't book a balcony in forever, so we had some reservations about being disappointed. Happy to say, we weren't. Had a wonderful cabin steward (Harry) on Riviera deck who took very good care of us and was totally charming. Since the Oct 11-14 cruise was technically our 9th, we weren't expecting much in the way of VIP boarding, but they allowed it for that departure because we didn't do a 'real' disembarkation before the Oct 14-18 sailing. Had we known how nice, convenient, relaxing VIP boarding could be, we would've made a much better effort to hit platinum level sooner!!! Since we were flying in to Ft. Lauderdale (for our Miami departure), we decided to go the day before instead of doing a dawn-departure on the day of. Found a hotel that was more reasonable than our usual park&fly place near our home airport (we LOVED Hollywood Beachside Boutique Suites; booked direct after reading reviews on Trip Advisor), so we decided we'd do MetroLink (light rail) to/from our airport (another savings)....but we had to figure transportation from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami on arrival, and then on to the pier the next day and back to Miami at cruise end. After researching shuttles, we checked rental cars. Got an overnight rental for less than $50 when we landed in Ft. Lauderdale that we were able to return it at the Miami airport on departure day, and the car company (Alamo) provided transfers to the ship! We got off and back on and repeated the process again in Nassau. Wasn't sure about being docked almost 24-hours, especially since we'd been there many times, but with no rush to do anything, we were in leisure mode and loved it. The 'not really disembarking' between the two cruises could have gone better...if we'd only followed the instructions on the letter left in our room. Instead we trusted the instructions given to us as we prepared to follow the letter's directions and spent almost two hours getting off and back on. Total confusion, chaos and lack of leadership. We were told by others that this was not standard, so we may try it again down the road...but we may also just take longer single sailings. The second cruise, Oct 14-18, was a blast from start to finish, even though we'd been to these ports many times too. Did the bar crawl in Key West and had a great time. Just the right amount of every ingredient to enjoy some early morning elbow bending. There were a few in our group who 'insisted' that one drink per bar was not sufficient, but other than that/them, it was very fun and nice to go beyond the usual tourist bars. In Cozumel, we thought about returning to Nachi-Cocom (beach day excursion [not offered by the ship] worth every penny of the $55 cost: lunch, unlimited beverages, private beach, pool, water toys), but my husband wasn't feeling up to it, so we opted for our own bar crawl mixed with shopping at the pier. Husband came home with a gorgeous white topaz ring (proving he could barter better than the salesman) and I chose a carved coconut monkey beverage holder from the ship :-) Disembarkation went smoothly, as it always seems to with Carnival, and we used SAS transportation ($30 for 2) for the return to our Ft. Lauderdale flights. Best we'd ever done with ground transportation: just $90 for both of us (round trip), including tips, AND we had a car to use the day before. Will always do this on future Miami departures (because we always fly Southwest to Ft. Lauderdale). We've never had a problem with CCL food & ate everywhere without complaint. Went to a few shows (all enjoyable), played lots of trivia and enjoyed all seven days. In fact, writing this review makes me want to enjoy another seven soon! Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
When my wife and I first talked about going on a cruise for our 35th Anniversary we shopped around for good prices. My wife browsed the internet sites and found a great deal on priceline.com.When we told others we were going on a Carnival ... Read More
When my wife and I first talked about going on a cruise for our 35th Anniversary we shopped around for good prices. My wife browsed the internet sites and found a great deal on priceline.com.When we told others we were going on a Carnival cruise they all thought we were crazy. We thought with all the bad press of the recent events that the odds were in our favor.We booked a 4 night cruise aboard the Imagination from Miami to Key West, and Cozumel. Found wicked cheap airfare from Providience to Ft.Lauderdale on Southwest.I looked on the Internet for a shuttle service from Ft.Lauderdale to the port of Miami.We used easyexpress, Excellent service and free return trip to airport.we also took advanges of Carnivals Faster to the Fun, for one fee per cabin we received, priority boarding,access to our cabin when we boarded, priority disembarkation at all ports, and when we returned to Miami we were among the 1st wave off the ship, which was a huge plus seeing we had an early flight back home. Our cabin was Great, on the Empress deck, center of the ship with and ocean view. Cabin was beautiful, ultra clean and the cabin Steward Roberto was a joy to be around.We made our way up to the Lido deck to enjoy the views of Miami, and the sail away party on the deck,what a blast!!!! We were greeted by Suadnyana! what a blast this drink server ended up being my "best" friend for the week. I have never seen anybody work as hard as this guy does and ENJOY his job.Always with this beaming smile and a never ending desire to make you feel like a king or queen. We made our way to the Lido buffet restaurant and found a endless variety of food choices,all off the food from breakfast to lunch choices were endless. During the first night we had Dinner in the Pride restaurant and again were not disappointed with the food or the service. This is where we meant our new friends from Seattle. The evening stage show was the only real downside to the cruise, the performers well they are just not that great!We did find the comedians on board the Imagination in the comedy club were GREAT!!! The second day we docked at 0800am in Key West Fla.We booked the Key West Pub crawl!!!! What a blast,the mission 5 bars in 2hrs before 12noon!!! We were met on the pier by our tour guide Jo, this girl was a hoot!!!We boarded the conch train and into town we went, Jo lead us to some of Key West famous watering holes,for a taste of some great tasting drinks,,, and by the way not watered down at all, with the sound of the conch shell being sounded we moved on to the next location for yet another livation!!!! At the end of the tour we had a conch shell blow off for a chance to win the beads!!! I won!!!!!!! what a blast. A very shorted visit as we had to be back on the ship by 130pm.. They need a longer stay in Key West!!!! We set sail for Cozumel, The "dress up" night for dinner was a good time many different settings to take formal pictures were set up around the ship. We arrived in Cozumel at 1pm the next day. The area right off the ship provided many shops to purchase many Mexican items. The shopkeepers are a little high pressure but that was expected outside. The shots of Tequila in many shops kept me very happy as my wife shopped! While in Cozumel we went to Jimmy Buffett"s Margaritaville bar and seaside restaurant,,, Great food and drink, and a place to snorkel a beautiful reef. We asked one of the locals to recommended a beach where we could take in the sands and waters of Cozumel, He sent us to the Ocean VIP resort, south of the port. The local Taxis are a trip in its self. No real set rates, you can barter the $$ you want to pay them... when we arrived at the "Ocean Resort" it was kind of like going into someones back yard???? The host met us and said "use of the beach and chairs were "free" if we purchased drinks and food!!!! The beach was small and the water had kind of a funny smell. Also only 10yards out it became very rocky!!! Not what we were hoping for.... We returned to the port area to do some additional shopping. We did great deal on a piece of jade jewelry for my wife. The day at sea sailing back to Miami was relaxing watching some of the sites on board the ship, and enjoying cocktails while getting some sun!!!! As a 1st time cruisers we can say it was a good time and have already begun looking for bargains for sometime next year... Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Our experience from start to finish was wonderful. Embarkation took less than 30 minutes; baggage was at our cabin door as we entered our hallway; staff-110% accommodating, Spirit dining room staff were totally accommodating and watched ... Read More
Our experience from start to finish was wonderful. Embarkation took less than 30 minutes; baggage was at our cabin door as we entered our hallway; staff-110% accommodating, Spirit dining room staff were totally accommodating and watched over my husband's Diabetic diet like a family member; food-can't complain (water machine on Lido deck needed to be maintained better, however staff always had pitchers of fresh water standing by); upgrades to ship are great-loved the salt water pool,hot tubs on Serenity deck were sooo relaxing; loved the water slides-nothing like not having to wait in line for them; we were missing the basketball courts; shows were very enjoyable-comedians were a riot. We participated in several games and more times than none, came back with either a ship trophy or medal. Loved Key West and the free shuttle into town; Cozumel was awesome-would love to visit both ports again to enjoy them longer, especially Key West-wished we could have been there for more hours than the half day visit. Disembarkation took a minimal amount of time. Looking forward to another Carnival Fun Ship cruise. Negatives: maintaining the outside of the ship was a bit disturbing, but I know it must be done. Also, sure wish the great photographs were offered at a more reasonable price-just didn't feel the deals were enticing enough. Heck-the left over photos were being tossed anyway. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was a spring break/senior trip for my daughter and I, and we had an amazing trip. The Imagination was the perfect ship for this 4 night adventure. Embarkation-The Port of Miami is organized, clean, and kept the line moving. We ... Read More
This was a spring break/senior trip for my daughter and I, and we had an amazing trip. The Imagination was the perfect ship for this 4 night adventure. Embarkation-The Port of Miami is organized, clean, and kept the line moving. We arrived at 12:30 expecting huge lines, but were pleasantly surprised to see all lines open. We were onboard in a matter of minutes. We were surprised to see that there were very few people taking advantage of the beverages you are allowed to take on board. Don't forget each person is allowed 12 sodas or waters and everyone over 21 can bring on a bottle of wine. I opted for a screw top Flip Flop brand so I didn't need an opener. Ports of Call-Key West was warm, sunny, cozy and laid back. We opted to do some walking around in Old Town Key West. The tram drops you off on the north side of Duval Street, and because it was only 7:30am, we walked down to the southernmost point giant concrete bouy to take pictures. We were the only ones there because the tram tours hadn't gotten that far yet. So nice not to have to wait to have our picture taken there. We took our time coming back stopping by the Hemingway House and Lighthouse which are right cross the street from one another. We didn't go in either, but enjoyed looking. We walked up to Mallory Square, did some picture taking and some shopping. Anyone looking for an amazing bargain on some amazing sandals needs to hit Kinos at the corner of Firtgerald and Greene. They are made on site, super cheap, really cute and last forever. Second stop was Cozumel. We took a private tour through Cozumel Bar Hop and this was our favorite thing about the whole trip. It's a private tour that I HIGHLY recommend. They take you to 4 bars on the eastern side of the island where the scenery is to die for, there is no electricity, and the drinks are strong. They provide a drink at each bar and a t-shirt along with a history of the island. We met some great people and had a terrific day. The ship-Relaxing, easy to navigate, and very well kept. We did anytime dining and never had to wait. The food was good and my daughter teasingly asked the waited for lobster at every meal. The Lido buffet was never crowded and my favorite thing was the Mongolian Wok where you got to choose your own veggies, meat and sauce and they cooked to order. We ordered room service for our day in Key West when we knew we were docking early. We asked for a 6am delivery time and they showed up at 5:40am so be prepared for them to show up while you are still sleeping. The Serenity area was very quiet and relaxing and I never saw one child there for more than a minute. Room-We had an interior room for this trip and it was perfect. Who needs a window when all you do is shower and sleep in there anyway? Our room steward, Rommel, was an angel and when I told him I was taking him home he said "Ok, Just let me go pack", lol. He called us by name EVERY time he saw us. Impressive. My daughter, who is a huge nap fan, said her favorite part of the whole trip was the bedding which is super lush. Entertainment-The comics were hysterical and the shows fill up fast so get there early. We enjoyed the pool games and even won a coveted Ship on a Stick. The Newlywed game is always a riot. There was a lot of poolside dancing which my daughter loved, but I miss having the live calypso style band playing. It just makes me think vacation...and oh yeah...bring me another special of the day. Speaking of the drinks, the poolside staff are a little pushy with the drinks and will ask every few minutes if you want something from the bar. Debarkation-Can we all say nightmare? We decided to do self assist debarkation because we had an 11 hour drive ahead of us. They call you in the order of the deck you are on, but most people don't pay any attention to this. Whether they are just plain rude or really feel entitled, they didn't feel like they had to follow the rule. It would have been nice for Carnival to regulate this at all and try to make people actually wait their turn. Customs was checking everyone that day do it took us almost 3 hours to get off the ship and back to our car. All in all, this was a great trip. I took this one 2 years ago with my oldest daughter when she graduated and will do it again a few years from now with my son. The Imagination is beautiful and I look forward to coming back. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Sometimes I chuckle when I read a Fantasy class ship review from someone who has cruised on the Conquest, or another larger class ship. More often than not they are disappointed about the lack of a specialty restaurant, or an ice rink, ... Read More
Sometimes I chuckle when I read a Fantasy class ship review from someone who has cruised on the Conquest, or another larger class ship. More often than not they are disappointed about the lack of a specialty restaurant, or an ice rink, etc. Fantasy class ships have a draw to them, they are the workhorses of the Carnival fleet and you will find some of the most dedicated people working aboard. For that reason and many others we flew to Miami to sail aboard the Imagination. Some logistics, my wife and I are platinum with Carnival, having been aboard the Mardi Gras, Celebration, Legend, Ecstasy, Elation, Conquest, Triumph and Magic. We are both mid 50's and not big party people. So why did we go on a spring break cruise from Miami? Price! This was a cruise built around a teacher's spring break and the need to attend a wedding at the end of the week, so Carnival and the chance to see anything other than Progreso again lured us to Florida. We elected to let Carnival plan our air travel, and I'd never do that again. We were on United from Houston To Ft Lauderdale and American for the return flight. Different terminals for parking and a tram ride once we returned were the end result. Mix in American Airlines in Dallas is the biggest collection of jerks in air travel and they tried to ruin the last day of a vacation. They failed. Embarkation was a breeze; we arrived at the terminal and were headed aboard in about ten minutes. The ship was as expected, clean, nicely retrofitted from the updates and staffed with a friendly crew. Our cabin attendant was in and out quickly and made sure we had ice and extra towels. I had ordered flowers for my wife and bottled water, and those, along with our cruise pins were in the cabin. Lunch was standard fare, and the weather was gorgeous in Miami. We really like the fantail decks that are aft of the casual dining so we opted to sit outside. Here's where we saw the first signs of Carnival cutting back on staff. These tables were all dirty, not from people just finishing their meal, as they stayed that way for a while. I cleaned one off for my wife and I and for the duration of our lunch no one else came to sit or clean. The menus were the same from our most recent Triumph cruise, and with 800 (my estimate) spring break school age kids we expected to see main dining empty. A pleasant surprise when we met two other couples close to our age. We loved their company, and even did our excursions with them. Wait service was prompt, and the food was predictable. We knew what to expect, and for those that haven't cruised in a while it might have been a surprise in the limited food selections versus from the past, but we found something we liked every night. In Key West we did the bike ride, and I cannot recommend this enough. It's a leisurely paced tour around the island with stops at several of the landmarks. The host was well educated, giving a history of the island, the Flagler family and some of the idiosyncrasies of life in the Conch Republic. This is a short day in port, so get a tour quickly or find yourself wandering Duval Street. This was our first time to dock on the military base, having been to Mallory Square when we were aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas. No big deal, just a required tram ride to leave the pier. No worries on arrival, but a madhouse for return to ship. For the life of me I cannot see why anyone would stand in the sun with their family and wait in line. I did the same thing as when in Grand Cayman and found a shady spot across the street and waited for the line to be less than fifty people. We found ourselves riding with a group of Florida State kids that had thoroughly enjoyed the island. We waited for a couple of stragglers, but I didn't hear anyone being paged and we sailed for Cozumel around 2:00pm. The seas were the roughest for most of the next twenty-four hours, especially as we approached shallow waters. Wind speeds on this evening and the sea day were in excess of 25mph. In fact, on the day at sea Carnival used the ever so attractive Crime Scene Tape to block off the stairs to the upper decks, but more on that later. Cruise Elegant Night was quite a study in who was aboard. For those of us with fixed dining times the crowd was about the same for most evenings, or about full. For the My Time Dining venues the lines were long, long, long. There is good reason we have never tried it, and if that's your favor, then great. I just would rather walk in the dining room and be seated with a Coke at my plate. The Bottomless Bubbles option has taken on a new life, or it did for this cruise. We were asked for our cards more than once and our photos were verified. This happened in three different bar areas. We never waited long at bars for a soda, but as the cards reflected platinum status that might have been a factor. I didn't use any of the other benefits, just an observation. Cozumel. My wife and I have enjoyed almost twenty trips here aboard a ship or direct flight from Houston, and this time was not a disappointment. We booked the Jeep and Tequila Traditions Tour (I think that was the name) and in retrospect, alcohol, Jeeps and crazy drivers in Mexico... what could go wrong? The "other side" of the island is just beautiful, and I had wished we went to the beach first and skipped the tasting stops. We shared a Jeep with a couple from Raleigh, NC who were really nice. He is a disabled veteran, and shared how he was shot in Desert Storm. Powerful testimony, and I was glad to be his designated driver. With a late departure time from port we enjoyed the shops in the immediate area, and kept tradition with a new watch while my wife found some earrings that needed a new home. I had done my research and captured screen shots from two online companies and Amazon, and Diamonds International matched the Amazon price. The wind picked up as we left Cozumel, and the reported 6-8 foot seas were evident. We made it aboard with a slice of pizza in mind after a run, but the wind up on deck, coupled with the rocking made that a little tough. Hello pizza instead of exercise. The sea day bordered on gale force winds, so Carnival brought out the nifty yellow tape and closed the top deck. Chair hogs never had a chance, as all the loungers were full before 11am. In the shade it was most comfortable with a sweatshirt and shorts, but I anticipated this, having cruised on many prior spring break vacations. Entertainment onboard went from predictable to good. The Welcome Aboard Show I know from memory, so "looking good" and "uptight, outta sight" was a sing-a-long. The final night's show was Shout. I wanted to sit with our new friends in one of the circular loungers the Fantasy Class ships are famous for, so I staked it out for the last ten minutes of the early performance. Some say a bad cruise director can ruin a trip, but I disagree. The good news is Marcello from the Conquest has been promoted to cruise director and he's absolutely one of the funniest people at sea. All of us loved his spontaneity and ability to work a room. Wished I could say the same for the comedians aboard... I'm not a prude, but enough F-bombs were dropped in the first five minutes to meet a Sirius Raw Dog Channel quota for the balance of 2013. I find that bad language is a lousy entertainers idea of covering for bad talent, and this guy must have been on sale. Trying to tell jokes in a Polish dialect didn't help his material get better from his native tongue. Other items of note: the casino was smoky from about noon and never got better. I tried roulette and cards and took the carcinogen express out the door. The little coffee bar off the side of the casino was excellent. My wife and I rewarded our zero weight gain cruise with a great slice of carrot cake the last night, and it was super. Perfect vacation? No. But a nice trip, nice ship, nice people and a real need to increase the manpower for cleaning and it are a bargain. If you are looking for the Emperor, Allure, Gargantuan of the Sea or whatever go see the anchor folks. If you have a comfort level with Carnival (we do with both, living close to Galveston) and want to sail without breaking the bank then look into a Fantasy class ship and compare prices. With the Triumph out of the picture and me getting over my "it's Carnivals fault" attitude it we booked this inside of a month before the trip. A rock wall was not worth $1000 for me. Pics Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/leeusry...57633027276278 Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We booked an Ocean View cabin, E16 on the Carnival Imagination for Jan 28-Feb 1st 2013. This was my 9th cruise and 8th cruise on Carnival. I have never been disappointed in Carnival and this trip was amazing. We flew from CRW (WV) to ... Read More
We booked an Ocean View cabin, E16 on the Carnival Imagination for Jan 28-Feb 1st 2013. This was my 9th cruise and 8th cruise on Carnival. I have never been disappointed in Carnival and this trip was amazing. We flew from CRW (WV) to FLL one day prior and had pre arranged a shuttle with Go Airport Shuttle to take us to South Beach and the Avalon Hotel on Ocean Drive. Nice location and we were upgraded to a partial Ocean view room, nice considering all we had to pay was tax as we used Hotels.com rewards points to pay for the room. Taxi the next morning from hotel to port was 18.50 and took about 15 minutes. We booked the Faster to the Fun and yes it is so worth the 49.95 per cabin. We dropped the bags with the porter who placed an extra tag with FTTF on them, then proceeded down the sidewalk towards check in. All I had to do was show the boarding pass with the FTTF logo on it, a lady compared it to her list and scanned it and escorted us to the front of the security line, so no waiting and snaking your way up to have your passport scanned. We then when through the metal detector and carry-on bags and soda xrayed and then directed upstairs and to the front of the line again to get our S and S cards and Priority Boarding card. Front door to S and S card was 10 minutes. We maybe had a 15 minute wait before boarding began and were able to walk right on. (Tip here,sit closer to Boarding area B to avoid the initial rush up the escalators and gangway to the ship.)Room was ready and as soon as we walked down the hall someone stepped out of a room and said you must be E16 welcome your room is ready and your bags will be right up. We went up to Lido to get lunch and as soon as we came back down, our bags were waiting for us. Again so worth paying the extra. The dreaded Muster Drill was at 3:30 pm and for us it was held in the Dynasty Show Lounge. What was different with this one compared to the Glory and Victory was all of the announcements were made in the lounge in English and Spanish and then we had to walk up two decks to the life boats. After all the stations were dismissed it was time for sail away. Food: Good as always, always able to find something to eat and plenty of food was always available. Only downside was Cozumel Morning the dining room was not open for Breakfast, so the lines on Lido to eat were long, long and really long. This needs to be improved.Shows: Welcome Aboard, the same as the past but still fun to watch. Living in America and Shout were the main production shows, and I have to say it is one of the best I have seen on a ship. There were plenty of activities to keep you busy and entertained, even on the sea day with strong winds and rain the the upper decks closed due to the winds. I really forgot how much I enjoyed the Fantasy class ships, it had been since 1996 when I was last on the Fantasy to Nassau and Freeport. I am looking forward to the next trip in May on the Paradise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
the room smelled like a cigar factory every day. Mostly we could ignore it but when you first entered the room you really noticed it. My husband figured out that the ventilation was not working it only gave cold air in but did not pull ... Read More
the room smelled like a cigar factory every day. Mostly we could ignore it but when you first entered the room you really noticed it. My husband figured out that the ventilation was not working it only gave cold air in but did not pull the stale air out, hence the stale smell. Since neither of us smoke or ever have, we were a little surprised. We did not have this on our first cruise at all but we were not in the back of the boat on that trip either and we were on the Empress deck as well. . We did not mention this to the cabin boy as we felt there was not much that could have been done about it. Other than that the cruise was great and we had a very relaxing four days. Gilbert was our cabin boy and he was super. Introduced himself on the first day and we were surprised he always knew our names after that. My spouse felt that the Horizon Buffet was better than the main dining room - (Pride) but I thought they were equally good. The breakfast in the Buffet was always great! I would recommend it to anybody. Entertainment was good, we did not go to a lot of it, but the Karaoke was fun, and we were tickled by the Battle of the Sexes show. We noticed that there were many more opportunities for pictures, even on the first night, which I do not think they did a year ago. Last time it was on Elegant night only,and the price has doubled from around $11 to $20 for the 8 x 10's. We also were surprised that there was a line to get in to the dining room, and figured out that they had split the dining rooms based on type of dining you had requested - since almost all had requested anytime dining, as had we, most of the diners went to the one dining area - causing a line. The ports were fabulous, we had been to Key West a long time ago, but it was still a great place to visit. Cozumel was good, should have researched it better as to what to do there, but all in all a super trip! Still the best "bang" for the buck IMHO. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
I recently returned from my 12/10/12 sailing on the IMAGINATION. This was my 4th time on this sailing, 12th Carnival Cruise, and I have also cruised NCL and RCL. Although I enjoy Carnival, I do critique what I see and my overall experience ... Read More
I recently returned from my 12/10/12 sailing on the IMAGINATION. This was my 4th time on this sailing, 12th Carnival Cruise, and I have also cruised NCL and RCL. Although I enjoy Carnival, I do critique what I see and my overall experience in hopes the cruise line and future passengers may benefit. I tend to cover multiple captions in depth and I hope that my experience is helpful to you. I recently sailed on the LEGEND in September and LOVED the upgrades from the first time I got to sail the Legend in 2006. My 9/12 Legend review was chosen as "Review of the Week" and can be found in the links below my signature on all my posts. The IMAGINATION is still among one of my favorite Carnival ships. I simply enjoy the itinerary, ports and layout of the ship all together. This is why I decided to sail solo for my birthday on this specific ship. The IMAGINATION is really a nice ship and very easy to navigate, even for the first time cruiser. Much of my review regarding the ship is the same as past Imagination reviews, but I try to do different excursions and things to change up my experiences. ITINERARY: Miami-Key West-Cozumel-day at sea-Miami. There is one formal night on day three, making this a perfect getaway trip. CARNIVAL TRANSPORT: MIA airport is a short fifteen minutes from the port. This trip I managed to grab a "hacker fare" with flights (two one-way flights) for a cheaper price. I took the first flight out and arrived in MIA early. Instead of purchasing the Carnival transport this trip I grabbed a TAXI to make my way to the port. For only one person with one bag it can save you a couple bucks. Usually I take the transport, but as I mentioned I like to change up different things and experience the trip different. You can get the transport right at airport in the luggage dept. Its only $16 1- way & worth the price if you do not want to the aggravation or a taxi to the pier. Charter bus and a short drive and you are at the pier. My Taxi ride was quick and only cost me $12 with tip. EMBARKATION: I arrived about 10:30-10:45. Since this was my PLATINUM sailing I was directed to the VIP lounge for check-in. I've been to this port a few times and it is very easy to navigate. Check-in was speedy and I was boarding very shortly once VIP and FTTF passengers were called. CABIN: E61 Ocean view mid shop. For location purposes, I was just off the Atrium and right near the elevators. It is located just under the FUN SHOPS to no noise from above at night when they are closed. The only drawback is there seemed to be a little more than usual traffic being right off the Atrium and near the MAIN glass elevators. I would take this stateroom again for convenience, but would opt to be a little farther away from the MAIN ATRIUM if I could. The stateroom itself is same size and shape as a regular ocean view cabin No Fridge, but I knew that. Typical stateroom, 2 beds that convert to a KING, SAFE, 32" flat screen TV, water and soda to purchase in the room. Two robes hanging in the closet. Conveniently located on the same deck as the laundry room if needed. My suggestion is to do any ironing LATE the first night and get it over with while it is empty. I was in and out in 10 minutes ironing a couple shirts and touching up pants. COMPLIMENTARY BATHROOM BASKET which the items always switch so no need to list what I got. Shower: Shampoo & Liquid Soap (I brought shampoo w/conditioner, a travel Lysol spray & my preferred bar soap). The room itself appeared to be in great condition. Clean and kept. ROOM STEWARD: MICHAEL & his assistant were tending rooms later that night so I introduced myself. Both were extremely courteous and always took the time to say hello and ask how my day was. I was never disturbed at any point during the day and THAT, IMHO is what makes a good room steward; one that knows your name, schedule and can work around your vacation down time. They are an asset to the Carnival crew. PORTS: Key West, Florida & Cozumel Mexico KEYWEST: I wanted to rent a scooter or take the Conch train excursion, but after realizing I forgot my sandals I took the opportunity to shop. The short time you are there limits any extended plans, but it is enough to cover this port and get a taste of what it offers during the 6-7 hours you are there. The Aquarium is right in town center and if you walk up Duval Street a few blocks you will pass SLOPPY JOE's, HARD ROCK, JIMMY BUFFET's Margaretaville & some nicer shops. I remembered a friend on my last cruise refer me to KINO SANDALS 107 Fitzpatrick Street; about a 2 block walking distance from the drop off point. They are reasonable but have few men's styles to choose from. Not finding what I wanted I ventured up Duval St to window shop. This is a good port to grab some last minute items at CVS or pick up one of their famous KEY LIME items. COZUMEL: If you cannot find something to do here then something is wrong. Take an unexpected excursion or simply grab a taxi downtown and shop. During my time in port I was told that Donald Trump is planning on building a resort in Cozumel in the upcoming years, so enjoy it while you can for the culture and history Cozumel offers. EXCURSIONS: I've taken the TALUM tour in 2011 as well as coverage for the AMAZING SECRET RIVER 2010 & Sept 2012. Please check them out!! The excursion I chose this trip was the MAYAN RUINS, TEQUILLA tasting and BEACH excursion. (4.5 hrs) This was a very fun excursion and worth the price. We travelled by charter bus to "PEE-PEE" station gift shops. Ive been here in past years on other excursions and they apparently have expanded adding a short walk through park like setting and describe how Tequila is made. Ending the path is a TEQUILLA TASTING area with the option to purchase bottles of spirits. They are pre-wrapped for luggage transport and the staff was very friendly. Back on board the charter bus to the next stop: SAN GERVASIO MAYAN RUINS located on Cozumel island. You are in the center of a jungle setting and may want to pack a small bug spray to keep the flies and gnats away. These ruins are not as grand as the mainland locations of TALUM or CHICHEN ITZA, but still a nice visit. Although small, these "Ruins of Fertility" have their own historical contributions to offer. We were told that SAN GERVASIO purchased the land but did not realize he had also purchased the Mayan Ruins that were concealed in the thick jungle. After his death he donated the site to COZUMEL as a historic park which is now run by the National Institute of Anthropology & History. They will charge a small fee to bring in professional video recording equipment but small iPhone or still photo cameras are free. Finishing up we boarded the charter bus and headed to the beautiful beach at PLAYA PUNTA SUR. I was at this beach a few years ago and they have built up the facility nicely. I believe it was 2007 when I was here last. Now there is a nice bar, outdoor eating facility, relaxing wading pool, Hammocks and a MASSAGE HUT located right on the beach. If I had enough time after eating I would have indulged in the massage on the beach, but unfortunately took advantage of the sunset for photos. You will want to pull out the bug spray as the mosquitoes start to stir at sunset. We arrived back at the Port around 7:15-7:30. Enough time to do some quick port shopping. I managed to jump back on the ship, take a quick shower and change then head to my scheduled sit-down dinner at 8:15. I could have went back ashore to walk around and shop for souvies since we left at 10pm, but I've been to this port so many times I opted to stay on board. SAIL AWAY night we enjoyed a fun MEXICAN SAIL AWAY party on the Lido deck. FUN DAY AT SEA: On this day I chose to take the BEHIND THE FUN TOUR of the ship. Ive always wanted to take this tour, but never have. The cost of the tour was reasonable and worth the money. Cameras are not allowed on the tour at all. ALAN SUEN the HR rep. was a great informative guide for the tour. SCHEDULED: 2.5hrs tour of the ship included GALLEY, Laundry services, Engine control room, Loading/Unloading area, recycling areas, food storage, visit to behind the Stage productions, a visit to the HR DEPT learning about the training & working environment of the ship crew, Crew Entertainment room & Crew Galley, and a conclusion on the BRIDGE where we got to meet the Captain and some of his offer staff. A gift hat, lanyard and complimentary photo on the bridge are all included in the tour. You learn a lot of interesting things about the running of the ship & everything Carnival does to make your vacation a memorable one. This is a tour I wish I would have taken on other ships and will consider on future cruises as each ship is different. FOOD/DINING: I cruised solo this trip but still opted for sit down 8:15 LATE dining. I prefer the same servers each night and enjoy meeting new people and dinner conversation. Once again I have nothing bad to say about the food on the ship. Our waiter JESUS and his assistants in the dining room were excellent. They could not have been any better. While on the BTF tour we got to glimpse at the "Employee Recognition Board" where your comments on staff members are posted for them to view. YES, they are hearing you and get to see your praises and criticisms. Coincidentally, I happened to spot one regarding our waiter from a past passenger. Having him as our waiter I agree with everything that the past guest stated. STAFF: (I split this up into several captions) WORKING STAFF: Same as my last trips on this ship in 2009 & 2010. I have nothing bad to say about the crew on this ship. Information, Excursion, dining, housekeeping, officers, shops, bar service, casino were all great! I don't know how they keep up the positive attitudes day after day, week after week, month after month! B-R-A-V-O to all of you! The ship was always clean and they take care it. One of the reasons why the IMAGINATION is one of my favorite ships. CRUISE DIRECTOR- SKIP LYONS I liked this cruise director and have been aboard in 2011 when he was sailing. He has just enough humor and was not "Over the top" like some are. He was fun and informative. ENTERTAINMENT: (Some of this is a cut & paste from a past Imagination review) Carnival is discovering that the Main Atrium is valuable space for more entertaining than just the piano bar. The HIP-HOP crew "FUNFORCE" performs in the atrium after show times and always are fun to watch. Since this was a DECEMBER sailing there was SNOW 3 times a day with Christmas carols in the background. It was a nice unexpected touch out in the middle of the Caribbean. The Dynasty Lounge shows perhaps are becoming a little old for me. I still think they are handled well, and look forward to new upcoming productions that I hear are in the works with the new 2.0 upgrades. The CARNIVAL DANCERS in the shows on this trip were better performers than I've seen on other trips. The FEMALE lead singer "ARETHA" has a very good Voice and IMO was the highlight of the show. Same negative comment from last year: Dynasty lounge 2ND level is not as steep as other ships I've been on so some seats are limited visibility. For this ship I think lower level is better seating unless you arrive early and get a booth UP front on 2ND level. If Carnival really wants to make a major improvement to this ship I would tear out the entire 2nd floor of the Dynasty lounge and reformat the seating into stadium seating. The booths just do not work if you actually want to watch the performances. FELLOW SHIP PASSENGERS: This is a topic I usually try to cover in my reviews because although Carnival technically has no control on who books a cruise, it reflects the "type" of passenger that chooses certain itineraries as well as what the age-range to help others choose vacations times. I thought it was a another nice quiet relaxing vacation since it was just after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. Not as many kids on board as in the summer as you would expect. After several cruises over the past years I have noticed the less "ROWDY" crowds cruise during the week as apposed to the weekender get-a-way cruises. This was a full sailing, but did not feel overly crowded at any time. I did not use the SPA or CAMP CARNIVAL so have no comments to make here. DEBARKATION: As a platinum member I took advantage of the VIP SELF-ASSIST debarkation and was off the ship by 9am. I took the Carnival transport to the FLL airport for the 2nd half of my "HACKER FARE." FLL is an easy 40 minute estimated ride but I would still book flights no earlier than 12-12:30 in case of traffic or delays. SUMMARY LIKES: PRICE, ITINERARY, FOOD, SERVICE, CLEANLINESS of the ship, HIP HOP, mini-golf on deck 10 forward? And never forget the "WCMC": warm chocolate melting cake. mmmm DISLIKES: Dynasty Lounge-UPSTAIRS seating. Still No option to view your account in your room, but they now offer a kiosk-like machine by guest services to check on your accounts. In the end, this was my FOURTH sailing on the Imagination in 4 years, and I would definitely do this cruise again and recommend it to others. It is a nice FIRST TIME cruise itinerary and a good taste of the Carnival experience. If you have any questions feel free to contact me via cruise critic under handle: wiskt Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
I've always read cruise forums and see many people looking for help along with lots of people with nice things to say and alot of complainers. I've never written a review but was asked for help by another cruiser on a different ... Read More
I've always read cruise forums and see many people looking for help along with lots of people with nice things to say and alot of complainers. I've never written a review but was asked for help by another cruiser on a different site and thought it was so detailed that I could help others on different cruise sites who are looking to sail the Carnival Imagination 4 day western caribbean cruise. If you're a first timer, or cruise expert I think this may help. I know it's long but it's what the last blogger was asking for. Everyone has a right to their own opinion and remember two cruisers on the same ship can have two different experiences. So please respect that I've sailed the Imagination many times with my wife and this is just based on my experiences. I've only written this to share with others inquiring about sailing this cruise - and am not looking for anyones opinion on my experience. My wife and I have sailed the 4 day western caribbean Imagination before, and last one was as recent as 8 months ago. We are in our late 20's and love it. I feel that age is indicative to your experience so I always list our ages and when we took the cruise. For instance if when I were 15 and were to write a review I would most likely say the whole cruise "sucked" because you're full of angst in those days and there's not much for teens to do on the 4 day cruise. Yet everyone from 21 - 50's that I talk to on 4 day imagination cruises have a great time, while SOME in more of a senior citizen age seem to like Royal Caribbean better because it's more of a relaxed atmosphere. Yet if you're in the target age group then you'll most likely love it as they are truly the "funships". A cruise is truly what you make of it. Most reviews I've read that are negative tenddd to be by natural complainers, or people who had a bad time because of a certain incident. Not all of course, but most. I say this because I hate people getting to scared to experience certain ships for themselves because of negative nancys reviews. For example you know cruises run 24/7. Cruisers from the previous ship are off by 10am and a new batch is let on by 12:00pm and you're let into your room by 2 o clock and departure happens at 4pm and all the activities on the jam packed itineraries must begin on time. The staff and crew must work hard and fast to cook, clean, prepare and do everything all over again in a short amount of time. Of course a few things may go wrong sometimes, especially plumbing. I actually saw a cruiser once be mean to the stateroom maid because of a little flooding from her shower whom then of course said "I'm going to give this ship a negative review". I mean how many times have you had to call upon a plumber, electrician, carpenter etc. for your home because of things malfunctioning, now imagine a 24/7 ship out at sea. Most people who give negative reviews base their whole trip on one thing going wrong. For instance I remember prior to sailing the imagination in my adult life reading how rude the staff could be, yet I've never had come across a rude crew member yet. The only people not smiling are the people who clean up tables after you eat (and I mean honestly if that was your life 24/7 would you be so cheery especially if you're out at sea away from your family sometimes for 9 months on end) The only thing I could say about staff rudeness is that It seems to depend on how you act towards them. Even if I had complaint I'd go up to the guest services desk with a smile on to inquire about a problem. Which seems to be how society should work you'd think right, yet I've seen people talk to these crew members with such an attitude because what...they didn't get ice the minute they asked for it? Another person lost their wallet so of course had nothing good to say. I honestly have had no complaints about any of my times on this ship (last one 8 months ago). The only thing not to our particular liking was how some of the food was cooked, as my wife loves to cook with many spices and some entrees tasted a little bland to us, yet other cruises downed plate after plate. So to each is own, right? =). You can't go wrong with breakfast and that was our favorite, especially since you're allowed to bring the trays to your state room. Also a cruise seems to be best if you keep a positive attitude and good company. Don't bring a debbie-downer or person who won't want to join you in any festivities on the fun ships. (For example my ex girlfriend just liked to sunbathe and that's all she did which kind of soured my experience as I wanted to explore other things). If you and your party are out to have a good time, on a dime the 4 night Cozumel Key west cruise is the way to go. On the ship itself is always so much to do that I've sailed it many times before and am still yet to do everything they have to offer. My wife and I are from NYC so we are big on night life (dancing, and comedy). The comedy club was packed every night and the comedians were hilarious. YET of course you'll have complainers who go to comedy clubs with closed narrow minds. Everytime went everyone was laughing to tears, but on some reviews you'll see people complaining how the jokes were too "racy" (so just be open minded when going to a show). There's literally so much to do now from running a small track, and an indoor gym if you like to keep up your daily fitness regimen. To a life sized chess set, mini golf and a ping pong table if you like outdoor games. A mini arcade for all ages with air hockey, a casino, card tables, and computer lounge if you like indoor activities. 3 adult club/lounges which every night/ every couple of hours play all different kinds of music for all ages, a karaoke bar, 4bars - 1 with an in hall salsa band half the time, other half with a singer/guitarist, a teenage club, and kids area, comedy club, magic show, broadway style shows and more if you like indoor late night activities. Night time music playing with a dj and stage area, night pool with music etc. if you like late night outdoors activities. A full spa, plentyyyy of lounge chairs, and MY FAVORITE adults only "Serenity area" which has sunbathing opportunities yet also shade under the ledge or umbrellas, equipped with two jacuzzis and a shower head to wash off after if you like some kind of kid free relaxation. (Though children don't seem to be a big problem on this ship as they usually stay in the waterpark area or daycare, plus people with children in my experience usually go more for Disney family cruises so it's fun for kids here but at the same time never too packed with screaming children at every turn lol). 24 hour food including room service. Also if anyone complains about the room service it's because they don't understand cruise lines. They don't give you amazing movies/tv to watch or amazing room service options because this is not a hotel, a 12 nighter or relaxation cruise...they want you out and about spending money at the bar and enjoying all the activities, so yes room service is still on the eh-okay kinda basis (though after a late night of drinking a turkey sandwich and soda tastes like a 5 star restaurant =) ). I always love the random things the ship has to offer like break dancers performing in the atrium, to their classics like their lido deck games (hairy chest contests, ice scalping, dance alongs , newly wed games etc.etc. etc.) Their are two kids water slides, one infant water slide and one big kid/mostly adults water slide with many sprinklers and lots of longue chairs in the water park. Also a mini in-ground pool with two hot tubs on both sides of it. I could go on and on about all their is to do but I will move on. The 4 day cruise goes to Key west, then Cozumel Mexico with one full day and night out at sea. As for Key West my wife and I love the Bike tour. At first my wife was like oh-no I'm on vacation and not about to petal in the heat. But it is the complete opposite of what you expect and we fell in love with the excursion. They took you over to the heart of Key West from the ship on a trolly which is like a mini excursion in itself because the trolly driver tells you all about the places you pass on your way and stops for short periods of time to explain the history of some interesting sites. When you get to the bike tour site you get a Cruiser bike and bottle of water, the cruiser bikes are AMAZING you petal once and are able to cruise for minutes without having to petal it is beautiful as most of the trail is shady and you get a guided tour of the beautiful island and it's history. You stop on a beautiful beach which is also a restroom stop as well. Once it's finished you still have plenty of time to walk around Key West to souvenir shop, explore on your own then back on the nice windowless trolly ride back to the ship at a perfect time. This time around (in 2 months from now) we are going to try out the Conch ride as we hear nothing but great things about it. As for Cozumel Mexico, we go to www.cozumelcruiseexcursions.com as they have more to do than Carnival excursions itself has to offer and for a lot cheaper (and 100% legit). We love the Aura resort day pass excursion as it is an Adults only resort and is amazing. Once off the ship you walk through the entrance areas to the taxi cab hub and tell the taxi driver that we we're off the the Aura resort and as they drive crazy in Mexico you will get there fast. It's of course all inclusive resort that is adults only we love the drinks and food and included in the all inclusive pass is snorkeling gear. The water is crystal clear and light green out on the horizon it is the most beautiful place ever (the Island of Cozumel). I get my wife the on-beach massage (which isn't included but only 80 bucks for an hour right on the beach and she melts-points for me) as I relax in their waterfall wading pool then we swim in their larger pool and relax with margaritas on their white sand beach. After a couple of hours the cab comes back to get you and you have plenty of time to enjoy authentic Mexican food at their many restaurants and of course souvenir shop. The island is truly mesmerizing. This time as we're bringing our son we will be going to the family friendly resort which has plenty of children's activities. ONE THING about the day out at sea is WAKE UP AT THE CRACK OF DAWN. There is no where to go-as in no island to explore, no excursions it's just everyone on the ship out at sea. So I always suggest you get sleep the night before to wake up early and claim your a spot, a spot you would like to spend the morning hours. EVERYONE wants to tan and everyone is on the ship so even though there are plenty of seats, and lounge chairs ...prime spots are usually packed. For instance if you don't want to deal with the kiddies, serenity can not accommodate every adult of the ship so wake up and claim your spot if you'd like to spend the morning in serenity. The pool and water parks will be full of the children and not prime if you do not want to get splashed. Yet the water park lounge area is prime for tanners, so if you love to sunbathe there is not one bit of shade in that area and seats go fast. Yet the fastest seats go around the pool in the lido deck- because that is where the "fun crew" do the games like (hairy chest contest, and ice sculpting) and play music etc. What i've learned is we wake up really ealier and one of us claim our spots, as the other gets breakfast (bring towels as you'll most likely sweat, and or get wet and you're not going to want to get up and lose your spot). BUT I PERSONALLY PLESAE ASK that all cruisers not to be D*cks about seats. On our first cruise together it took an hour of my wife and I walking around to find a spot to sit together. AND OH THERE WERE PLENTY of seats available but people like to use their towels to claim chairs (Which would be okay if you get hungry and just want to get up to get some food or need to use the restroom...but i HATE when I literally sit there for HOURS and watch TOWELS use seats that could've went to others who want to sit especially to eat! The people who "claim" seats "just in case" they want to sit but are in the pool allll day and afternoon or elsewhere). It happens all the time and just a simple message to everyone please be considerate. People like to go out and party the night before as it is a vacation and shouldn't have to wake up super early just because there are people who ruin it by letting seats go to towels aka to waste. ANYWHO As for staterooms I could only give my opinion on where I like to stay, as I feel like those reviews truly depend on where you are in the ship. I feel like an ocean view review differs from an interior, and same for a suite. Plus the persons preferences really come into play here on this subject. On another ship I've sailed in an interior stateroom and hated it simply because you could never tell what time it was or where the ship is (are we still out at ship, or are we docked - since you can't feel if the ship is moving it's nice to see where you are out the window). I personally feel like a suite/balcony wouldn't be worth our budget because we hardly spend time in our stateroom (we're either eating, enjoy activities of the ship or out on an excursion/island as it is only a 4 day cruise we don't like to waste time, and only really are in the room to sleep and get ready). I guess if I were doing a 12 nighter it would matter immensely. Yet our ocean view rooms are perfect for us (two people). The beds are extremely comfortable and the blankets are thicker and warmer than most hotels than I've stayed in (and my wife has scoliosis). The closets are big, and fit all my wifes clothes and shoes and even come with towel robes, a safe that only you can get into, and plenty of hangers. The shower has great water pressure, and is bigger than ones on the royal caribbean. The room itself is pretty big (big enough for us two and we take up quite a lot of space between us and our things sprawled out everywhere.) You always have plenty of towels, ice, and they even supply you with plenty of toiletries such as shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, soap, Gilette razors, face cleaner etc. etc. The room is always clean and the crew are like true ninjas as they usually tidy up every time you leave the room. The air conditioning works amazing and even gives us a little chill when we first get back to our room (really refreshing after you sweat in the Mexican heat). Ocean views are really great because you can choose to be woken up naturally by the sun and know exactly where the ship is, or use the black out shade for some darkness. Little tips regarding the stateroom. To open the safe you use a credit card so only you can get into it, I don't ever trust swiping a credit card or any other important card anywhere. So I bring an old credit card that is expired as my safe key (it opens up for only your magnetic strip so what card you use doesn't matter). Also we usually do the "tips included" option but remember it's 10 dollars a day spilt between a million people, so I usually tip the head of the chamber maids a few extra bucks the day they come to greet you. As just, you know a better guarantee of getting that great service (they do work really hard). Also yes the showers tend to leak out because there is no door to close you only close the shower by curtain, so their are drains in the middle the bathroom to catch the spill over but I like a dry floor. So prior to entering the shower I like to roll up a large towel and place it at the base of the shower. Also although the keep everything really clean my wife doesn't trust the microscopic germs that may be lurking lol. So we like to bring Colorox brand clean wipes and they are God sent. Once we enter a state room we unpack the Colorox wipes and wipe down all door knobs, the toilet seat and basically anything that is touched and they kill 99% of all bacteria and it makes her happy. (It's good for anyone I see cause you never know- these maids can't take sick days and live on the ship if they have a little cold you don't want to risk catching it and ruin your whole trip ....never seen any sick people on our ships but just a little tip from us as semi- germaphobes lol). Also they only have one outlet so BRING A POWER STRIP if you have more than two things that need to be charged. Power stripes help us a lot. We like to plug it into the outlet and than we're able to charge our phones, ipad, blow dryer, blender and camera all at once - maximizing our time to spend out of the room. There is so much more I could say but as this review is getting lengthy I'll end here. Any further questions you may ask me and I'll try my best to answer. We will be boarding this ship again in April. Have fun! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
TRANSPORTATION TO PORT OF MIAMI: We took a taxi from the Miami International Airport to the Port of Miami. There is a flat rate of $25 to the port, but we did not confirm this with the driver before we departed. Unfortunately, the driver ... Read More
TRANSPORTATION TO PORT OF MIAMI: We took a taxi from the Miami International Airport to the Port of Miami. There is a flat rate of $25 to the port, but we did not confirm this with the driver before we departed. Unfortunately, the driver charged us by the meter and took a local route, so we paid almost $40, including tip. To make matters worse, he dropped us off at the wrong entrance and we had to walk to the correct one. Before you enter the taxi, make sure to confirm with the driver that you will be charged a flat rate of $25 to the port. EMBARKATION: When we arrived, we gave our bags to the porter at the entrance. It was a little chaotic outside of the entrance due to the long line of embarking guests and the crowds of debarking guests trying to get transportation to their next destination. The security check and check-in process went smoothly. My only complaint was that it took several hours for our bags to be delivered to our cabins. Next time, I will probably carry my bags onto the ship myself. CABIN: My family stayed in cabins M195 (two twins converted to king and one upper) and U123 (two twins). M195 was a little cramped for three people, but we managed. Pros: clean, comfortable beds, plenty of closet space, safe operated by magnetic stripe card. Cons: bathroom toilet smelled like a urinal, no exhaust fan. The cabin steward changed our sheets, made our beds, provided new towels, and cleaned the room in the afternoon. After dinner, we would come back to a cute towel animal surprise. PUBLIC AREAS: The main pool on the Lido deck was a lot smaller than I expected. However, there was plenty of deck space to lay out throughout the ship. We laid out at the adults-only Serenity. But there were only two Jacuzzis; I would have preferred to have an adults-only pool there too. The Lido deck was probably the most popular place to hang out, relax, dance, and listen to the music. The Atrium was also a popular spot. Since this was my first cruise, I cannot really compare Carnival Imagination to other cruise ships. But the ship itself appeared to be strong and stable, contrary to previous reviews that it should be retired. DINING: We always had breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck. The food was OK and there were always long lines, but there were lots of variety and options. Finding seating inside was usually not a problem, but it was a little frustrating outside, especially during popular meal times. We had the "Your Time" dining for dinner at the Pride Dining Room every night. The food started off bad on the first night, but it definitely improved by the end of our stay. The warm chocolate melting cake for dessert was awesome, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. I also liked the sushi bar, although they were small portions. They offered late night buffets too, but I did not try them since I was always still full from dinner. Overall, the food was good but not amazing. ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES: I really enjoyed the evening shows and I laughed a lot. There was a singing and dancing crew that danced well but did not do as well with the singing. On the Day at Sea, there were several activities on the Lido deck stage, including the "Hairy Chest" contest and a male vs female synchronized swimming competition. We did not spend time in the club and bar lounges because they were dead. In general, the entertainment and activities were enjoyable but nothing really blew me away. SERVICE: Excellent, excellent, excellent! I have never experienced such outstanding service before, ever. Service by the cabin stewards and dining staff exceeded my expectations. The cabin stewards and the Lido dining staff were very friendly. The members of the Pride Dining Room wait staff were very accommodating. They provided fast service and they allowed us to order as many dishes as we wanted. They entertained us with dancing and singing, and they constantly sang to guests for their birthdays, honeymoons, and anniversaries. Honestly, I would compare the service we received on Carnival Imagination, especially in the Pride Dining Room, to the service that kings and queens receive. All of the staff members worked hard and I do not have one complaint about the service they provided. FELLOW PASSENGERS: A diverse mix of kids, college-aged adults, parents, and older people. I would say the the majority were in their 30s-40s. There were also many kids and teens who dominated the main pool and Jacuzzis, but they were well-behaved. Overall, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and stayed involved with the activities onboard. KEY WEST: We booked the Key Lime Bike Tour by ourselves. The bike tour lasted about 2.5 hours for $40 per person. We were the only ones, so we had our own private tour of Key West. The meeting place was about a 5-10 minute walk from the port. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable, we learned a lot of historical facts about Key West. At the end, we enjoyed a sweet tastings at a key lime pie shop. I enjoyed the tour and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a laid-back glimpse of Key West. COZUMEL: We booked the Everybody Loves Rays excursion online through Carnival. It lasted about 3 hours for $62 per person. The first part was feeding and handling the stingrays. The second part was snorkeling with the stingrays. My only complaint is that the use of cameras was prohibited during the first part because they had a photographer taking pictures of us. We were allowed to purchase pictures from them, but most of them turned out blurry and looked unprofessional, so we opted not to waste money on them. Cameras were allowed for the snorkeling part, but we did not have a waterproof camera. Therefore, we did not bring back any pictures from the excursion. Otherwise, this was a fun experience and I would recommend it to anyone. DEBARKATION: We had a quick breakfast before debarking the ship. We opted for the "Self-Assist" option in which you carry your bags off the ship by yourself. The other option was "Relaxed Debark" in which you leave your bags outside of your cabin the night before debarkation and wait until they call your zone number to debark and pick up your bags at the terminal. Again, the process went fine and it was not hectic at all. We went through Customs fairly quick too. We got a taxi to the airport and made sure that we were only going to be charged a flat rate of $25. Overall, I had a great first cruise aboard Carnival Imagination. I would definitely cruise with Carnival again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
It was my first cruise ever, and despite the reservations I had about cruising in general, I decided to take the leap and try it out. So I booked a 4-day cruise on the Imagination, sailing out of Miami, with ports in Key West and Cozumel, ... Read More
It was my first cruise ever, and despite the reservations I had about cruising in general, I decided to take the leap and try it out. So I booked a 4-day cruise on the Imagination, sailing out of Miami, with ports in Key West and Cozumel, plus a post-debarkation excursion to Everglades. PRE-CRUISE HOTEL I stayed in La Quinta Inn Miami Airport North. The hotel itself was pretty good. The only minus was room entrances directly at ground level or to balcony-like hallways. Young women going alone or families with small children might be bothered by that, so FYI. The room was quite basic, but for a one-night stay, it did the job well. The neighborhood is boring; there's a shopping mall next door with a Pollo Inka (a Peruvian restaurant with good food), two gas stations nearby, and fast food, but not much else. Unless you rent a car and drive somewhere, the only thing to really do is walk along 36th Street. PORT OF MIAMI AND EMBARKATION The port was simply OK but the workers were nice. The building is boxy and industrial-looking, and the baggage check process was chaotic, because the entrance to board Imagination was different than originally scheduled. But once I gave my bags to the porter and found the right entrance, it went smoother from there. The workers who collected my boarding pass and gave me my Sail & Sign card were very friendly and patient with my lack of knowledge about the process. Even security personnel actually smiled when I asked then questions about where to go. DINING I heard people on here complain about the food, but I loved it. The meals in the main dining room were delicious and filling. It felt like a Thanksgiving meal every day. The portions aren't big, but you can order as many dishes as you like. Just as a courtesy to crew members, eat what you take unless you didn't like it, since many of them come from cultures where wasting food is highly looked down upon. The Lido buffet food is more basic, but still good, and the choices are plentiful. Imagination, like other Fantasy class ships, does not have a for-fee steakhouse. ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT The Fun Times daily newsletter is your best friend for this. There's always something to do: crew performances, line dances on the deck, towel folding classes, etc. Evening shows range from cheesy (in a good way) to spectacular, but they're always fun to watch. Most of them involve costumed performers singing and dancing. They're timed against the assigned dinner schedules, so don't worry about missing dinner if you go to one. If you're at any point wondering what to do, just check the Fun Times. Or, just wander aimlessly around the ship; that can be entertaining in itself, particularly right after embarkation. SERVICE Great service! I saw crew members always cleaning and wiping down surfaces, making sure the ship looks presentable. Waitstaff and food service workers asked people what their preferences, and apologized profusely if something wasn't available. My cabin steward remembered me on the first day and always said hello, and kept my room very clean; I returned the courtesy by not leaving too much of a mess. Entertainment staff always looked very upbeat, happy, and energetic, sometimes putting on spontaneous performances when they saw things looking too quiet. PUBLIC AREAS AND LAYOUT Given the fact that it's Carnival, the decor was quite loud and Las Vegas-like. A lot of fake neon lights using LEDs, sparkly signs, and decorations in bright colors. There are plenty of seating areas on the Promenade deck, with couches right along windows. Now, there's a a shortage of dance floors on the ship, so oftentimes, dance parties were held right in the hallway, and more often that not, there was Latin music. The Lido deck has plenty of tables to sit at and two bars; the port bar closes in the evenings, but the starboard bar is open late. The layout is a confusing at first, but once you get a hang of where's forward/aft/port/starboard, finding places on the ship becomes a snap. MY CABIN I stayed in M21, in the forward starboard section of the Main deck. The cabin is pretty small, with the king-size bed taking up most of the room, but the ledge in front of the portholes is big enough to fit all the but the largest suitcases. It's a great place to put your suitcase, since there's almost no room anywhere else. The safe opens with a magnetic stripe card; for safety, use an expired credit card or an empty gift card. Now, you will feel the rocking and feel the vibration from the thrusters quite a bit. I actually liked it (I saw it as a non-verbal reminder than I'm on a cruise), but if you're prone to seasickness, FYI. I only have two minor gripes. The bathroom doesn't have an exhaust fan, so open the door to vent out the steam after a shower, and use a travel-size Axe deodorant as an air freshner. And the shaver outlet is in the ceiling above the mirror; and the rocking of the ship was strong enough to shake the plug right out of the outlet (it's kind of big to begin with, but still). FELLOW PASSENGERS I went on April 30, which I'm sure made a difference. There were very few kids, and they were polite and well-behaved for the most part. The crowed ranged mostly from 30 to 55. There was a sizable crowd of 20-somethings, but I've never seen them cause trouble, only party it up at appropriate times and places. I had assigned dining, and my tablemates were great. We all got along well and had fun conversations, which makes a difference when you're cruising solo. No one on the ship even said any of those "how brave of you" comments, let alone give me hard time over that. Quite the opposite, a few people even complimented me on the decision. DEBARKATION It was organized, but tedious and depressing. Passengers who were once talking up a storm and laughing warmly were now only making polite conversation. If you self-debark, like I did, you take your luggage to an assigned waiting area (it was the Mirage Bar on the Atlantic deck for me), and wait until you're told to debark. Not sure how it goes if you leave your luggage outside your cabin to be picked up. At the end, you go to your car, an airport shuttle, or your tour bus; the directions they give you are very clear. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
It had been awhile since we cruised under 7nts. We chose this cruise in order to spend time with oldest daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. We took an outside cabin for myself, wife, and youngest daughter (13). Others took an inside ... Read More
It had been awhile since we cruised under 7nts. We chose this cruise in order to spend time with oldest daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. We took an outside cabin for myself, wife, and youngest daughter (13). Others took an inside cabin that accomodated the five of them...grandchildren are 7,8, and 3. Cabins were fine, pretty much what we expected maybe slightly smaller. I do not care for the Port of Miami. I think the parking is the highest at $20 per day, and the people are not as friendly as my favorit Port, which is Port Canaveral. We arrived and parked without incident. Since this was our 13th Carnival Cruise we are what they consider VIP and have priority boarding. Within 30 minutes or our arrival we were all on board at around 11:00am. Nice. Muster station drill was fine. They don't make you take life preservers with you anymore, which is nice. Our station was outside on the Lido deck by the stage. What I noticed was how maintained the ship was. It did not show its age at all. They did a wonderful job transforming the pool area and adding the Waterworks to the top area of the ship. Kids had a blast at waterworks and in the pool. Lido buffet restaurants all seemed to move very efficiently, which surprised me. I think they need to move the icecream machines out from inside and put them in the outer area though. Lots of crowd around the icecream machines inside. Maybe add another machine outside. Dinner in the Spirit dining room was nice. We had a great table for the 8 of us. Our Head Waiter Ramon was wonderful (thank you for that 2nd lobster). Lucie the Bar Waitress was very accomodating. We enjoyed the Cruise Director Skip Lyons. If I had to find one area of opportunity it would be the main shows. They were definitely lacking in talent and quality. Key West. Arrived on a beautiful sunny day. Went Parasailing with Fury, which we booked directly with Fury in advance and saved $50 per person. It was a great experience and highly recommend Fury in Key West for any watersport activity. Brad and Ryan were wonderful. Cozumel (Puerta Maya). We have been to Cozumel many times and love it. We have done a lot of different excursions in the past but this time decided just to do some shopping and then take advantage of the empty ship and let the kids play in waterworks. I was very disappointed with the shops in Puerta Maya this time. Their prices on simply souvenirs seemed high. When we tried to bargain they told us no the price was the price. This was the same with each shop we went into. So...we walked out of the plaza crossed the street and purchased the exact same items for half the price. I like the bargaining back and forth. Overall good day in Cozumel except for the shops in Puerta Maya. On this cruise we used Camp Carnival for the grandchildren and Circle C for our 13 year old daughter. They pick and choose the activities they are interested in. All had a great experience and my daughter has been texting all of her "cruise friends" she made ever since leaving the ship. So, overall this was a great trip. The ship is in wonderful condition, the onboard staff was terrific, the food was good. Everyone had a great time. We are already looking at itineraries for next year for 7 nt Carnival Cruise...4nts is just not enough. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
This was my second-ever cruise and my first was on a similar-sized ship (RCCL's Majesty of the Seas) with a similar cruise length (4 nights) and departing from the same port, Miami, so I was continually comparing the two cruise lines ... Read More
This was my second-ever cruise and my first was on a similar-sized ship (RCCL's Majesty of the Seas) with a similar cruise length (4 nights) and departing from the same port, Miami, so I was continually comparing the two cruise lines and how they handle different aspects of the cruise. Some things CCL did better, some things RCCL did better. I was travelling with my sister Cindy, who is disabled and generally needs a cane, and my mom Loralee and her husband Gaylord. This was my sister's first cruise, my mom's 20th or so, and Gaylord's 18th. MIAMI OVERNIGHT AND TRAVEL TO THE PIER: We drove down from Atlanta the Sunday before embarkation day and, based on reports right here on Cruise Critic's message boards, we stayed at the LaQuinta Miami Airport East since they would allow the car to be parked there for 5 days for free, and transport us to the pier (but NOT back) for free. The hotel itself was so-so; we couldn't get the TV (or the remote) in the room to work and for light sleepers, the sound of aircraft taking off overhead might disturb them. As promised, the mid-sized bus and trailer from KSA Transportation was there promptly at 9:45 to take us to the pier. We were then given an opportunity to purchase the return ride back to the hotel on Friday for $10 each, which we and several people opted for. We realized this was a colossal mistake on the way through Miami, when our driver, speeding on a one-way street, nearly collided with a tractor-trailer that pulled out in front of him. Everyone was thrown forward into the seat-backs, except Gaylord, who was sitting in the back bench with the aisle in front of him. He was thrown about fifteen feet down the aisle. Everyone was screaming, it was pretty bad. The driver eventually got up to check on Gaylord's condition -- amazingly, he only had a bruised/scraped elbow -- and we continued on to the pier. We have contacted the hotel management about reconsidering their contract with KSA. EMBARKATION: pretty much the same as on my previous cruise, perhaps a bit less taxing from a security standpoint. We were aboard by around noon. Then it was time to buy the "Bottomless Bubbles" sticker. This is something that Royal Caribbean handles much better than Carnival: RCCL allows you to purchase their unlimited sodas via their website before sailing, and they charge $6/day and do not add gratuity, so your sailing card already has the soda symbol embossed on it when you get it. They also give you an insulated cup that triggers a soda fountain located (on Majesty) right by the pool. Carnival also charges $6/day, but they add gratuity to it, make you wait in line to purchase it, and charge an extra $5 for the insulated cup -- which doesn't activate anything, since all sodas are served by the can and had to come from bars or restaurants. RCCL is the easy winner here. Staterooms were ready by 1:15 -- a bit early, but the ship was not sailing full -- and I went ahead and booked the "Behind the Fun" tour for myself at the Shore Excursions desk with no problems and, at that moment, no line. I got lucky. We had the Mongolian stir-fry barbecue for lunch -- it was great, one of the dining highlights of the cruise. Imagination's ship-design is quite old-fashioned and it shows in various ways. One of these is in the dining rooms, which are separated by the galley and there is no direct route between them. After finally finding our way to the Spirit Dining Room (named after one of Seabourn's ships, as is the other dining room, Pride), we had a great meal enhanced by a surprise birthday cake and serenade for ME, since it was my birthday. Really cool! Spent the later evening trying to escape the loudness of the Lido pool deck and went down to Serenity, which was great. It became my nighttime escape-place for the rest of the cruise. PORT DAY (KEY WEST): Since the ship arrived wayy early and departed Key West at 2pm, I didn't bother going ashore, electing instead to enjoy the ship's pool and outdoor deck with few people on board. We noticed that the hot tubs on Lido were much cooler than the ones on Serenity. The 'resort-style pool' is still pretty small and divided in two. Not sure why since both sides are the same depth. Dinner that night was really good again, and my sister had three lobster tails (!). She was happy after two, but Ben, our table waiter, encouraged her to get three. :) We have no complaints about the MDR staff except that, as far as I know, we never had a visit from the headwaiter, who still got 75 cents/day gratuity from us for....something. I should mention here that the winds and seas for much of the voyage were pretty high. During the run down to Cozumel the ship was rocking from side to side, sometimes heeling 3 degrees, and also bucking and plunging front-to-back. Winds were sometimes at or exceeding 30 knots. It made for an...interesting ride. PORT DAY (COZUMEL): Imagination arrives in Cozumel at around noon local time and departs late, at 9pm local time. This limits some shore activities like the beach clubs, which close at 5 or 6. With showers in the area and temperatures below 80 my sister and I opted to go to Paradise Beach, since it's cheaper than somewhere like Chankanaab. By the time we disembarked (there was a long line) and escaped the Puerta Maya shops and took a taxi ($13 flat rate) the beach was fairly empty since Carnival Legend was the only other ship in port and she was leaving in a few hours. The staff there were great, since they outnumbered us, and we thought the $2 we paid for beach loungers and the $15 we spent on food was a decent trade. The food -- jalapeno poppers and 'Mexican' fries -- was actually quite good! Snorkeling was poor, as I knew it would be. I'd brought my own snorkeling equipment so neither of us had to pay for a fun-pass (at $12). Returned to the ship just after 6pm, so we couldn't make our assigned dinner time and ate in the Lido buffet instead, which was good. (By this point our stomachs needed a break from the excellent, but rich, fare in the MDR. :)) I had prearranged with Carnival's Bon Voyage Department to have my mom's stateroom decorated with 'Happy Anniversary' on Wed. night, since Thursday was their 10th wedding anniversary. I'd been told it would be done while they were at their scheduled 6pm dinner in the MDR, but my mom didn't mention it afterward. I checked with Guest Services and they confirmed it had been scheduled for Wednesday night and would be done in a bit. It turned out that they DID decorate the room while my mom was away, but her husband was asleep in the room while they decorated it. (!) I'm glad he didn't wake up, as things would have gotten...awkward. I was also supposed to be receiving my ticket for the Behind the Fun tour that evening delivered to my stateroom, but it never showed up. I had to go to Guest Services to request one, and they cancelled the old one and rebooked it and handed it to me. Pretty odd, but it was resolved okay. Later, I found the Lido pool and hot-tubs inexplicably closed before the scheduled time (midnight), but the Serenity hot-tubs were nice and warm and they didn't come by and close them until 12:45. Bonus! :) FUN DAY AY SEA and Behind the Fun Tour: Thursday was our sea day, and I had to be in the ship's library by 8:45 for the Behind the Fun tour. There were ten of us, escorted by the ship's chief training officer, Debbie (I think), from South Africa. We went first to the galley for a presentation (and some free dessert) from the head chef, then down to the linen room, the laundry (huge washing machines), and then to "I-95," the corridor that runs all the way from bow to stern on Deck 3, where we saw the storerooms, the staff, officers' and crew messes, the training center, the garbage area (not as smelly as you might think), and then down the steep steps to Engineering Control where, to our tour guide's surprise, Chief Engineer Testa himself was present to show us the myriad displays and their meanings. It was a highlight of the tour and the entire cruise. From there we went to "Oasis" the crew lounge, backstage in the Dynasty Lounge, onto the forepeak (crew-only front of the ship), and then up to the bridge itself. By this time we were running almost 30 minutes late, but Captain Andrea Cavaliere was able to make time for us and for a group photo, which was later delivered to my stateroom by Debbie. Definitely a great tour! This was the first day of truly smooth sailing we had had, and for the first time in the cruise the pool deck and hot-tubs and the Serenity area were all really full, but my sister and I were able to find two loungers on the deck above and we had an enjoyable relaxing afternoon, although it was quite windy still. I even rode the big twisting slide twice -- the wind had to be 35 knots up there, tallest part of the ship -- and we had more of the Mongolian barbecue, which was awesome again! Dinner that night was good although for the first time I had to opt for something from the everyday menu. Others at our table had some minor complaints as well. Oh, well. Having seen firsthand how hectic the galley is, I can understand how challenging dinner preparations must be! I had prearranged to have an anniversary cake for my mom brought to our table that night, but SHE had also arranged the same thing in secret for her husband. I had cancelled my request the day before, but a lady still came to our table to verify the cancellation, which probably muted the surprise. Still, both my birthday cake and the anniversary cake were great! Back at our stateroom, another surprise awaited -- a dessert tray sent to me courtesy of the Behind the Fun tour, complete with strawberries decorated 'tuxedo' style with white and dark chocolate and some other desserts. Really nice surprise! Spent the later part of the night on the Serenity deck, relaxing in the hot-tub and watching the ship's wake curl away in the moonlight. Moments like that are why we take cruises in the first place. DISEMBARKATION: here I have to give the edge to Carnival and not RCCL. We opted to have our larger baggage taken out overnight, so we waited for our baggage number to be called. On this ship we could wait anywhere on Lido or Promenade decks, so we could get food and drinks (but not sodas or alcohol, as the bars were closed) and use the facilities. On RCCL we had been herded into one of the show lounges by zone number with less freedom of movement. Advantage: Carnival. The actual disembark and the Customs lines weren't as bad as my prior cruise, but again, the ship had not sailed completely full so that might have been a factor. Outside the pier, we waited for 45 minutes for the KSA shuttle bus to return us to the hotel (we had been promised 30 minutes max), and to everyone's horror, the driver was the same crazy guy as on the way out. We managed to avoid any crashes, though, and after dropping off some folks at the airport we were back at the hotel to pick up the car. Our fun vacation had come to an end. All in all, I had fun. I was surprised at a few things: no strolling musicians performing in the MDR, and no live 'island/party' theme band performing on the pool-deck, as there was on my previous cruise; the ship's design seemed more old-fashioned than even Majesty of the Seas despite being built 4 years later (but kudos for the Serenity area, which was great).... Of course I plan to cruise again, and wouldn't be averse to sailing CCL, but maybe not with this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We had a group of 9 people (ranging in ages from 21 to 80) for a family cruise leaving Dec. 12th. We had been contacted by Carnival a few weeks before the cruise and given an option of upgrading our cabins to grand suites (from ocean ... Read More
We had a group of 9 people (ranging in ages from 21 to 80) for a family cruise leaving Dec. 12th. We had been contacted by Carnival a few weeks before the cruise and given an option of upgrading our cabins to grand suites (from ocean views) for a cost of about $250.00 per person. Only my husband and I chose to do this and so glad we did!! We had Cabin U90 - a Grand Suite with a balcony - and it was huge. We used it as a meeting place and had seating for 9, we bought in chairs from the balcony. We had a fridge, a walk in closet, tons of storage space, a jacuzzi tub and a very comfortable bed. There is also a couch that makes into a bed. Our room steward was Angel and he was fantastic. He bought us a wine bucket and always extra ice when he found out we had all bought a bottle of wine (had 9 bottles in our room) and made sure we always had wine glasses. The upgrade include VIP boarding - we were on the ship in 5 minutes! The rest of our group did regular boarding though, and were on within 15 or 20 minutes. It was a breeze. Luggage was placed at our room promptly and we sailed away. First day was Fun Day at Sea. We laid in the sun (my husband did the water slide - he's 67 and loved it), watched the trivia games, shopped, ate, etc. The Cruise Director was Skip and his shows were hilarious - the married couples game especially. We also loved the piano bar with Dana (i won the trivia contest in there) and spent a couple of nights in there until it closed. We went to Cozumel and Key West. We did the Mayan Ruins/Beach tour (which was actually kind of boring)in Cozumel and then the water got really rough. There were sick people everywhere and they had to modify the shows to protect the dancers. We did fine and went onto Key West and visited the Hemmingway House and rented an electric car. It was fun, but not so fun finding a place to park it (we had a six seater) everytime we wanted to stop. Next time, i will probably just do the trolley hop on/hop off thing. I have read reviews that talked about rude employees and bad food, but that was not our experience. Our servers (Yeoman!) were the best and we had great food at dinner every night. My husband ate more than I have ever seen him eat - two or three appetizers every night and usually two entrees!!!! We loved the spinach and artichoke dip appetizer they offered every night, the onion au gratin soup and the cream of broccoli soup. The buffet foods were great too - we really liked the pizzaria and deli. The shows we attended were fun and every employee we encountered was more than friendly. The ship was very, very clean and even the night with all the sick people, the crew was constantly cleaning. Disembarking was also pretty painless - i remember the days when you went into a big warehouse and found your luggage - now it comes off on a baggage turnstile like the airports and it's quite easy. The only thing that we didn't like was having to go thru immigration process in key west - it took a while to get off the boat, but staff and officials were very nice and helpful. One good thing - we all won in the casino!! we are not huge gamblers (except for my 80 year old father) but i won 140.00 on the penny slots and he won over 300.00. Several in our party won 40.00 or more on the quarter slots. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Hello, I recently returned from my 12/05/11 sailing on the IMAGINATION. This was my PLATINUM Carnival Cruise and I have also cruised NCL and RCL. Although I enjoy Carnival, I do critique what I see and my overall experience in hopes ... Read More
Hello, I recently returned from my 12/05/11 sailing on the IMAGINATION. This was my PLATINUM Carnival Cruise and I have also cruised NCL and RCL. Although I enjoy Carnival, I do critique what I see and my overall experience in hopes the cruise line and future passengers may benefit. I tend to cover multiple captions in depth and I hope that my experience is helpful to you. I took this same cruise two prior sailings, once in 2009 another in 2010. I recently sailed on the DREAM in September and LOVED it. The IMAGINATION is still among one of my favorite Carnival ships. I simply enjoy the itinerary, ports and layout of the ship all together. This is why I decided to sail solo for my birthday on this specific ship. The IMAGINATION is really a nice ship and very easy to navigate, even for the first time cruiser. ITINERARY: Miami-Key West-Cozumel-day at sea-Miami. MIA airport is a short fifteen minutes from the port. There is one formal night on day three, making this a perfect getaway trip. CARNIVAL TRANSPORT: I was planning an early arrival into MIA so did not purchase the Carnival transport as I was not sure if I wanted to do something before embarkation. I decided to just head to the port directly. I proceeded to the luggage claim and quickly found the Carnival agent to purchase my transport ticket. They make it so easy. You simply show your boarding pass and ID and they can add the transport to your sail and sign account on the ship. It was only $16 one way and worth the price if you do not want to the aggravation or a taxi to the pier. Charter bus and a short drive and you are at the pier. However, a taxi for 1-2 people is just as good. Larger groups should do the extra research and reserve a shuttle, it would save some cash. EMBARKATION: I arrived about 10:15-10:30. Since this was my PLATINUM sailing I was directed to the VIP lounge for check-in. I've been to this port a few times and never even knew there was such a room. I was literally walking onto the ship after about a 5 minute stop at the desk. Membership definitely has its privileges here! I do remember from my last trip to this port in 2010 they have kiosk terminals for regular check-in like an airport after you go through security. There are only a few entries and a scan of your passport to receive a ticket and go right up to the desk to receive your sail and sign card. CABIN: E4 PORTHOLE forward.... This was my first time booking a porthole stateroom and I would book another in a heartbeat. For location purposes, I was just 2nd from the front of the ship located right under the name on the outside of the ship. The stateroom itself is same size and shape as a regular ocean view cabin except you are only charged for an inside price. NO FRIDGE, but I knew that. This is your typical stateroom; 2 beds, but no pull down bunk. SAFE, 32" flat screen TV, room light switches at the bed, water and soda to purchase in the room. Two robes hanging in the closet. Conveniently located at the junction where the laundry room was located if you need it. I was not bothered by any traffic in and out at all. COMPLIMENTARY BATHROOM BASKET included his/her Razor, toothpaste, Pantene-RED color enhancer, some upset stomach packets (like TUMS), bar soap and tissues. Shower: Shampoo & Liquid Soap (I brought shampoo w/conditioner, a travel Lysol spray). The room itself appeared to be in NEW condition. Perhaps it was one during the latest dry dock? (One negative: if you need to know is that the crew deck quarters is also located at the front of this ship. So there was one night when there was a late night deck party and the music was a little loud. I say, the crew deserves a good time also so a few hours of base thumping I could handle for the service I received. ROOM STEWARD: RENALTO greeted me at my door minutes after sail-a-way. He was extremely courteous and always took the time to say hello and ask how my day was. Beyond that he never disturbed me at any point during the day and THAT, IMHO is what makes a good room steward; one that knows your name and schedule and can work around it without disturbing your vacation. I only had to call him once for laundry bags (Platinum perk) and he was knocking at my door within seconds of the call. I increased his gratuity directly to him and his assistant substantially. They really eliminated ANY worries regarding the cleanliness and status of our stateroom. They are an asset to the Carnival crew. PORTS: Key West, Florida & Cozumel Mexico KEYWEST: Since I did my usual at this port I will simply copy from my last review. This is a nice port and do not fret about the short time you are there. You can easily cover this port and get a taste of what it offers during the 6-7 hours you are there. I chose to not do an excursion, as I normally do here, but this trip I walked around the harbor walk and it was very peaceful and interesting. Duval St/ Front Street are no less than a tourist trap with plenty of shops for souvenirs and Key-Lime everything. The Aquarium is right in town center and if you walk up Duval Street a few blocks you will pass HARD ROCK, JIMMY BUFFET's Margaretville and some nicer shops to browse. If you continue up Front street to the Harbor, there is a small Moped rental stand that I was told by locals is a good price. I was offered $35 for about 4 hours. COZUMEL: If you cannot find something to do here then something is wrong. EXCURSIONS: I chose to explore the MAYAN RUINS of TALUM. I've wanted to do something historical and "discovery-like" and it was worth it. Do not be discouraged by the long 7 hour duration. It is split up into parts (Ferry ride to the mainland- Playa Del Carmen). It is about 45min charter bus ride; with a stop at a souvenir shop and bathroom stop. This is a real store not a straw market. They have nice items and clean updated bathroom facilities. FERRY RIDE: First off, if you are pronged motion sickness, request to sit inside on the lower level. They loaded us all on the upper deck which was very rocky. The locals refer it as the "BARF-BOAT" for tourists that race to sit on the outside 2nd level LOL. Inside are plush air-conditioned seats. We all sat there on the way back. They offer water, drinks, and some snacks for sale on the ferry. Polite crew MAYAN RUINS of TALUM are located south of the Ferry. Our tour guide had much information to pass time along the ride to the ruins. This is a WALKING TOUR and there is a lot of area you can explore. At first the tour guide will introduce you to some of the area, and then you will have approx. 2 hours to explore on your own. Bring a camera there are some nice photo opportunities. You are not able to climb the main temple as it has been closed to tourists to preserve it. You are able to swim on the beach just below the temple, but it is at your own risk and a very small beach area for your items. I did not notice any lockers or chairs, simply a beach. When you return back to the bus area you can grab some food for an additional cost, and shop in the small straw market area. It you get a chance try to catch the times for the dancers swinging on the "MAY-POLE" I missed them and wish I had a chance to see it. Load the bus and it's a 45 minute return ride to the ferry and back to the ship. Our return time was approx 8pm. FELLOW SHIP PASSENGERS: This is a topic I usually try to cover in my reviews because although Carnival technically has no control on who books a cruise, it reflects the "type" of passenger that chooses certain itineraries as well as what the age-range to help others choose vacations times. I thought it was a nice quiet relaxing vacation since it was just after Thanksgiving and usually not so many children as they are back to school. Everyone I met had a smile on their face and I personally did not hear anything bad or complaints. It was a full sailing, but did not feel overly crowded at any time. FOOD/DINING: Since I was solo, I had "YOUR TIME DINING" on this cruise. It is as easy option when you are alone or a small group of 3-4. Only downside I see is that you have a different waiter each night, and I prefer the same servers. Once again I have nothing bad to say about the food on the ship. It was always hot, minimal waiting and delicious. The food & service in the Dining Room was excellent and could not have been any better. Our servers each night were great and her assistants just as pleasant. The rest of the cruise I chose to eat at the buffets for breakfast and lunches. If I was in line more than 3 people deep at any given time it was a lot. The 24 hr pizza this cruise was not as good as past sailing so not sure if it has changed? GALLEY TOUR: As a platinum guest I was able to attend the behind the scenes Galley Tour. I took this tour when on the DREAM in September as well. It is an interesting tour to get an idea of how the food services work on the ship. It also can give you an appreciation for how the staff handles orders and deliveries. STAFF: (I split this up into several captions) WORKING STAFF: Same as my last trips on this ship in 2009 & 2010. I can honestly not find anything bad to say about the crew on this ship. Information, Excursion, dining, housekeeping, officers, shops, bar service, casino were all great! I don't know how they keep up the positive attitudes day after day, week after week, month after month! B-R-A-V-O to all of you! The ship was always clean and they take care of their ship. It is no wonder the IMAGINATION is ranked as one of the top carnival ships. It is very noticeable how the Carnival crews are always cleaning, wiping and maintaining their ships. CRUISE DIRECTOR- "SKIPPY" I liked this cruise director. Much better than the last one on this same ship. He had just enough humor and was not "Over the top" like some are. He was fun and informative, and also all around the ship unlike some that never seem to leave the main lounge. I'm glad to see that JORGE SOLANO is being assigned to this ship for 2012 when SKIPPY is not working. JORGE is a great CD and as a founder of the comedy club also funny as well. The assistant cruise director, SAMMIE JEWER was also fun and I had some great conversations with her. Sammie and Skip are a good team for this ship. ENTERTAINMENT: Carnival is discovering that the Main Atrium is valuable space for more entertaining than just the piano bar. The HIP-HOP crews "FUNFORCE" performs in the atrium after show times and always are fun to watch. Since this was a DECEMBER sailing they also made it snow 3 times a day with Christmas carols in the background. It was a nice unexpected touch out in the middle of the Caribbean. The Dynasty Lounge shows perhaps are becoming a little old for me. It's exciting to sit through for the first time cruiser, but after a few sailings it becomes a bit repetitious. I still think they are handled well for what they are worth, but Now that other lines are investing money into bringing Broadway known titles like Blue Man group and Chicago, I think this is an area Carnival can look into updating. Same negative comment from last year: Dynasty lounge 2ND level is not as steep as other ships I've been on so some seats are limited visibility. For this ship I think lower level is better seating unless you arrive early and get a booth UP front on 2ND level. If Carnival really wants to make a major improvement to this ship I would tear out the entire 2nd floor of the Dynasty lounge and reformat the seating into stadium seating. The booths just do not work if you actually want to watch the performances. I did not use the SPA or CAMP CARNIVAL so have no comments to make here. DEBARKATION: As a platinum member I took advantage of the VIP debarkation and was off the ship by 9am. I set my luggage out the night before and had no trouble locating it at the terminal. Carnival transport back to the "MIA" airport was as pleasant as it could have been. SUMMARY LIKES: PRICE, ITINERARY, FOOD, SERVICE, CLEANLINESS of the ship, HIP HOP, mini-golf on deck 10 forward? And never forget the "WCMC": warm chocolate melting cake. mmmm DISLIKES: Dynasty Lounge-UPSTAIRS seating. Elimination of the COMMENT CARDS? NO option to view your account or menus from your stateroom TV like other ships, but they now offer a kiosk-like machine by guest services to check on your accounts. In the end, this is my third sailing on the Imagination in 3 years, and I would definitely do this cruise again and recommend it to others. It is a nice FIRST TIME cruise itinerary and a good taste of the Carnival experience. If you have any questions feel free to contact me via cruise critic under handle: wiskt Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was our long awaited first cruise and after plenty of research we are so happy with our choice on the Carnival Imagination. Our group consisted of 10 people ages 3 years old to 65 years old. We had 3 children, ages 3, 5 and 7 years ... Read More
This was our long awaited first cruise and after plenty of research we are so happy with our choice on the Carnival Imagination. Our group consisted of 10 people ages 3 years old to 65 years old. We had 3 children, ages 3, 5 and 7 years old. We were afraid of sailing in December which I read is when Cozumel had the most rainfall. Everything was perfect. Embarkation was fair. We had a little trouble in our registration instructions on the computer because 2 of our passports were expired so we used birth certificates. Make sure that if you use birth certificates, you have another form of picture ID. We were also told that soon Carnival will implement a fee for using birth certificates as form of proof of citizenship. The ship was glamorous, clean and well kept. We were greeted cheerfully. Our room was clean and bigger than I expected. We chose an interior for 5 people as we did not intend on using it for other than sleep. I have read complaint after complaint on previous reviews, but honestly the size was not bad for the five of us. Though, I cannot see an adult sleeping on the wall beds. We saw the balcony rooms and they were absolutely gorgeous. Activities on board : There was plenty to do all the time. We only went to our room to change or sleep. Every waking minute we spent on deck under the sun in the pool, which seemed small but surprisingly was never full and had plenty of room for leisure swim,in one of the 4 outdoor jacuzzi, playing mini golf, playing on the water slides, or lounging in one of the many chairs usually with a drink, ice cream, or coffee. ( all available, all the time ) You could literally spend a whole day on deck with the water slides. They were that fun and for all ages ! Great quality time for the whole family. We even brought lunch from the deck below and ate it in front of the slides overlooking the whole ocean. Breath taking ! When not outdoors, the shows were equally wonderful. We watched " Show Time " which is a Vegas style song and dance musical appropriate for the whole family. I watched all the comedy shows. There were 2 comedians on board. One hilarious, one not. Family comedy was not amusing. Adult comedy shows brought me to tears laughing. Had the luxury of leaving the kids with family. I didn't make the married couples game show because it was midday and we were on the outdoor deck but watched it late night before sleeping. They play all the activities through out the day over and over again on their channel. It was cute but I'm glad we spent that time in the water under the sun. Karaoke was good. Carnival Kids club : Free babysitting till 10 at night. Clean, safe, air conditioned area. Loved that they offer to give you a cell phone that allows you to remain in contact with them at all times. Care takers were unbelievable kind, patient and cheerful. My 3 year old who has never previously been left in a child care setting LOVED them. He talked about them all night and wanted to go back the next day. 5 and 7 year old seemed more bored. Although there was play station, not the games the loved. And one t.v./ game console against 10 kids, also not fun. Otherwise very satisfied with them. Food : So much variety, so many choices, available all the time. All delicious! Especially loved choosing my own fresh ingredients for Mongolian grill. Great selection for kids available all the time. If all else fails, the 24 hour pizza is very good. Room service was a great way to get something into the kids' stomachs while we got some extra sleep in the morning before going to breakfast. Service : I have read complaints before from other reviewers but I have to say the men and women who service on this ship were remarkable in every aspect. They went out of their way to make the journey spectacular. Small details I noticed in these humble individuals are things like the restaurant hostess kneeling down to tie my kids shoe, caretakers at the child watch making sure you were comfortable leaving your child there before you left, officers and cooks remembering your name from day to day. Every individual has a story. These people leave their families for months on end to earn a living and make our vacations that much more pleasurable in the process. Fully appreciate every one of them. Seasickness : I packed medicine and was worried prior to boarding but to our amazement, no one in our party became sick. Sure, in the beginning you feel the boat rock, then your body adjusts. On the way to Miami on the last day the weather was rough, very windy and all decks were closed off and not to be used. * Because we didn't go to our room much and they leave each days information in your room midday, I failed to read the info about leaving the luggage outside of your room door by 11 pm at night to be picked up and transferred off the ship in the morning. We had to carry off all our luggage but it would have been nice to take advantage of that assistance. Also, I thought we would have at least till 12 noon on debarkation day but we actually had to be out of the room by 8:30 am. A great vacation never to be forgotten ! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This is our fifth Carnival cruise and eleventh, overall. I personally feel the Carnival and the "Imagination" have done a lot to improve EVERYTHING. The casino is now run by professional hosts, paying attention to the ... Read More
This is our fifth Carnival cruise and eleventh, overall. I personally feel the Carnival and the "Imagination" have done a lot to improve EVERYTHING. The casino is now run by professional hosts, paying attention to the "full time" player. As for "tight".. ????? My wife and I won over $8K... I have the 1099 to prove it.. UGH! The food and the menu has come a long way. We were impressed with the new items and new quality. Aligator Fritters were GREAT, the lobsters were much bigger than previously and the escargot is now back to butter garlic. Thanks... The only things I would comment otherwise is the "double" porthole window "ocean view" cabin. Get another cabin with a full window. Secondly, while I think everyone should try the Chef's Table at least once, that is it.... ONCE. This was our second and much to our surprise -- Nothing had changed. The EXACT program, location AND MENU. Wonderful food, service and ambiance, but... "Been there, done that..." All-in-all, I think the Carnival is on the right track, except they need to learn from past experiences and continus listening to your "customers"... Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
The Carnival Imagination is wonderful. The service was outstanding, the food in the Spirit lounge was fantastic, the comedians were hysterical and the overall cruise experience was superb. My wife and I will definately go again. I found ... Read More
The Carnival Imagination is wonderful. The service was outstanding, the food in the Spirit lounge was fantastic, the comedians were hysterical and the overall cruise experience was superb. My wife and I will definately go again. I found Key West to be delightful, and the port is very close to all of the important sights that a tourist would like to see. Cozumel has a small, friendly port with lots to buy for the folks back home. Both ports offer wonderful shore excursions. I have been on 7 cruises and 3 different cruise lines... this is, by far, the best. The food, the drinks, the fun and the cruise as a whole were splendid. We went in early May so the ocean was like a lake through the entire trip. There is 1 small problem with this cruise ship: We were treated so well and had so much fun that we hated like heck for the cruise to end.One last note: Adrian our waiter, and Rusty our cabin boy need to be commended on a job well done. They really went out of their way to ensure that our trip was asabin special as it could be. Thank you, Gentlemen. And thank you, too, Carnival. Our suite, U-84 was, in a word: Perfect! The balcony was wonderful, the cabin was large and comfortable. We slept like babies in the large bed, the sheets and blankets were always clean and fresh. The walk-in closet was great and the bathroom was well stocked, the shower-bath-jacuzzi combo was a treat. The cabins were quiet, no outside noise could be heard. Room service was available, but we never used it. The small fridge was well stocked. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
This was my fourth cruise with Carnival cruise lines. I sailed on the Destiny almost 10 years ago, and have been on the Inspiration twice in the past 5 years. I was pleased with the Imagination. Its configuration was identical to the ... Read More
This was my fourth cruise with Carnival cruise lines. I sailed on the Destiny almost 10 years ago, and have been on the Inspiration twice in the past 5 years. I was pleased with the Imagination. Its configuration was identical to the Inspiration, so I had no problems getting around. However, the deck buffet was better than on the other ships. My family enjoyed the Mongolian BBQ side where you selected ingredients and the chefs cooked them for you. The dinners were very good, and breakfast in the dining room was better than on the deck, which is always the case. The chicken ceasar salad at the pizzeria was great, I ate about 4 of them during the trip.I was very tired and wanted to just relax on this trip, so I didn't hang out much in the clubs this time. One cousin went to the salsa club every night, and I accompanied her once there and to the regular disco. We saw the two comedians on the last night and they were pretty good. Others in our group went to the Vegas style show and enjoyed it. We never got a chance to enjoy the Serenity Deck, it was full all the time. I was disappointed, this is one of my favorite spots. The fitness room was clean and the machines were in good working order.The staff were friendly and hard-working, as usual. There was someone cleaning something all the time and the ship was in great shape. The one criticism was our toilet looked a little old and worn but the bathroom was very clean.Overall, I really enjoyed the Imagination. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
First our family,two boys one 16 and one 21.My husband and I are in our late 40's.Second this is our 2nd cruise with Carnival,the first was 24 years ago.Our 3 others were with Royal Caribbean on the Empress,Explorer,and ... Read More
First our family,two boys one 16 and one 21.My husband and I are in our late 40's.Second this is our 2nd cruise with Carnival,the first was 24 years ago.Our 3 others were with Royal Caribbean on the Empress,Explorer,and Independence.We basically chose Carnival because of cost.Plain and simple a 1,876 dollars savings over a Royal vacation.I read all the reviews and was preparing for "you get what you pay for"and we were shocked.Was Royal worth the increased prices.NO NO NO.We would book Carnival again in a royal minute!This was our first time leaving from Miami.We drove from frigid east coast weather and from Georgia to Miami It was beach weather everyday.February could be a disappointment weather wise.But we were so lucky.Enjoyed South Beach for a few days before leaving.My only horror story had to do with using Global airport parking.$35.46 with taxes,cheap, got us to the port quickly but in returning left 11 of us waiting for one hour and 24 minutes after calling them 8 times and they lied to us over and over again.In this case we got what we paid for!So beware of this company.Not worth it!The employees of Carnival all around were excellent.From check-in they were all so friendly and helpful.Dining room staff so awesome.We loved the interaction with the waitstaff and basically the show they put on was great!I was prepared to wait in lines at the food dining spots but found the lines to be the same on both lines,really!The only difference I felt were in the decor of the ships and a bit more of activities on Royal.The number of food choices goes to Carnival.The food overall was a bit better on Royal but for the price difference I think NOT!We loved the live music on this ship.We did not realize how much we missed this aspect of a cruise.The Empress was the last time we had live pool music.As for pool games and such we do tend to miss these events we prefer less crowded parts of the ship,but that is us.Our boys enjoyed them on both ships.My review I know is basically comparing the 2 cruise lines but I would have liked to have seen a review like mine on my research.These boards are so helpful! I spend days on this site researching our cruises! I just want to help anyone deciding between the two that carnival is not what some people claim it to be.Low class,bad service,food you would not eat!Maybe all of the bad reviews on this cruise ship lowered my expectations for Carnival?Did this make everything better than it was? Did we just luck out passenger wise?Is Carnival just as good as Royal?Or does this make Carnival better?Please anyone who has any questions on this cruise I would be happy to reply to your questions!We work very hard to have a vacation every year and every year we enjoy our vacation no matter the weather surroundings etc.I feel family time is so rare.But for our hard earned money I would chose Carnival again and again!If they were both the same price I would chose the better itinerary and newer ship in my decision.A few points I would like to add is our cabins were U2 & U4.I was worried as this was the front 2 cabins but the quiet by our cabins was awesome.No foot traffic.A little rocky at times I did use the patch on our last night as winds were whipping on our way back in to Miami.Many foreigners on our cruise and not too many teens.A well behaved crowd.This crowd was a big improvement over a March teen fest on Royal.We know how teens and adults with no manners behave.This minus no security presence a nightmare for some.A little less enjoyable for us.We know the security on this Carnival cruise scored an A,where Royal gets a D? And a d is being very generous.So were there more spoiled teens on Royal running wild or was Carnival security just better?SO overall:What we liked better;security;passengers;hours of restaurants;ice cream;room service;cabin steward,Jolanta was our BEST EVER!;Able to bring own wine and champagne on board;more TV stations for news and sports.More food choices;Library more spacious and more board game selections;waitstaff overall;live bands;PRICE!Disliked;coffee,really bad;not being able to walk around the ship on decks;no shuffleboard or basketball;deck chairs;bathrooms;show seating but a plus in making everyone share tables for additional room. The food we liked Royal more but it would not affect our decision on future sailings,not that much of a difference.We liked that the lunch sit down had more hours of operation than Royal and room service also.We liked enjoying breakfast in the dining room before disembarking the ship.The sandwich quality and selection were better at the deli.We liked Royal's pizza better.Overall I would like to say each cruise line has positives and negatives.But a vacation is really what you make it.Life is short,ENJOY IT,no matter what line you choose.Maybe we will try NCL next but I am already pricing Carnival for 2012.Thank you for reading and thanks to all on cruise critic for giving us your honest opinions! Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
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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