49 Miami to Caribbean - Western Carnival Imagination Cruise Reviews

We have only sailed on Carnival, so we can only compare this cruise to other Carnival cruises. Perhaps overshadowing this cruise, the seas were very rough and the skies were cloudy and raining the entire time. Embarkation was easy at the ... Read More
We have only sailed on Carnival, so we can only compare this cruise to other Carnival cruises. Perhaps overshadowing this cruise, the seas were very rough and the skies were cloudy and raining the entire time. Embarkation was easy at the POM. We had the usual sail away drink and buffet food on the Lido. Our expectations were not too high, so the experience was about in line with what we expected. Our room ... We stayed in Cabin U-3. This is very far forward and on the starboard. This was the first time (and last time) we get a porthole room. As said, the seas were very rough and the motion was amplified in the bow. Both of us (DW and I) had difficulty sleeping due to the motion and we are both experienced cruisers. Of course, our cabin steward exceed our expectations - we have been either very lucky over past cruises or Carnival has a great training program. An aside ... We called room service for a corkscrew and, instead of receiving a corkscrew, waiter appeared to open our bottles of wine and graciously re-corked them for us. The shows were 2.0 and we LOVED them! We thought they were much more contemporary than the usual, older Carnival fare. I'm not sure Dad appreciated the music, but we rocked out to the Divas and Rock Show. There we fewer singers/dancers than non-2.0 shows, but the modern music more than made up for it. The MDR was acceptable. The ship has not received the new menus and still uses table clothes for all meals, so we have yet to experience that evolution. Other than a longer than unusual wait on the last night's dinner, the wait staff and food were good. My growing nephew asked for double entrees and they were very accommodating. The warm, melting chocolate cake was excellent ... As expected! The Key West excursion was much too early (0700), but I won't harp on that because the ship is repositioning to LA. Cozumel was ... well, what can I say? Cozumel was Cozumel. We love it there even though our SNUBA excursion was cancelled due to rough seas. Gotta go to Señor Frogs, again! The casino was the only disappointment. I played hard because we booked the room on a casino rate. At reaching 1,000 points on the third night all I received was $10 credit. I went beyond that (of course), but the casino boss never reached out. During our last cruise we got a bottle of wine at dinner and comped drinks ... However, we didn't even get a nod this time ... Very disappointing, especially when the action in the casino seemed so light - maybe she was in LA mode already. We still played the slot tourney, which I recommend, and the DW got a t-shirt even though she did not win. The comedian (guy with the last name of Little) was funny in the Punchliner. We have been pretty happy with the comedians so I think the affiliation with George Lopez is working well. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Having travelled long haul worldwide for 30+ years and lived in Europe, the Middle East and the USA I have never been on a cruise and didn't really relish the idea. However, meeting UK family for New Year in Miami, with 14 & 15 ... Read More
Having travelled long haul worldwide for 30+ years and lived in Europe, the Middle East and the USA I have never been on a cruise and didn't really relish the idea. However, meeting UK family for New Year in Miami, with 14 & 15 year old kids we decided to take a short cruise over new year so at least the kids had a party in their back yard and we didn't have to go find one in an unfamiliar town. I was pleasantly surprised with the cruise and I do have considerable experience to compare to. Although the Imagination is one of the oldest and smallest of the Carnival ships, and the interior décor was tacky casino style, our cabin on Empress deck 7 was very clean, more room than expected, the bathroom was well planned, spotless and even had thick plushy towel robes and great shower. Our cabin steward was really awesome. Food onboard was OK - some really good items, some so-so items. Wasn't really a fan of the waiters dancing and hated the Pirate and endless photo ops, but clearly a lot of the guests enjoyed it. For those complaining about the Mongolian Wok - I agree, the wait was horrible, food was ok-ish. We only did that once, lesson learned. Same with the junk food buffets. The dining room food was good (everyone turned up to eat at 8pm so long lines - we ate 7pm and almost no wait at all), service in the dining room, bar service on Lido deck, cabin service was very good. Spa service was excellent. I had almost no issues on this cruise. Did not see or smell anything particularly unpleasant, and did not think the cruise was overly crowded. No trouble, surprisingly, despite the partyers and NYE over-indulgence. Carnival DID nickel and dime you for everything and our bill for 2 adults, 2 (non-charging) teens was $1100 - we each drank probably 4-5 cocktails a day by the pool plus a glass of wine at dinner, 2 one-hour spa treatments and the rest was automatically applied tips. I can imagine if you party hard all day you are going to spend thousands and will probably be paying for it for a long long time... in which case I would recommend you just fly to Koh Samui or some other exotic destination for probably the same price and a lot longer in paradise. Excursion in Cozumel on the Catamaran to the snorkeling and beach party was great! Beach was beautiful but looked like a movie set with guests arriving and leaving every hour. One recommendation for Carnival - if you ARE going to run really dumb (but occasionally funny) competitions such as men vs women synchronized swimming contest, stretch yourselves a bit by giving $10 bar credits as prizes or something a little less worthless and tacky than 25c Oriental Trading medals or trophies. Your customers ARE providing the entertainment after all. Jeez... Music was not current - lots of stuff from the summer, mixed stuff from the 80s and 90s and the usual line dance stuff like Wobble, Cupid Shuffle etc. A bit boring after a while. Have to give a shout out for the awesome guitar guy in the Atrium Bar area - you should put him in permanent place of the piano bar entertainment which was alarming at best. Definitely recommend the Fast 2 Fun purchase - on and off the ship first gave us lots more time. Luggage was a bit of an issue - embarking, one of our tags came off and luggage took 8 hours to get to the cabin; disembarking someone jumped on our brand new, 1st time use, suitcase denting the main steel side struts like it had been hit with a sledgehammer. Carnival have offered to replace it, so no issue there either. Generally, very enjoyable, no real issues, first cruise experience. Staff work too long hours. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Carnival Imagination is a tired ship that shows its age. There is nothing particularly outstanding about this ship, and much of the decor is quite garish. The main atrium is neon from top to bottom and the dining room is also appointed ... Read More
Carnival Imagination is a tired ship that shows its age. There is nothing particularly outstanding about this ship, and much of the decor is quite garish. The main atrium is neon from top to bottom and the dining room is also appointed with strings of neon lighting. We felt the economy nature of this cruise in the service--very slow in the dining rooms, no extra assistance by other crew members. While on other cruise lines the staff go beyond the call of duty to make passsengers happy, on this ship there's little effort beyond the basics. We were surprised that the very impressive entertainers did the exact same show on the first and last nights of the cruise! The second show was also very similar in style and content as well. The water park is old and not particularly impressive, especially when matched against Disney or other more modern ships. We had an ocean view cabin for 5 (two adults and three kids). The beds and bedding were comfortable. With all clothes unpacked and stored on shelves/in closets and luggage stored, there was some room to maneuver. Bathrooms are basic, but the shower curtain was rather disgusting--especially at the bottom. The plug in the bathroom was above the sink facing down, and did not hold the connection making charing of devices difficult. Cabin windows were very dirty and in need of being washed. It was actually difficult to see through the windows because of built up grime. Various details of the ship are really in need of updating...we noticed burnt out light fixtures, shabby paint jobs, and the windows of our cabin were so dirty and in need of being washed that it was hard to see out of them. It's hard to beat the value of a Carnival Cruise, but know that a lot of corners are cut in the process. Definitely buy the Fast Pass to Fun--totally worth the expedited boarding and disembarkation. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Last week I enjoyed a 4 day Caribbean cruise with 3 of my girlfriends (my 6th cruise, their 1st). We took this trip without hubbies and without kids. We chose the Imagination because of the itinerary, length of cruise and price. We flew ... Read More
Last week I enjoyed a 4 day Caribbean cruise with 3 of my girlfriends (my 6th cruise, their 1st). We took this trip without hubbies and without kids. We chose the Imagination because of the itinerary, length of cruise and price. We flew into Fort Lauderdale at 11:30 the morning of the cruise. We used SAS transportation to get to Port of Miami. They were efficient, reliable and well priced as usual. At the Port we gave our bags to the Porter whom reminded us that he would like a tip and we went into the terminal. We were through security and on the ship within about 15 minutes. Everything was so smooth and organized. I can't understand why anyone would want to purchase the "faster to the fun" as we got to the fun as fast as we could walk....We immediately went to the Lido deck to eat lunch and got started on our cruise fun. Over the next 4 days we ate well, met great people, had loads of fun and enjoyed the sun and wonderful facilities. Here is a summary of my thoughts.... Food: We ate buffet breakfast and lunch each day. The buffet was standard for Carnival - decent selection of salads, hot items, desserts, etc. I have always felt and still do that I'd rather pay a bit more money to see some more variety of fruits and veggies. I'd love to see peppers, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc but this is not the case. Don't get me wrong, we were well fed, but a little more variety with some of the tastier fruits and veggies would be nice. Hot items were changed frequently enough to keep it interesting and the eggs made to order station helped make breakfast better. I enjoyed eating at Mongolian Wok which I chose the first day - this was the only day that there wasn't a long line there so I'm glad I went first thing. I didn't try a burger but heard they were mediocre, they didn't look nearly as yummy as the Guy's Burgers on the Breeze. The other grill items (chicken fingers, fries, nachos, etc were tasty. My friend enjoyed wraps from the deli a few times and we all had some pizza which was okay but not great. We loved to eat on the back patio above the serenity deck. Not many people find that special place so it's peaceful with a great view of the ship's wake. We thoroughly enjoyed dining in the Pride Dining Room, any time seating. We had Milan as our waiter each night and he was fabulous. Good service, food came out correct, quickly and the right temperature each time. He was friendly and fun to converse with each night. The food was all quite good but after 5 Carnival cruises in a row the menu is getting boring. Highlights included lobster, brisket, pumpkin soup, iced capp cake, key lime pie, spring rolls, and the Indian dish. Entertainment: We skipped the big productions just due to our timing, but I had seen Divas on a previous ship and thought it was lame. We enjoyed the late night Comedian each night - very funny. We also had fun at the disco most nights. In the day we enjoyed watching the pool games although at times I wished that there was a second pool with peace and quiet. The serenity deck was nice but there just isn't enough space. The pool was way too small and it was green for most of the cruise (algae?) We jumped in to cool off once but it seemed like human soup. We didn't use the waterslide area but I know my kids would've loved it as they have in the past. Cabins - spacious, nice layout, clean but outdated looking. Our toilet seat was broken which I was surprised was left unaddressed. You couldn't miss it if you were cleaning a toilet each day. We finally asked on day 2 to have it fixed as it was pinching our bottoms. We went out for a few hours and came back to a new one. Our cabin stewart was in and out without detection. He kept our cabin nice and clean. My only complaint about our cabin was that I could hear the cabin beside us through the connecting door. I've never heard cabins around me before so I'm guessing the door isn't as sound proof as a wall would be. Also we could periodically hear a banging noise out our window which was annoying. It happened about 1-3x every 24 hours so it was bearable. We were in cabin R100. Drinks - great service on the pool decks. Reasonable prices. Nice selection. I love the fact that milk is included as I drink several little cartons a day on a cruise. The lemonade and iced tea are nice too. Ports - we did not purchase Carnival excursions as I always find we can do better on our own. In Key West we rented an electric car and toured all the sites on the island. In Cozumel we spent the day at Mr. Sanchos which was absolutely fabulous. Ship - the décor is a little outdated but improved since the last time I sailed this ship. The ship is looking tired in many places (carpet looks old and worn, statues are peeling, etc) but it's still beautiful. The layout is easy to navigate. As noted above I wish it had another pool area. Crowd - I know people say Carnival is a party ship, well we had a blast. I only saw one really inebriated woman but otherwise people let their hair down and had some fun but were respectable. I felt it was a really accepting crowd. No need to be self-conscious about body image, clothing, etc. We saw it all and everything was accepted. Very few upturned noses, just down to earth happy people. I hardly saw anyone being rude. Most people just seemed genuinely happy and friendly. It was a great mix of people and we met some cool people. Every single staff member we encountered was friendly and very helpful. They all work so hard.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
My boyfriend and I decided to go on this cruise to celebrate my college graduation. We had never done a cruise before, but we managed to get a very good price on an interior state room on a low level of the boat so we decided to give it a ... Read More
My boyfriend and I decided to go on this cruise to celebrate my college graduation. We had never done a cruise before, but we managed to get a very good price on an interior state room on a low level of the boat so we decided to give it a try. We flew in to the Miami Airport and stayed at the Comfort Suites North, which offered a free shuttle to the port. We arrived at the terminal at about 11am (our actual boarding time on our passes said 1-3pm) and check in was very quick (we had done already done most of the things online). When we got on to the boat, we went to our room to put our bags away before heading to the pool. The rooms were fine, nothing special. The only thing that was slightly annoying was that there was only one outlet. In the future, I would bring a power strip. Overall, it is very clear that the boat is old. I read somewhere that the ship was built in 1995, and you can tell that the decorations were cool during that time. The whole boat basically looks like a casino. After checking out the room, we went up on to the pool deck and jumped in the hot tub. The servers on the deck were very aggressive and were CONSTANTLY coming up to us asking if we wanted drinks, even when we had drinks in our hands. We literally had people coming up to us every 3 minutes to try to sell us alcohol, which got very annoying. After the first day we chose beach chairs on the upper most deck above the pool (deck 12) to avoid the servers. Right off of the pool deck, there is a large buffet area. Part of it is outside, and there is a larger buffet inside with a good amount of seating. We ate at the buffet for one or two meals and had late night snacks there, but we mostly ate in the dining room. The buffet food was pretty good, but they pretty much had the same thing every day so it got a little old. As I mentioned, we spent most of our meal times in the dining room. We did not have an assigned dining time, and we were on what Carnival calls the "your time" dining. Essentially, they have a separate dining room for "your time" guests, and you can show up any time with about a 4 hour window for dinner and they will seat you as soon as they can. We were a little worried that we would have to wait a long time to sit and eat, but we never had to wait at all. We only had two people in our party so that probably made it easier, but there always seemed to be a lot of open tables. The food in the dining room was AMAZING. We had escargot, lobster, steak, stuffed mushrooms, cheese plates, and everything was so good. We couldn't believe that people were waiting in the long buffet lines by the pool to eat chicken fingers and fries while the dining rooms with the gourmet food were half empty. The breakfasts and lunches were good as well. We had bagels and lox and eggs benedict as well as eggs to order and everything was great. As far as entertainment went, we didn't really see a lot of things on the schedule that interested us. We aren't really big gamblers so we didn't every go to the casino, and there were a lot of competitions inside during the day, but we didn't really want to spend time inside when it was so beautiful out. During the days there were different contests on the stage by the pool such as a "rubber chicken olympics" and bingo. There was also a "hairy chest competition" that we found rather inappropriate considering that there were children around. Essentially, the men in the competition gave some of the female passengers lap dances and were dancing on poles in the middle of the day on the pool deck while a bunch of little kids were sitting right there. Although some of the activities on the schedule were listed as 18+, this one was not but was definitely not appropriate for the 8 year olds by the pool to watch. In the evening, we went to karaoke one night and had a pretty good time, although there weren't a ton of people there. We really enjoyed the two comedians that were on the boat and we went to watch their shows on two separate nights. They offered family shows as well as 18+ shows and they were very funny. Perhaps due to the lack of activities, it seemed that the only thing on this boat to do was drink. People were VERY drunk all day and all night, especially after everybody got back on the boat from Mexico and our day at sea. On the second day of our cruise, they actually had to drain and scrub the whole pool because some drunk person puked in it. The pool was essentially a place for the drunk people to stand, so we felt kind of bad for the little kids trying to actually swim in there. I think that the intoxication level was pushed even further by the aggressive servers by the pool, who we later found out make an automatic 15% gratuity for each sale they make, and only make a base salary of ~$40 per month, which explains why they are so eager to make sales. We were very surprised because it essentially seemed like there were no rules, no limits, and no consequences for any behavior. Aside from the aggressive pool servers (who were friendly enough, but annoying), the quality of service really varied a lot. Our steward for our state room was super nice and helpful and our room was cleaned well twice a day which was great. The dining staff in the buffet area was sort of unpleasant and crabby. In the dining room, people were kind of quiet, not really friendly but not really rude or unfriendly either. Overall, the service was okay, but didn't really live up to the stories about exceptional service that I've heard from friends and family who have cruised before. The ports of call for our trip were Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. In Key West, we purchased a bar crawl excursion through Carnival. We had a really amazing time and our tour guide, Beau, was super knowledgeable about the area and the history of Key West and he was very friendly. The only part about the port that was unfortunate was that we were only there from 7:30am-1pm. We basically started drinking at 10am (we are college students so it wasn't a problem) and got back on the boat with our group and kept drinking when we were done. We actually got up early and got off the boat right away when we docked at 7:30 and explored the area while a lot of people slept in and didn't get off until about 9-10am, but we figured that we would spend all the time we could off the boat since we had such a short amount of time there. Although we enjoyed our excursion and thought it was a good deal (basically a walking tour with 5 specialty drinks included for $40), some of the friends we made on the boat were able to find some really good deals when they walked off the boat. They were able to go para sailing for $20 a person and were with people that booked through Carnival for $90 just by walking up to the business directly. I'm not sure if this is common or just because we cruised during off season, but it is definitely something to think about. The next day in Cozumel, we booked a snorkel excursion through Expedia. We arrived in Cozumel at 1:30pm and got back on the boat at 9:30pm. Getting off the boat in Cozumel was a real mess. We had to get off the boat right way at 1:30 to take a cab over to our 2pm excursion or we would have waited a half hour for all the craziness to die down. Everybody was itching to get off the boat and it was just really hectic. Crew members were being pretty rude and screaming at guests trying to get off the boat and it was not a very pleasant experience. We expected there to be a lot of people on our excursion but we were the only two. It was really nice because we basically got a private sail boat ride and snorkel lesson. At one point, a boat full of about 40 cruise ship guests pulled up near us for the snorkel excursion they booked through Carnival. There were so many people and it was completely crowded and nuts. A lot of people were screaming and freaking out because of the fish. I was very glad that we were on a different, smaller tour. The next day was our day at sea. As I mentioned earlier, there wasn't a lot to do besides drink on the boat. It got pretty crazy watching the drunk people. We got sick of the high drink prices and couldn't justify paying for drinks anymore by the time our day at sea rolled around, but there were a lot of drunk people by the pool all day and at the comedy club that night. Disembarkation went pretty smoothly for us. It started at about 8am on the last day of the trip. We got breakfast in the dining room one last time and we took our luggage with us up to the pool deck to wait to get off the boat. They let the guests get off in zones to keep the process smooth. Our flight didn't leave Miami until 4:30pm and we were in no hurry to get off the boat, so we just waited for all the other zones to get called before we got off and went through customs. Overall, this was a good first cruise. We learned a lot about what is important to us in a cruise and what to look for in the future. We would definitely recommend looking in to the types of activities that are offered on the boat and seeing if they interest you. We would also probably book on a ship with more pools/water slides. I think that we would probably also look for a ship that offers an unlimited drink card option because there were a lot of times that we would have enjoyed drinks but couldn't justify spending $9 for one. We also weren't particularly impressed with the service and would probably try another cruise line in the future. It was a good time and we had fun for not a lot of money (especially considering that if we had gone on a vacation to a resort we would have had to pay for our food), but it was definitely a learning experience for us. Although we did not have any kids with us in our group, I would really advise that anybody with kids think hard before bringing them on this boat. There are a lot of activities that are not kid friendly and there are basically 2 water slides and a very small kiddie pool for them to play in unless you sign them up for the "camp carnival" activities. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We live in Central Florida so we are able to drive to any of the Florida ports in 5 hours or less. This made it easy to decide to look for a reasonably priced short break from work viaa one of the multiple cruises available in the ports ... Read More
We live in Central Florida so we are able to drive to any of the Florida ports in 5 hours or less. This made it easy to decide to look for a reasonably priced short break from work viaa one of the multiple cruises available in the ports near us. We saw the price drop to a good rate for the cruise to Key West and Cozumel in the weeks following some of Carnival's problem cruises so we booked the cruise and quickly started planning shore trips. Many of our friends asked if we were sure about booking Carnival, but we just joked with them about taking big paddles with us. Both my daughters, their husbands, and my 16 month old grandson were going, and the itinerary seemed to suit us quite well--long enough to relax a bit and short enough for my grandson to tolerate without too much difficulty. On embarkation day, we drove to Miami. I'm not a big fan of the port at Miami, but it was better this time than when we were there a year ago. We chose to park at the port and pay the $20 per day fee. Last year we tried off site parking and waited over an hour for the shuttle when we got back. This time we decided it just wasn't worth the small savings because we would be dealing with a toddler during all that wait time. Embarkation went fairly smooth. We arrived at the port at about 11:30 and were on the Lido deck by 12:15. A couple of the security agents were rather difficult and not understanding about the extra time it takes to get a toddler and his cargo all the security checks. One was pretty pushy about making us separate and take the baby on upstairs as he was calling for his mom, who was still gathering his materials from the x ray machine. Surely a little understanding could be shown, but that's just the way some agents are. This was my first time on Carnival and I found the ship more difficult to navigate than the others lines I've been on. We found the Lido Deck and the mob at the buffet. The outdoors grill with hamburgers and hot dogs had a line that wrapped down the side of the ship. My SIL waited over 20 minutes for a burger. I decided the stations at the buffet would work for me as did everyone else in our party. I'm not terribly demanding about food, and I thought it tasted good. My DD reported that the sandwich from the Deli station was excellent. Our cabins were ready about 1:30 and they had unobstructed ocean views. They were larger than the cabin I had on both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian and everything was spotless. I unpacked my bags and stored them under the bed. I found the storage space more than adequate with one drawer and two shelves empty. The staff on the Imagination was very friendly. Our room steward called us by name in the hall and was responsive to any of my requests. I didn't realize Carnival didn't have hair dryers in cabins and asked if he could bring one. It appeared in less than 5 minutes. Everything was kept clean and fresh throughout the entire cruise and we had ice every day. I had to request it one day, but I preferred that to having the ice melt while I was out on an excursion. I had a new towel animal each evening and had no needs that were not met. The waiters in the Pride Dining Room were excellent--always polite, friendly, and responsive to our requests. Staff members we met in the halls smiled and said hello. We picked anytime dining, and we found navigating to the entrance of the Pride Dining Room frustrating. For some reason, we kept getting on the wrong elevator and having to backtrack to get to the right spot. I consider myself a bit directionally challenged, but my SIL is great with navigating, and he also found it a challenge. A minor issue really but still a bit frustrating. We ate breakfast in the buffet one morning and the food was fine; however, I prefer the dining room. It's just calmer and more peaceful to sit and enjoy coffee while someone else does the serving. On excursion days we did lunch in the buffet and found the food quite good. The mashed potatoes were especially good on the American station day. On sea days we did the dining room--again calmer and more relaxing. I never had any food that I did not enjoy. Some meals were better than others, but overall no one in our group had any complaints with the food. One night rainbow trout was my choice, and it was truly delicious. One note about dessert. So many people I know have raved about the chocolate melting cake, which I did not find that good. It wasn't bad but just did not live up to its reputation in my opinion. In Key West no one in our party booked excursions. One of my daughters and her husband walked off the ship and rented bikes. They had studied a map of Key West and knew where they wanted to go while we were there. The bikes were a perfect mode of transportation for them and they raved about the tour the took of the Hemingway House. The rest of us walked off and bought Conch train tickets from the kiosk. I was so glad we had not booked them through the cruise line. We saved a little money but the cruise ship excursion train was packed! Our train was not nearly has packed, and it is the exact same tour as the other except you have to walk to the station to get on the train. I believe the ship tour train came to the pier for pickup. The tour was quite enjoyable with lots of history and tidbits of information about the various architectural styles in town. In Cozumel, we again split for shore excursions. My daughter and her husband booked a tour of the ruins on the mainland. The rest of us stopped at the store at the pier and bought water. They told us on the ship that you are not supposed to take food or beverages off the ship. Water was a bargain at $1 per 32 ounce bottle. Then we got taxis at the pier and went to Chankanaab National Park for the afternoon. We negotiated a one way fare of $12 for the trip to the park which covered all five of us. Admission at the park was $21 per person. The park is beautiful with a small shallow beach area that was perfect for my grandson. There was also a swimming pool and a great area for snorkeling and swimming on down the side of the island. We took turns watching the baby and swimming in the beautiful clear waters. We also saw the sea lion show. There are multiple optional activities at the park, but we didn't really have time for any of them. Our taxi ride back to the ship was $11. This was an inexpensive shore excursion for us--Water, taxis, and park admission totaled less than $120 for all five of us. It could be much more expensive if you chose to do the various optional activities. One area that I found a bit lacking on the cruise was entertainment. The shows on the Imagination were OK but not up to the caliber of what we saw on either Royal Caribbean or Norwegian. Maybe some of Carnival's newer, bigger ships offer more, but these were OK but certainly not great. Back to Miami and the port. I don't know why but it's just harder to disembark here than at other ports. It's not a cruise line issue because it was even harder last time when we booked through Royal Caribbean. I prefer to sail from other ports, but that didn't keep this from being a good cruise. I would some this cruise by saying great staff, good food, and enjoyable. Some negatives with the port and entertainment but overall a nice time for all of us. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
This was my first cruise as an adult and I have to say I was underwhelmed by the boat itself. there were only 12 decks and I felt that the boat was very small with few options of night time entertainment. The main night time activity was ... Read More
This was my first cruise as an adult and I have to say I was underwhelmed by the boat itself. there were only 12 decks and I felt that the boat was very small with few options of night time entertainment. The main night time activity was a bar called illusions. This was a great place to hang out and dance but they tried to schedule different theme nights that just didn't happen. For example, on 80s night they got a great crowd that brought in some of the older members of the cruise and yet they never played a SINGLE 80s song. I enjoy the club music just as much as the next lady but I think they could have diversified the play list night to night to bring in different people and change the mood. Also, they could smoke in the bar which was awful for me and my friend since she is allergic to cig smoke and I lose my voice if I spend too much time around it. I know it sounds like I am complaining a lot but we spent every night there so it could not be that bad! The food on the boat was only so so. They did not really understand Italian food at all. The Pizza was like cardboard warmed up and the other Italian food from the dining room was overly salted and not very good. They had some healthy options which were ok but all in all nothing really special. Otherwise, we made some great friends and had a very memorable time. We were always able to find space away from the hoards of children and young families. The kids were managed very well, you barely noticed them on the boat if you didn't want to. All in all I would recommend this ship but with lessened expectations. They show it as a very large and glamorous place but it really felt more like a small boat from the 90s. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Our family of six sailed on the Carnival Imagination on February 18, 2013. We are 2 adults, 3 teenagers and one 10 year old. We had previously sailed on RCL Oasis of the Seas so you could definitely say we were going from one extreme to ... Read More
Our family of six sailed on the Carnival Imagination on February 18, 2013. We are 2 adults, 3 teenagers and one 10 year old. We had previously sailed on RCL Oasis of the Seas so you could definitely say we were going from one extreme to another, but in many ways, we enjoyed ourselves just as much. That being said, it would be totally unfair to compare these two ships, as they are in their own leagues. But when I think about a vacation and what we except for the cost that we paid, I was very pleased with Imagination. Embarkation went very smoothly. We arrived around 10:30am and we were on board by 11:30am. We were very pleased with our two cabins on the Riviera deck .... clean and plenty of room to store things in the closets. The Sail Away party was very fun and the crew really try to get everyone involved and having a great time. We ate dinner in the Spirit dining room all four nights and had an amazing waitstaff and didn't have long waits for food as others have mentioned, nor was it rushed. I found all the food was very good - some of it excellent. By the third night, we were worried that creme brulee wouldn't be a choice, as it is our daughter's favorite dessert. When we asked our waiter, he said that they don't normally serve it on the 4-day trips, but that they would place a special order. Sure enough, the next night our table had 6 delicious creme brulees! Our cabin steward was also top notch. Both he and our waiter knew all our names by the first day and often talked with us. The whole crew was fantastic. We planned our own shore excursions so I won't go into detail regarding Key West or Cozumel. I definitely wished we could have been at Key West longer, but it was a fun morning. The sea day was relaxing. My husband and I did the "Behind the Fun" tour and I highly recommend this! We got to see so many areas of the ship that are off-limits and I really appreciated what these folks do to keep the cruise comfortable, safe and enjoyable for the guests. I also recommend having breakfast in the dining room on the last morning. It was relaxed and a great place to wait until our disembarkation number was called .... so many people were sitting in uncomfortable places, all jammed together, by the casino, etc. Yuck! As a recap, I thought the food, cabins and crew were wonderful. Entertainment is lacking .... let's just say we watched a lot of karaoke!! The comedians were OK, as were the dancers, but that was the part of the cruise that couldn't even come close to holding comparison to Oasis. But, again, I felt we certainly got what we paid for in quality overall - actually, more! I will look forward to trying other Carnival ships in the future and my snobby opinion of Carnival being just a low-budget cruise line has changed. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We took our first cruise last week, from February 4-8 on the Carnival Imagination. It was myself, my fiancee and her 2 children (an 11 yr old girl, and 13 yr old boy). The ship stopped in Cozumel on Wednesday, Key West on Thursday and ... Read More
We took our first cruise last week, from February 4-8 on the Carnival Imagination. It was myself, my fiancee and her 2 children (an 11 yr old girl, and 13 yr old boy). The ship stopped in Cozumel on Wednesday, Key West on Thursday and back in Miami on Friday. We were both nervous about sea-sickness, but that was a complete non-issue. We splurged a little and got one of their grand suites (we wanted as much space in the room as possible and I insisted on having a balcony....which was a huge bonus in my eyes). The cains were kept incredibly clean by the staff, which must have been a helluva chore with as messy as her kids are! LOL. An impressive thing for all of us was that as soon as the first day, the housekeeping staff was calling us by name as we walked from our room to the different decks and back...they really know how to make you feel important. If traveling with kids, I would HIGHLY recommend a suite like this, as the size is most definitely a positive. The seas were so calm on the entire cruise, we slept each night with our balcony deck open to hear the ocean waves. It was incredible. With all the things to do on the ship, we didn't hit half the stuff we wanted to. The kids were a handful, and refused to give any of the kid-specific options a try, as well as hunting us down no matter where we went so we didn't get to do a whole lot on our own and of our own complete choosing. This was a family vacation though, so that is not a horrible thing at all...just wish we could have had a little more time to catch one of the many shows, or to spend a little more time together in the casino or the serenity adult retreat. It was definitely nice having the kids along to give me an "excuse" to give the water slides a try.....what a blast those were! I don't know if the 11 year old had anything other than iced cream the entire trip! LOL. We dined in teh Spirit Main Dining Room both of the first two nights and even got both of the kids to try escargot off the "didja" offering which was funny. The boy loves lobster, so on Elegant night we scarfed his down and was embarrassed to ask for more. I asked for him and they brought out another tail in no time flat and seemed more than happy to do so. The girl was up in the air between two deserts, so I told her to order both. Again, without a hitch, they brought both right out for her. While it took a while of waiting between servings, these were good dining experiences that we would have taken advantage of more if it were just adults, but kids were wanting to spend more time in the pool so we ate in the Horizon buffet the last two nights (which has plenty of good options as well). In the end, if you can't find anything you like to eat....you aren't looking! In Cozumel we booked a shore excursion through Carnival to swim with the dolphins. There were a few options, I think it was only about $30 more per person to actually get to swim and fully interact with the dolphins. THIS WAS WELL WORTH IT!! You are in the same area as those who chose to only get some of the interaction, and they don't get to swim out into the deeper part of the holding ponds and ride the dolphins, etc. Trust me folks, spend the extra money and do the actual swimming with dolphins part. We then hit the shops and I got to teach the girl how to haggle over price....hope that sticks with her! It was a wonderful day. The next day was Key West. I'm guessing it would have been much funner without children along. We had booked an excursion here to go on a catamaran and snorkeling tour, but the catamaran had issues that day and it was cancelled, so we were kind of left to our own devices. There are plenty of other options available, but nothing the kids could agree on, so we just kinda wandered around town all day. I think we were all still kind of worn out from the day before as well. Unless you are prepared to pay a ton for transportation, this can catch you off guard, be prpared to do a LOT of walking. We ended up going back to the ship fairly early and spent the later part of the afternoon and early evening swimming in the lido deck pool and munching away. It was still a good day, but with the cancellation of the excursion and no real backup plan, might have been better to just stay on the ship all day...but that is just a personal preference. All in all, it was an incredible experience. If you are taking kids on their first cruise, I'd say it is worth the time to really spend a lot of time talking with them about spending time in the kids-specific Camp Carnival and Circle C as well as the O2 places specifically, there were so many kids that looked to be having a blast. We just didn't spend enough time ahead of the cruise trying to get them willing to shed their shyness. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We love cruising. We've cruised on Carnival and Royal Carribean. So far, we like Carnival the most. I didn't like that we did not have enough time in each port. We sailed from Miami on Monday and got to Key West on Tuesday ... Read More
We love cruising. We've cruised on Carnival and Royal Carribean. So far, we like Carnival the most. I didn't like that we did not have enough time in each port. We sailed from Miami on Monday and got to Key West on Tuesday morning. We were there from 7:30am until 1:30pm. That was not enough time to get to do much. We took one of the City tours (jump on jump off), went to the Butterfly Conservatory, Southermost Point, did a little (very little) shopping, and headed back for the ship around 12:30 since we had to be back on the ship by 1pm. You had to be shuttled back and forth from the ship to Key west. The line for the shuttle was so long, about 2 1/2 blocks long, which I felt could have been done a little more efficiently. We arrived in Cozumel at 1:30 on Wednesday and was to leave at 10pm (had to be back on ship by 9:30pm). That seems like quite a bit of time but really wasn't when you consider the length of time it takes to do an excursion and then have enough time to do some shopping. If you want to shop away from the pier, you have to take a taxi which we decided to do after we went on a submarine excursion. Supposed to be a 2 hour excursion but most of that time was spent taking us to and from the submarine on a boat. We were probably in sub about an hour. The sub was nice, clean, and modern. We explored the reef which was pretty but couldn't see much as the water was not clear and there were not a lot of fish to look at. Kind of disappointing and not what I expected as we expected to see more fish.Thursday was a day at sea. Now here's my comments on the ship. The seats in the dining room (Spirit dining room) were dirty/stained. The menu seemed somewhat less fancy and with fewer selections than previous cruises. The wait staff (at our table at least) were not as friendly or helpful. The cabin was ok. We wanted to get a drink at the bar with a souvenir glass and was told we had to go to the pool bar to get one. We went there and was told we had to order off a certain menu in order to get the souvenir glass. They should make it so that you can order any drink and just pay a little extra for the glass. I think that's how it used to be years ago but not sure. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze, no problems there. Getting to the Port of Miami can be a little tricky but parking at the terminal was easy. Getting out, not so easy as there is construction. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Well this ship maybe old and small with no balcony cabins but still lots of charm. Embarkation at airport is a GREAT idea and a must do! Took bus to ship and arrived ~Noon. Wife was in wheelchair and being gold member helped alot to ... Read More
Well this ship maybe old and small with no balcony cabins but still lots of charm. Embarkation at airport is a GREAT idea and a must do! Took bus to ship and arrived ~Noon. Wife was in wheelchair and being gold member helped alot to streamline getting aboard. The ship was in good shape for her age and staff very friendly. The ship seemed much larger than I expected. This was a cheap short getaway for my wife after her bout with brain and lung cancer. Room was OK with large oceanview and close to elevators and easy to get to dining room. No welcome back party! Just 1 free drink in morning or afternoon and only redeemable in one small off the beaten track lounge! NO MORE NEXT CRUISE Certificates!! BAD IDEA Carnival!! This is a win/win what are you thinking?? Key West 7:30 AM to 1PM!! No one was awake on the island. Few stores opened till later and little to do except get a drink. Wasted port! Cozumel 1PM till 10PM again...what are you thinking?? Too late to do excersion...gets dark by 6pm.and LONG WALK off pier! No shuttles only pedcab...bicycle surry. At the end of pier do stop in at Three Emigos! Bat=rtender is amazing with drink tricks! We rented Jeep from Alamo for $65+ insurance=$90. and drove less then 15 miles total...not worth it! Drove to San Francisco beach...Dont go! Vendors wont leave you alone! Must ourchase $10 of food/drink each to use public beach! Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Here's a little background. This was my 5th Carnival cruise, and my ds-18's very first cruise. We were on a 4-day cruise from Miami to visit the ports of Key West and Cozumel. I booked this cruise as a pack and go special. ... Read More
Here's a little background. This was my 5th Carnival cruise, and my ds-18's very first cruise. We were on a 4-day cruise from Miami to visit the ports of Key West and Cozumel. I booked this cruise as a pack and go special. I think I booked it about 3-4 weeks out. I got a super bargain on an inside cabin that CCL was to choose for me. It turned out to be a great location for us. Our cruise departed on Monday, October 29. Pre Cruise We flew in the day before our cruise to MIA. By this time, Hurricane Sandy had already visited Miami and was getting close to wreaking havoc on the Northern Coastline. My prayers go out to all who are dealing with the destruction of Sandy. The weather was cool, I was glad I had brought my jacket. Our flight from DFW to MIA was uneventful. We stayed at the Holiday Inn near the airport using points. We did have to call twice for our shuttle at the airport to pick us up. But a nice apology was given and we moved on. The hotel was clean, and there was an IHOP next door that offered a discount by showing your room key. There also was a McDonalds along the way within walking distance and I noticed a Subway too. I had worked the night before so I was exhausted. After a quick lunch at IHOP, it was off to bed for me! We woke up very early the next morning and ds went downstairs to grab some breakfast. He brought me back a bagel. I am not sure of all the offerings for breakfast as I didn't go to the lobby, but there were several tables, coffee, juice etc I know for sure. It was free, so no complaints here. DS was satisfied. We purchased about 10 cans of cokes from the coke machine at the hotel for a buck each and loaded them in our carryon bag for the cruise. We signed up in advance with the hotel for a shuttle to the pier. It was $10 pp. At about 9:45 am the pier shuttle arrived, loaded us and a few others on to the van and off to our new home for the next few days. On a side note, there were two couples traveling with us in the van who were originally booked and boarded the Glory. They were onboard for about 4 hours they said, soaking in the hot tub and drinking, when they had to disembark the ship because the cruise was being cancelled. They said the Coast Guard closed the harbor and the ship could not sail. Smartly thinking, one of the dh's got on the phone, booked flights, contacted Carnival and got another cruise in its place at a great last minute price they said. I was happy their vacation was salvaged and not completely ruined by Sandy. Embarkation We arrived at the POM at about 10:15 am, and by 11:00, I was eating lunch on the Lido. At promptly 2:30, we went downstairs to check out our cabin and it was ready. It was a great location. I had booked a pack & go rate so CCL picked my cabin for me. About a week out, I noticed that my cabin had been assigned so I knew exactly where it was. We had an interior cabin on the Empress deck, # E188. The ship itself seemed to be in great shape. My cabin was clean and tidy but a few things were certainly worn out. Even though I had requested twin beds, we arrived to have King. I mentioned it to our steward and he kindly fixed it later that night-after showing me his documents stating "couple" meaning we were a couple and wanted a King. I on the other hand had documents showing 2 twin beds. We had a flat screen tv mounted on the wall, but our bedside table was coming apart-literally with pieces sticking out. I took photos of it, but I am not posting any photos online here at this time. Also, the light cover over the nightlight was busted, and partially missing. This cabin was also freezing the entire cruise. We did turn the switch to blow on low but it was still cold. If we were in the cabin, we were under the blankets on the bed lol. Also, our phone did not work properly as we tried to set up a wakeup call. Was it a bad cabin? No. Just a few things we noticed. Our room steward was nice and kept a tidy cabin. Something I did notice on this cruise that I have never noticed before is that every night we got a new towel animal, our old one disappeared. In the past, all of our animals stayed, and we could line them all up together and photograph them. Not this time. We were satisfied with our steward, and left tips in place no adjustments either way. Muster drill was late and sail away was late. I was glad they didn't sail away until after the muster was complete. We were scheduled to depart at 4pm but we did not leave until maybe around 4:30 or so. I'm not exact on the time however; I do know we were late. Our luggage arrived within an hour or so. All bags including rum runners made it safely onboard to our cabin. Rum Runners-5- CCL- 0 ? DINING My only complaint I think this cruise would have to be regarding dining. In my previous cruises, we have dined at assigned dinging times. We have had early and late seating in the past. Depending on if our youngest is with us determines our dining time choice. This time I requested late dining as I was traveling with my 18 year old son but we were waitlisted and we were assigned Your Time Dining instead. YTD was awful. Our first night, we expect it to be slow as everyone is adjusting to it. I know to expect this. Two dancing waiter shows later, we are still in the dining room. We were seated at a large round table with other guests in whom I enjoyed as I'm a social person. This time was no exception. Our tablemates were all friendly. However our wait staff was not. There was no greeting, no smile, barely an acknowledgement of our existence. Water glasses were filled around the table. I placed my hand over my glass before the robotic waiter could fill it with water and I requested iced tea instead. There was zero personality to our wait staff. This is my biggest complaint about the tipping structure that most cruise lines have. This waiter who didn't even speak to me received full tips from me and my son for the evening for doing little more than writing my order on a piece of paper along with the other people's order. He did little to deserve his tip. I don't care to debate it so don't bother. On another note...is it just me or did the food portions get smaller? Did the choices get smaller? I ordered the flat iron steak one night and I swear it was the smallest steak I have ever seen. Speaking of that steak, I had to send it back as blood was still running out of it-it certainly was not the way I ordered it. I had to flag down someone to send my waiter to me so I could as he did not come back to check on our meal after it was delivered. Once my steak was returned (actually a new steak) it was now cooked well done (not the way I ordered it either) and tough as shoe leather but I managed to eat some of it. Our overall experience in the dining room...a bust. I miss the assigned dining time and will be going back to that hopefully for all future cruises. I have never had a waiter walk away from me while I was in mid sentence trying to tell him what I wanted to order. Apparently he could read my mind. I must say even though we requested a different seating area and wait staff after the first night, it was only a slight improvement in service. At least I did manage to receive refills on my tea. Unfortunately I left all tips in place, no adjustments either way. Which by giving them full tips, it tells the wait staff that their service rendered was acceptable-and in my opinion it was not but I didn't want to mess with the hassle. Which I'm guessing is why it's the way it is. If you tell someone that they did a good job, they will believe it. Tipping for poor service is just that. I should have reduced tips but I didn't. The people at our large table agreed it was poor service as well. We ate in the dining room 3 nights. We ordered room service three times. Two of the three times they had our order completely wrong. Our breakfast on debarkation day was delivered just as we ordered it and on time. I do not know why it is so difficult to order a ham sandwich with no mayo. Entertainment We had fun. We did not do a lot of shows. Ds watched the marriage show, which I have seen in the past so I did not attend. He like it and thought it was funny. We both attended the late night adults only comedy show. We laughed and then it began getting raunchy and I was not comfortable sitting there with my son, so we both agreed to leave partially through the show. No complaints about it, but my son is 18, but still in high school so I chose not to hear the rest of it. Perhaps if my dh was there instead it would have been better for me. Willie our cruise director was great I thought. Thank God he was not on the PA system every 10 minutes! I have been cruising when I swear the CD just wants to hear his self talk. Thankfully Willie was only on the PA with important info. We participated in the Halloween costume contest, earning a spot on the stage. I was dressed as Flo from Progressive Insurance and my ds was Jake from State Farm Insurance. We had a lot of fun parading around and checking out everyone's costumes. We didn't win which was fine as there were a lot of fantastic costumes. We had fun and that was the goal. I tried my luck at the tower building game...a.k.a. Giant Jenga. It turns out I'm no good at it. I think I knocked it down every time but once lol. I received a pity medal for participation lol. I also tried my luck at Rock n Roll Trivia in which I scored myself a 24kt gold plastic ship on a stick. It turns out I know a lot about Rock n Roll...and the trivia isn't all about Rock n Roll (which I'm not sure why it's not called music trivia instead) I also tried my luck at another trivia game, where cheaters won. All I'm saying is it's pretty pathetic if you have to cheat to win. We visited the piano bar and the pianist was Marty. I have been to other piano bars where it's fun and hopping. This place was a snooze fest. Even a new friend I made onboard said that it was lame. So I'm not sure if we were too early (11pm) or what...but we ended up leaving there and went to the dance club. Great dj! He would judge the vibe of the crowd, and change the tunes as needed. We enjoyed our time here. Casino-well well. What can I say? I lost all my gambling funds. I was playing Hold em (I'm a pretty good player) lost two big hands to a guy who on his first hand hit runner runner for a straight flush. His second hand he again hit runner runner and hit a 4 of a kind to my full house. I'll lose to those hands any day of the week. I know I got my money in first with the best hand. That's the best you can do. He got lucky. That's poker my friends. I did not go back to the hold em table. Instead, I went to play black jack the next night. My second favorite casino game. Of course my bad luck would follow right. Dealer has a 5 showing, I'm dealt 8 8. Of course I split. Guess what, I get a 3. Double down right? Of course. Guess what on the second 8...a third 8. I split. I get a three and double down. All in all I had three or four 8's split, and doubled on every hand but one. And of course the dealer ends up pulling a 21 lol...lost it all but $5. And then I pulled out a $1 to play one more hand of black jack and lost that hand too. For those of you curious, yes, the electronic hold em table is there. Off and on there would be $2 black jack on the electronic bj table. Table mins on bj were $6. The highly addictive Vault game is there too. By the end of the cruise, about 5 prizes had been won. All in all the staff was fun and entertaining and involved as they should be. Ports Our first port was Key West. This was my first visit to Key West. Honestly in my opinion, 7:30 am is too early for this port. Sure the typical port stuff was open. But having to be back on board by 1:00 just does not give you enough time to really enjoy the port. DS and I had pre arranged online our parasailing with Fury water sports. If you order online you receive a discount. It was a great experience and wayyyyy cheaper than booking through the cruise line. If you want to parasail, this is the place to do it. Our crew was great. Due to the winds caused by Sandy, I was concerned that it may be cancelled but it was not. We were there on Tuesday and they said we were the first ones going out after Sandy. I was a bit nervous as it was really windy but that added to the thrill of it. Usually it is a slow relaxing ride. This time was a bit more exciting. We would not hesitate to book this again. There wasn't much for us to do here. An 18 yr. old cannot bar hop here. After our parasailing, we walked through a few of the shops and did a little shopping and just headed back to the ship. Our second port was Cozumel. This was also Halloween. We slept in, very late today after being up all night before. Once we finally got off the ship it was about 4 pm. It was fun to see everyone in port (the workers) dressed in their costumes. We did a little shopping, ate some lunch at Panchos backyard, ds had a XX and I did too. We did some more shopping and then we headed to Fat Tuesdays where ds decided he likes the mango margaritas lol. He also learned how stupid drunk people become-and loved watching "old drunk people dance on a pole". I also taught him about pier runners. But everyone was eager to get onboard for Halloween fun so no late night excitement for pier runners this time. I told him to search on you tube for reference lol. We were back on the ship by 7 pm. We skipped dinner in the MDR and got ready for Halloween. We ran to the buffet and got a little something to eat and then headed to the Promenade to see the parade of people in their costumes. There were some really great costumes. As I stated earlier, I was Flo and ds was Jake from State Farm. We had a lot of fun with these costumes and enjoyed participating. Some people were really creative in coming up with last minute costume ideas. I enjoyed this so much; I think I would like to book another Halloween cruise. The Ship I really liked this ship. I usually prefer the larger ships but for some reason I really "clicked" with this ship. I never had a problem finding a lounger in the Serenity area. The only negative I have to say about this area was there were never 2 hot tubs hot at the same time. Actually, there was never 1 hot tub hot...there would be one not heated at all, and then one barely heated, not even bath water warm. And it alternated as to which one would be "heated". I did love the serenity area, and spent quite a bit of my time here. There were not many children on the ship so no complaints about noise from the water area above. The only complaint regarding children I have is the horde of kids in the 3 cabins across from mine. There were several young children ages 6-11 I'm guessing and a toddler in a stroller. The stroller was parked outside all week long. No big deal for me, it helped me easily locate my cabin door. But they were loud. Every morning they (the adults) would meet outside the hallway about 6am and talk and laugh and cut up. I have no idea what they were saying as they were foreigners. It was not French and it was not Spanish. But I could hear every single word they spoke. It drove me crazy. I would just put the pillow over my head. I considered these people very rude as they allowed their children to run up and down the hallway early in the morning and squeal and laugh. Normally I don't mind kids so much, but have some common respect for other travelers at 6am. The buffet lines never seemed long for me. I think the longest line I waited in was for the Mexican Fiesta line. And yes, there were trays in the buffet lines and straws too by the drink station. I never spent time at the pool or the lido deck except to visit the grill once for a hamburger. The photo ops were everywhere. Some were really good. I ended up purchasing 6 8x10 photos. Debarkation this was the easiest I have ever experienced. However, this is also the first time I did self assist, and requested early off for an early flight. Let me just say this, DO NOT schedule a flight out of MIA before 11am. The ship was cleared at nearly 8:30 am we seriously were the first people in line going through customs, with our luggage in tow. We made it outside in record time. We were in line waiting for a cab. Two had left in front of us and there were none in sight. Seriously it was freaky. I don't know where they all were. A man from a "shuttle service" approached us. There was another man in line in front of us waiting on a cab who apparently had an early flight as well and he was freaking out a bit over the no cab situation. Anyways, there was a total of 4 of us struck up a deal with the van driver, providing he would leave right away-not wait for any other passengers and he offered it for $8 pp then he said $10 pp. We all agreed to it and he took us to his van. He tried to wait for more people but of course we put up a fight and he left and drove like a maniac to get us to the airport in a hurry. Seriously I felt like I was in Montego Bay as a passenger lol. Thanks to his crazy driving, we made it to the airport super fast. He received a nice tip from me and we headed in to the airport. We went and stood in line to check out luggage. Then we headed to the slowest security line ever. It's even worse than DFW and that's saying something! I asked the TSA agent standing at the entrance if she had any idea how long the line might be running and she told me 30 minutes. I thought to myself, no way! After 30 minutes, we had progressed through about 3 of the lines, she thankfully came and got us out of line and moved us up to a special line to go through. Finally we made it through and arrived at our gate just as they were boarding. Had this TSA agent not helped us out, we would have missed our flight. Our flight left out on time and we arrived home safe and sound. Afterthoughts Traveling during hurricane season is stressful, even when booking last minute. Rum Runners are still awesome! I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the Imagination. I tend to like the larger ships. I can hang with an 18 year old! Don't book early flights after your cruise. Warm chocolate melting cake is still the greatest thing onboard (except when they overcook it and it's just cake) I enjoyed meeting my CC friends. I really enjoyed the Halloween cruise. I think I'll book another! My thoughts and prayers go to all of you who were affected by Sandy in any way. I pray for a speedy recovery for all. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
I had a really nice time on this cruise. My staff at dinner was excellent, but I didn't see my stateroom steward at all the entire trip. Nevertheless, (s)he did a nice job keeping my room in good shape. The staff at the casino was ... Read More
I had a really nice time on this cruise. My staff at dinner was excellent, but I didn't see my stateroom steward at all the entire trip. Nevertheless, (s)he did a nice job keeping my room in good shape. The staff at the casino was also excellent, however, I didn't find that random employees I came across on the ship were particularly friendly. Most of them would stare straight ahead and not say hello as I passed them in the corridors. This is unusual based on prior cruises. The ship itself is aging, but still is a fun one. I enjoyed the water slides. One thing I would have liked was a pool in a more quiet area. The serenity deck (adults only) had two hot tubs, but no pool. The other pool area included extremely loud music, making it hard to relax and read. I didn't attend the comedy routines myself, but heard they were ridiculously funny. Food was good--certainly not excellent. Definitely eat in the dining room as much as you can. I found the food there to be far better than that served on the Lido deck. I have previously sailed on the Glory, Liberty, and the Triumph (listed in order from favorite to least favorite). I found the Imagination to be relatively old and with a staff and food that left some to be desired. However, this cruise was still awesome and a good value for the price I paid. I remain a loyal Carnival customer. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
As first time cruisers we really didn't know what to expect. Reviews were mixed on this ship, either you liked it or you didn't. We didn't hate it but the next cruise we take will not be on the Imagination. Getting to the ... Read More
As first time cruisers we really didn't know what to expect. Reviews were mixed on this ship, either you liked it or you didn't. We didn't hate it but the next cruise we take will not be on the Imagination. Getting to the Port of Miami and checking in was easy. Once aboard the ship, that was a different story. They want you to go right to the Lido deck for lunch which is great except you and 3000 other people are lugging their carry on bags through the buffet. Not such a smart idea. Once we were able to go to our staterooms, nothing shocking there, small and cramped. My mother and my 2 children had a stateroom next to me and my husband (not connected). Their room was never set up correctly, instead of the bunk bed in the wall like I was told, my son slept on a cot that was partially under the vanity table. The room was not set up until late the first day on the ship (I had to talk to 2 different people). The staff at Guest Services certainly were not most helpful. Our 1st dinner service took much longer than expected, we did not receive our menus until 6:30-we had the 6:00 seating. We finally finished around 7:45. They certainly were not enforcing any of the dress code that was posted everywhere even on elegant night. The food in the dining room was fantastic, no complaints there. Our waiters at dinner were awesome...they remembered the kids names and what they wanted for desserts because it never strayed from the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake...YUMMMMM. The pool is too small for that ship, my kids were able to go in for about 30 minutes the day the ship was in Cozumel because there was no one on board. We did the water slides, they enjoyed that. I just wish that all of the items in the water slide area worked, some items were broken. Skip the cruise director sounded like a fun guy, but we only ever saw him a couple times (heard him all of the time). The assistant cruise director was always visible. The comedians were absolutely hilarious....definitely worth watching. The food at the buffet was great (except for 'France' themed day.) The kids loved being able to have ice cream whenever they wanted. The full cruise day was fun, but for some reason there was no Waite staff on the lido deck at night like there was every other night. It also would have been nice if they would have done something on the last full day of cruising....but there was nothing... The ports were fantastic, just wish there was more time in Key West. There was only about 5 hours and did not leave enough time for an excursion and shopping. Cozumel was awesome, never made it from where the boat docked, the shops there were fairly priced. Wish we could have made it into the City but didn't want to chance not getting back to the ship in time. Both of my children were signed up for Camp Carnival and Circle C. The enjoyed going but they did not always stick to the schedule. My son was supposed to do Break Dancing lessons on the day at sea and they never had it. Disembarking was easy but it took forever because those traveling on the ship cannot follow simple directions. all in all...it was worth the price but I would definitely sail on a newer ship in the future. The Imagination is definitely showing its age. The palm trees in on the Lido deck were never lit up at night and that was disappointing. Key West was a blast, just wish we had more time to sight see and shop.Tons of shops with great prices. My daughter picked up 4 sundress for $20.00. We were also able to pick up the shirts that change color in the sun for $5.00 as opposed to the ones that are priced $25-$30 in Mexico or on the ship. Awesome port...Can't wait to go back....so we can see the city. It was nice the day we were there because we were the only ship docked. Not fighting through crowds. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We took the 4 day Carnival cruise to Key West and Cozumel on July 16, 2012. We chose Carnival, quite simply, because of the value. We have cruised with them twice, and with young children, we feel like this is the best bang for your ... Read More
We took the 4 day Carnival cruise to Key West and Cozumel on July 16, 2012. We chose Carnival, quite simply, because of the value. We have cruised with them twice, and with young children, we feel like this is the best bang for your buck. We have looked at other cruise lines (obviously Disney among others)and will probably take one in the future....but Carnival doesn't disappoint...if you have realistic expectations. I have read reviews from others bashing this cruise line, and they usually are experienced cruisers who have sailed with other cruise lines. Then, they compare and complain, but forget the old adage, "you get what you pay for". They want Disney or Royal Caribbean quality at Carnival prices. It's like going from Macy's to Walmart. There's nothing wrong with Walmart...but it ain't Macy's. If you understand you are taking what I call a "value cruise", you will be fine. Embarkation: We sailed from Miami this year and found it easier and much less hectic than Port Canaveral was last year. We arrived around 10:45 and had no wait in line, either at security or check in. We sat in the waiting area and were on the boat before noon. Having cruised the year before, we knew to go to the Lido deck for lunch...we were actually planning on skipping it, but with no lines, we decided to feed our kids before heading to the splash pool. The kids loved the miniwater slides and we had a few drinks as the ship sailed before heading to our room. Room: we went for an ocean view this time because there were limited balcony options...we had one last time. Didn't miss it much. The rooms are small, but I'm told they are on most lines. It was clean...and kept clean. Our room steward made a towel animal for each child each night and called us by name on our first day. Crew: Most smiled and greeted you. I've read that they are not overly friendly, but I think that has a lot to do with the language barrier. They seemed to be working all the time. the Camp Carnival staff are great. My wife and I are both teahcers and are skeptical of leaving our kids with others at times, but the staff is friendly and helpful. Our 5 year old loves camp carnival. The children are separated into appropriate age groups and I never saw less than two staff in the 2-5 year old room. Our 3 year old doesn't like to be away from us and only went for a half hour on the first day...but they knew his name and asked him daily if he would like to stay. When we would see the CC staff around the ship they would speak to our kids, calling them by name. Food: Is it four star cuisine? No. Are there more than enough options for you to find something you want to eat? God yes. Again, it's a value cruise. The food in the main dining room is good. Not spectacular or great, but good enough. You have several options each night ranging from healthy to comfort foods. None of the meals knocked me off of my chair, but I didn't find any to be awful. The Lido restaurant is almost always open and you can wait in line for the cafeteria style food (which we almost never did)or get things like deli sandwhiches (good) or pizza (ok..but available all day). We had fresh omlettes every day for breakfast. It's almost embarassing, because if you don't like what you put on your plate, you leave it and get something else. The drinks may seem pricey to some, but if you go out at all, you know that they are not that overpriced...by the way, you are on vacation..what do you expect, a $2 beer? We only saw one show...a comedy show in the family time slot at 8. A.J. Jamal, I believe was his name, was hilarious...would have loved to go back for the late show..but not an option with kids. The pool is small and crowded, but we knew that going in, and chose the ship because of the water works for the kids...never have gone near the pool on either cruise. This seems like an area that Carnival should upgrade, if possible,on a smaller ship like this one. The crowd ranges from young families to old families to young couples. I never saw groups 20 somethings or teenagers roaming drunk around the ship. I did see a drunk or two, but no more than you would expect at a ball game, concert or town festival where alcohol is served....some people just can't help themselves. Excurusions: they are what you make of them. 7:30 was a bit early to get to Key West and it was a short stay..we took a trolley tour and were able to get on and off when we wanted to. In Cozumel, did a beach day..which the kids loved and had time to shop after. Debarkation: had a full breakfast service in the Lido restaruant around 8:30, and waited to be called around 9:30... got bags, through customs, and directly onto our airport transfer (that we booked through Carnival this time..and I would recommend) Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
This was our second cruise with Carnival after we sailed on the Liberty April 2011 where the service was excellent, so we decided to sail Carnival again. It was a great vacation and we would definitely do it again. The food was a touch ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Carnival after we sailed on the Liberty April 2011 where the service was excellent, so we decided to sail Carnival again. It was a great vacation and we would definitely do it again. The food was a touch better on Imagination, service was just as excellent as on the Liberty. The shows were not nearly as good as on the Liberty but still decent. The comedian Steve was one of the funniest comedians every anywhere. I was also more impressed with Imagination due to them having the adult comedy show in the front lounge where they could accommodate everyone. On the Liberty they had it in the back lounge which is way to small and hundreds were turned away. Imagination excellent in the comedy dept. Only issues were, my parents room water temp was too high. My girlfriends air was too warm but they fixed it within the hour. And y safe twice locked me out and had to call for help. I understand Carnival cannot control how much people fiddle with things so its not their fault. They did resolve the issues to satisfaction. We had a great time, I wish it did a 4 say Eastern instead of a 3 day. If so I would be booking it right now. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We like the Carnival Imagination. We cruised from Miami to Key West then Cozumel, Mexico. The five night voyage was comfortable, the food was decent and the entertainment was very good. The ship is one of the older vessels in the fleet, is ... Read More
We like the Carnival Imagination. We cruised from Miami to Key West then Cozumel, Mexico. The five night voyage was comfortable, the food was decent and the entertainment was very good. The ship is one of the older vessels in the fleet, is compact and does not offer balconies but the accommodations were better than we "imagined", The bed was comfortable, the steward was attentive and the overall service was very good. The port of call for Key West was far too short; Carnival should consider extending the cruise to an overnight stay; it would all passengers - especially gay ones, the opportunity to experience more of this historic and pretty port. We reserved an oceanview stateroom since balconies do not appear to be an option on this smaller, older ship. The room seemed larger in scale than most, the bed linens were clean and contemporary, the bed was amply comfortable. There was plenty of storage space. The bath was clean, linen service was great and well stocked with toiletries. Our cabin steward was efficient, attentive and discreet. The overall decor of the Imagination was well thought out and fairly modern considering its age. The Imagination was updated a few years back, and it show mostly in its public washrooms with nice tiles and fittings. The washrooms were not as clean as we would like. Bars and nightclubs were sufficient for the size of this ship. The main dining rooms were well planned, nicely decorated and well-staffed. The food was very good in the main dining room and buffets. The buffets were well-stocked and the selection was fair... one could always find foodstuffs worth consuming and we appreciated that they were kept open fairly late. The pizza is excellent and the desserts in the cafe were awesome and so cheap! Where can you find a wonderful slice of chocolate torte, eclair or cheesecake for $2.25? We requested seating with other gay couples and were rewarded with a table that included: two married gay couples, a single gay male, two ladies traveling together as friends but who have gay brothers, and a trio from New Jersey who were fabulously gay friendly. Carnival gets full marks for that! We will definitely consider another future sail on Carnival Imagination. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
We sailed aboard the Carnival Imagination October 3-7 to Key West, Florida and Cozumel, Mexico. Overall, the cruise was fantastic. There was mostly good and some bad which I will try to address clearly in this review. Embarkation: The ... Read More
We sailed aboard the Carnival Imagination October 3-7 to Key West, Florida and Cozumel, Mexico. Overall, the cruise was fantastic. There was mostly good and some bad which I will try to address clearly in this review. Embarkation: The Port of Miami is beautiful and well run. We were on the ship in 20 minutes. Nothing to complain about. Food: The food on this cruise wasn't the best or the worst. There were definitely good dishes and some that weren't too great. I have seen better, but overall it was just fine. The buffet just doesn't work that well aboard this ship. It is extremely crowded and poorly lit. It is so dark and crowded which makes it an unpleasant experience. It really ruins your appetite fighting against hundreds of people acting like they are going to die for food. The formal dining was much better. We had no complaints with it. Just try to eat in the dining room when you can instead of the buffet. I must say: The 24 hour pizza in the buffet was fantastic. We appreciated that. Room Service: Our stateroom steward was kind and hardworking. He kept our room very nice and always greeted us when we saw him. The staterooms are very spacious and cozy. The turn down service always put a smile on our face at the end of the day. Spa: The gym/spa is very well kept and peaceful. The steam room could have used a little more heat and steam, but it was alright. The gym was great as well as the sauna. The locker rooms and showers were amazingly clean and spacious. Now, onto the spa treatments. I received a massage and was shocked that I paid $100.00 for a 50 minute "massage" which included only 10 minutes of actual "massage" and 40 minutes of wiping massage oils on me in a fancy manner. What a lame excuse for a massage. I was very displeased, but did not say anything. Pool/Water slides/Hot Tubs: There is only one pool on this ship and it becomes extremely crowded to the point where you can't really even swim. The hot tubs have the same problem. The waterworks water slide looks very cool and big, but it is not well built. It is not steep enough and you move very slowly. Some people even had to push themselves out. That defeats the purpose of a water slide. It is supposed to be fast and thrilling. I was disappointed. The best place for a hot tub is the serenity adults only hot tubs. They were usually not too packed. Public Areas of the Ship: This ship is incredibly well kept. They are constantly cleaning and picking up after all the slobs! I have never seen such prompt cleaning on any cruise. The ship is well circulated and just has a sense of cleanliness in it. The only problem with the public areas is what I have stated before. Just too crowded! I don't know what more the ship staff could really do, though. Entertainment: The two main shows were absolutely wonderful. So much energy and power! We loved them both and was shocked at the performance level and quality. Very fun and entertaining. My only complaint as far as the entertainment is the comedy. This cruise only had 2 family friendly comedy shows. The other 3 were R rated and I refuse to watch and laugh to that crap. The other cruises we have been on had loads of both types of comedy for different people's taste. More comedy would have been nice. Carnival cruises always have plenty of other entertainment options from Hairy Chests Contests to Guess that song trivia to full blown out shows. We had no problem finding ways to pass the time. Youth Programs: We did not participate in any of the three, so have nothing to say. Ship Decor: The ship has well built and decorated places as well as not so good places. Some of the poorly built and/or decorated areas were the buffet (small, crammed, and lighted dark by neon green lights) and the Aft show lounge (about 20% of the seats actually have decent views of the stage). Everything else was decent except some weird figures like shirtless pharaoh lady things with wings placed all over the ship.. just weird. On board Wi-Fi/Computer Center: This was a nightmare! Just impossible. Nobody the entire cruise could pull up anything without waiting at least 5 minutes per click. We honestly spent an hour getting to our email and opening one email. Just ridiculously slow to the point where it is just a joke. Something in the system needs to be changed otherwise they should just tear out the entire computer center because it does nothing but tick off the customers and makes them loose money. We got our money refunded that we spent. Shore Excursions: We booked a shore excursion called the "Big 3" for Key West which includes snorkeling, kayaking, and seeing dolphins. The night before we got to Key West they cancelled the shore trip because of bad weather rolling in. The next day it cleared up and was beautiful outside, but they couldn't change their minds because they had already issued automatic refunds and booked people with other shore trips. We were shocked! You don't make a choice to cancel a shore trip the night before! You wait until the moment to see how the weather turns out. We were very sad and disappointed about this. Not cool. On board Shopping: The shopping on board was great. There were actually a lot of great deals that you wouldn't expect on a cruise ship. We enjoyed shopping on board... possibly a little more than we should have :). Conclusion: Despite all my negative comments, this cruise was great. I have mainly stated the bad things, but there were plenty of good things as well which overall weighed out the negative aspects of the cruise. Basically the staff do everything they can. There are just some things they can't control such as the layout of the ship and too many people crowing it. The staff do the best they can and it overall turns out being just fine. Thank you Carnival Imagination crew and staff for the great, affordable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
THE GOOD NEWS: The value of a carnival cruise remains it's strongest selling point. The cabin was clean, the staff friendly and efficient. The food was ample and available at all times. The food in the main dining room was well ... Read More
THE GOOD NEWS: The value of a carnival cruise remains it's strongest selling point. The cabin was clean, the staff friendly and efficient. The food was ample and available at all times. The food in the main dining room was well prepared. The Carnival system for anytime dining seems to work, we had almost no wait time getting a table each night. The coffee was better than I remembered from prior cruises on Carnival. Ice cream machines were running at all times and no additional fee for the soft serve ice cream. Embarkation and disembarkation were very easy and quite fast. The entertainment was good. The shore excursions offered covered the best of the ports. We had no mechanical issues. THE BAD NEWS: The food quality seems to be reduced each time I sail with Carnival, although it was well prepared, the cuts of beef are limited and reduced. Flat Iron Steak is the only steak offered thought the cruise (New York Strip, Rib-eye and Tenderloin) are no longer on any Menu. Formal night menu offers thin Prime Rib or Lobster Tail. The deserts are more basic, but still good. Common areas are very crowded, the pools are small and there is standing room only most of the time as it is wall to wall with passengers. The basketball court has been removed. THE OVERALL: For the price, it meets expectations. Carnival does enough right that if you don't enjoy your cruise, it is likely your fault. Good well prepared food (Not Great or even very good), efficient staff, reasonably clean ship, good entertainment. Best for first time cruisers or those who want a low price cruise that covers all the basics. I will sail this cruise again, and I expect that I will enjoy it again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was our 1st cruise. We traveled without our children for our anniversary. We used the Amtrak Auto Train to travel down to Florida. Our cruise left Miami on Monday, July 11th and returned on Friday July 15th. Our cabin, U12, ... Read More
This was our 1st cruise. We traveled without our children for our anniversary. We used the Amtrak Auto Train to travel down to Florida. Our cruise left Miami on Monday, July 11th and returned on Friday July 15th. Our cabin, U12, had two portholes. It was bigger than I thought it would be. It had closet space, and a nice size bathroom with a shower. There was a strange odor in our area of the ship. It was not only in our room, but in the hallway as well. It was only on our end of the hall (about 6 rooms affected)and when I mentioned it to our room attendant she could not smell it. She sprayed some febreeze which didn't really help. We just lived with it. Our room attendant was very nice, but had a thick accent (from Europe). I had difficulty understanding her and had to ask her to repeat herself constantly. She did take care of cleaning and preparing our room each day which I was highly satisfied with. Just a note that most of the workers on the Imagination were foreign and difficult to understand. When I asked my waiter why so many were from other countries he said that they are the only ones willing to work the 70 hours a week. Interesting. My husband and I took advantage of both the sit down restaurant dining, as well as the self serve dining experience. I had seen shows on cruises and talked with others and I was expecting the food to be top-notch. I was disappointed. It was average, nothing fancy at all. The sit down restaurant's food was good except for the cheesecake which was horrible. The self service food was also average at best. The waiters in the sit down restauant were very nice and helpful and I enjoyed talking with them each day. I do think that the tables were so close together that it made it hard to have a private conversation with my husband. The self service areas were understaffed. Tables should be cleared in a timly manner and were not. There were long lines to get food and the bars were not cleaned in a timely manner also. We did not order room service, but noticed when others did and left their finsihed trays in the hallway the trays would sit all day without being picked up. This was a daily problem that can easily be corrected. In addition, there was supposedly a chocolate bar on the last day. If there was, we never saw it. We did look for it. There was one swimming pool that was way too small for 2,500 passengers and it did not have a lifeguard on duty. Because of the crowd in the small pool and the lack of lifeguard supervision, we felt it was too dangerous to use. There was a spa/gym also. We didn't utilize it but did take a tour and it was nice. There were activities, such as games and shows, but there were times that we had nothing to do because of a gap in the schedule. When that happened we stayed in the cabin and watched a movie. We did enjoy playing the games we went to and we also enjoyed the comedy show and the show on the Dynasty stage. The 2nd show was cancelled due to injuries and the crew came up with last minute activities. I think they should already have something in place when this happens. There was a lack of security on board. When guests were drunk and behaving inappropriately there was no one to take care of the problems. I was glad my own children were not there to witness some of the behaviors I saw, but I was sad for the children that were there. I saw a woman coming into the hall from her room naked exposing herself to people. And I saw people drunk, loud, and cussing in a vulgar manner. I really didn't think this was an appropriate cruise for children. One reason was because of the behaviors, but also because of the alcohol that is readily available. In addition, there is a store onboard where there is bottle and bottles of alcohol. Not setting a great example for children at all. And also when going to Cozumel we are forced to go through a long store which also has tons of alcohol for sale. This is not something I would like my children exposed to. We went on two excusions. One in the Keys and one in Cozumel. Both were great and I would do them again. The staff was vague on where we were to meet when we went and ended up in the wrong place, but thankfully still got where we needed to go. We took the behind the scenes tour and really enjoyed it. At the end of the tour we saw the captain and had our picture taken with him. Throughout the tour we spoke to many staff members who were very polite. I would do this tour again when we cruise on other ships. We were automatically charged the tips for service. I don't like that. I would rather tip on my own that way if someone did well I will reward them with more and someone who does poorly I will give them less. Instead we were charged $10 per day per guest for tipping. Getting on and off the ship was easier than I thought and that was the only time I saw good security. There were not enough working elevators for that many passengers. Laundry facilities on upper deck had 1 broken iron and two broken dryers. Lost money in the machines, but I was reimbursed without question. Not enough washers and dryers for the whole ship. The staff was great and vey friendly and helpful. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Cruising with me was my husband, two of my kids, ages 10 and 12, as well as my 18 year old BIL. We originally booked the Magic in Italy but had to bail on that plan when airfares doubled to what we had budgeted. Having booked the Fun Saver ... Read More
Cruising with me was my husband, two of my kids, ages 10 and 12, as well as my 18 year old BIL. We originally booked the Magic in Italy but had to bail on that plan when airfares doubled to what we had budgeted. Having booked the Fun Saver Rate, I didn't want to lose what was already paid. After looking at several options and budgeting what we had already paid on it, we were able to book a Grand Suite on the Imagination sailing June 13. I will say I was a bit put off by the sales pitch for the upgrade to the owner's suite- when I declined the offer to take it for an additional $1600, mentioning that was beyond the budget, his suggestion was for me to take out a personal loan to cover it! We've cruised RCCL and DCL several times and given various reviews I had read or heard, I was a little nervous- especially with a ship as old as the Imagination, dry docks or not. But we researched the ship alot before we booked it and I felt like we were in good shape. We flew to FLL for much less than Miami. Took SAS transportation from FLL to the Holiday Inn Port of Miami. SAS was efficient and we only shared our transfer with one other family. Took about 40 minutes from pick up to drop off. The Holiday Inn was okay- I paid $162 for a room that slept 5, two beds and a sofa bed. Our view was fantastic but the property is aging- however it was undergoing some rehab. I felt like the cafe was limited in options and too small- in the morning it was packed. Next day, we got to the Port about 10:20 am and found check in to be superb. We were met by porters and then at the doorway a Carnival rep who escorted us to a short security line- then directed us to a VIP lounge for check in. The lounge was comfortable and I loved the fact we checked in there. Honestly though, when we left the lounge to board the ship, it appeared things were moving well for most passengers. In other words, embarkation got an A plus! Our stateroom was well appointed, had tons of storage space and beds were very comfortable. Was not fond of the color scheme and the pole but those were minimal at that. The bathroom had a full tub and shower and the small walk in closet was really good with storage as well. The balcony was a bit oversized and all 5 of us could stand at the rail to enjoy the view with space in between. Our biggest issue with the room was no control of the a/c- at least as far as we could see- we could only control air flow. Several of us got very hot during the night. But overall, we were very pleased with the stateroom. I can't speak of the children's programs as our kids did not utilize them. Food was fairly good. I felt like the buffet food was fine- some things better than others, although the layout of it really stunk. Some things you ended up leaving the indoor area and going out to the Lido Deck to get- like burgers and Mongolian. We had things like Pot Roast and sides- very good. My daughter loved the panini's she got at the deli station. We dined in the Pride Dining Room on the Your Time plan- and we never waited more than 5 minutes for the table. Service the first night was slow, the other nights very good. Food overall was good- we all rated it a 7 out of 10. The desserts defintely a strength- that melting cake is everything it's cracked up to be and then some. The hostess was great- she knew us by Night 2-servers and assistant servers were pretty friendly. Never saw the maitre'd. Staff in general was very friendly and we loved our stateroom attendant- he was funny and always attentive- very clear he was going to work around our schedules and came by to check on us quite a bit. Impressive. My kids also made good friends with one of the atrium bartenders who would take care of their soda requests. They liked her so much we took a picture of them with her. Activities on board were fairly good- we enjoyed some trivia games and loved the deck parties. Great atmosphere- in those instances, yeah, it was a party ship but I felt like it was family friendly in most regards. My husband and I attended a Motown Showdown game and everyone in the Dream Bar had a blast. The entertainment staff did a nice job. Here's the one thing drastic change needs to be made in- the shows. Living in America was hokey and overdone, even if it was Vegas style. Dancers were often out of sync and the lead singers were not that great. We tried again with Shout! and that was somewhat of an improvement but still sort of corny and overdone. We hated both of them. Pool and Water Works were great fun- we never experienced big crowds at Water Works and mostly stayed there because the kids were happiest there. At peak times the pool was packed- people looked like sardines in there and then at other times it was fine. We never had problems with finding deck chairs- we went up to the upper deck if we couldn't find one by the pool. I treated myself to the Behind The Fun tour- and if you love cruising, you need to do it. We had a great tour guide, Majia from Poland and she was extremely knowledgeable. Had a great time seeing the galleys, laundry areas, storage, backstage entertainment and then a meeting and photo with the captain on the bridge. There are only 16 slots available and it filled up quick- so if it interests, I would inquire when you board. Definitely worth the $55. The layout was a bit difficult to navigate in the beginning- we didn't study the deck plans well enough before we got there and it took a day or two before we got our bearings. Some areas of the ship showed age- rust on metal fittings on balcony, windows not the cleanest but these are things that did not directly affect my enjoyment overall- just shows she's aging and needs a little more TLC. Generally, public areas were clean. Couple of times I got a brief whiff of that sewer smell in the stateroom hallways but it was very fleeting. Never had that problem in the room. Ports were Key West and Cozumel- we did the Aquarium and some shopping in KW, as there wasn't a whole lot of time there. In Cozumel, we spent the day at Chakanaab Park and greatly enjoyed it. (Did not do Dolphin thing though). Embarkation and Debarkation in both ports was quick and painless. We did leave Cozumel 40 minutes late thanks to people who either couldn't tell time or didn't care- and it was fun watching them return to the jeers of those watching from other balconies and upper decks. Overall, I would say we had a really nice time and it was a good cruise. We really had no idea what to expect and just went in knowing we were on a older ship and adjusted expectations accordingly. With all the info out there and research that can be done, I always laugh at people who get ticked off at things like aesthetics. Do the research! We would be open to cruising with Carnival again on a newer ship and if the price was competitive. We still prefer RCCL and DCL for sure but our experience this cruise has left Carnival as an option for the future. A nice time was had by all. :) Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
My wife and I sailed the Imagination for the first time on 6/13/11. This is our 5th fantasy class sailing and the Imagination is in fine shape after quite a few years of service.We didn't get to the port until about 12:15pm. (Bad news ... Read More
My wife and I sailed the Imagination for the first time on 6/13/11. This is our 5th fantasy class sailing and the Imagination is in fine shape after quite a few years of service.We didn't get to the port until about 12:15pm. (Bad news and we'll learn from it). Embarkation was fine, but as most people do, we headed up to the Lido for lunch only to find a mob like I have never seen. We usually are first to board, no lines, no waiting to eat. The lines were tremendous at 12:45pm when we hit the Lido. After a long and arduous process we finished lunch around 1:45pm to find the rooms available with no lines whatsoever at the Lido buffet station. Word to the wise....eat before noon or after 1:30pm. In the middle of that time frame...it sucks.Room was fine and our cabin steward did a fine job, though he was invisible. Literally...never saw him. Went to tip him out after the cruise and couldn't find him either. I leave daily tips so whoever was cleaning got something. Just weird that he never really was around.Pool area was good and oddly, chairs were available! Never any chair issues aft by the Water Works. Poolside Lido is always crowded and you'll never get around that.Shows are starting to get a bit boring to me, perhaps because it was my 7th Carnival cruise, but this cast of dancers appeared to be newer or less experienced. That left me with the comedy show which wasn't much better. One comedian was downright bad and the other was OK. Darnell was his first name and he was amusing. Problem was, they kept the same two comedians on the whole trip. never saw that before and I hope I don't ever again. Carnival always changes out acts at ports of call. Not this time.The casino is a place that we tend to frequent and we both had decent luck there. While we didn't "win" money, we had money left from our gambling budget at the end of the cruise. I have to say this is the most underutilized casino I have seen on a Carnival ship. Many empty spaces where slot machines could be. The casino crew did a good job.The Pride dining room was good, but I can't go better than that. First of all, the menu on Carnival ships have gone from fancy to more restaurant like. I have always felt like I was in a fancy restaurant in Carnival dining rooms and menu presentation is a part of the experience. The new menus have more of a chain restaurant look to them. The food itself was fine as always and the service was good, but nothing more than that. Best part of our cruise definately was the last day. We won the Cruise raffle and get to do it all over again! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
I was taking my daugter on a graduation cruise and thought that this 4 night trip on the Imagination would be perfect. I was wrong. At best I would describe our cruise as ok, but Carnival has really changed from the Fun Ships to the Not ... Read More
I was taking my daugter on a graduation cruise and thought that this 4 night trip on the Imagination would be perfect. I was wrong. At best I would describe our cruise as ok, but Carnival has really changed from the Fun Ships to the Not Much To Do Ships.Embarkment from Miami went pretty smooth, although I am not a fan of the self check in. It was crowded and not very organized as the machines are almost right on top of each other and 2500 people are trying to use them in a matter of a few hours.Cabin. We stayed in an interior upper/lower room and were very surprised at the size. It was spacious, had 2 big closets, and all the new bedding. My only complaint was only one outlet in the room, so bring along an outlet strip if you need to charge anything and plan to use a hairdryer (which also was NOT included in the room). We did not have a rerigerator, but our cabin steward kept our ice bucket full. We did not see our steward the entie time we were there, but the room was always clean.Key West was a very, very nice, quaint port that I would love to spend more time in. We did the customary things on foot and it was all within a good walking distance. We went to the Mel Fishers Museum which was also a little disappointing from an artifact standpoint. There was not much on exhibit, but a lot of information on his life and his discovery. There was a huge downpour while we were there which a local told us had not happened in 5 months. I know they needed it, but really? Could it not have waiting until we were back on board? Cozumel. We did not do an excursion here and opted to just stay at the port where there are lots of shops and a few bars. Lots of very drunk teenagers at Fat Tuesdays from the other Carnival ship, Elation, which was already in port when we got there at 1pm. Nothing special about this stop. Ok. Now for the ship. The ship itself is very, very nice. There are upgrades from all the tackiness, but the Atrium is still 8 floors of red and blue neon. Not too bad, but still dated. The lounges were nice, without all the wild carpet that makes you dizzy to look down. We saw one show which was a little cheezy and needed to be rehearsed a lot more before they get it right. The comics were hysterical, which has always been a plus for Carnival. The food in the dining room was excellent and the service was impeccable. Food came out fast, hot and delicious. The food on the Lido deck was standard. There were LONG lines ALL day at all 4 areas for food. I saw the same people in these lines all day long and I would swear that they had made a pact to eat as much food as it would take to pay for their cruise. The outside drink machines were out of order for the entire cruise, so it made the inside machines extremely crowded. pros...lots and lots of deck chairs all over the ship. Air conditioning on the ship worked great. Food was awesome, lots of opportunities for formal pictures even on the non formal night, and reasonably priced drinks. Oddly, the domestic US beers were more expensive than the imported ones.cons....long lines at the Lido buffets. They are still playing the same old poolside games after all these years (hairiest chest, bean bag toss, etc) with LLLLOOONNNGGG periods of nothing to do in between. Carnival has gotten really lame with the daily entertainment. There were a lot of kids in the 18+ shows and neither the parents or the staff asked them to leave. The pool is VERY< VERY small now that they have added the water slide area in the back of the ship. They removed the other pool to do it, and there were not that many kids taking advantage of it. I think this was a really poor decision on Carnival's part because it really takes away from the cooling off areas. The same for the Serenity area. It is a nice area with upgraded chairs for the 21 and over set, but it was loud and crowded on the sea day and again, no staff member to ask people to quiet down. All in all, my daughter and I had a nice time. Will I cruise on the Imagination again? Probably not. Will I give Carnival another chance, yes but on a bigger ship. Maybe I am just too old and less tolerant than I was on my first 4 cruises with them, but I want what I want now, and the Imagination did not leave me wanting to come back. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
I wasn't sure of what to expect on my first cruise. I was more excited about the ports of call than I was about the cruise itself. I don't know many people who DON'T like cruising, so I figured I'd enjoy myself even if ... Read More
I wasn't sure of what to expect on my first cruise. I was more excited about the ports of call than I was about the cruise itself. I don't know many people who DON'T like cruising, so I figured I'd enjoy myself even if I was just relaxing while on the ship. It rained our first day, so we were unfortunately stuck indoors for most of our departure. Carnival had some great activities to keep us occupied however. We enjoyed the trivia and informative cruise talks. Our itinerary got switched up so we had a day at sea the second day. Lots of activities as well. Went to the shopping talk - interesting stuff but clearly commission-based. Got a free margarita out of it though. Also went to the gemstone talk, learned a lot about diamonds which was very helpful! Dinner was fun, it was fun to see my mother's surprise when she was deciding between two entrees and the waiter brought out both for her! Everyone ordered double from then on. The rest of the evenings on the ship were OKAY. My siblings and I are younger so we didn't really want to go to the shows or bingo or gambling classes, which seemed to be the only things they offered after the first day. We usually ended up watching TV in our staterooms with room service - we were exhausted so it worked out, but it would have been nice to have had some twenty-something activities. The ship was smaller than I expected, but I think it was sort of nice. The pools were very small, almost the size of a backyard pool - NOT accommodating for 2,000 people! The deck area also seemed very cramped, but we soon discovered the top-most sun deck - empty because it was windy, but plenty of chairs and excellent sun to be found, quiet and we could see all of the activities below. The food was not the best, but I've been to college and I know how hard it is to give loads of people food that is not mass-produced (especially 24hrs a day). Dessert was by far the best - loved the mousses! - and the sit-down dinners were fine as well (small portions - order two if you are the hungry type!). Lunch was the same every day, hard to find healthy options that were not swimming in oil, cheese or fried-ness (I wonder how Vegans and Gluten allergies do on these cruises??). Every night ended with a trip to the bathroom, but I suppose you get what you pay for right? The crew was very friendly and I enjoyed talking to people from all around the world. Everyone was very helpful! Everyone had a smile, which I know can be hard to do when dealing with a lot of people. Can't complain about the service at all! All in all we had a very good experience and we definitely will be going on more cruises in the future! We learned some lessons that will hopefully make our next cruise even better :) Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
What is reasonable to expect for $50 a day? This is the question I keep asking myself. I believe Carnival gave me a fantastic cruise for the money I spent. However, I suspect that because I prefer higher grade food I will have to ... Read More
What is reasonable to expect for $50 a day? This is the question I keep asking myself. I believe Carnival gave me a fantastic cruise for the money I spent. However, I suspect that because I prefer higher grade food I will have to spend more money on cruises.... Most likely with a different cruise line. Packed everything into one small carry-on bag and a smallish backpack (where I put meds, my small purse, travel docs, and toiletries). Flew in two days prior to cruise from SNA (Orange County, CA) to MIA. My friend flew in from PDX (Portland, OR). Tip: Checking in at the airline's site and printing boarding passes at home makes for an easier time at the airport. My friend (who I met in kindergarten and have been friends with ever since) and I are both busy moms and came on this cruise to relax, get away from the stress in our lives, and reconnect. We arrived in MIA around midnight and found a cab easily. Bad cab ride from Miami airport. After we started driving the cabbie began sobbing loudly and saying he did not want to live anymore. Please understand that I am still in recovery about a dear friend who chose to end her life several months ago...I was "getting away" from all that for a while via this cruise. I referred him to the suicide hotline and told him how much my friend's suicide hurt everyone who loved her (Many who commit suicide incorrectly think they are doing their friends/family a favor.). He said his wife was leaving him...I tried encouraging him after exiting the cab at the hotel. This episode kept me awake most of the night (stirred up all the memories I was trying to put aside on this trip). Hope he made that call or sought out help in another way. Good news: I told my friend that I was going to wake up the next morning to a good vacation AND I DID. Intercontinental Hotel. $84 per night. Lovely room on 23rd floor. Wonderful and spacious bathroom area. Great partial bay view. Taxis were always ready and waiting to take us somewhere. Within walking distance to Bay Side Marketplace. Did not like the honor bar in room nor their policy of charging $20 per day if the items are cleared out to make room for customer's personal items (The in-room directory called this a "restocking fee"). Their $34 daily parking fee caused us not to rent a vehicle our first day in town. Laughed about how their French-labeled shampoo, conditioner, and lotion was actually manufactured in China. I would stay there again because the location was excellent. http://www.icmiamihotel.com http://www.baysidemarketplace.com Cab ride from hotel to port was uneventful....Thank God. J Embarkation was pretty efficient. Porter met us at the cab and was friendly and helpful. Tipped him $3 for two carry-on sized bags. I carried on an open 12 pack of Diet Coke (one was missing). It was placed open side up in a cloth tote bag (extra tote bag brought from home inside suitcase). They did give it a second look, but not much of one. Just peek at it a bit, saying they needed to be sure I did not have other types of cans in there. Used the kiosks to check in. Once we boarded the ship we headed up to the Lido for lunch since our room was not going to be ready until 1:30 PM. What chaos! Long lines for each station. It would be nice if they opened up extra buffet stations in alternative places for that very first lunch...Maybe another one on the pool deck. I assured my newbie friend that it would not always be like this. Our luggage arrived in our room shortly after we did. This was my first inside cabin, M133. I did miss having a window, but quickly got over it. There were so many other places to go on the ship. We relied on the ship's TV "bow cam" to let us know if we had arrived in port in the morning. Our cabin was spacious, with ample closet space. The beds were comfy. Because of the storage space in the bathroom on my prior cruise (Carnival Elation), I opted not to pack my door hanging mesh shoe holder. I missed it this cruise since Imagination's bathrooms have very little storage, so we stored most toiletry items in my cloth tote bag and hung it on the bathroom door (the same bag I used to carry the 12-pack on board with). Lesson learned: I will bring the door hanging mesh shoe holder on my Carnival Spirit cruise next month. We could hear some running down hallway noises at night, but it was not really bad. Disappointed with food overall. Dining room food under seasoned. No wow factor. Desserts also under whelmed. WCMC was overcooked and "flour-y" tasting. The best dessert of the cruise was the dulce de leche cheesecake served in the Lido at the very first lunch. From prior experience, my fave Carnival meal is the short ribs. Although fork tender, this time it did not have a lot of flavor. And the lasagna....They should not even call it lasagna. No layers at all. No ricotta at all. A bunch of seasoned meat and spinach in a bowl topped with a square of pasta and some cheese on top. Major disappointment. The French onion soup did not have a strong beef broth, which I found disappointing. My friend, however, really enjoyed it. The asparagus vichyssoise was not flavorful. I found myself having to add a lot of salt/pepper to items. I sent not a few plates back mostly uneaten, even saying I did not care for the dish, yet my waiter did not offer an alternative. The Lido chicken dishes were good. The hand-carved turkey and mac and cheese at the rotisserie station were also good. The broccoli cheese soup in the dining room was very good. (I should have ordered another bowl of that instead of that yucky lasagna...but I digress.) The prime rib on formal night was also good. My friend enjoyed her salmon, lobster, crab cakes, mahi-mahi, and shrimp dishes. One night I could not find anything interesting on the menu in the MDR, so I asked for a simple green salad and a chicken breast. My plan was to cut up the chicken and put it into the salad, which I explained to the waiter. The salad was brought as an appetizer (without chicken). The waiter asked if I needed a different dressing. I reminded him of my intent to make a chicken salad as my dinner entree. He then remembered and took the salad away for a bit. Then he brought it back with dinner, along with their standard grilled chicken dinner (complete with potatoes and cooked veggies). Because they are set up for set plates only, anything that differentiates from their standard service is hard for them. I understand that and appreciate their willingness to try to accommodate me. My dinner salad was tasty, BTW. We only had breakfast in the MDR once. While I liked being able to get a side of hollandaise sauce to eat with my omelet, the serving portions were quite small...and I could get the same stuff in the Lido in larger portions. For example: I asked for a side of hash browns with my omelet. I was given two half-dollar sized fried patties. My friend was given a very small scoop of corned beef hash. There are some items you can only get in the dining room, such as eggs benedict and eggs cooked to order. My ham and cheese omelet in the MDR had very little ham in it. At the Lido, I can pick real cheese from the cold food area and bring it to the omelet station and ask them to use it instead of the weird cheese they usually make omelets with. That worked well for me. My friend admits to being a coffee snob. She found the coffee in the Lido undrinkable. The dining room coffee better (but not great). She paid for a coffee at the Lido coffee bar and was also disappointed. Very loud Promenade at night. Pool area loud also. I prefer a quieter atmosphere, which also makes me wonder if Carnival is a good fit for me. Aft deck behind the Lido was the best quiet place. Spent many evenings there. The last two evenings a gentleman with an acoustic guitar (a passenger, I believe) played folk-style songs. This created a lovely atmosphere on my favorite area of the ship. Maitre'd did a good job arranging our table mates. We were all women on fun "girlfriend" cruises with our BFFs. Self-assisted debarkation was super easy. Learned something new: I asked the bartender at the Pool Bar if I could have an empty plastic beer bucket to use in my room. She was happy to provide one and even asked if I wanted it full of ice (Yay!). Our room steward, Derrick, kept it full for us in addition to our regular ice bucket. No hairdryer in room. Our room attendant was not available (first afternoon of cruise), so we called Guest Services. They had a full size hairdryer delivered to our room that afternoon. Our cabin steward did not service the room the evening of the first night, so no Fun Times for the next day, no chocolate, and no towel animal for us. Fortunately there are Fun Times available at the hostess desk at the Lido and also at Guest Services Counter. With the exception of not providing us with the Fun Times for the second day of the cruise, we thought our cabin steward did a great job and certainly earned his tip. Personable and non-intrusive. Having use of a laundry room is very convenient. My friend ironed her formal dress. I did a load of laundry. Having brought only one carry-on bag, this was necessary. I packed the Purex 3-n-1 laundry sheets, which are easy to travel with and work well. $3 wash, $3 dry. We got the necessary quarters from Guest Services. Took the Conch Train Tour in Key West. Also walked to Five Brothers for the best Cuban sandwich ever. Souveniors for kids from Key West: Shark tooth necklaces ($7 each), Kino Sandals (~$13 each). My friend bought a small bowl made from palm leaves from street vendor for $10. http://www.conchtourtrain.com http://5brothersgrocery.tripod.com http://www.kinosandalfactory.com Vendor in Cozumel offered shark tooth necklaces for $22 each. I laughed. He insisted they were from blue sharks and proceeded to hold a tooth above a cigarette lighter to try to prove it was not cheap plastic (I could already tell they were real shark's teeth). He lowered his price to $12. I told them they are cheaper in Key West. He dropped the price to $10, and I just walked away laughing. In general we found the pricing in the shops in the port area very high. Pancho's Backyard was as adventurous as we got in Cozumel. Nice place to dine outside for those not leaving the port area. The tamales were okay, but I have eaten much better in Los Angeles (especially my aunt's). My friend was not impressed with the guacamole (She has memories of excellent guacamole in Cabo San Lucas). But the atmosphere was just what we wanted (serene), which is why we were there. Someone played marimbas/xylophone while we dined on their "beach" . http://www.panchosbackyard.com Alamo Car Rental - booked online. Free shuttle from port to MIA rental location post cruise. They did ask us to show our reservation data to prove we were customers. Free upgrade from compact car to Dodge Charger (va-rooooom!). La Quinta Airport North. $53. Does offer free shuttle to and from MIA (no shuttle to port). Free breakfast. Free parking. Has an unheated pool. Laundry room. Simple room at a good price. We stayed there the night after we debarked because we were flying out the next morning. http://www.lq.com Everglade Airboat Tour in Miami - Highly recommend. We drove there ourselves and really enjoyed it. I rec you bring silicone ear plugs as the boat is LOUD. They handed out cotton balls, which really are not effective if you are sensitive to loud noise. $20 pp with coupon. http://www.coopertownairboats.com On the way back to the hotel from the Everglades we stumbled upon an Uruguayan restaurant on SW 8th Street called Don Davis. No one there could speak English, yet they tried really hard to communicate with us. Definitely not a tourist trap. Good food and service...even if some things got lost in translation between us (two Empanadas given when we just wanted to share one). We just smiled and went with the flow and had a good dining experience. Here is a partial menu: http://southflorida.menupages.com/restaurants/don-davis/menu The ground beef empanada was flavorful and deep fried, which made it crispy. And only $1.99 each. Great appetizer. I had the Chicken Breast in Garlic Parsley Sauce which was yummy and plentiful. Served with large planks of roasted potato (They offer mashed potatoes also). My friend had the Shrimp with Fettuccine and Cream Sauce, which she enjoyed. We shared an order of caramel crepes topped with crispy bronzed sugar for dessert. $46 for two. If the food is not better on my Carnival Spirit cruise next month, I will probably look into cruising with HAL again. When the kids are sailing with us, Carnival might still get our business just because of the kid friendly activities onboard. I do want to stay within the Carnival family of cruise lines because of how well they handled the situation involving Carnival Splendor. That really impressed me. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
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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