19 New Orleans to Caribbean - Western Carnival Sensation Cruise Reviews

We arrived a day early and spent the day walking the French Quarter. We ate lunch at Port O Call on Esplanade. This is a local bar just off Bourbon Street that serves great hamburgers and great drinks! On Saturday morning, we took a taxi ... Read More
We arrived a day early and spent the day walking the French Quarter. We ate lunch at Port O Call on Esplanade. This is a local bar just off Bourbon Street that serves great hamburgers and great drinks! On Saturday morning, we took a taxi from the Naval Support Activity Base on the West Bank. The round trip fare of $30 was better than parking at the Fulton Street Garage and allowed us to drop off and pick up directly at the pier. EMBARKATION: We arrived about 11:30 and the crowd was beginning to form. It took about 10 minutes to queue to the registration desk, get our gold Sign and Sail cards and complete the check in. From here we went to a waiting area and sat for about 20 minutes. From here we were sent through the x-ray machines and had our pictures made. Then had our S&S cards verified with pictures; and onto the ship. On the Empress deck, we were told to go to the Lido deck for lunch. We asked about dropping off our carry-on luggage in the cabin. With a bit of hesitation, the crew member said okay but that the cabin was not ready. We met our Steward, Rodrigo, in the hallway; who told us it was fine to leave our luggage in the cabin. From here we went to the Seaview Grill for lunch. The choices for lunch were great; buffet meats and vegetables, pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs. From here we went to the dining room to find our table for dinner. There was no one there, so we couldn't find the table. There are no numbers on the tables. We went back to the cabin to read the Caper for the day. Our luggage, in total, arrived by 3:30 p.m. After unpacking, it was time for the muster drill. This was fairly painless, as usual. After returning our life jackets, we went to the balcony on the Verandah deck to watch the ship leave port. We noticed two Coast Guard boats off the port side which subsequently escorted us several miles down the river. THE SHIP: We first sailed the Sensation in 1999. It was six years old then and actually showed only a little more age than on that cruise. In fact, for her age, she is holding up well. For those that have sailed the newer ships, with vast balconies and more public areas, the Sensation may be a bit of a let down. If we compare her to the Conquest or some of the RCCL ships, it would be unfair. The Sensation has few balconies and no alternative up-scale restaurants. However, for a shorter, less expensive cruise, she is fine. For a first time cruiser, it is an economical way to see if cruising is for you and a great way to check out a few of the ports. PORTS: This was our fifth trip to Costa Maya. The port is continually adding shops and vendors. The pool and sunning areas are quite nice and well kept. We took a taxi into Majahual. In the past we walked the trail along the water. This is now impossible due to a ten foot concrete wall that extends to the water. The rumor was that it keeps the locals from wandering into the port area. I suspect it also keeps the tourists from using the trail and having to use the taxis. On the ride to the village, it was unbelievable how much construction is underway around the port. There are more shopping areas being built as well as condos and homes. In the village, expansion is also booming. On our first visit, there were only a half dozen tourists and we enjoyed the modest fares available at one of the two restaurants in town. We sat on the beach and soaked in the solitude and peacefulness. There are now several restaurants, a few hotels, and MANY vendors. While it is still a friendly place, it is no longer the quiet little fishing village. In Cozumel, we spent the morning diving with Sand Dollar Sports. This was our forth dive with the company and I cannot say enough about them. They are prompt, friendly, and very helpful. They are very professional and very safety conscious. After the two dives, we ate lunch on the ship and went into town to do a little shopping, and have a strawberry margarita at Los Doroda de la Villa on the park square by the Handicraft Market. Great food, drinks, and service. ENTERTAINMENT: A real first. The cruise director, Greg Hutson, was the most personable CD I have had the pleasure to ever cruise with. None of the "Look at me, I'm your celebrity cruise director"! His jokes were fresh and his presentation candid; none of the canned stuff that is usually thrown out on all the cruises. The singers and dancers were quite good. The band in the Fantasia Lounge was excellent as was the pool band. The comedians were very good. The ventriloquist was hilarious. The magician was mediocre. PUBLIC AREAS: As stated previously, the ship is twelve years old, but still remains as well maintained as it can be. If one wants to find wear, it can be done; but I prefer to spend my time enjoying the cruise, the time away from the real world and just relaxing. Overall, the public areas look quite nice and continuously cleaned. CABINS: We were in an oceanview on the Empress deck. Again, a little wear, but nothing to get bent about. They do now sport down duvets on the bed which are nice and light. The air conditioning was a little lacking; but seemed to get better after we left port in New Orleans. A little tip: If the curtains are closed during the day, it will help keep the cabin cooler. We had no problems with the plumbing; however, I overheard one couple that had an overflow on the second day. I guess with two thousand passengers, it is inevitable that this will happen somewhere. Once I noticed the infamous "sewer "smell on one of the hallways. Traversing the same area a few hours later, it was gone. FOOD: All in all, it was quite good. Nothing especially great but nothing bad. Except my wife got a lobster that was definitely BAD. I told the waiter, who immediately replaced it! The food in the Seaview Grill was fine and a decent choice of meats and vegetables. The hamburgers are better than on any other line I have tasted. The pizzas and calzones are also the best offered. SERVICE: Our cabin steward was very personable and efficient. Any request we made was taken care of in a very expeditious manner. He said that he preferred the Sensation to the larger, new ships because he had more time to tend to the details without the additional area of balconies to clean. The staff in the Ecstasy dining room was great. Our waiter, Mario, and his assistant, Istvan, were excellent. Their recommendations for dinner choices were right on. Among our table, we tried most of the items on the menu; usually, finding that Mario's suggestions were the best choice. All the crew and staff seem to go above and beyond to please. I think that they realize the ship is older; so they want the passengers to remember the service; not the few wears and tears that are there. DEBARKATION: We dressed and went up to the Seaview Grill for a final breakfast. The food and service were as good as during the cruise. No one seemed at all hurried to have us leave. We contemplated trying to stowaway but realized that would not work, so we went back to our cabin to retrieve our carry-ons for the wait to disembark. The new service is Self Assist. If you have nothing but luggage you can carry off yourself, you can leave the ship first. After that they let everyone off at the same time. We sat in the Polo Lounge for about 45 minutes and watched the LONG line get off. We then debarked, found our luggage in the marked area, called a porter, loaded our luggage and waited for a cab. We were off the ship and in a cab by 10:00. The end to a very nice, but short, cruise! SUMMARY: The Sensation is a nice value for one wanting to take a shorter cruise or to "try out the waters" of cruising. If one wants an elegant ship with a balcony and a lot of variety of public rooms; this is not the ship. However, on the Sensation, you get what you pay for, plus a crew that delivers quality service with a smile. Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
My family and I just returned from our 5 day cruise on the Sensation that went to Costa Maya and Cozumel. It was our 5th cruise and our boys (11 and 13) first. The embarkation went very quickly at the New Orleans Port. The parking deck ... Read More
My family and I just returned from our 5 day cruise on the Sensation that went to Costa Maya and Cozumel. It was our 5th cruise and our boys (11 and 13) first. The embarkation went very quickly at the New Orleans Port. The parking deck at the pier is under construction so you have to park off site. We parked at the lot at Tchoupitoulas (don't ask me how to pronounce that one!)We had an oversizes SUV so we couldn't park at Fulton Street Garage. It was $70 for 5 days which I thought was a bit high since it was just an outside fenced lot, but they did shuttle you over to the port. Once at the port you were met by a man who would make sure your bags got to your room. The checking in process went quickly and with in 20 minutes we were on the ship. The ship was very nice considering it's age (1993). They have maintained it quite well. Very colorful. There was always someone cleaning somewhere on the ship. Our rooms weren't ready until 1:30 and we had gotten on the ship about 12:30 so we went to the Seaview Grill to eat lunch. There were many food choices and it was pretty good. Keep in mind that I am not a real picky eater and as long as I don't have to cook it or clean it up, I am happy!! Comparing to other cruises that we have been on, the food was just as good. Our rooms were on the Riviera deck (the lowest) R138 and R142 side by side. The rooms were bigger I think than on the Royal Caribbean ships we have been on or at least they seemed to be. The bathrooms were for sure. You could actually turn around in this shower and there seemed to be more storage and counter space. We were in R138 and considering that I am a light sleeper there was only one problem. There must have been a squeaky door right below us on the crew deck that seemed to be in constant motion especially from 5 a.m. on. Our next cruise we will be sure to book a room at least 2 floors up from the crew decks. It managed to wake us up quite a bit. We checked out the teen and preteen area of the ship. The first night they had a few activities for the 9 to 11 year old group that included the parents. My husband wasn't so thrilled about that but I think that it is easier on the kids to get to know the other kids and counselors with the parents around. They played some fun dance games, balloon pass and dance freeze games. We ended up having a real good time. Our 11 year old also signed up for the one night (Cozumel day) 10 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. party. It cost an extra $26 but he had a great time and he actually stayed awake until 3:30!! He didn't do as much as I thought he would do other than a few more games on a couple of the other days. Both my boys said that the PS2 games that they had were lame. I said I am sure that they have to watch the content of the games that they bring in. Our other son who is 13 really didn't do much with his group. He played capture the flag the first night and that was about it. I tried to talk him into the dance party but (being 13) wasn't about to go dance in front of anybody!! He managed to keep himself entertained wondering around the ship. He knew the layout like the back of his hand the first night. I do think they could improve in this area for things for this age group to do. It didn't help that we went late in the year when a lot of schools have started so there weren't as many kids on board. He also is kind of on the shy side until he gets to know people so it kind of depends on what your child's personality is like. Our first stop in Costa Maya was on Monday. The ship was an hour late getting there they said because of the currents. They have a real nice port but we hit that on the way back. We got a $12 cab ride one way for 4 to Tequila Beach. We walked up and the sign said "$30 USD per person for all the food and drinks". My husband asked if we could just pay $15 each for the boys and the man asked someone else and he said that was fine. So for $90 for the 4 of us we ate and drank till our hearts content. The food was EXCELLENT!! Our boys snorkeled all day and loved it. Our 13 year old got his first glimpse of a topless sunbather and also loved that :) Cozumel was the next day and our favorite day. We did the snuba diving excursion which we loved. I was worried how my boys would do and they took to it like fish!! Our tour guide was very informative and helpful. I do think that they could have taken you to a more colorful reef area but it was o.k. We then caught another cab to Paradise Beach. They didn't have a eat and drink special so it ended up costing a little more but the food and drinks were once again fabulous. For $8 per person you can do the iceberg, trampoline, kayaking, water mats and snorkel equipment. You have to put up $20 refundable deposit for the snorkel stuff. They really cater to you with the drinks and food. I met Paradise Beach Tom only because our son was trying to confiscate shells he was snorkeling for. Tom informed us that it was a Marine Park and it all had to stay in the water. No big deal. He was very nice about it. The boys snorkeled all day and played on the iceberg. We had a great time here!! The only things that I think that could improve a little on the ship was the shows and the teen programs. Our table mates had 15 year old and 17 year old daughters and they too said that there wasn't much for them to do. The Las Vegas shows were just so so. It really isn't my thing anyway but compared to other cruise ship shows, these lacked a little something. The comedian, magician (although a little hyper) and ventriloquist were great though!! Our waiters were wonderful and it seemed everyone on the ship was very pleasant and helpful. Our boys had an excellent time and wanted to stay a few more days. It is always sad when a vacation is over. Back to reality until our next cruise!!! Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions suebie65@insightbb.com Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
My boyfriend and I drove down from Cincinnati to New Orleans on Saturday the 6th of August which was about a 12 hour drive. We are both 23 years old, and this was our first real vacation together so we were both pretty excited. It was our ... Read More
My boyfriend and I drove down from Cincinnati to New Orleans on Saturday the 6th of August which was about a 12 hour drive. We are both 23 years old, and this was our first real vacation together so we were both pretty excited. It was our first trip down to New Orleans so we spent the weekend in New Orleans checking out Bourbon Street,of course. Actually, we spent both nights at Pat O'Briens, which was extremely fun. Word of warning, refrain from getting too intoxicated the night before embarkation. We had a little bit too much fun on Sunday night, and had a heck of a time on Monday when it came time to get on the ship. Embarkation: (Monday) -- This was not the most fun day for us. Like I said, the hurricanes were flowing the night before so we were not feeling our best. The first little mishap was trying to find the cruise ship parking. We drove around in a circle for about half an hour trying to find the parking garage. We actually realized that we had been circling it the entire time. We talked to our dining mates about this, and they all had a hard time finding it as well. The ramp where you are supposed to enter the parking garage is kind of hidden so it makes it a little difficult to find. Once we had parked our car, we boarded our shuttle and headed over to the Sensation. By this time, we were both pretty hot, tired, and hung over and ready to get on the ship. It took no time to check in at all, and we were on our way to the ship. They make you pose for pictures at this point, and everyone was pretty jovial about it, except of course for us. We tried really hard to force smiles on our faces, but like I said, we were ready to relax on the ship and recover from the night before. Carnival did a great job of getting our luggage and checking us in. If it hadn't been for Bourbon Street we both would have been a lot more excited.;) On the day of embarkation the cruise ship makes you go through the muster drill. I didn't think that this was a big deal at all. It really didn't take all that long, and I realize that it is for the safety of the ship so it didn't bother me. This was our first cruise though, and I could see how if you cruised a lot it could get old. But suck it up and do it, its only a few minutes of the many that you will have on the ship. After the muster drill, we went back down to our cabin and got ready for dinner. We were in cabin U1, which is the very front of the ship, and we were seated at the first dinner seating at 5:45. At first, I wasn't sure if I was going to like eating so early, but after the first night of dinner, I was happy that we ate early because it gave us more of an opportunity to plan our evening. The cabin was much bigger than I expected, and the bed was the most comfortable thing that I have ever slept in. Every time we laid down in the bed we fell asleep. It was great! Our room had two portholes, which was kind of nice because even though we didn't have the best view, we could still look out and see the ocean and get some natural light in our cabin. So anyway, after we got ready we headed down to dinner. Now we had never been on a cruise ship before and we didn't have any idea what to expect other than what we read on cruise critic. I have to admit I was a little worried about who we would be seated with for dinner. When we were seated, I was pleasantly surprised to find we were seated with four other couples around our age. The only really funny thing about it was that all the other couples had just been married on the Saturday before our trip, which was on a Monday, and they all happened to be younger than the both of us. So we were teased a little about that, but it was a very pleasant dining experience. Tuesday: We basically spent this day up on the Lido deck laying out in the sun, and checking out the rest of the ship. We also spent some time in the casino. My boyfriend and I have come to the conclusion that I am the most unlucky person of all time, and I vowed to never step foot in another casino for the rest of my life. Needless to say, we lost a little money in the casino, but we expected to and we had a fun time doing it. We also tried our first drink special this day, and neither one of us finished it. Unless you are really on a budget, or really like sugar I would advise you to pass on these drinks, but that is just from my standpoint. I actually like girly drinks and I couldn't handle this. We never had another one all week, so I don't know if it was just a bad batch. I guess you will have to try for yourself, but I couldn't stand it. We went to the show this night, I think it was a comedian, and we enjoyed ourselves. My advice would be to definitely check out the shows, they are usually pretty fun and entertaining. This night was formal night, and it was a lot of fun to get dressed up and go to dinner. Definitely go to the captain's pre-dinner party. You get free drinks, and it is a lot of fun to see everyone dressed up and looking so nice. We both really enjoyed this night. Day 3: Calica, Mexico(Wednesday) My boyfriend and I had read that if you try to get off ship right when you get into port you would have to wait in long lines, so we waited about an hour before we disembarked the ship in port. We also didn't plan any excursions through the cruise ship on this cruise, and we were both pretty happy about that. When we got off the cruise ship in Calica we shared a cab with another couple, and headed over to Playa del Carmen. The taxi ended up only costing 5 bucks since we split it, so I recommend asking people in line if they are headed in the same direction as you are and split the cab with them. Playa del Carmen was beautiful! The water was the most amazing blue. We spent the first part of our day in the water, and enjoying the beach. Then we headed down the street to check out the shops. They had some really cool shops, and my boyfriend ended up buying some Cubans, of course. The people hound you while you are walking, but its Mexico so you have to expect that. I found that if you just don't make eye contact they won't bother you as much. After we took our little walk, we headed over to Senor Frogs. This was so much fun. They really go out of their way to make you have a good time. So definitely go if you get the chance. We ended up having a few margarita's and some shots so once we got back onto the ship we both took a nap and ended up sleeping through dinner so we ate up on the lido deck, which I kind of liked for a change. Don't get me wrong, I liked eating in the dining room, but there are some days you just feel like grabbing your own meal, and this was one of those days for us. Day 4: Cozumel, Mexico(Thursday) This was my favorite day of the cruise. We got of the ship about an hour after we were in port, and headed down the pier. It actually rained for about a half an hour, but that was the only bad weather we had the entire trip, so we couldn't really complain about that. While it was raining we just checked out the shops that are around the pier in Cozumel. Once it stopped raining we headed over to the taxis and went to Chankanaab Park. This was awesome!!! It was 12 bucks to get into this beautiful national park where you can do pretty much anything you want having to do with nature. They have a dolphin interaction program, sea lions, birds, and snorkeling that we thought was awesome. We paid eight bucks for our gear and got to snorkel all day long. We saw some really cool fish, a lobster, tons of coral. It was great, I loved it. I would definitely recommend going here if you have never been to Cozumel before. You will love it! After we got our snorkeling fill we headed back to the pier and hung out at Fat Tuesday's for awhile. This place was a lot more low key than Senor Frog's was, but we just enjoyed sitting at the table and looking out at the water. On our way back to the ship we bought three bottles of liquor for 27 dollars so we were pretty psyched about that. Day 5 (Friday): The final day at sea was pretty much like the first day at sea. They have a lot of stuff going on to keep you busy. So we checked some of that stuff out. At the final show, I was actually pulled up on the stage to dance with the dancers which was humiliating, but I am pretty sure my boyfriend loved it. All in all it was an awesome trip. Disembarkation: We opted to keep our luggage over night and carry it off ourselves the next day. Let's just say the "fun" stops here. It is like every man for themselves trying to get off the ship. It took about a half an hour to get off, but it really wasn't all that bad. We wanted to get off the ship as soon as we could and get going on our twelve our drive so that is why we opted to carry our own luggage off, but if you really have no reason to be off the ship early, I would advise to just let them take care of your luggage and have a nice breakfast before you get off the ship. Just some extra information: The workout room is pretty nice. There are three elliptical machines, bikes and stair-steppers, and about five or six treadmills, so I thought it was pretty nice for a cruise ship. It's pretty hot up there, so you might want to bring your own water bottle. Some people think that the decor in the ship is tacky, but I didn't find it annoying at all. It is just colorful, and there is a lot of purple. I thought it made the experience even more fun. Everything is kept really clean. I felt sorry for the guys who had to clean the handrails for the steps because it seems like such a thankless job, and I saw someone doing it at some point of the day every day. Our room steward did an excellent job of keeping our room clean, and he was super friendly. The mints were excellent.:) Overall: Our first cruise was so much fun. We had an excellent time on the ship, and we can't wait to cruise again. Carnival does a great job to go out of their way to make your trip as fun and memorable as they can, so relax, and enjoy your trip! We have pictures of our trip that I will be posting a little later so you can see all of our adventures in Mexico and on the ship! Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
Wednesday - Pre-cruise hotel was the Hilton Garden Inn Conv. Ctr. Worked great for us. Just across from the Fulton Garage. The Valet even drove us to the pier. Some had said they thought the location was a bit worrisome... This is only my ... Read More
Wednesday - Pre-cruise hotel was the Hilton Garden Inn Conv. Ctr. Worked great for us. Just across from the Fulton Garage. The Valet even drove us to the pier. Some had said they thought the location was a bit worrisome... This is only my second trip to N.O. but in my opinion, anywhere near the pier or the F.Q. if you go 2 blocks in any direction you will find a not so nice area. This was just fine. They had a cruise parking deal: valet parking for $8 a day. The valet even took us to the pier on Embarkation day. Too cool! EMBARKATION - Arrived at the pier at 11:25. Porter took our bags and we went into the terminal. The area is really a mess right now with all the construction but it did not seem to have an effect on the whole process. We are Carnival Vacation Club members so we headed for the Skippers Club. The regular lines were healthy but not too bad. The main room of yellow chairs was already full by this time. The Skippers Club was great. Too easy and we were on our way to the ship at @11:45am. For those that cruise out of N.O. the Chair GUY(can't use that other word on this board) has been assigned to the A-Pass photo machine. When we walked onto the ship Empress deck there was beautiful string music playing in the Atrium and we headed down to our cabin. We(Me, DW, DS-4) had an inside cabin on the main deck M68 and my wife's parents had an outside Main deck M32. We used our vacation club points and gave them the outside cabin(aren't we nice!! LOL). Carnival did not hand out the usual flyer about the rooms not being ready so we assumed they were. Wrong. But the stewards were inviting all to put luggage in the cabins and go have some lunch. If this is a new policy I love it. I hated carrying my luggage to the Lido deck. We were one of the first to arrive at the Seaview Bistro. Nice enough, purple booths and weird metal, spiral chairs. FLOORS ARE EXTREMELY SLIPPERY, EVEN WHEN DRY! I had a cheeseburger - YUMMY and headed for the large display of deserts. Plenty of choices. Some of the best desserts of the cruise. We looked through the info we were handed about the schedule for the day, finished our lunch and went to the Camp Carnival to look around. The rooms are much smaller than on the Conquest, but for our 4 yr old that did not matter, he was thrilled. We then went to our Cabin and checked it out. The bulk of the ship is in great shape in my opinion. Everything was clean and in good repair. Only the cabins seem to need some refurbishing. Ours had severely scratched and scraped drawers and doors. But other than that it was very clean. We did have a problem with the shower. There was no spray. The water just ran out of the shower head in a stream. But none of this was any big deal. Spent the rest of the day unpacking, checking out our dinner assignment. Dining - We had requested 8pm seating but were given 8:30 in the Fantasy dining room. We decided to just go with that since my DS has been staying up this summer until 11pm or later. Wouldn't you know it though he fell asleep on the table less than 15 minutes into dinner. LOL. He wasn't the only child in this condition. More on this later. Dinner was Fantastic it was just us at a table for 10 - ME, DW, DS, MIL, FIL. I had the NY Sirloin. There have been lots of reports on the quality of the beef lately. This was outstanding. My FIL thought it was the best steak he had ever had. I thought it was close to that for me. Due to my son falling asleep we decided to switch dinner times. The only time available was 5:45 in the Ecstasy dining room. We took it. The maitre d' was very helpful. We were told there would be another family at the table. No problem for us - but boy was it a problem for them. The next evening we arrived for our new time before the other family and were seated at the table. First let me say that we have no gross malformations of the face and that we were dressed to the 9's for formal night! When the other family, party of 4(DW,DH, DS14?, DS16?), the mom threw a fit: Glaring at us, saying things like, "this will not do", and, No, I don't like this at all." As they were 15 minutes late to dinner we just kept eating our appetizers and staring straight ahead. Jerks, I tell you. The Maitre d' did his best to appease her but it took some time and they ended up in a booth far from us - thankfully. Dinners were great. I had the beef most nights, it was always good. The desserts were not memorable with the exception of the soufflE the last night. This was fabulous. Portions seemed larger than on the Conquest last year. No, they were larger, absolutely. Ate lunch in the dining room each day, very good as well. A note, you can get a burger in the dining room for lunch if there is someone in your party who might think they need to eat on the Lido deck. The dress code was mostly followed. The 1st night we did see a mid 30's couple in shorts and basketball jerseys with no undershirts. Please. The maitre d' made a big announcement about tank tops and shorts. Saw only 1 tux on formal night. Most men in sport coats not dark suits others in shirt and tie. Women all looked nice!!! Entertainment - We attended all of the shows and thought them some of the best we have seen at sea. The 2 singers were really good, although the volume was way to loud during some points to enjoy it. (and we are not prudes). There was live music in the atrium(strings and piano), jazz on the promenade, rock in Michaelangelo's, and island tunes on deck. Some have sung the praises of the on-deck band, we did not think this group came close to the Blood Power Band on the Conquest, but they still set the mood. We played Bingo a few times getting only 1 number away each time. And made our contributions to the Casino where the slots seemed as tight as could be. I never heard anyone win anything. A word about the passengers on this cruise. I was worried that taking a 4 day cruise, out of N.O. no less, would mean a rowdy bunch. Hardly. This was the tamest group of passengers we have ever sailed with. Lots of older folks(some with motor carts) and tons of families. As such the casino was never crowded, the disco seemed dead most of the time and many of the lounges empty. Unusual for Carnival in our experience. Always able to find a deck chair even in the middle of the day. Cozumel - We had been last year and did not know what to expect following the hurricane. For those going soon, Do not worry. Downtown had power and water. Nothing seemed different. South of town Mr. Sancho's Beach was recovering and open but no water. In a few weeks everything will be ok. South of town there wasn't a leaf on a single tree other than palm trees. We went to Pancho's Backyard - Downtown. We love this place. Courtyard restaurant, Marimba music, great food. Ask for the Carne Asada platter. My wife celebrated her birthday and what they did for her was hilarious. General Stuff: We really enjoyed our cruise. Food was better than on past cruises. Shows too. Boat was clean. The cruise director is the spitting image of Nick Lachey. Something that I have noticed over our past couple of cruises is that as more people choose the alternative dining options, whether that be the supper clubs on the new ships or the Lido deck, it makes the dining room experience not the same as it used to be. Lots of empty tables, people missing from your table, the waiters don't get to develop the same kind of relationship with the diners and it seems to me that due to this they aren't as apt to try to get to know you. Just an observation, not a constant thing yet but it is changing. Camp Carnival: This was our first experience with CC. Our 4 year old always wanted to go every day, but he was also ready to leave when we came to pick him up. While the schedule seemed to indicate lots of planned activities there was also lot of movie time. And the last sea day the camp was open for a couple of hours, then closed for a couple, then open for a couple. The beepers and procedures used for check-in in and out were reassuring, And we would use CC again. Debarkation: Easy. We did the self-debark. They called us at @8:00am There was A bit of a backup on E -deck but it looked worse than it was and only took about 5 Minutes to get off the ship. We took the Fulton Garage shuttle back to the Hilton Garden Inn which is right across the street and were on our way out of N.O. by 8:45am. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
Background: My husband and I are new "cruisers". We went with a group of 11 people from my family. We got on the ship 7 hours late due to hurricane Dennis. Carnival gave each of us a $50.00 credit on our sail and sign cards to ... Read More
Background: My husband and I are new "cruisers". We went with a group of 11 people from my family. We got on the ship 7 hours late due to hurricane Dennis. Carnival gave each of us a $50.00 credit on our sail and sign cards to make amends, and we were fine with that. We were very happy with the ship. Yes, parts of it were pretty over-stimulating, possibly bordering on tacky, but there were also some nice, quiet places to get away to. Our room was plenty spacious, and we felt very comfortable. My only problem with the ship was that it showed some signs of age/wear. For instance, places in the carpet were worn, the tile in the bathroom was dingy, etc. However, as I have stated, the Sensation was overall very comfortable and well maintained. We also really enjoyed the food. The chefs provided a lot of variety, and their presentation was beautiful. I am a slightly picky eater, and was always able to find something that I liked. We divided our breakfasts between the buffet and dining room. Both had advantages (buffet: getting exactly how much of whatever you want, ample fruit selection, sitting alone), (dining room: getting excellent service, a quiet atmosphere, meeting new people). We generally ate lunch at the buffet. By the last day, we found that the most pleasant spot to sit was at a shady table outside, but close to the buffet. Truly beautiful! For dinner, we always ate in the dining room. The service was great. The food was really good, except that my lobster and husband's salmon were overcooked. We were not very interested in the song and dance stuff, but we were on a "Fun" ship.... so we could only expect things like that!!! The shows were fine... we enjoyed the magician and comedian the most. The "vegas style" shows were sometimes just too much for us! The excursions were fabulous! We loved Xcaret, and floating the river. Also, in Cozumel, we snorkeled and had a really nice time. Debarkation went fairly smoothly. We followed directions for self-assist, and waited in our rooms with our luggage for the announcement. I think we were the ONLY ones to do that, as most people seemed to gather near the exit (even after being asked not to...) Therefore, we waited about 30 minutes in line to get off the boat. Once we finally did get off, we flew through customs and into a taxi to head home. Overall, we really enjoyed this cruise. I am not sure if we are really made to be regulars on the cruises, but who knows? It was a great experience, and we really enjoyed spending relaxing time with our family. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
The Carnival Sensation was ok. I traveled with my two daughters (both 13 at the time) on this cruise going to Calica, Mexico and Cozumel, Mexico. Embarkation was a complete NIGHTMARE! This was not how I imagined to begin a (what I ... Read More
The Carnival Sensation was ok. I traveled with my two daughters (both 13 at the time) on this cruise going to Calica, Mexico and Cozumel, Mexico. Embarkation was a complete NIGHTMARE! This was not how I imagined to begin a (what I thought would be stress free) vacation. Our ship was late due to the nasty hurricanes, not to mention the New Orleans cruise terminal isn't very nice. We had to sit in a large, warehouse-like room along with 900 other people which had terrible ventilation. There is a mall on top of this terminal, but if you went up there to shop around, you would lose your place in line to board the ship. After waiting 6 hours in that terrible room, we finally began to board. The 50 dollar on-board credit Carnival gave us as a "sorry" present did not do it for me. The boarding after that was quick; the photographers only took a mere 10 minutes to get through. The food on Carnival is mediocre in my opinion. Casual dining was a wreck. The banana bread at breakfast is inedible, the cheesecakes are just gross. The best thing I ate was the pizza. The food in the dining rooms were ok, although I've been on many Carnival cruises before and they still have the same exact menu. The "chateaubriand" was tough as leather. The desserts were tasty, though. My daughters had a fun time at Camp Carnival, except I disliked the camp director. Most of the activities planned on the last day were not carried out, so the kids were in the right place at the right time, but the director was not there to conduct the activity. I rarely saw my daughters disappointed though, and that's all that matters. The ship was very clean. My room was newly made up every time I went in there, and the towel animals were a special touch. My room steward was incredibly kind and helped make our cruise an enjoyable one. Our first stop was in Calica, Mexico, which was awful. Calica is not beautiful, it is just a big gravel pit, it is not developed at all. I don't recommend a cruise going to this port. We took a shore excursion there it Xcaret. I HIGHLY don't RECOMMEND GOING ON THIS EXCURSION IT IS UNPLEASANT AND VERY CROWDED WITH LOCALS! after paying for the actual excursion, you have to pay for anything else you do in the park. It is a rip off. The animals are poorly taken care of and have very small enclosures. Cozumel was much better. I have been here several times and never get bored. We did not take an excursion, but instead took a short taxi ride to Playa Del San Francisco, which is very beautiful. They have a pool on the beach if you do not like salt water. The food there is very authentic and enjoyable minus the cooks and waiters who hit on you. Over all, it was so-so. I would sail with Carnival again, but not on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
This was our second cruise and our first with Carnival. My husband and myself were traveling with my parents and sister. We decided to try the Sensation out of New Orleans due to our close proximity to this port. Embarkation: We arrived ... Read More
This was our second cruise and our first with Carnival. My husband and myself were traveling with my parents and sister. We decided to try the Sensation out of New Orleans due to our close proximity to this port. Embarkation: We arrived at the port around 11:30. We had a difficult time locating the parking/unloading area. We drove in circles for quite some time and finally found it by following another luggage loaded truck that was lost too! After going through all the procedures we arrived on the ship around 1:00. Ship Experience: The ship was very clean. Someone was constantly cleaning some where on board. Our room was spacious and offered plenty of storage space. The only problem we had was with the ventilation in the bathroom. Our "vent" didn't seem to work and would often cause our cabin to be rather warm after taking showers. The Sensation has the new Carnival bedding. The duvet and pillows were very comfortable. I found the ship layout to be a bit confusing. It took me several days to locate all of the "hidden" areas and determine which floor I needed to go to. I noticed I wasn't the only one with this problem, several people commented on the elevator about not knowing where to go. I was worried about the movement that would be felt on the Sensation after reading several other reviews. We did feel a lot of movement during various parts of our cruise. It was especially noticeable on the Mississippi and when leaving Cozumel. Dining: We had late dinner seating. When we arrived on board we were assigned early seating and had to stand in line for 30+ minutes to have it changed (even though we had requested late). The food in the dining room was well presented and tasty. Some nights were a little better than others, but overall the dining room experience was well worth it. There was always something yummy available on board through the buffet, pizza, deli, or room service. We didn't go hungry. Ports: Our first stop was Calica which is not a very developed port. We went on the Tulum express excursion. It was extremely hot, and the mosquitoes were vicious! Our second stop was Cozumel which was wonderful. The weather was perfect, our beach break was relaxing, I just wish we could have stayed in port longer! Debark: Our vacation was wonderful until we got off the boat. We weren't prepared to stand in the New Orleans humidity for over an hour waiting on the buses to take us back to our parked car. This was the only negative area of our cruise that will make us rethink sailing from New Orleans. Carnival needs to rethink their contract with the parking company. Overall: Our family had a wonderful time on this cruise and made many happy memories. The Sensation is a good ship for her age and a great value for the price! It was a good ship for the first time cruisers in our group to get "addicted" to cruising with! I think our next cruise will be on a larger ship in a different port. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
I would like to start out by saying that we LOVED our cruise. This was my second and my husband's first time cruising. We were very skeptical due to the reviews we had read about the ship but were pleasantly surprised on how they were ... Read More
I would like to start out by saying that we LOVED our cruise. This was my second and my husband's first time cruising. We were very skeptical due to the reviews we had read about the ship but were pleasantly surprised on how they were wrong. Although the ship is dated and worn we managed to overlook those characteristics. We found the staff absolutely wonderful and friendly. The Maitre D', Peter, was fabulous and our room steward, Dora, was friendly and efficient. Each time we left our room and returned, it was clean. The only negative experience was w/ the Seaview Bar and Grill. The food was usually not the correct temperature- pastas were warm/main dishes were cold/desserts were always warm. The ice cream bar was awful. luckily, we are not huge soft serve fans. The Ecstasy dining room was nice. Although we did not like being crammed six people to a booth. Our waiter was nice, efficient, and by the end of the week knew all my likes and dislikes; he was great at recommending desserts. I don't think we would cruise back to Mexico because there was not enough time to do cultural tours. We did take an excursion to Chichen-Itza but the bus ride is extremely long and they stop at the local tourist trap where the refuse to barter with you. I would have much rather paid a taxi to drive us there, eat at a local restaurant, and shop with the locals. The tour itself was very thorough but we were behind schedule and therefore were not able to see all the ruins or walk around exploring. Our next stop was Cozumel which we did not like very much. It is a huge tourist trap. My husband and I love to bargain hunt...you wont find much of that there. Overall, we had a great time and are planning are next cruise on Carnival right now. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
I will never go on a Carnival Cruise again! We cruised on the Sensation as a repeat Carnival guest. We have been on several cruises and this was the worst experience I have ever had. The main problem was with the Cabin. Primarily the ... Read More
I will never go on a Carnival Cruise again! We cruised on the Sensation as a repeat Carnival guest. We have been on several cruises and this was the worst experience I have ever had. The main problem was with the Cabin. Primarily the fact that our air conditioning unit in all 4 cabins we had reserved was on the blink. After several complaints, they finally brought fans into the cabins which blew around hot air. Even though they told us that a technician had come by to check the room temp and it was only 74 degrees, we never saw the technician nor the thermometer and I know that there was no way that I would be sweating if the temp. was only 74 degrees. My sister slept with a cold wash rag on her head at night. Also, just about every night our circuits in the room went out to our plug ins, which made us late to dinner one night. The only thing they offered on board was a voucher for a few free photos.  After getting back home, we called Carnival who informed was that the only thing they could offer was a voucher for an onboard credit in the amount of 50.00 per person to be deposited to our sail and sign card the next time we cruised with Carnival. I then filed a formal written complaint with our travel agency, and they even fought on our behalf to no avail. Carnival's final response was that it was their" position that the gesture extended was fair and equitable and no further compensation will be granted in this instance." They said that they hoped our next cruise will exceed our expectations. Guess what? There won't be a next time. Our Travel agency offered us twice as much as Carnival did and it wasn't their problem. Go figure that. A company who does not care about our dissatisfaction and comfort on an expensive cruise that is suppose to be top notch will never get my money again. I will not recommend Carnival never again to no one. Besides this problem with the A/C, the food, especially dinner, was not really good. The choices were terrible especially for the children. We went on a cruise with Carnival about five years ago and the menu was virtually the same as that ship. We did have good service though in the dining room. Also, the shows were not really that good and definitely not geared toward children. Also, by the end of the cruise, it was like they had begun to run out of things, there were no more bananas or pineapple. I wasn't asking for a free cruise, just a little more compensation for our discomfort and a reason to sail with Carnival again. Also, cabin size is ok for 2 people but we had to put 4 people in our cabin that only had 1 bunk, so we had to get a roll-away bed. We had no room at all to move around. I'm sure this was an isolated incident, because we heard others commenting on how cold their cabin was. But, if Carnival is willing to satisfy me as an individual then farewell Carnival. This Cruise line has just got too big to care.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
About myself- This is my 4th cruise (all have been with Carnival and have departed from New Orleans). I traveled alone and booked a 1A guarantee and was in R58 (Riviera deck forward, 4th level of ship) for the cruise. Embarkation- I live ... Read More
About myself- This is my 4th cruise (all have been with Carnival and have departed from New Orleans). I traveled alone and booked a 1A guarantee and was in R58 (Riviera deck forward, 4th level of ship) for the cruise. Embarkation- I live in Baton Rouge, so the Julia Street terminal is only about 90 minutes away, when you take into account New Orleans traffic. I left Baton Rouge at 9:15 a.m. and arrived at the Annunciation Street parking lot about 10:45 a.m. $60 to park for the cruise, which includes a shuttle to the pier. When I arrived at the pier shortly after 11:00 a.m. there were just a few people outside and about 40 people in line to check in. Within 10 minutes I presented the passport and docs to the friendly agents and was instructed to go the infamous second set of yellow chairs. There I sat for about 25 minutes. About 11:45, I am instructed to get in the line to approach the metal detectors (with the first of several photo ops in between). I bypassed the first photo op with the Carnival camera man and made it through the metal detectors, up the escalators and walked onto the ship entering the Empress deck (6th level). Getting aboard the ship was quite fast and hassle free. Ship- The Sensation is one of the Carnival "Fantasy" class ships, and this one was built in 1993. The Empress level has a beautiful atrium with neon lit elevators. Floors are designated by the first letter of the name of the deck (S for Sports, L for Lido) and the elevators do not have that voice notification you hear in more modern elevators. Not a complaint, just an observation that for me made me relies on my map of the ship for the first day. Upon getting on the ship, I went to my room and unloaded my carryon luggage and went to the Lido deck. The Seaview Bar and Grill had a great selection of food. There is a hamburger grill outside near the pool. The burgers are terrific! As with all Carnival cruises, pizza is available 24 hours a day and there is a deli. The pizzeria and deli are on the aft side and you can walk out to the balcony and enjoy a meal from the aft of the ship. The calzones were OK, but the burgers are better! After all that eating, get up to the gym and enjoy a nice walk on the treadmill and spend some time in hot tubs. Cruise Director- The current cruise director for the Sensation is Greg Hutson. As you know, Cruise Directors have the tough job of getting a couple of thousand people to be excited to be on vacation. Greg is the youngest cruise director that is on a Carnival ship- he is all of 25 years old! He has been with Carnival for about 4 years. The fact that he has earned his way to be a Cruise Director speaks well of Greg and of Carnival as well. He and his social hosts, Zoe Smith and Gary Brierely of England, did a great job with handling the different activities. Cabin- I was assigned cabin R 58, a category 1A cabin. The cabin is down a hallway mid-ship on the Rivera deck, centrally located between the elevators to go to the aft or bow of the Sensation. My cabin steward was from Indonesia and he called himself Coma. I only saw him three times on the cruise but I always knew he was doing job, because he took very good care of my room. I had brought a CPAP unit (for sleep apnea) and found that the electric outlet was near the bed. Also there were light switches above and on the side of the bed. The cabin was very roomy. Dining- I had asked for early seating but was initially assigned late seating (8:00 p.m.) at the Ecstasy Dining Room. I was able to switch with the Maitre' D and get early seating (5:45 p.m.) in that dining room. There was a lady in front of me who was trying to get the Maitre' D to place her at a table next to her friend. She was assigned to a table two tables from her friend. They had 12 in their group and this lady could not understand why they could not put a table for 8 and a table for 4 together. People behind her were begging her to take the table she was assigned and move on! As for me, I sat with a group from Indiana who were on their first cruise. Our waiters, Remberto and Elgio were always attentive and their service was excellent. The food was also very good. My favorites are the Indian Pumpkin Soup, the Lobster and the Beef Wellington. The dining room experience is always a great time. Excursions- On Wednesday, the Sensation docked at Calica. As many of you know, the Sensation docks in an industrial area. Buses and taxis await you, along with a string of vendors waiting to sell you something. There is one oasis I would recommend to you- there is a man selling Corona’s for $2. You can sit under a tent and enjoy a cool one before re-boarding the ship. I went to Xcaret, an eco-historical park a few minutes away. It cost $59 for the day, which includes bus service. Let me be succinct - if you have not been there, you need to go! It is fantastic! There are Mayan ruins, a zoo, beaches, aquariums – all included in the cost! For $10 you can rent snorkeling equipment and swim from one end of the park to the other. Check out their web site www.xcaret.com. On Thursday, the Sensation docked in Cozumel. This was my fourth visit to Cozumel, so I have become a bit more familiar with the city. After going through the duty- free shops, you will enter a nice area with the shops. These are the stores your “super shopper” will tell you about. You can catch a taxi ($6) and head to the Forum shops. From there you will see the several Diamonds International stores and all the other places. I overheard someone ask their spouse, “How did they know our ship was coming today?” I smiled and said to myself “Rookie”… There are some stores you should visit. One of my favorites is Los Cinqos Soles. This is a great store for gifts, especially vanilla (a liter of vanilla will cost you $15) and Kahlua ($9 for a liter). From there you can make your way through various stores and find a $1 Corona along the way to cool off with. I would also recommend the Cozumel Museum. Located in this building is an Internet room where you can go online for an hour for only $2. As far as restaurants, Carlos and Charlies can be an excursion in and of itself. Las Palmerias and Senor Frogs are also great spots for lunch. Shows- I attended most of the shows. The Fantasia Lounge is very nice The musicals were quite good. The dancers and singers work very hard and their efforts show. The Bryan Tavares Orchestra was also very entertaining. The comedians were OK, but to me not that funny. Ventriloquists are not my preference for entertainment. I didn’t attend the late night R-rated shows. One night, there was a sword juggler and balancer. Interesting, but not something I would normally pay for. Disembarkation- My group was called last, but I had a leisurely drive to Baton Rouge. I was off the ship by 1000 am. No problems at all. If you have to wait, just head up to the Lido deck and enjoy a cup of coffee. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
This was our first cruise. It was my wife and I, and our two daughters,ages 7-11. I had read other reviews about the Sensation before we headed to New Orleans for embarkation. I'm asking myself now, what ship were those people on? ... Read More
This was our first cruise. It was my wife and I, and our two daughters,ages 7-11. I had read other reviews about the Sensation before we headed to New Orleans for embarkation. I'm asking myself now, what ship were those people on? Everything was a Sensation!! When we arrived to the port to go through customs that took about an hour to an hour and a 1\2. Once we were aboard the ship they were serving lunch on the Lido Deck. The hamburgers and fries sure did hit the spot for all of us. We had to wait for 1 to 2 hours before we could go to our cabins. Staff was getting them prepared for our cruise. Once we finally got into our cabin and unpacked our luggage, we all had to prepare for the life boat and life jacket drill. I heard a lot of people complaining about this. But it is for your own benefit. Later we had dinner in the Fantasy Dining Room. The food was wonderful, and the service was more than outstanding. Oliver Castro, and Leonardo were the best. They made this cruise so enjoyable. They really had fun with our daughters. The 24 hour pizza and ice cream was a great midnight snack. I also read reviews of where it smelled real bad going through the Mississippi River. We didn't experience this at all. There were so many times that we couldn't tell that we were even out on the water. Everything was very smooth. Our first stop was in Calica, Mexico. We ventured out to go snorkeling to see the coral reef and the tropical fish. That was very fun. The tour guide Willie was a very funny and wonderful guide. He made the excursion very enjoyable. Our last stop was in Cozumel. We ventured out here to meet and greet the dolphins. We went to Discovery Cove and met Marina. This was very exciting also. A lot of pictures will be taken of you and your family. This can become a strain on the wallet as you will want everyone of them. The shops that our set up by the pier in Calica are kind of pricey also. Some people are very pushy to get you to come in and get a bargain. Over all the cruise out to sea and the return to New Orleans was a very pleasant experience for all of us. The staff and crew aboard were very enjoyable and eager to please us at all times. We were also very fortunate to meet a lot of new friends on board. a lot of people complained about having to stand in line and wait when we were boarding and when we disembarked in New Orleans, this is to be expected. You are not the only one on the cruise. Your cruise vacation is what you make of it. Don't go aboard looking for something wrong. Relax and enjoy yourself. The food was something different and very enjoyable. To the Carnival Sensation staff and crew, and on be half of my family we thank you for going out of your way to see that we had a great time. We want to experience more cruises, and we will have no problem choosing any of the Carnival Ships, especially the Sensation. Once again our thanks to, Oliver, Castro and Leonardo. What a Sensational Team !! Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
This was our first cruise. I had done quite a lot of homework prior so I came prepared. My DH and I decided to cruise for our 10 year anniversary. 12 others joined us. New Orleans: We arrived in NO on Sat. Spent that evening at ... Read More
This was our first cruise. I had done quite a lot of homework prior so I came prepared. My DH and I decided to cruise for our 10 year anniversary. 12 others joined us. New Orleans: We arrived in NO on Sat. Spent that evening at Margaritaville and then on Bourbon St. What an experience. Even if you just people watch it is a site!!! You can spend a lot of money or you can settle for a $5.00 poboy, it is your choice. Sunday we ate breakfast at the hotel (Quality Inn and Suites on O'Keeffe) and headed to Harrahs. My sister won $100 on the nickel slots and I donated my $20. From there we saw more of the sites. We walked everywhere!!!!! Early afternoon we all did the carriage tour though the French Quarter. Very interesting. In my opinion it was well worth the $12 to just get off my feet for a bit. My dogs were barking!!! LOL. For dinner we chose the Cajun Cabin. I was not overly hungry and ordered the spinach and artichoke dip and my DH had a seafood sampler for $20, we were not overly impressed. Embarkation: WIth 10 of us going 10 blocks to the boat we couldn't see paying 3 cab fares so two of the guys took the luggage to the dock and we walked down. Worked out good for us. We joined the other 4 that had driven down and stayed at another hotel at the docks. We arrived about 11:30 and were on board and eating lunch by about 12:30. Our luggage was at our room by 2 or 3. I was already losing track of time by then. The whole process seemed smooth to me. Calica: When we left the boat we really didn't have a plan but had all debarked together. We thought at least we could get into Playa together and do whatever from there. One couple wanted to go to Tulum and were going to rent a car when they got to Playa. We ended up getting a 15 passenger van for $160 for the day with a driver. They wanted $200 but we talked them down. Since we had a van to drive us anywhere we all decided to go to Tulum. From there we paid $200 pesos ($20) per couple for a guided tour of the ruins. Very interesting and pictures tuned out great. You can walk down to the ocean. It is so beautiful!!! From there we got our driver to take us to a beach in Playa. We ended up on a topless beach. It didn't bother any of us. Our dh's definitely had the better view. Although some should have probably left their tops on!!! LOL. Had lunch at an outside cafe. I had the quesadillas (cheese seems a little different texture but good) and the fish tacos were good as well. We spent a good 3 hours there and low and behold our driver was still there when we were ready to leave. Cozumel: DH and I had borrowed some snorkel equip from a friend before we left so instead of doing a snorkel excursion I found a place online called Dzul Ha that was supposed to have primo snorkeling. When we got there by taxi ($3 per person on the way and $2 on the way back) we didn't know what to think. Don't judge a book by the cover! There was a little outside bar there, snorkel rental for $10 for those that didn't take their own, and access to the water along with a fresh water shower to rinse off when you get out. We snorkeled for a while and used up our underwater camera. We saw lots of fish (forgot the cereal to attract fish) and some jelly fish. It is beautiful! We got out for a bit had some beer and a coco loco (a drink of coconut milk and alcohol that is put back into the coconut). bathrooms are across the street in a building that is for sale. Spotless! There is a woman there to hand you toilet paper and get her tip. A few of us decided to leave a bit early and head back to town before embarking. We all ended up at Senor Frogs. What a fun time. Beer, balloon hats, shots and a waitress groping you. What more could you ask for. Days at Sea: We spent lots of time on the deck. As you have probably read, you must get there early to get a lounge chair. We started out on the chairs at the bistro tables waiting for a lounge chair. Finally after 2 hours waiting we finally moved their stuff off the chair and took them. There are signs (not clearly posted enough obviously) but people don't pay much attention. There were many activities to keep everyone busy if that is what they chose. One of our group won the hairy man contest. The shows that we saw were all good (not a $100 per ticket vegas show good) but for a free show on a cruise ship it was very entertaining. The Newlywed, Not so Newlywed game was hilarious!!! Disembarkation: We had too many bags to try to do the express checkout so we had to stand in line and do it the old fashioned way. We were supposed to be out of our room by 8:30 I think and we were still off by 9:30 or 10:00. That included waiting on the Promenade deck until they called our Empress Forward section. I thought it went pretty smooth. You have to expect to be patient or you will be stressed and frustrated. Overall: Overall we had a blast. Yes, the air conditioning system was out in the formal dining room but we were only in that room once a day for about an hour. It was hot. But that wasn't going to ruin my trip!!! The boat did rock a few times but we took the ginger root tablets I had gotten at the grocery store with us and took them regularly as to not get sick. Worked like a charm. Our waiters Savio and Igor were wonderful. We had taken the battery operated fan with water in them into the dining room and Savio and Igor thought that was the best thing since sliced bread. Everyone was very nice. I am glad we chose the Sensation for our first cruise. New Orleans: We still had 6 hours to kill after we got off the ship so we walked back down to the French Quarter where the French Quarter Festival was going on. Lots of people! We did a 1 hour riverboat tour of the Mississippi and then went to Pat O'Briens for lunch. The Burger was excellent as was the bloody mary!! Highly recommended! Can't wait to start planning our next cruise!!!! The sensation was a great cruise. You won't be disappointed.....as always you make what you want of the trip. We made it a trip not to forget!!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
Upon entering the ship, a "greeter" hands you a map. No eye contact, no welcome aboard, no direction, just the handing of a map. Therefore, you may want to study your map prior to getting on the ship because they don't ... Read More
Upon entering the ship, a "greeter" hands you a map. No eye contact, no welcome aboard, no direction, just the handing of a map. Therefore, you may want to study your map prior to getting on the ship because they don't really help you in finding your room. The room cabin is clean and spacious. It's definitely more spacious then most cruise lines. However, we wanted the beds separated because it gives us more room to maneuver. We asked our room attendant the first day if he could separate the beds, but he didn't have to do right then, but if he could do by tomorrow that would be fine. 24 hours later, still not done and upon cleaning the room he left a dirty glass. We paged him 3 times because we didn't see him in the hall earlier that morning and we also wanted fresh ice. No response. We then visited the Purser's desk and they paged him and advised us that the beds would be separated within 10 minutes. We then went to the Art Auction, which we enjoyed. We then went to the buffet and enjoyed an early dinner around 6:00 p.m.. Returned back to the room at 7:30 p.m. and the beds were not switched and the dirty glass was still sitting on the desk. He had been in the room and replaced the towels, but had not done any of the items that were requested. He then can into the room and opted to argue that we had never paged him and that we had not been clear that we wanted the beds moved and the dirty glass remained because he felt that it had been filled with our personal water and therefore he didn't feel he had to clean. My husband said he didn't want to argue with him, he just wanted it done, but at at 8:00 p.m., it was too late to correct and asked him to leave. Bottomline, after several more discussions with the pursers desk, the beds were switched on the 3rd day of our cruise and the Assistant Hotel Manager visited us, with the cabin attendant standing around the corner on the 4th day of our 5 day cruise. My husband advised that the issue had been resolved and he considered the matter closed, but the cabin attendant chose to continue to show my husband all of the pages he had received and that none of them were from us. I found the attendant to be insulting and argumentative and I would have been perfectly fine not to see him for the rest of the cruise. I'm sure that this is not an experience of all passengers, but I would just suggest that if paging your attendant doesn't work the fist time, to just be prepared to visit the purser's desk. They were friendly and baffled that he had not answered their pages either. We had rec'd certificates for free photos for the problems. Oh ya, don't trip over the vacuum cleaners and bags of laundry that is left in the halls 24 hours a day. The menu on the Lido deck was good and the service was excellent. They were quick and polite at all times. The food was always fresh, well stocked and hot. The menu also typically mirrored what was being served in the main dining room. You could have pizza, freshly made sandwiches, salad and selections from the hot buffet. The main dining room was mediocre at best. It was apparent that it was "institutionalized" type cooking. The lettuce for the salad was mostly wilted with brown edges, the noodles for the appetizer were under cooked, the Filet Mignon was cooked in an oven, therefore was tough and tasteless. The waitress also was nice, but never asked any of the passengers if they would like anything to drink, iced tea, lemonade, etc. That comment was brought up by another passenger. We didn't stay for desert, we had left and visited the Lido deck to eat, which is where we chose to eat for the rest of the trip. Quite honestly, the service and food is far below the 5 star experience that is advertised. Entertainment in the show room is hysterical. It's not a Las Vegas show by any stretch of the imagination. The dancers have hair pieces flying off on the stage, costume problems, and no one is instinct. You have three dancer's kicking to the left with the fourth kicking to the right. You have all of them jumping forward but one. I personally love watching the shows because I just find them so comical, but probably not in the way they had hoped. The entertainment thru game shows, bingo, art auction, etc. are fun and enjoyable. Excursions are best planned on your own whenever possible. Just do your research and you can save yourself up to 80% in cost. The ship overall is kept clean and in good condition. I always told my husband that you get what you pay for and that was the case with Carnival cruise line. It's inexpensive and can get you to the beaches, but I try not to expect a lot in regards to their food or service. Debarkation is a lot of fun, if you like disorganization and standing in line because everybody debarks the ship at the same time. That's right folks, no calling out floors or having more than one exit, it's approximately 1400 people all trying to leave at the exact same time. Good luck! Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
I was traveling with husband and two sons (16 and 18) and about 10 other families (friends and family) It was our first cruise. Embarkment and debarkment: Went smooth and quickly. Better than what I had expected. Carnival knows how to ... Read More
I was traveling with husband and two sons (16 and 18) and about 10 other families (friends and family) It was our first cruise. Embarkment and debarkment: Went smooth and quickly. Better than what I had expected. Carnival knows how to herd you through, that's for sure!! We came to the pier by cab and left by way of NOLA's Airport Shuttle. My brother's family came by car and he said parking at the pier was a nightmare. After we left NOLA we were very surprised how long we're on the Mississippi. It took at least 6-7 hours to get in the Gulf! Cabin: I was dreading spending 5 nights in a cabin with two teenage sons but it turned out to be fine. The only complaint I have is once the bunks were turned down at night there was no sitting room except for one chair. If you sat on the beds you had to lean way over as not to bump your head on the upper bunk. We were in the Upper Aft which was fine even though we did hear the motors all the time. The air conditioner goes on and off all the time so we did get warm and then cold. Blankets on, then blankets off. Dining: The food was very good at dinner. The boys loved the 4-course meals. Our servers were nice but very professional. The food at the breakfast and lunch buffets got a bit boring. The fries were good but we didn't care for the hamburgers. I drank a lot of coffee during the day. The boys didn't get the pop cards. They lived mainly on water and lemonade. That was fine with them. Entertainment: My Mother and I spent our evenings in the casino. The slots were very nice to me. I came home with a lot more money than I put in them!! My 18 yr old tried the slots one night but didn't like losing his money. We didn't go to any shows as they were during our early dining or they were too late in the evening...we are early risers especially on port days. The pool and deck areas were way crowded on sea days. The upper decks were very very windy.....too windy for me. We spent a lot of time on the decks behind the Lido buffet and bar area. Great spot and quiet!! Nice spot to sit when the ship was leaving the ports. Service: I was SO impressed at how every crew member we walked by would stop and acknowledge us if it was with a greeting or just a smile. That sure made us feel welcome the whole time. On the flip side, tho....I wasn't that impressed with our cabin steward (Alec). He greeted us the first day and that was about it. We barely saw him ever again and the couple of times we approached him he would smile but he was so fake. He kept our cabin clean enough, tho. The casino "crew" was fantastic and so nice to us. Thumbs up to them!! Our dining staff were very friendly too but as I said before very professional. Met the captain and who I presume was his family out at the pool on a Port day. He was very kind. The Spa...I did the scalp treatment the first night on board. It was wonderful and not too expensive. Nice way to start a cruise! Port Days: We went to Xcaret while at Calica. A beautiful park though a bit pricey. There are buses that run back and forth all day from the ship to the park. A nice clean park, beautiful beach and lots to see and do. I highly recommend this place! Try Sea Trek. It's awesome to walk on the ocean floor and have fish swim right past!Best thing we did the whole cruise. Cozumel: We went shopping in the AM. My mother and I took a horse and buggy ride around the city and saw many sites. Our guide was very nice and explained many things. Afterwards we went back on the ship and enjoyed the decks and pools while the other 2000 enjoyed the island! My sons swam, played basketball and ping pong. It was a great day! Overall: The Sensation was a great ship for us first time cruisers. We had a lot of fun. The ship was a bit worn but still kept clean. The food at the buffet could have been better. The drinks were nice and strong so I kept to just a couple each day!! Casino was fun. The layout of the ship seemed very confusing but by Day Three we figured it out. The crew was fantastic! One of the best things is I didn't get seasick at all though you certainly can feel the sailing experience! Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
Just got back from the Sensation (4/18, 5 nt. Calica/Cozumel trip) and I had a wonderful trip!! It was the first cruise for me and my boyfriend and we loved it. I had read many reviews here and was apprehensive about this ship, but I ... Read More
Just got back from the Sensation (4/18, 5 nt. Calica/Cozumel trip) and I had a wonderful trip!! It was the first cruise for me and my boyfriend and we loved it. I had read many reviews here and was apprehensive about this ship, but I really think cruising is what you make it. We had a great time. This review is sooooooooo long, but I wanted to put it all out there: New Orleans - Through Priceline we got some great deals. We stayed at the Renaissance Pere Marquette pre-cruise and the Fairmont New Orleans post-cruise. Both were about a block from Canal St., and very very close to Bourbon St./French Quarter. The Fairmont is beautiful! I loved both hotels but loved the Fairmont the best! We had a blast! We went for po'boys at Acme Oyster House that were delicious and walked around Bourbon Street. We wound up going to bed very early which was a great thing, because we were up Monday AM, walking around, by 8. We went to Mother's and had breakfast - I highly recommend this place. The biscuits alone make it worthwhile, and it's inexpensive. We then walked around the French Quarter and made our way to Cafe du Monde, which definitely is a must-see. And I loved the iced cafe au lait and beignets too. We came back to N.O. 4/23 and headed to Jazzfest. I am definitely going back to that again. It was incredible. Absolutely wonderful and the food!! I had crawfish bread, alligator pie, fried green tomatoes . . . . it was out of this world. What a great time! After Jazzfest we went to get our hurricanes at Pat O'Briens, and though it was crowded, I thought the courtyard was really cool. We had so much fun, and ran into some friends we'd made on the cruise! If you leave out of New Orleans, plan on taking some time to see the city. It really is incredible, and I'm planning to visit there soon, so we can see some more of it. Embarkation - Painless. We arrived between 12:30 and 1:00 pm. The lines moved quickly and I never felt we waited a long time. When we disembarked Saturday, I saw a HUGE line of people waiting to embark @ 9:30 am. Onboard, the buffet was crowded and we were overwhelmed so we didn't eat much. Well, we found our way to our room and ordered room service - 2 BLT's! They were great. Our luggage arrived around 5 pm. I suggest packing your carry-on with a bathing suit, toothbrush, whatever you need to feel comfortable until after dinner, because there was a notice that said luggage would be delivered up until 9 pm. Our room - We stayed in M258. I'd read about this very room on the boards as being not-so-desirable. Well, I was worried sick but it turned out fine! It was definitely noisy rolling into port in the mornings but I didn't really mind, I was able to fall back asleep. I felt some motion but I think it actually helped me sleep. I thought the room was big. I imagined we'd have a teeny little room but it was great. I loved how we could fit on the windowsill. I will always get an oceanview or better room, I think, I really enjoyed the natural light and being able to look out our window. The bathroom was great too. I have a tiny shower in my apartment and this one was bigger than that, so I was happy. We had Paul as a room steward. He was great and we got towel animals most evenings. He kept the ice fresh and he or his assistant were always easy to find in case we needed anything else. Calica/Playa del Carmen— We chose to go to Xcaret. I wanted to do activities that involved getting wet since I knew it would be hot. I loved, loved, loved Xcaret! We did the Carnival excursion because it included shuttle buses available every 20 minutes, and you could leave and re-enter the park anytime you wanted to. We went through the underground caves/rivers which I thought was a little overrated since it was so crowded, but it did cool us off and was still pretty fun. We walked around the park and saw all sorts of wild animals, plant and fish cultivation areas, a butterfly enclosure . . . . I could never list all the things they have. It was awesome. I could see any type of person having fun here. We ate in one of the restaurants, La Cocina, which I thought was great. It was a little pricey but not bad, and I thought the food was delicious. We ended our day by lounging in the lagoon area which felt like a resort. It was very nice, and you could order food and drinks there too. They had lots of water activities available. I highly highly highly recommend this place. It was great. Cozumel— We went to Paradise Beach. We were the first ones there, and it was beautiful. Once the waiters got there, our waiter Antonio came over. He was fantastic. All the waiters did a great job. The ocean was beautiful and I floated on one of the rafts for a long time, it was a beautiful day. It filled up quickly but it didn't bother us. There were lots of families, couples, a good mix. We didn't have anything to eat but I did have a Chi Chi and thought it was delicious. While at PB, it got a tiny bit windy. Then it died down, then all of a sudden there was a HUGE gust of wind that sent umbrellas flying high in the air, knocked over the booths where they have braiding and massages going on - it was really scary. Nobody was badly hurt, but some people got hit with umbrellas, and the girl doing the hair braiding was very shaken up. I was so impressed how the staff responded, reassuring people, cleaning up any debris, closing the umbrellas, etc. Everything was back to normal very quickly. Nothing like that happened the rest of the day, but it made me worry b/c we had wanted to go parasailing and I didn't know how safe it would be. Well, we still went parasailing - the stand next to PB didn't take credit cards and we wanted to save our cash for downtown, but Antonio let us know there was another boat that would come that accepted them. We got in the boat and they took us to Playa Mia to pay, then brought us to the parasailing boat. What an incredible experience! I'd never been, and I would definitely go again. We hung out at Paradise Beach a bit more, and left to find some shopping. I think Paradise Beach is a great place to go. We just wanted a place to lay around, swim, read, get drinks, relax and we were so happy we went there. I wish we would have eaten there as the food looked great. We went to downtown Cozumel and ate at Palmeras. We got chicken tacos and I didn't love them (though I stuffed myself on chips and guacamole, which was great!) but my boyfriend absolutely loved it. It wasn't very expensive there, and we sat in the front so we could look out on the street, which was fun. We skipped shopping because I had my time all mixed up and I thought it was an hour later than it actually was, and headed to Carlos and Charlie's b/c my boyfriend had heard so much about it and wanted to check it out. I'd been to the one in Cancun a few years ago, so I wasn't dying to go, but it was all right. We had a lot more fun at Senor Frog's upstairs. It was much cooler, they had lots of fans running, and there was live music. We drank too much tequila but had a blast, then made it onto the ship 2 hours before we needed to be there. (I was so confused - I had asked at the info desk on the ship if the time in Cozumel was different than the time on the ship and she said they were one hour behind us. But somehow that wasn't right, and I can't quite figure it out since my mind was cloudy from the drinks anyway! So maybe there's no time difference at all??) The Activities - We didn't take advantage of many! I wanted to read, get some sun, eat and relax! We bypassed the casino, though it looked like a ton of fun, just because we didn't want to lose the money unless we were dying to. We didn't watch the activities on the Lido Deck b/c we hung out at the smaller pool in the back, but I loved the fact that so many of the contests were videotaped and I watched them on TV while I was getting ready for dinner. If you are the type of person that likes to be busy from morning till night, you will find something to do! We enjoyed lounging at the pool, hanging out at the outside tables that you can access going out the doors on either side of the pizzeria, having drinks in the Polo Lounge and exploring the various decks. We tried to go to the gym but I thought it was really hot and after about ten minutes, I'd had it! They offer a lot of classes that looked interesting though. The bars were fun. We hung out at the Polo Lounge, above the Ecstasy dining room, and loved the bartenders there. A couple of nights we went to the Kaleidoscope disco. It looked cheesy to me on the outside, but it was so much fun. They started playing hip hop around 12:30 and we had a blast. There were lots of crew members there on the formal night. It was interesting to me that even when they're "off" they still have to identify themselves by wearing nametags. The piano bar was really fun, although the dEcor is hideous. I think the people that work in there must have nightmares about all of those hands. It really is crazy-looking. There never were many people in the piano bar, it seems out of place being a floor below Sensation Boulevard (the strip of bars/casino.) But I liked Anton, the piano player and thought he was funny and really talented. We tried one of the shows, but it's just not our thing. I think if you like Vegas-y kinda stuff, you'd probably really enjoy it. We missed the comedian, who we heard was great, and spoke to someone who really enjoyed the magician as well. We played Bingo the last day, and that was pretty fun. We scoped out Karaoke, but my boyfriend absolutely hates country music and it seemed most of the songs were country, so we didn't stay long. But it would probably be fun if you liked that, or if you went with a big group of friends. The Food— Ahh, the food! I loved it! Most mornings we ate at the buffet, got omelettes, sausage and toast. I thought it was great and preferred it to the open seating breakfast. The juices were pretty gross, though I could stomach the orange juice and I liked the ice tea because it was unsweetened. At lunch we tried the different buffets (I loved the Indian buffet!), had some of the delicious pizza, or had hot dogs from the Sea View grill which were great. Sometimes we tried room service, and I loved everything we tried from their menu. There was a salad bar on the Lido buffet that always looked amazing, and I always meant to get a salad but I'd eat all the other food first and not have any room! Dinner was great! We sat at a table with two couples that were wonderful people to be put with. We were even placed with a fellow Cruise Critic member who I'd actually "spoken to" on the boards before! Small world! I felt very lucky that we liked our table, there were some tables around us where it looked like the people didn't interact. We had great conversations and a really nice time getting to know everybody. Our waiters were Mark and Avito, and they were the greatest. I felt like we were their only table, they took such good care of us. And they were very interesting to talk to as well. I loved the meals we had at dinner, and there's so much talk of them on these boards I won't elaborate much. The lobster was fantastic, the tiramisu one night was perfect, and there was a shrimp dish (shrimp ehi? Or something like that - kind of like a tempura shrimp) that I think might have been my favorite. But, really, the food was ALWAYS good, and there were no problems ordering more than one thing. Random stuff— Take lots of photos! You don't have to buy them, but it's fun to find them. We took some black and white portraits on the Formal Night and they came out beautifully. We bought one that we liked a lot, and yes it was pricey, but it's nice to have a good picture of us. Plus, you'd probably pay more at a professional studio. I loved the people at the information desk. They had answers to all of my questions and supplied me with Band-Aids for my blisters through the whole trip J They also let us change our 20's into smaller change, which was convenient. Bring bottled water! It was soooo expensive and we drank a lot of it. If you drink soda, bring some of that on. We snuck alcohol on with no problem. There's a liquor store near Cafe du Monde if you need to find one. I'd heard about the smells on the Sensation, and didn't notice any. I was really amazed at how there are constantly people cleaning the ship. It was in great shape. Also, everyone stops and says hello, I was impressed with that too. We might wait a while to take another cruise, as we like to do all sorts of different things, but we'll definitely be back. I'd even love to go back on the Sensation! Next time, though, I'll probably look for a longer cruise with more ports, since the port days were so much fun. The only thing I'd change is some of the other passenger's attitudes. It doesn't hurt to say "please" and "thank you." The crew was so friendly and helpful and some of the rudeness I witnessed really made me mad!! If you're going on this cruise, get ready to have a great time! Make sure to get to know lots of the staff because they were some of the most interesting people on the ship! I would recommend this cruise to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
This was a very last minute cruise. Booked on Sunday and left on Saturday. I have been on 86 cruises so far so I guess I am a tough customer when it comes to my expectations. But one thing I learned many cruises ago, it is usually up to ... Read More
This was a very last minute cruise. Booked on Sunday and left on Saturday. I have been on 86 cruises so far so I guess I am a tough customer when it comes to my expectations. But one thing I learned many cruises ago, it is usually up to you whether you like it or not. I think that any cruise is a great way to spend some time away. Sure some are better than others but give me a day at sea and a deck chair and I am one happy guy. Port of New Orleans - I live in Pensacola so it was a short 3 hour drive to the port (ok - 2.5 hours - LOL). Please be aware that the parking lot adjacent to the pier is gone (construction site now). You have to park a few blocks away at a cost of $12 per day. Carnival had baggage check-in at the parking facility and offered bus shuttle to the pier. Be warned. The baggage check-in is fine. But one bus shows up every 10-15 minutes and it is a pushfest to get on. If it is a nice day, walk. Go around the convention center, up the stairs/escalator/elevator to Riverwalk, and out the side door. Embarkation - I learned a long time ago not to be in a rush to get on the ship. We went for a walk and had lunch. Got back to the pier about 2:30pm. Breezed right up to the check-in counter and we were onboard in less than 10 minutes. Ship - Well, this is typical Carnival. VERY busy interior. My travelling companion asked if the designer was on crack? The public rooms feature myriad colors - some that simply don't mix. But, it seems to suit the market. The hideous sculpture that was in the atrium has been replaced with the atrium bar now being installed in all Fantasy class ships. One question - does the ship really need another bar - there is one on every corner? My opinion - the ship needs one quiet place besides the poorly stocked library. There is no place - and I mean no place - inside or out - to go for some peace and quiet. That is unless you want to be a cabin hermit. Get ready to shout to have conversations. The ship was decorated in the early 90s. I am not sure purple and gold and pink and red and green and yellow and blue and black where ever this popular back then. Certainly not mixed all together with neon blue lighting to "set the mood". Food - Boy has Carnival really improved. The lido food was hot, tasty, and good (not extensive) selection. The evening offering in the Seaview was fantastic and we ate there every night. The bright red neon of the dining room was too much for us and the 5:45pm time we were assigned was just too early. 24 hour ice cream was a big hit with one of my party. The Seaview bistro only has 2 buffet lines but we never encountered a long wait. The burger and hot dogs outside by the pool were also tasty and rarely had any lines. Room service was prompt and the food was about what you'd expect. I do think the easy-bake-oven brownies need some attention. One frustration - the ice machines seemed to be having a bad week. One or more were broken every day. Tip - dilute the lemonade before drinking it. You will have a spasm behind your ears with the first sip and every orifice on your body will pucker. You've been warned. Entertainment - All in all - very good and very Carnival. Juggler, magician, singer, comedians, and HIGH energy production shows. The production shows were great (themes were a bit nebulous). The dancing was tight and the singing was actually first rate. Two words to describe the entertainment offered onboard - frenetic and LOUD. A walk down Sensation Boulevard is an assault on all your senses. You may find yourself drained by the stimuli. Certainly allow some time for the ringing in your ears to subside. Service - Didn't have any problems. Most of the staff was friendly and smiled. Efficient courtesy would sum it up. The usual snotty person at the pursers desk (do they have power or something?). A friend in an adjacent cabin had a shower head that spewed like a hose. Reported it and it was fixed promptly. Boy does Carnival need to replace the TVs in the cabins. Ours had a mysterious green hue to it. Maybe it was my damaged retinas from the ship's decor. Carnival now has duvets rather than bedspreads and I think they have upgraded the towels as they were soft and fluffy. Bed was comfy and pillow was wonderful. A goody basket of samples is in the bathroom and shampoo and conditioner is provided. Towel animals will greet you when you return in the evening. In yet another revenue generating move - you can purchase a book on how to make towel animals. Guess you can put that with the cruise video and never look at them again once you get home. Debarkation - HOOOORAAAAYYYY. No more waiting for your color to be called. The new process is if you have your own luggage, you can get off around 8am. Otherwise, at about 8:45am they give the signal that you can start getting off. We waited until about 920am. We were off the ship and on our way to the parking facility in less and 15 minutes. FANTASTIC !!!!! I think there might be people still waiting for the bus shuttle back to the parking garage - try to walk it if you can. Summary - Great cruise for active people looking for a Vegas type environment. Not for people wanting some peace and quiet. I had a great time and you will too if you go with the right mind. Carnival delivers what they promise and they don't try to be more than they are. For that, I say great job. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
My husband, brother, sister-in-law and I sailed our first cruise on the Carnival Sensation. We were awed to say the least. While the embarkation line was long, it was fast. The longest part was waiting to have our picture taken by ... Read More
My husband, brother, sister-in-law and I sailed our first cruise on the Carnival Sensation. We were awed to say the least. While the embarkation line was long, it was fast. The longest part was waiting to have our picture taken by photographers. There wasn't enough time to experience everything the ship has to offer if one spends time on shore tours, as we did, or if one sleeps, as we had too. The Atrium was well lighted and attractive. Didn't get to use the spa as we spent most of our waking hours out on deck or eating, and sometimes that was on deck too depending on the wind. Having a Jack and Coke or a screw driver for breakfast on deck in the sunshine is just pretty darned cool in my book. Our room steward Kieno did an excellent job of keeping our rooms clean and he was a pleasure to see each morning and evening. Quite the handsome man with a beautiful smile. Our beds were very comfortable and we slept well. We had an issue with a leaking shower hose that was repaired within minutes of reporting it to our room stewart. Thank you to Kieno and the maintenance person. Charlie was one of our dining servers and I give him 5 out of 5 stars for his class of service and the rapport he shared with us. Our meals were great. There was so much food - EVERYWHERE. We attended a couple of shows and found they exceeded our expectations. The midnight buffet on formal night was just fantastic. It was too beautiful to eat. The ship employees work hard to keep everything clean and the cruise director and staff do an excellent job of keeping us informed of upcoming events through the Carnival Capers as well as through the television programs. Getting on/off the ship for port calls was a breeze. We didn't feel a thing as the ship moved away from dock. The shipped rocked a bit in open sea but actually lulled me to sleep. I loved it. The design of a ship and a an experienced captain made playing ping pong on the open ocean a blast. We had one complaint and that was the cost of the 8 x 10 photos in the photo gallery. They were outrageous. As the ship takes pictures of their guests often, the very lest they could do is make the photos available at a better price. They would probably sell more of them. It's important to remember that all of the employees that try to make your cruise experience a memorable one deserve your courtesy and much thanks. For the hard work they do a thank you, respect for them, and a smile of kindness to them goes a long way. They deserve their tips. I will sail with Carnival again. It's just a matter of where I would like to go next! Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
My DH and I (mid-thirties) went on our first cruise and our first vacation in quite some time on the Sensation on 10/23. I had done a lot of reading on this, as well as other sites to prepare for it We decided to arrive early and eat ... Read More
My DH and I (mid-thirties) went on our first cruise and our first vacation in quite some time on the Sensation on 10/23. I had done a lot of reading on this, as well as other sites to prepare for it We decided to arrive early and eat lunch on the ship. Parking was a hassle and expensive. No clear instructions on how to proceed in the garage. Tipped several baggage handlers trying to get the right group of fellows. Oh well, live and learn. Embarkation at the terminal was reasonable. We arrived at 11:00 in the terminal and were eating on the ship at 12:30. Not too bad. I will say that we were lucky to be one of the first in line as it did not seem to move very quickly after us. The ship was well kept and attractive. I liked the whole neon thing. We were in a very pleasant porthole room on the Empress deck (E8) and found it to be spacious, clean, and very pleasant. Our steward, Agus, was on top of his game and took good care of us. We didn't need the over the door shoe hanger as there was plenty of room for everything. The stick-up came in handy as there was an occasional faint sewer smell. No problem. The power strip was handy for curling irons. The ship was large enough to be impressive and small enough to navigate comfortably. We were quite happy with the ship itself. The first day at sea we spent a lot of time relaxing. The pools are not really useful for more than a dip to cool down on deck. You can't actually swim in them. The hot tubs outside were slightly above lukewarm but one of the tubs in the spa did quite nicely if you wanted to make people stew. The shops had a variety of items from toothpaste to fine jewelry. Some things were even reasonable, like the $10.00 watches. The spa prices were off the charts. I've had many of the spa services listed in many different areas of the country and I've never paid those kinds of prices for them. The good news is they offered very reasonable sales on the last afternoon of the cruise. The food in the dining room was very good! Our wait staff, Showtime and Fernando, took great care of us and made good suggestions. Always listen to the waiters! My favorite was the Beef Wellington. My husband liked the super tender pork chop. Most of the beef entrees were quite good. The pasta dishes were mediocre. The pumpkin soup was good as advertised by previous reviews. We often ordered several desserts. The shows were very entertaining. The female lead in the two Vegas style shows was phenomenal. Her male counterpart was mediocre at best. We had seen one of the comedians on the comedy channel. He was funny and did the R rated comedy show as well. DH says he was funny then, too. I was wiped out from the sun and had already hit the bed. Costa Maya: I don't think I would care to return here. I had done my homework and read about Majajual and decided that it would be a nice place. However, my hubby and I are from Pensacola, Florida, with its beautiful beaches (pre-Ivan, at least). The beach in Majajual was pretty but unimpressive. We aren't big drinkers (not teetotalers but don't structure our day around alcohol, either) and didn't want to sit around and drink. I did have a great massage for $20 bucks. It was one of the highlights of the trip. If I were to visit Costa Maya again, I would probably do an excursion, maybe to ruins. Cozumel: We were torn between Paradise Beach and Chankanaab, but decided on Chankanaab as a place to do more than just "beach". What a wonderful place. The snorkeling was very nice. We saw lots of colorful fish and swam inside several schools. We also saw barracuda. We had a wonderful time trying to find all of the sunken statues (we couldn't find them all). The botanical gardens were peaceful and interesting. The Mayan village came complete with a lovely lady who fed us Mayan food and explained their customs. She spoke some English, I spoke some Spanish so we managed to communicate quite a lot. The shopping was cheaper than in downtown (before haggling, even!). We did take a trip downtown for some shopping. We couldn't find Pancho's Backyard in town. No one could direct us to Calle 8. But we found it at the base of the port. The guacamole, salsa and chips were very good. The drinks were somewhat expensive, but good. I would definitely return to Cozumel and would definitely return to Chankanaab. The last day at sea there were many activities I had read raves about. We dutifully highlighted the Newlywed Game, the ice carving, the hairy chest contest and others. I think that people who enjoy drinking a lot on their vacation found these activities more amusing than I did. They were mildly amusing for a few minutes but there was quite a cheering squad for many of these activities and most of the audience and participators had obviously been drinking hard. In all fairness, we never made it to the Newlywed Game. I know I'm going to hear it about this, but I know people want an honest review. I had a great cruise and a great vacation. It was very relaxing, inexpensive, and interesting. However, I probably will not cruise again anytime soon. It was my (and DH) observation that the people who were really enjoying their cruise were the partiers. There was an awful lot of really hard drinking going on. Not that they were in any way, shape, or form getting in my way. But those were the people who seemed to be enjoying themselves the best. Also, DH and I were bored more frequently than we like. I know I'll hear the whole "your cruise is what you make it" line but if you aren't wasted, a lot of the activities were not all that interesting. To sum up, this was great for us because we really just needed to relax and not worry about anything. A little boredom did us good and the ship and food were terrific. We also met some nice people. After this, I think another type of vacation will be a better fit for us. I hope this review helps. P.S. Saw the Cruise Critic crew. They seemed to be having a blast! Read Less
Sail Date October 2004
This was our second cruise with Carnival but not the last. The first was on Triumph a much larger ship then Sensation. But I think we actually enjoyed the Sensation more. EMBARKATION: This was the inaugural cruise from New Orleans for ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Carnival but not the last. The first was on Triumph a much larger ship then Sensation. But I think we actually enjoyed the Sensation more. EMBARKATION: This was the inaugural cruise from New Orleans for Sensation and frankly I expected some delays and problems. Pleasantly surprised that all went smoothly and quickly. Our group of 2 couples arrived at the terminal at 10:00 and were on board at 11:10 with all the processing done and photos taken. SHIP EXPERIENCE: Sensation is 40,000 tons smaller then Triumph but it feels like there is more room. Never felt the crush of crowds. We found the ship to be clean most of the time the exception being around 8:00 p.m. on the Lido deck when there was few crew assigned there at that time. Our cabin was always clean and our steward was friendly and always greeted us with a smile. The remainder of contacts with various crew found them to be pleasant and helpful. All told we found the Sensation to be a very enjoyable ship to be on. DINING: We had early seating and had enjoyable meals. Our waiter and his assistant were on the ball attending to our every need. The meals in the dining room were first rate. Always cooked to perfection and always hot. Buffet and Lido hamburger stations were always well supplied and rarely had to wait longer then 10 minutes in line for anything. ENTERTAINMENT: I have seen better shows but all in all they were good and did what they were supposed to do and that was to entertain the passengers on board. As for the casino it was fun but very tight on the slot machines. I think I saw one person win a jackpot the first night but nothing else the rest of the cruise. PORTS: We went to Costa Maya and Cozumel on this trip. Costa Maya is still in the process of developing but there was plenty to do. Loads of shopping right off the ship and the excursions were fun. We did the glass bottom Kayak tour and had a ball. The guides were informative and when the actual paddling was done we were treated to an all you can eat taco buffet and all the pop/beer you could drink. What can you say about Cozumel that hasn't been said. Tons of shops without pushy salespeople and you can browse without hassle. Of course there is also Senior Frogs, Carlos and Charlies and Fat Tuesdays if you're thirsty. Local restaurants were very good and prices were reasonable. OVER ALL CRUISE: Over all this was a very enjoyable cruise with no problems. We would have liked to have spent more time in the ports but the time there was pleasant. I would recommend Sensation to anyone and will cruise her again if the opportunity presents itself. Read Less
Sail Date October 2004
Carnival Sensation Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.0
Dining 3.5 3.7
Entertainment 3.5 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 3.8
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.6
Family 4.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 2.0 3.2
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.5 3.7
Rates 3.0 4.3

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