Imagination Reviews

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47 User Reviews of Imagination Cruise Ship

Imagination Review and Video- 2 Night to Ensenada
Publication Date: February 21, 2014

We enjoyed a quick 2 night cruise aboard the Imagination late January 2014. We’re a party of three- me, 40, my hubby, 50 and our 5 year old son. As we live on the Central CA coast, this was a convenient trip for us.

Overall, we enjoyed this short getaway and our expectations on the Imagination were exceeded.

The Cabin

We sailed in an oceanview cabin this time (R43 on the Riviera deck), rather than our standard balcony cabin. We were very happy with the size of the room, and the layout as well as the fact that the cabins below and above us were also cabins- so there was no chair dragging/people walking/loud lounge noise, etc. The window was very large, and helped us to avoid that claustrophobic feeling that can creep in when we don’t have a balcony. Unfortunately, we had rainy, very cool weather by Southern CA standards, so we didn’t get to enjoy as much time outdoors on this cruise. It drizzled pretty much the whole time, with a great break in the rain while we were in Ensenada.

The Ship

The feeling the MOMENT we walked on board was

upbeat, cheerful, and music filled. Every employee in the atrium greeted us, and the music playing let the passengers feel the vacation mood immediately upon boarding. The dancing towel animal, Ellie the Elephant is adorable, and really added to the smiles. The renovations on this ship were awesome (we cruised on it pre-renovation 8 years ago). They did a great job making the ship feel as new as possible- the pool deck looks great and the public rooms and atrium are very obviously updated. Passengers were respectful and party-focused, but not rowdy or obnoxious, from what we noticed. We noticed that a lot of people were carrying around beers and/or bucket of beers immediately after boarding- getting the fun started. We had thought that this cruise might be too rowdy and loud for us, but it wasn’t. It was fun to watch the many bachelorette party groups, families travelling in large groups together and groups of girlfriends looking for a weekend getaway.

Faster to the Fun

This was our second positive experience with FTTF. While we got to the port so early that it probably didn’t make a huge difference in check in time, we enjoyed the extra attention and would say it is worth the money, even for a 2 day cruise, for OUR situation. We were anxious to film the entire ship, so every hour of this cruise counted and boarding early helped.

Dining

As usual, we requested a small table just for the three of us in the early seating, main dining room, but checked with the maitre d on embarkation day and they’d pre-assigned us to sit with others (not sure why they don’t honor what you request on the website, but oh well). Our request to change to a private table was quickly accommodated, and we were put in a 4-top, banquette style (not my fave- as you’re seated right next others on the bench/table combo). Our main dining room servers were so friendly and caring for such a short cruise, and the main dining room food was great.

Lido Buffet food was better than average and the area was kept clean and well-stocked. The station set up really helps with the crowds- the lines were minimal even during peak times, and seating was always available. I particularly loved the Sandwich station, salad bar, and the Asian food.

The Port

This was a “one port†cruise, with just a day’s stop in Ensenada. This was our first time off the ship in Ensenada (we usually sit out this port on longer cruises), so we booked a tour through Carnival to La Bufadora, and enjoyed the blowhole, as well as the BEST tacos (the shop RIGHT near the bus stop at La Bufadora). The vendors were aggressive on the walk to the blowhole, as others had warned, but we made a few purchases, and enjoyed the shopping opportunity. All in all, we’re glad we went, but this is a place you probably only need to see once.

We'd do it again! Hopefully, this time, on the longer 4 day to Catalina.

Here's our video tour of the ship, as well as a quick tour of the stateroom. Enjoy!

Ship Tour

http://youtu.be/3AeJ1jdd_dg

Stateroom

http://youtu.be/IzDdO3Ov8jY

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Great short cruise
Publication Date: May 15, 2013

I don't particularly care for short cruises myself. I prefer a 7 day minimum myself. We did this cruise with my niece her husband and 10 yr old son.

For the age of the ship, it is kept up pretty good. Overall it's impressive and the water park is fantastic. We had a great time, although the stop in Key West was much too short, and we barely got a chance to see anything. Cozumel was fun and we had a good time snorkeling at Money Bar.

If I had to do a short cruise again, I wouldn't hesitate to take this ship again.

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Imagination
Publication Date: January 8, 2011

Embarkation & Debarkation We arrived at 11AM and dropped our bags with the porter and I parked our vehicle in the designated area which is close to the ship. Price is $10 per day and in our case was payable at the end of our cruise. This is CASH by the way. We got in line and promptly at 11:30am we passed through the security checkpoint and entered another line to obtain our boarding pass. We were through that area by 11:45am and walked upstairs to gather our cabin keys, have our Embarkation photo taken and then sat in the lounge until 12:00pm. We entered the ship and made our way to the cabin and then to the Lido deck to grab lunch which began at 12:30pm sharp. Embarkation was very easy and quick.

Debarkation. We placed our luggage outside our cabin around 9pm the evening before arriving in Miami naturally keeping something to wear for the next day, our booze and breakable souvenirs with us in a carryon. We went to the Lido deck and ate breakfast at 9am and remained there sipping ice tea and reading our books

until clearance was given to debark the vessel at 10:20am. We quickly found our luggage and went to the car and paid the parking fees and were on the road by 11:15. The longest wait was leaving the parking lot.

Ship Description The MV Imagination was constructed in 1995 and is a "FANTASY CLASS" ship. This ship was scheduled for refurbishment and dry docking in mid October. Due to the loss of the MV TROPICALE due to an engineroom fire the Imagination has been designated to remain in service until the repair of the TROPICALE is completed. Overall, the Imagination is really in very good shape but wear is noticeable on the decks and carpeting and other minor cosmetics, all of which was scheduled for replacement or repair. The Ship itself was one of the latter of this class and is somewhat less "glitzy" than say the FANTASY itself. There are neon lights in the Atrium, gold "sphinxes" throughout as well as lights in many tables, on the walls and overhead. Is it "Vegas style"? Yes, but not really overbearing and we found it rather nice overall. This ship has three pools, 6 whirlpools, 1 multi-level showroom, piano bar, library, 5 bars, 3 lounges, gymnasium, steam & sauna rooms, beauty saloon, video area, children's playroom, 4 shops, card room, and numerous sitting areas both inside and outside. Additionally there is also golf lessons on the aft deck.

Dining

Carnival has vastly improved the quality of their food. Lunches were taken in the Lido deck area all but one day and that was a day that the food on the Lido deck was supposed to be outstanding as reported by our dinnermates. The lunch in the dining room was...well, lets just say I decided to try and dine "healthy". It is apparently low cal as you are eating something that is totally devoid of any flavor what-so-ever. I do not know what it was except to say it was white, soft, looked like cheese, and had no taste, period. It was back to the Lido and Pizza (excellent) and the stuff that isn't supposed to be good for you. Desserts were fantastic!Breakfast was always taken on the Lido deck. Omelets were good, scrambled eggs, fair, bacon very good, french toast and pancakes very good, and pastries excellent. Dinners. As always the soups were perfection! We love great soup and have yet to be disappointed with Carnivals fare. Salads were crisp and tasty. Starters were also always very good with a wide selection. Main courses were very good with the seafood being wonderful. Lobster was served but I am spoiled on Maine Lobster from growing up and these Spiny Lobsters just don't make it to me. The Newburg was perfect as was any and all prawns. Desserts consisted of great favorites like Napoleons, mousse, cherries jubilee, baked alaska, etc.

Entertainment

What can one say about Carnivals entertainment? It has always been first rate with great shows. We have seen both comedians previously but they have altered their acts some. The dancers were amazing with special guest dancers from Russia unbelievable flexibility. The singers were excellent with the lead male being probably the best entertainer we have seen. He had a great voice and was well versed in dance and performance. More on him later. The Ship's Illusionist was very good and is working on adding more and better illusions to his repertoire. More on him later as well. The Promenade entertainer "Ed" was the best I have seen. He not only played very well, but he could carry a tune and did a great job! In the lounges were "Shout", a very very good three man band, "Curveball Bros" were in another and they were voted top cruise band for the last three years running, and there was also the standard "Calypso" band in the pool area. I must say that the Ship's Band lead by Kenny Stringer was exceptional and very talented group.

Shops and Art Auctions

There were the standard ships "gallariea" shops where one can by necessities and souvenirs as well as jewelry, watches, booze etc.. Not really any great bargains there. I think I will include the "Beauty Salon" in this area. They are overpriced to say the least but, if you wish to be pampered than this is the place. My wife was asked to "demo" the "Isothero-something or other" and she accepted after a little prodding. It is where they cover you with this green stuff like a body cast and have electrodes in there as well as all kinds of oils etc. They claim 1/2 hr in this therapy is equivalent to a 3 to 4 hour active workout. It is supposed to remove from 1 to 8" of cellulite. My wife is rated at only a #1 with not much cellulite on her but there was a noticeable difference in measurements and absolutely no fat to be noticed on her thighs or abdomen after she completed the "demo". Now she was there for 2 hrs total so it was definitely a "workout" for her! So the answer is "yes, it does really work". The cost of the "treatment" is pricy at $100 but it may be worth it if that is what you want. Art Auctions...There were quite a few nice pieces that went through and many were at a very good price. There were others that I just couldn't see being worth what the stated appraisal that was quoted. I do know some of the pieces were appraised at the right amount and some actually lower. Of the appraisal price the auction price varied from 805 off to 45% off the more well know pieces. We purchases a couple of "Chens" and a "Warden" as we collect their works and know the value and feel we received a very good price.

Passengers

The approximate demographics of this cruise were: Gender: 60% female, 35% male, 5% other; Race: 65% Black, 30% white, 5% other; Marital Status: 40% married (adults only counted); Age: approx. 35 - 40 yrs; Tuxes on formal night: only about 20% unfortunately; Lots of great people on this cruise and we had a blast with them.

Crew

I had the pleasure of speaking with and gathering brief bio's on a number of Staff on this ship. Captain Agostino Fazio, this was the most visible Capt. that I have ever seen. He was not only at the functions where his appearance was called for, but I saw him all over the ship and talking with the passengers. Very accessible and very pleasant to speak with. Due to his duties I did not wish to impose on his time and did not ask for an interview with him but we did chat some and he was most pleasant to speak with. Hotel Manager Steve Bolitho, I have met Steve before on the Carnival ship Destiny. he remembered me and we kind of caught up on what we have been doing since last time we met. Steve has married now and his wife is also an Officer on board. This may well be his last contract for awhile as he and his wife are planning a family. His brother was also aboard as a passenger and was quite an interesting and nice chap. He served with the Royal Marines and just left the service of Her Majesty. Steve says that anyone from Crusemates need to say hello to him when they come aboard. Illusionist Alex Romanov, A very personable young man who is working hard to improve and expand his acts. He did a very good job of card manipulations and the obligatory "severed head" of a dancer. He isn't a headliner, but he is learning very rapidly and is quite a nice guy and we became pretty good friends and discovered we had mutual friends as well. Alex is from England Production Lead Male Singer Matt Brewer, Matt is from the USA! Actually he now lives in Tampa, Fl. is engaged and is hoping to go to Broadway eventually. He has been aboard Carnival Ships for 3 years now and is a very accomplished singer. He first studied dance and performing arts and was with a production company in New York called "Starlight Productions" before coming to Tampa where he performed at Busch Gardens for 2 1/2 years before going to work for Carnival. Real nice guy that is very personable and easily accessible. Both Matt and Alex also help out with the Art Auction and other duties. Social Host Amy, another American! As most CD's and SH's seem to be English I was quite surprised to find that all three SH's and the CD were from the USA! Amy is another Florida native and grew up in nearby, (to me anyway), Lake City Fl and attended the University of Florida. Amy is single and cute and DOES have a boyfriend. This is Amy's first contract and she has only been a SH for three weeks now. She says that she loves her job but finds it hard to be "up" all the time. Her job just does not allow her to have a "bad day". She also said that after sailing for a week with some people she actually becomes a little attached and misses them when the cruise is over. Amy obtained her skills at Disney World where she worked part-time while attending college at UF. Last but by no means least is the Cruise Director Larry Garlutzo. The name is Italian but Larry is from Denver. Co. He has been cruising with Carnival for 9 years now. Larry got involved with cruise ships in rather an interesting way. While attending High School he met and fell in love with a young lady. They both attended his Aunts "School of Performing Arts" in Denver with her as a dancer and him as a dancer/musician. She took a job with Carnival after a friend of hers told her of her experiences. After a few month the ship was looking to add male dancers and she called Larry who along with his cousin and best friend joined the ship as male dancers. His girlfriend quit the ship and returned to college and Larry, who did not think dancing was that great, took a position as a musician playing the Promenade deck areas. When the first Social Host positions came into being with CCL Larry applied and became on of the very first SH's with CCL. His girlfriend came back to work as a dancer with CCL. Larry worked his way up from SH to finally Cruise Director and then married his HS sweetheart who remain a dance on board the shame ship as him. Larry and Tonya have been married for three years now and love it. Larry also is now very much aware of Cruisemates and I urge anyone that has the chance to cruise with him go up to him and say hello and identify yourself as being a "Cruisemate". Jim Bragg
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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: July 19, 2010

I want to thank the crew of the Imagination for my first cruise and flights. Everything was more than wonderful. I read lots of reviews before we sailed but the negatives ones didn't discourage me and I'm very happy that they didn't.It was the most wonderful five days of my life, the food was outstanding so was the service, people, activities, entertainment and the other guest.I want to especially thank our cabin steward, Mr. Nelson, God bless you and your family sir, cabin-M93,Lee!

P.S.S. Mr. Nelson is a true professional who went beyond the call of duty and should be rewarded for it with a promotion and raise, again thank you sir.

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Mexico
Publication Date: September 27, 2009

Just got back from the Key West.Cozumel run. They ship was great and the crew was great. I loved the show's and thought the male singer was amazing. I did not care for the cruise director Karl. He was just a bit boreing and treated the guest like children. Not a funny guy or even nice. Loved the cruise otherwise.. Maybe time for this guy Karl to look for another job.. I see why he is only doing fantasy class ships..

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Bahamas
Publication Date: September 8, 2008

The ship and for the most part the staff were excellent. The ship was spotless and kept that way throughout the trip. Due the hurricanes the trip ports were always a surprise. The food was great with nice healthy choices. I only gained 2 pounds. I never felt like I was eating rabbit food when choosing the healthy food. The Spa was awesome. I highly recommend getting some sort of treatment!

I do have two complaints. First on a night with a poolside party (fun for those who like loud loud loud music) they closed the Serenity Deck (adults only with two hot tubs) for a private party. During the poolside party the pool and hot tubs were closed. Second I wanted to take golf lessons. I showed up about 10-minutes prior to the appointed time (no pre registration was required). The staff person in charge said there weren't enough people and it was cancelled. As I watched from a far the staff member told that to every person that came to him about 7-8 people.

I will cruise again but will try another cruise line.

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Bahamas
Publication Date: July 28, 2008

Well, I made it back from my first cruise and I told myself to submit a review when I came back, so here it goes.

This was my first cruise and I was very impressed with some things and not very impressed with others. First, the ship itself was huge, as we pulled up to it in Miami port. Our cabin was small, but as the days went on it seemed enough room for 3 adults and 1 child with upper bunk beds that I was worried about, but ended up being extremely comfortable. There was a ton of things to do on the ship -- casino, lounges, shows every night that were pretty good. I felt the pool was too small and there were always too many kids in it. I did get in it one day but it was too deep and the water was very salty, and I was getting bumped by teenagers so I didn't stay in there too long. I wanted to get into the hot tub, but that was also always filled with kids or teenagers. There were A LOT of teens on

this cruise, but for the most part they didn't bother me.

The one thing that disappointed me about the cruise was that they had a deck party one night after we left Grand Turk, our first island, but nothing on the other nights on the pool deck. I felt like they should have had something every night after we all came back from the islands. They, of course, had stuff going on everywhere else on the ship, so there's always something to do.

PORTS Grand Turk: Looked like an industrial plant from the ship, but when you got off you walked into this little shopping center with places to buy souveneirs. It was a very pretty area we were in. Didn't tour the whole Island because I heard there wasn't much to see. We ended up shopping for a little bit and then went to the ocean which was rocky, but the water was absolutely beautiful. Margaritaville was soooo much fun, there was a dj and he was playing good music, there were dance contests, food was just ok for the amount of money they wanted for it. The swim up bar and pool was soo nice. I'd go back just to hang in Margaritaville again.

Half Moon Cay: This was the most beautiful place I've ever been and fufilled my island tropical experience that I was looking for. It was extremly hot, there were a few shops to buy souveneirs just like Grand Turk, nothing exciting about them and the employees were not very nice. Once you walked to the beach it was gorgeous, I'd never seen anything like it before and we basically played in the water all day, got out to get some free buffet food that was out in the open w/ flies everywhere, but there were a few good choices. We went back to the water and swam for a couple more hours. It was just so nice.

Nassau: We booked a Harbor cruise/Atlantis excursion through the cruise line. Got off the boat and our travel guide tells us we have to walk about 15 minutes to get to the harbor cruise. That was hard for me considering I'm disabled and walk with a limp. That was the start of a very long day. Walked forever to get to the Harbor Cruise boat, and once on the boat couldn't see anything the tour guide pointed out because of where the seats were, and on top of that the boat was flying so there was no time to take pics whatsoever. This tour was very disappointing. We were then led from the boat over to Atlantis which is huge and very nice, got some great pics from there. We were led around and given to a couple different tour guides, but the Aquarium was very nice and the grounds of Atlantis are beautiful -- so Atlantis is worth the trip. Found out later on friends of ours paid 25 dollars less to take a bus tour of Nassau and then over to Atlantis. They got to see a lot of Nassau. That was disappointing and I will wait to get off the boat to do excursions from now on. Nassau was busy, a lot of run down areas. Many shops on the main street which I liked. Went to the straw market, that was an experience in itself -- rows and rows of the same stuff and every person trying to get you to buy their stuff. People slipping bracelets on to your arm, haggling for t-shirts and other souveneirs. I got quite a lot of stuff, but the t-shirts weren't even worth getting, they were cheap. And even though they bargain with you, you're getting ripped off with the prices. I'm glad I got to experience Nassau but it's not someplace I'll visit again, too busy for me and too many people bothering you.

The last night on the ship was disappointing. They closed the deck with the pool, a show was put on which was good, the casino was open and I did end up winning a little bit of money there. The clubs were open, but a lot of places were closed and the crew was cleaning everything up for the next round of passengers. I got the feeling that they wanted us off so the next round of passengers could get on.

Overall I really enjoyed my cruise. The food was good -- not great, some of the staff were very nice, others not so much. Entertainment was good, Spirit dining room was excellent, servers danced for us every night. I would definitely cruise again but next time would probably look for something with less children and teens, but also look for places to visit that were relaxing instead of hectic. I hope this helps anyone that's never cruised before.

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Southern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 20, 2008

My husband and I love to cruise anytime we get the chance and often cruise Carnival. When we learned of a last minute special price to do this four night cruise to Key West and Cozumel we jumped on it! Unfortunately, the word "disappointing" is the adjective that comes to mind regarding the food service during this cruise. The food quality was generally very poor. The meat in the Mongolian grill was poorly prepped, tough and stringy and the vegetables were limited in choice. I ordered fish in the dining room two different nights and both times it was overcooked and dry. My husband's steak was tough as shoe leather. The cherries jubilee is no longer flambéed in the dining room. The baked Alaska was not browned at all and tasted like raw meringue. Perhaps it was because of our late seating (8:30 in the Pride dining room) and they got tired of cooking each day. The exception was the rotisserie chicken and mac-n-cheese on the Lido deck at noon. It was great -- a must have for lunch! The chocolate melting cake in the dining room was divine -- someone

at our table ordered the cake each night and it was always perfect!

We opted for an interior room on the Riveria deck -- noisy the first night as the Spring Breakers settled into their new environment, but then it was fine for the rest of the cruise. Our room steward quickly cleaned our room and made the bed each day. We never ran out of clean towels.

The cruise director "Noonan" is young and appears fairly inexperienced, although I could be wrong and it was just his demeanor. The two stage shows have been performed on Carnival ships for many years and could use freshening up in the choreography and costumes. Neither of the lead singers (one male, one female) were anything special. The comedy shows were entertaining but predictable.

Carnival can deliver much better food service and entertainment than what is currently available on the Imagination.

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: February 7, 2008

This was to be our 5th Carnival Cruise (we have also been on Disney and Norwegian). This is our kids' 5th cruise also. We chose the Imagination to see all of the updates she received.

We flew into Miami the day before and stayed at the Biscayne Bay Marriott. A decent hotel in a very rundown Downtown Miami. I will never stay downtown again. We live in NY, very close to NY city and if NYC can clean itself up, so can Miami. It left much to be desired. I would probably choose South Beach next time. The Marriott could use some updating, but was fine for one night. We went to Bayside for dinner at Bubba Gumps.

The next day we arrived to the new Miami terminal. It is very nicely done with very cold air conditioning. (bring a sweater). This was our first time in a suite so we got VIP boarding. A nice touch. We boarded the ship by 12:15. Our room was not ready, but we dropped off our bags and got a sneak peek at the room. Very spacious with lots of storage. Rooms have

all been updated with new furniture, and granite and marble counters. Much more elegant looking. The beds were extremely comfortable. The fridge was great for keeping our bottled water cool. Our room steward Jan, also kept a fresh supply of ice on hand. And we never had to ask for pool/beach towels. He kept the room neat and tidy.

The muster drill is something my kids hate doing. But the way they do it now in the lounge is great. There was no whining about how hot and uncomfortable it is.

We had a good waitstaff. Our assistant waiter was actually better than our head waiter. My daughter wanted spaghetti with tomato sauce one night, and I told her they didn't have it on the menu. Zoran overheard her and brought it for her. He said her smile was the best thank you he could ask for. It was very sweet.

The food was good each night, some dishes better than others, but the most memorable was the warm chocolate melting cake. (thanks to all the CCr's who recommended it) WOW!! Lido food was good. Burgers, hot dogs and pizza were standard Carnival fare. Breakfast in the dining room is definitely better than the lido. Drinks were good quality, didn't feel they were too watered down. Beers were cold. Deli was not up and running but looks like it will be soon.

The cruise director was pretty lame. We had Kevin Noonan, who I did not enjoy. He had a monotone voice and never seemed to shut up. He was not really very entertaining. The rest of the cruise staff were good. The shows were the same shows for the last few years with maybe a few song changes. The singers were ok. The guy playing guitar on the promenade was ok too. Some songs he sang well and others were just bad. It was hit or miss.

The photographers took some nice photos, but we only bought one family portrait and 2 5X7. The pics are getting pricey. $21.99 for an 8X10. Ridiculous.

The new Waterworks slides and sprinklers were a big hit with all of us. The slides are sooo much fun. My kids spent hours up there. The last day was a day at sea and it was pretty windy up there. It did get a little uncomfortable. They eventually closed the big slide as the the wind picked up. The pool area is very pretty and the umbrellas at the pool offered some nice shade. The kids also used the new minigolf course and loved it. They went to camp for a few activities. They need to rethink the 9-11 group activities. My daughter was in the 6-8 and they built a volcano, my son was in the 9-11 and they were coloring a t-shirt at the same time. He would have loved to build a volcano. They did not do the late night activities this cruise, as we all seemed too exhausted at the end of the day.

We had 2 ports of call. Key West and Cozumel. We did not do any ship excursions. In Key West we docked at the Navy pier and took the trolley into town. We went to the Aquarium and to the Shipwreck Museum. The shipwreck museum was more interesting. They put on a little show and teach about the History of Key West, and there is a great view of the island from the tower of the museum. We then went to Fort Zachart Taylor State Park. It is a really beautiful beach. We spent about an hour there, and then caught the trolley back to the ship.

In Cozumel, we went to our favorite place, Paradise Beach. You cannot have a bad day here. The people are friendly, the food is great, the beers go down easy. You pay nothing to get in, but pay $10 to play with all the toys. We did the water and bungee trampolines, and we climbed a coconut tree. They also have snorkel equipment, kayaks, and an iceberg. The bathrooms and changing rooms are clean and there are plenty of chairs/umbrellas. We love it there. We docked at Punta Longosta and there is a nice shopping area right off the pier, but don't wander too far as it gets pretty shady. There is a Senor Frogs and a Carlos and Charlies. I did miss Puerto Maya (where Carnival used to dock) It should be finished soon.

Debarkation was pretty smooth. We always say we are going to wait and leave last, but when our zone was called we made our way to the stairs. There was a line and customs paused debarkation twice for crowd control, but overall it was sad, but painless. The new set up downstairs is great though. No more going through a huge warehouse looking for your luggage. Each zone is separated onto a conveyor belt, like at baggage claim at the airport. So much more organized.

We had a great time on this reinvented Funship. We would definitely cruise on the Imagination again.

Live...Love...Cruise!!

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: September 24, 2007

This was a cruise with two of my best friends. One had cruised a long time ago with NCL, the other not at all.

Embarkation The Miami cruise terminal is pretty disgusting. Dirty carpets, bad mildew smell, confusing lines. We waited for several hours, going thru a number of lines, including a long one once we had checked in. We heard a new terminal was being built. Finally, we were onboard. Of course the staterooms weren't ready, so we headed to the buffet -- one of only two times we'd make that choice.

The Food The food was quite good. No surprises on the menu since I've sailed, but it was all cooked to perfection. I am not a red meat eater on the whole, but made a couple of exceptions. They were both excellent. Desserts were fabulous.

The buffet is still just the buffet, so we opted to eat there only twice -- once upon boarding (no other choices) and once after an active day in Nassau (we missed the dining room service for lunch.) We were in the dining room the whole cruise and never regretted the decision.

The sushi was

exceptionally good this time around and we never missed a day.

The one exception to the delicious food was the grand buffet. Everything looked wonderful (neither of my friends had seen this presentation, so we opted to stand in line), but afterwards (another long wait) the food itself was disgusting. One of my friends thought the food was meant for looking, not actual eating.

Service The service was hands down the best I've experienced. Our table waiters were friendly, sharp and efficient. We ended up at a table with 6 other people and the chemistry was right. We became "the" table in the dining room that laughed the loudest and had the most fun. Our room steward kept our cooler full the entire cruise and was quick with extra requests.

The Entertainment The entertainment was quite good -- piano bar, shows in the main lounge, bars. "Flashy" -- the guitar player outside the casino had us (and lots of others) coming back every night. The only exception was the comedian. He was absolutely hilarious the first night, but his R rated show at midnight was offensive and just plain not funny. I am far from a prude, but his humor consisted ONLY of explicit sex. We walked out.

The Ports

Grand Turk: Grand Turk was our first stop and what a surprise! We walked right by the Margaritaville, Carnival-built shopping/pool bar and headed straight for an 8:30 snorkel excursion. We snorkeled at 2 different reefs (one at Round Cay -- the other I can't remember). The tour operators were very helpful and seemed to understand I was pretty nervous. I am not the strongest swimmer and the waters were a little rough. I saw stingrays, huge barracuda and lots of other fish. My friends were braver and snorkeled further away. They saw many more fish, turtles, sharks, etc. On the way back, we went over the 4,000 foot ocean wall (or was it 7,000?) where the divers were enjoying this amazing site. The ocean literally drops straight down (hence the term wall) and apparently has every marine animal imaginable.

After snorkeling, we headed to Cockburn Town. Tiny little town with, so far, no tourist development (and NO tourists that we saw until the end.) We went thru the museum (fascinating), strolled around town, took pics, talked to some locals and ended up at a bar on the beach (Sand Bar? Sand something) that reportedly had the best rum punch in the universe. My friends verified this and also ordered some conch fritters. Two young divers that were on our ship were there and we decided to share a taxi back. With me and the taxi driver cracking the whip, we arrived on the pier as the horn blew its last "goodbye." We made it by the skin of our teeth and were next to last getting aboard. Scary, but in retrospect, exciting. Grand Turk is not for everyone. If you want a sanitized experience with lots of shopping and tours, this isn't the place for you. It is EXACTLY what I want in a port, but fear the development for the cruise tourists will ruin it before long.

Half Moon Cay: Was fine, but not near as good as RCI's Coco Cay. Lots of little paths that wind thru the foliage without a view of the beach. You had to walk a long way to get a chair in the shade. Once we were there, we had chairs and hammocks -- lovely. The noise and view of the "kiddie area" with squirting fountains, slides and screaming children put a damper on the secluded beach feeling most of us wanted. No employees hawking drinks, which meant trips to the not so easily located bars. Our horseback riding excursion in the surf was not to happen (waters too rough) but we didn't find out until after we had taken the tram to the stables. Most of the group elected to get our money refunded, which Carnival did promptly and with grace.

Nassau: Been so many times it's hard to work up enthusiasm, but my friends enjoyed the Queen's Staircase and the straw market. Funny, they both felt an "edgy" atmosphere when walking around Nassau (not near the shops, but further in) that I didn't share. I don't know if that is something that has developed recently that I don't see, or I'm just immune since I've been so much before.

The Ship Sadly, the ship was noticeably in need of an upgrade. I know she is going into dry-dock in October and those folks cruising afterwards will enjoy the change. Our room had a big chunk cracked out of the sink, dirty tiles in the shower, worn carpet and walls in need of painting with scratches.

Nonetheless, the common areas of the ship were fine, with a little of that mildew smell. I'm sure the dry-dock will fix everything.

Art Auction I always attend the art auctions, but this time actually bought something! In fact, all three of us made a purchase. The auctioneer (David) was charming and knowledgeable. I was not unaware of the "salesman" side of his job, but after doing a lot of research after I got home, found that he knew his stuff. My husband had mooned over a Zamy Steynovitz painting on our last cruise together, so I swallowed hard and made the purchase. My friend purchased a beautiful piece by Alfred Gockel. Because of my purchase, we became known as the "Zamy Girls" for the rest of the cruise.

Other Details I spent less in drinks, less in the shops (only one pair of earrings in the gift shop,) zero in the casino, zero at bingo, etc., etc. I had no desire to spend any more than I spent, so it made the cost of the painting a little easier to swallow.

We had a wonderful cruise and I would not (as usual) hesitate to go on another Carnival cruise. It continues to live up to the "Fun Ship" name.

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