My fiancé Mark and I just returned from a four-day cruise on Carnival's Imagination on May 8 - 12, 2003. The round-trip cruise went from Miami, Florida to Key West, Florida and Cozumel, Mexico. Overall, the cruise was worth the price we paid, but I don't think we'll be doing another short cruise on Carnival unless it's with a group of friends.
For background information, I am 26 and Mark is 28. We are from Orlando, Florida and drive to the ports. This was our fourth cruise. The first two were also on Carnival, first on the Jubilee to the same ports exactly one year prior to this cruise, and the second on the Fantasy, a three-day to Nassau. Our third cruise was a seven-day on the Celebrity Millennium in December. Unfortunately, I'm afraid our experience on Celebrity spoiled us so much that it was a letdown to go back to Carnival.
Booking the cruise
We booked this cruise two weeks before sailing due to a low last-minute fare. We also thought that some of our friends would be joining us, but they were too slow and waited the next day tobook, and the price went up by $100 per person, so they decided not to go. Our travel agent was the online agent Best Price Cruises. We were pleased with their service, especially since they FedExed our documents to us so we would have them in time for the cruise.
We arrived at the Port of Miami around 2:00 p.m. on Thursday. Directional signs were not very clear at the port. The Imagination was docked at pier 9. They are building a parking garage at that pier but it is still under construction as of this review, so we parked in an outdoor lot nearby. It was not difficult to find a parking space and the walk to the pier was not far. The cost was $40, payable in advance.
We handed our bags to a porter and entered the building to check in. Lines were surprisingly not very long. The check-in area is quite pleasant and there are cheerful murals on the walls. After checking in with your documents, you are directed to a different area to pick up your room key. Then you walk through a corridor long enough to necessitate moving sidewalks (although most people just stand on them like it's a Disney ride) and finally reach the gangway, where you take your embarkation photo and board the ship. Embarkation went smoothly and painlessly.
The Imagination is a lovely ship. We liked her much better than the Fantasy and the Jubilee. While she still has the glitz and sparkle that are trademarks of a Carnival cruise ship, she is a little more understated. Colors in the public areas were darker tones, such as gold, black, and purple, and there were fewer of the primary colors or neons than we've seen on other Carnival ships. However, while the décor was more subtle, if the designers were going for a theme in their decorating, I do not know what it is. The corridors with cabins were lined with pictures of old ocean liners, and the large light in the corner of each cabin had a picture of an ocean liner on it. One of the bars, the Pinnacle Club, had a lovely nautical theme and showcased gorgeous prints of old sailing ships. The lobby, however, and many of the public areas, featured gilded statues of smiling sphinxes. There were other gilded statues, such as behind the Dream Bar in the casino, and gilded paneling on the walls by the elevators. Perhaps the theme was Napoleon's naval assault of Egypt and his looting of ancient treasures? Makes some sense, but it's a stretch to think that the designers put that much consideration into the theme, especially since it includes 20th century ocean liners.
If I had any gripe with the upkeep of the ship it would be that the restrooms in the public areas needed to be cleaned more often. They were frequently filthy and disgusting.
We had an oceanview cabin on the Main deck, M51. It was near the front of the ship and very convenient to the main atrium. The cabin was clean and comfortable; typical of a Fantasy-class oceanview cabin. Those mauve bedspreads and curtains are looking a little tired, though. We were pleased with the convenience of the location. We did hear some engine noise and various sounds as the ship docked in the mornings. The morning of debarkation we were awakened at 6:30 by very loud thumping sounds that seemed to be coming from directly beneath our cabin. I believe a cabin on a higher deck would have been less noisy, but we did not have much choice in cabins due to our last-minute booking.
After having sailed on Celebrity, we were a bit disappointed in the quality and variety of the food on the Imagination. The pizza, as always, was excellent - some of my favorite pizza anywhere. The rest of the food, however, was variable in quality and taste. The buffet food was average quality; nothing to get excited about. In the dining room, food was generally average to good, with a few choices being excellent.
We never ate breakfast in the buffet, instead eating in either the dining room for open seating dining or ordering from room service. I was disappointed in the variety of breakfast foods in the dining room. About the only thing you could get there that you could not get in the buffet was eggs benedict. They are really missing the chance to offer a varied and exciting assortment of breakfast foods. For example, the dining room menu offered an omelet, but the only fillings available were ham or cheese.
For lunch, we tried the buffet, room service, and the dining room. The buffet food was average, not great. In the dining room, the quality of the food was not high, and the food was not fresh and had been sitting around under heat lamps. The room service menu was disappointingly limited but the sandwiches were very good.
Dinner was the best meal offered by Carnival and several selections were consistently excellent. Escargot, for example, were plump and tasty. A chilled mango soup was absolutely sublime. Rack of lamb was as tender as butter, and sun-dried tomato bread was delicious. There were a few misses at dinner, though. A steak was dry and tough. Side dishes were unimaginative and mundane. Salads were blah. Several nights there were no entrées that appealed to us. The appetizers were generally the best dishes on the menu and I made a habit of filling up on several of those. Desserts were generally good, especially the chocolate-almond cake and the Grand Marnier soufflé.
During the evenings there was a sushi bar. If you're used to the freshest, choicest sushi, as we are, you will be disappointed. (It should tell you enough that the sushi chef was from the Philippines.) However, we did see some folks who had never tried sushi before eating it for the first time. They seemed to enjoy it. Note that none of the sushi is made with sashimi (raw fish.) I hope the people whose minds were opened to trying sushi will now decide to give one of their local fresh sushi bars a try, as it will undoubtedly be better.
Drinks seemed overpriced. A bucket of four cans of domestic beer on ice cost $13 with gratituity. Mixed drinks were $4 to $5 and not very good.
In all aspects, the service was excellent and cannot be faulted. Our waiter and assistant waiter were always attentive and friendly and anticipated our needs. Our cabin steward did a terrific job and even helped us when we were locked out of our cabin one night (he happened to be down the hall.) by far the most unexpected and excellent service we received was from our maitre d', Fuat. He made it seem like it was a pleasure to change our dining reservations from early to late seating and even had the staff set up and create a table for two when we requested it. Then he refused a tip for his gracious service. I will be writing to Carnival with my compliments for this maitre d' who went out of his way to make our dining experience special.
We are not big fans of cruise entertainment. We generally skip the Vegas-style shows, although I enjoy a good comedy act. so we did see the comedian/magician one evening and he was very good. Never did make it to the midnight "R-rated" comedy shows though. Lounge entertainment was generally excellent. My favorite act was the Lido deck calypso band, Pan Friends. They really got everyone into a Caribbean mood.
Unfortunately, we spent a little too much time losing money in the casino. The slots seemed very tight and were not much fun. After putting a few dollars in a slot machine, they were gone in five seconds.
The cruise director, Jorge, did a fairly good job. All the activities and diversions he organized were typical of a short Carnival cruise. There was not much to make this one stand out. The staff did seem to work well together and had a good rapport.
One of the nice things about a Carnival cruise is that it is a floating melting pot. You see every variety of ages, incomes, and ethnicities on board. In general, though, this cruise seemed to attract a large number of young people looking for a party atmosphere. Drunks screaming and running down the hallways at 3:00 a.m awakened us several times during the cruise. There was also a cabin full of teenage girls down the hall who kept their door open and set their stereo on full blast during the day. This was not what I would consider a quiet, relaxing cruise.
There was definitely not enough time in either port on this cruise. The ship docked in Key West at 7:30 a.m. on Friday and required guests to be back on board at 1:30 p.m. During the day there is not much to do in Key West except visit a few museums, shop at the tacky tourist shops, eat, and drink. You don't really get the feel for the character of the city that you do in the evening during a sunset celebration. If I were in charge of cruise ship itineraries I'd make Key West an overnight stay. We've been to Key West many times on our own, so during this visit we simply walked down Duval Street to a lovely restaurant called Croissants de France for breakfast and returned to the ship.
There also didn't seem to be much time in Cozumel, either. We arrived there at noon and had to be back on board by 9:30 p.m. The vendors in Cozumel are a bit pushy, but this is one of our favorite ports, anyway, for one reason: an exceptional restaurant called Pancho's Backyard. During our previous visit to Cozumel we ate dinner there and were thrilled with the food. This time we decided to try lunch, and although we were disappointed that the lunch menu was more limited than the dinner menu, the food was excellent nevertheless. I had three piña coladas that were obviously made with fresh pineapple and coconut. What a delicious difference from the ship's drinks! Mark had three margaritas - two small and one large - and it was more than enough to get him good and intoxicated. Beware, because the margaritas in Cozumel are very strong! After lunch we shopped a bit but then headed back to the ship for a nap because I was feeling a touch of heatstroke. We were unhappy with the early departure time from Cozumel. We would have loved to go to Señor Frog's on the pier after dinner for some drinks, but since we had late seating, there just wasn't time.
Disembarkation in Miami was one of the easiest we've ever done. We had a long wait, since our luggage tags were among the last to be called (which always seems to happen to us.) Once off the ship, it was fairly easy to find our bags, as they place bags in areas grouped by luggage tag color. The fluorescent yellow duct tape I put on the handles and sides of the bags also helps us spot them easily. Then it was fairly simple to walk from the pier to the car. Even leaving the parking lot went smoothly and didn't take too long. We were out of the port and on our way by 10:30 a.m.
I don't think we'll be taking a short Carnival cruise by ourselves again. If our friends who had originally planned to come along had booked and come with us, we would have had such a blast. This kind of cruise really lends itself to partying with friends. As it was, we did have a great time, but this was certainly not the right cruise for relaxation and romance. When we go on cruises together in the future, I think we will save our money and go on seven-day or longer cruises on the new Carnival ships or on more upscale cruise lines.
Just got back from our first Carnival cruise. Have been on MANY different cruise lines and my expectations were not very high. I am happy to say that overall we had a very positive experience. The food was much better than I expected, and having the optional buffet for every meal, not to mention then 24 hour pizza and ice cream, made our dinner decisions much easier when we weren't quite ready for dinner at our main seating.
I do suggest that you have them remove the tips from your credit card, they were very agreeable to do that. I came on board with my two teenage daughters, and a word to the wise, watch out for they don't seem to monitor the ages on alcohol.
My only true criticism would be that they do not keep up the ship very well at all, in fact I would have to say that it was filthy. Our cabin was all chipped up and the bedspreads were gross, I have no idea the last time they might have been laundered. The tiles in the bayhroom were all moldy and black with mildewstains. Then windows all over the ship need washing as well as the entire exterior could use a coat of paint. Those things were not as important as the things that were great. I appreciate all of the positives much more. Food and service were first rate!!!!
Well, the cruise started out a disaster, but turned out great. We missed our flight out of Detroit because Northwest was overbooked and understaffed. They finally got us on a flight scheduled to get to Miami at 3pm, but it didn't arrive until 4:05. I had been keeping Carnival abreast of the delays, and called them as soon as I exited the plane. The rep said to get our luggage and meet the bus. I told her we didn't purchase Carnival transfers, but she said it shouldn't be a problem. The Carnival greeters at baggage said we couldn't take the bus, so get a cab - fine. Then about 5-10 min. later, they came up to us and said the ship left, we'd have to catch it at Grand Cayman. I about flipped, since there were lots of people who missed flights and were on their way to the ship. I asked to see a supervisor. 20 min. later 3 show up and I tell them the history and they say, "Why aren't you trying to get a cab, the ship hasn't left?" I about have a fit then.Mind you, I have 3 kids including a toddler and tons of luggage and have been up since about 3am. So, they and us haul all the luggage outside and try to get a big cab (although I keep saying get 2 cabs, I don't care about the cost). We finally snag a cab, but the biddy won't take us because my 20-mo. Old doesn't have a carseat. I tell her to take my husband and older kids, she won't even do that. Finally one of the Carnival supervisors decides to get a shuttle, but it will take 10-15 min. about 10 min later, they said the boat wasn't going to wait, we were out of luck (although I found out later the boat didn't leave for another 10 min). Carnival puts the whole blame on Northwest, so they take me to the NWA counter and eventually, after many tears, the NWA supervisor hooks us up with 2 rooms in Miami, tickets to Grand Cayman on Sunday, 2 suites on the beach at Grand Cayman, meals, cabfare. However, we realized as we were checking out of the hotel in Miami, that our camera bag disappeared in the luggage shuffle at the airport, with the brand- new $500 digital camera, camcorder, 35mm camera, all the accessories, smart media cards, etc. Disposable cameras, here we come.
On Monday morning, the Port Authority sends cars for us and the other people who missed ships (about 15 of us total). We wait a few hours because the waves are high and they aren't sure the tenders can dock against the ship. Eventually, they get us out there and the ships leave. Nobody on the ships got to see Grand Cayman (their loss!) because of the high waves. However, we didn't get to do Stingray City, which I had booked through Captain Marvins for port day. Kids were disappointed. Guess I'll have to go back to Grand Cayman. It's a beautiful port, the sand is amazing (that sounds weird, but it's true). CI money is worth more than US money, so be prepared to pay a lot. The shops right at the pier are somewhat pricey, though not as out-of-line as I have heard. I could have done better on gold charms in Ocho Rios.
The rest of the trip was much better. They got us checked in fairly quickly. The food was great in the Spirit dining room, I had lots of fish dishes, which were all great. My husband Mike ate the steak dishes. He wasn't thrilled with the beef in the puff pastry, but liked the chateaubriand and the prime rib. The breakfasts in the dining room were much better than the first cruise I took. Our head waiter, Jude was nice, very professional, not as chatty as others I've had. The last night, though, I felt the service went downhill, kept having to ask for stuff (ketchup, fruit cocktail for the kids) multiple times. Maybe they felt the tips were pretty much a guarantee by then.
I liked the grill by the main pool, very convenient to have food that close.
Bar service was quick, and I took advantage of it the first day especially, since I had had a pretty rough first few days. If you like big drinks ,buy 1 in the souvenir glass, then keep it with you and get it refilled, it's almost $2.00 per drink cheaper (Bahama Mamas were $6.75 in the big glass, $4.95 for a refill).
Carnival gave us 50% credit per day we missed (before taxes and port charges), but it specifically says valid as first and second cabin member, which may pose a problem on a future cruise I am planning (Carnival rep said I have to talk to guest relations, since those were issued that way for my kids, who were 3rd, 4th and 5th cabin members on the cruise). Hopefully, I'll win that battle, since I've let them know how pissed I am at them for their greeters telling me the ship left when it didn't.
Kids loved the Carnival Kids Club. The staff is very caring toward the children. The after-hours babysitting worked out great.
Ocho Rios was beautiful (prettier than Grand Cayman), but the vendors were obnoxious. We tried to book Dolphin Cove through the internet, but they are very strange. If you need details on that, email me. Bottom line, the Dolphin Encounter ($89/person) seems like more hands-on interaction than the Dolphin Swim ($145/person). This price includes Dunns River Falls also. Dolphin Cove has a small beach and a tiny pond with a very lethargic sting ray and 3 small nurse sharks you can feed, if you can get them to come over). They take pics of the dolphin stuff ($12 each). They also have a small eating area, food was pretty good and reasonable. Dunns River Falls was beautiful, very photographic place. Mike and the older kids had fun climbing. You need water shoes, which they rent for $5 if you don't have any. BEWARE of the vendors in the craft village on your way out. They asked my kids their names and then carved their names in these stupid statues (while I was being kept busy by another vendor), then told me they were giving it to the kids, but I should pay them. I said alright, $5, and they said, no $10. Mike paid exorbitant prices for stupid things, said he felt bad for the guy cuz he said he had 5 kids he was trying to support. T shirts seemed reasonable ($10), but if you go downtown, same shirts are like 3 for $10.
Our room steward, Pak, did a great job of keeping the room tidy, and did cute towel animals all 3 days. He didn't respond to pages the first time, though. He also kept insinuating I was stealing the beach towels, because Mike put 2 in the dirty laundry bag outside our door, didn't realize we had to leave them in a heap by the door so Pak could count them and give us clean ones for the next day. I finally said, hey, I'm not stealing them, search my luggage and check. Just give me 5 beach towels!
by the way, the robes in the room were a great idea, one less thing to pack.
Debarkation went smoothly, although we had to do the 7 am Immigration thing because we joined the ship in a foreign port. We had early debarkation tags for an early flight, got out about 9 -9:15 am.
All in all, we enjoyed the cruise, although I feel like I went for a 3-day trip, since the first 2 days were so screwed-up. One complaint Mike had (and I agree with) is that you don't get to sleep in, since you get to the ports so early and have to be up and fed and ready to go. We were exhausted by the time we got home.
We're looking for a fall cruise, so we can use up the credit, so it must have been a pretty good cruise!
My husband and I went on this cruise with another couple. This was a first cruise for us all. I wasn't sure what the best way to make reservations was, but didn't have to worry about that, Carnival called us! My friend and I had started researching cruises on the Carnival site. We already knew that we were interested in the 5 day Western Caribbean and the Imagination fir those requirements.
Our Carnival representative was Chris. He was very nice to talk to and though we hit a couple of minor snags, (which were taken care of with no problems) I'd highly recommend him.
We're all from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We received our papers about 10 days before the cruise. We found out then that Carnival would be flying us out of C.R. on Friday and would be putting us up for the night at the Wynham Miami Airport Hotel. That sounded great to all of us, we wanted to make sure nothing happened (air wise) to make us miss our ship! Everything went very smoothly. We were met at the baggage terminal by a real nice Carnival gal (can't rememberher name). We then were taken to a shuttle bus to our hotel.
After checking in, we called it a night. The next morning, we were to "pre-register" at the hotel. We brought our entire luggage from our room to the lobby, stood in line with many other fellow cruisers and showed the required papers. Our luggage was then taken to a designated area of the hotel to be left until later. We pretty much had just enough time to have breakfast, and then we all waited in the hotel bar for our shuttle bus to arrive.
After showing the Carnival rep. which bags were ours, we boarded the bus and waited for it to fill before taking off for the pier. It only took about 15 minutes to get there. They have everyone wait on the bus until the entire luggage is unloaded. We then pointed out our bags to the porter, tipped him $1.00 per bag and left to walk onto the ship! Before I forget to mention, I found making bright colored pom-poms very useful. We could spot our luggage in a sea of bags with no problem.
Now, on to the ship. We were directed every step of the way, just make sure you have your paperwork and photo I.D.'s ready. We walked unto the ship and found our room (upper deck, oceanview) with no problem. At this time, we met our cabin steward, Muhammad. What a great guy! He remembered all our names from just a brief introduction and never forgot them! Can't say enough about Muhammad and his whole crew. All were very friendly. We never had to wait for our room to be cleaned or ice to be forgotten. .
After snooping around the ship an announcement came on the speakers that it was time for the "muster drill". We got our life jackets and went to our designated area. Had the drill (took about 45 minutes). The drill was finished with us all out on deck, next thing we know, we're off! As we passed several other ships, we waved at their passengers and they waved back, everybody was so excited!
I'll start skipping to just points of interest now (wouldn't want to bore anyone). We were surprised that for a full ship, we weren't constantly bumping into crowds of people. There was hardly any congestion. I'd suggest taking the stairs though, you could wait forever for the elevators. There were stores to shop (got plenty of souvenirs) pools, whirlpools, buffets, nightly shows and of course, beautiful scenery from the decks!
I had booked all our excursions on the internet. Sure, you could do this through Carnival, but why wait in line to reserve (while you could be doing something fun on the ship) and taking the chance that maybe after all the line waiting, you find out that the best ones are all filled? I'd heard a lot of very good things about swimming with the stingrays and Captain Marvin's came highly recommended. Our spots were reserved for the two hour trip with no problem..
We left the Imagination by tender, got on the island and walked straight to Capt. Marvin's with no problem. We paid and then were to wait out front for the shuttle to the boat. Once there, we were shown to a room to get our snorkels and fins. Next, we were directed to the boat we would be taking out to the sandbar. Our tour guides were very nice guys. Marshall was one and I believe the others name was Armand.
The wind was very strong that morning and we had quite a wild ride out to the sandbar. As soon as the boat anchored, the sea turned almost black with rays! We jumped in and started to get acquainted with them. Believe me, they are so gentle, seemed to love having us there (or was it just the squid we had?) We spent about 20 minutes with them (the waves hitting you were getting old), but once you snorkel, it's so peaceful! Next, we sped over to a coral reef where we could also snorkel, but because the winds were so bad and the water about 8 to 10 feet, I declined. My husband did go in though and said there had to have been about a hundred fish swimming all around him. If it wasn't for Marshall asking me if I'd like him to take some underwater pictures for me, I wouldn't have the great pictures of rays and fish to show back home, that was very nice.
After arriving back at Captain Marvin's and saying good-bye, we all boarded the shuttle back to town. I had already made online reservations for the Nautilus, so we had to hurry and make that tour. Found it without too much of a problem. This tour was nice, but just wish it could have been a little longer.
We walked around town afterwards. I wasn't very impressed. The shops are pretty much all the same and a little bit high priced. We did have lunch at a sandwich shop, very good. It got pretty crowded on the streets, so we just decided to get back on the tender for the ship.
That night, the winds were so strong, the ship rocked pretty good, kind of scary (not to mention several people were sick). It would have been nice after that night to get off in Ocho Rios, but we were told the next morning that the port authority's thought it was too unsafe to do so. I had also booked an excursion on the internet for here. I'd heard about A-Z Jamaica Planners. I so would have loved meeting these gals! Belinda and Jane were their names. They custom tailored a whole day tour for us with no problems. Trust me, if you have any questions, they'll answer back in no time.
Wouldn't you know it, after turning back towards Miami, the winds died down? Oh well, the ship had extra activity's to enjoy and our last day was beautiful. In fact, it was really the only good weather day the whole cruise.
The next morning, we had breakfast one last time and waited to hear when we could disembark. That went very smoothly also. The Carnival staff direct you every step of the way.
Oh, I can't end this without mentioning our waiter, Edwardu (Spirit dining room). He's a real nice guy. The food was also very good!
Well, that's about it. Sorry it's so long. All in all, it was a nice cruise. I'd sure like to do another one someday, but with a group of gals
This was our 3rd cruise but first with our two teenage boys and 1st with Carnival.What a great time we all had!
First the cabins. Compact,neat and extremely clean.Lot's of storage space. Bathrooms had toothpaste,disposable razors and soaps etc.Good water pressure in the shower too.
Dining-simply fabulous. The boys ate more pizza and cheesburgers than they do in a year at home!The Spirit Dining Room offered up a variety of dishes. From fillet mignon to cherries jubilee.We ate breakfast at the Horizon and Grill on the lido deck. Entertainment was excellent with the Imagination dancers and singers putting on a great show in the Dynasty Lounge. Service throughout the ship was simply outstanding.
Just returned from a 5 day New Year's cruise aboard the Imagination; myself, my husband and 2 14yr.old boys. We were pleasantly surprised by all Carnival had to offer: good size cabins (inside), cleanliness, quality and quantity of the food, service, and most of all the pleasantness and friendliness of all the crew, right down to the maintenance people. The New Year's eve bash was quite an experience, with music, dancing, hats, noisemakers, free champagne and buffet, and the blasting of the ship's horn at midnight was an experience we'll not soon forget! Our only concern was that the boys would be bored (both are video game addicts, not involved in any sports, and not terribly sociable).
However, they surprised us by enjoying themselves wandering and exploring the ship,hanging out in the arcade and the teens' dance club, and making new friends. They also had a blast snorkelling (1st time) in the Cayman Islands, and climbing Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica ( a real challenge, and they were proud of their accomplishment!) They also enjoyed the New Year's celebrations and stayed up very late, dancing the night away. All in all, agreat vacation for all of us. We'd love to do it again!
My wife and I and our 16-year-old daughter took our first cruise November 30, 2002, on the Carnival Imagination and had a good enough time to ensure we'll cruise again.
We chose Carnival due to its reputation for kid-friendliness. It turns out they are kid-friendly, but not necessarily teen-friendly. The teen events were few and far between, and, through no fault of Carnival's, very sparsely attended. It seemed that the only "kids" on the ship were 14 and under, which left our daughter feeling very "old" and bored much of the time. If you are taking a teenager, I'd suggest taking one of their friends as well.
Beyond that, I can tell you that the food was good, not great, though the service, especially in the main dining room, was excellent! Simona and Mihela, our servers, were attentive, offered great suggestions, and remembered all our needs from night to night. They also stuffed us with some very good food. The food on the Lido deck was fine, not great. The breakfasts were also o.k., with nothing exotic...eggs, bacon, sausage. That's about it. As many people have said, the pizza (24 hours aday) was great, and whenever we needed a little bite we'd grab a slice and go sit on the deck.
Ocho Rios was a blast. We got tons of trinkets for just a few dollars each and had a lot of fun just walking around talking to the locals. We will definitely walk the falls (you'll hear all about it) next time. Don't skip this!
We were very unimpressed with the Cayman Islands. Unless you need to do some banking or pick up some jewelry, you could almost just stay on the ship that day. We did do the Stingray trip (booked through Shoretrips.com) and had a blast, but the town and the people seemed as uninterested in us as tourists as anyplace I've ever been.
While I wouldn't book the Imagination again (very glitzy--like a casino), I would consider Carnival again. Bottom line though, based on our experience on the Imagination with its VERY smoky decks and corridors (people seem to smoke everywhere but the formal dining room!) and its overall just-adequate food, Carnival won't be our first choice next time. I think we'll try to step up just a little bit.
Hi! I just got off of the Carnival Imagination. We were on board from August 10-15, and made stops in Grand Cayman and Ochos Rios. I was with a group of thirteen people, aged 22-27, and we had a terrific time. I would be glad to answer any questions you might have about the cruise. Here's a short breakdown of what we did while we were on board.
We flew in to Fort Lauderdale on Jet Blue. Took an early flight in case of any delays, and were met by several Carnival employees for the transfer to Miami. We were told embarkation began at 1:30, however we were in Miami by 12:10 and probably on the boat by about 1, if not earlier. When we got off of the transfer, we identified our luggage, and went to check in. The process was fairly quick, although the line to board the ship was pretty long. We happened to get directed to a short line by an employee, who was incorrect, but they let us on anyway. J The ship is very bright-reminded most of us of Vegas or Atlantic City. Wedropped all of our things off and went up to the Lido Deck for a buffet. The rooms are small- but large enough. We were on the upper deck, in an inside cabin. Luggage came piece by piece. Some of us had our luggage by 3, others of us didn't get it until about 7. If you think you may want to shower or go swimming-put that stuff into your carryon. After dinner we went to the interactive sing-a-long bar. We had a great time there, although it was the only night we went. Then we went up to the Illusions Club for the singles party- but clubs are not what most of my friends and I enjoy so we instead went over to the live band, the Dirt Poets, who were very good. We actually went to see them three times on a five night cruise.
The second day was a day at sea. We had breakfast in the main dining room, and then decided to spend the day at the pool. We found the pool in the back of the boat was nicer and less crowded. The slide was fun on the lido deck. There was also music and games on the lido deck that weren't at the pool on the upper decks. This was also the formal night, so we got all dressed up and attended the captain's cocktail hour. It was very simple, and we actually spent most of the time taking pictures. The dinner that night was fun- the waiters and waitresses did a little song and dance for us. We went back to the Dirt Poets that night then went to the R Rated comedian show. It was awful! I actually fell asleep on the bench.
On our third day we stopped in Ochos Rios. We signed up for two excursions, the See and Sea Tour at 8:15 and the Stingray City tour at 12:45. We docked at 7 and expected to be starting the tour at 8:15. However, because it was an early tour and the ship docks off the pier in Grand Cayman, we had to take tenders to the Islands. We had a meeting place on the ship because it was early, and the tour didn't end up starting until after 9. It was a fun tour though! It took us on a glass bottom boat, and then we got on a bus and stopped at a beach, hell, a turtle farm, and Georgetown. We got in around 12, shopped for a little while then headed back to the pier to get the bus to the Stingray City boat. It was a nice boat ride and people seemed to have fun once we got there. (I wouldn't go in the water-the stingrays are about 2-4 feet in size!) We got back just in time to catch the last tender back to the boat. That night, we stopped in to see the Dirt Poets again, and then tried another comedian on the ship. This guy was a little bit better, but not as good as comedians we've seen here on Long Island.
Next day was Jamaica. We were looking to do the falls, shopping and the beach. We were told that the best one to take that would include the beach was the Cool Runnings Boat. It was a 2-½ hour tour that took us to the falls by boat, gave us about an hour and a half to climb the falls, and then took us back to the pier. The falls are near a beach but unless we had stopped climbing early we wouldn't have any time on the beach. It was an EXCELLENT choice for an excursion. The ride over was very relaxing and the falls were excellent. On the way back, the crew on the boat pumps up the reggae music and teaches you how to dance, which giving you 151 proof rum and punch! Now, my boyfriend and I NEVER dance, but we were grooving along with everyone else having a terrific time. I would definitely recommend this excursion. When we got back, we still had a few hours so we ventured into town. It was about a15 minute walk. It was a little scary because we had some guy following us trying to get us to his shop, but we got some souvenirs and made it back to the boat on time. We also attended the guest Talent Show because a friend of ours was in it. Even if you go only for the ending it is worth it. What they do with a few of the audience members is one of the funniest things you will ever see! After dinner that night there was a deck party, and we hung out there for a while before going to bed.
Wednesday was our last day, and it was at sea. We all slept in, and then went up for lunch on the lido deck. Most of us decided to sunbathe for a while and swim, and then some of us caught the end of the Newlywed-Not-So-Newlywed game before playing Bingo. Had dinner that night then made our way to the card room, where the guys played cards and the girls chatted.
Next morning, unfortunately, we had to leave the ship. We had breakfast in the dining room then hung out by the library waiting to disembark. We were finally called around 10, and found our luggage fairly easily (I would recommend putting some kind of bright or unusual ribbon on your luggage). We walked right outside onto a bus and were at the airport by 11:15. Now, I had heard not to book any flights earlier than 2, so ours was at 4:35. Luckily, Jet Blue was able give us an earlier flight at no cost, and we were back in NY by 3:30.
We had a terrific time on the cruise. I don' think there was one of us who doesn't want to go on another. The cruise director, Mark Price, was HILARIOUS and excellent at his job. The food was okay-I am a very picky eater and had a very difficult time finding something to eat each night. There were a lot of fish and meat dishes, but not a lot of chicken or pasta dishes that weren't mixed with seafood. The 24-hour pizzeria is really good, we spent a lot of time eating there, and the room service was also pretty good although it took a while to get to us. Our waiter and bar waitress were both great, although we didn't like the headwaiter and never met the Matre'd. Our cabin steward was also great- and we loved the different animals made from the towels in our room every night. The Imagination was a lot of fun- we had a terrific time and would definitely do it again.
We just took a 5-day cruise on the Imagination. I am sorry to say we will not be doing so again. We have cruised 4 times, the last two being on Carnival's Imagination. The quality of the cruise has dropped to a very disappointing level.
The Food: The food on the previous cruise we took in 1999 was great! This time, I would only rate it mediocre. While a few things were quite good, the words chincy, cheap, and repititious come to mind to describe most of it. There was very little seafood. When there was, it was used sparingly mixed with vegetables in a sauce. The desserts were the worst. They looked delicious, yet tasted horrible. I'd stick with the ice cream if I were you.
The Activities: Four times we went to a scheduled activity and no one showed up to facilitate it. We waited for 30 mins each time. One day this happened 3 times. The 4th time it happened we had finally had it. The activity was a game of trivia. When it was obvious it was happening again, my husband went to the information desk toinquire about it. They checked with the crew member who was supposed to be facilitating it and he said, "Oh, I was supposed to be their at 9:30? I have on my schedule 10:00. I'll be there ASAP". My husband then came back to the trivia game, and announced to the group what the reply was. 15 mins later he was still not there. So I went to the information desk to inquire. They said they knew nothing about it, apologized, and logged a complaint (big deal). I then returned to the trivia game. The facilitator was there and had already started. My husband told me that when the guy (facilitator) came out onto the stage he told everyone he was late because he couldn't find the key to the cabinet that held the game (hmmm). When he started the game, Several in the group said to him, "His wife is really upset and went to the info desk to complain. It would only be right to wait a couple of minutes for her". His reply was, "Well, if she weren't complaining she'd be here wouldn't she". The group booed and hissed at him so he apologized. My husband spoke up and said to him, "Well she was here at 9:30". Well, he did not wait. So when I got there I could not participate.
Each time we complained about the absence of the facilitator, all they would do was apologize. One time a person suggested giving each of us a free bingo card as compensation. They said no. They refused to do anything, but apologize.
Camp Carnival: Their activities were quite fun. My 11 yr old son went to some of them and had a good time. The water slide was his favorite. However, one day my husband took him to the scheduled Mini Olympics, but no one was there. We found out later they had taken the kids who showed up early and moved it to a different location, but no one was left behind at the scheduled location to tell anyone. Another time, they dismissed the kids 10 mins. early from an activity. I'm sure parents showed up to get their kids and wondered where they were. If we hadn't accidentally bumped into our son in the hall on our way to get him, we wouldn't have known where he was either.
The Evening Shows: The B-bop show is adorable and the kids will love it. The rest were definitely not family oriented, so if you are taking your kids along, skip them. The female costumes are R rated and the comedian, even though very good, was too suggestive for kids.
The Service: Dining staff were great, no complaints. Other services poor. Fun Vision on the TV did not work the entire cruise.
Other problems: On the second day of the cruise, I woke up with a severe rash all over me. I went to the infirmary and the attendant and I troubleshooted the problem trying to figure out the cause etc. We had no luck so she sold me some Benadryl and anti-itch cream and I left. The next day, I determined that I was allergic to the laundry soap they used. I spoke to my room steward, she was very sympathetic, but said she couldn't do anything. Then I spoke to the infirmary, after that the info desk. They each told me there was nothing they could do, and guess what, apologized. I asked if they could run my linens through a rinse cycle and dry them. They said no, but they could give me a stack of linens and I could go to the laundry room at U154 and do it myself. Oh yeah, and take money because it will cost you. Well, since I was not about to do laundry on my vacation, I wore long sleeves and pants to bed and used tissue to dry myself after showers. Then, on the third day, I got a call from the cruise director (Mark Price). He was apologizing again for the activities fiascos I previously mentioned. He also refused to do anything but apologize. He asked if anything else was not right. So I told him about the rash situation. He said, "Let me see if I can do something about that". We hung up. About 5 mins later the Chief Room Steward showed up at my door and told me he would give me new linens (never been washed), new towels, and a new bathrobe for the rest of my visit. My rash immediately got much better, and almost disappeared completely. I am grateful to the cruise director for helping with this matter. He is a very nice gentleman and good with people. My question is why didn't I get that service in the first place!
Ports of Call: Grand Caymen was nice. It is a pretty port with shops right there so you don't have to go far to get a souvenier. We took the Reef Snorkel Tour and really enjoyed it. The tour guides were funny, pleasant, professional, and polite. We had a fun time.
Calica's port is not much more than a sand pit. There is a tent market set up there though, and you can get some nice things for a good price if you dicker with the venders.
We went to Xcaret it was great. I highly recommend it. Especially if you are traveling with kids.
Things you should bring: Clock you can read in the dark - If you have a cabin without a window, it is dark 24/7. So, unless you have a clock to look at, you won't know when it is morning.
Clothes with pockets.
Shampoo and conditioner - Carnival will only give you enough free shampoo to last you 1 day. After that, you'll have to buy it at the gift shop.
Hat - ladies the sea air will flatten your hair.
Walkie talkies - I called Carnival before my trip to ask if they would work on the ship. They told me mine would not, but that they had special ones on the ship I could rent for $20 per day that would. I saw people all over the ship using their own walkies just fine.
We just got back this afternoon. It was so sad to leave the ship. The only thing that was good about leaving was being able to see our kids this afternoon.
Well we went to Grand Cayman and Jamacia(5 nights). It was a great time. This was our first cruise and we cannot wait to go on another one. Here is the long review of the trip and the Imagination. I hope it is helpful.
The Imagination is a beautiful boat. Very Clean, the staff is extremely knowledable and friendly. The food--oh the food was outstanding. I probably gained at least 5 pounds. In short we had a great time.
Embarkation was extremely easy for us but then we didn't make it to the port until 3pm(plane delays).
Our luggage arrived before dinner(we had a late seating which i would recommend, no hurries when in port).
Again all of the staff was very helpful. We did not make it to most of the shows but heard from our table mates that they were very good, especially the comics.
The band in the Shangri-la lounge(Dirt Poets) were great. Really nice guys to.
One thing don't forgetyour sun screen, we did good until the last day at sea, then i got burnt(but oh well).
Formal Night was a lot of fun, got some great pics.
Debarkation was a lot easier than i expected. Didn't take long to get us off the ship. We were at the airport in plenty of time for our flight home.
Overall the Imagination is a great ship!!!!! Recommend it to everyone.
It was nice we did the Atlantis Sub, it was superb. Then we shopped the rest of the day. Don't go to Hell it is a waste of time and money for taxi ride.
Beautiful island. We went to Dunn's RIver Falls. This is a must if you go to Jamacia. It is great. We climbed to the top of the falls. Then we went to dolphin cove and did the dolphin swim, it was fun but don't believe it was worth the money paid for it. Of course you have to check out Magriativille, it is a lot of fun. Shopping isn't bad if you don't mind haggling over the price.
The only down side to the cruise is I didn't feel like we had enough time in port. But other than that it was wonderful