Have Mercy, where do I begin? We sailed on the Imagination on November 3-8,2001. This review is a long one and hopefully full of helpful hints for future cruisers. We began by arriving in Miami the night prior to sailing( I highly recommend this). We stayed at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay. WOW! Not a bad word to say about it, and YES-YES, they did pre-check in! The hotel was clean and everyone was helpful! We took a $3-5 cab ride to Bayside Marketplace and ate at Bubba Gumps. Wonderful, and I highly recommend it. We arrived at the Port of Miami at approx. noon and went thru security and headed to receive our keys and sail and sign cards. Embarkation took about 20 minutes once it started for us and we went onto the ship and found the Horizon Bar and Grill and had lunch(burgers and dogs). After that we proceeded to explore the ship and then went to the cabin. The usual lifeboat drill didn't take as long as I expected and we were away and out to sea. Lucky enough our bags did arrive prior to dinner towe did dress for dinner. Now in hopes of shortening this a bit I will go in sections.
Hurricane Michelle- Well to put it in simple terms she tried to ruin our entire cruise. We were suppose to go to Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman, instead we were in Ocho Rios for 4 ½ hours and never made it to another port. Cayman Islands closed their port due to damage and all other ports of call were the same. Although Carnival cannot control the weather they can however better compensate passengers instead of making money at their dismay. We received $20 per person. I can tell you that there will be MANY calls made to Carnival over the next few weeks due to this.
Ocho Rios- As I said we did make it in here for a little while. Hint!! We took the Super San San Yacht Excursion- FANTASTIC, I can't recommend it more highly. Book early however! Dunns River Falls was awesome. You WILL get wet!! But it is a don't miss opportunity. The crew although wanting to make money on photos etc treated us very well and they were not stingy in the least with the open bar, serving shots to whomever wanted them.
Service- The greatest individual alive! our Head Waiter Kumar(Special K) from India. The man is the definition of service. We sat at a table for 10, and we wanted for nothing. Rohan our cabin steward was also excellent, seemed to always know when we were out as to not disturb us. The waiters and waitresses were always eager to please. Service in general aboard this ship was excellent.
Food and Drinks- The food was good but not great, of course they are serving in mass quantity so how great can it ever be. The wife said she expected more, but I felt that all things considered it was good. Hint-Do breakfast on the Lido deck, that way you can sleep later. Pizza was good and handy for those cravings. Drinks were always close by and the wait staff was always ready to please. The prices were really not that different from any land-based restaurant and they were never stingy on the amount of liquor added.
Entertainment- Overall all the shows were very good. Even the Magician was excellent. The Dynasty Lounge was a great place to view a show. There was always something going on for everyone, whether out in the sun on the lido deck, inside on the Promenade, or in the Dynasty Lounge. If you are bored it is your own fault. I even made a fool of myself during a few games,etc that we had.
Cruise Director- Our CD was Matt Ross. He was absolutely fantastic. He made everyone feel welcome and he seemed to join in the fun. I hope we can sail again on a ship with Matt. He is leaving the Imagination in December and states he isn't sure what ship he will be on next.
Debarkation- How smooth was this. No problems whatsoever! We simply sat on deck until our color tags were called and then walked right off the ship. We went down to the baggage terminal and walked right over to our bags and left thru customs. No problems.
Overall- Like I said Hurrucane Michelle was weaving her nasty wand at us but we were determined to have a great time. Although we only got to stay in Jamaica a short time and didn't get to Grand Cayman we made the best of a bad situation. We enjoyed ourselves immensely and made this a great vacation. The Imagination is a great ship. It is in good shape and the service was excellent. If you are thinking about a vacation this ship is excellent for first time cruisers and seasoned veterans alike.
THE HIGHLIGHT- My wife wanted to play bingo and all week her cards were bad at best. Well it came time to play for the free cruise. WE WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was awesome!!!!!!!!! So needless to say we were quite happy.
Helpful Hints- Sheraton Biscayne is a wonderful hotel. Bubba Gump's is awesome if you sail from Miami. Cab prices from airport to Port of Miami and vice versa are flat rate of $18.00. Embarkation and Debarkation are not that bad, so get use to a few lines. Take the Super San San Yacht Tour in Jamaica, it is a blast. You will get wet at Dunns River Falls, so prepare-but do the falls it is WELL worth it. Get to the lounges a little before each show to get good seats. If you drink beer the best value is to get the buckets of beer(Amber Bock was 12.50) for 4 beers. If you want a quiet Jacuzzi with no kids go to the SPA! Remember to bring an extension cord! The rooms are remarkable big considering and you should have no problems there. Go ahead and buy water shoes before you leave, they are about $4.99 at Target etc. IMPORTANT!! Buy your underwater cameras before you leave!!!!!!!!! Kmart has them for $7-9, in Jamaica and on the ship you will pay $25-26. I am sure there are more hints I would love to let you in on, but my mind is wandering, so here's hoping you have a great vacation.
First, a brief synopsis of the whole trip: It was a great cruise, Carnival food has improved tremendously, but service has slipped a bit, perhaps due to the tips being automatically being added to your sail-n-sign card, don't know. The ship is in great shape, clean and everything in working order. The carpets in the cabin area hallways have quite a few stains, but overall for a ship that does 4 & 5 day trips, she is in very good shape. Camp Carnival was good, though a few problems were encountered.
Entertainment was up to the usual Carnival caliber; as good as it was when I sailed the Inspiration in 1997. Not as many announcements all day long as was the case on the previous Carnival cruise I was on.
Overall, a great cruise, and it was great to see it through a child's eye on his first cruise.
Now for the details:
Arrival in Miami, Wednesday: Arrived in Miami by car (we live in Tampa 4.5 hour drive) to our hotel, the Best Western Marina Park, great location, across the street from Bayside Market Place, lots of shops, restaurants and live music,it was a nice place to spend the evening. The hotel is clean, but is showing it's age, however it is being renovated, half a floor at a time. It should take about 3-6 months for those to be completed. We had a reservation for the 10th floor bay-view standard room for $89, upon arrival we were told that no rooms were available on the 10th, but one was available on the 6th floor, I was not pleased. After short negotiations we were given a "Junior Suite" for $59 (just a slightly longer room with two queen beds) but on the 9th floor. It gave a great view of the port and the surrounding areas. We were also able to see the ships come in, turn around and dock from our room.
Day One, Thursday: We awoke, and went downstairs for breakfast. They had a very good buffet for $7.50 per person with a good variety of food and eggs cooked to order. Not a bad deal for a hotel restaurant. Took a drive to South Beach to check things out, what a unique area, saw many of the places mentioned on the Travel Channel. Beautiful!!
We went back to the hotel and checked out and headed out to the docks at 11:15am, which took all of 5 minutes to get over the bridge, but waited almost 25 minutes to get through the guard gate, (that was with very little traffic) they were asking for your cruise docs to get past this point. We pulled up to the terminal, un-loaded our luggage and I went and parked the car. Payment is cash in advance for parking. (yes, you can off-load luggage with no problem) We then proceeded on to the registration desk by way of the metal detectors, got through all that quickly and were headed up-stairs by noon. They were not boarding till 12:15. We got to our cabin by 12:30. All in all, even with the increased security, a very smooth and quick embarkation.
We went off to explore our new home for the next 4 days, and of course, "To The Buffet"! The dreaded Life Boat drill was an hour late, according to the schedule, no announcements made as to why. We found out later that is was due to the traffic back-ups at the port entrance, passengers and crewmembers were late getting to the ship.
At 5:30pm was the Camp Carnival meeting, it all went well, they handed out a schedule of the activities for the cruise, and on it was an "Over-Night" activity where they would keep your 9-12 year-olds from 10pm on Saturday, till 8am on Sunday for $32, not too bad we thought for a whole night for Mom and I, alone.... Anyway, they suggested to sign-up right away, as this tends to fill up fast, (only the first 20 kids) and to sign up at the Teen Center. Following the meeting we went directly to the Teen Center to sign up, the counselors were all in a meeting, and would not come to the door to tell us when we could sign up. We called and went to center several times throughout the night, no luck.
Early the next morning I went and was able to sign up! Anyway, our first evening we spent inside as it was raining off and on the whole day and night, made my obligatory deposit in the casino and prepared for dinner. Our son spent his first $20 in the arcade. Dinner was very good; we were seated at a table for 6, booth style table with our son in a chair at the end (I really don't like this type of table) and our four friends with us. After dinner I caught the end of the show in the Dynasty Lounge, which had a very funny comedian by the name of Kenny Miller, I also went to the Late night show with him performing, he was hilarious!!!
Day Two, Friday: Key West, the day started out raining off and on and ended the same way. We were docked by 7:30am, half an hour late at the Navy base; Mallory pier was where the Jubilee was going to dock. We were going on our own in Key West, so the ship provided transportation to Duval & Front St. from the ship. We decided to do some shopping (I forgot to pack my long pants and had a hard time finding my size, I did have my Tux though) and to go down to the "Southern-Most Point" marker. All this along with off & on showers, we got pretty wet. We decided, that since we live in Tampa, we would come down and stay in Key West in the future. Lots of nice and unique shops and taverns along Duval St. I have been there before, I suggest the Conch Tour Train, for you first timers if you ever come to Key West. There are also two beaches in Key West, one at the entrance to the harbor, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and one, which actually are two beaches in one on the south-middle part of the island called Rest Beach and Smathers Beach. The first one I mentioned is my favorite.
We had to be back on board by 1:30pm for a 2pm sailing, which was delayed due to a medical emergency. We left at about 2:45. Not a very long stay, unfortunately.
One note for those wanting to get off at Key West, due to the recent terrorist events, US Customs requires you to show your Passport or Birth Certificate and sail-n-sign card to leave the ship (and they did check each one thoroughly) and get back on the ship.
Back on the ship, the sail-away festivities were cancelled due to the weather, so we just hung around the ship and took part in one of the games called "Tic-Tac Trophy, a trivia type of game and our team won! Our prize... A 24k solid gold-plastic "Ship on a Stick" award, whoopee!... it was fun playing the game though.
This was the night for the Captains welcome aboard dinner, we usually skip the pre-dinner festivities and go straight for the picture taking areas. Had some very nice pictures taken and went on to dinner. I had Escargot and Salmon, both of which were excellent!
After dinner we caught the show called "Imagine It", decent show, well done, but they had two dancers from Russia, Youri and Luda, that were incredible!!
We were all pretty tired, I went to the casino for another quick deposit and turned in early.
Day Three, Saturday: Cozumel, the day dawned with some sunshine!!!! Yippie! We arrived at Playa Del Carmen for the mainland tours around 12:30pm and arrived at the pier in Coz around 2pm. We quickly departed to a waiting taxi, (there were at least 50-60 taxi's waiting) to go find a beach, since I speak Spanish, I asked the Taxi driver where was a nice beach to go swimming and some easy snorkeling. He took us to a beach called Playa Palacar at Mr. Sanchos restaurant/bar, for $12 (I think, it was just past Playa Del Sol), which was free to enter; they had little tables with thatched palm leaf roofs and a bar with swings instead of barstools, a restaurant and some shops. Perfect, just what we were looking for. We spent about 2 ½ hours there and had a very nice time, not too crowded nice sandy beach, but the snorkeling was not that great, but our son loved it. (It was his first time).
We left there, again plenty of taxi's waiting, went back to the ship to get cleaned up. Our son wanted to go to Camp Carnival, we were going into town. We gave him some money and we were off to town. We had a taxi take us into town, San Miguel, $5 and dropped us of at Pancho's Back Yard. This is a store with a lot of local crafts, t-shirts, knick-knacks and typical tourist stuff. It also has a restaurant, which for my tastes has the best Margaritas! We had an order of Fajitas, Chips and Salsa and an appetizer of Quesadillias. Also not to forget the Margaritas, Fabulous!!! My favorite restaurant in town.
After a few purchases we strolled on down to other shops and found a great deal on some Tanzanite at Tanzanite International. I'm happy with that purchase, as is my wife. We then stopped at Palmeras for another Margarita, (all that shopping left us parched, ha ha) nice place in the center of town across from the ferry pier.
We were going to stop in at Carlos and Charlie's, but the line to get in was out the door and on to the street, no thanks. We then got a taxi and went back to the ship. We all had to be on-board by 10pm, from what I heard, some people didn't make it, one very intoxicated person was brought out to the ship by the harbor pilot boat!
The ship pulled away at 10:30pm and we were off to the sail-away party! Many carry-overs from C & C's were there, it was a lot of fun. This was also the night of the Camp Carnival sleepover, which started at 10pm. This is where we had a little problem. At 1am our phone rang, you can imagine what went through our heads as I reached for the phone. It was one of the youth counselors stating that the sleepover had been cancelled due to only two children showing up. They waited till 1am to tell us that!?! We were in our room at 10pm while our son was there and no call about the cancellation. Then on the morning of departure we get a knock on our door with a woman stating that we hadn't signed one of the slips for babysitting charge for those three hours of the sleepover. I refused to sign it and wrote, "Refused" on the slip and told the lady that I will speak to her superior if there was a problem with that. We didn't hear a thing about it, and there were no charges for it. (I have since verified it with my credit card co.)
Day Four, Sunday: Our day at sea, was a beautiful sunny and comfortable morning. The seas were a little rough and the ship was moving around a bit, some folks were seasick, although I didn't encounter anyone. They had the usual activities, such as an Ice Carving demo, the Hairy Chest contest and the Newlywed-not so Newlywed game which is always fun. I played bingo a couple of times and stopped by the casino for yet another deposit, the machines were not loose at all for the whole cruise! Oh well. We caught many of the activities and hung out by the pool for the day till dinnertime, which was another excellent meal, service leaves a little to be desired, but at least the food was good. After dinner we went to our rooms to start packing so we could catch the late night show, which had a very funny guy by the name of Kevin King, this guy was hilarious, both his early show and the late one. One word of caution, don't get up and leave during his show. He will embarrass you, or try very hard to. Alas, it was time to turn in and awaken in Miami.
Day Five, Monday: Disembarkation, it went very smoothly and quickly. We were off the ship approximately 10:15am, found our luggage quickly and were off to our car in no time at all. Customs randomly selected people to search their luggage at the point of leaving the building so as to not hold up the disembarking passengers.
Summary: This was a great cruise and a great value for the money, it was also a lot of fun to see how much our son enjoyed himself, as I stated in the beginning, the food was great, although there were times when you couldn't find any food except for the pizza bar, which was very good, but the line was very long at these times. This sailing had the traditional two dinner times, which I prefer and it was on time, each time. One thing to think about, if you don't say anything about it, they put the tip charges on your sail-n-sign automatically. ($9.75 per person, per day) I had them removed. I prefer to hand them out myself. I was met with a little resistance trying to do that and had to wait until after Key West to do so, but it was done. Will I sail Carnival again? You bet, overall a great value, but I won't do a 4 or 5 day, it will be a 7 day or greater. Sorry this is long winded, but I wanted to put in as much detail as I could without going over board (no pun intended). If you have any questions or need more info, just e-mail me at: Rocky
Great experience on the Imagination. My second cruise now, and getting more addicted. I had a great time on and off the ship, I will give the positive things first about the ship and then the negatives.
First the Ship was fairly easy to get around, and the service was great. I'm a fan of this size ship. The Triumph is a bit too big for me, The Imagination was perfect. From a scale to 1-10, I'd say the food was about an 8. Overall really good food in the buffets, the Pizza was excellent, even at 4 in the morning the pizza was still good! Our table of 6 in the Spirit dinning room was the absolute best. We all hit it off the very first night and it really made the trip, we always looked forward to going to dinner every night and seeing the people at our table.
Our ship was suppose to go to Grand Cayman but due to a unfortunate medical emergency our itinerary had gotten changed to Cozumel, personally It really didn't bother me at that point,(Seeing Cozumel in the past) I knew we wouldhave a great time at Carlos and Charlie's and we sure did. Carlos and Charlie's is absolutely wild, Our entire table from the spirit dinning room all got together and had the best time, highlight of trip! During the day we rented mo Peds (highly recommend this) to go to different beaches and seeing the island a bit more then I did last time I was in Cozumel. Saved a lot in cab costs.
Calica was the other port of call we stopped at, we took a taxi to Playa Del Carmen, which was a great idea, because the beaches were beautiful. we did some body surfing and just basically relaxed in the sun, very relaxing day. I heard Xcaret and Tulum was really beautiful from a variety of people. Be sure to bring your Carnival towels to Playa del Carmen, because they charge you 3 dollars to sit in a hammock, or any thing that has arm rests for that matter. The deck space on the ship was great, we enjoyed laying out by the aft of the ship, it was beautiful weather the entire time, the band was jamming to some Bob Marley, couldn't of asked for better sea days. The Casino was rather large, I was impressed, but you had to come at the right times to get a black jack table. It seemed like they could of spread things out a little better in the casino, but overall it was pretty nice.
There really weren't too many things that wrong on the cruise but If I just Had to Gripe I would say the entertainment wasn't as good as the previous ship I was on(Triumph) and the ship's decor was a bit older looking then ones I've seen. Mr. John Heald was by far a better Cruise director then the one on the Imagination. That's about all the negatives I really ever encountered throughout the duration of our cruise. Overall I give the imagination a 9 out of 10 It truly was the fun ship I will definitely cruise Carnival again in the future.
Below is a letter I sent to Carnival after a very disappointing cruise on the Imagination. Even after making my displeasure know to Carnival Customer Relations, they have "closed" the complaint without any due consideration. I will never travel on Carnival again.--- Dear Sir/Madam,
Disappointment does not come close to describing the dissatisfaction my family and I have experienced with your Imagination cruise, 2 -6 August 2001. We were completely frustrated with your "decision" to change the itinerary without forwarding the passengers. We were despondent with the poor weather we experienced through most of the cruise, a consequence directly related to the change in the advertised ports of call. We were less than satsified with the level of service and "pampering" we had been told to expect while on a cruise. We were utterly distrested that our long awaited family vacation was a disaster. No Sir/Madam, "exceedingly disappointed" comes closer to describing our first cruise.
It continues to be difficult for us, as it is with other passengers we have spoken, to accept and believe that the change of the itinerary from Key West, Carman del Playa, and Cozumel to Freeport and Nassau, wasunplanned. To conclude after departing Miami and steaming south for five hours to Key West that an engine problem necesistated the captain to change course to Freeport, Bahamas, seems illogical. It seems to make more sense to continue to Key West, the advertised first port of call, rather than turning north to go to the Bahamas. After five hours Key West should have been closer than Freeport, located Northnortheast of Miami a distance of about 175 miles. Why did not the captain make the decision to return to Miami, if the engine trouble was of such significance to change the advertised itinerary. It should have been just as effective to fly the "technician" to Key West as it was to Freeport. If the "repairs" were made in Freeport in less than 5 hours, why couldn't those same repairs have been made in Key West in order to salvage the cuise. No Sir/Madam, it seems that this was a planned event, in order to assure the passengers were on-board, the ship underway, and the cruise profits guaranteed.
My family and I have been planning a grand vacation for years. It was in fact to be our last opportunity to have such a vacation as my daughters were grown and leaving on lives of their own. We agonized over our plans for weeks before deciding that this particular cruise, its itinerary, and timing were perfect. We had looked forward to a 4-day period of stress-free excitement and relaxation. This was not to be. After hearing of the captain's decision to cancell the first port of call, my family and I were thrusted into one of the most stress period of our lives. The cruise director and Carnival staff were uncooperative, abusive to the passengers, and appeared to withholding information. They did a poor job of explaining our options for debarkation and refund, while all the time downplaying the reprecussions of the change in the itenerary. There are three significant points to consider. First, we signed on the the Imagination cruise for the specific reason of visiting Carman del Play/Cozumel and touring the Toulume Ruins. We had no desire to visit the Bahamas. The Freeport area is a dump. Made worst by the poor weather conditions, this is not at all what we would consider a choice vacation destination. Nassau was only marginally better, still not any place where we would have considered vacationing. Second, the period immediating following the captains decision particularly distressing and cause us more stress than our normal daily schedules. No information was provided. Long lines and an unknowledgeable staff caused frustrations to escalate. Thrid, with few or no options, now that we where "captive" on the Imagination, we had no choice but to ride-out Carnival's decision to loitter in the Bahamas for three days before returning to Miami. The "option" to leave the ship, make arrangements to pass through Bahamian customs, arrange for flights to Miami, accounting for baggage and belonging transfers, pass US customs in Miami, make arrangements for transportation back to the port facility, then attempt to salvage our "grand" vaction, did not seem to be much of an option.
Day 1 We sailed on the Carnival Imagination on August 12, 2000. Our flight out of Kennedy airport In New York was delayed two hours and we were getting worried about making it onto the ship on time. Fortunately, we embarked on the ship at 3:00 and the ship was scheduled to leave the port at 4:00. Embarkation was so simple, even though there were so many people waiting to get on the ship. The line goes by pretty fast (about 10 or 15 minutes).
The ship was so beautiful and huge. However, the atrium was not as nice as the ones on other ships that I've seen in pictures. We went to our room and found that it was a pretty good size. The room was decorated with bon voyage banners and balloons. There was also an apple cake with chocolate covered strawberries on it. My boyfriend had ordered the decorations through the bon voyage program as a surprise. The one negative thing about the room was that the window was dirty on the outside. From reading other people's reviews, I know that this is a common problem onthis ship.
Well, we were starving and went to find a place to eat. Unfortunately, everyone else on the ship was starving too and the lines at the Horizon grill were tremendous. While we were waiting on line, we heard announcements that the grill was closing and that everyone had to go back to their cabins to get the life vests and then to report to the muster station for the safety drill. This was very disappointing because we were really hungry and had to go all the way back to the front of the ship to our cabin. After the safety drill, we went back to Horizon and got some pizza (by this time It was the only thing available). I had heard through reviews that the pizza is really good. Its true! There are a bunch of different types of pizza, 24 hours, and it is delicious! One other observation about the Horizon Grill Is that it has a musty smell. The times that we went in there, we would take our food onto the deck, because the smell was really disturbing.
by this time the ship was starting to move and everyone was excited and waving to the other ships that were still in port. Our cruise director was Troy Linton. He was really great, young, funny, really personable and friendly. He was on a loud speaker the whole time we were leaving the port of Miami. I was really excited to run around the ship and check everything out. Note: The ship is so big that at the beginning, it is a little hard to get oriented. There are many decks, and some of the desks are only on the aft of the boat, If your cabin Is In the front you have to walk to the aft and then walk up to find that deck. Also, you wait a long time for the elevators and you end up walking up steps most of the time.
Our luggage was waiting at our cabin and we started to get ready for dinner. We had the latest dinner at 8:45(which was the time we had requested). Our table guests were great, we got along really well and they were all close to our ages. After dinner we went to the casino for the rum punch cocktail party. Then we went to the bars and had drinks and watched the karaoke people singing.
Day 2 We woke up and went to breakfast, which is at the same table as dinner and lunch, unless you prefer to eat at the buffet In the Horizon Grill. Today was a day a sea. We found that the main pool on the lido deck was full of children and people. So we went to the pool aft. There were so many lounge chairs available everywhere, that it really did not matter were you went. It was really relaxing and the weather was so sunny and warm. We went to lunch and watched some of the funny contests that they have on the lido deck.
Tonight was the captain's cocktail party and the formal night. As I was getting ready for the party I was feeling really sick. For two days I had hardly felt the boat the move, but this night was pretty bad. The boat goes significantly faster at night. We ended up missing the cocktail party. I was so incredibly upset because nobody wants to get sick on vacation and I wanted to meet the captain. I thought that I would feel better, but the minute I stepped out of the cabin I felt like I was going to fall and I ran back into the room. I ended up missing dinner too! I love to dress up and I love lobster! It figures I would get sick on formal night, which is the only night that they serve lobster. I told my boyfriend to go to dinner and hang out with our tablemates. The maitre'd was very nice and sent me a lobster tail and mashed potatoes in a covered dish. This night sucked!
Day3 I was so excited to get off the boat at Grand Cayman. We had booked an Island tour that went to stingray city. Grand Cayman was beautiful! Our tour guide was really nice and the tour took us to the turtle farm, the town called HELL and stingray city. The turtle farm was fun, you get to hold the turtles and see how the turtle eggs hatch. Right next-door is the Rum cake factory. This cake is so tasty and really has a strong rum taste. The town of HELL was sort of boring. We sent postcards to New York from hell and got to see the eerie rock formations, which helped in coining the town as "HELL" . String ray city was the highlight of this tour. It was so much fun! The boat took us to shallow water where tons of string rays congregate. We got to feed them squid and to feel them. They were really sweet. A lot of people were scared and got back on the boat. I think our tour cost $45 a person. This seems like a lot, but it was worth the fun that we had. It also Included unlimited rum punch cocktails.That night at dinner our waiters performed a couple of dances for us. During our entire trip our bus boy was great. The waiter worked him to the bone and did little else then just take our orders, plus he had a tiny little attitude. Jose, the busboy was excellent, he was really cute and sweet. I've been meaning to write to carnival about getting him promoted. Our tablemates were going to do the same thing. Since our dinner was so late we never really ate at the midnight buffets. The buffets did have a great variety of food and the presentation was very pretty. This night we went for drinks and to the comedy show, which was really funny.
Day 4 Today, we were In Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We took a jeep safari tour, for approx. 6 hours, which cost $80 a person. Again, this is very pricey but so much fun. We boarded some zebra-striped land rover jeeps with some other guests and our guide Mark. Mark was Incredible! He had never left Jamaica In his whole life! I would say he was in his late twenties. He was so smart, nice, funny, friendly and helpful. I wanted to bring him back to New York with us. Everyone in our jeep loved him, and it worked out for him because we all game him good tips. Our tour went through the fern gully, which is a rain forest. The road just runs right through the middle of the forest. We went to the blue mountain coffee factory, Murphy Hill (which had the most beautiful view that I have ever seen) and finally to Dunn's river falls. We got to climb these immense waterfalls and had a great time. It was a lot more dangerous that it seemed. Some people who did not want to climb the falls could just walk up, stay dry and still enjoy the falls. When we got back to the jeep Mark gave us beers and sodas to drink.
We went to dinner, to the casino and out for drinks tonight. I had not felt sick since the second night Thank GOD! I did take the motion sickness pills throughout the rest of the trip (the pursers desk has them).
Day 5 This was the last day at sea. We spent most of the day at the aft pool and after lunch we went with our tablemates to the art auction. We had never been to one before. The art at sea is duty free and there is no price limit. When you sign up for the art preview, which is ½ hour before the actual art auction, you get unlimited glasses of champagne during the auction and you also get a small piece of art at the end. Most of the art pieces were beautiful and I found that I wanted most of them. My boyfriend bought a Dali for a huge amount of money, and we all had fun! We saw a lot of funny contests and an ice sculpture demonstration afterward. We tried to make the most of the night since it was our last.
Day 6 Today we were woken up to customs banging on our door. They said that they were doing random searches. The customs agent unpacked my entire carry-on luggage that I had just packed the night before. They took my boyfriend into another room, so that they could cross-reference our interrogations. When they were finished, a German Shepard came in and smelled the whole room. They would not let me pet him. When they were finished, they said that they were just doing their jobs and that we obviously were not trying to hide anything. When we got off the ship we could not find our big suitcase, which we had left out the night before. Of course, we assumed that customs must have it. Sure enough, customs was detaining our luggage and we had to wait for them to search it. We almost missed our flight because we waiting for our luggage for over an hour.
Overall Except for the few negative aspects of the cruise, this trip was great. We had a lot of fun and met a lot of nice people. The ports of call were great!! I do have to say that the staff on the ship is worked to the bone. They do not get paid much and hardly get any time off. I think they work every single day. I do think that they work very hard to make our vacations fun and memorable, and it is very hard to maintain every single person happy. It is very important to keep an open mind.
Embarkation: Got to port about 1ish and although the crowd looked intimidating, the process went a lot faster than I thought it would... There were many Carnival reps on hand and the lines moved quickly...We showed our docs, ID's, and activated our sail and sign cards and were onboard in probably 15 or 20 minutes...
Cabin and First Night: Although we were hoping for an upgrade, the ship was sold out and alas, we had to deal with a Cat 1A cabin (upper and lower)... didn't matter to me since I wasn't traveling with my hubby... We found our cabin easily and unpacked right away... The cabin was bigger than I expected with LOTS of storage room... Our S&S cards were waiting for us and the Funvision was working just fine... Brought all our stuff in carry ons, so no waiting for luggage... Started touring the ship, taking mostly the stairs as I wanted to get SOME exercize... The ship is laid out in a manner that it is very easy to find anything and everything with no problem... Stopped at the Horizon for Pizza and Caesar salad... The lifeboat drillstarted late, as did sailing, and it was HOT standing outside in those life jackets... Could have done without all the stupid jokes as it took up lots of time... Went back in to cool off, found the sushi bar and indulged... None of the sushi was raw and they were all Maki Rolls, 4 choices and all delicious...Sake also available but was not hot the first day (it was after that)...
We had late seating dinner so we went to the Casino for a Rum Swizzle party... It wasn't easy finding a server with a tray of drinks, but we did... we also had our first encounter with the Video Diary team there... Played some "face up 21" for a while and headed for dinner in the Pride dining room... We had a table for 10, all women, ages 28 to 49... everyone seemed cordial and we talked and got to know each other... dinner was a LONG ordeal that first night and we were the last table to leave the dining room... went to see part of the welcome aboard show, which was ok if you like that sort of thing (doesn't thrill me) and then off to a lounge to see the Curveball Brothers.. They play mostly 70s and 80s music and are pretty good, except.. one of the guys was distracted by some blonde wearing very little clothing, and the other guy was trying to get people to buy him shots which he downed one after another... Went to the late buffet, but I wasnt hungry so didnt eat much of anything and then to bed... slept like a baby in the upper bunk! Woke up the next morning REALLY feeling the movement of the ship, but did not get sick... Thank God for Bonine!
Service: Service in the dining room was not that great, in fact, the first night it was disastrous...Our waiter Rey was fine but very quiet and reserved... Our Asst Waiter Matia, was a nervous wreck with no personality and never a smile... It took forever to get a bottle of wine and even longer to get it opened... My friend's bottle of wine was delivered to the wrong table so hers took even longer... When the head waiter Leland came around to check on us, we complained about the service and he assured us that it would improve... It did the next day, a bit, but Leland also made promises he didn't keep and never returned to the table till the last night, no doubt looking for a tip, which he did not get from anyone at our table... The Maitre D never showed his face at our table once.. no tip for him either... Service on the Lido deck was fantastic... Look for Tomasz or Ali and tell em Pamela says hi...
Our room steward, Ricky, was shy but friendly and efficient... Our room was always clean and we had 2 ice buckets always filled with fresh ice... We had a towel animal one night...
Food: We ate breakfast in the dining room each day and it was nicely presented and good... For lunch we did caesar salad and pizza nearly every day.. it was fast, convenient and delicious.. try the goat cheese and mushroom or the Napolitana (peppers, green and black olives, and mushrooms)... We had dinner in the dining room each night except for the day we were in Cozumel where we were otherwise occupied at Carlos and Charlies : ) The only thing I didn't like was the lobster, and I LOVE lobster... Mine was mushy though and I returned it for Quail which was delicious... The Rack of Lamb, Tilapia, and Prime rib were all wonderful as well and all prepared as ordered (med rare) For appetizers, the wild mushroom ragout and hand cut smoked salmon were great but the shrimp was just ok... I am not a sweet eater, but I had to try some desserts as well and was pleasantly surprised at how good the Grand Marnier souffle was (how do they do that for all those people at once?) and the Cherries Jubilee was also very yummy...
What We Did: In Key West, we walked to town, about a mile or two and just shopped and looked around... Went back to the ship, had some lunch and laid in the sun... and then back for more sushi... This was formal night and everyone looked like they took their time getting ready... We went to the captain's cocktail party, had a few drinks, and went to dinner... took lots of photos after dinner (none of which I bought) and had a few more drinks... We wanted to see the comedian at 12:30 but were real tired from walking and the sun so we figured we would nap a bit... I woke up at 1am... oh well... The next day was Cozumel... we had breakfast, went to the shopping talk which was horribly boring and hung by the pool for a while... had lunch before leaving the ship, then took a taxi to Playa del Sol... Nice beach, free chairs, restaurant, immaculate bathrooms and good Pina Coladas ($4)... After nearly 3 hours in the scorching sun, I had my hair braided and then we took a taxi to town... Did some shopping and went to Carlos and Charlies for dinner and drinks... By the time we got back to the ship, it was too late for sushi : ( as they are only open from 5:30-8:30... went to the casino, hung out and later went to the deck party... You could tell that night who was having a good time for sure!
Our last day was at sea and we spent nearly all of it at the pool only taking a break for the debarkation talk... took a little nap and back for more sushi (of course)... At dinner we exchanged email addresses and said our final farewells to our tablemates... went on deck for drinks and finished the night by nearly closing the casino.. yeah.. it was late! In bed by 3am and for the first time heard noises in the hallway at 4:30am... some kids (maybe between 18 and 20), were out in the hall making LOTS of noise... My friend opened the door and asked them politely to keep it down... quiet for a minute, then CRASH!!!! they had thrown something at our door... I was too tired to look, but found out in the morning that it was a dinner plate that someone had left out from room service.... Up at 6am to get ready to disembark... after a little breakfast and closing up the cabin, we opted to wait on Lido deck... got an extra hour of sun as the ship kept paging someone that refused to go to immigration... We disembarked at about 11am... I did not see any dogs and I did not see anyone being pulled aside at all to be checked.. everyone just seemed to walk right out...
The average age of cruisers on this ship was probably 30-50, both couples and singles, although it seemed like more women traveling alone than men (darn!).. There were kids and teens onboard as well and were all well behaved when we saw them and all seemed like they were having a good time... Our cruise director was ok.. her name is Shawn Bussey... we rarely saw her... Most of the support staff was very friendly, always smiling and saying hello...
All in all, I had a FANTASTIC time and can't wait to go again.... Next cruise, Ecstasy, this September, and hoping to book one for Dec with my kids as well... 152 days and counting down... seems like so far away....
Our agent recently called us that he had a fax special for the Carnival Imagination. The Carnival line was one line we didn't intend to book with, but the price of the fax special was so unbelievably low we decided to give it a try. This proved to be a huge mistake. If this had been our first cruise, we would never had cruised again.
Cabin: In our opinion Carnival has the poorest cabin arrangement of any cruise line we have booked.. When they have a double accommodation they push two single beds together, against the wall. This necessitates one partner having to crawl over the other to get out of bed. They do not have any double bed sheets. They make each bed up individually, with the sheets and covers tucked in. A terrible arrangement. Its like camping out and sleeping in separate bed rolls. There is no way you can cuddle up to your wife with out tearing the bed apart. When we asked the steward for double or queen sized bed sheets, he looked annoyed and said they didn't have any.
There are no hair dryers in the bathroom.Also there wasn't any shampoo or lotion or any of the other goodies you normally find.
Food and Service: We managed to have the Maitre Di get us a table for two which was fine. However the overall seating arrangement of the dining room was terrible. They are the only cruise line that we have seen that has straight booths for a seating of six and all along the exterior walls, straight tables of eight. In the restaurant business we call that barracks seating. It is impossible for the party of eight to have a conversation, unless the person would stand when addressing a person at the other end of the table.
And finally, the worst of all, the Bay Marie serving stand that ran down the full center of the dining room, is a real no-no. This is an area where the waiters got their soup, some appetizers and assorted items for the table. These areas are supposed to be concealed in a fashion that are out of the diners sight as much as possible. It is a poor way to expedite service detracts from the over all appearance of the dining room.
The food was not bad. In fact some of the entrees were excellent. The service was poor except for the bar girl Kathleen. The bus-girl was in a dither and couldn't get coordinated with the waiter.
Entertainment: My wife Mary, always looks forward to the shows and especially on this trip, since Carnival is considered to have great entertainment. I guess we were on the wrong ship because the show is the poorest we have ever seen. The lead female singer and male singers couldn't get their act together and were not very good and the costumes were very poor. Having the band on stage with them didn't help the situation. It took away from being able to focus on the show. We never attended another show. Instead, we decided we would find a lounge that had a group that played music that we could dance too. Unfortunately, we couldn't find any. It seemed in every lounge, they were catering to single girls line dancing (some in bare feet) or very upbeat (not jazz) music.
In General: In our opinion, Carnival is for the very young and young adults that want to party. We have never seen as much drinking as aboard this ship. On three different occasions we were awakened out of a sound sleep between one and three in the morning with shouting and cursing and carrying on by a group of young people, in cabins down the hall. Security had to actually patrol our hall each night.
Their were bare feet everywhere. Many people walked along the promenade in bare feet. They even danced in bare feet in the lounges. On formal night, you could walk along the promenade and see people in shorts and tank tops. It is one thing to go casual, but this was a bit much. We met a number of people at open breakfast and open lunch that had the same experience as we did and were very disappointed and would never book Carnival again. In our opinion, being retired owners of a peoples business, this type general atmosphere will not enhance their image.
In Closing: I again repeat that Mary & I had a great time. That may sound odd after all the things I have written, but it is the truth. In each port, Mary & find a good hotel that we can pay to use their facilities. Ocean front, pool, showers, changing rooms, dining facilities and etc. (Like the Jamaica Grande in Ocha Rios.)When we are on the ship we spend a lot of time around the aft pool area. After a late lunch, we take a nap and around five order a snack from room service. It then is about time to start dressing for dinner. The last two nights we found a group in a lounge that agreed to played some of our type music and we enjoyed a couple of evenings of dancing.
I write this critique for you from our personal perspective. We took our first cruise in May of 1996. We became addicted and since then have made 12 cruises in the last 35 months and 5 of those in the last 7 months. If we had booked Carnival for our first cruise, we would have never cruised again.
It is not very pleasant having to write such a negative review. I would much rather be able to tell you of the many nice things that took place, but unfortunately that was not the case. It was a terrible experience. If we can answer any questions, E-Mail us.