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Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival Imagination

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating

By Mary_CR

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May 22, 2014

Mexican Riviera

Pro's We sailed to Ensenada on a 4 night cruise out of Long Beach. Carnival staff was wonderful- Long Beach Port Authority are rude. We purchased the Grand Suite class and enjoyed literally walking on and off the ship without interruption with the priority Embarkation and Debarkation that comes with the suite room. Our room, U1115 on the Upper deck was spacious and well-appointed. The bathroom had a jetted tub with a shower combo, however

I did not use the tub. The balcony was nice but unfortunately it was very windy and chilly and we didn't spend a lot of time out there but did enjoy watching the ship enter and leave the ports. The staff was incredibly accommodating and nice. We liked that they remembered our names and we were treated wonderfully for four days. Most of the food was really good and there was something to please every palate. Staff will even bring you two or three of something (like two entrees, two desserts, etc.) We selected "anytime" dining and although we didn't have to wait long, we did have to share a table with other couples for two nights. Not good if you are shy or enjoy privacy, but you do meet new people and learn interesting things and can compare your cruise experience with other passengers.--probably would go with the "early" or "late" dining next time. Cons I felt the gift shops on the store needed more variety of merchandise. We sailed on the Carnival "Victory" before and it seems like the gift shop on that ship offered more sundry type stuff (snacks to purchase, sodas, over the counter medications, etc.) The Mongolian BBQ was awful. We couldn't even EAT it. Most of the food was really good with the exception of the mongolian BBQ. We had the Grand Suite class- which was really nice and spacious. They seem to offer something for every taste-We enjoyed the comedy club. In Ensenada, book the excursions from the local Mexical Tourism Authority---A tour company will meet the ship and shuttle you to a tour agency where you can book the same excursions for half the price. We went to La Bouffadora and our local guide, Jaime was great. Don't book excursions from Carnival. We had a wonderful time and would definitely do this cruise again. It's really worth the money (extra $300.00) to upgrade your cabin to a suite. The priority status alone is worth it.

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Feb 21, 2014

Ensenada

We enjoyed a quick 2-night cruise aboard the Imagination late January 2014. We were a party of three- me, 40, my hubby, 50 and our 5 year old son. As we live on the Central CA coast, this was a convenient trip for us. Overall, we enjoyed this short getaway and our expectations on the Imagination were exceeded. Dining As usual, we requested a small table just for the three of us in the early seating, main dining room, but checked

with the maître d on embarkation day and they had pre-assigned us to sit with others (not sure why they won't honor what you request on the website, but oh well). Our request to change to a private table was quickly accommodated, and we were put in a 4-top, banquette style (not my fave- as you're seated right next others on the bench/table combo). Our main dining room servers were so friendly and caring for such a short cruise, and the main dining room food was great. Lido Buffet food was better than average and the area was kept clean and well stocked. The station set up really helps with the crowds- the lines were minimal even during peak times, and seating was always available. I particularly loved the Sandwich station, salad bar, and the Asian food. The Cabin We sailed in an ocean view cabin this time (R43 on the Riviera deck), rather than our standard balcony cabin. We were very happy with the size of the room, and the layout as well as the fact that the cabins below and above us were also cabins- so there was no chair dragging/people walking/loud lounge noise, etc. The window was very large, and helped us to avoid that claustrophobic feeling that can creep in when we don't have a balcony. Unfortunately, we had rainy, very cool weather by Southern CA standards, so we did not get to enjoy as much time outdoors on this cruise. It drizzled pretty much the whole time, with a great break in the rain while we were in Ensenada. The Ship The feeling the MOMENT we walked on board was upbeat, cheerful, and music filled. Every employee in the atrium greeted us, and the music playing let the passengers feel the vacation mood immediately upon boarding. The dancing towel animal, Ellie the Elephant is adorable, and really added to the smiles. The renovations on this ship were awesome (we cruised on it pre-renovation 8 years ago). They did a great job making the ship feel as new as possible- the pool deck looks great and the public rooms and atrium are very obviously updated. Passengers were respectful and party-focused, but not rowdy or obnoxious, from what we noticed. We noticed that a lot of people were carrying around beers and/or bucket of beers immediately after boarding- getting the fun started. We had thought that this cruise might be too rowdy and loud for us, but it wasn't. It was fun to watch the many bachelorette party groups, families travelling in large groups together and groups of girlfriends looking for a weekend getaway. The Port This was a "one port" cruise, with just a day's stop in Ensenada. This was our first time off the ship in Ensenada (we usually sit out this port on longer cruises), so we booked a tour through Carnival to La Bufadora, and enjoyed the blowhole, as well as the BEST tacos (the shop RIGHT near the bus stop at La Bufadora). The vendors were aggressive on the walk to the blowhole, as others had warned, but we made a few purchases, and enjoyed the shopping opportunity. All in all, we're glad we went, but this is a place you probably only need to see once. We'd do it again! Hopefully, this time, on the longer 4 day to Catalina.

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Jan 18, 2014

Carribean

Too crowded. We were in lines for everything. There weren't enough seats in informal dining; we had to go to a completely different part of the deck just to find a place to sit down. There were long lines at the buffet, too. Formal dining is better, but make sure you get an assigned time unless you like waiting in line. The deck was so packed you could hardly walk through it let alone get a seat to lay out. The whirlpools were never empty. There were

2000 people on board but room for about 500 in the common areas. The food was average. The pizza was very bland. But the Chocolate Melting Cake - amazing! Room was well worth the price, very clean, and a great view of the ocean. Loved the activities! Very fun, but you'll have to arrive early or at off times. Otherwise, you won't get a seat. Cozumel is beautiful. Will definitely go back there. Overall, a disappointment. In addition to the crowds, we had poor weather.

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Aug 13, 2013

Key west and Cozumel Mexico

Cruise ship was nice, bathroom on lido deck wasn't clean, staff at lido deck was nice. Front desk at customer service staff was polite but not friendly. dining room and housekeeping staff was also friendly. When we had to leave the ship at port of call, staff was not friendly . Biggest disappointment was pool. Water level was almost five feet. Four feet and ten inches to be precious. I am 4 feet and 10 inches tall and I don't

know how to swim so I couldn't go in pool at all. There was only one pool. I am sure they can keep shallow water on one side and deep water on other side of pool but it was same level of water in whole pool and it was salt water. They need to think that everyone is not six feet tall or everyone knows how to swim. They need to design this with all kind of people in mind. Dining room food was good because it was requested before sailing and that food was tasty but food at lido Deck was disappointing for vegetarian people like us. Besides French fries , bread and fruit and deserts there was not one single item . We had requested Indian food. In spirit and pride dining hall food was fantastic. Dining room staff was also friendly and polite. Few times they made mistake bringing food to wrong person on table. Overall it was great experience in dining rooms but at lunch time or just when we didn't wanted to go to dining hall or when we were at port of call and couldn't make it to dining room in time or just we wanted to eat at informal dining area ,Horizon bar and grill they didn't had any vegetarian choice but French fries, bread and fruits. Before this cruise we took cruise with norvegian and royal Caribbean cruise lines and they had one Indian style vegi and rice and Indian style bread which was good. We were disappointed and kind of hungry even though there was so much food. So it was like mix feeling experience. Room was all right. We didn't have any problem with it. It was not big room. They booked five people in our room and they said there will be five bed in room, but they had two bunk beds and fifth bed they set up on floor which is not right because they charge full price for that fifth person. It was okay cruise . They need more shows.

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Nov 14, 2012

Bahamas

Wow, this was some cruise. Yes, we did sail around in tropical storm force winds for over a day. Yes, everyone was sick. Yes, this was not the best cruise I have ever been on. When you book a cruise you run the risk of bad weather. No cruise line can guarantee good weather. It's the provisions they make for during bad weather is what can make a huge difference. A previous post said that Carnival could have let us know that Nassau was closed

before we left port, I agree. That was a bit shady... I understand though that probably half of the ship would have revolted had they said that before we set sail. I was disappointed that we did not stay overnight in Nassau. But itinerary changes happen. What I was more bewildered about was that when you looked on the ships monitor about our heading, we were actually following the hurricane, not sailing away from it. We were hovering around Grand Bahama Island for a day... What we should have done is head down to Key West for the day. You know... opposite direction from the hurricane... not more near it. We spoke to a young lady who works for the cruise line (but not on the ship) and her thought was that they were thinking they would need to dock at GBI instead of Nassau if it couldn't be cleaned up in time. I still voted for Key West. And I later heard that another ship recently diverted to Key West... So, it's not like it isn't possible... The Imagination even ports there on their 4 day cruise... Anyway, I wondered if anyone did take advantage of the "vacation guarantee" and wondered how it worked... Too bad Carnival didn't make it easy. That ship smelled pretty bad from all the vomit all over. Now, I'm not prone to seasickness so I didn't have a particularly rough time of it. But a word to the wise, if you don't feel great, dont sit there and eat a big fat steak along with 2 desserts... Just sayin" I was hoping that Carnival would offer a discount on a future cruise for those of us that stuck it out (not like we really had a choice though).

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Oct 31, 2012

Nassau

How about this for safety - dont go out in the middle of the sea when Sandy is still around and in full force??? My husband and I are first time cruisers and we went on a 3 night bahamas cruise on friday 10/26. I was hesitant due to the weather, but was reassured over the phone and at the port, by Carnival employees. About an hour after sailing, they made an announcement that the port at Nassau was closed and we would be at sea until Sunday. Im sure

they knew that before we set sail, and it would have been nice to have the option of not going on this horrible cruise, if we were aware of what was actually going on. The following 2 days were HORRIBLE MISERABLE days of throwing up and feeling awful. We werent even able to eat. The boat rocked so much you would roll out of bed. The staff couldnt even walk without being knocked over. Pools and decks were closed and all onboard activities were empty because everyone was sick. And dont even think about asking for a nurse after-hours because there is a $150 charge. We finally got to Nassau Sunday around 10am. Most excursions were cancelled due to weather. We asked for a discount on a day pass to Atlantis and were told that we should be paying more because Carnival has kept us safe while at sea. Unbelievable. We ended up buying a flight outta there because we had enough. We did not complain or make a big deal. I asked for my final statement and was assured that there would be no extra charges - except what I was signing for. Low and behold - today I have a different charge (not a hold) for more than what was agreed, along with a hold for another amount. I contact customer service and am told that what they charged is correct and basically - have a nice day. I am furious with this experience and this cruiseline. I will NEVER cruise again thanks to Carnival Cruises. To make things worse, I tried to get our flights reimbursed under the carnival vacation guarantee, and they said that even though I expressed my feelings on the ship, told them we were buying airline tickets to go home at the next port and asked for the tickets to be paid for/reimbursed by carnival (which is what the guarantee entails), we would not be reimbursed because we did not specifically use the words "vacation guarantee," while speaking to staff on the boat on numerous occasions before disembarking. Since I only used the words "vacation guarantee" over the phone when we got back, we do not qualify. This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life!!! They either offer the guarantee or they dont. If I expressed myself exactly the way the guarantee is explained (minus the words vacation guarantee), then why the hell didnt they explain my options?? No - instead they tried to charge us $300 per person to disembark, under some jones act that didnt even apply to us. So - we were given bad information and were being charged extra, when they should have given us the correct information and help us in getting reimbursed for the horrible circumstances they put us through.

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Jun 21, 2012

Bahamas

Overall this cruise experience rates as a 4 out of 10. It's an older ship but it was very clean. There is always someone cleaning even late at night. I HATE that it's only 2 irons onboard the ship on the frist floor. So if you are lucky enough to get in there to iron take every thing you want to iron with you! May not get in there again! It was 5 people ahead of me to use 2 irons! The food was pretty good. Good selections for dinner, the lobster

was excellent! I really enjoyed the Asian buffet for lunch everyday. They cook the food right there in front of you. Lines were pretty long, but hey that's part of it. But one thing I didn`t understand, we called room service one morning and they told us that we couldn`t get "hot food" (bacon, omelets,etc.) we could get only cereals, fruits etc. Now I KNEW that was true, so I guess they were tired and WASN`T going to bring it. For breakfast, varied of food to select, even the powder eggs were ok lol! Our statesroom was ok. We have an oceanview, three beds, alittle cramped but that it was cool. Very clean and well kepted everyday. They did a great job on our room everyday. Only one problem, windows were very nasty, could bearly see out of them. Need cleaning from the outside. Wasn't impressed with onboard activities! If you're not in the age range of 15-30 you're out of luck! All of the night life is for hip hop people or latinos! THIS CRUISE "clearly" need clubs for 40 and up! There were SO MANY people in that age bracket saying the same thing. R and B clubs are need for sure! We walked around and half of the clubs were not even open! The giant slide wasn't up, the big screen tv that was supposed to be on the deck wasn't there. Bingo was a JOKE! Carnival, you got to do better! Went to the Atlantis resort which was cool. Don't pay for the tour, just pay and go as you please of the place. Food was just ok, however, the drinks were WONDERFUL! The bahama mama drink was great! Also, can't remember the name of this drink, but it was an ocean blue color it was good also. And don't forget to sat in the "lucky" huge gold chair! Rumor has it that if you sat in it, wealth will come your way! Shopping in the bahamas is just like shopping everywhere else. You got those that are trying to sell you $hit you don't want nor need, beggars every step and turn you make, but one thing for sure if you want to buy something, you can always talk them down on their prices! The trip was cool b/c I was with my family, but it could have been a lot better. Again, the nightlife for 40 and up needs to be improved! Not everyone is interested in hip hop and Latino music. Karaoke is the only thing that kept me sane, but it shuts down @11pm.

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Jun 1, 2012

Miami round trip

Of the 7 cruises I have been on, this was the worst. I will not be cruising with Carnival again but if you choose to, don't just research the destinations...research the ship and the amenities. It does make a difference. The food was mediocre, especially the buffet for breakfast. We had bacon (very greasy and limp) and waffles (cold and mushy...even my 8 y/o grandson wouldn't eat them and he'll eat anything). We did have room service quite

a few times. They have a limited menu but at least it was edible. The stateroom was of decent size. I've never been on a comfortable bed on Carnival, so wasn't expecting one this time. Bathroom was clean, clean, clean. The room itself was freezing. The a/c controls are some weird thing on the ceiling and if you are short like me, you cannot reach them. My grandson couldn't either even though he was standing on a chair. We had to have the steward try to fix it but then it got hot. Very inconvenient to need to have someone come and fix it for you every time it needs adjusting. Glass bottom boat in Key West was rather boring and absolutely don't do the Jungle Island excursion in Miami. Or probably any of the other tours provided by that tour operator....the customer service was non-existant. See my review on carnival.com. Easy to find, there are only 2 reviews. I took my 8 year-old grandson with me. The pool is small and overcrowded. He did have some fun at the water works. The majority of the crew looked like they didn't want to be there and didn't smile. My grandson said the only person who was nice was the cabin steward. It's pretty sad when an 8 y/o notices how miserable everyone is. There was also one bartender in the atrium bar that was very nice. The customer service on this ship was horrid as with Carnival in general. I purchased a bottle of liquor in the gift shop which I was told would be delivered to my cabin the last night of the cruise. The salesperson then set the bottle on the floor and didn't bother to put my name on it. Fast forward to the final evening. No liquor was delivered. When I went to guest services to inquire about it and ask for a refund for it, there was one person behind the desk and three sets of people in line. Twenty minutes later, there was one person behind the desk, helping the same four people he was helping when I walked up, and 30 people in line behind me. When another person finally showed up to help and it came to my turn, I complained about the wait and she told me I should have checked out the night before. Then she refused to credit the liquor I didn't receive and instead went to look in the back for the bottle. Of course it wasn't there. Still refusing to credit my purchase, she called the gift shop manager, told me to go away and come back in ten minutes. We had to meet our shore excursion group so between waiting in line for twenty-five minutes, her running around looking for my liquor and then having to leave and come back we didn't get to get any breakfast. Her attitude was appalling as was the attitude of the red jacketed Carnival employees standing around chatting with each other while people were waiting to get their bags. Don't bother inquiring with them if you have a problem....they will just look at you and tell you there is nothing they can do.

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May 12, 2012

miami-nassau-miami

Our cruise on the Imagination for the most part was great, however the guidance toward the end was less than. We had gone after dinner the last night and asked Guest Services to assist us due to a scheduled very early flight from Miami to disembark as early as we could. We were told to be at the 7th level in the theater at 8:00AM and we would be early at getting off the ship, we were there but not the earliest (8:30) and eventually disembarking

at 9:00AM. When we got to the airport we were denied boarding due to the late arrival and had to pay $1200.00 to get home utilizing the same seats in Philadelphia that were canceled by our denied boarding.

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By Mary_CR

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Mar 6, 2012

chris and marys wedding

I had my wedding on this ship and I would not recommend this company for a wedding. I had a group of close to 70 people with me and their overall experiences were very good. However Carnival does need to work on their customer service. Some of my guests were downgraded in their room without notice. I had also arranged for my guests to have chocolate, champagne and a photo coupon delivered to their rooms but almost of half of them didn't get it

and I was charged for all the guests. When I went to the customer service desk I was told that it had to be reviewed and I wouldn't get an answer till Monday since I took a weekend cruise. Customer service reps had an attitude and were very unhelpful. They couldn't give me any answers because corporate had to look into it before and they wouldn't give me a credit so I lost money and my guests didn't receive anything. Overall food quality was good Very clean, very attentive room service Went with a large group for my wedding. My guests had a good time however Carnival was very unhelpful and uninformative when I called them to set up my trip for my group. Would not recommend this for any event planning.

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Jan 10, 2012

Nassau

Overall we were happy with our trip a cruise is what you make of it, and glad we have given cruising and Carnival a try. If you are someone who likes to party, is overly sociable and likes crowds Carnival is for you and I will be recommending this trip along with their fleet to our friends and family who fit this criteria. As for our next cruise, we will be trying a transatlantic in the coming years and will be looking at other Lines offered by Carnival

(Cunard, etc) that may cater to the "quieter" set. The food was equivalent to Vegas Buffet level, or large employee dining room. Not impressed. We were in PH1 - so for size, it was wonderful. A little tacky, and a little outdated, but 1000 sq ft of privacy. Dated, dull - if you were not drunk or drinking or liked to sing/dance - you were bored. The actual town of Nassau (other than Senor Frogs) is a tourist nightmare - either go to the resorts or stay on the ship. Hello All! Prior to our trip this past weekend, i was hard pressed to find a lot of reviews for the Imagination. I would like to post mine here to help any people in the future. Also, the reviews that I did find seemed to lean to either "hated it cause the food sucked' or "loved it cause of the pool". I wanted a more all encompassing review LOL :) We have learned first hand that Carnival is not for relaxing, it is for partying “ totally our fault for booking on this line as we enjoy friendly people and some partying, but not 24/7. So, for starters, this was our first cruise. We live across from the port in Miami and wanted to give a cruise a try - mainly to see if we liked it and also because our family and friends were now calling us asking about them LOL. So we booked a quick weekend cruise on Carnival. We originally booked the Grand Suite. We were called about 2 weeks before the trip by carnival to see if we wanted to upgrade to the owner's suite. We decided to go for it and paid the extra $1500. Because of this, i cannot give a fully accurate description of Embark/Disembark but will give it from our POV. On Friday we got to the port about 1:15 PM. Once we got through security, we were told we had to go wait in line with everyone else (boarding pass for Owner's Suite (PH1) says To Be Announced and the VIP is removed, Small blunder in Carnival's process - also, cannot purchase any bon voyage items, or book any excursions online when booked into this room - have to call the bon voyage department directly. After showing our luggage tags (which luckily we had one on my carry on) we were allowed to go to the VIP checkin. We were waited on fairly quickly then had to sit and wait about 15 minutes for someone to come and escort us onto the ship. We were allowed to bypass the long line of people waiting to board, get our first pic taken, and then arrived at the spot where they take your picture for your sign and sail. The security guard there was very rude to our escort and started telling her that she didnt know what she was doing and we had to wait in line like everyone else. She was very polite and tried to explain that we had priority boarding, and that this was the process. After 5 minutes of listening to this, he let her go to guest services with us in tow (literally 20 feet away from him). We were left waiting (standing/no where to sit) outside guest services (could not get a drink as we still did not have our cards yet) for about 20-25 minutes while the lady got a person to take us to our rooms and get us our cards. We were escorted to our room (12th floor/sports deck), he made sure our keys worked and left us there - no tour of the room, no instructions, no nothing - another failure on customer service. We dropped our carry on and headed out to the lido deck for a Drink of the Day and a beer. Very nice atmosphere - and free champagne for everyone. We hung out for a while, went back up to the room to see if the luggage had arrived yet (only one piece had) and then headed down again to check out the option of getting a two person table for dinner. The Matre D was very nice and booked us in Spirit for a two-seater at 8:15 as he said the wait would be horrific if we stuck with our anytime dining. Oh well, another item that other people have mentioned in other reviews proved correct. The ROOM: the room (PH1) of course is amazing BUT (you knew this was coming) the balcony overlooks....the life raft - so for an extra $1500 you get an obstructed view. Also - the living room and bedroom look out onto the Lido deck - which is lovely at sunrise - other than that - not so much. It is also very, very noisy - all day, and all night. They did warn us about it before we booked, so i am not complaining - just letting you know that they are NOT kidding when they say there will be a lot of noise. The jogging track is also directly above you - and apparently a LOT of people on the ship decided to go running at all hours of the day and night (starts at about 5am). Picture laying under a treadmill...that's the noise. The deck chairs moving (both on Lido and Sun) are outrageously noisy as well. Like i said - we were warned by Carnival. The room is about 1000 square feet: - Full walk in closet with plenty of hangers - Dual sink bathroom - Toilet is in room with tub – bad design for a room that can hold up to 10 people (1 shower, 1 toilet). Even with only the two of us, there were times, in a room this size, there should have been a separate powder room. - Notice i said tub...its an old jetted triangle tub (its seashell pink, so prob original to the ship) with old worn out fixtures and a pitiful curtain. The shower is in this tub. The tub leaks when you run the shower. A lot - water everywhere. Not a good design, and you must climb OVER the edge of the tub to get in - not good on a moving vessel and a wet floor. - Living room - very nice - flat panel tv (although ours was on the fritz most of the trip) - Bar - great area with small fridge - Sitting room - nice but moderately uncomfortable furniture (all-weather type material - odd) - Bedroom - true king bed (not two pushed together) so triple points for that. Nice TV, but tv remote when in bed is too far from TV to work properly so you have to move forward or get out of bed for it to work. - Blackout curtains truly keep out the sunlight in all rooms - The carpets totally need to be replaced. They are covered in every room with multiple stains, to the point I would not walk barefoot in the room. The Pool: The pool is small for the amount of people on deck, especially on a sunny sea day. Add to that pool a ton of children and you have no pool for adults. I watched as children splashed, kicked, shoved, jumped on and banged into adults just trying to get in for a dip. The water is chilly (not heated). The Whirlpool Tubs (on Lido): Could not get in them due to the fact they were used as kiddie pools for the entire trip. Serenity area: Could not truly use as it was not very serene (many times we walked back there only to find raucous adults in the whirlpools and we felt like we were intruding on private drinking parties). The Waterslides: Fun, but once again a little chilly on the water. The Food: I would akin it to First-Class airline food in the Dining rooms. I was not expecting cooked to order, fresh food we are on a ship catering to thousands of people. It was tasty in the dining room, but nothing to write home about decent selection. The buffet in the pool area was just horrid for lunch and breakfast akin to cafeteria food. I could have waited in line to get fresher omelets or a burger but did not want to wait upwards of 20 minutes. The pizza was OK once again, more like Employee Dining Room or Cafeteria level food. The coffee throughout the ship was mediocre at best, including the specialty coffee. The Booze: Yep most expensive part of the trip. Drinks are reasonably prices (compared to Miami and our former home of Las Vegas) so we were not shocked. We pretty much made the accurate guess of about $50 per person per day in booze/coffee/soda. The drinks of the day pretty much tasted the same from day to day but they were yummy. Great selection of beer as well. We chose the 3 bottle wine package for dinner service. Excursions: We did not book any shore excursions but did book the behind the scenes tour on our day at sea. It was canceled as apparently we were the only people who booked it. I was highly disappointed. The Port: The Bahamas are beautiful. Similar weather/climate as Miami. We chose to just see the city on this trip so that when we return, we will be staying at an all inclusive and wont need to go into town. The town is typical tourist town not much to do our favorites were Senor Frogs and the Pirate Museum. We were very much put off by the pushy tour hawkers, but most of all the people who approach you on the street. I was physically grabbed by more than one person trying to sell me cheezy, cheap necklaces for the children as well as people pulling me to look at fake purses. Outside the one Bacardi store, my husband was harassed by many gentlemen trying to sell him drugs. After a while we were very tired of the harassment and wound up going back on board the ship to escape it. We were not interested in going to an all inclusive for the day and we did not want to go to Atlantis. Its sad because we would have spent much more time and money in the city had it not been for the harassment. We have been to extremely poor countries, such as Fiji, where we were never bombarded like this. Even some of the Mexican resort towns, such as Cozumel, were not this bad. The Service: This is where we have our highest praises. Our cabin steward was absolutely amazing as was her assistant (there are two for the room as it is so big). Loved our towel animals, never worried about leaving valuable items out, etc. Our room was spotless at all times and our needs were always met – sometimes before we even realized we needed something. Our dinner service was impeccable thanks to Felix every night! Everything was always waiting for us when we arrived. Everywhere on the ship I was always seeing someone cleaning something as well very clean ship. At the bars, etc. – the service was always friendly, efficient and performed with a smile. We even received gifts from the hotel manager every day in our room, so once again, the service on the ship exceeded our expectations. The Sales: A little pushy on the photos (they should seriously look into a photopass type solution, like Disney has which would alleviate so much and might also encourage more people to buy looking for our photos every day was quite annoying). The jewelry sales pushes got very old after a while and we did not see anything that appealed to us. (Cunard, etc) that may cater to the quieter set.

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By Dave_CR

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Oct 2, 2011

Western Caribbean

First time cruise. Entire family went on this cruise(our children are adult age 21-23) We really had a great time on this ship. The ship is one of the older in the fleet but was very nice. The food was good and there was a lot of fun activities onboard. The staff was very attentive and helpful. It was a very relaxing fun vacation, we all enjoyed ourselves very much. Learned a lesson to pack extra clothing (swim attire etc..) and must have personal

items in our carry-ons as some of our luggage took several hours to get top our stateroom. We ate three nights in the dining room and the food was very good, one night at the buffet and the food was good for buffet food. We had pizza late night after leaving the night clubs and it was very good. My wife even had pizza delivered to our room !!! Breakfast had a good variety and was good. Stateroom was small but nice. The kids had 3 in their room next door and they were a little cramped. The service we received from the staff was excellent. If I remember correctly believe our service guys name was Jeanne and again he took very good care of us.I wish this ship had balconies, it would have been nice. We had an exterior room with a window. I recommend getting a room with a window. The beds were fine and I slept like a baby while on this cruise. We all enjoyed the on board activities. The late night comedian shows were awesome, we laughed so hard it made my stomach hurt. There was always something going on the main deck during the day so we would sometimes just sit and enjoy the sun and watch the games etc.. We played mini golf, used the walking track and exercise areas. Key West was a great place, make sure you go ashore in Key West. In Cozumel my daughter went on the beach bash and had a great time. The boys went on the mayan ruins tour and loved it. My wife and I went into town and if I had to do it again I would have went on the beach bash instead. For our first cruise we had a great time and will definitely go again, in fact we are already planning another cruise for next year. The kids loved it and are begging to go again.

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Aug 9, 2011

fun

It was horrible experience! First off the smoking was the worst part. It was everywhere. It's like there was no designated areas at all! The staff was rude! The food was like eating fast food for three days and the same thing ALL three days. My boyfriend and I missed our dinner due to not knowing that when you pick your time dining you automatically get early dinner at 6:15. So that sucked. The worst part was we arrived thinking we could show up for

the late dining and found out our card said early dining and we were refused a table! The sad part is that there were plenty of empty tables available! So we ended up eating the food that had been out all day! The ship was not very clean. It was like eating fast food!!! The dining room we only experienced one night was ok due to the hair in my pasta! Not to mention the server forgot our wine that was asked for at the begining! Once you arrive at the Bahamas if you want some real food stop by Pepper Pot it was the best food we had on the whole trip... Room was nice and clean! The comedy was our favorite along with the shows! Disappointed about not getting to see the ice sculpture carving on this ship.. The most exciting part was taking all the photos.... We did every pose and really enjoyed our selves... The photographers we funny and did an amazing job... We baught 24 different poses.. Excursions were fun! The beach was beautiful! I will never board this ship again.... I expected a lot better. The Splender was a better quality ship. My boyfriend and I may give Carnival one more chance but leaning more another ship...

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Aug 9, 2011

To the Bahamas

I have to say that the cruise was horrible. The service was lousy. The ship was filthy. Very noisy bands in the mall areas at night. Doesn't anyone check the decibel levels? There was even a brawl on the ship. This kind of behavior is uncalled for especially on a cruise ship. There was even one arrest for theft. Disgusting. The food ranged from mediocre to good. Fair. At least the beds were comfortable. TV stations were limited.

Some were boring to me. There was some entertainment that was poor quality, low class and there was some very good entertainment such as dancing and singing which was better qualtiy.

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Aug 8, 2011

miami -nassau -miami

Was our first cruise, my girlfriend and me,too crowed like a sunday flea market. I believe we could visit more ports in the same area, instead driving that ship at 2 knuts to come back to miami the next day, besides warning! if u play poker pro machine dont forget to cash out every night before go cabin, otherway you could experience, as myself waiting ...yet for more than 2 months to get your money back.

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Jun 13, 2011

vacation

This was the first cruise my husband and I have taken and I realize I shouldn't judge all cruises by our one experience but we travel occasionally and have been to to pretty nice places and had some great times so we thought that we would try this with some friends that have cruised before and I have to say that this will be our last cruise. We have vacationed in some pretty nice resorts and spent alot less and had a great time. This was a 3 day cruise

if you can call it that. The moment you board you are bombarded with photographers and after a flight to the port and carrying luggage all you want to do is put it down but don't forget to stop and smile because you won't do a thing without someone taking your picture . I knew my friends said not to worry about your stateroom because you won't be in it to much,well that was the only place you can find some piece and quiet but that is only if you have earplugs especially at night, even though we did not visit the lounge we didn't even have to get dressed ,our bed thumped all night long and the hallways were full of lots of party goers and they were usually there till 4 or 5 in the morning .That might not be so bad but when you consider that you are sleeping in a box(how I felt) there really is nowhere to go to escape. There was an aroma of pot in the air I guess from the teens down the hall oh but then they were all around. Then there is the matter of guest services that we visited quiet often.We started out with 100.00 to feel our way through and if you drink beer and we did well that calculates to 24.?? for 4 16oz. and gratuity is added . Cokes are not free , they average 2.00 a drink and we spent a total of 400.00 and I THINK i got a buzz once it was so brief i'm really not sure because every time we received our bill we were told that we needed to visit guest services to add more money. The last night we added 100.00 and got 20.00 in tokens to play in arcade only to find that the next morning when we ckd out that there was no money on our account shocking but true. Now in all fairness I will say that there is always a deck hand ready and willing to serve you and they will make sure you are up and ready by 6:30 the day of check-out because you are getting off that ship if they have to carry you because we were out of our room by 8:30 but they opened our door(without knocking) 4 times to make sure. Our destination was the Bahamas and we have flown there and to the Dominican Republic and the beaches are wonderful and we have stayed at top resorts ALL inclusive spent less money and had wonderful views and that is the way we will go from this day forward,oh and one more thing that 3 day cruise the last night you can forget most of the deck because they are cleaning them so be sure to take in the shows but be sure and smile all the time in 3 days there will be a entire deck dedicated to photos of all that fun you were having taking photos. My advice take a plane find a nice resort where you can do what you want when you want eat where you want and still have a great time. this was very disappointing loud and a waste of my money and time. Please take the time to do your research and ask everyone you can I did after the fact and I could have saved myself the trouble. This was our first and our last!!!!! Food was good Small, cramped, clean, and DARK. Highly overrated. First and last

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Feb 1, 2011

Cozumel

We had a fantastic time! The ship is beautiful and there is no shortage of fun things to do. I wouuld definitely recommend this cruise. The food was pretty good overall. Our formal meals in the dining room were very good; there was a something for everyone available on the menu. The deserts were out of this world! The food on the several buffets available through out the ship were not nearly as fantastic. Although there was a pretty good

variety, most of the food was very bland and all seemed to be served at room temperature. The 24 hour pizza and ice cream was a big hit with my husband and stayed pretty busy the entire time we were on the ship. Our interior stateroom was absolutely beautiful! We heard horror stories about how terrible our room would be from past cruisers but I am happy to say they were all wrong. The size and decor were well above and beyond what we were expecting! Our room had a king sized be in it (two twins pushed together) and still left plenty of room to walk around. It was probably one of the most comfortable beds I've slept in away from home. We had three huge closets and four drawers to store clothing and other items and room under the bed to store suitcases. The bathroom was also really nice. Although the shower was small, it had plenty of room to move around in and had great water pressure. There was so much to do onboard that we had a hard time deciding which activites to attend. The stand up comedians were my favorite, as well as the dance parties outside on the Lido Deck. The also did a really good job of keeping the other guests children busy and out of sight most of the time. The Serenity Deck was also one of our favorite places to hang out. The peace and quite and upgraded amenities were fabulous! We booked a snorkeling excursion but were disappointed to find out it was canceled due to rough seas. Unfortunately, we did not find this out until we got off the ship and wandered around for an hour trying to find our group. There were no representatives from the Tour Group or the ship to let us know what was going on. We found out from another cruiser that also had their excursion canceled. Carnival was very apologetic and refunded our money immediately. We will definitly book another cruise through Carnival. Not sure if we will go back to Cozumel again, really not that impressed, but will look into heading east for the next one!

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Jan 1, 2011

Bahamas

Extremely disappointing cruise. This was our second time cruising on one of Carnival's "Fun Ships." The first cruise we took was so enjoyable that we decided to make cruising our preferred vacation experience. From beginning to end, this cruise was a major disappointment. No time or thought was given to the fact that customers (sometimes) save for years to enjoy this type of experience, but this cruise was nothing more than Carnival simply "throwing"

something together just to get money from the customers. Whoever told you that customer service aboard ship was the ultimate experience should really try sailing on the Imagination. It is the best way that I know of to take the "fun" out of the name "Fun Ship." The food on the Lido deck ("Off the Grill") was poor at best! To begin with, the same meals were served for lunch and breakfast 3 days in a row. The oatmeal had been left on the steamtable so long that it had turned brown and crusty around the edges. Hamburgers were cooked ahead of time and left on the back of the grill to be served at a later date (dry and unflavorable). French fries were continuously cooked and poured into steamtable pans on top of ones that were already hard and overcooked. Every time you dipped into the pan you got rock hard potatoes mixed in with the new ones. The waffles that were served for breakfast had been "microwaved/cooked" to death and were like pieces of rubber that couldn't be chewed or swallowed. Desserts (cakes) were stored in refrigerators without coverings and were often hard and crusty around the edges. I don't know who showed the cooks how to make potato salad but whoever did should really go back to school and learn how real potato salad is supposed to be made! The stuff we had on deck was nothing more than potatoes that had been cut into "huge" chunks covered with mayonnaise and a few sprigs of parsley on top. The turkey sandwich that I ordered from room service came straight from the freezer and had not been thawed completely. The turkey had more water dripping from it than the ocean we were sailing on! One member of our group did not eat in the dining room the first two nights we were onboard but the third night she decided to give it a try. When she entered the dining room the maitre d' was busy talking on his cell phone and couldn't be bothered to show her to our table. He told her, in no uncertain terms, "that if she wanted to eat, she would have to walk around the dining room and find the table herself." (GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE). Housekeeping did not change the sheets or the pillowcases on the bed during the entire trip (makes you wonder if they even changed them from the previous travelers!). No soap was provided so that you could wash your hands after using the bathroom and there was no place on board where you could buy any. Glasses in the bathrooms were never changed during the trip so you had to use the same one every day (this also makes you wonder if they had been changed from previous travelers). Very few onboard activities, if you can indeed call them activities. The first night onboard there was a dance party on deck to kind of get everyone into the mood. The DJ played music for approximately one hour and then the entire dance party and music was "shut down" for the rest of the cruise. The same went for the bing game that was played in the lounge. As soon as the first person won the entire event was "shutdown" and people were running around ship looking for things to do. There was no disco that I saw onboard and the gift shop catered more to selling "liqor" and "cigarettes" than it did to any other clientele on ship. This was the worst trip that I had ever taken on a Carnival ship. There was nothing entertaining for the children to do, nor for the adults who didn't drink or lose money in the casino.

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By Todd_CR

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Aug 19, 2010

Cozumel

As a veteran cruiser on Royal Caribbean, I was excited to try another cruise line. My girlfriend raved about the excitement and fun to be found aboard Carnival. I will say that RCCL and CCL are very similar experiences as far as the ships, destinations, and opulence goes. I would say that Carnival had better food. RCCL’s food always seems on the cold/bland side, so tasting something with zing aboard a cruise ship was a welcome change. However,

Carnival’s service was sub-par compared to RCCL. The stateroom attendant never introduced himself, which has never been the case when sailing with RCCL. Yes, the room was always clean and tidy, but I like placing a name with a face. The ship was kept clean, and looked very modern for being 15 years old. The dining room staff was attentive, and catered to our needs, promptly. Being a Floridian who has been to the Keys several times, Key West was fun, and I did some shopping at Express. If you’re not from the area, I assume you would seek out more adventure than shopping the sales rack at stores on Duval Street. Cozumel was a great port with plenty of water sports and adventure. I recommend Fly High zip lines. The staff was friendly and worth the $89. I would do Carnival again, but I will always choose Royal Caribbean for my future cruising needs. Carnival’s food was always the proper temperature, the choices were plenty, and none of the food I tried was bland. Royal Caribbean has some very bland offerings. Carnival’s offerings included flat iron steaks, chicken in various sauces, many types of fish, and the deserts were very well done. I highly recommend the melted chocolate cake. Mixed with vanilla ice cream, this cake is the stuff of legends. At Carnival’s coffee stand, they have an apple strudel that is incredible. Also, RCCL no longer serves lobster on their shorter trips. Not so with Carnival. I had two lobster tails, and enjoyed every bite. Lastly, Carnival had a wonderful sushi bar, which was a perfect mid-day snack. My only gripe about Carnival’s food was their waffles. They are rubbery, and lack any crunch. As stated before, the stateroom attendant never introduced him/herself to us, so I honestly never knew who cleaned our room. Some may regard this as a trivial complaint, but I see it as a lack of hospitality. This has never been an issue on any Royal Caribbean cruise I have been on. Usually, I barely close the stateroom door, and the attendant is knocking to introduce himself and to offer his services. To me, that’s a nice personal touch, and it allows me to know who to ask if I need anything. Besides this, the room was always cleaned, and in order. It may be me, but the stateroom bathrooms on this boat seemed a touch larger than the ones on Majesty of the Seas. Having a window room was a nice luxury. The closet was roomy, but hangars were few. I’m a light packer, so I had no issues. Lastly, Carnival has better water pressure in their showers. Unlike RCCL’s onboard activities, I felt Carnival had more to offer. The bean bag toss, hairy chest contest, and deck Olympics were a way to break up the monotony of a lazy day at sea. The pool deck’s music is always pumping, and it’s a much livelier atmosphere compared to Royal Caribbean. We did book a class at the gym, and it was cancelled. Beyond the class, the gym was nice, and never packed during the entire voyage. Key West has a ton of different avenues to explore. Avoid the beaches in Key West. They’re rocky, and have nasty water. The Hemingway house, Duval St, offshore water sports are a great option. Also, renting a scooter is a fun way to see the island. Cozumel is a great port, and it’s a pretty safe environment. The shopping is fun, and downtown offers many items for various tastes. We opted for the Fly-high zip lines. I would recommend it as a, “must do”. Soaring 100’ above the ground is fun, and the staff was super friendly. I would do it again. After the zip lines we went to Mr. Sancho’s beach resort. The water was great, and the resort was free. For $12 each, you can swim and play in their water inflatable playground. This was a fun time, and you can negotiate the entrance fee cost if you have a few people with you. We capped off our day with margaritas at Fat Tuesdays. For $36 we received one yard of margaritas, one small cup of margaritas, and a large plate of chicken/loaded nachos. Overall, it was a good cruise. I’m more partial to Royal Caribbean’s style, but I would definitely try Carnival again. In fact, I booked another Carnival cruise trip in October for 8 nights. It will be during Halloween, so it should be a great experience. The only other thing I noticed is that on RCCL, return customers get onboard coupons and preferred services. Return customers get none of these amenities on Carnival. Also, RCCL pushed their crown and anchor society which helps in $ savings for future trips. They even gave room credits for booking future cruises during the trip. Future booking offers were never mentioned or advertised on this cruise with Carnival. Try both companies, because each one has something good to offer.

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Jun 18, 2010

cozumel mexico

We took our kids for the first time and they had fun for a first experiance. I felt a little more activities would have been nicer in the evenings. The weather the whole cruise was perfect & the seas were calm. I have to say for the price for a family of 5 during summer we got a good deal. Im not sure I would do the Imagination again but overall it was'nt bad. We have been on Holland America which is a little more upscale so its hard to except less.

I would say this is a good ship for teens & tweens along with much smaller childern but for kids 11-14 not sure. The food was'nt so great- We had stomach aches every day. We did have 2 dinners at the dinning rm that were very good. But the waiters were great! The stateroom was perfect. The beds cozy rms were spacious. We were on the Empress deck in the back with a window. My kids had there own rm. Even when they were in our rm we had plenty of space. I though they were clean and pretty nice. A mini fridge and clock would have topped it off. Oh and rm service was on par everyday and night- They had things to do but I would have liked more excitement during the day- The keys- we just walked around seeing we've been there before- Cozumel Mexico- we did the Deluxe Catamaran & snorkle with the "Furry" that was a BLAST!!! Very fun with lots to do & great crew- The price was cheap for the experience- my 11 year even snorkled. The staff were all kind with smiles- I read bad reviews regarding this....not sure what people were talking about. Some people also said in there reviews that there was a bad smell from backed up toilets are whatever.....welll we only had that happen on one day for a few hours and it went away. If anyone would have smelled it we would have since we were on the back of the boat. Over all on a scale of 1-5 I would rate the boat a 3 star. I read a lot of negative things before we set sail and I think people exaggerate. Have I experienced better- yes! But was it that bad NO- Also the decor is a little vegas style but its a cruise ship....so what! It was not that big of a deal. Another complaint I read........people don't have anything better to do then look for a scuffed chair or what have you- lol go swim and have a drink!!

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Feb 10, 2010

Key West and Cozumel

This was such a wonderful experience. Every year the "ladies" in my family take a short 4 day cruise just to have some fun. I admit, after hearing about Carnival's reputation as being a "party" ship I did not have really high expectations. I was pleasantly surprised at just how wonderful of a cruise this was. I have previously been on RCCL and the staterooms on this ship have RCCL beaten by far. Everything was so clean, and we had so much space.

My room on Royal Carribean was so small I couldn't even unpack, I just had to stow my suitcase under my bed. There were 3 closets in the room, and even cubbies for your shoes. While our room steward did not go to the lengths to acknowledge us personally like they did on RCCL, we did not lack for anything in our room. Aside from the room, the ship was very clean, and anytime you walked around, there was always someone cleaning. The food by the poolside buffet was great. I really recommend the Mongolian Barbeque, and the hamburgers were always fresh. Our waiter at dinner was fun and very efficient. I loved that the waiters all danced every evening or sang. The price of the pictures that they take was much more reasonable, as well as costs of some beverages. Overall, the cruise was very laid back and the entertainment was geared at making you relax. It was very fun! The food was good. There could have been more selections offered at dinner, but anything you ordered was good.

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By don_CR

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Oct 31, 2009

WESTERN CARIBBEAN

This was my wife's first cruise and my third. Check-in was smooth and quick, but we were a tad early (1PM). We were told that our cabin will not be ready until 1:30. That was no problem so we went to the grill on the lido deck and had lunch out side. At 1:45 we went to our cabin, and surprise, our luggage was waiting for us. We had an outside cabin, and I have nothing negative to say about it. It was clean with plenty of storage. The shower had great

water pressure. The bed was the best I've slept in! Our room steward was friendly and went out of his way for us. The ship is a bit dated but they keep it clean! The Lido "resort" pool is far too small, and the "fun day at sea" was far too crowded. The wait staff kept the drinks flowing. The food is okay at best. We only ate in the Pride dinning room once. I had the steak, and my wife had the fish. My wife prefers to eat outside, so we took the rest of our meals at the buffet grill. There is always something to eat. There is a late night sandwich bar and 24 hour pizza bar. We really did not watch much, if any entertainment, but the one show that my wife and I saw was outstanding. We spent our nights dancing, from one bar to another, and back again. For some peace and quiet there is a small cigar bar, and a small section at the stern for adults only. During the day we spent most of the time on the lido deck. One drawback was that it was too expensive. For first timers, you better stay with an on-board excursion

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Sep 23, 2009

Western Caribbean

I'll start off by saying, you get what you pay for! Considering this cruise was only $400 a person. I booked this cruise with 6 girl friends for their spring break from grad school. That was my first mistake: Spring Break. A bunch of drunk screaming college kids. The cruise left from Miami and sailed to Key West and Cozumel. Embarkation was ok I guess. One thing I would recommend is to keep sun tan lotion in your carry on because if you have

your bags delivered to your room, you can't get them until the evening and you will spend the whole first day on the boat at port probably in the sun with no sunscreen and have to deal with a burn the rest of the week. Be sure to keep track of how much you are spending on the ship (you have to use a special cruise card that is linked to a credit card) because they will try to sneak in charges everywhere they can! I knew exactly what I had the entire week I was there and when I got my bill, there was a $15 charge for spa services (but I didn't even go there!) and $15 for in-cabin beverages (Um, why would I want to pay for the in-cabin beverages when I can walk upstairs and get free water out of the water coolers?). I tried to argue against these and they took some of the charges off but not all and it was too much of a hassle to continue arguing because their customer service is about as good as their accounting skills. The food was alright. This was my first cruise and everyone always raved about the food on cruises so I was pretty excited, but it was definitely nothing to write home about. The fact that it is always available was the only plus. The dining room was pretty unorganized. Half of us were seated in a completely different dining room and we were supposed to all be together. The boat was old, the carpet was stained and stinky. When we got to our room (3 of us shared one room) I thought it was a joke. There were two twin beds and one rollaway that was made for a person under 4 feet tall. Being the good friend I am, I said I would take the toddler bed (it was only courtesy considering my two friends were both over 5'9" and I'm only 5'4"). I slept on that sucker all week with my calves hanging off the end. Not to mention the fact that there was no where to put it during the day and it left us with exactly zero square feet of floor space. I went on a spring break cruise looking for relaxation. I laid by the pool most days and tried to ignore what was going on outside by popping in my headphones but with the volume all the way up on my ipod, I still couldn't tell what song was playing because whatever was going on onstage by the pool was so incredibly and uncomfortably loud. The adults only deck with hot tubs was nice but you could never get a seat out there. We did one excursion in Cozumel and that was snorkeling and the beach party (really it was just going to a private beach after snorkeling). The beach party was my favorite but they gave you a whopping 45 minutes. Snorkeling was ok but not worth $50 because there wasn't much to see. I would NOT recommend going on this particular ship at this particular time.

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Aug 30, 2009

Bahamas

If you enjoy being trapped in a Wal-Mart and like being Nicholed and Dimed for everything then this is the cruise for you. The ship is dated, the clientele less then glowing and the hard sell is enforce on this boat. While the crew tries to keep the ship clean they constantly seem to be picking up after the primarily snobbish passengers who seem to think that they can just pick up a plate of food and then leave it in the corner of the elevator

or the like. As further proof of the clientele attracted to this boat - we witnessed one older gentleman steal not just one, but two bottles of Soy Sauce (last I looked, you could get that for $1.39 in the market). Riding on a Carnival ship is like being in one big infomercial. From the second you get on they are pushing one deal of another, but what they don't tell you is that there is tons of small print. For instance, everyone on board is asked to fill out a survey and asked to give high marks. Everyone filling a survey out is then eligible for a free cruise. This is only half true: if you win you are then entered into the semi-finals for a cruise. The spa is operated the same way. You are offered a 50% discount for going to the art action, only to find out that you have to pick one of only 3 packages valued at over 250.00! Not much of a deal especially for a spa team that seems more like indentured servants then happy helpful spa employees.

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Aug 7, 2009

Western Caribbean

I went on this cruise with my husband and 18 and 22 year old children. It was our second cruise. We'd heard that the ship was not new, but refurbished. It was well kept up and clean. Staff was for the most part friendly and helpful, cabins were small but fine. Shows were fun, not amazingly so but adequate. We had a good time on this cruise but would try a different cruise company next time. The food in the dining room was okay, the food at the

buffet was not very good. I think that they cut corners by eliminating all seasonings and spices in their cooking. The buffet was often crowded, and smoke billowed all over from the grills. Even the pizza was bland. They advertise a sushi bar that was rarely open; when we finally got to try it, we found it terrible. Be warned--they really push the extras at you, constantly taking photos that they want you to buy (leaving the ship they took our pictures about 7 times), and pushing alcoholic drinks. We found that the vast majority of people on this cruise were from Florida, and one out of three had tattoos. We planned our trip through Vacations to Go and had Carnival arrange our flights so that we would be assured of making it to the ship in event of a flight problem. We would never do this again. They had us travel from Baltimore to Cincinnati and then from there to Miami, forcing us to begin our day at 4am and adding 1 1/2 hours to our travel time. They did not consult us about assigning seats, either, and we were unable to change anything because it was too close to travel time. We took excursions through the ship. Our kids enjoyed the Key West white knuckle thrill ride and my husband and I liked the trolley tour, though the seats were cramped. Two of us loved going to the ruins in Cozumel. My son hated the submarine ride as they packed us in and he was too tall for the seating. I enjoyed it. We made the most of our trip by being upbeat and enjoying what we could but we really felt that there were a lot of negatives.

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Aug 6, 2009

Nassau Bahamas

Start of cruise from day 1: This is were it all begins: We arrived on Imagination Ship Friday, June 26th 2009. Upon check in we all established that we didn't want to have the Fun Pass attached to a credit card but wanted to start a cash account, with the exception of the two that were in room M242-Robinson. When the cruise was initially booked, I specifically stated that we wanted to pay cash for tips and that it was not to be added to the

billing of the cruise. I assumed that as something that would have been passed from transfer from Carnival to AAA. This was not so as myself and the other's in my group found out! I though there would have been gifts in each room for us upon arrival. There were no gifts. The coupon books did come in each packet, which really served no purpose. Where were the gifts as promised? Not even a single fruit. In M214 there should have been accommodations for 4 passengers. There was one king bed and one bed that came from the ceiling. In the room were a female age 59, female age 36, male age 14 and a male age 10. We asked about the other bed to come out of the wall that we were told there was none. So now the 10 yr old male had to sleep between the two females. Thank God it was his Aunt and Grandmother. As we went to dinner the first night in the Spirit Dinning Room which wasn't nice at all. There was a smell from the rugs that over powered the food. As all 12 of us approached the table we took note that two of our party was at another table. Okay what happened to us all being together? The round table held 10 and the other 2 had to sit with another group of people. So there was something else that was wrong. Why weren't we at the long table that would have held the twelve of us? The second night of dinner which was the birthday of two of the guests and there was no birthday cake. Yes our waitress, Melodie was great at getting out two pieces of cake but the group couldn't sing together because two of the group were not at out table and half the restaurant were gone. Melodie and her assistant were great and she even apologized for the seating and explained there was nothing she could do. The food on this entire ship was disgusting. Nothing tasted good. The dinner choices were not up to par and nor did it taste good. The best item was served on the last night and was delicious, the crab cakes. Oh but wait my 10yr old of whom is allergic to shellfish enjoyed nothing. Entertainment on the ship: Our group ranged from all ages. The ones that were 18 and over were allowed in the club. My son of whom is 14 yrs, my nieces of whom both are 17 yrs old, had nothing to do during the night hours. Club 02 was not open at any point on any of the three nights we were on board. They had nothing to do other than sit outside of the 18 yrs and over club and hear the music and be absolutely board. What a waste for them. Asking them what fun they had, silence is the answer. This was really sad. Questions and Concerns: 1) Why is it when the initial booking is made that when it is requested to not have tips added in, they are sneaked in? When I booked it I made it clear that we wanted to pay cash tips ourselves. What a scam that is. 2) Why is it that promises are made and not followed through? No follow up from guest services nor the statesman after bringing it to their attention. Actually I was looked upon as if I were lying. 3) Why be treated differently by your staff because of your race or gender? As I as at the bar waiting for help, the bartender spoke to me with an attitude and, when speaking with the Caucasian couple next to me extreme service was given. 4) Why not have entertainment for all ages? It was a sad thing to be between 14-17yrs old on this ship because there was nothing to do. 5) Why when it: states in your departure papers from the ship to "please leave your rooms by 8:30am and when we were leaving to get something to eat at 7:35am we were told with a nasty tone by your statesman, "you're leaving and you have to take your stuff now!" We didn't do so and came back in time to note that they had been in the room to collect the tips. How tacky is that? Couldn't wait for us to leave. Was the tip going to determine if I stuff would have been put outside the door? 6) Why does a crusie line of such magnitude with employees from all races and walks of life allow them to speak there languages around the passengers? This was rude. Entire conversations being held in other languages by your employees. Did I think they were talking about us? Yes of course. I work in health care and that would not be tolerated. Just darn rude. Especially when over 80% of the guests spoke English! We cant even say we had FUN on the FUN SHIP! This cruise wasn't expensive but I guess you get what you pay for. Even though it was only 3 days, we were looking forward to having a blast and leaving the world behind on the Port of Miami. This was the worst. The dining room was dull and boring. It seemed as though we were put at the bottom of the ship. I was so hyped about this cruise and so as my family. Especially the ones that had never cruised before. Well my mother, Elnora Brevard says she will never cruise again. Will past cruisers ever cruise with Carnival again, more than likely not! R#$%@ Car^&%*%& possibly has our booking. Stay away from the shore excursion! We got a better deal from a very nice man that took all 12 of us around for 1/4th of the cruise price. The tour as safe, we learned things. I have his card with contact number.

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Jul 31, 2009

Nassau Bahamas

I was so looking forward to this and was pretty disappointed. Not only were the foreign guests absolutely rude but the so called "unlimited" food and entertainment was NOT unlimited! Most of the entertainment areas were closed most of the day. The food was horribly disappointing. Also, I thought that, for the most part, a cruise was all inclusive. WRONG! Every time I turned around, I was paying for something. If I ever talk my family into going

on another cruise, it probably won't be with Carnival. If you like hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza and ice cream then you are set! If you get tired of it quickly, then you aren't going to be very happy. I was always told about the massive amounts of food, 24 hours a day. That is not what we got! The dinner menus were small. There wasn't much of a variety of anything. The three things (salad items) that I liked, ran out on day two! I am not a picky eater but this was awful. I lost 3 pounds on a 4 day cruise! I was told that wouldn't happen. The food is not a good reason to go on a cruise! Our stateroom was nice and our steward was sweet. My only complaint about him was that he did the most boring towel animals to be had! We got a seal and a snake or duck or something like that. Couldn't tell what it was. Also our last night we didn't even get one! If I ever go on another cruise, I will definitely get a balcony room. I like being able to see sunlight and knowing around what time it is. On the entire ship, I saw one clock! If you like drinking, then your set! For this cruise line to cater to children, there were more bars than I could count! I like an occasional drink but good grief! The crew is in your face all the time with a drink for you to buy cause you definitely don't get them for free! The excursions are expensive and not worth the money! The best money we spent was to hire a tour guide to take us around Nassau. We lucked out with this one! We had a wonderful time with him. Would do that again in a heartbeat! Overall, this was a disappointment. I want to go back to the Bahamas but don't care to go on another Carnival cruise ever!

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Jul 28, 2009

Western Carribean

This cruise was my first time on Carnival as I wasn't expecting much. When we entered our stateroom, it smelled of cigarette smoke. We asked for the situation to be fixed. Within an hour, the crew was working on it and by that night, the smell was gone. Food in restuarant was pretty good but seating for "Your Choice" dining was not great (Norwegian spoiled us with their Freestyle). The buffet set-up was awful! There were long lines and no tables

available when we finally did get our food. It was very frustrating, especially since the restuarant was closed for lunch on port days. My wife and I called it the "feeding trough". Food was pretty good in the dining room, especially the desserts. It was OK at the buffet, but the set-up at the buffets were horrible!! One day the buffet even ran out of ice!! Not good. The entertainment was top notch, better than Norwegian and Royal Carribean. Non-smoking areas on the decks need to be better enforced. My wife and I were constantly having to report violators who were polluting the air. There was a nice variety of activities and plenty of them. Chankanaab is a nice stop in Cozumel, and Carnival should have an excursion choice with just transportation and admission. My wife and I were sans kids for our 20th anniversary. We were nervous about sailing with Carnival since we had heard so much about it being the "party" line, and we're not partiers. Overall, we enjoyed it. We did not like the buffet set-up. Service overall was pretty good. Entertainment was excellent. If I had a choice between Norwegian and Carnival, would still go with Norwegian if price was the same. The Imagination was good for the money though.

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May 21, 2009

Western Caribbean

Had great fun on this cruise, had orginally booked to cruise as I wanted to go to Cozumel, but due to swine flu breakout Carnival had to move our port to Nassau. A tad disappointed at this, as we did the Bahamas cruise last year and called at Nassau then. Oh well, you have to make to most of it and we were glad that Carnival found us another port and we didn't just have to have a day at sea. Loved the Karoke bar - some fanstastic and no so fantastic

singers but was great fun. Loved Key West this was a great surprise. Duval Street was fab. We went into The Bull after hearing an Elvis impersonator on at 12.30 in the afternoon, they were doing 2 x margaritas for $7.00 great value and Elvis was very good. We live in the UK and think we were the only english couple on the ship. Everyone was very friendly and found our accent funny. We had two comedians on the ship and they we both very good. The food was great in both the lido and the main restaurant. Spacious for an interior room, personally I would always book and interior room as your only in it to sleep and get changed. Prefer to spend my money on enjoying my holiday. Really good. We went to the Mrs and Mrs show in the afternoon - very funny. The cruise director was excellent. The sail away party was good fun. We didn't book any port excusions for Key West, as we wanted to explore. At Nassau, I wanted to go to Cable Beach - disappointed just hotels and the beach. We got a taxi to Cable beach $20 don't bother get the bus its only $1.25. I wish now we had booked Atlantis as we did last year - it's expensive, but well worth a fantastic day out. If you're flying out of Miami after 3pm, I recommend booking and excursion - we booked the Everglades trip. I was great and you don't have worry about your luggage. They also do a South Beach Trip - good value for money. Overall it was a fab cruise. I can't wait for my next one. Carnival really does know how to entertain and give customers a great trip. They really are FUNSHIPS

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Mar 30, 2009

Bahamas

I took my wife and son on our first cruise. Our ship was Carnival Imagination and our destination was Nassau Bahamas; having nothing to base an experience on we found in enjoyable, but a little crowded. I also felt that the comedien they had for our adult entertainment a Mr. Al Romero was very disappointing and not worth my time to have stayed up 'til midnight. Overall my family and I had a great time we enjoyed being at sea and exploring our ship.

I thought that food was exceptional except when you got to the room service menu - thought they could have done a better job there and they may want to rethink it for future cruisers. No complaints here the stateroom was wonderful and clean. Lack of onboard activities. The water park kids area they did a good job here except they forgot about the small kids and because of that there was no wadding pool for my son to play in. We did not do any excursions as this was our first cruise we were just learning the ropes. I will give Carnival a second try in the future. Overall, like I said, we had a good time just felt that with lack of activities the lido deck and other common areas stayed rather packed with people and had hard time finding places to sit.

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By DJ_CR

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Nov 3, 2008

western caribbean

This was our first cruise. It was myself, husband, 12 year old son, and 11 year old son. When you book online and pay in full you can complete the Fun Pass information. It gets your account going and cuts down the time of checking in. You have to set up a Sign and Sail account either prior to arriving or at check in. It's basically a debit account so you don't use any cash onboard. DO NOT TIP! They figure gratuities for room steward, wait staff

in main dining, and buffet staff onto your bill at the end of the cruise ($10 per day per person). My kids didn't eat in the main dining so I asked for them to remove the charge for them, it wasn't a problem. Check in was easy, but did take alot of time. Be prepared - the rooms are VERY small. The suites cost twice as much and only have a few more square feet so it's not worth the money. If you have a room with bunks for kids, (the room steward folds them down in the evening) the one bunk is right over the main bed. My husband and I slept at the end of the bed so we weren't under the "cave" it creates. It took the first night to get used to, but you are usually so tired that by the time you go to bed you fall right to sleep. Definitely get a room with a window (not porthole-too small). I know someone who slept until 3 in the afternoon in an interior room because they didn't know it was daytime. There are alot of different activities. Make sure you read your Capers newsletter each day to see what is going on. Try to get a feel for the layout of the ship as soon as possible -it helps. As far as the kids clubs, they didn't like that they couldn't play the Playstation, Wii whenever they wanted to (there is a schedule of a variety of activities and they have to stick to it). My youngest did like the crafts and activities. The pool is very small and crowded so don't plan on being in the pool all day. The waterslides were OK. The food is good and something is always available. Regular drinks are free. You have to pay for alcohol and pop. You can purchase a pop card at any of the bars. For the kids the card is $16 and $22 for an adult. Especially for a family, designate a meeting place. It is really easy to get separated. For example if you are in one buffet line and someone goes to get a drink you have to know where to meet. You are surrounded by 500 people at least. We always tried to eat in the same area so we could all meet up. Having said that though, you do feel that your kids are safe. We booked the clear kayak and snorkel excursion in Cozumel through Carnival. For $80 (adults) and $70 (kids) you had transportation to and from the port, you paddle on a 2 person clear kayak further down the beach and back (about 45 minutes), then snorkel for about 45 minutes, get any one drink free and fruit buffet, and you spend about 1 hour on the beach. The kayaking and snorkeling was amazing. You could clearly see all the coral, fish, starfish, etc.. in the water The guides were really helpful. Definitely well worth the experience. It was the highlight of the trip!!! Key West is very touristy, but great for souveniers. We were there for about 5 hours and was plenty of time to walk and shop. There are also tons of bars. Fine for families during the day, at night?? Cozumel (Puerto Maya) was a small tourist plaza, but very quaint and tons of souvenier shops. Bargain with the vendors - start to walk away and say you'll think about it, they will come down in price. Silver prices are good I guess, but chains, bracelets still $50 to $150 so I'm not sure if that's a bargain. T-shirts about $6 to $10. They do take pictures of you every time you get on and off ship. They also have several backdrops and opportunities to pose for pics. Take advantage of it. If you end up with a few nice family portraits it's worth it. A tip though-don't purchase extra prints there. Ask for a copywrite release (I called when I got back because family wanted copies too) to allow a photo place to do reprints/enlargements (like Walmart). Overall, we really enjoyed it. It is a great way to go to a few different places. The 4 days were plenty of time for fun and to relax, but not too much to get bored of the same thing. We would love to cruise again, but would probably like to see other ports.

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Nov 24, 2007

Western Caribbean

After reading some of the reviews here and other places on the internet we were a little concerned about making the decision to take the Imagination cruise. However, now that we have returned, we are glad that we chose the Imagination. This was our first cruise, so we had a lot to learn. Waiting in line is something you have to adjust to, but after a while it seemed natural to be in a line. Starting with embarkation you wind your

way up to registration. Though the process takes a little time, it is well organized. Getting 2,000 people on board is no easy task, but it was efficiently handled. Once on the ship our luggage was waiting for us at the entrance to our cabin. We were on Riviera and chose ocean view. The cabin was more spacious than we thought it would be and the bathroom was certainly adequate for us with shower, sink and toilet. There were numerous elevators and staircases to get you from floor to floor. It took some time to get accustomed to the layout of the ship. Food was available around the clock in some form or another. Buffets served breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There was a large salad bar on Lido deck that had just about anything you could imagine. There was an ice cream machine and frozen yogurt machine in the same area. 24 hour pizza was available. Lots of bars and night clubs for those who wanted to socialize. One member of our party said that the hardest part was knowing that from the beginning you were not going to be able to do everything offered on the ship. There were plans for all age groups. Bingo, deck games, talent shows, and karaoke were available for the adults and kids had their own events. The food was excellent in the main dining room. On Lido deck, with the buffets, the food was tasty and abundant. Excursions are available and are so varied I will not elaborate here. To summarize, I would recommend this trip to first time cruisers as the ship is not enormous, but big enough to give you space. The variety of food will satisfy anyone. You can join events or choose to keep to yourself. You will find you have gained a great group of friend by the end of your voyage. Enjoy!

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Jul 15, 2007

Western Caribbean

We have just returned from our cruise on the Carnival Imagination and miss it already! I wanted to write a review while everything is still fresh in my memory. I know that I scoured the the internet when I was booking our trip -- so I am trying to repay the favor! This was our first cruise as a family. My husband and I have been on cruises before,but this was our attempt to find a vacation that would appeal to everyone. I think

it is important to share that we are a family of six with 4 kids (ages 16, 15, 9 and 9) As you can imagine - finding something that everyone wants to do it very hard. However I am convinced that cruising may be the perfect answer. It allowed us to stay together as a family -- we always had breakfast and dinner together and did the shore excursions as a family. That allowed everyone to carve up the day as they wanted to -- my 16 yr old daughter sunbathed allot but my husband would hate to do that -- he spent time on the balcony reading & relaxing or in the casino working the craps table (he did very well on this trip!). Our 15 yr old son loved the party they threw every night in the Club 02 and you could find him there during they day as well as they had a Wii, A Playstaion 360 and music playing. There was always a Carnival employee in the club to keep an eye on the kids so that was good! The younger kids loved the freedom the boat allowed them...we allowed them to check themselves in and out of the Camp Carnival program. Sometimes they loved the activity that was going on (i.e., the scavenger hunt) and sometimes it didn't appeal to them at all (i.e., dance lessons with an Imagination dancer!) We pretty much set up times for checkpoints and agreed when and where we would meet...it worked well. They boys also loved having the fountain card that allowed them to get soda at will (you can pay for every fountain drink separately or get this card which I think was about $25 for the five days) The kids also loved having the Sail & Sign card with their name on it. We did allow them to authorize purchases and wondered if we would regret that move -- surprisingly they all did very well! We only had an overage on video games! We had told the two younger ones that they could use $5 a day at the video arcade....come to find out that their card would let you take out up to $20 a day for games! I think you can modify this limit by talking to the purser....the kids spent $20 more than they should so it was a minor blip...they will however have to work it off here at the house!! :-) After spending lots of time reading the various internet sites on cruise reviews and port reviews, we decided to book our shore excursions by ourselves instead of through Carnival. I would highly recommend doing that as it worked out very well, saved us money and I believe allowed us a much greater experience. In the Grand Caymans, we booked a Stingray City and snorkeling tour through Capt. Bryans. We made sure to get a tour that goes to the sandbar so the water is only about 4 ft high. The boat for Capt Bryans is a very nice sailboat with lots of room to layout and enjoy the sun as you rode the 30 minutes to get out to the sandbar. I think we had about 25 people on our boat -- which was about 5 different families. Compare that to some of the tours I saw that had 50 - 75 people on a boat packed in like sardines on something that looked like a tender boat. Capt Bryans and the Buccaneer (sp?) was the way to go! My husband even praised me on my ability to find such a nice tour. It wasn't a "party boat" although they did have food and drinks available to purchase nor were they pushy about receiving tips...it was just a very nice experience. I will tell you that I was a little bit nervous when we got off the boat and walked the block to their location and all I saw was a shack that you walked up to - (you didn't even go inside) but this is the case of not judging a book by the cover. They had one of the nicest boats by far and I highly recommend this tour. They take you to two snorkeling spots after Stingray City so it was a full day!! In Ocho Rios, we also booked a private tour that I had arranged ahead of time. I had read about him on the various threads and he seemed to always get glowing reviews...mine is equally as flattering. While we did not have Phil as our tour guide, but rather someone who works for Phil....still he was there to greet us when we got off the boat and was our guide for the entire day. We chose to do the Dunn's River Falls and river tubing tour. The falls are always a great choice for someone new to Ocho Rios as they are fabulous. One of my 9 yrs old walked up it and one chose to stay on the sidelines. Inter4estingly enough, the one who decided to sit it out wished he had done it so that tells you that it is a fun thing to do. We got some great pics at this location. Be sure to buy your water shoes before you go and keep an open mind if you decide to walk through the craft market at the end of it. Our driver told us how to avoid the market if we wanted to -- but part of the allure of Jamaica are the people and the negotiating. I was sure to tell the kids not to accept something from anyone and the various tricks that someone might use (like telling you it is a gift or it is free but then want money) We were always polite and jovial when we said no to the vendors. We did end up buying a t-shirt or two while we were there -- be sure to negotiate! It is expected and while I don't really like doing it -- I also know that if you do not -- the vendors share with one another that you will pay full price and miraculously the prices always start going up! The other activity we did in Ocho Rious is river tubing and it was a blast! We al wished that it lasted longer -- it's only about 45 minutes down the river but it is fun the whole time. The river is clean, cool, not too deep and swift! While I think of river tubing more like a lazy river -- there were areas that were like small rapids. You also get the chance to stop mid-way and do a rope swing or jump off a cliff into the blue, blue water. Everyone of us took the plunge -- which was later captured on film by entrepreneurial Jamaicans! :-) We ended up buying all 6 of the pics because they were do much fun! If you get the opportunity to do this activity - you should -- a fun time was had by all! We were done with the private tour by about 1 PM (we started 1 hr after the ship docked) so some of us went back out for a little souvenir shopping. There are plenty of shops within 5 minutes of walking if you find yourself with a little time on your hands! As for the cruise itself, we loved our room. It was the first time for a balcony and I am hooked. We sat out there and watched the sunsets, or even during the day to read a book or just watching the waves....it was very relaxing. The food on the Imagination is plentiful. It is not gourmet but certainly is nicer than the meals that I put on the table at home! We had a table to ourselves and at first that made me a little bit sad -- as part of cruising is getting to know the other passengers...however it turned out very well. As I mentioned, we usually reconvened as a family over dinner so the kids knew they had a standing date at 5:30 PM each night (we had early seating at 5:45) Having dinner as a family let us hear what each person had been up to and what they had planned and allowed us to revisit the various things they had done and what they liked the most. Our servers were excellent and always remembered our names, our likes, etc. You should know that kids can order kid-friendly food while in the dining room even though it isn't on the menu. We always asked our kids to order 1 thing new or different off the starter list and then they could fall back on pizza, chicken nuggets, or burger for the main meal. Speaking of pizza, the 24 hour pizzeria was wonderful. The teens often went there after a night of clubbing and I am pretty sure the younger ones had pizza everyday for lunch. The pizza is good and usually didn't take too long although there was almost always a line!! You can get Caesar salads here too although they don't advertise that so much!! There is a casino aboard the ship and while I am not a big gambler - my husband likes to play craps so he was very happy that they had 1 table. I think he played there every night for at least an hour. He did well enough that on the last night -- he took some of his winnings and paid off the Sail and Sign account! How fun is that? All in all -- this was a very enjoyable trip. I highly recommend cruising for families with kids at various ages. Oh and one more thing -- we loved having the photographers every where you went. I know I have read reviews where people hate it and they hate the price ($21 for an 8x10!) but I have to say that we ended up getting some wonderful family shots. Infact, I waited before buying the first family shot on formal night because I wanted to see what the pics for the next night looked like. When we did have pics taken, I usually stopped at at least 2 different photographers with different backgrounds so I would have a choice in pics....it doesn't cost anything to have a picture taken so I took advantage of it. In the end, I ended up with a family picture that is absolutely stunning -- but I will tell you that for this 1 awesome picture we probably took 15 bad ones -- where someone had their eyes closed or wasn't looking at the camera or the camera wasn't focused correctly. My advice is to take advantage of the photographers!!

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Mar 25, 2007

Western Caribbean

Embarkation; went fairly smoothly, although we’ve decided the port of Miami is our least favorite port. After waiting for a bit in the terminal, we were ushered onto the ship. Staterooms were ready early, and luggage delivery was punctual. Dining; We actually felt the first night in the Spirit dining room, that it was the worst service on a cruise ever. My son asked for water three times. The waiter actually stood beside him with

a bottle of water once, only to leave without pouring him any. We did not get water/tea etc until the appetizers were brought, and were not offered bar drinks all evening. Five appetizers came out 7 minutes before the sixth person's appetizer. Just generally not a good night in the dining room. We spoke with the Maitre'd about it, and it did seem to get better after that. The Lido deck food was what you normally expect from the food on the Lido. The kids LOVED the pizza bar. I am surprised at the quality of the pizza. It’s very good. Camp Carnival; My ten year old son went to CC for the first time on our last cruise, and he LOVED it. Wanted to go all the time, and was full of stories about it when we picked him up. This cruise, however, after his first visit to CC, he informed me it ‘wasn’t as fun as last time and the people weren’t as nice’. He went back one more time, and informed me when I picked him up that… ‘The counselor said the ‘P’ word. She told us ‘Don’t piss me off’. And so, he and I hung out for the rest of the cruise. Club 02; This is the 15-17 year old version of camp carnival. Both of my older two went to Club 02 on our last cruise in October, and they had a blast. Told all their friends about it when they got home, and about how cool it was. Unfortunately, this was not the case on this cruise. While we were waiting in the terminal to board, my daughter and I got to talking to another girl her age(15) , and her mother. Her mother was very nervous about letting her kids go off on their own on the ship. I told her about Club 02, and how much my kids had enjoyed it, etc etc. Sadly, the girls came and found me after the introduction night at Club 02, both of them very upset over the way it had gone. After listening to their stories, I asked them to write it down, and went to the Purser's desk, extremely upset. They wrote, a letter describing the events. (For the readers; the letter is not published here due to graphic content. ) I spoke with the Purser, made certain she understood I was very angry and concerned about this. She assured me someone would come and speak with me the next day. What I got instead was a form letter slid under the door in the middle of the night, apologizing that our experience was not what we’d hoped it would be. This made me even angrier. For this matter, my husband and I now plan to e-mail the head of ‘Cruise Directors’ as well as the CEO of Carnival. I can live with a lot of things going wrong on vacation, but this was beyond any level I felt normal or acceptable. My husband and I actually approached Ari to discuss the situation with him. His answers were, essentially ‘Well, you know how teens are.” or “ I must have been signing kids in when that happened’. The rest of the cruise was average for a Carnival Cruise. I was extremely disappointed in the Camp Carnival / Club 02 issues. We spend a great deal of money taking a family of five on vacation, and one of the reasons we continue to choose Carnival is for the kids activities. Carnival has done nothing to resolve this.

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Mar 3, 2007

Western Caribbean

This was my first cruise, but have heard rave reviews from my wife who has been on several, and her sister who is a travel agent. I will start by saying that I was moderately disappointed in the entire cruise. Maybe my expectations were too high, but the entire experience fell far below. We boarded the Imagination at 1:00 pm on Saturday March 3, 2007. This process actually went smoother than I expected and before we knew it we were

in our stateroom. Our stateroom was nice, a little dated on the décor, but nice nonetheless. Our cabin steward promptly introduced himself and we proceeded to the Lido deck for lunch. We went to the buffet where we had a fairly normal cheeseburger and fries. I was not expecting much, but little did I know that this was going to be the menu for the buffet for the next 5 days. Following the dreaded lifeboat drill, we explored the ship finding the décor very 1970’s neon and mirrors. We selected the late dinner seating and were thrilled with our two waiters. These two gentlemen actually saved the cruise for us. We however were not happy with the dinner as a whole. First, we were told in our cruise documents and were constantly reminded that a business casual dress code would be enforced for dinner. Apparently my definition of business casual and Carnivals is vastly different. People were showing up in sweatpants and undershirts, camouflage shorts and t-shirts, and one person actually showed up in her swimsuit. All of this was allowed past the Maitre D who was standing at the entrance to the dinning room. The food was less than inspiring and actually could have been cooked in my own kitchen. Throughout our entire stay, the lack of truly extraordinary food was obvious. There was no dessert bar, the midnight buffet bar was truly unexciting, and we found the buffets would even close at random times during the day. My wife and I tried to eat lunch at approximately 3 pm one afternoon only to find that the buffet was closed. It was at this time that we began to notice a large number of college-aged people on the boat. Unbeknownst to us we were lucky enough to have booked during the spring break for many large institutions. I will say that I was mildly concerned at the outset, but most of these students were fine. I think that the cruise line should have informed passengers of this, as there were many families that were forced to mingle with insanely drunk passengers. Our first stop was in Grand Cayman, which is a truly wonderful island. My complaint at this stop is that the excursion we signed up for did not start until 9:15 pm, and we were not permitted to leave the ship before that. By the time that we returned from our snorkeling trip, which was listed as only 4 hours but turned into almost 6, we had only about 30 minutes to shop and then had to be in line to board the tender boats. I was disappointed in this, but was still optimistic that the trip would get better. Then we arrived at Ocho Rios Jamaica. I cannot say this sternly enough; I will never set food in Jamaica again. From the time we left the boat, until we boarded again, we were accosted by the locals to purchase their trinkets, have our hair braided, or buy their pot. These people would sell your own arm to you if you let them. I understand that this is not something that Carnival can control, but they can give some heads up. We selected the Bamboo Beach Club and Dunn’s River Falls excursion, and were happy with most of it. It is a little disconcerting when you arrive at your private beach only to find that you are separated by the locals using a barbed wire fence. Does not say much for setting that relaxing ambiance. The employees of the club were great however, and got us whatever we wanted. Climbing the falls was an adventure, something enjoyed by all in our party, but one word of advice, do not go into the bazaar at the falls unless you want to be assaulted by salesmen like you never have seen. We picked up our things at the club and were back aboard ship 2 hours early. The rest of the cruise was uneventful. While I was able to relax to my hearts content, nothing about this vacation will stand out in my mind as positive. I cannot stress enough that the food was boring, the ship was dated, and the experience rated a C at best. I am sure that this is my last cruise aboard a Carnival ship, and that is a shame because most of the employees were knowledgable and helpful, but the problem that we witnessed stem from a corporate level. It is obvious that corners are being cut to make more money, and it is going to cause the company to lose money. It is our understanding that the Imagination is set to be dry docked, but that does not make our experience any better. I believe that our experience would have been relatively the same no matter what ship we would have been on.

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Feb 23, 2007

Western Caribbean

As first timers to Carnival, we were very pleased with our overall adventure. We were very pleased with our cabins, somewhat spacious and a very comfortable bed. I don't remember being able to ever sleep so well on a vacation as we did on this ship. Food: We were very pleased with the food. As always, the buffet thing was good, but the dining room was much better. I would always recommend taking the dining room when it is offered for

the breakfast and lunch as well. The 24 hour pizza was fabulous and the frozen yogurt and ice cream were awesome as well. The favorite dessert at our table was the Chocolate melting cake-A MUST HAVE for you chocolate lovers!! The steak and lobster were wonderful as well. One lobster tail didn't cut it for many of us at our table, so our waiter did not hesitate to bring us all a second! Ports: Key West-very beautiful. A fun place to try to visit again. We took the free trolley ride/tour offered to us as we got off the ship. Then we walked around, did some shopping and had lunch at a cute little restaurant. Very nice town-too little time. We would have loved to spend an entire day here and would like to visit the Keys for longer period of time sometime. Keep in mind, there is a CVS pharmacy available here that you can buy about anything for much cheaper than on the ship. Calica: We were very prepared for the scenery of NOTHING but a rock quarry before we even set sail, thanks to reading up the Cruise Reviews. Thank God we were not disappointed since we knew what to except. It really is a rock quarry with a huge parking lot of taxis/buses waiting to take you to Playa Del Carmen. We had been to Playa before, so we chose not to go to Playa, but take a ferry to Cozumel-40 min ride, but very choppy and easy to get sick on. Don't know that I would recommend this as there is very little time to spend in Cozumel then. I would recommend either going to Xel-Ha, which is similar to Xceret. Both are beautiful snorkeling parks. We went to Xel-Ha a year earlier and LOVED IT! Well worth it, about $50/person to go, but very cool if you are into snorkeling at all. If you just want to shop or enjoy a beach, take a taxi for $5/pp to 5th Ave, right next to the ferry to Cozumel and you can spend the day in this area. Senior Frogs is right there, along with the beach, and lots for shopping. I have heard that you can walk the beach to some of the private areas and rent a lounge chair and have drinks served to you. We did not do this, but in hind sight, I wish we had. Just not enough time to go to Cozumel and back. Overall experience: We loved it! My only regrets is that we would have picked ports that stayed at the port for the entire day. Both Key West and Calica were very short stays and we would choose cruises more carefully next time. One other thing-we were very glad to have chosen the late dinner seating so we didn't have to rush back to the ship for dinner! Carnival did a great job overall-easy embarkation and disembarkation-very organized and few delays, really. One more piece of advice-take along your swimwear/loungewear when you get on the ship as your luggage will not arrive for a few hours and if you get on the ship early enough, you can sunbathe, act for a good deal of the day and you will want your swimsuits!

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Jan 24, 2007

Western Caribbean

While I realize that I am relatively new to cruising, I will say up front that I will NEVER cruise on Carnival AGAIN! I'd rather be nailed into a wooden box and pushed off into the open seas than cruise that line again. If we won a cruise with that line, we'd give it so someone we didn't like, that's how bad it was. I'll start with the good stuff, because there were a few positive things about the experience. First, the cabin was larger

than on our previous cruise with Royal Caribbean. Our cabin steward was just one of the most precious men and tended to our every desire and whim. We got chocolates on the pillows every night with our turn-down service and the towel animals were absolutely adorable! The dinners in the main dinning room were wonderful! As someone who knows fine dinning, the food was definitely there. The dining room itself was another matter. I'll get to that later. The buffets were mediocre at best and on par with Denny's. There was one line to have an omelets made and that was the SAME line as the breakfast buffet. The big killer for this cruise was what we discovered was called the Noro virus, a highly contagious stomach flu-type virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. My husband was struck down by that as were a good number of other people on the ship. We had the pleasure of carrying it home with us to our sons. After two plus weeks there are still the occasional sign of it cropping up in the family even though we have taken ALL the recommended precautions. Aside from the disease (some poor woman caught a fungal infection from the hot tub), the decor looked to have been done by a blind man from Las Vegas. There was neon and mirrors everywhere. It was extremely tacky. Finding our dinning room was a real challenge too. We had to go all the way to the back of the ship and then down some stairs. There was no other way to get there, which was a challenge for the disabled member of our party. It also didn't help that English seemed to be a second language for a large portion of the ship's staff. We got misdirected three times while trying to find the bloody dining room. The aforementioned blind guy from Vegas had also hit up the dining room with red neon that FLASHED! My poor husband got a headache from the lights. The layout of the dining room was also awful. We shared a booth with four other people and in order to get to it, we had to walk through the beverage service area to get to and from the booth each night. The musical extravaganza shows looked like they were put on by high school drama students. The comedian was good though and we got a few laughs from his show. The best things about the cruise was Key West and Playa del Carmen, both worth while destinations and great shopping! I advise you to take a plane to both. AVOID CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES!! Unless of course you want to be sick.

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Dec 27, 2006

Western Caribbean

This was my second Carnival cruise and I went with my girlfriend. I had been on Fascination previously so I had some idea of what to expect. Imagination was very similar in age, decoration and almost identical in their floor plans. Imagination, like the Fascination, is an old ship, clean but old. If you want a newer Carnival ship then you have to go on a longer cruise. The newest ships are Freedom (2007), Liberty (2005), Valor (2004)

and Miracle (2004). (I'm actually planning a cruise for February 2008, hopefully on Freedom.) We had an early morning flight day of our cruise (7am) and so we decided to stay overnight at an airport hotel near JFK. I would recommend flying into Miami the night before and staying overnight at a hotel in Miami. Someone recommended a Holiday Inn or Hampton Inn, the one downtown near BAYSIDE. It's extremely close to the port. And you can have a nice dinner at the BAYSIDE shops. That way you can sleep in, check out at 11am and then go directly to the ship. Anyway, we arrived in Miami around 10:30am and took a regular cab. It cost around $30 w/tip and the two of us just split the cost. Good thing b/c we didn't have to wait and at $15/person it was on par with the other ground transportation. We arrived at the pier around 11:30 to 12pm. We were confronted by the porters (all in white) and we realized there is little choice but to have them take your bags. They do not work for Carnival, but there are Carnival signs everywhere stating that you have to leave your bags with the porters – go figure. You have to tip them too, at least $1 per bag. I gave them $4 and the guy smiled so I think it was a good amount. We had absolutely no wait and we got onto the ship right away. (Customs/Boarding, one note - My girlfriend is not a US citizen and so they took the green visa waiver form and returned it the night before we got back – she freaked out a little thinking that they were going to lose it.) We went first to change our dining time with the Matre'd at the dining room, you should DEF get the 8pm or 8:30pm seating. That way you don't have to rush during the day. It's perfect. Then we went to see our room and the room steward had the beds separated, no problem, we asked and she put them together. It wasn't ready yet so we decided to look around the ship. (Our room steward was EXCELLENT, she always had our ice, cool towel animals, and the turn down service was also really pleasant too). We had a 5A porthole category room and it was a good size. It was on the Empress floor and at the very front of the ship. It’s a good idea to use flip-flops in the shower – the color of the shower floor is suspicious. We then had lunch on the lido deck and had the drink of the day. NOTE – if you ask for the drink without the souvenir cup you can save yourself about $4. It adds up when you realize you're going home with a set of 8-10 of these plastic souvenir cups. The drink was ok regarding the amount of alcohol, but the taste was very sweet, but that depends on your personal taste. This held true for all the specials of the day we tried. We took some pictures around the ship and then took a tour of the spa/exercise facilities. Again, I do not recommend the spa treatments on the older ships. I had a pedicure done when I was on Fascination which was not so great and very expensive. So I passed this time around, got my mani/pedi done at home before my trip. The gym area is nice and clean and they keep it cold, nice touch when you're sweating (or when you come out of the whirlpool or sauna on the verge of passing out from the extreme hot water temperature). There are also huge windows to see the view while running on the treadmills. Again, everything's extremely clean but not fancy. Muster drill. CHECK the back of your closet door, it will tell you where to go. Get a pocket map from the purser's station. Take your life-vest found in that little corner table to that place and then you get to sit there while they tell you things. You, like everyone else, will feel like a moron wearing the vest inside. However it is quite handy if you feel like taking a nap while the drill explanation is going on. Perfect head rest. We then were up on the Lido deck for the sail-away party which basically consisted of just hanging out. The lido band was playing and it was pretty festive. It was overcast, windy and kind of chilly. But we took some nice pictures and enjoyed it. We got ready for dinner and we were very happy with the service and our tablemates. Imagination doesn't have tables for two and so if you don't like your tablemates switch your table. BUT we were lucky and had some nice people to talk too. (Get the chocolate melting cake, you won't be disappointed. I had it every night.) We saw the first night's show, and we were meaning to enjoy the dancing and other late night comedy etc, but we were exhausted and ended up just sleeping. Key West We didn't get any excursions here and I didn't think it was worth it for the time we had. We took the trolley (free) from the ship to the downtown area. The driver will give you a map (and you'll have one from your capers). We just walked around. We wanted to do a beach but it didn't really happen. There's one down by the – southern most point of the U.S. and there's also a hotel/inn down there where you can pay an entrance fee for a pool and drinks. We had a drink at an outside bar and then went back to the ship for lunch. Looking back, it would have been a great idea to rent a scooter and see more of Key West, because walking only gets you so far and the sun was pretty strong. Lounge chairs on the Lido deck. This can be a problem. After lunch we went to our rooms and got changed into swimsuits and went back up. Thank God we came back to the ship a little early b/c it was packed by 2pm. We had fun and watched as the ship left port. The pool band is also so fun and the servers walk around non-stop asking if you want drinks – in order to avoid the harassment keep your (empty) glass next to you at all times. Dinner the 2nd night was formal night. Our table was very formal, the men in tuxes, but many wore dark suits. I kind of felt underdressed b/c I chose to dress up a summer dress instead of wearing a cocktail dress. My next cruise I'll be bringing my formal dresses. But we had a really nice night. The food is good and plentiful. It's not going to be astounding 5-star food, so if you expect the Ritz/Four Seasons, you'll be disappointed. However, if you expect good food/above average with good service you'll be satisfied. There's plenty of seafood choices, light fare, and yes a great lobster tail. Our waitress was very good but we seemed to always get the food after all other tables, which caused us to leave later, which in turn meant that good seats for late shows were hard to get. We watched the shows every night. I understand some criticize the shows, but all in all ours were good. The singing was actually quite good. I really enjoyed them myself. Just don't expect professional Broadway or authentic Vegas showgirls and you'll be fine. It is what it is, a cruise show. We enjoyed it. The comedians were good and our cruise director, Malcolm "in the middle", was awesome! Calica, Mexico I love cruises for the main reason that you wake up every morning in a new place! It's great! We had breakfast and then got ready to fight the masses to get off the ship. NOTE - with regard to breakfast – you can have a fresh made to order breakfast in the dining room. It's a little nicer and you can sit and enjoy the view and just wake up slowly. The quality of the food is much better, as well as having items not on the buffet, such as lox and bagels and eggs benedict. We got off the ship around 1:30pm. We had done the Xcaret excursion. I had expected more than we actually got for what we paid. The place is huge and well landscaped. There was so much going on and we only had about 6 hrs so it was a little hard to see much and I felt that we were walking all over the place and not experiencing all we could. Mostly, I pushed for this excursion because of the raves with regard to the snorkeling river. It was good, but you couldn't really see anything in the river, so it was mostly just swimming. They encourage you to rent masks/snorkels, a locker, and fins. You definitely need the locker but can do without the other stuff – there is a fee for losing the mask (which happened to us), so it came out more expensive than originally planned. Also, the river's long, so if you're not up to swimming a lot then you should just avoid this. But we had a good time; we saw a native ceremony and saw this really awesome graveyard. I know, I said graveyard, but it's built up like a tower with a path that winds around. Each had a unique artistic tombstone with anecdotes about the deceased. I had the pleasure of having a Spanish interpreter (my girlfriend), who would translate the Spanish into English for me. We got back to the ship around 7pm and were exhausted with just enough time to change and get to dinner by 8pm. Remember what I said about getting the late dinner assignment, it comes in handy when you can't get off the boat until 2pm, if you had to be back by 5pm for dinner you wouldn't have anytime in Calica. Some of our dinner mates did the bike/snorkel/zip-line excursion and if I could do it again, I think I would have done that one. Midnight buffet – we only went to see the buffet, we didn't actually eat any of it. We had only finished eating at 9:30pm so how in world could we eat more? It was amazing and beautiful, make SURE you at least go and take pictures. Or even better, eat a light dinner and feast at the buffet – it is likely that you will be one of the few ones eating. Day at Sea/New Year's Eve Day We woke up on the early side and went to breakfast in the dining room again. Again, good choice and got to meet new and interesting people. We spent the morning/early afternoon out by the pool, relaxing and sunbathing. Make sure to lather up the sunscreen, the sun is very strong in the Gulf of Mexico! The band was nice, and there was a lot of weird stuff, like hairy chest contests, Tarzan contests, ice sculpting. We even took turns on the pool slide! Again lots of drinks of the day and just relaxing. After we felt we were burning up into a crisp, we did a Pilates class (cost about $10 and there was a place for a tip, which I gave him, but I had mixed feelings about that). Strangely, the teacher/fitness guy, while knowledgeable, was not very nice. Everyone on the whole ship smiled and was very friendly except this guy…..hmm. We enjoyed the sauna a little and the whirlpools in the spa. In the afternoon, Carnival also does a nice little afternoon tea in this one lounge which we went to. I know, we're a young couple, but I really enjoy tea and we were like, why not? It was good but I was hungry and I felt I had to keep asking for those little sandwiches. We took a little afternoon nap and then got ready for dinner. For some reason, I did feel like we were a little bored on our day at sea. I think that if you really like the Lido deck and sunbathing then you'll have no problem. But in the late afternoon I felt a little like, what do we do now? We were casual on New Year's Eve, but I noticed that most people got dressed up again. I think if I had thought ahead I might have dressed up too. We had a cool dinner, with noise makers and hats. PHOTOS! One thing I love about cruises is the opportunity to take very nice portraits. Where else would you have access to free portraits? Of course you have to pay for the ones you like but otherwise they take them for free which is pretty cool. We took lots of pictures and made our own comments about the typical poses that all the photographers put us in. You have to buy the 8x10 to get smaller copies which cost about $20. There were so many we wanted to buy but ended up buying only three. Actually we joked about how many 8x10 photos can you really have? I think for families with children its really great b/c you can get really nice family portraits. NOTE - While the purser puts a hold on your credit card, you can still pay your room account balance with cash. Also keep in mind that for a four night cruise for two expect to spend at least $400-$500 on the ship. I know that sounds high, but your excursions, drinks, photos, spa/gym, etc. goes on there. I remember some guy next to us shocked when his account was $3000. I guess he had a lot of kids with him. That's where the "on-board credit" specials some websites offer comes in handy. If you can get a $200 on-board credit, take it quickly over category upgrades. NEW YEAR'S EVE Carnival celebrates New Year's Eve at dinner with the hats/noise makers/lays. But then after dinner there's a huge deck party on the Lido deck with live music, white lights and lots of champagne. We didn't see any free champagne, but you can either buy it by the glass at the bar or a bucket with glasses and a bottle. The bottles of champagne were expensive. There was an awesome ice sculpture of "2006" and the ABC TV New Year's Eve special was blown up on one of the walls. The entire ship rang in the New Year, which was fun. I'd never been to a big party like that. Afterwards, we went down to the karaoke and watched some of the singing and even sang a song. It was wicked fun, but I love karaoke. We then went to the nightclub. Disembarkation I was absolutely stressed about this. Let me explain. During my first cruise on Fascination, I remember it being quite crowded and frankly a nightmare. It took us forever to get off the ship. However, this time, I felt prepared. Instead of sleeping in to 8am and eating breakfast before getting off the ship, we woke up at 6am and quickly got ready. Before we knew it the ship was already docked around 6am, and when they called our color (corresponding to the color on your luggage tags) around 7am, we left our rooms and got right off the ship. There were no lines, actually hardly anyone was around. I think because it was New Year's Day most people slept in and didn't use the express disembarkation method. We were off the ship and in a cab heading to the airport by 7:30am. Note, I had originally booked a 10:20am flight home and kind of panicked thinking that it was too early, so I ended up paying a very LARGE fee to change our return flight home to 1:30pm. However, we ended up at the airport by 8am and could have definitely made the 10:20am flight. My advice with booking your return flight is to keep it no earlier than 11 or 11:30am, just to be safe. If time is an issue just get up really early and try to be the first off the ship.

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Jun 28, 2006

Western Caribbean

Thursday, we arrived around 12:30 pm and were checked in within 30 minutes. We first started out at the Lido deck for lunch which was just ok. The buffet was nothing spectacular. Ate a hamburger and salad. We then went to checkout our stateroom and was pleasantly surprised with the size of the ocean view room on the Empress deck. These rooms are much bigger than the standard on Royal's, Majesty of the Seas. Dinner was great, a little

early at 6:15 but the waiters were excellent. We asked for a late seating changed and were accommodated for the rest of the cruise. Friday: Woke up early, the port call was from 7:30-2pm and we wanted to get the most out of Key West. The time at this port needs to be longer there is a lot to see and no time to enjoy the beach. When you arrive at Key West a bus picks you up and takes you to town. I recommend taking the trolley tour, Ms. L is great. Dinner was formal night back on the ship. Be prepared to be bombarded with photographers every where you turn. The dinner was excellent, lobster and prime rib. At dinner time do not hesitate to ask for more or multiples, they will gladly accommodate. Saturday: Port of Calica, getting off at this port was the only frustration we experienced, the boat was late and it took about an hour and half to get off. Then to top it off there were photographers waiting to take your picture when you are hot and mad. My suggestion for an inexpensive alternative to an excursion here is to take a taxi ($10) each way to Playa del Carmen. There are many little 'beach clubs' on the beach where you can rent a chair for $6 and have bar/food service the whole time you're laying out and relaxing. Also don't miss out on the fresh fruit vendors, awesome pineapple and coconuts. And if adventurous try some Ceviche, really good from the beach club we camped out at. Playa del Carmen is beautiful and very laid back, not the craziness of Cancun. Needless to say that 6 hours is not enough in that paradise. Saturday dinner was great too. Had a great seafood platter. Sunday: all day at sea. There was plenty to do all day, sleep in, play bingo, enjoy the entertainment on the Lido deck, work out. Pack up and get ready to leave the ship. The dinner was also great, lots of choices. Overall I was very pleased with this cruise. I have been on a previous Carnival cruise (Eastern 7nights) and can say that Carnival is really good. I prefer them over Royal Caribbean. The food is better, the entertainment and the atmosphere. I think this cruise can be enjoyed by singles, couples, families etc. I would go on the ship again and try the itinerary that goes to Grand Cayman and Jamaica.

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May 31, 2006

Western Caribbean

Having been on several cruises I basically knew what to expect. Carnival cruises do a decent job overall, especially for the price you pay. This was a 4 night cruise from Miami to Key West to Calica. The first positive thing was that Carnival reduced the fare of this cruise after I booked it and when I called they gave me a better room and a nice on-board credit (not a refund though). I went with my two sons (ages 7 & 12) and my girlfriend.

We had an ocean view room with two upper and one king bed. The accommodations were decent for the four nights, but any longer it would have started to feel cramped. The food was good. The lines at the buffet were not too long. The dining room food and service were good. I especially liked the filet mignon and lobster tail night (yes, you can get both). My younger son enjoyed Camp Carnival but my older son preferred roaming the ship all hours of the day and night with the friends he made. They didn't like the saltwater pool. Calica is a rock pit. You have to take a cab ($10 each way) to Playa Del Carmen which isn't much more than a tourist trap. There are other things to do there, but with young children they get tired quickly. We did have one disaster on the ship. At 11:20pm the electricity went out on the ship for about 45 minutes. At times, the ship was completely dark just floating out there in the dark sea. The captain did little to reassure us that everything was alright and Carnival did nothing to compensate us for our inconveniences (a free drink at happy hour would have been nice). The boarding and departure process was a breeze. I'll go again.

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By Lori_CR

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May 3, 2006

Western Caribbean

Ugh. I was pretty disappointed in this cruise. This was my first cruise on Carnival, and for sure my last. This cruise was a gift to me from my company, and I appreciate the sentiment, but I was very let down at nearly every level, starting with the girl who greeted us at the Miami airport. She was so unenthusiastic about being there and looked visibly bothered when my friend and I inquired about what we were supposed to do next. Not

a great first impression. The bus driver from the airport was funny and he delivered us to the port safely. The check-in process was easy and quick-- we arrived pretty early. I was VERY disappointed to not receive any instructions, itenerary or map upon checkin... I felt like a fish out of water and didn't know where anything was. When we located the Information Desk, I was again disappointed to receive a crappy black and white copy of the ship... it had obviously been printed two-up on an 8.5 x 14 sheet of paper, and then sloppily cut with scissors. How much did my company pay for the cruise? Surely enough to have a professionally printed full-color map of the ship. We checked out our room and went up to Lido to have lunch. The buffet food didn't look good... there was, like, a home-cooking side and then an "international" variety side. Neither contained anything appealing, but after reading countless reviews about the great pizza, we quickly found out and I have to agree-- it was the best pizza I've ever had, and we enjoyed it every day for lunch (we tried the buffet a few days first, but quickly ditched that food for the de chevre or margarita pizzas). The casino took all of my money... I can't really blame that on the ship, but it did make the whole trip less enjoyable. :) The casino had lots of slot machines, blackjack tables, Let It Ride tables and craps. I thought it was funny that they had penny slot machines, but those weren't actually activated until the last day of the cruise. I was disappointed on the first night that there were no parties or anything. My friend and I walked the empty deck, confused... this was the party ship? So where were all the people? Dinner was awful, both nights we ate in the Spirit dining room. And believe what you hear about not being able to find that dining room. It's like the Bermuda Triangle... so confusing. The first night I had the Spa cuisine fish... no flavor whatsoever. Assuming it must just be because it was the low-cal meal, I got two entrees the other night we had dinner to test those... one was some prawn and scallop dish with lobster sauce, and it was sooooo buttery that it was gross. The other was the fettucini alfredo, which I'm pretty sure had been sitting under a heat lamp for at least a day. We didn't get to choose our dessert the last night, but it was souffle and actually was okay. I lost a pound on the cruise-- that should speak for itself. The events were ho-hum... it seemed like stuff for older people, stuff for married people, and stuff for kids. I'm not a fan of dance clubs, so that pretty much was all that was planned for single 30-somethings (you know, other than getting drunk, and that gets old fast). Our stateroom was clean, but my fitted sheet didn't even cover the whole bed... which was pretty annoying. I thought that's just how things were done, but on the last night when I asked my friend if hers did that, too, I realized it was just weirdness reserved only for me. Agus was our stateroom person, and he was so sweet and polite and called me by name. One plus: THE SPA!! I loved it. Camy from South Africa was my masseuse, and it was the best massage I've ever had. She gave me thoughtful recommendations to relieve stress, which I thoroughly appreciated. If you go, request her. I asked for a relatively deep massage, and there were times I thought I might cry in pain, but it was just what I needed to get some knots out. Room service was much better than the dining room food. Best tuna sandwich ever. :) The cookies were stale, but I really didn't need them anyway. The stop to Key West was, frankly, too early. We were there from 7:30 to 2:00... it would have been cool to stay 'til sunset, because there's apparently a great performance that happens every night at sunset. The Key West Winery was one place I really wanted to go to, but it didn't open until 10am, so that put a kink in the trip, although we did manage to go back before we had to get back on the ship around 1pm. Nice, fruity wines, if you're interested, but the woman working there was about as unpleasant as the Carnival employee that greeted us at the airport. Maybe she was just having the worst day of her life. Calica/Playa del Carmen (I still don't know exactly where we were) was hot... the "pier" seemed make-shift and we all had to take buses or taxis to get anywhere. We chose to see the Mayan Ruins of Tulum... interesting, but a big racket, if you ask me. Just wanted to sell me things. The scenery was beautiful and our tour guide, Angel, taught us a lot... the bus had TVs which would have been great had they been used to support Angel's visual aids that he brought along, but instead, we were all straining our eyes to see the 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper he was holding up from the front of the bus. I learned a lot about Mayan culture and really do appreciate the Mayans a lot more now that I know more. Very cool civilization. If you go to this place, find the "Mexican Restaurant" and have some guacamole. So freakin' good. Oh, and take lots and lots of water, it's hot. The day at sea was boring if you didn't want to lay out, and I didn't since I was a little burned from Tulum. My other cruise was on Royal Caribbean... I recommend them over Carnival any day. Not great.

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Apr 5, 2006

Western Caribbean

This cruise was our 2nd cruise. We flew to Miami and had purchased the ground transportation to the Port of Miami. We had no problem finding the cruise office to meet the bus this time and we were on our way within 20 minutes of touching down in Miami. We tipped the Carnival luggage handlers $5 to ‘take care’ of our luggage and we were happy to have our luggage in our stateroom an hour later. Going thru security and getting our cabin

key and sign and sail card went very fast. We were off the bus and enjoying lunch on the Lido Deck in less than 25 minutes. We had an Ocean view Room (R128) and it was fine. This time we went a few floors lower than last time and I made a mental note to myself to not go below deck U. I heard the water against the side of the ship and engines and one day the water was very choppy and I felt it all. After getting into our room, we began to explore the ship. Everyone was happy, friendly and with a ready smile on their faces. The food was unbelievable again. There was such a variety and you could eat from morning to night. We ate constantly and the food was delicious!! A variety of food for all different tastes. Our cabin steward, Ernesto, was available at all hours of the day and night. It didn’t matter what time it was when we went back to our cabin, he was always there with a ready smile and asking us if we needed anything. Our dining team, Nooman, Santana and Peter, were fantastic! They were so personable and friendly, their commitment to excellence was unbelievable. I can’t say enough about our ‘team’ but every Carnival employee that crossed our path were just as friendly and helpful. The photographers staff, particularly Carlos, was an added treat. Our first port of call was Key West. We loved it. There was a free trolley service set up by the ship that brought us into downtown Key West (a short 7 minute ride). I wish we could have stayed in Key West longer (8-2) because it had a lot to offer. The shopping was great and the restaurants and bars were quaint. The next day’s port of call was Calica. We didn’t sign up for any excursions, we were told that we could hire a taxi for $10 to take us to the beach. Well, Calica Port was a barren quarry. We got off the boat and there were a few vendors outside about selling souvenirs. We tried standing in line to get a very limited number of cabs and it was too much. We waited about 45 minutes and there were still a ton of people ahead of us. We finally heard that the price for roundtrip to the beach was $120.00 for a party of 5! There were private vans charging $145 for a party of 5! So much for the $10 taxi ride. We decided that we had had enough and went back to the cruise. The cruise was a lot of fun but I was disappointed with Carnival for not choosing a better place to port. From the ship, we got to sit in a rock quarry – that was fun, NOT! We were forced to either pay the Carnival Excursion or to make our own excursion at the hands of strangers. I like when the ship goes to a port and I walk out into the town to shop and enjoy. That was the only downside, but it was big because we wasted a whole day and never got to visit anything in Mexico. So… beware.

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Mar 4, 2006

Western Caribbean

I went on my first cruise this past March, and it is now the middle of May - I believe I finally have recovered, but life is not the same. Indeed, the experience was an eye opening, life altering event. I went with 8 of my best friends and, even though we were only together for 1 picture for the entire 5 day journey, we believed we had a fun time. None of us really remembered more than 25% of the actual events, but judging from the number

of people who recognized us and gave us funny looks or wanted to party with us, I guess we were cohesive enough to be somewhat entertaining. The fact that one of my friends, who shall remain nameless because is a member of the armed forces, was put in a wheelchair twice in one day (once in broad daylight by the pool, then again that night in the club) well that may have been the single greatest moment of my life. It was definitely a spring break cruise, and if your looking for a good time and that is your cup of tea then look no further than a cruise during any time in March. I only wish we had more memories than the 2 days of pictures and 30 minutes of random video footage we got while we were able to operate machinery. Grand Cayman was a blast, we were a little worried because we woke up at 7 am on 45 minutes of sleep to take the first boat to the island and when we got the beach bar at around 8 there weren't too many people there (we believed this was odd and that it meant for a boring day with just the 8 of us - we hadn't realized that most people don't find it necessary to start drinking before 830 am - who knew!). At any rate, after a couple hours and many rounds of drinks and about 4 packs of cigarettes, people started pouring in. What ensued was a party straight out of a movie. Young people everywhere, girls gone wild, old men and women gone wild, all the while enjoying the natural beauty of the island and the 94 degree weather. Makes you wonder why we ever got back on the boat?? Apparently we all made it back on the boat and proceeded to spend the next 8 hours in the hot tub and drank enough jack Daniels to kill a large animal. It was all down hill from there, for the rest of the week, we couldn't form coherent sentences and were left thinking all we wanted to do was get off the boat. This wasn't vacation, it was punishment. We still ripped it up the last few days, but we were never the same. We had plenty of fun, but next year we may decide to take it a little easier during the day. All in all, a great vacation, and has since made 4 of us decide to move to Florida in the near future. If your looking for a life altering experience, I recommend this trip...just be prepared for the ultimate reality slap when you get home and realize it is over. Sometimes, I wish I never went on that boat and never had that much fun and never knew how many interesting people there are in the world because I don't think anything can ever top those 5 days - until next year anyways. I have many more stories that are slowly coming back into memory even 2 months after, so hopefully I can add something in the future..

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Dec 1, 2005

Western Caribbean

This being my 1st cruise, I was nervous, but 1 word- FABULOUS! It truly was a vacation of a lifetime. The ship was great, the crew was the best. I would have liked a little more time in Key West, but we made the best of the few hours we had. Because of Wilma, we went to Calica instead of Cozumel, but a short cab ride later we were in paradise in Playa Del Carmen. Thanks Carnival for an unforgettable experience!

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Nov 12, 2005

Western Caribbean

Hello all, I just returned from the Carnival Imagination 11/12/05 – 11/17/05. I was part of the ProDJ.com East Coast DJ Cruise. There were 100 professional Disc Jockeys from around the country gathered on the Imagination. Airport & Embarkation – The Carnival Cruise Lines representatives were easy to find in the Miami airport. You charge your shuttle bus ticket to your Sign & Sail account. For $24 round trip, not a bad deal.

Once you arrive at the port and drop your bags off with the loading crew you enter the terminal to begin the embarkation process. You will go through the TSA security checkpoints and please be patient. If you are going to try to take alcohol on board, put it in your checked luggage. I saw many people pulled aside during the screening and their bottles taken from them. You go through the lines and present your documentation and set up your Sign & Sail. I got to the port between 12:30 – 1:00 PM and this initial part took roughly 20 minutes. You then head upstairs to get your room key, another 10-15 minutes in line. You take one final escalator and you are heading across the gangplank to your cruise ship! Ship Orientation and Muster Drill – The ship is very easy to move around. The Internet Café is right where you enter the ship and very easy to use. I had my own laptop and had no problems using the Carnival network. It was $16.95 for 30 minutes + $3.95 activation fee. The Information & Shore Excursion Desks are in plain sight. I set up my cash account for the Sign & Sail card and was off to find my room. I will discuss the room in a moment. Within an hour of being on the ship I had my bearings and could quickly find any location. The ship décor is like a Las Vegas resort. Lots of neon and other accents. The ship was very clean and the crew was very friendly. I got a Funship Special and waited for the infamous Muster Drill. It is a necessary evil and was fairly quick and painless. I was surprised that we set sail during the drill. A little different routine from my first cruise on the Sovereign of the Seas. Room- I was on the Empress Deck Aft, Cabin E215. I was sailing solo and the room was the perfect size for 2 people. My Cabin Steward was Boonsam. He was great! My ice bucket was always full and the towel animals he made were great! I didn’t see him very often, but I also didn’t need him for anything out of the ordinary. Day 1 Miami – After sailing I met up with the other DJ’s in the Shangri-La Room for our welcoming party. The party was in full swing. We headed out to the Spirit Dining room for the late dinner seating. I was seated with one of the Keynote speakers for our convention and his family. Our waiter Julian (Youlian), and his assistant Cristina, were both from Romania. Fantastic is the only word I can use to describe this team. After dinner, I went to see about the Sail Away specials on liquor. My fellow DJ, Dana, joined me in sampling the different rums, vodkas and liqueurs. Marko made sure we had multiple samples to help us make up our mind. A word of advice, you will start feeling the effects quickly. I must have had 20 mini shots and Dana was right there with me. I kept telling others about how good the Mango Rum was that Marko said I had to stick around, I was his best salesman! Dana and I then headed up to the Xanadu lounge for karaoke. Kirsten was the host and she was great. She had NO IDEA what she was in for on this cruise though. The first night about 75-100 people showed up for karaoke. We took over having all kinds of fun dancing along with the singers and providing some comic relief. The crowd loved it and over the next few nights, Karaoke became standing room only. Word spread around the ship about how much fun it was to watch the DJ’s do their thing at Karaoke. I was stopped several times by other passengers asking if we were going to be at Karaoke that night. Day 2 At Sea – Woke up in time for a bite to eat and them off to seminars during the morning and afternoon. I never did make it into the pools or hot tub, my loss. I stopped by the Sushi Bar and it was incredible!!! No charge for the sushi, sake was $1.00 per glass or $4.00 for a carafe. Our formal dinner was that night. Lobster and Prime Rib. I had the Lobster and was in heaven. Then it was back to Karaoke and another night of rock and roll! Kirsten announced the Carnival Legends show would be the final night of our cruise and she needed singers. I volunteered to do Elton John. More on this later. Day 3 Grand Cayman – I caught the tender into Grand Cayman. The tour companies and taxis are all over the place. I was just going to explore the town on my own. I looked around the Hard Rock Café souvenir shop. I stopped in a Tortuga Rum cake bakery. I got a Jamaican meat pie and a large bottle of water. The town is safe, as long as you use common sense and good judgment. I had lunch at Señor Frog’s, the waitresses are fantastic! They were very nice to this lonely solo traveler. A margarita and barbecue chicken sandwich lunch plate was about $18.00 American. The gratuity was included. I found another Tortuga Rum store and ended up sampling more rums than I could ever imagine! Try the Vanilla rum, you will not regret it! I bought a bottle and a shot glass. They deliver the alcohol to the ship; you cannot take it with you. I headed back to the ships tender and once on board decided to go work out. The gym was better than I had pictured. The machines were modern and well kept. The steam room was off and I didn’t want to wait for it after I finished working out. I went back to the room for a quick nap. I skipped the dining room and opted for the Lido buffet with some of the other DJ’s. We opened up a shortened Karaoke (1 ½ hrs) with “Rock & Roll All Night” complete with inflatable guitars, maracas, Mardi Gras beads and glow sticks that we threw into the crowd. By this time my voice was starting to go hoarse so I opted to end the night as soon as karaoke ended. Day 4 Ocho Rios Jamaica – Well, it was supposed to be Jamaica. The seas were too rough for the ship to dock in Ocho Rios. I was very disappointed as I had planned a Canopy Rainforest Zipline Tour. I met up with the other DJ’s to figure out what our plans would be. Ryan, our convention director, informed us that there were 5 weddings on boards that were supposed to have taken place in Jamaica. The Carnival reps were scrambling, trying to figure out what to do with these wedding parties. Ryan volunteered our services as professional DJ’s to help out with the receptions free of charge. Several of us, myself included, had our music libraries with us and could provide the entertainment. We really wanted to do this to help out our fellow passengers. Ultimately, Carnival decided not to take us up on our offer. We spent the day relaxing and having informal networking sessions in the piano bar. Dinner was in the Lido Buffet again. We had 35 foot swells reported that night and several of us went to bed early. Day 5 At Sea – Yet another seminar in the morning. At noon I had to go to rehearse for the “Carnival Legends” show that night. I was paired up with one of the Imagination dancers, Michelle, who would help guide me through the show process. Michelle was amazing to work with. She was so kind and helpful in guiding me through the process of finding my mark on stage and helping me do the things that the director needed me to do as Elton John on stage. After rehearsal I had a bite to eat in the Lido buffet. The DJ’s had one more event, “Game Show Mania” which was a lot of fun. After the final dinner it was time to get ready for the “Carnival Legends” show. The backstage crew was so much fun and eager to help us out. I think we had more fun backstage than the audience did! After the show Carnival treated all the performers to a champagne after party. I had fun at the party but still had to get my luggage out for the porters. Day 6 Debarkation – The worst part of a cruise is having to get off. I woke early and had a bite to eat. Stepped outside to look at Miami and call my son. I said good bye to all my DJ friends and waited for the general debarkation call. A call that never came. Once the self debarkation was done, Carnival just started letting people off quietly. There was no mad rush for the gangway. Michelle, my Imagination dancer spotted me in line so we were able to say our farewell and get a picture together. I stepped off the ship and back into the real world. One thing I didn’t know is that you cannot use your cell phone in the terminal when you are leaving. This is a Dept. of Homeland Security regulation. Not a big deal, but some people in line got upset with the agents announcing that your phone would be confiscated if you were on it in that particular area. Miami airport was quick and painless. If you take your laptop with you, it has to be screened separate from your bag. Be prepared for this. My luggage made it all the way back to Orlando before a bottle I was bringing back was broken in my suitcase. I figured it would be ok in the cardboard box with clothes packed around it, oh well, live and learn. I just had to do lots of laundry right away and have my tux dry cleaned. All in all, I was very happy with the Imagination. The service was fantastic. The food ranged from great to good. The cabin was perfect for my needs, even the bathroom. Not a huge problem with lines in any area of the ship. I would go on the Imagination again in a heartbeat! Please feel free to email me if you have any specific questions.

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Sep 7, 2005

Western Caribbean

Introduction: This cruise was planned as a mother/daughter adventure. My daughter, Heather, is a senior at Ohio State and has been deprived of cruising with me of late. She is an avid cruiser, much like her mother, and between her rigorous college and work schedule it has been difficult to squeeze in a cruise outing. We were finally able to get our calendars to mesh and both of us were looking forward with great anticipation to our time

together. As it turned out, our timing could not have been more perfect as we managed to schedule our trip between Hurricane Katrina, Ophelia and Rita. (In this very active hurricane season we felt quite lucky). Although I usually like to fly in at least one day before the cruise, our schedules did not allow for that particular option this time. So, we rose early to make our 5:30 AM USAir flight from Columbus to Fort Lauderdale. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale a bit behind schedule (10:30 AM), retrieved our luggage and took Tri-County Airport Express to the Port of Miami ($17 pp). Embarkation: We arrived at the port before 11:30 AM and found ourselves in a short line as the security checkpoint had not yet opened. It was only a matter of about 15 minutes, however, when the line began to move and we were onboard about noon. Although guests were welcomed aboard, our staterooms were not scheduled to be ready until about 1:30. So, we made our way to the Lido Deck for lunch in the Horizon Bar & Grill. Before I begin my review, I would like to interject a disclaimer at the beginning. Since the primary purpose of this trip was for my daughter and I to spend some quality time together and it was only a 4 night cruise, this review is not as comprehensive as most of my mega-reviews. You may also find that I do not have pictures of all the public areas that I refer to, as I just did not have enough time to capture it all. My cabin: As this was such a short cruise, we opted for an inside cabin on the Upper Deck (U184). Having sailed on other Fantasy Class ships in the Carnival fleet, when I entered my cabin I was presently surprised to discover that it had been updated and was much more appealing. White down comforters and fluffy white pillows adorned the beds and were a nice complement to the light wood and neutral tones of the walls and ceiling. However, the drapes were still bold and garish and did not fit with the subdued ambiance the rest of the cabin provided. Beds were arranged on a diagonal allowing for ample room in the center of the cabin. An interactive TV was housed in a corner shelf above the foot of the two beds. (Satellite reception was quite good on this cruise as a number of major network channels were available, as well as multiple movies that ran continuously along with the standard ship/cruise channels.) A storage cabinet was tucked into the corner below the TV and was used to stow the lifejackets. A vanity/desk with four side drawers, one center drawer and a mirror above occupied the opposite end of the room. There is limited counter space as the phone, ice bucket, water and sodas occupy much of the space. Be advised there is only ONE electrical outlet, so bring a power strip if you are sharing the cabin. We found the closet space to be more than sufficient (particularly for a short cruise). A shelf unit separates two full length closets. A safe, activated by swiping a personal credit card, is located on one of the shelves in this unit. The beds were extremely comfortable and high enough to store luggage underneath. The bathroom was nothing spectacular, but adequate. The shower had an adjustable shower head on a removable hose and offered ample water pressure. As an added bonus, the cloth shower curtain actually stayed in place and didn’t cling to my body as so many do. An amenities basket with toothpaste, disposable shavers, and shampoo packets is provided. Our cabin steward was excellent and quite accommodating! He tried hard to please and always greeted us with a pleasant smile. The Riviera, Main and Upper Deck are the lowest 3 decks accessible to guests and all space is relegated to staterooms. One of the most convenient amenities on a Carnival ship is the self-service laundry. So many cruise ships no longer offer this convenience I applaud Carnival for continuing to provide this facility. A self-service laundry was located on the Upper Deck aft and the Empress Deck forward. The Grand Atrium Empress Deck is the lowest level of the Grand Atrium and provides an impressive first glimpse of the public space upon embarkation. The central focus of the Grand Atrium is a large sculpture created by Len Janklow. This unique sculpture is divided into cubic compartments and is well-suited for a ship named The Imagination. At night The Grand Atrium alights with vibrant colors and is a perfect example of the glitz that is equated with a Joe Farcus design. Guest Relations and the Shore Tours Desk are located on this deck around the periphery of the Grand Atrium. This is also the location of the Internet Café. The rest of the Empress Deck houses staterooms. Continuing upwards to the Atlantic Deck, the main level of the bi-level theater occupies the forward portion of the deck. The Dynasty Lounge The Dynasty Lounge is an attractive theater that offers a variety of seating options from standard theater style to comfortable sofas. However, the site lines in many of the seats on the upper level are not good. A plexi-glass partition obstructs some views, while the incline is not graduated enough for viewing over the heads of people sitting in front of you. Just outside the Dynasty Lounge is the Galleria Shopping Mall where one can find the standard duty-free shops for jewelry, liquor, logo and cruise wear and sundries. The Mirage Piano Bar On this deck of the Grand Atrium we find the Card Room, which was used as storage for the Art Auction and the Mirage Piano Bar. With its prime location right outside the entrance to the Pride Dining Room, it proved to be quite popular both before and after dinner. Colors explode in this small bar (seating for 92) and the décor is anything but understated. But everyone seems to have a good time there and the décor seems to fit the venue. The Pride Dining Room The Pride Dining Room is one of the two dining rooms onboard. This bi-level dining room seats 650 and has a variety of seating options from tables for 2 to booths for 4 and larger tables for 8-10. There is actually a forward and aft entrance to the dining room and my daughter and I found this a bit confusing one night (more on that in my travelogue). The one distracting characteristic of this dining room was the long open serving station that occupied the center of the dining room. The galley separates the Pride from the Spirit, the second dining room. The location of the galley makes it impossible to get from one end of the ship to the other without going to the deck above or the deck below, making this one of those situations where, “you can’t get there from here”. The Spirit Dining Room Perhaps the best way to get to the Spirit Dining Room is via the staircase that leads downward from the Pinnacle Club. The Spirit seats 658 guests on one level and is brighter due to the neon lighting, but, in my opinion, is not as appealing. The children’s playroom is tucked behind the Spirit Dining Room and is most easily accessible via the stateroom corridor one deck below or the outer deck staircases one deck above. The pulse of the action onboard the Imagination centers on the public venues that run the length of the Promenade Deck beginning with the upper level of the Dynasty Lounge. Exiting the lounge, a video arcade is along the port side of the atrium. Continuing past the atrium one enters the Imagination Promenade on the starboard side. An Egyptian theme runs the gamut of the promenade as golden sphinx atop columns line the walkway. The Promenade Seating A number of table and chairs, arranged in small conversation pods lined the starboard corridor of the Promenade and were perfect for people watching. A small sushi bar was open each afternoon, but the line was usually quite long and seemed to move quite slowly. The El Dorado Casino The El Dorado Casino offered all the standard gaming tables and banks of slots that saw a lot of activity on this cruise. The Promenade Walkway The Dream Bar fronts the casino and this bar open to the promenade makes for a great meeting spot. Party music kept things lively here on most evenings. The Shangri-La Lounge Continuing aft, The Shangri-La Lounge was a pleasant lounge with comfortable seating and nice size dance floor. Variety dance music from pop to rock was performed there nightly. Vittorio's Cafe Vittorio’s Café served specialty coffees and sweet snacks from noon to 12:30 AM (for a fee). A flat screen TV was kept tuned to sports broadcasts most of the time. Illusions Dance Club is the disco and was packed each night until the very wee hours of the morning. In fact, spirited and energetic dancers often spilled out into the promenade. Illusions was used as a teen disco early, then was open to the over 18 crowd after 11 PM. The décor is as vibrant and colorful as its patrons. Understated is definitely NOT a way to describe this spot. The Pinnacle Club was an interesting lounge as a large staircase (used as an egress to the dining room below) divided the seating in the room into two separate areas. Flat screen TVs were mounted on the walls along both sides and along the bar. In addition to acting as the Sports Bar on this particular cruise (more about that later), one side of the club was used for “Texas Hold ‘em” each evening, it served as the Cigar Bar and piano music provided pre-dinner entertainment for those dining in the Spirit. Beyond the Pinnacle Club was the Xanadu Lounge. The Xanadu Lounge Smaller than the main Dynasty Lounge, Xanadu was used for karaoke, adults’ only comedy shows, art auctions and other daytime events. The children’s pool is completely aft on Promenade Deck. It is accessible through Xanadu Lounge or from the open deck stairway on the Lido Deck above. The Horizon Buffet Bar There are actually two identical aft portions of the Lido Deck, one port and one starboard that provide outdoor seating for the Horizon Bar & Grill Buffet. The Horizon Buffet This was my favorite spot to enjoy my early morning cup of coffee in quiet solitude. There are two main serving lines that offer the same fare on both sides and multiple smaller serving stations that provide alternate fare, thus eliminating huge lines. Opposite the main serving lines, are a full service bar and a 24 hour pizzeria. Additional seating can be found along enclosed corridors on both sides of the ship as you exit the Horizon Bar & Grill. Although the space was well designed for traffic, I found the industrial metal chairs and modern décor to be somewhat cold and sterile. (Definitely not my personal preference.) The Main Pool As one exits the Horizon Bar & Grill, two additional Poolside Grills served hot dogs, hamburgers and fries at lunch, but also served breakfast and dinner items. A nice size pool, flanked by two hot tubs and Carnival’s signature pool slide are the focal point of the open deck. The Pool Deck A pool bar, stage, multiple lounge chairs on a tiered pool deck and large screen television complete the space. This space is well-used and the main venue for many daytime activities. Staterooms occupy the Verandah Deck forward. Verandah Deck Pool A small pool and additional hot tubs, a golf driving practice net and plenty of open space are located in the aft portion of this deck. Although a bit windy, if you are looking for a quiet respite from the buzz of activity around the main pool, this is the spot! The Sports Deck is the location of the spa and fitness center. I must admit to never making it to this portion of the ship on this cruise. The Sun Deck, the uppermost level boasts the jogging track, an observation area forward and a miniature golf course aft. Dining & Service: I have already outlined the main dining venues onboard, but a word about the quality of food itself. I was actually pleased with the variety and quality of food served in the main dining room. On our short 4 day cruise, lobster, prime rib and filet mignon were all offered. There was a wide variety of other well-prepared seafood, pasta, vegetarian dishes and meat dishes served nightly providing adequate options for any palate. My daughter is an exceptionally “picky eater”, so often chose items from the Kid’s Menu and she was not impressed. Desserts ran the gamut from very good to OK. While the food quality was good, the presentation left much to be desired. Our wait staff was mediocre. While they were professional and service was prompt, they appeared to be somewhat detached and less than eager to be there. They did their job, but nothing more. Of course, if I had to do a song and dance routine to accompany every evening meal I served, I may not have been all that engaged in my work either. The food in the buffet area was standard buffet fare, but good and quite varied. Queues were often long in the two main service stations, so try to avoid the peak dining times at breakfast and lunch. The pizza and burgers were quite good and our personal favorite at lunch. Surprisingly, there was even a grand gala buffet on our one formal night of the cruise. I did not sample room service on this cruise, but there was certainly no shortage of food or dining options. Entertainment: Okay, I have always felt that Carnival’s entertainment was one of the strengths of this cruise line. Well, I must admit to being a bit disappointed in that realm, or at least filled with mixed emotions. The live bands, musicians and comedians performing in the various lounges and around the ship were all enjoyable and quite entertaining. However, the production shows were another story. The lead vocals were not only weak, but the female lead was often off-key and lacked any kind of stage charisma. My daughter and I both enjoy the shows and it took every bit of self-control we could muster to not walk out on the performances. With that said, I must share that a pleasant surprise was the lack of activities centered on drinking and sexual innuendo. Although there was lots of fun and frivolity in events, it was a pleasure to not be inundated with suggestive and over the top activities that I remember from past Carnival cruises. The Imagination Docked in Miami My Travelogue: Day 1, (Miami): Having enjoyed our first lunch onboard at the Lido Buffet, we explored the ship before making it to our staterooms. But, first we needed to make a detour. Although I had confirmed late seating dining, we were assigned an early seating. Now, for my daughter and I, that was just not going to work. So, a trip to the maitre d’ was in order. He was able to place us at a large table in the center of the Pride dining room at our requested time (more about this later). We began to settle in and awaited the 4 PM lifeboat drill. Yuck! For any of you who have read one of my reviews, you know that this is my least favorite activity, followed closely behind by the dreaded packing-up to leave. Upon returning to our cabin, we had planned to make our way to the pool deck to participate in the Sail Away Party. However, our luggage had been delivered while we were attending the lifeboat drill and we decided to do a bit of unpacking before we began our cruise revelry. Ah! Big mistake! As we unpacked we got into deep conversation and lost track of time. One of the major drawbacks to an inside stateroom is that you have no idea what is going on outside. So, while we chatted away, the cruise ship sailed away. By the time we realized the ship was actually moving, we had missed most of the party. Having begun our day at 3:30 AM, we decided that a short nap was in order if we wanted to make it through dinner. Rested enough to at least get through the next few hours, we prepared for our first dinner in the dining room. Well, we were in for a surprise. Yes, we had been reassigned to a large table at our requested time, BUT, all the other guests at the table spoke Spanish. All we could do was laugh as neither Heather nor I speak Spanish. They were all nice couples and three of them spoke limited English, so we figured we’d make a go of it. What the heck, we had planned to spend the time bonding anyway, and Heather and I have never had difficulty finding topics of conversation to keep ourselves amused. We past on the Welcome Aboard Show and managed to enjoy an after dinner cocktail at the Dream Bar, before both of us admitted to be being totally exhausted and headed for bed. Docked in Key West Day 2, (Key West): We arrived in Key West early Friday morning at approximately 7:30 AM. Unfortunately, we docked at the military base on the outskirts of town. You must allow for additional travel time to take the trolley to get to and from the center of Key West. For security reasons, walking along the pier is strictly forbidden. Since we had to be back on board by 1:30 PM, this would be a short stay. Once the initial rush to leave the ship subsided, Heather and I made our way to the gangway and onto one of the waiting trolleys. The Key West Trolly Station Dropped off at the trolley station, we then meandered our way down Duval Street, stopping to shop along the way. It was quite hot and it was not long before we wearied of walking, so we made our way back along Duval Street to Sloppy Joe’s. Sloppy Joe's in Key West Crowded, as it always is when ships are in port, we found a couple of seats at the bar and ordered a beverage and lunch. This is a great place for people watching and being entertained at the same time. Time passed quickly, and we had to make our way back to the trolley stop for our return to the Imagination. The sun was shining and it was still early, so a few hours of lounging in the sun by the pool was the next order of business. While relaxing in the sun, the Rum and Reggae Party kept us entertained. This was our one formal night of the cruise and we had a full evening planned ahead of us. So, as is true to form, a short nap in preparation of a late night was next on the agenda. We had decided that we really needed a new mother/daughter photo. Heather and Nancy at the Captain's Cocktail Party So, before attending the Captain’s Cocktail Party we made our way to the numerous formal portrait venues around the ship in hopes of garnering one really good picture. After the cocktail party, we made our way to dinner to once again to enjoy scintillating conversation with our tablemates. In their defense, they were very gracious and attempted to include us in as much of the conversation as possible and a lot of laughter was shared by all. Of course, that was after Heather and I managed to spend the first 5 minutes of dinner at the wrong table! There are two entrances to the Pride Dining Room and since we entered the dining room from the direction of the Dynasty Lounge, rather than our stateroom, we were completely turned around. We sat down and introduced ourselves to the one couple that was seated there (since our table the night before had 2 vacancies we assumed they were our missing tablemates). It wasn’t until the waiter greeted us that we realized we were on the wrong side of the dining room! DUH!!!! In our defense, however, both sides of the dining room are carbon copies of each other and we didn’t realize that there were two entrances. Ah, well! After dinner, Heather and I were both looking forward to the first production show of the cruise, “Living in America”. Well, I have already shared that the performance was a major disappointment and we were hoping that the Adults Only Comedy Show at midnight would be better. We found a seat in the Xanadu Lounge and played Late Night Cash Bingo, before the show. I am not usually a great fan of the Adult Comedy Shows, but compared to the evening’s production show, this performance was thoroughly entertaining. Sine we had retired so early last night, I had promised Heather that I would stay up late to party with her. True to my word, from the midnight comedy show we made our way to the disco. Hmm, well, this was truly a labor of love. The music was targeted to the 18-25 year old crowd that was jammed into Illusions. Talk about feeling like a fish out of water, I was clearly out of my element. I often enjoy the disco on cruises, but this was definitely not one of those cruises. So, by the time 3 AM rolled around I had to cry “uncle”. So much for mother/daughter cruises, or at least the kinds of activities we could enjoy together. The Pier in Cozumel Day 3, (Cozumel): We were not due to arrive in Cozumel until noon, which was a good thing after the late night we had logged last night. My internal clock still fully functional, I awoke early anyway and quietly exited the room to let my daughter sleep. I found my favorite spot to enjoy my morning coffee, a light breakfast and a quiet place to relax at the outdoor Lido Buffet dining area on the fantail. The morning started out sunny and quite promising, but as the morning wore on clouds and stormy skies were approaching. Not to be deterred by the weather, when we were given the all clear to go ashore, Heather and I decided to maintain our original plan and check out Paradise Beach. Well, as it turned out, the decision was quite fortuitous. Paradise Beach The weather at Paradise Beach was perfect and the storm clouds maintained their distance and blew off in the opposite direction. Floating in the tranquil blue ocean, catching the sun’s rays, lunching on succulent shrimp and calamari while sipping Paradise Punch made for a perfect afternoon. Heather indulged in a massage while I took a walk along the beach. We were scheduled to be in Cozumel until 10 PM, so we decided to make the most of our day and made arrangements to visit the San Gervasio ruins. The San Gervasio Ruins Not far from the center of town, these are definitely a Mayan ruins “light” experience, but are still worthwhile and interesting (particularly if you don’t want to spend the day traveling the long distances required to visit some of the more major sites). We hired a guide onsite for $8 and were able to tour the site in a little over an hour. This turned out to be plenty of time as it was extremely hot and humid. We were ready to move on to our final stop of the day, our traditional Carlos ‘n Charlies visit. The party was in full swing when we arrived, and we got into the spirit immediately. We met some other passengers from the Imagination while there, and the group decided to check out the scene upstairs at Senor Frogs before heading back to the ship. Heather and I chose to leave a bit earlier than the others as this was the night of the BIG game. As a student at Ohio State, Heather was not going to miss the game between Texas and OSU. We hustled back to the ship just in time to catch the second quarter beginning. The Pinnacle Club was packed and, interestingly, filled with Ohio State fans. In fact, there was a wedding party in attendance and they were all still dressed in their wedding attire, wearing “Beat Texas” t-shirts over their formal wear. As best we could determine, there was only one lone Texas fan in the bunch. Unfortunately, he was the only one that left the bar in good spirits that night. A bit dejected, but also exhausted, we gladly retired for the evening. Day 4, (At Sea): Days at sea are often my favorite part of a cruise, so I was looking forward to our lone day at sea. It was an absolutely beautiful day and once again I enjoyed my morning coffee on the Lido deck fantail and prepared to spend the day planted at the pool. This was obviously a ship filled with late night partiers as the pool deck was relatively quiet until close to noon. However, by noon the pool party was in full swing. “New Wave”, the calypso band, kicked off the party mode at noon and things were kept jumping until late in the afternoon. Ice carving, the “men’s hairy chest contest”, dancing, “water wars” and towel folding demonstrations kept the pool crowd entertained. The Towel Folding Demonstration The afternoon wore on and Heather and I made our way to our stateroom to begin the task of packing to leave. Ugh! At least being only a 4 day cruise, this process would not take long. We had planned another full evening of activity and anticipated making the most of our final night. Tonight’s production show was scheduled pre-dinner and we had decided we would give the Imagination Singers and Dancers another shot. We stopped at the Mirage Piano Bar to listen to Brad and grab a quick pre-show cocktail. Well, we probably should have stayed put since the production, “Shout”, was a greater disappointment than the first show. After the show we had time to do some last minute shopping and select our formal portrait (yes, we actually found one that both of us liked) before heading to dinner. Since Heather would be back at school on her actual birthday (Sept. 23), we decided that we would celebrate it together tonight. Heather and Nancy at the Birthday Dinner Our tablemates got into the spirit of our “pre-birthday” celebration and got the waiters to deliver a birthday cake to her. As it turned out, one of the men at the table was actually celebrating his birthday that day. So, when 2 cakes were delivered to our table we were surprised with a special treat. The Birthday Boy’s wife had a beautiful voice and rather than the standard waiters “Happy Birthday routine”, she sang a beautiful Spanish rendition of “Happy Birthday” to both her husband and Heather. It was so captivating that the entire restaurant got quiet and she received a glorious round of applause. A very special moment was shared that Heather and I will both remember. After dinner we made our way back to the Dynasty Lounge for the Guest Talent Show. Wow!!! The Imagination production cast may have left something to be desired, but the talent displayed by the guests was simply spectacular!!! I must admit to being blown away by some of the performances. We originally planned to check out the Late Night Comedy Show, but we had enjoyed the entertainment at the Mirage Piano Bar so much, we decided that would be our next stop. We had not yet visited the Shangri La Lounge on the cruise, so fulfilling our mission of testing every lounge we headed there for a nightcap. The “Rise Up Band” was performing Beatles tunes when we arrived. Now, this was a lounge that I could spend dancing the night away! So, since I was such a good sport about sticking it out in the disco, Heather quite willingly subjected herself to my kind of music for the evening. It was actually a wonderful way to end the cruise as we talked and danced and just thoroughly enjoyed the time we shared together. Yes, this cruise had achieved its goal, for my daughter and me to add just one more lifetime memory to our growing bank of shared memorable moments. Disembarkation: If you are willing to carry your own luggage off the ship, Carnival schedules an early disembarkation allowing you to be the first off the ship. Since this was only a 4 day cruise, for us that seemed like an obvious option. With this “express service” we were off the ship, shuttled to the Alamo Car Rental location and in our rented vehicle exploring Miami by 10 AM. The whole process could not have gone more smoothly. The Imagination's Atrium Overall Impression: The Imagination was clean and well-maintained for an older vessel. This cruise is an excellent choice for a first-time cruiser, or for a short getaway. Although priced for the budget conscious, the Imagination delivers a standard mainstream cruise experience. Food was definitely better than expected and the new comforters and bedding in the cabins made the cruise a bargain for the money. If you are looking for a fun time, no pretense and an escape from the rigors of the daily routine than this is a good choice.

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By John_CR

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Jun 29, 2005

Western Caribbean

Just returned from cruise to Key West and Cozumel. We flew into the Miami airport and took the shuttle that is endorsed by Carnival. My suggestion is to take a taxi as we were pretty much scared outta our wits on the bus from the airport to the port! The bus driver was completely nuts and drove as fast and reckless as he could. Once we arrived alive, we were all thankful. The ship is kept in great condition. We had some problems with

the staff which I think is due to the fact that their tips are already basically prepaid. Room steward was okay, dining room waiter was not very talkative but his assistant was very nice. Pool bar waiters were very attentive and did a great job at keeping the beverages flowing. Food was not the greatest as it seems as if Carnival is trying some new dishes (more gourmet). I had to eat a hamburger for lunch for two days as I couldn't find anything to appeal to me at the Lido buffet. The lobster and prime rib night were awesome though. Key West was cloudily the day we arrived so that was a good thing. We had only limited time there...not really enough to do a whole heck of a lot. My suggestion would be to stay longer (say until 5pm). Cozumel was beautiful and I would recommend the Catamaran (Fury) as it was a fun trip. All drinks, snorkel, and private beach are included. The staff of the Fury is absolutely the best and made our time so fun! Everyone had a blast! All in all, this ship is good for a four day cruise as Key West and Cozumel are nice ports to visit.  

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Jun 1, 2005

Western Caribbean

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rank this cruise a 5.5. My wife and I are in our late twenties/early thirties, and we felt old due to the younger people who treated the cruise like a college frat party. A lot of hidden cost, in my opinion, and not a lot of value. To be fair, their photography crew did an excellent job, and some of the best pictures of my wife and I were from this cruise. Tonya, our waitress, was one of the best I've seen

in the restaurant industry. However, something needs to be done about the water they serve and the eggs, which was the worst I've ever had in my life. A quick story, I had a traveler's check to cash at the information desk. The girl at the desk (I'll withhold her name) offered me a pen to sign the check. The pen didn't work, so I handed it back to her. She shook it and scribbled on a scrap piece of paper, than got it somewhat working and handed it back. I started signing my name, then it gave out again. Of course, I shook the pen while she gave me a piece of paper to sign on top of. I finally signed my name, then she refused to take my check! I couldn't believe it. She said my signature didn't match. It was as close as it would match with the pen not working, and I had identification to prove who I was, and my wife standing next to me to also sign the check, and she was like Dr. Jekle and Mr. Hyde. This was the last night of the cruise, and we were running low on paper funds. I still cannot believe how she acted towards my wife and me, nor why she wouldn't take our traveler's check. I talked with some other guest about it, and they told me about a comment she made under her breath to them about "stupid Americans." I guess Carnival should screen it's foreign employees a little better since Americans made up a majority of the guests. I have to agree about earlier comments about the rooms being small and two beds pushed together, but the housekeeping department did a great job taking care of us. It was as nice as a four-star hotel in my opinion. The cruise ship itself stunk, like a mildew or mold. Plus, there was some septic problems during the cruise which really contributed to the musty smell. Overall, the cruise was okay. I want to go on another one, but with a different line. From most of the older guest on the cruise we talked with who had sailed other ships, that seemed to be the general consensus.  

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May 22, 2005

Western Caribbean

Traveling with my wife, age 43, son, age 15, and daughter, age 13. This was the first cruise for the children, but the second for my wife and me. Our expectations going into this cruise was to spend the time at sea relaxing, and to enjoy family time on the excursions seeing the sights and meeting local people. This particular cruise seemed to be populated by mostly younger to middle age couples, few with children. There were events planned

for the teenagers, but when my son and I checked them out, fewer than 10 teenagers were present. We chalked this up to the time of year; most children are still in school. Next cruise, we will bring a friend for our son. (Our daughter was perfectly content to spend her time with my wife and me). Most of the activities for the adults were aimed at the younger crowd; much drinking, loud announcers, etc. If this isn’t what you’re into, there are places to go where you can find peace and quiet. Just don’t plan on having much of that when you are by the pool. This is the center of activity and tends to be a very loud and busy place. My wife and I really have enough noise and commotion in our day-to-day lives, our vacation desire was for a bit more peace and quiet. The food was very good, and very plentiful. Plan on bringing loose fitting clothes for the last couple of days as you will gain weight! The buffet menu was a step above typical buffet food, with lots of selections for salads, vegetables, etc. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chili and French fries were available daily by the pool for lunch. Sushi was available in the early evening, but usually had a line to wait in to get some. Pizza and ice cream were available 24 hours a day (the kids loved this!). The sit down dinner was good, but not fantastic. I would equate it with dinner at a moderately priced restaurant. My wife and daughter enjoyed the opportunity to dress up for dinner. Our son was appalled, but complied when faced with hunger as an option. The meals had several choices and everyone was able to find something they liked. One time our son could not find anything to his liking and our waiter brought him a cheeseburger and fries. The shore excursions were good for first time visitors to these locales, or those with less-than-adventurous spirits. One note about Grand Cayman; there is still much destruction left from hurricane Ivan in 2004. Many, many buildings still have damaged roofs, or missing roofs, trees are down everywhere, and repairs are ongoing. This didn’t impact our tours, but it has impacted the beauty of the islands. In Grand Cayman we did the island tour with our tour guide Milton. He was great, and patient and did a good job in telling us about the history of the island and the various sights. To be honest, the turtle farm was interesting, but being typical US citizens, we are not used to seeing the treatment of food animals in foreign countries. Our sensitivities were a bit affected. Tortuga Rum factory was great, but overall the best part of this tour was Milton! My son and I did the beginner scuba while my wife and daughter did the snorkeling. Scuba was great! Our instructor, Pauli was very good and very patient. She took special time with my son on the dive to make sure he interacted with some of the sea life. This was the highlight of his trip. When you go on the actual dive, you have one instructor per every four students. I have dive experience, but my son had none. We are both strong swimmers, but others in our class were not. Everyone in the class said they had a wonderful time. I would highly recommend this excursion if you desire to see the sea life up close. My wife and daughter enjoyed the snorkeling, and found the instruction adequate. In Jamaica we took the Chukka Cove horseback swim and ride excursion, and rested on the beach. Jamaica was beautiful and lush. Our horseback guide was Vernal, and he was great. He paid special attention to our children and told us much about the lives of the locals and about the beauty of the island. The ocean swim was fun, but I probably would not do it again. When going through public areas in Jamaica, be prepared to be approached by aggressive vendors, who are not always polite. I found that if I was firm and polite, most responded well. I never felt unsafe, nor were we every approached to buy drugs. The staff on the ship was, for my money, the highlight of the ship. Marian, our waiter from Romania, was a great person, who paid special attention to the needs and desires of the children at our table. We had three teenage girls at our table, and he managed to get them all participating in the dances with the staff at the meals. We enjoyed getting to visit with him and getting to know him and his wife. Our room steward, Justina, from Croatia was a joy as well. She kept our room impeccably clean, and always brought us whatever we needed. Justina also took time each day to ask us how our day was, and how we enjoyed our shore excursions. She made the obligatory towel animals, which the family enjoyed discovering every evening, and never complained about our constant use of towels. She took our children to heart and was really a great person to spend some time getting to know. The cruise director was fun, and made the normal briefings a funny activity. Overall, I found the staff on this ship to be second to none. I never felt that any of our requests were a burden, nor were we an inconvenience to them. Even when they were busy, they never forgot to smile and say “can I help you”. Overall, the family voted that they would do a cruise again, if our son could bring a friend. With options such as all inclusive vacations available now, cruises have to compete as never before. I don’t know that this ship is the best for teenage cruisers, but I think if you’re a younger couple who enjoys whooping it up, this is a great ship to go on.

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Apr 15, 2005

Western Caribbean

I booked the cruise thru Carnival. They flew my 16 year old daughter and I down to Miami the day before and put us up at the Miami Airport Hilton. Imagine our surprise when handed a flyer to read as we approached the carnival offices to board. Due to mechanical problems on the previous cruise, we would not be sailing to Grand Caymans and Jamaica but to Cozumel instead. I can appreciate the fact that mechanical problems happen, but wouldn't

you thing they could find me at the hotel they were paying for to let us know the change of itinerary. Carnivals business philosophy is fill every bunk, every cruise. So rather than let us know ahead of time, they let us check our baggage and told us when it was too late to do anything else. For the inconvenience, they gave us a $100.00 shipboard credit and 25% off our next cruise taken before December 2006. When the Cozumel trip would have been cheaper to start with, they were really only giving us our own money back! There were 3 couples that were going to get married in Jamaica. One of them already had family/friends waiting for them.They didn't even know if they could get their money back from the arrangements in Jamaica. You can bet that had they known earlier, they would have made other plans. I won't even go into the excursions that we had planned that didn't happen. I have sent several emails to the company and the travel rep has passes them up to higher management, but I have yet to get a response. So much for their "Vacation Guarantee". Many people who charged their trip on their platinum credit card were going to try and deny the charges. You can bet I wish I had.

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Apr 15, 2005

Western Caribbean

This is my second cruise, the first being the Legend. The Legend was awesome so I had high expectations. Embarkation was quick and smooth in Miami. The Imagination was not as clean as the Legend. We were told that due to propulsion problems that they could not make port and would be going to Cozumel instead. They gave us $100 ship board credit per person and 25% of the next cruise by December 15, 2006. The food on the cruise was not

that great. Some staff on the cruise had attitudes when asked for something. Stayed in room M210. Our Cabin Steward was lousy! He never replaced anything that was used in the room. (Coke, Towels) We had to keep calling him to get things. On the last night he double bagged the pillow case so he would only have to pull 1 off and be ready for the next guests. Cozumel was great and would go back there. Debarkation took forever. It took us about 2 1/2 hrs to get off the ship. I would never go on the Imagination again. I will stick to the newer ships.  

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Mar 14, 2005

Grand Cayman, Jamaica

March 14, 2005. My Family of four, husband age 46, wife age 45, daughter age 18, son age 15, boarded our seconds cruise, on the Carnival Cruise ship Imagination. The ship was wonderful with excellent food and service. The only complaint would be the exiting and entry at ports. Grand Cayman was very difficult. It appeared that there were not enough crew on the gang plank (only 1 open) and not enough tender boats. Once on Grand Cayman,

we took a taxi to 7 mile beach. Cost was $4 each. We were dropped off at the Marriot beach, who was renting chairs and umbrellas. We walked a few yards down the beach to a local restaurant that had FREE chairs and umbrellas. There was a small sign in front of a blue “tent” for shade on the beach. The sign advertised Para-sailing. My teen-aged children participated for $110, and we were able to ride in the boat along with them. This company had all brand new equipment and the young men operating it were very honest and helpful. It was great! Due to the short stay in port, we then took a taxi back to Eden Rock, near the port. There we used our own snorkeling equipment (they have it there for rent too) and enjoyed the wonders beneath the sea. It’s a short swim to an incredible reef. The restaurant also had lockers, showers, and changing rooms. It was a short walk back to the LONG line to get back onto the boat. (At least a 45 minute wait. There were 6 cruise ships in port that day) In Jamaica we had no problem getting off of the boat. We again hired at taxi. We intended to visit Dunn’s River Falls. Since we were out at 8am, and the Falls were not open, the taxi driver offered a private tour of the island for $25 each. He took us on an hour long drive into the mountains. It was the perfect day. He stopped along the way at friends shops. The first stop wanted us to walk in the rain forest. We said NO. (Use wisdom and stay with the group at all times in Jamaica.) We purchased a beautiful hand carving, in a dirt floor & tin roofed shop. The next stop was an open aired shop in the mountains that over looked a valley. The prices were great, and we were again on a private family adventure with our taxi driver. He also drove us by the “Fire Man”, who did tricks with fire, and the Fern man who lives in the ferns. These guys wanted tips, so we did tip the Fire man, but asked to keep driving when he started to pull up to Fern man. At that point it was time for the Falls. I highly recommend this! It was $10 each to get in. WE walked to the bottom of the falls by stair case, to the ocean. Since my husband & I are mid 40’s and slightly overweight, we didn’t think we could do the climb. We had no problem with it. Again, we were doing it on our own. We saw the “human chain” of people who bought the tours, and were glad to have our private group. Although it looks difficult with the rapid flow of water, the rocks have natural grooves for stairs. If I can make it up the falls, most anyone can! We were able to take pictures and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation in peace. Our day was ended with an hour long wait to get back onto the boat. The crew had one gang way open, and only one single lane to get in. Since were within 30 minutes from leaving, I feel the crew should have opened the second lane for us to board. All in all we had an outstanding time. We feel we save money by venturing out on our own, instead of purchasing the trips offered on the boat. Each city always has vendors that meet you on the dock with the same day trips the boat offers at half of the price. The fun days at sea were so relaxing. We enjoyed watching our teenagers hang out with their new friends, eat endless pizza & ice cream, and stay out till the wee hours of the morning. We are blessed with responsible teens. With the boat as their boundaries we felt comfortable letting them enjoy it. I am now trying to get back to Jamaica Mawn!

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Mar 12, 2005

Western Caribbean

This is our first cruise on Carnival Cruise line. (we've taken other cruises on Norwegian and Disney) This is also our first cruise with our two sons (ages 10/13). We intentionally chose a short 4-night cruise because we weren't sure how well the kids would do. We feel we made a good decision to choose Carnival's Imagination. We were pleased with the advertised "roomy" accommodations (we stayed on an outside room. While

no-where near the spaciousness of a typical hotel room; we felt comfortable. We had a queen-size bed and two "overhead" bunk beds. This worked out fine for us. The bathrooms are adequate -- a plus for the shower -- plenty of hot water and pressure. Our kids enjoyed the 24-hr pizza and ice-cream-- we were told that this came about as a result of passenger feedback. We had excellent room and dining service--- nothing short of "excellent". Our short-stay in Key West and Cozumel was fine. The quality of food is good --both in the dining hall and in the lido deck (main gathering deck). The shows/entertainment were good. There are some areas that are more difficult to see and I would recommend arriving early to get yourself a better seat. Our bill/invoice was accurate--they made it very easy to pay for drinks (soda/wine), any purchases, gratuities. The check-in/check-out process works well except for early-ship depature where there is a rush to get off this ship. Our kids found enough things to do onboard --though we would suggest leaving the kids with relatives so that you can enjoy the vacation.

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Jan 27, 2005

Western Caribbean

This was my first cruise with Carnival, and I have to say that it really was what I expected. I have cruised with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line before. My friend and I wanted to take a short trip away, but not spend a fortune...this is why we decided on Carnival. We are both married with children and have somewhat stressful jobs, so a four day cruise sounded just perfect for a quick getaway. We found the staff on the ship to be fantastic.

We were very fortunate to have Oriole for our cabin steward, he did a terrific job. Our cabin was always spotless. Our waiter "Brianslove" in the dining room was amazing; he managed to remember everyone's name at our table, which was a table of 10. We feel that we definitely got what we paid for. The ship is a little older, but kept fairly clean. I truly didn't find the activities to be any different than my other cruises. I think Carnival is called the "fun ship" because of the guests on board not because of the planned activities. This cruise was full of the "party hardy" type. Not that this bothers me in the least, but we did find it somewhat difficult to find a quite spot outside on the ship to relax. Overall, we had a great time. Food was great, staff was incredible and we really enjoyed Key West and Cozumel. Would I do a Carnival Cruise again? Probably not. I think I will stick to a ship that is a little quieter, but this is only my preference. From what I saw, most people were having a fantastic time.

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Jan 17, 2005

Western Caribbean

Let me just start my review off with WOW. After sailing on the Holiday, we were not sure we would ever try Carnival again. However, my husband found this cruise and we decided to give it another shot. The crew on the Imagination for this cruise absolutely stunned me. On our previous cruise, we felt almost as if the crew really wished we would just hurry up and leave. On this cruise, we felt as if the entire crew was totally focused and

committed to seeing the cruisers have the time of their lives.! There are some negatives here, but those have more to do with Carnival as a company then the ship ‘Imagination’. Pros: Jeff B, the cruise director, and his staff - This crew will do everything within their power to help you enjoy your cruise. Up to and including helping folks get out of their shells and join in on good fun. I always was able to spot Jeff or one of his staff as we ventured around the ship, either dancing, having a contest, sending people on scavenger hunts, raising havoc in the pool with ‘Survivor’ (I never found out who got voted off the ship). Ivan, Sigit, Chomommand, Our ‘Wait Team’ in the Spirit dining room, late seating. I’ll repeat, WOW. Chomommand, who handled drinks, asked us the first night about what we drank. From that point on, each night we arrived at the table, our drinks were waiting for us. Ivan, our head waiter, was consistently charming, funny, speedy, and informative. Sigit was much more quiet, and plain old wonderful. These guys got involved in the waiters and waitresses all dancing and singing and REALLY got involved. No fake smiles and half hearted attempt. A lot of credit must go to Miguel, the Maitre’d in our dining room, who constantly circulated and spoke with the guests. The food was excellent, and heaven knows, there is plenty of it. If you find your entrée is just not big enough, order another one. Eat often, eat free, an unofficial Carnival Motto. Casino Staff- My husband and I enjoy blackjack, and spent quite some time in the casino during our cruise. What a fun loving staff we found there. Ferenc (Absolute best dealer, ever, anywhere) , Cristina, Andy, Sonia, Steven to name a few. It’s amazing, really, how much fun we had in this casino. Nights where we laughed so hard at the table we had to stop playing for a moment to catch up. Food- We found the formal dining room food to be superb, each and every night. The buffet generally was good, nothing to do cartwheels about, but certainly enough for everyone to find something they enjoyed. The Horizon Grill, Burgers and Fries was nice. The Pizza is awesome on this ship, I recommend you trying it. Jamaica was very enjoyable, much more so then Mexico. We chose not to book any tours on ship, and simply hopped a cab to the places we wanted to go. Dunns River Falls is a great place to visit, climb the falls, play on the beach, ride jet skis, etc. Mahogany Beach is a free public beach with the most amazing massage therapy available. The islanders are VERY aggressive about trying to sell you their services and or wares, but also incredibly friendly. Get the words No Thank You ready before you leave the ship. We went to an art auction, lots of fun as we had never been to one before. The staff there was friendly, engaging, and seemed to have a good grasp of art. The Vegas style show was entertaining. They also held a ‘previous cruiser’ party for past guests which was also enjoyable. There is a coffee shop (Starbucks Style) on board with very reasonable prices. When we first saw their desserts, etc, we figured they would be very expensive, and were surprised at the prices. The most wonderful chocolate covered strawberries were 5 for 3$. Lovely chocolate crusted fruit tarts 2$. It’s a nice place to stop while on board. Cons- Our ship was scheduled to stop in Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios Jamaica. We awoke the first morning on our cruise to the Captain telling us we had to turn around and go to the Florida Keys (We left from Miami) due to a crew medical emergency. It was stressed that this was a ‘dire’ emergency, ‘critical’ etc What no one understood was, why, after turning a cruise ship of 2000 people around, did a helicopter meet us as we sat off the shore of the Florida Keys. Our group, really, was not overly upset when we found out that this meant that we would be missing the port in Grand Cayman. We realized that a medical emergency was unavoidable, and focused, instead, on Jamaica. However, the way that Carnival decided to rectify the situation was abysmal at best. We were refunded (Note: costs included in our ticket) 25$ Port fees. That’s that. (Our first cruise left port 8 hours late, and we were all credited with 50$ on our ship board accounts) There were several couples who had planned to get married in the Caymans, which obviously, did not happen. I cannot imagine how much more frustrated I would have felt had I had my entire wedding party on board and had my wedding canceled. This is one area I do feel Carnival completely failed to exceed expectations. Upon our return home, we contacted our cruise specialist, only to be told she no longer worked there. My husband was handed off to our new specialist, only to tell me that we will definitely change specialists if we ever cruise with carnival again. He did not care at all for her attitude, and the fact that she seemed entirely unconcerned with the issues we had over the whole Caymans fiasco. The couple traveling with us went as a ‘Once In A Lifetime’ type cruise, for them, it was the vacation of their lives, and they simply lost a portion of it. All in all, the Imagination was staffed with a truly wonderful group of people. As with most cruise ships, they are staffed with an International crew. We only ran into 2 American crew members, and found them to be the ONLY crew members who had very little concern for good customer service. I would definitely recommend this cruise to others, as the chance of another medical emergency is slim.

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Jan 17, 2005

Western Caribbean

Embarkation: I think this process was made as painless as possible. We landed at Miami Intl, and decided to use Carnival’s transportation to get to the dock. It was $22.00 round trip per person. If I were to do it again, I would check with a cab on the cost of getting to the boat. Once you return, there are a large number of taxis waiting at the dock to transport you. But it is a nice conveyance of using Carnivals transportation.

Once at the dock, we were met by a baggage handler that wanted a tip for our bags for moving 1 of our four bags after I had moved the other 3. Since I wanted to make sure all bags made it to our room….I paid him $4.00. Once inside the building and thru security, we started the in processing for our cruise. The lines were long and it did take some time to get to our rooms. But it was a lot easier then I had thought it would be. Carnival does have a smooth system in place for this part of the cruise. The one problem that I did see is with baggage delivery to our room. We dropped off all 4 bags at the same time when we arrived. The first 2 came about 1 hour after arriving at our room. One more showed up about an hour after that, with the last coming around an hour following that one. I don’t know why we just didn’t hand carry them all on. Some complaints about the baggage delivery, was that people didn’t have immediate access to a change of clothes or other personal items until their luggage made it to their rooms. They tell you that by 8:00pm that night, all luggage will be delivered. For the most part, I was satisfied with this phase of our cruise. CABIN: This was some what of a disappointment. Once enter our room, our initial opinion was favorable. We arrived at our room, checked it out. We took a quick look at it and headed out to take a look at the cruise ship. Once we returned and took a better look our room, E182 on the Empress Deck. We found some points about the room that we had missed when we first arrived. The biggest problem in the room was the dirt and salt water on out window. I paid extra to get a room a few decks from the bottom deck up to have a window to be able to look out of instead of a “Porthole”. But the streaks, grim and saltwater, left from the last cruise were still covering our window. I checked another window in a room down from us, and the same problem was also with that one. The streaks were so bad that they even showed up on the digital pictures that we took from our room. There is a medal cover that goes around the room. It is for protecting and hiding electrical wiring for the cabin. This was dusty and was not cleaned before we arrived for the cruise. We left it alone and didn’t say anything seeing what would happen. The only thing that changed during our cruise, it got dirtier. We opened the Cabinet in the bathroom and there were a tissue paper, a glass and a women’s highlighter for her eyes, (as explained to me by my wife), left in there all nicely stacked in one corner of the cabinet. Aside from these distractions, the room was kept up. Twice a day, morning and evening, the room was made up. The typical mints were placed on our pillows and the time was taken to leave some sort of imaginative creation made out of a small towel that resembled an animal or sea creature. There were good points and bad points with the room. The one thing that I noticed as we were driving away from the dock after our cruise was over. There was a worker up cleaning the windows. (As another point, it wasn’t just our room window dirty. But all the windows on the boat needed a cleaning. I thought that would have been something that would have been taken card of after every cruise). I do not know if this is something that Carnival takes care of every other cruise or just when they want to. ROOM STEWART: He was pretty nice. We never really needed him for much. I am sure that if we did that it would have been taken care of. It seemed for the most part. That most the staff was pretty friendly. BAR / ALCOHOL: With being with my Family, we really didn’t hang out at the bar much or do a lot of drink ordering. But the few drinks we did order seemed to be easy on the alcohol. The drinks, (the boat special of the day and a couple Pina Coladas), tasted weak. Not much of a taste from what ever alcohol they used in them. FOOD / DINNING: With this being a vacation, neither my wife nor I were wanting to take along formal wear. We took this cruise to get away from the clothes we were day to day. I did hear that the food at the Sit Down Dinners was pretty good. The day we arrived on the cruise ship there were hamburgers and hot dogs for us to have for lunch. The problem there was the hamburgers were all dried out from sitting there. The cooks kept on frying up to many at a time so most of them just sat there in a pan. The buns were either stale from being in the freezer or just down and out stale. This was the way they were every meal, every day of the cruise. With most of our meals coming from the buffet line, it gave us a nice selection of side dishes. The food that was prepared for the buffet line was enjoyable for all 3 meals, except for the breakfast meal. The eggs seemed to have that microwave taste to them, not real eggs. We did have one breakfast in the Pinnacle Room. The service was so good, it was almost to the point of annoying. But the big reason we decided to stay with the buffet line was that the portions were small and not very filling. I ordered French toast with sausage. It comes out of the cooking are with 3 pieces of French toast and 2 small pieces of sausages. They were about 1/3 the size of the buffet line. About an hour and a half after breakfast, we were hungry again. For the most part, we were satisfied with the buffet line. A nice option is 24 hour Ice Cream and Yogurt machine for filling cones and dishes. It was nice after a meal or even a snack thru out the day or night. There is a counter just for Pizza. The pizza was kind of thin and not much with the toppings, but the taste was better then what it look it would be. Another plus was the salad bar. Good selection of options for salad extras. The Lettuce always seemed to be fresh; with out the brown color you might see other salad bars. ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment was pretty good. The few shows we were able to see were both professional and enjoying. Costumes were attractive and well maintained. The musical group that entertained on the Lido Deck was the low point of Imaginations Entertainment. No one seemed to be listening to them. It would have been better to have recorded music then the live music of this particular group. The Casino was fun but not a lot of room to play. Slots were taken up most of the time we were there. Having to wait to play a slot didn’t enhance our gambling. We really didn’t play much at the card table. There were different activities going on during the day and evening. Here is one of the big problems I had with this cruise. With all the day to day activities, not any, outside of sitting down for a show, involved the family. It was mostly single and couples that were able to participate in what was going on board. There are 4 ping-pong tables on board. But they are in need of repair. Useable, but needs work. There are families that on the cruise. But Carnival elects not to offer nor include this group in cruise ship fun. PORTS OF CALL: Cayman Islands Our first scheduled stop was the Cayman Islands. It was due to an unexpected medical emergency involving one of the crew. The ship had to turn around and head back towards Key West to insure that proper medical attention to be giving for this life threading emergency. Once we were back under way. It was decided by the Captain that there wasn’t enough time to make both Ports of Call. So, Cayman Islands stop was drop from the itinerary. Here is where the second BIG disappointment comes from with Carnivals, (The first was not taking the time to include families as part of the cruise activities). CARVINAL decided that for compensation of missing a Port of Call, 1/3 of our itinerary. That is was appropriate and fitting to give everyone on board a $25.00 credit to our Sale and Sign cards. In my case, it was a $100.00 for my family missing something that we were promise and looking forward to see. It wasn’t my fault, nor Carnivals fault that this situation came up. But as the company that took my money, (which was paid in full 2 months before prior to sailing), would think more of it passengers then its own gain at taking my money, over $1650.00 and not applying a larger potions of it back to me for not making it to one of 2 ports. That shows to me, that we as passengers are nothing more then cargo on their “Fun Ships. Which wasn’t that much fun anyways? Ocho Rios The second stop was Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We paid in advance $49.00 a ticket for the Enchanted Gardens and Dunns Fall trip. My wife wanted to see the Enchanted Gardens with the many spectacular flowers that represent Jamaica. This is about the biggest waist of time and money. What you see is a stream that flows over a few small water falls that are part of the property of a run down, closed hotel. The whole tour from start to finish consisted of about 3 different flowers to look at. It wasn’t even a large area, just 3 or 4 flowers sprouting in small areas along the path. Very disappointing! Going to Dunns Fall was very nice. We were not prepared to actually climb the falls, but it was very relaxing to watch the water and people climbing up it. I am sure it was fun by the expression on their faces. If you follow the walk way all the way down. You will end up on a beach that can also be a very nice way to spend your time there. Bring food if you plan to stay awhile. Not much there in the way of food to buy. If you do decide to make this cruse with these stops. Look at the prices of getting your own tour instead of going thru Carnival. We paid close to $200.00 for both stops. As you read, the gardens are not worth it. A ticket to get into Dunns Fall is only $10.00 per person as of Jan /05. I am not sure of taxi prices, but has to be cheaper then 160.00 for a trip to the falls. And stay away from the Jamaicans wanting to take pictures of you next to the falls. They will want a tip for doing what the guy 5’ down from you will do for nothing. DEBARKATION: This phase of the cruise went pretty smooth like Embarkation did. Waiting for Customs to say it was okay to leave was the biggest part of the waiting. There was breakfast served before you left the ship on the last day. The only draw back was that the Yogurt and Ice Cream machines were turned off. I guess Carnival thought I had enough. CONCLUSTION: With this being out first cruise, my family and I thought it was not that enjoyable. From the room, to the shore tour to the biggest disappointment with the amount Carnival Cruise Lines thought was enough money to give back to its passengers, or lets say KEEP from its passengers as their idea of compensations for what we paid for and didn’t get. We will be trying another cruise next year. But you can guarantee it will not be with Carnival. To many options out there to see how other cruise lines treat there paying customers, or the way Carnival thinks.. it Paying Cargo!

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Nov 4, 2004

Western Caribbean

We had read many of the reviews to acquaint ourselves with the routine. Boarding the ship went very smoothly. We went to the Shore Tours desk to book our excursions right away. We then explored the ship. The muster drill was a complete waste of time...putting a disgusting, smelly, life-jacket around your neck for 30 minutes was horrible. Over the course of the cruise we met many wonderful friendly, couples. The dinners were incredibly

good....we ordered two entres each at every meal. Drank mostly coffee, iced tea and lemonade during the day and the occasional cocktail at night. The shows were first rate. The comedians were x-rated and hilarious. Key West was funky (lots of margaritas). Cozumel was a disaster (stay away from the 4X4 Jeep Excursion)!! There were too many rowdy, sometimes drunken packs of males and females all over the ship. It was our first cruise and we had a great time.    

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Sep 26, 2004

Western Caribbean

I recently went on my 2nd cruise, aboard the Carnival Imagination. My fiancee and I went on the Fascincation last year and had the time of our lifes. This year we opted for a little bit longer and more expensive cruise. We even brought another couple along with us this time, as welll as upgraded to a oceanview room, instead of regular stateroom. We knew it was the hurricane season. We expected some changes to our intinery. We watched

the webiste and called daily, only to be told no changes to intinerary. We called the morning the cruise was to leave and was told still going to Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios. So we head to the Terminal and get all checked in and get on the boat, still thinking we are going to our original destinations. Only to get on the ship and get to our room a few hours later to find out we were going to Nassau, Bahamas instead. It would not of been such a big deal if they would of let us know they were changing our intinerary. We had the insurance as did many people and the cruise line was afraid everyone would cancel. (words straight from supervisor in pursor's office) The supervisor was straight up with us and told us, there was nothing he would do to keep us as a Carnival customer. He even told us Grand Cayman was going to be closed until after the first of the year. Not a big deal if they tell you before you get on the ship. Not let everyone get their hopes up to go to a specific place and then cancel it after already being on the ship. We did expect this cruise to be just like our last cruise, boy were we wrong! We were celebrating my fiancees birthday and our friends anniversary. 2 birthday cakes were ordered upon arrival on the ship. The cake I ordered was not there and neither was the cake our friends had ordered. When we booked our cruise, we were told we would be celebrating the birthday the 2nd night at dinner and then the 3rd night at dinner we would celebrate the anniversary. Neither night did we get to celebrate anything! Nor did we get the birthday cakes til the night before our cruise ended. The waiter was unbelieveably rude and slow. We understand he was busy, but he just kept telling us we had to wait before we could order. The first night, we sat there for 35 minutes before he came over to us to get our orders. We didnt get the little towels animals the first 2 nights, as we did last year. My perfume and my fiancee's cologne was stolen out of our medicine cabinet. ($80 value) Our shore excursions were canceled after we had already picked out and paid for them, due to not enough participation. The boat was not as clean. Handprints were all over the brass hand rails, right as soon as we got on the boat . Employees were sanding the seats were people were sitting, right in front of the pool. They were painting the ship as we were walking around on it. I know all this seems like small stuff, but when you go on vacation, you expect to not to worry about anything. You expect to relax and enjoy your self. And all the small stuff just kept on and on and it made our trip not as comfortable as last year. Only one good thing did happen, after complaining about everything that was wrong, we did get a bottle of champagne the last night, courtesy of the pursers' office. I suppose they got tired of us complaining. But this cruise was far more expensive then our 4 day cruise last year, and it was not nearly as enjoyable. We arent big complainers, but after all this small stuff going wrong, it just made us not want to go on Carnival again. This ship is NOTHING like the Fascination! I dont recommend the Imagination to anyone. Our next cruise will be on a different cruse line!

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Sep 22, 2004

Western Caribbean

Wow....What a major disappointment but again this is the Red Roof of cruise lines not the Marriott or even Sheraton. I will admit that the cabins were plentiful in size and the heads were nicely stocked with various toiletry samples (toothpaste, razors, soap, etc). Cabin stewards were seldom seen yet our cabin was cleaned whenever we were out. This is a plus. We did unfortunately experience a loud bang in the middle of the ship every

morning about 5:00am. The 1st time, I was so nervous, I actually thought shrap metal was going to fly into our cabin with some body parts. It sounded like a boiler blew. Luckily that was not so, but the big bang happened every morn about the same time. Getting on board was very simple. If only getting off was as easy. We opted for early disembarkation and were told to meet in the main showroom with all our bags at 7:30am. When we were finally cleared, we then had to walk down 1 flight across a ways in the ship, off the ship, then another 1/4 mile of mazes through the terminal. A warning for older or disabled should be given. We saw many strain with their bags while using canes or walkers. Food was generally good with service generally poor. Our waiters always rushed us and our party of 16. New bottles of wine were opened before old ones were finished. Their way of selling more. Plates were rushed off the table with desert served to some before others were finished with their main course. The ship was basically nice but generally not very clean. I was grossed by always seeing the brass hand rails always plastered with finger prints. I even saw a chair guarding a spill in the buffet dining room and then saw it 1/2 hour later when I passed it again. They did a decent job keeping the men's locker room clean, however when I came out of the shower a women was standing there cleaning. I'm not the bashful type, but this was not comfortable. I could go on with more but bottom line I would give this ship a 3 out of 10. This is a perfect ship for those looking to spend a little on the basics and more on drinks. There were plenty of early 20's gang and they were all happy and anxious to 'party'. The ship is also great for those in the income bracket under $50,000. NCL has been our line of choice in the past and we look forward to trying Princess this January, but definately not Carnival again.

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Aug 20, 2004

Western Caribbean

We traveled with a party of twenty; eleven of which were children ranging in age from two years old to sixteen years old. Overall everyone behaved admirably and the chaos and confusion was kept to a minimum. About the ship: I found the Imagination to be beautiful. It was well kept, spotless and all of its crew was friendly and helpful. I sailed last summer on it's sister ships the Sensation and the Fascination which from what I recall

were very nice too, but for some reason I found this one even nicer. We sailed out of Miami to Grand Cayman and to Ocho Rios. The ship ran smooth, very little movement and there was plenty to do around the ship. I was on Adventure of the Seas last month and what I've discovered in my opinion although AOS was magnificent and a great experience, it's not the size of the boat that really matters. It definitely had more bells and whistles than the Imagination and I think every cruiser should experience the "big" ships at least once, but now that I've done it once, ships like the Imagination are great too. I've had great cruises on both lines. I really think you should make your choice on the itinerary rather than the size of a particular ship. We found the food to be excellent every night, service great and friendly; our waiters took care of the kids at a separate table extremely well, and had a great time. The bars and lounge areas were beautiful, shows were first rate, and casino was large and very nice. Getting on and off ship was a pleasant experience. We stayed in the Horizon grill the morning of disembarking, ate breakfast and waited to be called. There was no hustle and bustle and got off very easily. The two excursions we chose were in Grand Cayman - 7 Mile Beach and in Ocho Rios my wife and I took a cab to a public beach about five minutes from the pier and enjoyed the local culture and the beach. 7 Mile Beach in Grand Cayman was very beautiful and a very nice day. We had a terrific time on this cruise and are looking into booking next July on the Destiny out of San Juan. If you have any questions and would like more info or pics, drop me a line and I'll be happy to get back to you.  

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By Bob_CR

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Jun 25, 2004

Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise experience. My wife and I were joined by 3 other couples for a nice group vacation. Embarkation: This being our first cruise, we did not know what to expect at the embarkation. Upon arriving we were quickly greeted by a porter who took all of our bags. These gentlemen were very helpful and well worth the tip. Once inside, the security line moved rather quickly. However, after we moved through security there

was mass confusion. There were no signs directing you where to go, nor were there employees pointing you in the right direction. We got into a line and hoped it was the right place. A passenger in front of us grabbed a Carnival employee and asked whether this was the correct line for individuals who had registered on-line and received a ‘Fun-Pass.’ The employee told her that this was the wrong line if you had a ‘Fun-Pass’ and that we should move. At least we were not the only people lost, since after the employee pointed this out about 20 people moved out of that line. Although we had arrived at 1:30, the recommended beginning boarding time, the place was packed. Even with the long lines we moved through in about half an hour. Upon boarding everyone was very helpful in pointing us to our room. The hallways and stairways are very well marked which made our search for our room very easy. When we arrived at our room everything was clean and in perfect order. The only problem was that we had no paperwork regarding the excursions or the daily ‘Caper,’ which is the daily itinerary. We paged our room steward and he responded very quickly. He apologized for the oversight and quickly gathered the appropriate paperwork. (Apparently, there was an immigration check that day so everything was running slightly behind.) Although our room was in good order some of our friends had problems. One couple’s room had a heavy smoke smell. Their room steward actually washed down all of the walls and the ceiling within a couple of hours of the complaint. For their trouble, they returned to their room after dinner to find a bottle of chilled champagne. Another couple had a room that was set up for three beds. Our friends told the room steward they only needed two and that they should be set up as 1 king bed. When they returned from dinner, the third bed was gone, but it took two more days until someone came and put the beds together. Once again, they also received a bottle of champagne for their troubles. (Not chilled.) Evacuation Drill: This was complete anarchy. You would expect passengers to not take this seriously, but I expected more from the crew. Beyond wearing neon green hats, the people in charge of the drill were invisible. If there was a little more leadership from the crew, this drill could have gone much smoother and much faster. Instead we stood on deck for a prolonged period. According to the page over the intercom our group, Group B, was the only group that could not get the drill right. Rather than filling in gaps and getting us to the right place, the crew just stood there until a more aggressive crew member came along and took charge. Dinner: The food and service were both excellent. We enjoyed a wide variety of food that seemed to please everyone at our table. Although many tables seemed to get their appetizers and salads before us, we did not mind because were in no hurry. I was able to try quail, duck and several new pasta dishes. Although I cannot stand fish, the selection was vast. My wife and friends seemed to have some sort of fish with every meal, either through the appetizer or the main course. If you could not find something that you liked on the menu, you could just go upstairs and have a cheeseburger. Breakfast and Lunch: We only attended sit-down breakfast and lunch on one day. As with dinner, the food was great and the choices plentiful. Random Eating: The24-hour pizzeria was nice, but it seemed that many people, especially children, are unfamiliar with the concept of getting in line. Most of the time you only had to wait a couple of minutes and during off-peak hours you could get your food in a matter of seconds. I did have one unpleasant experience at the pizzeria. My wife and I and two of our friends went up for some pizza. Our friends each ordered two pieces and then went and sat down at a nearby table. When my wife and I asked for two slices each we were told that they just ran out and it would be a few minute wait. That was fine. We went and sat with our friends and waited a few minutes. I then went up alone and asked for 4 slices. Two for me and two for my wife. The cook handed me two slices and I said ‘I ordered 4.’ He looked at me and said, ‘You can only have two, the rest are for the other guests.’ This ticked me off for a couple of reasons. (1) This is an all you can eat cruise. There were no other people in line at that time, and if I wanted 20 pieces, I should have gotten them. If there was a long line of people I can understand limiting quantities, however this was not the case. (2) I saw little kids ordering 4 or 6 slices each all week long and I never heard a cook deny them anything, even if the lines were long. As for the other buffets, they usually offered a good variety of food at most times of the day. On two of the nights they had a midnight crepe buffet that was very nice. The cooks made fresh crepes while you waited and they were an excellent before bed snack. On the second night however, due to the water main break (see below) the crepe buffet was shifted to the outside bar and grill. The buffet was set up the same way, but unfortunately the deck was populated with children, that at 2:00 a.m., probably should have been in bed. It’s not that I minded the children being up, it was the fact that they were jumping in front of people in line and filling their plates with the fruit that was meant for the crepes. Yes, there was plenty of food, but after the kids were done, it was all over the counter tops and on the floor. Although I did have a couple of unhappy eating incidents, overall the food and service were top notch. The Boat: Although some reviews I read said the boat was looking a little worn, I thought the boat was in great shape. Of course, this is my first cruise so I have no comparison. The pool and deck area were in great shape and there were ample chairs for sitting or sun bathing. The boat had several pools, and although smaller than I expected, they were usually not too crowded. The wait staff was abundant on deck and we had no problems getting drinks at any time. It was also a nice touch that each bar had a large jug of ice water. Some days were hot! The gym was also in good shape, but some of the equipment is a bit worn. They should probably have more cardiovascular equipment since those machines were usually full and the weight machines were usually empty. For a cruise ship, the gym probably had as much equipment as a small health club. It was a nice place to burn off some of those calories. The duty free shops were nicely kept and there was always someone to help. I purchased a watch and they immediately re-sized the band. I can also see why people stock up on alcohol and cigarettes...amazingly low prices. The Water Main Incident: On or about the third night of the cruise, there was a water main break. According to a bartender, a pipe leading from one of the pools had broken. For the rest of the cruise, half of the Horizon Bar and Grill was completely closed. Water also seeped downstairs into the Xanadu lounge. Although this was a minor inconvenience, the smell was terrible. The odor in the Horizon was horrible, there was a moldy smell in the Xanadu lounge, the Pinnacle bar smelled, and the surrounding hallways and stairwells smelled the worst of all. Any time we were in these areas we played ‘Name That Smell.’ I thought that it smelled like yeast that had been sitting out for a week. Someone thought it smelled like wet socks that were shoved under a bed for a week. The consensus among the group was that it smelled like someone cleaned up spoiled milk with wet towels and then let them sit in a warm locker for a week. Accidents happen and this did not ruin the cruise, but it will be one of the most vivid memories. Entertainment: We went to see all three comedians and they were all pretty good. The R-Rated show by a gentlemen named Chris Wiles (I hope that is his name.) was hysterical. For anyone who has not been on a cruise, the comedians will have ‘family’ shows in the main lounge during the evening, then at midnight they will have a second R-Rated show. Although both shows are pretty good, for a bunch of late 20 somethings the R-Rate show was much better. On the last night they had a ‘Legends’ show, where other guests of the cruise impersonated ‘great’ singers. This was a fun show to see. Many of the guests had great singing ability and the ones that didn’t were still pretty entertaining. You have to have a lot of guts to get up and sing in front of a packed house. This was in no way a karoake event. The singers were good, the costumes were spot on and the back-up dancers made it seem like a mini-concert. Information Briefings: The day before we stopped in Grand Cayman there was a briefing about excursions and general safety tips. On the last day they had a briefing on the debarkation procedures the next morning. Both of these were very helpful and for a first timer well worth the time. Both last about one hour each. One tip. Show up about 20 minutes late. The first half of these things are spent plugging merchandise and other general advertising. If you read the daily ‘Caper’ the first 20 minutes are a waist of time. Anyway, they record these events and then replay them in a loop in your cabin for the rest of the week. Excursions/Ports: Our ship visited Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios on consecutive days. In Grand Cayman we visited Stingray City and went snorkeling afterwards. I have to say that this was a fun excursion. When you entered the water there was no shortage of stingrays. You could feed them, swim with them and the locals would even pick them up and let you take pictures with them. The snorkeling afterwards was just as good. The water was about 15 to 20 feet deep and extremely clear. After the excursion, we decided to skip shopping and go back to the boat. From what others told us it was a very commercial port. (They even had a Hard Rock Café. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to Grand Cayman to visit a Hard Rock Café!) Our next day in Ocho Rios was very nice. When we left the boat we left a secured area and had about a ½ mile walk to the shopping village. Although there were many taxis, it was a short walk and there was a large police presence. However, this did not stop people selling everything from bongos to necklaces. My favorite guy was a cab driver who said ‘Need a taxi?’ I said ‘No thanks.’ Then he said ‘How about some reefer?’ Everyone of us was offered some sort of drugs in our short stay. We did not go on an excursion, instead we went to the shopping village and spent most of the afternoon at Margaritaville. Decent food, strong drinks and a pool with a slide. We loved everything about this place. A nice way to spend a relaxing afternoon if you don’t want to take an excursion. Some of our friends went to the Dunns River Falls, which they said was nice, but crowded. (Even our waitress the night before told us that there would be about 1,000 people at the falls.) One couple took the ‘party boat’ to and from the falls. Loud music and all the rum punch you could drink. They loved the boat and were drunk before noon. Debarkation: We chose express debarkation because we heard getting off the ship is a pain in the butt. For express debarkation, you carry your own bags and must meet in the Dynasty lounge between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. Although it was a lot of sitting around, we got off the boat and were in a taxi by 8:30. By any means this is a gamble. Our flight was at 4:35 that evening. If we caught an early flight, the early debarkation was worth it. If not, we’d be sitting in the airport for the next 7 hours. We got lucky and made it onto a flight at 11:15. Rather than taking a 4:25 flight, we walked into our house in Chicago at 2:30 that afternoon. Two couples followed the regular debarkation procedures. They got to sit down and have a relaxing breakfast and then wait until there section was called to debark. The only difference is that they got to the airport at about noon rather than 9:00 a.m. like we did. Their luck was not as good, and they did not catch an early flight. If you want to take a chance on an early flight, the express route was great. If you are in no hurry or know for a fact that you won’t make an early flight, you might as well follow the normal debarkation procedures. One last word on flights. We flew in a day early to avoid any problems. Good thing that we did. United lost my wife’s luggage. We arrived at the airport at 1:30 p.m. on the day before the cruise. We did not get our luggage until 12:00 a.m. If we had flown in on the day of the cruise, my wife would have been wearing the same t-shirt and shorts for two days until we docked in Grand Cayman. It’s worth the price of a hotel stay for the piece of mind. Summary: The group consensus was that this was a great trip. There were little problems here and there, but nothing that you wouldn’t run into on any vacation. The ship was nice, the crew was extraordinary and the food was great. Although I had a few complaints about kids, I fully realize that there were a lot of children on the ship because we went on a trip during summer vacation. It was sad that parents treated the ship as one big day care, but that’s more of a gripe on bad parenting, not on the Carnival team. When we go on our next cruise, we will definitely go during the school year to avoid the throngs of children. The next time we cruise, I would have no problem using Carnival or the Imagination.    

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May 23, 2004

Western Caribbean

I did considerable research before taking this cruise with my husband. This was not my first choice but as it turned out, the ship is probably good for first timers who aren't sure what they want or what to expect. The ship offers lots to do, from bingo and shows to kareoke (sic) to eating every two hours, which is half the lure of cruising, it seems. It's an old ship and it looks it. But the cabin was clean and spacious and the diverse

crew worked hard to please. You can absolutely have fun on board but don't expect a classy affair. It's tacky splendor on the ocean and who can't relax and have fun with that? I was disappointed by the "library" and the Card room, which was empty the one time I visited. If you are not a party seeker you can find quiet places to read, especially up on the jogging deck up front. Formal night was interesting. The lobster was a bit overdone but not bad considering they cooked for thousands. We only went to the dining room twice as two of the couples at our assigned table spoke Spanish the entire meal. The other eating options were just as tasty and the pizza really is good. As for the excursions, Stingray City is a must and the river tubing in Jamaica, three miles down a mountain in the shade, can't be beat. The stores are also must stops if you know what you want. I got a lovely Movado in Grand Cayman. I was surprised by the nice quality of free, recent movies shown daily in the cabins. I was also surprised by the diverse crew and actually liked that, though I suspect they aren't paid well. They do work hard. The "Las Vegas" shows are decent and the mignight comedians ranged from good to suck-faced. On a scale of 1 to 5, I'd give the ship 3 plus. And that's because I really wanted a newer ship. Overall my experience was a 4.    

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By Mary_CR

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May 14, 2004

Western Caribbean

I would like to begin this narrative by stating that my intention is to provide lots of detail primarily for first time cruisers. I spent a great deal of time before my cruise reading cruise reviews and message boards in preparation for a great vacation. At that time I decided I would take notes while I was away so that, upon my return, I could return the favor and give as much information as possible to those who use this forum for help.

That said, past cruisers will probably find my information redundant so I will also slip in some of the hilarity that inevitably accompanies three wild and crazy gals on vacation. My friends (Kathy and Veronica) and I are each thirty-something and are fellow classmates at a local university here in Florida. We decided to go on this cruise to do something fun together, to ease the pain of a difficult semester, and to celebrate Kathy’s graduation. Kathy and Veronica are both “married with children” and I am engaged so this was not a singles’ excursion…although I must admit we were hoping for a really cute cabin steward. V and I have never been on a cruise and K’s last cruise was many years ago. We spent approximately 2 months preparing by reading the reviews and boards, making lists, and shopping, shopping, shopping…for those not in the know, a cruise is a great excuse to buy new clothes! Although we did not use 90% of the information we gathered due to time constraints etc., I do not at all consider the research wasted time as a great deal of vacation fun for me is in the planning. It is for those unusual people like me that I am writing this review. Pre-Cruise We booked online through Expedia after checking other sites, not through Carnival directly, a guarantee window cabin category. We ended up on the Empress Deck with 2 twin beds and a pull down that was only one category below a mini-suite. Our room number was hidden on the back-side of our tickets which we saw some people on the message boards had located. Besides the planning, Veronica and I very sneakily decided to surprise Kathy with a Carnival embarkation gift. We chose the Congratulations decoration and cake package, which I ordered. The decorations consisted of streamers, a balloon, 2 Carnival key chains, a Congratulations sign in the window, and a vanilla cake with cream and apple filling. Decorations were a nice surprise and the cake was delicious. The only downside was that there were 3 of us but only one plate and set of silverware…did they think we wouldn’t demand a slice?? V had also decided to buy a soda card and did but turned out to be a waste of money. There is plenty to drink on the ship that is included and the card is only good for a glass of soda not cans or bottles. Day 1 We live approximately 2 hours north of the Miami Port and decided we wanted to arrive early so we aimed for 11am. We used the directions from Carnival’s site and, although we missed an exit, we did arrive shortly after 11 and had little trouble finding the building. You do need your drivers’ licenses and tickets to enter the port so have those ready. Once we arrived at the building, we were able to pull up and unload our suitcases easily. One note here: I was told that the porters would check at that time to see what our cabins were and give us new luggage tags (for guarantees you are given TBA silver tags). He actually handed us a clipboard and had us look up our own cabin and then write it on the old silver tags although I saw a box of new colored tags right there. He was not friendly or helpful at all. Not a complaint as I don’t let things like that ruin my vacation…just a note to let others know what to expect. We did tip him as we already had our money ready. I bid my fiancé (who kindly drove us to the port) farewell and we then took our carry-ons and headed the few steps to the building. We had decided to use beach bags as our carry-ons thinking that we could also use them the days we were in port and not carry pocket books for safety and convenience reasons. We entered the building and used the ladies room (I did warn that this would be detailed) before going through the metal detectors, which had no lines. I “beeped” and was told to take my shoes off and walk through again—yuck! Since we had completed our fun passes online, we were able to bypass a long line. We then got in a line for a long counter which was set up like an airline or bank counter with several “tellers” who called next in line which made the line move quickly. At this point you will need your tickets, license, birth certificate or passport, and credit card or debit card handy. When we were called, we went as a group and asked for 2 additional (one comes with your tickets) sail and sign forms as we wanted them linked to our own separate credit cards. Kathy and I used credit cards and Veronica used a debit card. We had all called our banks and companies the week prior to tell them to expect unusual expenditures and had no problems during the trip. This whole process took no longer than 10 minutes. You will see signs when you get on the ship to go to the information desk to activate your sail and sign card but, if you have already given your credit card at this point, that is not necessary. We then walked down a hallway and up an escalator to a large room where we received our sail and sign cards and room keys. We were then directed where to sit by a man we dubbed “little Hitler” who pointed out restrooms and vending machines and constantly reiterated that no pictures could be taken in the building. It was so attractive with its gray walls and black seats that we were really disappointed in not being able to memorialize it on film. Anyway, we were seated in such a way that, when boarding began, those who arrived first boarded first…excellent whiner prevention! When our section was called we proceeded down a hallway and needed to show our sail and sign cards before going up an escalator, posing for our first pic, putting sail and sign card into machine that takes ID pic, and entering the ship. At this time you will be given a “map” of the ship…I did not find it to be any help at all. Next time I will bring the detailed layout map that is included in the cruise brochure. You enter the ship on the Empress Deck in the Atrium Plaza. It was a bit smaller than what I had pictured (after walking the ship I amended this “small” idea a great deal) and is as “flashy” as described in other posts. The information desk is located here as well as the excursions desk. I wanted to drop my bag in our cabin but V overruled that idea and we headed for the Horizon Buffet on the Lido Deck. We headed up in the glass elevators and walked aft (see, I did pick up some cool nautical terms) through the pool area which was already jammin’ and loud enough to overwhelm non-club types like me. We waited in a short line, picked out some food, and sat at a table near the salad bar. Now please bear in mind for the rest of this review that if I don’t have to cook it or clean up after it, most food tastes great to me! I thought the lunch was very good (and it must have been as our plates were clean and we each sampled 3 desserts…ok, we each ATE 3 desserts) but I was disappointed that the tea is not brewed. I did see on the boards several “tea discussions” and had held out hope but it was dashed. However, being Queen Make Do, I brewed a cup of hot tea and poured that over a glass of ice when I couldn’t take the mix tea any longer. No big deal…I’m on vacation!! I will say here in print that V was absolutely correct in her decree of lunch first as, when we left, the line was very long and the tables full. We headed to our cabin, saw the decs, and examined the room and our window. Unfortunately, the twin beds were pushed together and made up as a king bed and, when we tried to call our cabin steward Mu, we were ignored so V and I shared the bed the first night. Not a big deal but I did not like being ignored. I literally ran across Mu the next morning in the hallway and asked him into our room. We explained the bed situation and also that the rail on K’s pull down bed was broken and he fixed everything that day. Much better as, when the beds are separated, the room has much more area to move around in. Speaking of size, I thought the room was fine size wise even for 3 and I did not see any problems with the bathroom at all. There was plenty of room for all of our things although we did utilize every available space. We had each packed a large suitcase of clothing and I had sent along with my suitcase a box packed with a case of bottled water. I kept that stored in the corner bin that holds the lifejackets. We also put our own beach towels in there (we brought them for port as we knew we’d be charged if anything happened to the ship’s beach towels). There were two closets and I had brought extra hangers and we each had our own shelf in the closet plus one drawer apiece plus 2 shared drawers for brushes, papers, etc. I brought a store coupon card that had a magnetic strip which I used to activate our safe and then we hid it in the room so we’d all have access when necessary. K brought a Mary Kay cosmetics bag that had several compartments and we hung that in the bathroom to use for all of us plus there was lots of room in the medicine cabinet. All in all I thought the room was more than adequate and the only thing we wished for was a balcony…ok, a balcony without paying for it. I am getting a bit ahead here…before our suitcases arrived and we unpacked, we did go back up to the Lido Deck and sat outside to have drinks (V-margarita, K-coffee, me-brewed iced tea) and took some pics of the port and then went back to grab our life jackets for the dreaded drill. Let’s just say that if the ship ever sank, I think everyone would strangle in the life jacket before they ever got around to drowning. Our muster station was back up on the Lido deck and we sat there choking and sweating and feeling even hotter as we watched the Carnival workers choking and sweating in polyester suits. Yuck! It was over quickly and we headed back to our cabin to unpack. Before dinner, I did go to one of the dining rooms to see about changing our dinner seating from 5:45 to 6:15 and to see about getting a table for 4 so we wouldn’t have to sit with strangers. After being assured that we did not have to be in the DR at 5:45 on the dot and seeing (on the computer) that we were at a round table for 10, I decided to leave everything as it was and that turned out to be the best idea all around. Upon entering the DR, we were seated at an all female table…V, K, and I, Carmen and her daughter from NJ (originally from Puerto Rico), Liz, Katie, and Kristen from Boston, and Ophelia and her friend from Detroit. What super tablemates!!!! Honestly, when we discussed the dining room pre-cruise we thought that probably after being in port all day we would just want to order room service for dinner but after that first night, we ended up going to the dining room every night for the company and also because of our wonderful waiter Marco. After we had all arrived at the table and introduced ourselves, Marco (from Romania) gave us each a menu and some suggestions, his assistant Nabahat (from Macedonia) filled our water glasses and gave us bread. This was the routine each evening. The menu offered a list of appetizers that usually included soups and other choices, a choice of 2 salads, a list of main courses, and a wine list. Marco would then take down our choices (some nights we would have 2 appetizers instead of salad and choices like that are never a problem) and a server would come and ask if there were any requests from the bar (you must have your S&S card handy). I requested iced tea from Marco and from this night on, tea was poured for me without my ever having to ask. One evening, K and Ophelia’s friend ordered the Caesar salad and felt that it did not have enough of an anchovy taste…next thing I knew they had a plate of anchovies in front of them! Little things like that made the dining experience wonderful. After the dishes were cleared, Marco would bring each of us a dessert menu. The desserts were wonderful and I would usually order 2 so that I could have ice cream or something that I knew I would like and then could also try something new. Unfortunately, many of the desserts had alcohol in them, which I do not like, but everyone else at the table loved them. We had such a good time each evening that we were usually the last table to leave. After dinner that evening, we headed to the Dynasty Lounge as they were having a game show similar to Jeopardy. K and I put our names in a hat and also filled out a slip for V who was in the ladies room. We had lots of fun watching but I was having trouble thinking fast enough to answer the questions so I told V if they called my name she had to go up for me. Of course, even though the lounge was full and only 9 names were called, they picked my name! V courageously kept her promise and went up for me. Even though she had a slow start (one of the contestant’s boyfriend was calling out the answers so the MC called him onstage and sent him to the corner), V ended up winning and she received the ship on a stick and a bottle of Champagne which she grabbed before the MC could ask what she wanted, LOL. We then headed up to the Sports Deck to get some air and look around before heading to our cabin and dropping into bed exhausted. It was a spectacular day! Day 2 At Sea We had filled out the room service card and hung it on our door the night before and our order arrived right on time. We did this each morning and just ordered more on the days we were going to be in port and would not have time for breakfast. K needed her coffee fix and V and I liked to have a little something like a bagel or pastry in our stomachs. We usually tipped $1 per person. We took our time getting ready and headed up to open seating in the DR (we had planned on eating in the Horizon but I had spotted windows in the DR the night before) and we were seated right by a window and, low and behold, Marco got stuck with us for breakfast! A brief review of ship breakfast food: eggs are not “real” unless they are fried, potatoes are hash browns on a par with McDonald’s, V said eggs benedict best she’s ever had, southerners said grits tasty but not quite thick as they like. After breakfast, V spent some quiet time in the library writing in her journal and then went to the art auction. She later reported that it was deserted until the free champagne was handed out, LOL. K and I headed out to find a quiet spot to sunbathe and ended up above the Verandah deck which is the topless deck…I must say this spot is ideal! Quiet and restful but you can sit above pool deck and still see what’s going on without the loud music. K slept and I read and it was heavenly. It was at this point that we finally realized that you do not have to go back to the atrium to find your way around the ship…we had elevators mere steps from our room that led to the Horizon, Pride Dining Room, etc. Again, bring a better map with you to get a sense of the layout of the ship. We went down to Horizon buffet (only two flights of steps down) and grabbed some pizza and tea for lunch and took it back with us. Afterwards, I felt the sun really start to cook so I headed back to the room to get showered as this was formal night. We went to the Captain’s cocktail party which was held in the Dynasty Lounge where the Captain introduced some of the crew and we had free drinks and appetizers and saw lots of set-ups for formal portraits which they did every night. The Dynasty Lounge is very comfortable with typical theatre style, bench, and banquette seating. We then headed to dinner. Our tablemates looked fabulous and we had a picture taken of all of us which we purchased even though I do not usually succumb to buying “extras” ($8 for a 9X6 which I am going to copy for V and K). This was lobster night and the others said it was great…I do not care for lobster (yes, I know, crazy girl!!) so I had the prime rib and it truly was superb! After dinner we headed back to the Dynasty Lounge for a show and the Captain’s Cocktail Party for the second dinner seating was taking place. Don’t bother to get a seat at this point as they empty the theatre to clean it and you must get in line to go in. I went to Las Vegas for the first time last summer and I thought this show was comparable to a “traditional” Vegas show only I was more impressed because these people performed on a rocking (literally) stage. I will take space to note here that the ship does move more than I expected. We each took a different seasick medication the first few mornings (Bonine, ginger, etc.) and never had a problem. I noticed that some people changed after dinner and some did not and that the ensembles at dinner ranged from “prom night” to dirty jeans. After the show we headed to bed…noticing a theme here? Day 3 Grand Cayman After our substantial room service breakfast, we grabbed our beach bags (packed them the night before-be sure to bring Sail and Sign card, License, and excursion tickets or info) and headed to the Atrium Plaza to figure out where to go to disembark. The signs in the lobby said to head to Deck 3 but the Capers said to head to the Dynasty Lounge if you had booked a tour that left before 9am. Now although we had booked a Stingray City tour, we had not done so through the ship but I felt as though that did not matter so we headed for the Dynasty Lounge. I took a copy of our faxed itinerary to the girl who was facilitating the groups leaving for tours and she said we could wait in the lounge and leave with the last group at around 9am and that, after that, they would open another tender area and the rest of the people could leave the ship. I would like to make 2 important points here: #1 when you plan your shore excursions please bear in mind that although the ship’s itinerary says you will be in port from 7 am till 4 pm, that is completely inaccurate as it takes approximately 1 hour to clear immigration or whatever it is they do so you really don’t start leaving till 8 and then you must be on the tender to return by 3:30 at the latest so you do not have as much time as you might think. I know this seems like common sense to you cruisers, but as a first timer I thought the times should be stated more accurately. #2 Grand Cayman and Jamaica DO NOT observe Daylight Savings time so when we arrived in Grand Cayman it was 7am on the ship and 6 am on the island. This is important if you book a tour online and not through the ship as we did. When we “fall behind” and go back an hour, ship time and the islands’ time run concurrently. Ok, back to Grand Cayman. We left the Dynasty Lounge and followed the others down to Deck 3 where we showed our Sign and Sail cards and boarded a tender. These are little ferry-like boats with bench seating. The ride to the island was brief. We booked a tour through Soto’s approximately a month before our departure to see Stingray City. We did hit one snag as we booked for the wrong date but we cleared that up the moment we arrived on the island. Let me say here that the people of Grand Cayman we met were EXTREMELY friendly and helpful and even gave us money to make a local phone call. We met the Soto’s van in a nearby parking lot along with a couple from our ship. How do I know they were from our ship? Once we were in the van, V turned around and asked them which ship they were from (the Sensation was also docked) and they said the Imagination and wasn’t she the Jeopardy winner? See, one night on a cruise and we already had a celebrity in our group! We picked a few more people on the way and then arrived at Soto’s dock where we paid ($24, a bargain compared to the ship!), signed a waiver, got snorkeling equipment, and boarded the party boat. There was the Captain, his assistant, a videographer, and approximately 20 tourists. There was a bathroom onboard (vertical coffin but adequate) and fresh water shower (they hose you down after the last stop). They took us out to 3 locations: the Corral Gardens, a reef, and the Stingray sandbar. To truly describe this experience would take many more pages and I’m sure I’ve filled enough already so I will be as brief as possible. This trip was incredible. V described it as the most amazing thing she has ever done. Bring a water camera particularly for the stingrays…I have some great pics of my friends and a nice memory of myself screaming my way back to the boat. Yes, I am a chicken. But even with being scared, it was still one of the best experiences of my life and I would do it again in a heartbeat. If you have children: 3 toddlers were taken on this trip. None got in the water. Not a trip for small children. We left the parking lot at 9:30 and returned at 12:30. We were starved so we headed to a restaurant across from the port called the Landmark (upstairs). The prices were GC dollars and I got some mini jerked burgers that were marked $5 but were $8 US. My friends each got a rum punch at $7 US apiece. The food was expensive but it was one of those times when you’ve been out in the sun and exercised and are truly hungry and truly relish the meal so it was well worth every penny and everything we had was delicious. The bathroom there was nice so I decided to change out of my swimsuit…I hate sitting around in a wet swimsuit. After lunch, we hurriedly souvenir hunted close to the port and then headed back to the ship on the tender. We had to show our Sail and Sign before boarding and again once we were back on the ship and we had to send our bags through a scanner. We headed to our room to shower, dress for dinner, and relax. When we arrived in the dining room, Katie told me that she had looked at the menu before dinner (they are posted outside of the dining rooms each day) and had not found anything that appealed to her but she came anyway because of the atmosphere at our table. This was the night that we found out that “the girls”, Katie, Liz, and Kristen, were actually close to our ages. We thought they were younger because they managed to stay out later clubbing and going to karaoke. We figured that was because they’re single…it’s much easier to cook and clean for one and you have more energy, LOL. I will not go into any detail about the dining room entertainment because first timers should be surprised…even after all my research I was and it was delightful! After dinner we stopped by the casino to drop a few nickels and then hit the stores. We didn’t buy anything at this point because we heard the sales are better the last day and we also knew we’d be spending money in Jamaica. Off to bed…early again. Day 4 Jamaica We had ordered room service for 7am and it was there right on time. We headed off the ship (no tenders here) about 8:15 and I must say the port was stinky. Trash. Yuck. Hurry through this part but not too fast as we saw one guy on our return who had slipped and fallen and was scraped badly. We exited the gates and started looking for a JUTA cab which I had read are the “legal” guys and they charge $5.50 for a round-trip to Dunn’s River Falls. A guy came from across the street and grabbed V who was in the lead. He led us across the street and, when I caught up, I asked how much and he said $20 for all three of us. Well, I knew this was wrong because of all the info I’d read but was too late at that point as my friends were in the van. I panicked once we left because I thought he was driving the wrong way. To make a long story short: this guy called himself “Music Man” and we ended up striking a bargain for him to take us to the falls and then to the craft market and then back to the ship for $10 apiece which he said later he had undercharged and I do believe he did from what I’ve read. Although he did as he promised, next time I will get a regular JUTA cab (they are vans as well) and pay more just so I feel safer. V has traveled much more extensively than I and she felt he was trustworthy but I have found myself to be a bad judge of character so I like the safer more “touristy” routes unless I really know what I’m doing. Anyway, it all worked out and we arrived at the falls, paid the $10 entrance fee, walked to the lockers, paid our $8 ($5 rental $3 deposit that is returned when you return the lock), put our things in the lockers and headed for the falls with just our water cameras. V had decided that she was not going to climb the falls as she considers herself “klutzy” at times so she stationed herself on a deck that was next to and about half-way up the falls. K and I headed down some steps, arrived on the beach, and started our climb. I will say 2 things here: one, the falls are an amazing not to be missed sight and two, the climb is much more difficult than described and I think that anyone who is too young, elderly, or out of shape should not attempt it especially starting all the way at the bottom. I am not in the best of shape but grew up near a river so knew to take my time and be VERY careful so K and I made it with only a few slips. For anyone unsure, I say start in the middle where the water is calm and the rocks are less steep and slippery and you can get off onto the steps at any time. Even if you don’t want to climb or swim, I still say go and see them…amazing and beautiful! After our climb, K and I grabbed our things from the locker and headed to the changing rooms (outside stalls…decent but felt like a circus performer making sure no part of my body touched the ground and K cut herself on the door which was rusty so I was glad I had a first aid kit on the ship but should have brought it to the island). Of course we got tricked into following the signs and running the gauntlet of the craft market. Avoid this if possible by ignoring exit signs and heading back the way you came in. Music man was 20 min. late but did pick us up and we headed to the craft market. We spent about an hour shopping and it is intense. Usually 5 people at you at once to see their wares or offering to braid your hair. If you really want to buy, and we did (I wanted to get Christmas presents), then be patient and if you are not a good bargainer, have one with you. K did all my bartering and I am very grateful as this is a skill I do not possess. She got some great buys for all of us and we left pleased. Note: we did need the suggested bug spray here as V got bitten by some tiny, gnat-like bugs. We headed across the street to Soni’s to buy some coffee as I read it is not a good idea to buy it in the craft markets. K and I got some Blue Mountain coffee in the first shop we came to while V asked for a good place to eat (we had done research ahead of time and had planned to go to The Ruins for lunch but did not have time plus were not really hungry enough for a buffet). We went right back across the street to a little place called the Jamaica Inn. We were seated in an outdoor, covered courtyard which was pretty and tropical and we ordered some jerked dishes which were delicious. V had an apple maple jerk chicken salad that was really different and very tasty. The ladies room here requires you to go up 2 steps to the “throne” which was kinda neat. We relaxed for a bit, decided we’d had enough of shopping, and even though Music man wasn’t due for another hour, we headed to the rendezvous point. Thankfully he was there early and we headed right back to the ship. We tipped him a few dollars, took some pics, and boarded the ship to get ready for dinner. Same procedure: sail and sign card, scanner. Before dinner we hit the internet café ($16.50 per ½ hour or $40 per hour) to let our families know we were having a fabulous time without them (kidding!) and then went to have some sushi which does not open till just before dinner and has a long line. The sushi lover of the group enjoyed it very much. Another fun meal in the dining room and “the girls” invited us to go to karaoke later that evening. In between that and dinner, we went to the Dynasty Lounge to see Dr. Phil trivia and then Survivor. Survivor was hysterical! I actually laughed till I cried…you know, Carnival should seriously consider paying the passengers who participate in this stuff as they provide the best entertainment, bar none! LOL We only caught 3 songs at karaoke as this was the passenger talent show night. Off to bed. Day 5 At Sea K and I had promised not to wake V early for once so we quietly ordered coffee and hot chocolate from room service and then wrote in our journals sitting by our window. So relaxing and what a view! Once V arose we headed to breakfast in the dining room and again snagged a window seat. After breakfast, K decided to lay out before her scheduled facial in the spa, V very nicely offered to attend the debarkation talk (held in the Dynasty Lounge by the cruise director), and I had decided to do laundry. Yes, I said laundry. Why? Because I’m crazy. Because I did not want to go home with a bunch of dirty clothes. This is all I’m going to say because I do not want to remember the horror of spending $7 and over 3 hours doing one load of laundry on my last day of vacation: DON’T! Although the experience did prompt me to make a commitment to finally stay up late and see what nightlife on the ship was like. I finally completed my laundry and packed by 3:30 and V and I headed out to do the galley tour. We accidentally caught the end of high tea, which I thought I made us miss, and then hit the tour. Interesting but sadly some very rude people stayed too long at each “demonstration point” blocking everyone’s view. They had demos of making drinks, decorating cakes, making towel animals, and folding napkins plus a walk through the galley. After this we got ready and headed to dinner. V headed to a comedy show afterwards and I headed to our room to change into something comfortable and help K pack. K and I found an unidentifiable towel animal from Mu…still not sure what it was but it was definitely phallic…what’s up with that? I don’t think I should go into K’s antics with the towel but I do have a video and I am taking bids…We met up with V just in time for karaoke and “the girls” joined us there. V and K finally got enough booze in them to get up and do Madonna’s “Holiday”. Sooooooooo much fun! We headed back to our cabin just before 12 to put our suitcases in the hall and then K and I headed up to the Horizon for a midnight snack. Unfortunately, we missed the gala buffet but we’ll be sure to go next time…if we can stay awake! We took our snack out on deck and enjoyed our last night on the ship and, of course, did a “Titanic” pose pic…on top of the world! We grabbed a snack for V and headed back to our room. We finally stayed up late! We’re not total grandmas yet! Day 6 Debarkation I won’t dwell too much here because the end is always the worst part of a vacation. We arose early, finished packing our last minute stuff and headed to the dining room. Tip: world traveler V had her original small carry-on, light and breezy. K and I had our original carry-on’s filled to the brim, another full bag, and K also had a box of booze. By the time we got picked up I thought my arms were coming out of my sockets. I didn’t want my gifts to get broken but there’s got to be a better way. I ignored V’s smirk as K and I huffed, puffed, and groaned our way off the ship. Anyway, they called our tags while we ate so we finished up, grabbed our stuff, and headed to the Atrium Plaza. You must have your Customs form (filled out), ID, Sail and Sign, and Birth Certificate or passport handy. The line to leave did not take long and we ended up in a large room searching for our bags. They are sorted by colored tag so it did not take us long to find them. Again, cunning V grabbed a porter and he loaded our luggage on a cart, followed us as we handed in our customs form, then took us out to wait for our ride. We tipped him and shortly thereafter, V’s hubby picked us up. Time to go home. Conclusion (whew!) I had the time of my life and cannot wait to do it all over again. I absolutely loved every minute (sans laundry fiasco), every person, every adventure, and can’t say enough about the way the staff treated us. I have wanted to go on a cruise for over a decade and, while it was worth the wait, I’m not waiting that long again! If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me as I have the whole summer to re-live my trip until I have to face the books once again.    

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Jan 24, 2004

Grand Caymen and Jamaica

My husband and I have just returned from a wonderful cruise aboard the Carnvial Imagination ship. This was a 5 day-cruise out of Miami, visiting Grand Cayman Is. and Jamaica. This is our second cruise but our first with Carnival. We chose this cruise because the dates coincided well with our trip to Miami and also because the price was right. We feel we received lots for our money. Our purpose for this trip was R and R. We are not big

spenders, gamblers etc... We arrived at the port of Miami on Saturday at 1pm, went through the boarding process and were in our room at 2pm. Embarkation went very smoothly and the staff was very courteous and friendly. Our room was an inside room, quite spacious with a nice washroom, desk, large closet, TV - all that is needed on a short cruise. Our cabin stewart introduced himself and asked us to call him if we needed anything. Then we went to lunch in the Horizon dining room. What a lunch ! Spent some time visiting the ship, our suitcase was delivered to our room aroung 4pm. Mandatory lifeboat drill at 4- about 45 minutes. Some people complained but hey, it's part of the cruising routine. Time for dinner. We had been booked at the second seating, but we preferred the first 6pm in the Spirit Dining Room. (as we wanted good seats for the Nightly Shows). The maitre D kindly accommodated us and sat us with a wonderful group of people, table 215. Our Waiter and his assistant were the BEST - extremely courteous, smiling and also accommodating. By the second dinner, they knew our tastes etc... We tipped them extra. Ports: Grand Cayman: We took the tender to shore and walked around Georgetown for a couple of hours -boutiques etc...(Have done all the islands in our previous cruise, and they are basically alike). Did not feel like taking any tour. We did however recommend to our friends to get a taxi driver to tour them around and one of the couple did just that and had the best time. The others who took tours were not elated and wished they had done the same. The taxi driver took them to the same area attractions and more and cost much less. Jamaica: We stayed on board on this day as we have been to Jamaica before. As we looked on to the port, we could see many tourists walking to town instead of taking the bus shuttles. It was probably 1/2 mile and later on that night we heard that many of them were just swarmed with locals trying to sell their artifacts and more (the white powder). Seemingly, the locals were quite persistent. Recommendation: take to bus to town and stay in groups. Positive: The crew made our trip very enjoyable. Great staff- always smiling, helpful, courteous and took time to mix and mingle with us. What a hard-working group of people from all over the world. Matt and Malcom-great cruise directors-always lively and had many activities going on. Food was great: Filet mignon, chateaubriand, lobster, etc....Good choices of appetizers, salads, entrees and DESERTS- Yum Yum!!! We can't see where anyone would dislike the cuisine. (It would have been nice to dim the lights and have the waiters carry in the Baked Alaska flaming !!) The waiting staff sang and danced for us every night. What spirit, They were great! Cleanliness: We found the ship very clean, our rooms were spotless and our steward did a wonderful job- always had ice in our icebucket and a cute towel animal each evening. He was always available to us. We tipped him extra as well. Entertainment: A show every night in the Dynasty Lounge- comedy, Las Vegas style, Talent Show etc. There were also Bingos, Scavenger Hunts and other various activities, not to mention all the bars. There was always something to do and lots to eat and drink. There were people of all age groups: not too many children, but guests from early 20's to older... This was a casual cruise with one formal dinner and on other nights, men wore long pants and shirts and women wore casual(pants or dresses) Every morning we received a Daily activity flyer at our room door. It described everything going on aboard and at the ports. Very informative, we thought. We were two days at sea and all were kept busy with many activities if you wished to participate. Many opted for R and R. Important note: Do wear sunblock while sunbathing- the sun and the wind are treachorous. I got such a windburn on my face. Negative: Debarkation was long. We had to meet at 6:30 am for Immigration. We finally left the ship around 9:45am. It was a long wait. Other than that,we do not have negative comments about this cruise as we feel we were treated very well, ate well, slept well(very little sea motion) and were well entertained. Note: One can spend a lot while on board- casino, Bingo, drinks, boutiques, tours, photos, arts auctions, shopping at ports, etc... but this is a personal choice. Some feel they need to do all-buy all in order to have the best time --NOT ! We will definitely cruise again with Carnival (probalby to Alaska) and we highly recommend this Cruise Line.    

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Dec 22, 2003

Western Caribbean

The review by Tom and Mary Milano was perfect! Read it first if you are over 50. When I first read it before the cruise, I figured their age was a factor since our travel agent said it was a great ship with great amenities. What a joke. This was our second cruise for our 30th anniversary. Our first cruise was 10 years ago on The Big Red Boat our of Port Canaveral, so this is the only cruise to compare with. That cruise was far superior

and enjoyable. We stayed on the Riviera deck (bottom floor of cabins) in a middle outside room. Nice big window. Positives Room and bathroom were large enough for the two of us with plenty of closet/storage space. Food was good, especially the dinner meal in the seated restaurant with a great selection of entrees. We were at a table for six and there was a family of four who were Indian and after the second dinner, the staff prepared special Indian meals for them. The waiters were great, always filling beverages, replacing empty plates with rolls, etc. The room steward always did a great job cleaning up each day and preparing for night. The on-board staff were friendly and helpful. This next comment could be a positive or a negative, depending on your point-of-view. The cruise line automatically bills you a flat $9.75/day/person as gratuity for the room steward, table waiters, and other food staff. At first I didn't think much of this, but it was handy and was about what we would have given as tips anyway. You may provide your room steward or main waiters more if you feel the need. Negatives Our travel agent told them this cruise was for our 30th anniversary. When we got on board, we checked with the restaurant to see if we could change our seating time. The person on duty, not the Matre D, immediately said "happy anniversary". So we knew our travel agent sent this info. When announcements on our anniversary night were made, the Matre D said nothing. The only envelopes for a gratuity is for the Matre D -- which he got nothing. The only time the ship was stable was when at port or anchored off Belize. It constantly rocked, even though the sea was calm. The Big Red Boat rocked the first night, due to a stabilizer problem, but then the next day the boat was as if we were on land for the rest of the cruise. The Imagination is about three times larger, so I don't know what the problem was. The first port was Belize City. What a rip-off. It has a tourist town, still under construction, which is probably funded by the cruise lines. A "shopping expert" told us about the "great deals" and where to shop in this tourist town. No deals to be found, unless you are not a shopper by nature. My wife loves to shop and knows all the great deals at home and knows that the prices are better at home -- especially when there is a sale. We didn't do any of the tours since that would have given us only an hour to shop. Plus, the info about the tours said travel time would be at least an hour one way, need sun screen, insect repellant, and walk some. So we figure we could rent a video on the Mayan ruins -- even though we would have liked to have seen them. The "deals" on ship were no better than normal store sales. Next port was Key West. This was the biggest disappointment of all. Everyone was delayed three hours because there were about eight people who refused, even after threats of fines, that they must report to Immigration before anyone could leave the ship. About noon we could leave the ship, wait an hour to catch a trolley to get to town, and then have only three hours to roam, since the last trolley left at 4:15 and the ship would leave at 5. All we got was a pitiful apology for the delays -- no explanation or compensation. You would think they could have given a $100 credit/person on the next cruise (which we will never take with them) or a $50/person gift certificate to shop in their on-board shops. Nothing! Very poor public relations! It was just like being at work in school with an administrator constantly threatening students what would happen. On a personal note, I am tired of society catering to people who can't follow rules while the rest of us who do follow rules must suffer. Who takes responsibility -- not this cruise line! As Tom and Mary Milao said, the entertainment was pitiful. Our small high school has put on better productions. The last night my wife finished playing the slots and had enough points to get a mug, which was the third highest gift. They were out of mugs, so instead of offering the next higher valued gift, they offered the next lower gift, a T-shirt, but were out of them (even though the gift shops had plenty of mugs and T-shirts available). She ended up with a deck of cards, the entry level point prize. She talked to the manager of the casino but got no respect or consideration from him. The only food service available 24 hours is for pizza. Finally, the debarkation was fair, but a latch on one of my hardcase suitcase got broken. Luckily the other latch was holding along with the supplemental latches. How this could have happened is a mystery. It didn't get broken while arriving on-board or ever had a problem in airline terminals. The Port of Miami is a mess. They must be repaving or something since it was muddy and getting around was a hassle. The walk from the parking garage to the ship was not a short one. The Port of Canaveral was a much better experience. There were a lot of people to assist, but were uncooperative. We will NEVER cruise with Carnival or leave from Miami again. We live near Jacksonville, Florida and they have just begun cruises from Mayport. I'll be looking into them. A few friends have already sailed from there and had a very pleasant experience.    

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Oct 12, 2003

Western Caribbean

ARRIVAL: We departed from Port Miami on October 13, 2003 aboard the Carnival Imagination. It was our first cruise and we enjoyed it. However, I would like to share some things with you about the cruise. We arrived by car at the Miami pier. The porters took our bags and we easily unloaded our vehicle. The porters were nice (I suggest $1.00 per bag tip – it helps). We entered the Carnival facility. It was a very large warehouse type

location. However, it was very clean and our embarkation was smooth. We were forced to set for about an hour before we were allowed onto the Imagination. While we sat, Carnival offered us soft drinks and other consumables for about 1.00 each. I felt that was cheesy. They could have provided a free beverage. We entered the entered the ship through a maze of check points and identity assessments. We were ushered into a line, had our photos taken and our sail and sign cards issued. This process took 15 minutes and we were aboard ship. Also, we were afforded an opportunity to have our photograph taken at the gangway (this would prove to be a very common opportunity aboard ship). SHIP: The Imagination proved to be in good shape. It obviously is a workhorse ship for the Carnival fleet. However, the wear and tear is minimal. The crew seemed to be constantly cleaning or repairing aboard ship. The Grand Atrium was pretty (but very gaudy). I found it easy to get around the ship after only one day. Our cabin was fine. We booked a quad, inside cabin. It was small but larger than expected. Our Cabin steward (Edward) kept the room clean. He made towel animals. Overall, it was a very nice location to spend 5 days. I could find no fault in the ship other than the elevators. The elevators were constantly out of order. However, these would be fixed in relatively short order. CREW: The only let down with the Carnival crew came from my experience in the Spa/Beauty Salon area. I needed a hair cut and beard trim. I booked this and waited in the lobby. The beautician (a British girl from Liverpool) did a terrible job cutting my hair. Then, she refused to trim my beard. I was embarrassed and disgusted. The total cost for me was $33.00. Servers: The food aboard imagination was excellent. The servers (ours were IMade and Emmanuel) were wonderful. They were considerate and well mannered. I actually felt that they cared about our experience. They danced very well (our servers were the best!). They doted on our children. I can’t say enough positive about them. Crew members who deserve to be mentioned: IMADE, Emmanuel, Captain Angelo Salvimini (Ciao, Ciao!), Constantine, the young crew at the Pizza bar, The Sushi Chef, Edward the cabin Steward, the Australian girls in the Horizon Grill and ALL the Camp carnival Staff. I fell in love with the level of service, good manners and friendliness of the Carnival Crew. They are the best sailing! ITINERARY Our itinerary was: Departure from Miami, a day at sea, one day at Grand Cayman, One day at Ocho Rios Jamaica, a day at sea and return to Miami. The fun days on board are okay. I liked walking the deck and watching the passing shipping. Sadly, everything costs money (except for food). So, if you are on a tight budget it might eat into your chances for entertainment. Overall, I enjoyed the ship experience. We saw Cuba on the eve of the second day at sea. That made the trip worth it to me. Our ports of Call: Grand Cayman: I liked Grand Cayman. I enjoyed the little, old port of Georgetown. It has a nice English feel to it. The locals are friendly and polite. We opted to take the Grand Cayman Island Tour. It was guided by Sherwin Bush. He was a nice person, fun and we enjoyed ourselves. We visited Hell, the turtle farm, and Tortuga Rum Cake factory. All very entertaining and nice. I would visit Grand Cayman again. Ocho Rios, Jamaica: We booked the Dolphin Touch /Dunn’s River Falls Package. This was the biggest rip-off. I was really disappointed. Firstly, we departed the ship for a 9:30 am show at the Dolphin Cove. We arrived and were immediately told we would have to return at 11:00AM. They plan this so you will have to go to the Dunn’s river Falls exhibit. They will attempt to sell you a bunch of junk made in China (with Jamaica stamped on it). In addition, I was constantly offered Marijuana (in the presence of my children). It was upsetting. The falls are pretty. It is unfortunate it is surrounded by the Jamaican, tourist rip-off , village. We arrived, at the Dolphin Cove. They will not let you take your camera into the attraction (they offer to take your photograph instead. Later, they want to sell it to you for 14.00 US). We paid 100.00 a person to touch Dolphins. We were allowed 10 whole minutes with the Dolphins. Friends, I don’t want to sound bitter, but save your money – Dolphin Cove is a big Rip-off. Lastly, the Jamaican vendors are rude, pushy, insensitive and ill mannered. If I knew what I knew today – I would have stayed aboard ship. We departed Jamaica and returned to Miami. We arrived on Saturday in Miami. We were the last to be allowed off of the ship. But, this was okay; we relaxed and had fun waiting to depart. Overall, the cruise was fabulous. I enjoyed the ship; the Imagination crew was super (especially the Camp Carnival crew – the kids didn’t want to leave them!). I would recommend this cruise. It was affordable, fun and overall, an excellent value for the money.    

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Jun 13, 2003

Western Caribbean

I'll start by saying that we were originally schedule to go on NCL's Norway and our cruise was cancelled due to the explosion. We scrambled to find another cruise and the Imagination is what we got. The ship is beautiful and the cleanest ship I've ever sailed on. We were in quad cabins on the Riviera deck (all that was left) and the rooms were plenty big and were kept SO clean. Food was excellent in every respect. We were in the

Pride dining room with Robinson and Maria as our servers. They were great with our kids and so good at what they do! In Grand Cayman we caught a taxi to 7-mile beach and snorkeled and crashed on the beach. In Jamaica we did the Sanara Catamaran trip which was awesome. We snorkeled and also climbed to falls. Cruise director was ok and the shows were good.    

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By Lee_CR

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May 25, 2003

Western Caribbean

IMAGINATION – 5/26/03 – 5 night I have sailed once prior to this on a 10 night Princess Panama Canal. We had a balcony room. So this cruise we decided to get a Cat. 12 suite. So awesome, we will always get a suite. My wife and I are in our mid 30’s, so we like to have fun. EMBARKATION: We drove to Miami with our friends who live in Sarasota. We rented a car in Sarasota and drove one-way to the airport in Miami and took a

free shuttle from there to the port. We arrived at 1:00 pm. We gave the porter our bags and a $10 tip and proceeded to check in. Even though we had Skipper’s Club, we went in with our friends and checked in. We were on the ship within 10 minutes. A flawless process. CABIN: We arrived at our Cat. 12 suite (U102) by 1:30. It was awesome. Much bigger that we thought from the numerous pictures we’d seen of it. It had a spacious walk-in closet, a nice bathroom with a full-sized whirlpool tub, a bedroom area with a large vanity and a king bed, and a living room with a 5-person couch, a coffee table and 2 chairs with a table. There was a fridge, a bar, and a TV/VCR. The balcony was big (14 x 5) and had 2 chairs, a lounge, and a table. We were impressed. In our room upon arrival was our large canapé tray and 24 beers on ice, as we had decided to have our 6 friends that were sailing with us over for a Bon Voyage party after the muster drill. ROOM STEWARD: Our room steward, Sheng, was great. He was Asian and spoke pretty good English. He greeted us upon arriving at our cabin and asked if we needed anything or had any requests. I asked him to remove the Cokes and Sprites from the fridge and always have 4 diet cokes in there. Additionally, I asked to fill the ice bucket twice a day. He said “No problem” and I tipped him $20. Whenever we left the cabin and came back it was clean and the ice bucket was full. The glasses in the bar were always clean and stocked. We brought a bottle of vodka and a case of sugar free Red Bull for me and a bottle of Vanilla vodka and used the diet cokes as mixers for my wife, so the glasses and ice got used quite often. We had an awesome towel animal each night and over the course of the trip I tipped Sheng an additional $30 plus the original $20 and the prepaid gratuities of $3.50 per day per person. He treated us right, so we treated him right. BARS/ALCOHOL: As I mentioned above, we had brought some alcohol on board in our luggage that made it no problem and our allotted 2 bottles of wine. Additionally, we had purchased 2 bottles of wine and 60 drink coupons from the Bon Voyage Service of Carnival. So we were definitely set in regards to getting the party started. I thought the bar service and alcohol selection on the ship was very good. We managed to pick out our favorite bartenders and servers rather quickly and got excellent service from them throughout the trip. Our group of 8 all sat at the same window table at the 8:30pm dinner, so each night we would meet in the Pinnacle Bar at 7:45 for a drink, and perhaps a cigar. The bartender there was amazing. His name was Edwin from the Philippines. By the second night he knew all our names and our favorite drinks. On night we wanted a bowl of cheese with our drinks instead of the standard chex mix, so he made us each a drink and went to the galley and got us a full bowl of cheese (Swiss, jack, cheddar chunks). He was gone about 10 minutes. That was so nice of him. The Pinnacle Bar wasn’t very crowded between 7:45 and 8:30pm because most of the people on the ship were already eating dinner. Edwin did an exceptional job and each couple tipped him $20 on the last night (in addition to all the tips along the way each night). The only place for improvement of alcohol and/or bar service that we noted was on the aft pool deck. More than once we had to wait 10 – 15 minutes for our drinks. The bar coupons worked out great as long as you are ordering drinks that cost $4.50 or more. Otherwise they are not worth it. We purchased 60 drink coupons ahead of time and had 1 left when we got off the ship. It was stuck in my bathing suit pocket. We did buy 8 soda coupons ahead of time and had 4 left when we got off the ship. They only worked at the bars, and when we wanted soda was usually through room service or at dinner. I wouldn’t buy the soda coupons again. Overall, the bar and alcohol service was great. FOOD/DINING: As I mentioned, our only other cruise was a 10 night Panama Canal cruise on Princess. The Carnival food is good, while the Princess food was great. Don’t get me wrong, nothing was bad on Carnival, actually it was just about what I expected after reading numerous reviews. However, there were a few exceptional items at dinner that should be mentioned (pumpkin soup, Chateaubriand, Beef Wellington). Other than that, the food was just good. Our waiters Cilio and Ronald however, were great. They made the dining experience fun and our whole group of 8 made it to dinner every night. Mostly we showed up about 5 or 10 minutes late and Cilio and Ronald dealt with that quite well. We again got great service and usually tipped them $10 each per night for all 8 of us. The sushi bar and the pizzeria were well above average. The buffet was ok, but we only made it there once or twice. However, on the last day during debarkation, my wife and I went and got fresh omelets made and brought them back to the suite and ate them there while we waited. One of the best omelets I’ve ever had. Room service was awesome. My wife and I aren’t big breakfast eaters, so each night we put out the breakfast card on the door and had cereal, milk, bananas and toast delivered each morning. This worked perfectly and we usually tipped the server a couple bucks. One night after the R Rated comedian and bar all day and night, we ordered room service at 2:30 in the morning. We got a BLT and a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich and chips. SO AWESOME!!.. Definitely hit the spot. I think we tipped the server $5 for that since we knew it would be good from the prior reviews we read. Overall, the food on the ship was good. GYM: I made it to the gym twice on the cruise, both times at 6am. There were maybe 2 or 3 other people in there so any of the equipment was available. It’s not a great gym, but you can definitely get a good workout if you want to. They had treadmills, bikes, stair climbers and elipticals, plus some free weights and numerous machines. It definitely served its purpose. ENTERTAINMENT: We didn’t go to the big Vegas shows because we’re not really into that, but I did hear they were OK. We did go to karaoke, bingo, horseracing, Comedians, and the poolside activities. Kenny Miller’s R-Rated show was great, and all the other things we did were good. My wife and I, and most of our group, like to gamble. So we spent quite a bit of time in the casino. We signed up for the Ocean Players Club and used our cards every time we played. By the end of the cruise, I was up over $1,000 and my wife was up about $100. I played mostly $25 hands of blackjack and won about $400 overall on blackjack during the cruise. I did play some $1 video poker and hit a $600 jackpot on the last night of the cruise. My wife played 25 cent video poker and hit 4 or 5 four-of-a-kinds during the cruise, which gave her the ammo to play the whole time. After I hit the $600 jackpot, I went and talked to Ryan (casino manager) to see what it all meant in terms of my OPC account. He said my wife and I earned 5000 points and will be receiving something in the mail that we can apply to our next cruise (upgrades, credit, or even a free cruise.) I did ask him for a bucket hat and he gave it to me. 5000 points means we gambled $5,000. So we’ll see how their system pays off and I’ll update my posting then. Overall, the entertainment on the ship was great for us 30 – 40 year olds. PORTS OF CALL: Belize City: AWESOME!!... We elected to do the cave tubing because we read so many rave reviews about it. When we tendered in to the dock and got to the bus, the skies were dark and it was windy. We got on the bus and began our hour long tour to the rain forest. It started pouring. I mean raining cats and dogs. People started getting pissed and asking the guides “when will it stop raining?” They said no worries. They gave us a complete tour of the city and the country and provided us with a wealth of knowledge about the country. When we turned off the paved road onto the dirt road into the rainforest for our next 6 miles it stopped raining. We got to the staging area and the weather was perfect. They had a little tiki bar, we grabbed some beers (Beliken) and waited for everyone to get changed and get their tubes, life jackets and, lights ready. Then we headed of on the trail through the rainforest for our 45 minute hike. It was beautiful. Amazing. Nothing like Southern California (where I live). The hike was on a 4 foot wide trail of small stones and dirt. I had Teva type sandals on, as did my wife, and they worked great. We arrived at the opening ½ mile from the end of the 7 mile cave system and got our lights on our heads and went into the river. The water was about 70 degrees and moving 1 – 2 miles an hour. There is quite a bit of paddling involved, but it was worth it. I’ve never seen anything like it. We floated through the caves for about an hour then down the river for another 20 minutes back to the staging area. Changed into dry clothes and had a couple more beers. We then got back on the bus and headed to a little restaurant/bar called Cheers for lunch. We had a native Creole dish (red beans and rice with chicken). It was very tasty. After lunch it was back to the port. We had about a half hour left before the last tender so we looked at the shops (put in by the cruise companies). Nothing too impressive, so we went back to the ship. Key West: AWESOME!!.. The only thing that sucked was the debarkation/customs process. We got to port at 8am and couldn’t get off the ship until 10am. There has to be a better way. We elected not to do a tour, but just explore the island on our own (the 8 of us). We took the Conch train from the ship to Mallory Square then headed straight to Hog’s Breath for a beer or two. Then we decided to walk to the Southernmost Point of the United States. This was about 6 or 8 long blocks, but an easy trek. We got to pass all the bars and shops along the way so we could think about what we wanted to do next. We made it there and took a picture and started back up Duval Street. We went to Fat Tuesday’s, Sloppy Joe’s, Iguana Café (food), Margaritaville, and the Tiki bar at the Galliano resort. The Tiki bar was awesome. We had “Sour Apple Pina Colada’s” while sitting on the deck that overlooks the water. A beautiful place. I want to return for a longer period of time to Key West. Overall, both ports were great. DEBARKATION: We got up around 9am and went to the buffet, we got our omelets and headed back to the suite. Ate breakfast there, then met up with our friends around 10:30 up on deck. Once we were all there we got off the ship and were back in the shuttle to head to the rental car place by 11:00. Very easy and stress free. CONCLUSION: This cruise was awesome and we will definitely sail with Carnival again. We are talking about doing a repositioning cruise, I want to do LA to Miami. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me (Lee) at IRIELDK@aol.com    

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Mar 17, 2003

Western Caribbean

We flew into Ft. Lauderdale, and spent the night at a hotel on the beach. The next morning we took a shuttle from the hotel to the boat. It was a 30-45 minute ride from Ft. Lauderdale into the Port of Miami where our ship the M.S. Imagination was waiting for us. The cost of the shuttle was $20.00 per person. The shuttle person offered to pick us up again if we prepaid. We did, but that was a mistake. It would have been cheaper ($15.00

per person) and lot less worrisome ( I kept thinking he wouldn’t show – although to his credit he did) if we had just waited and taken a shuttle on our own at the debarkation site. This was our first time to cruise with Carnival. I had read all the reviews I could on this ship and reviews seemed mixed. On closer examination there seemed to be not a gender difference but instead an age difference on Cruise approval. The older the reviewer – the less satisfied they seemed to be. Our cruise group consisted of two age groups - two 52 year olds (my wife and myself) and two 14 year olds (our son and a friend), all sharing the same cabin! Yes, I did agree to do this. Maybe my wife and I are young at heart – because we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. However, there were a few rough spots. The traffic directors, porters and greeting staff at the port embarkation center need to take a refresher course in “being personable under pressure”. I understand that there were a lot of people in one place that had to be moved; but that is still not an excuse for curtness which can be interpreted as rudeness. Once on board, the crew of the Imagination was wonderful. We went to our quad cabin at the rear of the ship and found our quarters to be more than adequate. The bathroom was larger than I thought it would be. The two hideaway bunk beds and two regular twin beds (which my wife and I put together) were more than adequate. However, we later discovered that the ac was not working in our cabin. The Purser’s office later upgraded us to an outside 3 person cabin that accommodated an extra rollaway bed. The food was great. The pizza lived up to the good reviews it had received. Formal dining was wonderful and our waiters (Noemi and Melia) won our hearts over with their kind attention. Even the buffets were above average. Activities aboard the ship were stimulating. The “Bebop” show was great; the “Imagination” show even though it had great talent, had poor music selection and bad choreography. My wife enjoyed the Casino even though she didn’t win (their blackjack dealers always seemed to win!). Our foray into Bingo was disappointing because we won – along with someone else. The one prize in Bingo that could not be split among winners was the free cruise. My wife and another lady had to draw high bingo number – we lost. The boys say they had a great time and we have to take their word for it because we never saw them except at the specified bed time and a couple of formal meals we made them attend. The normal itinerary for our Cruise was Miami, to Belize , to Key West and then Miami. Because an insurance group made special arrangements with Carnival( this group must have booked about 60 percent of the ship), they added in Playa Del Carmen. When we docked at Belize, the boys were enjoying their freedom on the boat so much that they didn’t want to leave the ship. We forced the boys to go on the cave tubing excursion with us, and a good time was had by all. (All the reviews that I had read were correct. You do need a change of clothes, and some old tennis shoes or “teva” sandals for the hike in the rain forest). Belize City is not a port where you can walk around. It is a city with a depressed Central American economy. I recommend booking a tour on the ship. The next day we were in Calica, which is the Port for Carmen Del Playa. Since this stop was added frosting on the cake, we only had a scant few morning hours to spend there before the ship had to set sail. The boys stayed on board, my wife and I took a taxi to the Playa Del Carmen beach (a ten minute- $10.00 taxi drive each way). We walked on the beautiful beach, did some shopping, and returned to the ship which set sail in the early afternoon. The next morning we arrived in Key West. The major difficulty we had could not be planned for and was unavoidable due to the beginning of the Iraq War. Everyone was supposed to present themselves to customs agents who came on board, even though it was not our final stop because this was our first port of entry to the US. Of course, no one could leave the ship until this occurred, and of course everything that could go wrong did. Some people didn’t show up to customs on time and this delayed everybody. In the meantime, the boys decided to go on a catamaran/snorkeling excursion with their friends and their dad (no, we didn’t bribe this man to do this- he did this of his own free will). We decided to take the conch shuttle tour of Key West. We were finally allowed to leave the boat, our boys went their way and we went ours. Our tour guy was very knowledgeable on Key West and its history and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The boys claimed to have had a good time and we received good reports on their behavior from the conscripted dad who took them. We all returned to the boat. We packed our bags that night (they had to be outside your door between 8 pm and 12pm) the next morning we got up, ate breakfast and left the ship. All in all, this entire cruise was a luxurious adventure that we all enjoyed. Because this was a Spring Break time period, the ship was full of families. Carnival Cruise Lines does a superb job of entertaining both parents and their children. We will definitely cruise with Carnival again.    

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Mar 8, 2003

Western Caribbean

I love Carnival Cruise Lines, the food and entertainment was wonderful. The only complaints I can think of would be the fact that we happened to travel at Spring Break and the College Students really had the run of the boat. I feel that Carnival Security did not do as much to control these individuals as they should have. Some horse play is to be expected with these young adults However, they were throwing beer at each other the entire

trip (In the pool) and several of them had to be carried out of the night clubs (Sloppy Drunk). My problem with this is directed more towards security who should have had a better handle on this activity. I sincerely hope that Carnival makes this adjustment in the future.      

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Mar 2, 2003

Western Caribbean

Monday Dec. 9 Got into Miami about 9 am after getting our things we got a cab over to the docks. The only thing I can say about this was he was rude, and Mister Toad must have taught him how to drive. We told him what pier and what ship he tried to drop us two other places before we reached our ship. The folks in the brown, officer type people re-directed him we finally took our bags and walked. Our next challenge was to find the

right spot and people to leave our bags so we could wait to get on board. We kept asking people and got sent back and forth, finally about the fifth time of changing directions we found a guy in white and discovered that was the uniform for the porters, the one we wanted. He took care of us promptly letting us know that we should tip him for the delivery of our bags to our room. Papers they handed us as we were checking in told us that it could be a late a 9pm before we got our bags. We must have tipped right because I had not even gotten my carry on unpacked before our bags showed up. When we compared notes we both tipped. It must have been the right amount to get our bags because it wasn’t 1:30 pm. We left port on time, I stood up on the sports deck in front of the wind screen. The best part of this was the dolphins that swam along as we left the bay. It was slightly raining but it was warm so it did not matter to me. We got assigned to the 8:30 dinner seating and our table mates were fun. There was supposed to be six of us but two never came to eat with us. Our waiter and his assistant were very good and by the second meal learned what we wanted for drinks and learned that the one guy at our table always wanted 2+ of the entree that he ordered even when he said he only wanted one. We had some good laughs from that but the waiter was right more than wrong. Monday evening was spent learning the ship and discovering the casino. Some people said the sea was rough but as this was my first it was just a good rocking and boy did I sleep well. Tuesday Dec. 10 Day at sea Started with sunbathing ok but not much that I can tolerate for long periods of time, for me boring. I had planned to do the river float to the pyramid but after the lecture on what to expect I chose the river float through the cave for our day in Belize (Wed). The lecture was fun, the cruise director gave his impression of the tours he had take and would only comment on his personal experience. A couple of hours later we went to the lecture from Michael the shopper. I had read one of these reviews that said sit close to the front, thanks it was a good choice. Not only was it more fun but I ended up with a freshwater pearl necklace, aloe bath gel, and a pair of diamond earrings. My sister got color changing finger nail polish, tanzanite earrings and something else I don’t remember. This was the night of the Captains gala, I dressed up and had fun, they took pictures everywhere. I got one good one with my sister and we are giving it to Mom for Christmas. I got a facial done what a jip. They had a booking deal for some free eye treatment that was supposed to be 20 min. longer for booking when I did. When it came time for the facial she was so focused on selling me product that she stopped at the 50 min not the 1hr and 15 min as promised and then tried to hit me for over $400 in creams. I choked at the $95 price for the facial and the $61 for the one cream that I was in after in the first place to go for more. I was not impressed. I did not realize I had been cheated until I was dressed and waiting for her to ring me up. I figured I would be heard by expressing myself in a forum like this. I run with the motto hit them in the future business. The evening shows were fun, I don’t remember which one was which at this point so I will comment on all together. The comedian with the southern accent, funny both shows G and R. I wouldn’t want to be from Mississippi he sure picked on them but worth seeing. The music was good, right now I am brain cramping on names but the male singer was very good. He was called on at the last min. to fill in for the magic act who was ill. I don’t think I missed anything. He had a knack for arranging music and took a lot of songs from the last 30 years and gave them a good twist. He did a 20 - 30 min show and I would have been ok if it had been doubled in length. The second comedian was even funnier than the first, his R was way more R than the first but he did a great job of picking on the folks that just begged to be picked on or at least looked like it. There was a third comedian that we picked up in Key West but I was too busy packing to see him. They also had Bingo a few nights before the evening show and once in the afternoon. My sister split a $100 pot with 4 other people one afternoon. The buy in was a bit steep but... it was $10 for one and $20 for three. My sister started buying in together after she won which paid off. On Thursday we bought in on the evening one and for the $200 pot I think we got 3 or 4 pounces on all three cards combined. The second game for $500 we won and split with no one. I put most of my share on my sail and sigh card it covered my land tours. I digress Wednesday Dec. 11 We got escorted to our bus immediately upon leaving the shuttle boat. We were on the fourth bus of five to leave the port for the caves. Due to a very skillful driver (Bob) and a very organized guide Elvis, we were the first to get there. The best part was I was not nervous of his driving once. When we got there we picked up a second guide to get us to the caves. This was about a three mile walk through the jungle not a stroll for the faint of heart. It had rained recently and the trail was..... well I can say GA mud has nothing on that trail of slime. The lead guide, not Elvis, had been told we were in a hurry and he seemed to have no concern for the people following him. I was slipping and sliding all over the place. One time the trail was on an incline and my feet went out from under me. I reached out to steady myself and ended up grabbing a tree. I ended up pulling about 400 slivers from my hand. This slowed me considerably as my right hand resembled a porcupine on the palm which was a challenge as I am right handed. The gap widened between me and the group ahead of me. In the mud at the side of the trail there were several puma tracks that were about 6” in diameter, very comforting for someone alone in the jungle trying to catch up. About this time Elvis comes up from behind with several others from our bus. What a good tour guide. He pointed all kinds of interesting things, bat caves, crystals, flowers etc. all of a sudden the walk became much more interesting and comfortable. When we caught up with the rest of the group there was no reason for all of the hurry. We had to wait for another cruise line to get in and go before we could even start. Once in the water we all followed Elvis’ directions about as well as a bunch of 4yr old. He tried to get us to go in lines of 6 and race for a while, well be did a bunch well and floated in blob. My light went out about halfway through the cave but that didn’t matter there were plenty of others. Even with the hike in that trip was well worth and I would do it again. That was one of the most amazing things I have ever done, the river was a good temp. the caves were awesome and the float down the river after to reach the trail back to the bus was fun and definitely not difficult. After changing we got back on the bus to head for lunch. Some people did not like the lunch it was simple and very ethnically regional. It was well seasoned black beans and rice (good), stewed chicken (very good), chocolate sauced bananas (fair), bread pudding (ok if you like it) and the best pineapple I think I have ever had. They also had a very charming gift shop, I think I bought all of their hand made ornaments to bring back to all of my staff. Very nice at 5 for a $4. All of the tours got off to a slow start so many of them did not have time to shop at the tourist city. Thanks to our very organized team we had about 30 min to get from where our bus dropped us off thought the market and to our dock. To be honest that was plenty of time. I was glad I had chosen the tour I had with the guide I had. The one I had planned on before the lecture did not have time to eat and barely made it back in time for the shuttle. Thursday Dec. 12 Day at Sea. Finished by book by the pool, there must be a better way to organize deck chairs. Had fun watching the Ice carving demonstration. WOW he is fast and good. The kids from the cruise had worked on a Christmas show with the dancers and vocalist from the production. Very cute. The cruise director reading a story to the kids was a bit over the top but not to campy. Dropped another $50 at the casino and had some very good shusi before dinner. Has left an extra tip for the steward and came back to two shade wearing critters instead of one. What a talent, they should sell a booklet on how to do that on the last day of the cruise. Fri. Dec. 13 (I know Fri. the 13th we were tempting fate and we won) Key West. OK so this is where I want to retire. Took the train tour, good thing it was not more expensive than it was, as it was it was almost over priced. The shopping was wonderful. The shopping coordinator had really done his job and set up all kinds of specials to get you in the door. We did all of them and lived with the moto shop till you drop. We decided we wanted to eat a Sloppy Joes for lunch and we were willing to wait. We hovered at the door until someone finally left, I think it too 15 min or so. I got brain freeze from the rum runners punch and had the best chili dog I think I have ever had. It is a good thing no one yelled fire because there is no possible was to jam any more bodies in that place. While shopping I fell in love with a little emerald ring at Diamond International. I don’t often purchase jewelry on the spur of the moment but I loved this ring. When I got home I took the ring to a local jeweler I trust, Ferndale Jeweler in Fortuna and had her tell me if it was a good buy as the cruise line has a guarantee that if you are unhappy within a year for any reason they will refund all of your money no questions if the store was one of their approved ones. She took one look and said I had paid for the stone and the gold and promotional quality diamonds that were accenting were an extra. DI had sized it in less than an hour while were finishing our shopping. They had not stretcher the ring but had cut, added gold and polished it so you could not tell. But the band had not been thinned, all for less than $300. Road the train back to the ship and had just enough time to get to the sports deck to watch as we pulled away. The sun streaks in the clouds were beautiful and the pictures we took do not do the view the artistic justice it deserved. The wind was brisk and very invigorating as we would our way through the channel and back out the sea. Sat. Dec. 14 Back to Miami We had been told there was no way we could make an 11:30 am flight so we had opted for the 9pm one. America West needs to add a flight in the mid day going back to Las Vegas. Any way we decided to do an everglade tour to kill time waiting for our flight time. This was recommended for those with flight times after 3pm. I am glad I took that trip. That was my first time in one of those big fan air boats and I will do it again. Educational and fun. Sunday Dec. 15 Back to home and rain. Guess it can’t last forever.

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Mar 2, 2003

Western Caribbean

This is a short review of my recent cruise on the Imagination. It was a 5 day cruise with only two ports, Belize and Key West. I chose this itinerary because we like more sea days than ports. Boarding: We arrived a day early and stayed at the Doubletree Club Miami. Nice hotel, had a restaurant and the room was large and clean (and we got a pretty good deal on the rate from a well known internet site). The hotel provided a free shuttle

from the airport. We wanted to get to the port early to avoid the crowds, so we hopped in a limo ($25 all together for 2 people) and arrived at about 11. Check in was a breeze, the only drawback was they wouldn't let us board early so we had to wait until 1230 and board with everyone (we heard the ship was being inspected by the CDC, but that may just have been a rumor). Even though we didn't get to board early, I think it was worth it to avoid the crowds while checking in. Cabin: We had an outside cabin on the Riviera deck (R123). The cabin was surprisingly large with ample storage and a good size bathroom. On our last cruise with NCL we had a balcony. While we would prefer to have a balcony, we felt that the low end Carnival room was still larger than the suite we had with NCL. At no point did we feel any rocking, even though the water was sometimes pretty choppy. I felt the ship was in great shape. The Grand Atrium was cool, and everything was either on the Promenade deck or close to it making for easy navigation. Food: The food was awesome. We had late seating in the Pride dining room and our server, Gede, was the best. Even when we didn't make it to dinner the buffets were pretty good too. Pizza was ok and the room service was prompt (though I thought the menu could be a little larger). Staff: I was amazed at the staff. From our room steward Stanley (who is the best) to the servers, most were incredible. The one glaring spot that needs to be improved is the CD and his assistants. The CD Andrew 'AJ' Jones was horrible. Never saw him in the common areas talking to passengers, and when he was on stage he came off as a little rude and pushy. His assistants were boring and kept repeating the same unfunny lines over and over and over and over again. The games were fun despite their efforts though. Casino: Don't get me started lost a little bit there. I actually won a little in blackjack (and promptly gave it back), but mom wasn't doing to well on the slots. One word of caution here: WATCH THE DEALERS! There was one blackjack dealer, Damian, who we caught like 3 times taking somebody's cards and chips as if they had busted when they had not. Entertainment: Was a little disappointed here. The shows were ok, but there was only 1 'production' type show, B-Bop. B-Bop was good, and you should try to catch it if you can. There is a really cool pianist/singer in the Mirage Bar on the Atlantic deck (I think). I requested 'Thunder Road' which he played ,badly, but it was a good time. The comedians were pretty funny with the exception of Kevin King. The only thing that kept me from walking out early was the hope that the stupidity of his show was just a ruse and that it would get better. Well, read too much into that one. In order to get the exact same experience without attending the show, stand in front of a mirror, say the f word a few hundred times, call the people who don't laugh b*tches, take somebody's cigarettes, shove two up your nose, put them back in the pack and give them to the owner. Ports: As mentioned above, the ports were Belize and Key West. We did the Altun-Ha/Belize City tour and had a great time. The ruins were amazing. A lot of people thought the Belize tour was a little depressing. Heard the Altun-Ha/River Wallace tour was cool, along with the ever popular cave tubing. We just kind of poked around Key West, went to Margarittaville, etc. We overslept a little and didn't get off the ship till like noon, so didn't have enough time for parasailing Debarkation: Saddest part of the cruise. Said goodbye to all the people we met, staff, etc. Debarkation went smoothly. Grabbed some breakfast at the late seating in the Pride dining room then hung out at the Dynasty lounge until our tag was called. Our color was called at 1000, and we were off the ship and getting a cab at 1010. Very impressive. We stayed overnight in Miami and basically just vegged out, slept, and watched TV. My flight was at 0724 and moms was 0930. We left for the airport at 0515 and I had just enough time to get on the plane. Miami is the worst airport I have ever seen, hands down. I did curbside check in, but they only checked the bag....I still needed to wait in the long lines at the united counter to get a boarding pass (no E-ticket check in like at most airports). After waiting in line forever, somebody said that if your bags are checked you could go to another counter to check in. This was a little better as the lines weren't nearly as long. After that I figured I was pretty much set.....wrong. In order to get to the gate, mine was F, you need to go up an escalator in order to go through security. The problem is that the area at the top of the escalator is not very large so there was a huge line of people waiting to for the chance to get up an escalator so they could wait some more. Very poorly planned and designed. Took a long time to get to the escalator, then even longer to wade through the line to go through security. Not sure how much of this can be attributed to the Holidays, but it was a frustrating mess. Anyway, bottom line is to leave yourself plenty of time. They wouldn't let my mom go with me to the checkpoint (she was ticketed on a different airline). I told the lady that she wasn't going through security to the gate, but just was going to hang out with me while I waited. Mom thought I was going to get in trouble for congratulating her on getting a GED, mentioned how proud of her parents must be, then calling her a minimum wage trained monkey. Dance monkey, dance. I'm normally not like that, but I was hungry, tired, and frustrated. All in all the cruise was incredible and we had an awesome time (even after we saw the Sail and Sign bill ). We filled out the comment card and told CCL what we liked and didn't like. We are definitely sailing Carnival again!

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Feb 22, 2003

Western Caribbean

I had been on a cruise but it was my husbands first time. We flew in to Miami the night before so that we would be sure not to miss the boat as my first time I almost missed the ship when our flight was delayed. I highly suggest that you arrive the night prior to your ship departing. The port was crazy when we arrived and the lines took forever but we finally got on the boat and were ready for a relaxing vacation. The port were

great Grand Cayman, Ocho Rios being our favorites. We swam with the sting rays in Cayman and were awed by the amount of sting rays we saw. My only complaint about Grand Cayman was how expensive everything was there Ouch! Ocho Rios was spectacular. We took a champagne catamaran cruise to the falls. This cruise was a little more than the other boats but well worth the money we had plenty of room on board unlike the other boats. We were served fruit, champagne, and even got a foot massage on the way back. The falls were great. Bring a waterproof camera for this activity as you get soaked climbing the falls. The food on board was average I would say. I preferred the buffet to the actually restaurants on the ship. If you are a big drinker I suggest you smuggle some on as drinks are like $6.00 dollars which adds up quickly. Overall we had a great time and are already looking into booking our next cruise.    

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Feb 22, 2003

Western Caribbean

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!    

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By J.P._CR

  • New

Feb 13, 2003

Western Caribbean

This was my first cruise and my wife second. Getting to the port from the airport went pretty smoothly, just some waiting around for the shuttle. Other than that no problems. Getting aboard the ship was also pretty smooth and quite quick. We got our room keys and our sign and sail cards, then we were of boarding the ship. Once aboard we were quite overwhelmed at just how big this thing really is, it's huge. We went to our room and

dropped of our carry on's and went to find another couple we were cruising with and explored the ship. After a while it was pretty easy to navigate your way on board. First thing you do is have your life boat drill which takes about 45 minutes. After that's done you head of on your cruise and party and fun begins. From this point on I will give you my best account of the trip in no specific order. The overall appearance of the ship is it's in pretty good shape. It was generally clean for a work horse. This ship like most I assume goes out the same day you depart. The dining room was very nice. The food was good at best. The portions weren't big nor was the flavor of most of the dishes. Our waiter wasn't that pleasant either, he seemed like we were a bother to him. However his assistant was very pleasant and helpful. Good luck getting drinks with dinner also other than wine or soft drinks. Overall dinner was just O.K.. Next was the drinks and their prices. Very weak and very expensive. I have no problem paying a little more for a drink if it is good but $6.25 for juice with a splash of liquor is downright wrong. If you drink beer you're better of. buy them by the bucket if you can, (you get 4), which is cheaper. I forgot the buffets. They were pretty good overall. The standard buffet, nothing spectacular but good. Room service was good, and very quick! Do yourself a favor and order extra sodas because through room service they are free. The entertainment was actually really good. We all enjoyed every show except for one, which was a comedian. He was horrible. We walked out after 15 minutes. He wasn't dirty or anything that I know about he just wasn't funny. Wer heard many other people say the same thing. The rest of the shows and comedians wer very good though. Also the theater was set up very nicely and comfortable. Activities on board were decent but not great. The Lido deck which is where most everything outside goes on was very crowded which is expected. My biggest complaint were all the children running amuck filling the pool, filling all the hot tubs even the ones marked "adult only". Don't get me wrong I have no problem with kids I have two, a 9 and a 3 year old. My problem is I red in the brochure that there was a children's pool. The parents just didn't seem to have control of most of them. Another problem was the pools were closed for half the cruise. I didn't understand that. The crew and service. Our room steward was fantastic. He was pleasant and very accommodating, what ever we needed was always taken care of in a timely manner. Most of the food service people were good also. All of the bar staff was also good. The casino staff were pleasant and not uptight like most casino's. The shore excursions were all very good. We went to Key West and Cozumel. I've read other reviews about missing snorkeling trips ect. because they were full and what not. Don't quit there are tons of other companies offering the same things and they're usually cheaper. The cruise line gets a kick from the tours they sell, so don't let that stop you from looking elsewhere. This was my first cruise but have been to many Islands and we always get our own tours, again because usually they are cheaper and sometimes a lot better. Overall the cruise was enjoyable for the most part. Even if you encounter some short commings on your trip never let it bring you down, always make the best of it because you have the power to make it memorable and enjoyable. Peace, J.P.    

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  • New

Dec 27, 2002

Western Caribbean

Sailing Date: December 27th, 2002 This was the best cruise I have ever taken. The first time I cruised over New Year's Eve. 3,000+ people partying on the Lido Deck at midnight. What a blast! The day of boarding passengers were given free Champagne until departure. The food in the dining room was excellent. Pizza was the best as always. The New Year's Eve Party was the best I ever had. Champagne free for all for about 3 hours. 3,000+

people all on the Lido deck with live band at midnight. What a party!!!! The ports were secondary to us. Grand Cayman - We took the Reef and Wreck snorkel trip. Due to rough water everyone's trips were cancelled but ours. I highly recommend this snorkel trip. Its only five minutes from the tenders that take you to shore from the ship and even in rough weather this trip took place due to the calm waters around the harbor. The fish are everywhere on the reef and the wreck site was very interesting. Very experienced divers and snorkelers might find it boring though. Ocho Rios - We took the Wild Oats trip - Dunns Falls, snorkel trip off shore of Sandals Resort (turned into a swim instead due to rough water) then a wild ride out past the surf into deeper water and BIG WAVES back to the cruise ship. Very pricing but the crew was great and the Mimosas and Red Strip began from the time we boarded until we got back to the ship. Next time in Ocho Rios I will take the river raft as I heard it was very relaxing. Huh, maybe too relaxing? The service on board was as usual. I have noticed that since the tips are now added to the sign & sail cards that the room, waiter, bus boy do not bend over backwards to be there for you. The service is not bad, it's just not excellent as before this policy (when they didn't know how much they would get). I had read reviews that really down graded the food service on the Carnival ships. I thought the food in the dining room was excellent and as good or better then previous cruises (including Royal Caribbean). I do agree that the food in the back of the ship was not very good, except for pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries. Room service BLT's, crudités and fruit were our favorite late night snack as we did not eat the late night buffet. I would definitely go on this ship and cruise again. The 5 night cruise seemed like a week, especially since we stopped overnight in South Beach the day before departure. I can't wait for my next "Fun Ship" cruise.

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Dec 14, 2002

Western Caribbean

Airport and Arrival: We found that we saved a lot of money in air fare by flying in to the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood airport. There is a Carnival “Meet and Greet” set up to provide transportation to/from the terminal which takes about 25 minutes at a cost of $30/person round trip. Buses depart the airport beginning at 11:30 am and everyone is on the way quickly. A good deal, especially when the bus driver chats about Miami points of

interest along the way. It was very convenient – highly recommended. Tip: When in the Miami terminal with your boarding pass, OBSERVE which of the two lines is for the ROOM KEY, and get in it first. The other line is to get onto the ship – but you need your room key first Total time from bus to our room: 45 minutes. Once on board, immediately drop your bags in your room and go eat at the buffet on the Lido Deck. HINT: No one will knock on your door to find you for the 4:30 lifeboat drill. Do check for your room’s life vests, and make sure you can find your life boat station. Meals and Room Service: Always attend the dinners; they are the highlight of the cruise. Great quality of food, and don’t be shy about getting multiple entrees as your waiter will be happy to get anything you want. Breakfast and lunch are easier to get on the buffet, and about the same quality. Use Room Service often, especially if you are not a “midnight buffet” type of person. My wife and I ordered every night just before bedtime (I recommend the roast beef on baguette with Swiss cheese) and get plenty of juice. Room service is free, but don’t forget to tip the person. Ports: We visited Jamaica, which was unremarkable. We went into town and bartered with a cool tour guy to take us to the “major” sites for $40. Boring, and the shopping is poor. The best part was after the tour, we had him drop us off at Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville” which was fun. Excellent (i.e. potent) margaritas. Most locals will offer you drugs/weed very cheap. Our port of call to Grand Cayman was cancelled due to rough water. In Grand Cayman, the ship anchors off shore (as opposed to Jamaica, where you pull into a port) and must use boats to get you ashore, but the conditions were unsafe so we left toward Jamaica. We received a $25/person credit for the inconvenience. This was our 3rd Carnival cruise; we feel that the actual ports are secondary to the excellent meals and hospitality. Rooms: This was the first cruise that we spent extra money to upgrade to a “picture window” – it was definitely worth it. The beds are lumpy, but I still slept pretty well. NOTE: My wife began to feel sea sick, and we purchased Dramamine from the ship’s store. It didn’t help, so she bought the “wrist bands” that put pressure on each wrist – and all her symptoms disappeared! She wore them the whole trip, and we heard from others that they are very effective for morning sickness, too. Tips (Important): I heard some guests complaining about the end-of-cruise tips. Realize that it is expected to tip your assigned personnel at the end of the cruise (about $10/day per guest total). Something new: This is now added to your Sail ‘n Sign Card on the last day (instead of putting cash in an envelope, as before). Adjustments can be made to the amounts if you wish, but it is inconvenient to do so. Just leave it as written – they deserve every penny for their huge efforts! Summary We had a great time; Carnival is very good at providing a fun vacation at a very reasonable price. Get on the Carnival email list! We were emailed of this cruise via email by Jose Docal for a great last-minute rate ($249 each, $329 each to upgrade to the picture window). Don’t forget to fly into Ft. Lauderdale Airport to save $$$, preferable about 10:30 am on the day of the cruise.

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Nov 21, 2002

Western Caribbean

This was my first cruise and I had so much fun. The Imagination is about 70,000 GRT and just right for a first time cruiser. The food was excellent and the actives were great. I took the Cockatoo Sailing adventure tour on Grand Cayman / Stingray City. I was unforgettable. In Jamaica I took the Sanara Sailing tour which could have been better (sails were up for about 15 mins.). I you want to snorkel I recommend the Caymans over Jamaica

as the water in Jamaica was a little murky and we so only few fishes. Over I had a great time. The ship is 7 yrs. old and in good condition. I had an ocean view cabin on Riviera deck which was good. I recommend to get a cabin in the middle of the ship as it allows you to go everywhere on the ship in short distance.

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  • New

Oct 13, 2002

Western Caribbean

AIRPORT AND TRANSPORT We arrived at the Miami airport at 11:30AM. We easily found our luggage and there were Carnival reps waiting for us at the baggage claim. The reps were hard to understand with there accents but still managed to keep order. We were told that we would need to walk a block and a half to get to the buses that would take us to the port. We follow the reps down the sidewalk towards our buses. Over half of the crowd decides

to smoke at this time. So here we are walking in this huge cloud of smoke. This really sucks if you don't smoke. We get to the station where the buses are and we are asked to show our IDs and transport tickets. It was soooooooooo crowded and people are still smoking like its going out of style (which I hope it is.) We get on our bus and the driver tells us he is Jamaican and he will be taking us to the port. He also mentions that the mic is broken so he will have to yell. If you take the route we did you will pass the Orange Bowl and the arena where the Miami Heat plays. We pull into the port after about a 15 minute, NON SMOKING, air conditioned ride. EMBARKATION We are setting on the bus while they unload our luggage. Believe me people they are not easy with it. As the luggage is being unloaded the bus driver will tell you over and over how his tips are not include in your tour package. After a 10 minute wait we got off the bus. We watched the porters take our luggage and tipped the bus driver. We entered the building and waited in line for about 10 minutes to get through the metal detector. The security people were very nice and the rubber glove was more than pleasant (just kidding.) The physically challenged were allowed to go ahead of everyone which was appropriate however one guy was really rude and was pushing through everyone. Sometimes you just wish you were standing on a steep incline. We get through the detectors with no problem and get into another line. This time we are waiting to get on board and to activate our sail and sign cards. There were at least 20-30 Carnival reps working. This went fairly quick. The reps were very friendly! You have to give them your tickets to get on board and a credit card to activate your card. PLEASE HAVE THIS STUFF READY, it makes the line move faster. You will walk up a flight of stairs and there will be a table set up. You will then receive your sail and sign card and your cabin keys. After you get your card you will get your picture taken for security purposes. Then you come to another security guard and they will check that your name on your card and your ID are the same. We then walked down a long hallway and are greeted by a camera man. CHEESE! Welcome aboard. GETTING ON BOARD So we are finally on the ship. Its about 12:45. We found our cabin and tucked away our belongings. My wife and I tried to get naughty for our 5th anniversary but my mother knocked on the door (just like high school) The safe works just as promised. We played around with the TV (instead of each other) for a bit but couldn't figure out the Funvision. (Funvision is the Carnival channel that has a schedule and also lets you check your balance. I am so excited that I just have to eat so we hear to the Lido deck to the Horizon Grill. The line is short and fast. I tried a hamburger and it was descent (7 out of 10). I needed a drink so I tried the tea (1 out of 10). I would rather drink toilet water in Cozumel than to drink that crap again. I switched to lemonade (9 out of 10) and was hooked. LIFE BOAT DRILL The life boat drill started around 4:30. Our cabins had to report to the Dynasty lounge. This was horrible. They gave us life jackets and showed us how to put them on. We were then escorted to our life boat stations and stood out there while they told us if the ship started sinking we are to remain calm. Uhhh ok. This lasted probably 20 minutes. Too long. CRUISE CRITIC PALS We set sail at around 5:00PM. People were all over the place. We walked to the curiosity library and met with some fellow cruise critic users. Buddy and Janet are very nice. We also met a lady named Molly and her 2 kids, along with her mother. They were very nice but we never saw them again. We sat around and talked to Buddy and Janet for about and hour. They are wonderful people and a pleasure to cruise with. If you meet people online I strongly suggest making a meeting time. Its always good to make new friends. PRIDE EARLY DINING 6:15 Ok I didn't pick the dinner time. My mother who cruised with us picked the time but this was too early. We stood outside the dining hall for about 20 minutes waiting to get in. We finally made it and took a seat at table 142, a table set for 6. We knew everyone at the table as they came with us Tom Charma, Jason, Amy, Mary (my wife) and Bo (Me!) Our assistant waiter came by to say Hi. His name was Han and he is from Thailand. We tried to make conversation but....oh well. Our waitress came by and she was hot! She was from Romania and her name was something like Ladonna or something. WOW! She took our order and I ordered the barley soup, salad and lamb chops. The barley soup (7 of 10) came out about 10 minutes later. All we had was water, no beverage service as of yet. The salads came and they were ok. Everyone that ordered the ranch dressing hated it. I got French so I was somewhat satisfied (6 0f 10). Next came the lamb chops and they were beautiful! I couldn't believe how pretty they were and they tasted very good (9 of 10). My wife tried the NY Strip and she was satisfied. They brought us a dessert menu and I ordered the chocolate decadence. If you do not like VERY RICH CHOCOLATE do not order this. It was good (7 of 10). We never did get the beverage service. FUN TIME We went to the Dynasty Lounge and watched the welcome aboard stuff. This was kind of boring. They had bingo ready to start and we bought 3 cards for $20. They played 2 games. The first was for $200 and the second for $500. I lost. They played some game show games this evening and they were pretty funny They were giving away trophies or as the assistant cruise director David called them "24 karat gold, plastic ship on a stick" They played 3 games for the trophy then a game with the winners of the 1st three for a bottle of champagne. Buddy (who we met on cruise critic) won although he thought the happy birthday song was played at weddings. We also watched a dance class. They learned the Cha Cha. It was funny to watch some people with 2 left feet. We also got our first taste from the "GODFATHER OF COMEDY" EDDY CAPONE. He was very clean and very funny. WASTING TIME/ DRINKING We walked around the ship for a while and drank a few. Ok, I am not a big drinker but some of these drinks were watered down. I also paid 4 bucks for a warm can of beer at the pool bar (4 of 10) We also tried the strawberry daiquiri (7 of 10) THE MIDNIGHT BUFFET/ BEDTIME So we get to the buffet and get in line. We had to wait 5 minutes or so. I tried the hot wings (8 of 10), the roasted potatoes (9 of 10) and the BBQ Ribs (10 0f 10!) I'm stuffed, so we head to the room for some naughty time. Our beds were turned down with a mint on the pillow. No world famous towel animals. A basket of goodies was left. ( a razor, some shampoo, some soap, some Tylenol) I cant believe my wife and I are finally alone. Oh yeah. KNOCK KNOCK....."what mom?" Mother: "What time do you want me to get you up?" Uggghhh HINT #1 Pretend you are not in the room when your mom knocks on the door at 1:30AM! DAY 2 10-15-02 FUN DAY AT SEA BREAKFAST We slept through the Dining room breakfast and went to the grill for the breakfast buffet. I tried the eggs, sausage, bacon, and hash browns (all together a 6 0f 10, the hash browns only get a 3 of 10) GAMES IN THE LOUNGE/ SHORE TOUR SEMINAR They played trivia in the lounge. This was kind of boring and people were cheating everywhere. Really unorganized. The assistant cruise director Dominica is great! Our Cruise Director AJ came out and started the Excursion talk. He advised everyone to take a tour in Belize. He went over the main tours and told us what to expect. This lasted about a hour....BORING. You can buy your excursions on Funvision in your cabin if you can figure it out. HINT #2 THE SHORE EXCURSION SEMINAR IS A WASTE OF TIME TO SEE LIVE, IT WILL BE ON TV ALL WEEK LONG CONTINUOUSLY LUNCH TIME We went and had the pizza. (9 of 10) Very good and quick. We stopped at the pool side bar and bought a SODA CARD $24.95. This entitles one person to a shot glass full of coke whenever you want. That's about the truth. You can use them anywhere but if you use one of the waiters they will roll they're eyes and take forever to get it. Kind of a hassle. Would be great if you had kids! THE TOPLESS DECK So my wife and I are looking for a place to lay out and cant find a lounger. We then pass a set of stairs that says adults only. We go up and discover the topless deck. I had no problem getting topless nor did my wife. There are way too many single men walking around on this deck. Perverts. Yeah, like we really believe your are lost. Plenty of loungers for everyone. People are very nice. It was very windy. I had my shirt off for 15 minutes without sunscreen.........HINT #3 WEAR SUNSCREEN! YOU MAY BURN! That hurt. THE SURVIVOR GAME We went to the dynasty lounge to watch SURVIVOR carnival style. They chose 10 people from a drawing and they were invited on stage and put in 2 teams of 5. They then played games for immunity. The host asked each player what they did and where they're from. One guy worked for Carnival! Some lady named Sue was wearing a bikini top. ooohhh la la. Some dude named Larry won. It was funny. BINGO I played bingo...I lost. FORMAL DINNER We didn't go. Were not into that kind of stuff. The hallways are packed and you can hardly walk. Everywhere you turn they are taking pictures. We decided to go to the room to get out of the way. If you don't get dressed up YOU WILL FEEL INFERIOR! I make good money and live very comfortably but if you put someone in a tuxedo beside a man in Bermuda shorts, they do treat you like a peasant. Some people have real ego problems. DINNER We went to the buffet (surprise!) and tried some stuff. They had veal stroganoff which I didn't try (see hint #4) I had some kind of pasta (5 of 10) and some potatoes (8 of 10). There were 8 people in our party, 6 had the veal (neither my wife nor I ate it). They all got diarrhea. LOL Mary and I were fine. HINT #4 DO NOT EAT THE VEAL STROGANOFF UNLESS YOU HAVE A LOT OF TIME AND SOMETHING TO READ LATER THAT NIGHT THE MAIN SHOW- IMAGINE IT We had to sit in the top balcony. The drink service was pretty good however the Margaritas were weak. My wife ordered a Miami Vice which is a pina colda, daiquiri mix. We used the coke card a gain and it took forever. The show was ok. The lead singer was named SUSAN...sound familiar? She was in the Survivor game earlier. CARNIVAL should prohibit employees from playing the games. This show was ok (6 of 10) About half way through the show a Russian couple came out and did a dance type thing. The woman was very flexible and they were amazing! (10 of 10 for the dancing Russians) We left the show and went to the casino. HINT # 5 GET TO THE SHOW 1 HOUR OR EARLIER TO GET A GOOD SEAT CASINO I'm not a big gambler. My wife headed to the nickel slots and lost a quick $10. I stood waiting to get a seat at a blackjack table but a seat never came up. There are probably 20 tables in the casino, maybe half were open oh well. THE EDDY CAPONE R RATED SHOW (R Rated Review) We went to the Xanadu lounge and got a front row seat to the Eddy Capone show (10 0f 10). The had a warning announcement before the show about the foul language. How bad could it be? Eddy Capone came out and immediately started to single out people in the crowd and made fun of them (including me) He said, "smile you f*ck face. He was very vulgar and very, very funny. There was an elderly couple in the front row who spoke no English. He gave them a very hard time and they had no idea what he was saying. Funny. Near the end he asked the men what they call they're penis. Some of the names were Elvis, Johnson, Woody, Big Boy, Willy etc..................then he asked the ladies what they call they're spouses penis, then some lady said, " I don't call it....it just comes" WOW! That was a good one. Eddie ended the show by singing Good Bless the USA. I had 7 Fuzzy Navals and a few beers. visit Eddie at godfatherofcomedy.com HINT #6 GO SEE EDDY CAPONE! HE IS VERY FUNNY! IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE DO NOT GO! HE WILL MAKE FUN OF YOU. NO ONE IS SAFE! BUFFET Ok....I know you're saying you just ate. We got to the buffet and had...get this, PRIME RIB! Oh yeah(10 0f 10) BEDTIME We went back to the room and got our first towel animal, a frog. The beds were turned down and a mint on the pillow. Good Nite! WEDNESDAY 10-16-02 PORT BELIZE CITY, BELIZE MORNING Knock Knock....My mother again. She said to get up. We did and looked out our window and saw a beautiful view of the waters around Belize. Naughty Time (9 of 10). Shower (fits 2 people by the way) We ordered room service the night before for this morning. They wheeled it in early. A Bagel and a milk. (4 of 10) A mans gotta eat. BREAKFAST We went to the breakfast buffet. The bagel just didn't do it. Same thing as yesterday. I tried an omelet which was pretty good (8 of 10). The announcement came over the intercom that the ship was cleared and you needed to meet with your excursion host in the designated spot. GULF CAY SNORKELING We had to meet in the Dynasty lounge at 9:45. They exited row by row to get on the tenders. The front row goes first. HINT #7 SIT IN THE 1ST ROW AND LEAVE FIRST FOR THE TENDERS. We went down the steps to get on the tender. Make sure you have ID and sail and sign card ready. We got on the tender and which fit around 30 people. Carnival says it is a 40 minute ride to the Gulf Caye snorkeling excursion, the tender ride was around 15 minutes and was worth the price of the excursion itself. We got to the Caye and had to wade to shore or you can stay on the boat and they will take you to deeper waters. HINT #8 WEAR SWIM SHOES BECAUSE THE ROCKS ARE SHARP, ALSO BRING TOWELS (CARNIVAL PROVIDED), SUNSCREEN, WATERPROOF CAMERA, A HAT, SUNGLASSES AND CASH The island they take you to would fit easily inside the Dynasty lounge. The waters are crystal clear and they are no waves. They have a small hut set up where you can buy souvenirs from Belize. HINT #9 SOUVENIRS WERE CHEAPER HERE THAN IN BELIZE CITY. They also have a hotdog stand that sells food and beer. A beer and hotdog is $5. The Belize beer is called BELIKIN and it is good. HINT # 10 TRY BELIKIN BEER, TASTES A LOT LIKE HEINEKEN. Ok here is what sucked about this excursion. Here you are sitting on this little island with crystal clear waters. They have porta potties set up in case you ate the veal yesterday (see hint #4) which are pretty clean. There are also people from Norwegian Cruise lines on the beach with you and guess what.....while you are eating a $3 hotdog they are eating a catered lunch that Norwegian Cruise Lines provided. BBQ Chicken, potato salad etc. That was a let down. They also had free water and free RUM PUNCH! They were also provided chairs...we set on the hot sand. So were setting on this beautiful beach and this weird looking boat pulls up. It looked like a hut with lawn chairs and lots of shade. It was the N.C.L's bathrooms with flushable toilets and loungers! UGGHHHH All in all the island was beautiful (9 of 10) and the beer was great (9 of 10). Carnival needs to cater a lunch or at least a picnic lunch. This is a very good excursion of you want to see some beautiful water do some snorkeling and see some fish and the reef. I give it a strong 9 of 10. The boat ride gets a 10 of 10 and the guides get a 10 of 10. They were very funny and gave us a history lesson on Belize. TENDERING BACK TO IMAGINATION AND TO BELIZE CITY We took the tender back to the ship and changed clothes. We took another tender to Belize City. This ride took about 15 minutes (Carnival claimed it took 45 minutes) and you can get some great pictures of the Imagination. We arrived to the shore and got off the tender. There are around 30 shops right on the dock in the visitor area. You can buy many Belizean artifacts. Lots of carved wood items and jewelry. The people are not pushy at all. HINT # 11 DON'T PAY FULL PRICE...THESE PEOPLE ARE EASY TO HAGGLE DOWN. I TALKED A GUY DOWN ON A HAND CARVED PIPE FROM $65 TO $30. THEY NEED THE MONEY The shops are crowded so be careful. You break, you buy. There is a pharmacy in port and you can buy drugs without a prescription. Some stuff was 70% cheaper than US prices. Viagra is $6 a pill. You cant get it up here for that price (no pun intended) Wanna try some ethnic food? Try Taco Creole in the plaza on port. A taco (which is half the size of a taco bell taco) cost $2 but they are hotter than hell! Also try the nachos at the internet cafe. HINT #12 TRY THE NACHOS AT THE INTERNET CAFE, $3 GETS YOU A BUNCH OF FRESH WARM TORTILLA CHIPS AND SOME REALLY FRESH HOT CHEESE You can see all the shops in about and hour. There are quite a few people performing on the street. You can see Belize City from the port. It is very poor and looks like hell. The people are very friendly. We got back on the tender and headed back to the ship at 3:00PM. The last tender leaves at 4:15 and they will leave you. HINT #13 MAKE IT BACK TO THE SHIP ON TIME OR YOU WILL BE LEFT BEHIND BACK TO THE SHIP We got back to the ship and ordered room service. I had a ham sandwich (9 of 10) and some milk. I took a nap till 5:00 and was awaken by my mother. We showered and got ready for dinner at 6:15 (too early) HINT #14 TIP THE ROOM SERVICE PEOPLE, THEY DO A GREAT JOB OTHER SHORE TOURS Ok, We only went on the Gulf Caye Snorkeling Tour so Imp only giving you hear say. Some people we were with went on other tours and this is what we were told. HORSEBACK RIDING- We were told it was long, painful and hot. They said a person who has never rode a horse may want to skip this. Great views of the jungle. Good food at the end. WARNING- The people on this tour had to run back to make the last tender to the ship! CAVE TUBING- The most popular tour. We were told it was really pretty and a lot of fun. But you have to be in relatively good shape. They said the bus ride was horrible then you have to walk through the rain forest. They had a good time but also had to hurry to the last tender and had no time to shop. BELIZE CITY TOUR- They said this was a humbling experience. Its not everyday you see this much poverty. It could be a life changing tour or it could be a 3 hour waste of time. RIVERBOAT RIDES- The most I heard was its ok. RUIN TOURS- We were told it was pretty good but you have to like that kind of stuff. Long ride on crowded bus. SHARK RAY ALLEY- Deep water snorkeling. They said that its not what you think. They said its better in the Caymans. NO TOUR- Ride the tender, shop, go back to the ship. If you want to shop do this but DO NOT GO INTO THE CITY! DINNER- PRIDE EARLY SEATING Our waitress welcomed us back and briefly asked about Belize. Han filled my water glass and after 3 days the beverage person finally showed their face. It was this cute lil' oriental girl. Mary ordered a coke with her SODA CARD and 10 minutes later she had a coke. The girl read her name off the card and began to call her Miss Mary. Mary liked that. I had the duck starter and the Roast Chicken main course. The duck was horrible (1 of 10) ,it tasted like raw bacon (which is probably at least a 2 of 10). The roasted chicken was really good (9 of 10) and came with some potatoes. Mary had a tenderloin. It was the size of a quarter. She had to order chicken also just to have something to eat. Dessert was apple pie for most, I had mud river cake which was a piece of white cake sitting in chocolate milk (3 of 10). The maiter de was ok. He walked around and talked to all the tables except ours...very disappointing. HINT #15 IF THE MAITER DE FORGETS TO ACKNOWLEDGE YOU, FORGET TO TIP HIM MAIN SHOW- MAGIC We pretty much ran to the main show. In front of the Dynasty Lounge the are many little shops including a duty free liquor store. They had a table set up and were giving away free shots of liquor that you can buy. I was in line and the crowd was huge. There was some pushing and shoving and then some A-Hole knocked the free liquor table over busting several bottles of rum. They ruined it for everyone. The show started and the magician came out. He was pretty good, he did some cool card tricks and used the audience a few times. He had some assistants wearing thongs (10 of 10 for the thongs) that I was more than happy with. The magic show was good (7 0f 10) but could have been better. After that show a comedian came out. I think his name was Kenny Something? He was funny and did a G Rated show. He played some guitar and did a song or two. That show was a (7 0f 10). I went and walked around a bit with my beautiful wife. We went to the front of the ship and watched the ship cut through the waters in the moonlight. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever saw (10 of 10) Only one thing could make this night anymore special......not naughty time but.....HINT #16 GET THERE EARLY FOR A GOOD SEAT ...MIDNIGHT BUFFET We headed to the buffet and had some steak and roasted potatoes. (7 of 10) BEDTIME We decided to go back to the room and skip the Lido Deck party which I heard was boring. The beds were turned down and we had a towel pig on our bed. I fell asleep immediately. THURSDAY- FUN DAY AT SEA 10-17-02 BREAKFAST We grabbed breakfast at the buffet and I discovered the fence toast is really good (9 0f 10) The service was descent. SHOPPING TALK We went to the dynasty lounge and sit through another boring talk on what to buy and where to buy it at Key West. This lasted about and hour. HINT # 17 SIT NEAR THE FRONT BECAUSE THIS GUY GIVES OUT FREE STUFF He throws out T-shirts, necklaces, rum cakes (I got a rum cake) and other crap. You can also watch this on TV all week long. WASTING TIME- HAIRY CHEST CONTEST/ ICE SCULPTURE We walked around for a while and stumbled upon a hairy chest contest on Lido deck. They take 6 guys and they get shirtless. They then pick a woman to judge. All of these men we hideous. HINT #18 DO NOT EAT BEFORE WATCHING THIS SHOW AS IT COULD BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH They should call it the hairy back contest. The men had to dance over to the lady and use a pick up line. Some nasty looking dude won with a lame pickup line like "Do you cruise here often?" I preferred "hey baby wanna ride on my fun ship?" They had an ice sculpture demonstration here too. Kind of boring (5 of 10) but worth seeing. We laid in the sun for a while then got in the hot tub. We met one of the Survivor contestants from Boston. She was nice. There was an older couple in the tub and the man was picking dead skin off his wife and releasing it into the tub! HINT #19 IF SOMEONE IS PICKING OFF DEAD SKIN INTO THE HOT TUB, SMACK THEM VERY HARD BACK TO THE CASINO We headed to the casino and played roulette. I lost a quick $20. THE GALLEY TOUR- KITCHEN FOR YE' LAND FOLKS If you've been in a restaurant kitchen you've been in the ships kitchen. (4 of 10) THE LOVE QUIZ AND THE NEWLYWED GAME We got to the Dynasty Lounge late but we sit with our new friends from Boston. The love quiz (5 of 10) was pretty funny. I, of course, lost. I mean what kind of man is escorted by his mom on his 5th wedding anniversary cruise. The winner got a bottle of champagne. The winner was Janet, our cruise critic pal! For the newlywed game they took the couple who was married the longest( which was 61 years) the youngest marriage (3 days) and the middle, Buddy and Janet again (they must pay off someone to get picked all the time) they were married 30 some years. This old couple was so funny. He didn't understand any of the questions. The last question was "If your we stranded on a island, who would you'd rather have...a missionary or a hooker?" The old man answered, "A hooker in the missionary position!" They all won champagne DINNER- PRIDE EARLY SEATING We get there and have a seat. The lil' beverage girl automatically brought Mary a drink and called her Miss Masy again. I had the chicken tortilla starter(6 of 10), a salad (6 of 10) and some beef thing(6 of 10) Desert was a cake with thick icing(9 of 10) The waiters and kitchen staff started a conga line around the dining room. It was really cool. MAIN SHOW- BEE BOP We ran like the wind and got a pretty good seat. This was the best show yet(10 of 10) They played hits from the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's. Many costume changes and lots of pyro and lasers. I would skip dinner to get a good seat at this show! HINT #20 GET A GOOD SEAT EARLY TO THIS SHOW....BY FAR THE BEST SHOW By this time the bar staff knew our favorite drinks. VIDEO DIARY I heard there was a video diary team on board but we never saw them. What a disappointment. My wife and I had our camera so we took it around and filmed the ship. WASTING TIME We wasted some time on the lido deck and listened to the Caribbean sounds of the band 'Ocean" (9 of 10) They were good. We then walked down to the promenade to hear this rock band that was supposed to play at 10:30. They we horrible. They called themselves rock but all they played was Barbara Streisand and Tony Bennett. HINT #21 SKIP THE "ROCK BAND" LATE NIGHT COMEDY WITH KENNY SOMETHING? We got there early and set in the front row again. We once again got the warning about the language. This guy was very funny (10 of 10) and also made fun of people and what they were drinking. He also played some tunes. HINT #22 SIT IN THE FRONT IF YOU WANT INVOLVED IN THE SHOW BUFFET As usual. Same old same old. Went for pizza also. Damn good this time (9 of 10) BEDTIME On the way to bed we stopped at the front of the ship again. It was so windy you couldn't stand up. We got back to the room and had a towel elephant. We then laid in bed and watching "Like Mike" starring the wonderful, oscar winning actor Lil Bow Wow...LOL.....actually a cute movie. FRIDAY- PORT KEY WEST, FL 10-18-02 MORNING- Naughty time. BREAKFAST- Guess where we went? Buffet! Had the French toast again (10 of 10) That's good stuff. GETTING OFF THE SHIP We didn't get an excursion for Key West because we just wanted to shop. If you were not a US citizen you had to be in the Dynasty Lounge at 7:30 for immigration so they could clear the ship and we could get off. Some moron named Isabella in cabin u60 (they announced it 50 times) was late. We were finally cleared at 9:15 and some people were late for their excursions. Thanks Isabella, America already despises you. HINT #23 LEARN ENGLISH BEFORE YOU COME ON BOARD IF YOU ARE FOREIGN We finally got off after standing in a long line. Took about an hour. We road a trolley to downtown and shopped a while. Carnival was selling trolley excursions that toured all of key west in a hour for $29 on board. They are 1.5 hours if you buy them on shore and only $20 HINT #24 BUY YOU'RE KEY WEST TROLLEY TOUR ON BOARD...TAKE THE CONCH TRAIN TOUR You get to see all the sites on this and the guides are very knowledgeable and friendly. We tried to go to Sloppy Joes for lunch but the place was packed. The Bull was also crowded but the had an Elvis Impersonator. We ate at Burger King. We made it back to the ship around 3:00 and customs searched our trolley. I got t all on video. DISEMBARK TALK We went to this talk and it sucked. AJ was funny but it just made people aware that your vacation was almost over. A real downer. DINNER- PRIDE EARLY SEATING Prime Rib and baked potato (10 of 10) and some kind of pudding for dessert. All the staff got together and sang GOD BLESS THE USA. Very touching. HINT #25 TIP YOUR WAITRESS AND STAFF EXTRA IF THEY DID A GOOD JOB MAIN SHOW- TALENT SHOW This was really good. The 1st guy did some Willie Nelson, some lady did opera, a guy played harmonica, someone did Perry Cuomo, some dude did a sing a long, another lady did Streisand (ugggh) and then these two ladies got up and did a horrific Whitney Houston...they knew it was bad...they were laughing." I believe our children are the future...." GAME SHOW and BINGO I lost at bingo...again and they did the game show again. LATE NIGHT COMEDY- X RATED They had some guy come in to do late nite comedy again. He was a long haired dude and he did some magic. It was horrible. He should be fired. I didn't laugh once and most of the people walked out. All he did was f*ck every other word and laugh at his own jokes. HINT # 26 IF THIS LONG HAIRED GUY IS THEIR WATCH IT BECAUSE YOU CAN TELL YOUR FRIENDS YOU SAW THE WORST COMIC EVER BUFFET- Chinese food or something (2 of 10) Didn't look good at all. BEDTIME- HAPPY ANNIVERSARY Do I even have to tell you. Actually you have to pack your crap and leave it in the hallway. Make sure you leave out some clothes for Saturday, your ID and sail and sign card. Naughty time. SATURDAY- PORT MIAMI 10-19-02 Got ready and went to the breakfast buffet. They could have something different on the buffet just once. But as always, I had the French toast. We heard an announcement saying that our cabins could get off the ship. LEAVING THE SHIP Make sure you have your sail and sign card and your customs declaration page ready. We found our luggage and drug it out. Lots of rude people pushing and shoving. We made it off the ship in about 20 minutes and got on the bus to the airport. HINT #26 WATCH THEM PUT YOUR LUGGAGE ON THE BUS Some lady lost a garment bag with a cocktail dress and a tux because she didn't do this. Bus ride to the airport takes 20 minutes. Took about 30 minutes to check our luggage. Our flight didn't leave until 7:00 PM so we shopped and walked around. Well people that's it. I was as detailed as I could be. I hope you enjoyed. If you have any questions or comments write me at c21vance@aol.com. I would love to hear from anyone. I am going to book another cruise for the spring this week. Bo & Mary Vance Hurricane, WV

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Aug 23, 2002

Grand Cayman, Jamaica

We'll probably never cruise again. It felt like a cheap, tacky version of Las Vegas and certainly not the "something for every taste" that their brochure promised (e.g. 3 orchestras/ dance classes, classical music). Even the boat itself looked like a tacky '70s disco with gaudy neon lights everywhere and a generally smoky, dismal ambience to it. Probably we should have done more research but we were in a hurry to book a vacation

and everyone we met assured us that cruising would be something that we'd love. If you don't drink much, gambol, enjoy comedy/magic/"Vegas" style entertainment, disco, shop or hang out at fitness and beauty parlors then you will hate this experience. The pools aren't inviting with 3000 people trying to use tiny little pool spaces and were too deep for my kids to feel confident in. Yes, we could read books but then I don't need to spend 3 grand for that. Actually, we would have done better staying home, finding our own entertainment, babysitting and restaurants. I know I should have appreciated the free child care but my kids didn't like it that much and when we did sign them up it always felt like we had to always be somewhere at some time and never relaxing (most of our 'alone' time we seemed to be rushing round doing errands or standing in the information line etc; or getting ready for dinner before our seating time was over. I hate having to be at the right place at the right time on vacation and much prefer a relaxed ambience where we choose when to eat, where to go and what to do. This vacation felt too much like hard work. The only time I finally got to read my book was on the return flight. I do have to admit that we did have a sick child with us at the time but even despite that I don't think we'd have enjoyed it much more had just my husband and I been there by ourselves. Having read other people's reviews I also dislike the tipping part. First, we only found out about it a couple of weeks before our trip and did feel that paying an extra $50 a day should have been mentioned at the time of booking. But the other thing I noticed was that there were hardly any Americans on the staff - at least the lower paid service staff. That did disturb me somewhat and make me wonder if Carnival doesn't enforce a semi-slave labor which most Americans wouldn't tolerate. I had to wonder how comfortable the restaurant staff were when made to sing God Bless America when some came from nations not particularly in love with the USA. Anyway, we didn't reduce our suggested automatic tip because we felt the crew and staff did try to be as pleasant and amenable as possible and didn't get much pay for it. However, at the final breakfast, our waitress seemed openly hostile and didn't even bother to make sure we had what we needed or ordered as though we'd let her down by not increasing her tip. Is this another convention I don't know about? In terms of past travel experience we have rented cottages in England, spent romantic, lazy days on the Mexican Riviera, visited Australia, Morocco, France, Holland, camped at Yellowstone and rented cabins at Mammoth Cave National park. We like classical music, Broadway, *good* comedy acts, interesting shows, opera, ballet, ballroom dancing, biking, hiking (as much as 3 kids will allow!) and visiting beautiful and historically significant places. I'm 36, my husband is 44 and we have 3 kids, 5, 7 and 11. Of all the vacations we've ever taken this is by far the worst experience we've ever

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Aug 11, 2002

Western Caribbean

Embarkation: Getting on the bus from the airport was a bit hectic. We were suppose to be the first ones on, and all of the sudden there were tons of people cutting in line. I did not like the way they handled it. We were the first to arrive at the airport(8:00 am) and almost didn't get on the first bus. Getting on the ship was a little hectic also, you had to have your birth certificate out when you got off the bus in the middle of the

parking lot. I did not care for that, being such a important document. Once we got inside the building the line did seem to move fast, and we got on the ship about 12:30. Room: We had a ocean view on the main deck. It was very nice, lots of space. Plenty of closet and drawer space. Our room attendant did a great job, towel animals and all! The bathroom was good size. Our room was ready when we got on ship, which was nice. Our past cruise on Disney our room wasn't ready and had to cart our carry on around with us. Food: The food was great, from the dining room to the buffet. We really enjoyed the pizza, very good. Went to one midnight buffet. It was very neat, but the food wasn't all that special. But definitely worth staying up for once. They make all kinds of things out of fruit and veggies! Ice sculpture was very neat also. Smoking: This is one thing we didn't like at all. People smoked all over the ship. The only place they can't smoke is in the dining rooms and shows. Entertainment: We went to two shows. The first one B-Bop was really good. We didn't care for Imagine It as much. But they were both good. Excursions: We went on the Sub-Ocean View in Cozumel. We enjoyed it very much, although they had way to many people on the boat. We were packed in like sardines! I believe they had 15 to many people on. There were only suppose to be 44 people, I believe there were a lot more than that. Debarkation: Getting off was pretty easy. They call your luggage tag color and then you can get off. Ours was the last one! We really enjoyed the cruise, check out the art auctions. They have some really good prices on art, and we didn't have any problem with anyone bidding against us! It was very interesting, we learned a lot. I would recommend it to anyone, we really had a good time. The service was really good and we are gonna book another one come February or March. It is VERY HOT in August, so if you don't like being hot, go another time!

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May 17, 2002

Grand Cayman, Ocho Rios

This was my 15th cruise, 6th on Carnival, and second time on the Imagination. It was my husband Chuck's first time on this ship, and 14th cruise. We are 43 and 56 and live in the Chicago suburbs. We booked this cruise less than 3 weeks before sailing, as Chuck had been working a lot of overtime and felt like he needed to get away before our next booked cruise in November. Although we could have chosen another ship and/or cruise line, some

friends of ours were getting married on this sailing and we decided to surprise them. Our documents arrived just one week after we booked and although the air from Chicago to Miami was a bit higher than what we usually pay, it was not unreasonable. We arrived at the Miami airport at about 10am and were at the port before 11. As we walked in, we were asked if we were part of the wedding party, and I explained that we were there to surprise the bride and groom. Regardless, we were escorted to a special check in room for the wedding guests. As we were waiting to check in, the groom spotted us, with a somewhat surprised look on his face. He told us that his wife to be had a suspicion that we might show up, but wasn't sure. She didn't see us for awhile, despite walking past us twice! After we checked in, I snuck up behind her and asked if she was having a rough morning. I had already heard that they had a few mishaps that day, and knew she was kind of frazzled. Yes, she was surprised, as she thought that if we were to come to the wedding, we would have shown up the night before. The previous cruise did not disembark as planned, as we later found out that 3 or 4 people were unaccounted for and the INS would not clear the ship. I think we finally got onboard at about 12:30, much later than the wedding party had planned, as the ceremony was supposed to take place at 1pm. Carnival moved back the wedding for them, to 1:15. We had just enough time to check out our cabin, M39, outside on main deck forward, and go upstairs to the Lido deck for a quick lunch. The buffet was plentiful and the salad bar, my favorite. After eating, we went to the Shang Ri La lounge for the wedding. There were about 43 family members and friends present, and us. Although the bride showed up a little late, the wedding was pulled off without a hitch, and was beautiful. The bride wore a light colored Hawaiian dress with flowers down the side, and the groom wore a matching Hawaiian shirt with white slacks. The groomsmen and bridesmaids wore the same, with a black background. They all looked great! A small reception was held afterwards with canapés and drinks. In my opinion, Carnival did a great job organizing this wedding. After the reception, Chuck went to take a nap, and I took off to re-familiarize myself with the ship and try to change our dining assignment from 8:30 to 8:00. The maitre de told us that we would be on a waiting list and if they could change us, we would be sent a note the next day. This never happened :( I had seen it all when it was finally time for the muster drill. Our muster station was in the Dynasty show lounge, along with many others, and I have to say that this was the WORST muster drill I have ever attended. After waiting a long time for the thing to even start, we were then taken up to our actual lifeboat station. We waited there too, in the heat, wearing our life jackets. I think the whole drill took almost 40 minutes, nearly twice the time it usually takes. Sailaway was uneventful, as I had left the port of Miami many times in the past couple years, but we went out on deck anyway to finally realize that we were on vacation. After sailaway, we unpacked our luggage, which had actually arrived before the muster drill. I headed up to the sushi bar myself, while Chuck stayed in the cabin to relax. We had left our house at 4am that morning, and he was just too tired to walk around. The sushi bar is open from 5:30-8:30, each night, and the sushi, though not raw, was very good, as was the hot sake. Rather than give a detailed diary of our cruise, I will break down the rest of this review in to sections. Dining room: We were seated at table 175 in the Pride dining room, at the second late seating, 8:30. We would have preferred that this be changed to 8pm in the Spirit dining room, but this was just not to be. Our table for 10 was near the front, next to the Captain's table, which was only seated one night, with the purser's staff. There was a piano player each night, just in front of the Captain's table as well, and the music was soothing. Our tablemates were *probably* chosen for their proximity in ages to us, but we had absolutely nothing in common with any of them. This was the first time we ever cruised, where we dreaded going in to the dining room each night. Yes, I know that we could have asked for a table change, but honestly, I didn't think about it till 2 days later, and I thought that things would improve. Normally, Chuck and I are pretty chatty at dinner, but after the first night of introductions, our whole table was silent. Our team head waiter was Royston, and the waiter, Alina. Both were wonderful at their jobs and addressed us by name each day, and remembered all of our preferences. Our water glasses and iced teas were constantly being refilled, and the service overall was excellent. I had a couple bottles of wine which were always on the table when we sat down each night, and only once did I have to pour a glass for myself. Because of the tension at the table, and the fact that I don't eat many sweets, Chuck and I politely excused ourselves before dessert on most nights, and did not see any of the *song and dance* waiter shows. Dining room food: The food in the dining room, at breakfast was just ok. The eggs benedict were a bit dry for my taste, and when I requested extra hollandaise sauce, I was steered away from it by Alina, who told me that it was not even warm. The poached eggs on toast were better, and the bacon was served crisp, as we asked for it well done. We did not eat any lunches in the dining room, but had all dinners there. I normally find the food on Carnival to be quite good, for as many people they're serving, and there was no exception here. I did not have a bad meal, and would rate the quality of their dishes high. All meats were served as ordered, all soups were served hot, and there were many things to choose from. My only complaint would probably be that they seemed to serve broccoli with almost every meal. I love broccoli, but would have liked to see a bit more variety in their vegetable selections. The only dessert I ate all week was the Grand Marnier soufflé, and it was cooked perfectly, and delicious. As a side note, cappuccino and espresso are still served at no charge in the dining room. Horizon court: We ate at the buffet, grill, and pizzeria for a couple breakfasts and lunches. The food was plentiful and good for buffet style. There was always a fresh pasta at lunch, and the salad bar has all the toppings you could ask for. We never had to wait for the pizza of our choice at the pizzeria, and it was always hot and tasty. At breakfast, you could order omelets made to order, fresh eggs, or choose from French toast, pancakes, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, and other breakfast goodies. Unfortunately, no lox though. The grill served up hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken sandwiches, and GREAT French fries. Overall, I felt that the selection and quality of the food here was very good. Our cabin: I had booked a 6A guarantee, less than 3 weeks before sailing, and was upgraded to a 6B, one deck higher. Although I had heard many complaints of dirty windows, ours was clean throughout the trip. The cabin was of ample size, with more than enough storage for 2 people. The bathroom was large, for cruise standards, especially the shower. We were supplied with all the soap we needed, and a basket of samples that included disposable razors, shampoo, body wash, Tylenol pm, mints, facial cleanser, and some sort of hairspray. I never did see a hair dryer in the room, but I don't use one anyway, so it didn't matter. Our cabin steward, Rigoberto did his job well, cleaning the room twice daily, and refilling the two ice buckets we had in there each time. He also made towel animals each night, after the first. If we needed something, we would leave a post it note on the mirror, and he took care of it immediately. Don't forget to ask for a king size sheet on the bed, on the first night. There are not enough for everyone, and if you don't ask right away, your beds will be made up as 2 twins, even if put together. Although we prefer a balcony cabin, this outside was quite comfortable for us, for the 5 night trip. Entertainment: We opted against going to the production shows, but did see most of the others. The magician, Alex Romanov, was EXCELLENT, and the comedian, Kenny King, was hysterical. At first, he reminded me of Carrot top, and I thought the show would be lame, but I was laughing till I cried. My only regret is missing his midnight *R* rated show that night. The other shows we did see were good, but not as memorable. Overall, we were very pleased with the offerings. Poolside: Despite not so perfect weather (it was cloudy and rainy for the bulk of our sea days), there were still the dreaded chair savers. On the first sea day, it appeared that things might clear up, and after breakfast, Chuck and I took a couple chairs near the main pool, at about 9am. At this point, several chairs around the pool had already been *marked*, but plenty were still available. At 10am, a woman came to stake her claim... 8 chairs! Since we had no plans to go anywhere, I was curious as to when these people would show up again. (these chairs were right behind us). The first woman came back at noon with her husband, another 2 at about 1:00, and the final 4 didn't show up till 2pm!!! I've seen this on other ships, and cruise lines, so I wasn't surprised, but I was slightly infuriated that security didn't notice the empty seats for so long. Security DID however, enforce the no children rule in the hot tubs surrounding the main pool, at all times. Also, the slide was open almost the whole day on sea days, and even often on port days. Some things good, some things bad. The casino and Ocean Players Club: The casino on this ship is quite large. There are plenty of blackjack tables, a 3 card poker table, specialty blackjack, caribbean stud, and caribbean draw. There is also at least one craps table and a roulette table, not to mention the many slot machines and VP available. As an Ocean Player's Club member, I was treated quite well. You can join the club for no fee, and all points accumulated are paid in cash back on your next cruise. If you notify them before you sail, you are in for a treat. Since my cruise was sold out before sailing, I was not able to get any additional upgrades, but we did have our cabin decorated, a bon voyage cake, a large fruit basket with nuts, cheese, and wine, 2 key chains, and 2 large bottles of Evian. All of this was in our cabin when we embarked. I also brought along with me my letter of credit from our last Carnival cruise, which gave me some cash to start playing with. In the casino, I knew that the OPC office had called ahead, as once one person heard my name, EVERYONE knew me. I was treated like a VIP, and it was great. Rosie, the casino manager, remembered me from my Spirit cruise last November, and the rest of the staff were just amazing. I'd like to thank Malou, especially, for her wonderful service. Even when you're losing, ESPECIALLY when you're losing, it's a comfort to have such wonderful people cheering you on. Kudos to the whole casino staff on the Imagination! I had a great time :) Pursers desk and excursion staff: I didn't have to deal much with the *information desk*, except when we lost some items purchased in Jamaica, believed to fallen out of our bag in the x ray machine. Although I checked twice, we believe that these things were probably picked up by another passenger, as they never showed up in lost and found. Either way, the pursers were quite friendly and eager to check for us, a few times. As for shore excursion help, we had previously had a problem with a shore excursion on an earlier cruise, and supposed to get a free shore excursion (up to $32 ea) on this one. We approached the shore excursion desk on the first day, and dealt with Peter Anderson. We explained the problem and showed him the letter we received from Carnival. He told us that he had already booked us on a tour, but unfortunately, it was not the tour we wanted. We explained the problem and he corrected it immediately, sending us tickets for our chosen tour, by early the next morning. THIS is customer service. Even though the tour we had chosen was a few dollars more than the one they originally gave us, AND we offered to pay the difference, Peter would not allow this, and gave us our tour at no additional cost. Thank you, Peter, and Carnival :) Next... ports and shore excursions... Ports: Grand Cayman: As I mentioned previously, we opted for the Stingray Sandbar tour, which was on the house, due to a previous tour problem on another ship. Although I was leary, hearing that this particular ship's tour often has as many as 100 people on it, I was quite surprised that our boat to Stingray City, the Sundancer, had less than 50 people aboard. I had done this trip back in January, with Port Promotions, but my husband had never experienced the Stingrays before. Needless to say, he loved it, and I was much more comfortable with these gentle creatures than I was the last time. After the tour, we stopped in town to purchase a rum cake, a hat, and nothing more. In my opinion, the prices in Grand Cayman are high for most items. We went back to the ship and were able to enjoy a bit of sun on a very quiet Lido deck. Ocho Rios: A couple years ago, we went to Ocho Rios with our kids, and took a tour with Ionie McBeam (www.ocho-rios.com). We enjoyed ourselves so much, that I recommended her to many people who have since used her as a tour guide. Ionie and I have kept in touch over the last couple years, and we were looking forward to seeing her again. My friend's family, from the wedding, also booked Ionie for the day. Since Ionie was to take them to some places we didn't care to see again (the falls), her husband, Lewis took Chuck and I on a private tour. We went from one end of the city to the other, and stopped at many out of the way places. After touring, we stopped at Soni center to pick up a few things for the kids, and relax a bit. Lewis was to pick us up at a certain time, and either he was late, or we were early, but we still had a bit of time to kill. I decided to look in one more jewelry store window, where I saw the exact same ring I had fallen in love with, in Cozumel, a few years ago. Sure enough, we went in and ended up buying the ring, an early anniversary gift :) After the extravagance, Lewis took us to Bibibips for lunch, where we met up with our friends and their families. This was our second time there, and just as good as the first. After lunch, we went back to the ship to drop off all of our goodies (except my ring, of course), and then it was off to check out Island Village and Margaritaville. The weather wasn't so great, and we did get caught in some rain, but it was a welcome cooling off from the heat and humidity. In my opinion, Island Village was nothing spectacular, but because of the negative publicity that Ocho Rios often gets, I can see it becoming quite a *hot spot*, due to its proximity to the pier. Margaritaville was nice, but we only went in to check it out, and didn't stay. Other than the bar slide, it wasn't much different from any other Margaritaville I had been in. We walked back to the ship, in the rain, and went straight to the cabin to dry off and relax. Another wonderful day :) I'm not sure what else to say, other than a few observations.... The cruise director was Amy Van Wyck. I'm not positive, but her name seemed familiar, and I believe that she was a singer/dancer on a previous cruise I had been on. She wasn't obnoxious, but she wasn't great, either. Announcements were few, and far between. I don't recall ANY announcements about the art auctions or bingo. Security was on the ball, kicking little kids out of the hot tub, all the time. I never saw any drunk teens (or adults), puking anywhere. The ship was clean. Yes, there were stains on the carpet in various places, but I have seen this on all the ships I've been on. At this point, it doesn't bother me. The staff was friendly. I was always greeted by staff members, pleasantly, wherever I was on the ship. The food, overall, was good. I have no complaints. Chair savers are on ALL ships. This was no exception. If you want to go to the midnight comedy show, get there EARLY! We arrived at 11:55 and it was standing room only. People sitting behind where we were standing, got up, and told us that we were blocking their view. The staff onboard are human beings, trying to make a living. Tip them AT LEAST the minimum, and more, if they exceed your expectations. I guess that's it. I'm sure I've forgotten a lot! If anyone has any more questions, feel free to email me at lunyma@aol.com .

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Apr 24, 2002

My husband and I just returned from our cruise on the Imagination. From the time we arrived at the Port of Miami until departed, we both agreed we had a wonderful time. The embarkation went very smoothly and we promptly went to our room washed our hands and went to the Lido deck for lunch. We sat with another couple and relaxed in the sunshine. After lunch we toured the ship and became acquainted with the floors, dining rooms,

etc. From that time on, we were very impressed with the dining room, rooms (very ample in size) and the staff in general. We were glad we requested a ocean view room and found the beds very comfortable. We were a little disturbed with the level we were on as it seemed we were too close to the engine and was noisy at night. The waiter, Nick in the Spirit dining room was excellent. We received excellent service and the food was very good as well. We had lobster, prime rib and escargot. We ate in the dining room, breakfast, lunch, and dinner and did not eat in the lido deck, it was a buffet and we are not buffet people. The 24 hour pizza shop was excellent, the best pizza I have ever eaten. We both enjoyed it. The ports of Key West and Cozumel were nice, my husband is a diver and got to dive in Cozumel. He said it was what he has always dreamed about and better than National Geographic. The room steward was also great, we had an elephant and a bunny made out of towels in our room. The last night, my husband's sneakers were put up close to the bed standing on end with the backs facing outward, like someone was hiding under our beds. We tipped our room steward and waiters extra, even after the tips were added to our Sign and Sail cards. They truly did an excellent job and we felt they deserved it. All the people we talked to did the same. The Imagination was a great ship, clean and very elegant. We enjoyed the food, the service and the entertainment. I also forgot to mention the casino and the entertainment. We certainly did not have a lack of things to do. It was great! I would recommend the cruise to anyone and we are already looking forward to next year's cruise with Carnival.

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Feb 28, 2002

Key West and Cozumel

Just returned from a 4 day cruise with my girlfriends. We had a lovely time aboard the Imagination. I have cruise before but the other 3 had not. We left from Miami on Thursday to be picked up by the pier transfer bus provided by Carnival and taken to the port. (I recommend taking a taxi instead - it's only $18 per trip not passenger and well worth not dealing with the hassle of the bus). It was a fairly smooth check in and went

straight to our cabin. There were four of us traveling and in one cabin. Not too bad. We survived. Because a Navy Ship was in port at Key West they re routed us and we were at sea the first day and then to Cozumel and then to Key West on Sunday. That was really better because the ship didn't arrive in Key West until 1:00 Sunday and otherwise we would have arrived at 7:00 AM and left port at 2:00 PM. Lots to do on board. Whatever your interest is, they have it. Cozumel - take a taxi into town, do not try to walk. Cozumel was very hot. I suggest that you wear lots of sunscreen and wear a hat or visor. If you've never shopped in Mexico-don't buy anything at the price that is first quoted to you. And don't buy the first thing you see. Make your way through the stores you like and then narrow down your choice and go back and negotiate the best deal. Mostly silver jewelry and turquoise are the best buys. But again, don't buy the first thing you see. I would recommend getting your shopping done early and then doing something fun like Carlos and Charlies for the afternoon. (Also don't forget to have a margarita at Panchos Backyard-atmosphere is great) But don't have too much fun, you need to be sure to give yourself enough time to get back to the pier to board the ship - you will need to take a taxi ($5 pp) Key West: Make your way down Whitehead Street for the most scenic view - not very commercial and very beautiful. Hemingway's house is at 907 Whitehead Street. Then after leaving there, cut over to Duval Street - next street over- and then you will have plenty of retail therapy at your disposal. When you get to the 500 block, have another margarita at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, conch fritters and a piece of Key Lime Pie and you will have done all the right things in Key West. If you are into art, this is the place to be. They have lots of beautiful art work and fun things to do. If you are there in the evening, make sure to be at Mallory Square at sunset, it is the most beautiful site you can see. Imagination: The ship as a whole is very nice. Many things to do and fairly pleasant staff. Our cabin Steward, Rohan from St. Vincent was wonderful. He did an exceptional job keeping us straight....with four girls in one room taking at least two showers a day he had is hands full with us and never let us down. Food wasn't great, but wasn't bad. It was just average. Waiter, Larme did a nice job of keeping us full of beverages and food and we sat with very nice people. I'm sure we will all stay in touch. I recommend staying away from beef unless you like it rare to med rare. They tend to overcook and then it is tough. No one won in the casino-that's not so unusual though. Drinks are not very strong. Make sure to scrutinize your bill on the last day, had several mistakes, of course in Carnival's favor. They will fix it if you bring to their attention. Carnival: As they say, you get what you pay for and for what we paid for I would say it was just fine. My only problem throughout the whole trip was embarkation and debarkation of the ship, there has just got to be a better way. I know that as many crew as there are on a ship, they could put more lines in place to get on and off the ship. I spent more time waiting in line than anything else. But I didn't let it ruin my vacation. I probably won't sail on Carnival again personally but my friends will. Happy Sailing to all..... Jessica Wallace

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Jul 22, 2001

Western Caribbean

My husband and I and 3 teenagers left Pittsburgh for Miami and found the Carnival reps right away. After claiming our baggage we had a guy pull our luggage in a cart out to the buses. A very short walk, but they told us we’d need this service because the buses were “so far away”. He then told us he needed $1 per bag “tip”. We could have easily carried our bags ourselves. The bus ride to the ship was short…once again the driver

begged for a tip telling us the gratuity was really not included in the package as we were told. Embarkation went quickly and smoothly and we were off to find our 2 cabins. They were “low and inside” but very clean, relatively large and cool. Lunch was being served on the Lido Deck. The kids almost immediately found other teens to pal around with. They met at the teen room for different activities and were very happy with the fact that they did not have to hang around with us. (We were just as happy!) Teen counselor, Amy, was very professional. We rented 2 walkie talkies ($30 + tip, please) for the 5 days. That was a worthwhile investment so that we could all enjoy a little more freedom. At Grand Cayman we took the early Stingray tour. It rained on the boat on the way out to the sandbar but the stingrays were awesome! I never expected them to be that big! We probably could have saved some $ by getting off the cruise ship and booking a tour ourselves, but it was rather hectic at the port . I was glad to just be led around by someone with a sign. Since we were so wet and had wet towels we didn’t want to shop until we could change. It took a while to take the tender boat back out to the Imagination, change, and get another tender boat back to Grand Cayman. We just had to get a few of those rum cakes!! The next day the boat docked in Calica, Mexico and we decided to take a taxi (4 people per taxi , so we needed 2) at $10 each way, to Playa Del Carmen. There we shopped a bit then headed for the beach. We rented 4 chairs, a table and umbrella for $10 on the beach in front of a bar with a live band. It was great. The water is so blue! We missed dinner that night in the dining room but there is always food somewhere, which we thought was very good. The kids ate at the pizza bar a lot. We were seated in the formal dining room with a family that was similar in ages to ours, and we really enjoyed their company…often seeing them and spending time with them during the day as well. Entertainment was excellent. There were singers, dancers, comedians and a magician. Matt Ross, the cruise director, was great. He’s from Cleveland so we had no trouble understanding him. There was no end to the ways that they would try to get you to part with your money. Art auctions? (oh, please!) video diaries, bingo, photos. However, I did regret not having our pictures taken in black and white at the one photo station. They looked very glamorous. We did not buy any alcoholic drinks on board. We helped ourselves to the free lemonade and iced tea on the Lido deck. We were not told that the tips for the waiters and room steward would be automatically deducted from our credit card. You can look on your TV to see charges that are being added to your bill. It was almost $50 per person for the 5 day cruise. On our last cruise we were given envelopes to tip as you wished. As it turned out, the service was great, and the tips were warranted. Debarkation took awhile as we had the last colored tags to be called. We fell asleep in the Fantasy lounge while we waited. We had no trouble claiming our luggage. The bus driver begged for a tip on the way back to the airport even though our ticket said “gratuity included”. Our plane left at 2 pm for Pittsburgh.

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Jun 24, 2001

Western Caribbean

We left St. Louis early for our first cruise - with great expectations. The flight was great and we noticed Carnival reps right away at the baggage claim in Miami. We then had to carry our bags a LONG way in the heat down a narrow path to some waiting buses. We watched our luggage being heaved into a truck. The bus ride to the ship was pretty quick, but through a “colorful” neighborhood. The lines at embarkation were horrendous. We were

crowded like cattle while the line weaved back and forth for an about an hour. Then all of a sudden we were on the ship - with no one to help. As this was our first cruise, we had no idea where we were. We finally found our cabin - which was very, very small, dingy, dirty and dark. We could not believe it. When booking the trip, we had asked for two cabins as we were a party of five traveling together. We were assured, over and over by Carnival reps, that they had the largest rooms and not to worry - there would be room. Well, that was the first of many misrepresentations. The room was tiny. The shower drained so s l o w l y that there was constantly an inch of water in the bathroom. Our safe did not work. Someone came to "fix" it quickly when we first complained, but it never worked the whole trip. The life boat drill was long, annoying and stupid. We were starving and soon found ourselves at the Horizon Grill. Again, now I know why the name is Carnival Cruise LINES. There was a line everyday, everywhere we went. We noticed a very foul odor in the Horizon Grill immediately. That smell was so thick, you could not eat in there. It smelled as if every "rag" the help used to "clean" the tables had been soaked in sour milk and then placed in the sun to dry. We were not the only ones to notice this smell. It was sickening. The food was mediocre at the Horizon. I purchased a soda drink card - which was a joke. I asked repeatedly for a bottle of diet coke, but they would only give me a glass of soda. And you had to go to a "bar" to get it. After one day, the bartenders remember who have the soda cards and ignore them. More than once, I felt like going behind the bar and getting my own drink. I had heard and read so much about the popularity of the 24 hours pizza service with garlic rolls and Caesar salad. Don't believe it. There was a line always at the pizza bar, but usually no one there to serve you. Pre-baked pizzas sat on trays. When it was my turn, I would try to point to a certain pizza, and the waiter shook his head and gave me a slice of the pizza he had in front of him. I asked repeatedly where the garlic rolls were, or the salad and was answered with blank stares. Communication was a real problem. The pool area was horrible. Absolutely crowded, with every chair and chaise lounge taken. No way to get to the pool. Little kids were everywhere. They were particularly annoying at the elevators where they found pushing every button on every floor fascinating. The exercise room was nice and had lots of equipment. However, two of the treadmills were not working, and one of the bikes was not working. The Spa was fabulous, but expensive. At least I could understand the languages, accents of the staff there. Found myself and family booking several services for 20% off, or free this or that. But, when the bill came, you couldn't tell how much you were getting 20% off of. I had a haircut and a bag full of products for over $100. I told them I didn't all want the products - how much was one or two of them? They never would tell me how much the shampoo was, etc. They try to fast talk you. So be careful, the spa services were great, but watch the prices. The stops were great. We went to Grand Cayman and took the Stingray tour. Absolutely, fabulous. Would do it again in a minute. Wish I had purchased the video of the trip (too pricey at $40 – they would have sold lots of them at $20) Wish I had bought a tape of the island music playing on the boat. It was a great tour. Liked shopping at Grand Cayman too. It was very, very hot though and we were carting around five wet, heavy beach towels. Made shopping difficult. The next stop was unplanned. Something happened so we couldn’t go to Calica and went to Cozumel instead. Am very glad we did. It was quite hot but something to see. We just went into town to shop and it was very interesting. Be careful though, know what you want to spend and be careful. Bargain with the clerks. They will come way down (to what the stuff is really worth). The "expensive" jewelry stores are annoying - will not take no for an answer. They can be insulting too. While filling out a prize entry coupon in a "fancy" jewelry store, a clerk slapped an expensive ($1,900) diamond tennis bracelet on my arm. I explained it was beautiful, but I wasn't interested. They would not take it off. I had to pretend I was going to leave the store with it on my arm before they finally took it off. But mostly enjoyed the day there. Should have gone to a beach first, and then shopped. Will do that next time. Getting back on the ship, tired, carrying lots of stuff, was annoying. AGAIN, lots of lines, lots of unpleasant workers who don't speak English checking ID, etc. When my 16 year old son handed his card to the worker, a picture of some 75 year old man came up on the screen. Of course, we were then delayed while they checked that out. Dinners were a huge disappointment. We were very happy with the other family at our table, but the service was horrible. Two of the five nights, we were not even asked what we wanted for dessert. We were brought what was left over. Mushy, runny cherries jubilee was horrible. The steaks were bad, baked I guess. The shrimp were tasteless and the lobster mushy. We get better seafood at Red Lobster in St. Louis. The food was very pretty though - great presentation, but that doesn't make up for bad service and cold, left over food. Never saw the maitre d’. Heard some announcements and old jokes, but that's all. Lunch was - you guessed it - long lines for pre-cooked hamburgers and bland salads. Dessert was warm soft serve ice cream. Blah. Breakfast was more lines, powdered eggs, long ago cooked pancakes, sausage swimming in who knows what, raw bacon and no toast. You could toast your own small, tasteless frozen bagel if you wanted breakfast bread. They did serve omelets, but I always seemed to find myself in line behind some frazzled mother who would tell the omelet maker - I need five omelets, one cheese, etc. and proceeded to tie up the already slow line for 20 minutes. Ice tea and coffee were free - but the only place to get some was in the Horizon (Odor) Grill. Three mornings when I arrived around 8:00 am - the coffee carafes were empty. The ice tea did not taste like any ice tea I have ever had. The drinks on board are expensive. $4 for a beer? This is crazy. We thought drinks would be more reasonable. Disembarking was bad too. We were told to wait until our color luggage tag was called. Well, the color was not the same for all of us. Sort of a tan, goldish color, faded on some tags. I went to the pursers to ask what color I had. It was pink! Of course, we were the last color called. What a mess. Thousands of black suitcases everywhere, in a huge pile, and you had to find your own. Then out to the dock to try to find your bus. Carnival had us flying out of Ft. Lauderdale instead of Miami for some reason. We got to the Ft. Lauderdale airport at 11:00 am for a 5:30 pm flight. We tried to get an earlier flight with no luck. Then our flight took off an hour late. AHH TWA strikes again. I've talked to lots of people lately and all tell me that too bad we took Carnival for a first cruise. We'll definitely cruise again, but look for a better, cleaner ship.

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Jun 20, 2001

Western Caribbean

My wife, my daughter (18), and I chose carnival cruises for vacation this year and we certainly have no regrets, but a few minor complaints. We cruised the Fantasy last year and we decided this year to take in Key West & Cozumel on the Imagination this year. This was my daughter's first cruise and her first glimpse at this huge ship... the size took her breath away. The ship was totally sold out on this cruise and I became a bit irritated at

all the uncontrolled and totally rude children on board. Actually, the children were not the only rude people on board, the adults could use a little courtesy lesson also. On several occasions, women who apparently were much hungrier than I would burst directly in front of me. I also was not impressed with the cabin stewardess on this cruise. Our room was never entirely cleaned and we did not receive the complimentary basket of goodies. We were informed that there was shortage and they were dispensed to every other cabin. I think next time, we'll cruise another line just to see if a bit more money will get us a bit better and more sophisticated vacation.

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Sep 27, 2000

Western Caribbean

It’s a long process - - just be patient! This was our first cruise, so we purchased the Fly Aweigh package and received our documents about one month prior to departure date. Our flight from Charlotte to Miami was uneventful. Once we departed the plane, a Carnival rep was waiting to direct us to baggage. Once we retrieved our luggage, a Carnival rep directed us to the bus that would take us to the pier. It’s about a 15 minute

ride to the pier from the airport. Upon arrival at the airport, our luggage was unloaded and we had to “reclaim” it just so it could be transferred by the porter and he could get his tip. This was a very frustrating and confusing process with a bus load of people grabbing for luggage! Once we reclaimed our luggage and tipped him, we did not see it again until it arrived at our cabin. We proceeded inside to a long line to turn in our cruise documents and activate our sail & sign card. Make sure you have them completed before you get there! Then it was on to the ship. We boarded at approximately 1:45 p.m. The ship is huge! It’s hard to imagine how big it is until you see it for yourself! We found our cabin with no problem. We were in U110. Our cabin steward was Jaimie, and he did a great job keeping our cabin straight and our ice bucket full. Part of our luggage arrived at 2:00 and the rest at about 5:00. There is plenty of storage space and the bathroom and shower were a good size. The ship was clean and I noticed the crew cleaning different areas throughout the cruise. We went directly to the poolside grill to eat. The line was very long, but the food was pretty good, your standard hamburgers, etc. We then explored the ship and then bought the “drink of the day” to sip as we watched Miami shift to the horizon. The Food: We ate in the Pride Dining Room each night (Table 146) and the food was always good. We had the late seating and never felt rushed. Our waiter, Garry, and his assistants did a great job each night. We ate in the dining room once for breakfast, but preferred the food in the Horizon Bar and Grill. We never had to wait in line for breakfast there, and there was a good selection. We ate at the Pizzaria twice and it was excellent, but be prepared to wait! The lines were always long, no matter what time of day it was. We ordered room service once through FunVision, and we received it in about 10 minutes. The cookies and brownies were very good. We went to one midnight buffet, but it was to take pictures only. It’s incredible what they can do with food, so don’t miss this Entertainment: We went to the show each night and each was no less than fantastic - - make sure you see them! Our cruise director was Troy Linton and he was hilarious! Excellent wit and timing! Kevin King was aboard the last night and he was very funny and performed some great magic tricks! Key West: We did not schedule any tours for Key West; we opted to explore on our own. It’s a quaint little place - - make sure you have a slice of key lime pie! We went to the Maritime Museum and enjoyed it. It was hot and humid the day we were there. Our dinner companions did the Trolley Tour and said it was very good. Cozumel: Due to Hurricane Keith, our day here was cut a bit short. Instead of arriving at 1 p.m. and departing at 10 p.m., we arrived at 11 a.m. and departed at 6 p.m. All tours were cancelled, but we did not have one scheduled. We had planned to take a taxi ($10) to Chankanaab Park to snorkel. Snorkeling equipment was $5 each plus $3 for a life vest. The water was choppy, but we enjoyed our first snorkeling experience and can’t wait to do it again! We spent about 2 hours in the water before a heavy rain began. We took a taxi back to the ship and changed clothes before we did our shopping. Prices at the pier were very good we thought. We haggled on some items with shopkeepers and were satisfied in the end. Day at Sea: Our last day was our day at sea. We slept in and had a late breakfast. We played bingo and attended the disembarkation talk with Troy. We played the slots and laid by the pool some. It was a very relaxing day. Disembarkation: We got up early and had breakfast on the Lido Deck. You can leave your carry on bags in your room until you finish breakfast. We then went to get our carry ons, purchase our last nights’ pictures from the photo gallery and then to our assigned area to wait. We left the ship at approximately 10:15 a.m. We had a great view of Miami from where we were assigned to wait, so the waiting was not too bad to us. Miscellaneous/Tips: -One night before dinner, our outlet quit working. We called the Purser’s desk and they sent an electrician within 5 minutes. He fixed the problem immediately. It is a very good idea to bring an outlet strip for using more than one appliance at a time -No need to bring extra hangers, we had more than enough. -If you have an inside cabin, you might want to bring a night light. -If you plan to use a video camera, bring a heating pad to lay it on when you’re not using it, otherwise it probably will not work outdoors due to the humidity. We had this problem several times since we forgot to bring a heating pad. -If you are cold-natured, bring a jacket! -Bring a tote bag with you to carry your beach towels in when you go ashore. -Prior to our cruise, we purchased drink coupons and they worked great! -You will have lots of opportunities to have your picture made with multiple backdrops. -It’s easier to purchase your pictures from the photo gallery on a daily basis, otherwise at the end of the cruise, you must thumb through STACKS of pictures to find yours. One final note: On the last day of the cruise, I accidently left a very expensive ring my husband had just given me for our anniversary in a ladies bathroom. I was devastated and figured it was gone forever. We filled out a lost report at the Purser’s desk. My husband tried to get someone to announce it over the P.A. system, but that’s against policy. Our good friend, Maryl, had it announced by Troy during a bingo game and, lo and behold, a group of ladies who had found it jumped right up and turned it in to Troy. Troy brought it to my room personally and I was just overjoyed to say the least. He did not know their names but if you are one of them and you are reading this review, thank you from the bottom of my heart! You don’t know how relieved I was to have this very special ring returned to me. It will never leave my finger again! If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at snowmanluvr@hotmail.com .

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Apr 11, 2000

Grand cayman-Ocho Rios, Jamaica

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 on this 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! Day 3 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 out 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 up 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 were waiting for our luggage for over an hour. 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. I like to help people; so if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to write.

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Mar 6, 2000

Grand Cayman and Calica

On Sun Mar 5. We left Las Vegas. 24 and 1/2 hrs later we reached Miami. **Long nightmare flight story about American airlines follows this review. It was only 11am too early to check in at the pier so we decided since the hotel room had already been paid for we would take a shower and short nap. I booked with the Everglades Hotel on Biscayne, right by the pier. *** Review on Everglades Hotel following this review.

At 2pm we headed to the pier. The check in room was FULL, the line was sooo long, but much to my surprise it started moving immediately. We were in our room within 45 min. Check in was so smooth. Only picture I D was asked for. No birth certificate or passport. I’m guessing the rules are dif at each port... maybe even dif at each check in window because sailing from New Orleans and San Juan we needed more than an ID. The ship... Imagination is a fantasy class ship; I was familiar with the layout having been on the Fascination and Ecstacy. Clean, beautiful, and the best service, food and staff I have ever experienced. We had a suite on the upper deck U-76. The cabin was clean and cool. Our cabin steward was Jury, the best steward we have ever had. He was quick and quiet and best of all... spoke English! I didn’t have to ask for beach towels for shore excursions, he already checked which ones we were on and which days we would need towels. Had them ready for us the night before. They put my daughter 19, and her room mate on the Empress deck, inside cabin. I was surprised they were on a dif floor than me, but they were directly above us. Also the girls were in Rock and Roll heaven being that *Kid Rock* was on board and staying 2 suites down from us. The girls had pictures taken with he and his wife. Personally, I didn’t know who he was, my age was REALLY showing. Food... I have not one complaint about the food aboard Imagination. EVERY steak was cooked perfect. Our waiter was slow, but good. We even made it to the Gala Buffet this trip. WOW! The decorations were fabulous, but the food... Not much of it. Lots of desserts though. I think the whole idea is the decorations. Ships made out of cheese cubes... animals carved out of whole hams and turkeys...butter sculptures...flowers made from fruits and veggies. Ice carvings...etc. Entertainment... I made it to the Comedy shows, early and the *adult* late show. The comedian was good. We saw the Magician show (same ole stuff). I don’t go to the *Las Vegas* style reviews because being from Vegas, I can tell you... that is NOT Las Vegas style. A bunch of dancers running around hooping and hollering under a black light... Ill pass thanks. The cruise director was Shawn, our first female director. She was ok, same ole jokes though. The first day was at sea. Travel talk, bingo, pool games etc. Captains formal dinner was that night too. Grand Cayman.. . Ok so I chose an itinerary with Grand Cayman on it so I could swim with the Stingrays (Last Sept on Celebration it was canceled) Murphy’s law... wind forced the ship to cancel all stingrays shore tours. I was soooo disappointed. We tendered over to Grand Cayman to make the best of the day by shopping. EVERYTHING is soooo expensive there. I believe there are over 500 banks there on that island, and a real nice beach, but not much else to do. Cancun/Calica.. Ok now here is where I have my only complaint about Carnival. In the brochure it says Calica/Cancun for the port. That is the last time you hear Cancun mentioned. All the shore tours and info say. Welcome to Calica. If you’d like to see Cancun its an hour away.. (A$160 cab ride...Same with Cozumel which is across the channel). You can take a cab for $7 into Playa del Carman. They have shops, food and a bar called Senior Frogs, and a nude beach. We signed up for the late jeep Safari tour at 2pm. We met on the pier at 2pm. There were 20 jeeps, 4 people in each, elect the driver. We had 2 tour guides. Started off on the Mexican highway, a caravan of jeeps, turned off onto a bumpy road that led to Aktun Chen a natural cavern. We were given hard hats and led thru in 3 groups. It was really neat to see the formations, but I have to tell ya. Its A LOT of walking, steps, uneven ground, and even times you practically have to crawl to not hit your head. I was sooo glad to have survived it and the bumpy road up! Then the guides waited for us at the exit with water and soda and we rested a while. Then the guide says, " Ok you guys ready for the BUMPY road? " I was wondering what he called the first road we were on. My husband decided to let our daughter drive. I strapped myself into the back seat and said a prayer! I swear trees saw that kid coming and moved! hehehehe! We ended up at a really nice beach, where they fed us fish and steak fajitas, chips, guacamole, fruit and soda. We spent an hour and a half there. Then back to the ship via the Mexican highway. This excursion was exhausting, but REALLY fun I have to admit. We had missed formal dinner and my husband NEEDED meat he said. We showered and went up to the Lido deck to try the relaxed alternative dining. They had prime rib, some Chinese dishes, cooked to order steaks, and the normal burgers, pizza etc. It hit the spot! We went back to our suite to relax and got the dreaded phone call from the girls. We are going back into Playa to checkout Senior Frogs. Ok they are 19... I have only so much control... My husband bartered a return time with them of 11pm. The ship was leaving at midnight. Needless to say until I KNEW they were back on the ship I was worried. They made it and had a blast at senior Frogs (surprise surprise). ****I really feel the need to mention the change I noticed on this cruise concerning alcohol. Not ONE shore excursion offered alcohol.. even the famous rum punch. My daughter and her friend we carded several times on this cruise and were not served at those times. Either Carnival is cracking down on the drinking and partying or it’s just this ships policy. This is the first cruise I have been on that I have run into this. The last day was a day at sea. Debarkation was perfect. Took only about an hour. Customs was a breeze. We spent the day in Miami and took in the Sea-aquarium. I'd recommend trying the zoo. All in all this was a wonderful cruise. ****America West Airlines**** I made our reservations for the day before the cruise and not red-eye flights so we wouldn’t be so tired and cranky when we got to Miami and also we could spend the night in Miami and have some local cuisine. Our flight was scheduled at 1030am sun. They boarded us, then told us that phoenix, our next stop had weather and we would be delayed. We only had 30 min to make our connecting flight to Miami in Phoenix. I called the attendant over and explained. She checked with the pilot to made an announcement that no flights were taking off out of phoenix so don’t worry your connecting flight is being held for you. Finally at noon the plane left. When we reached phoenix we found our connecting flight had left on time. We missed it! The directed us to the customer service dept for American airlines to get another flight. Waited in that line 2 and 1/2 hours. The girl takes my tickets, says ok back to Vegas in 5 hrs to take the red eye out of Vegas that night at 1115pm. I asked for a supervisor as they should have NEVER sent us to Phoenix in the first place and now we were stuck there for 5 hrs. She said she was the supervisor and this was all they could do for us. We were stuck in the middle seats between strangers back to Vegas. At 2am the flight scheduled for 1115 finally left. We made it to Miami finally at 11am Monday. Needless to say I will be writing a letter to American Airlines. *****Everglades Hotel***** On Monday morning we went to the hotel to shower since I was already being charged for the room because of their 24 hrs cancellation policy. The room was so nice!! I wasn’t sure what to expect for $80. We had a view of the pier and the cruise ships. The hotel lobby has a Cuban Restaurant and a coffee shop. I was pleasantly surprised. On Saturday when the ship came back to port I had reserved a room for the day just for a rest spot and a place for our luggage till our flight left. It was like an entirely different hotel on the weekend. We got a crappy run down room with no view. The lobby was full of loitering Cuban dudes. I learned that in Miami English is NOT the first language and if you don’t speak Spanish you are in deep trouble. (Good thing my husband does) I think this hotel is good for weekdays but on the weekends id skip it.

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Dec 22, 1999

Western Caribbean

Sailing Date: December 22nd, 1999 Although advertised as a Grand Cayman cruise all year, Carnival changed the itinerary (we discovered after we left the port of Miami) due to a "new" law that we couldn't dock at Grand Cayman on Christmas. Instead of making the day before or after, they exchanged it for Key West! Not exactly a suitable substitute for my family. It was a sin pit and we wanted a Caribbean destination so we could have

great snorkeling. Then instead of Cancun, they switched to Playa del Carmen. Then there were swells so we had to go to Cozumel, waste 1/2 the day getting off the ship into a 1 hour taxi line to get a filthy taxi into a filthy town with "souvenirs" made in Italy. The restaurants were too filthy to eat at. Carnival offered us 25% off another cruise - no way. I would never trust Carnival with my vacation time or money again. I wanted a partial refund, but got nothing. I felt the waiters at the restaurant were rude to my teenage daughters and a crew member intimidated my daughter in the hallway near our room. He was persistent and would not accept no as an answer to his inappropriate advances. Carnival just assured me this wasn't normal when I wrote a complaint.

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Apr 4, 1999

Western Caribbean

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, but the price of the fax special was so unbelievably low we decided to see first hand what Carnival was all about. This proved to be a huge mistake. We are fortunate this wasn't our first cruise because if it was it also would have been our last and we would have missed out on all the wonders of cruising.

We know there are different strokes for different folks, but how different can peoples tastes be. Our cruise was a the very bottom of the enjoyment scale. 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 back wall. Whoever is on the inside has to crawl over their partner to get out of bed. I know this will be hard to believe but they do not have any double bed sheets. Each bed is made up individually, with the sheets and covers tucked in. There is no way you can cuddle up to your wife with out tearing the bed apart. We have never ben camping but I imagine its like camping out and sleeping in separate bed rolls. The only thing missing were the zippers. When we asked the steward for double or queen sized bed sheets, he was actually annoyed and said they didn't have any. We knew we were in deep trouble  A terrible arrangement 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 assign us a table for two. However the overall seating arrangement of the dining room was terrible. Carnival is the only cruise line that we have seen that has straight booth seating for tables of six. They had the same type seating for tables of eight all along the exterior walls. In the restaurant business we call that barracks seating. It is impossible for the full party of eight to have a conversation, unless the person stands up when addressing a person at the other end of the table. Another very bad feature of the dining room was the Bain Marie serving stand that ran down the full center of the dining room. This is an area where the waiters pick up their soup, some appetizers and assorted items for the table. This type arrangement is a real no-no. These areas are supposed to be concealed in a fashion so they are out of the diners sight as much as possible. It is a poor way to expedite service and it detracted from the over all appearance of the dining room. Much to our surprise the food was wasn't bad. In fact some of the entrees were excellent. In general the service was poor. The bus-girl was in a dither and couldn't get coordinated with the waiter. The one exception was the bar girl Kathleen. She couldn't have been more efficient or more charming. She was a delight. ENTERTAINMENT: My wife always looks forward to the shows and it was especially so on this trip, since we had heard, (mostly from Kathy Lee Gifford) that Carnival had a great entertainment program. I guess we were on the wrong ship because the show is the poorest we have ever seen. The lead female singer and male singer couldn't get their act together and weren't very good. The quality and the design of the costumes was very poor. Also, having the Orchestra on stage through out the performance didn't help the situation. It took the attention away from the performers. On second thought, maybe that was good. We attended two show and decided we had enough. We decided we would try to find a lounge that had a group that played the kind of music we could dance to. Unfortunately we couldn't find any. It seemed like the lounges were catering to single girls, who liked to line dance. They dominated the dance floor, (some in bare feet) while we waited to hear something we could dance to. I admit we do the old WW #2, slide and glide, but our type dancing is never outdated. We can usually find a combo that plays some of our type music. Not so with Carnival. We don't normally feel old but after seeing the goings on in these lounges we felt like we were on another planet. We felt like a couple of dinosaurs. 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 don't think it necessary to tell you of any more of the details, we think you heard enough.. What we would write would not be very pleasant to read. I know if I tell you we had a great time, you are either not going to believe me or your going to think I'm crazy. But I going to make that very statement. I know that sounds odd after all the things I have written, but it is the truth. In each port, we 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 usually take a nap and around five we order a snack from room service. It then is about time to start dressing for dinner. We then like to go to a lounge for cocktails and a wee bit of dancing before dinner. We got lucky. The last two nights we found a group that agreed to play some of our type music and we enjoyed a couple of evenings of dancing. But most important, whaat is paramount in our live and when we cruise, is the simple fact that we enjoy each others company. We write this critique for you from our personal perspective which might be very different than yours. We made our first cruise in May of 1996 aboard Celebrity's Zenith.. We became addicted and have become avid cruisers. We 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, there is no doubt in our minds, we would have never cruised again. It is not very pleasant having to write a negative review. We would much rather be able to tell you of the many nice things that took place, but unfortunately there weren't many. In our opinion, it was a terrible experience.

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By Lisa_CR

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Departure Date: October 30, 1998 The check-in process was smooth and the staff pleasant. My complaints are that I am instructed to sell the fun of the ship and other than the Halloween Party, it did not meet expectations. The midnight buffets were bland and unimaginative except for the one night of the grand buffet that was the only worthwhile one. The evening entertainment was sloppy, the female singer was always offbeat. She couldn't seem

to find the rhythm. It was easy to see that she could sing gospel accapella but her moves were stiff. I got tired of hearing how much the staff was working hard for me so remember to tip. The "you tip me, I'm working hard for you" attitude from our waiter who was so artificial in his manner turned all at our table off. We enjoyed the natural charm of our assistant waiter and all of us overtipped him. There is also an attitude that we are rich Americans and should be glad to give some of our money to them. Well, I work hard for my money, scrimp and save and do without so I can (once in a while) enjoy the pleasures of travel. There will always be people who are better off and those who are worse off. The food aboard the ship was bland and they were always looking for compliments, like we were ungrateful unless we raved. They did not want our sincere response. And I'm tired of being hassled about tips. I believe tips should be a gratuity for good or exceptional service, not just because someone has the job. I wish the cruise lines would charge an extra $50, pay those people a minimum wage (can you believe $70/month +room and board, no overtime) for the assistant waiter!!!), and then we wouldn't feel obligated to tip. We'd be free to tip with our hearts. The itinerary was fun. Just the food was salty, bland, same old' day after day, and the entertainment was bad, my local high school with the proper clothes would have done bette    

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Departure Date: July 18, 1998 It was my first time ever on a cruise it was a family event it was about 30 of us that went.  We departed from Jacksonville Fl, on a charter bus. I was anxious to get to Miami and I thought we would never get there. When we finally got there i saw all the big ships. We had to wait in the long lines but it went very fast though. As soon we got on the ship we went and ate lunch which the lines were long there

but it also went fast. We had early dining during our trip. I had the most fun I had ever had in my whole entire life.  They also had great entertainment. The clubs played a variety of music. The islands were also very nice.  The one I loved the most was Ocho Rios. We also traveled to Cozumel and Grand Caymen. The employees were outstanding and had great attitudes.  The people on the ship had wonderful attitudes and I really had a wonderful time. Next year our family will be cruising on Carnival's Destiny for 7 days on the dates on july 16, 2000 we will be enjoying the island San Juan, St.Thomas and another island that I can not remember. I am pretty sure that we will have a great time this time there will be about 60 of out family members going to experience the fun that we enjoyed when we went on the best cruiseline in the world.     

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Sailing  Date: December 6th, 2004 This is my third cruise. I’ve cruised on Celebrity twice with my family when I was younger – to Bermuda and to Key West/Bahamas. This was my first time on Carnival and with my girlfriend, who’s never been on a cruise before. She’s 26 and also in financial services. We booked our trip through Liberty Travel. EMBARKATION: We flew to Miami on the day of sailing and arrived at Miami International

Airport a little past noon. The boat was scheduled to sail at 4pm. Exiting the plane, we ran into people holding Carnival shuttle signs. We had prepaid for transfers (one-way $11 per person) from the airport to the Port of Miami so were directed to gather downstairs at the Baggage Claim area where we met with other travelers and were guided to the bus. Our luggage was stored in the bottom of the bus by the driver. The bus driver, who called himself Absolut, gave us a quick tour of Miami as we headed to the port and we tipped him $2. As we stepped off the bus, we realized we had porters who would handle our luggage and bring them to our room for $1 per luggage. Although we only had carry-on luggage, the porter promised our luggage would arrive in front of our cabin by the time we checked in and boarded the boat anyway so we paid him $2 to handle both our bags. BIG MISTAKE! First of all, there are separate lines for travelers who pre-registered (on the internet) and those who didn’t. We didn’t pre-register (our profile and passport info) so we waited on one line, but the lines moved at the same rate and we all had to get our Sail & Sign cards anyway, which are the cards used to purchase anything and everything on the cruise which can be paid in cash or credit card at the end of the cruise. Tips are automatically included at 15% for service unless otherwise requested. We ran into another couple who told us they opted to hand out tips for everyone at the end of the cruise in cash. After we got our Sail & Sign cards and key cards for our room, our pictures were taken to identify us with our key cards. Before we reached the ship, we realized more photographers awaited us to snap a photo of us to welcome us as we headed to board the ship, but we just skipped that and headed to the ship. Pictures are taken during the cruise, particularly at dinner, as well if you want to buy a souvenir picture of yourself. Anyway, by the time we reached our cabin, which was a little less than an hour after we paid our porter to transport our bags to our cabin, our bags were nowhere to be found! We called room service and found out our bags could arrive as late as 8pm. We were already checked in and at our cabin by 2pm. Once you’re on the boat, food and drinks are already being served; the sun was out but we couldn’t change! Our bags hadn’t yet arrived and we were sweating in the clothes we wore from New York. If possible, don’t waste your time and money on having porters handle your luggage unless you really cannot carry them yourself to your cabin. Luckily we only waited a little over 2 hours for both our bags to arrive (separately). (On the second day of the cruise, we heard on the Public Announcement system that someone’s luggage was still missing and guests were being asked to double-check we didn’t have the missing luggage). Also on the first day of the cruise, the entire crew gave us a muster drill, a run-through of what to do in case of an emergency. We had to wear our life jackets (that are supplied in our cabins) and follow the arrows that correspond to letters on our life jackets for which stairways to take up to the deck where the life boats are. After that, we changed our clothes and finally were able to enjoy the first day of our trip. CABIN: We paid for a Guaranteed Oceanview room, which is automatically selected for us a few days before the cruise, and we got lucky. The option was a little less in price than choosing an oceanview room ourselves. We were at E170 on the Empress level, which is level 7 (high) of the cruise. There were 10 levels accessible by elevator depending where you are (forward, mid, back of ship); otherwise, you’d have to walk/take stairs. We had a big rectangle window (not those portholes), a TV, queen/king size bed (2 smaller ones put together), and our bathroom was a good size too. I was impressed the overall size of the room was bigger than the ones I had in my Celebrity cruise. We also had closets, a desk, and an optional bed on the wall. No irons are allowed, but you do have outlets (110/220v) to plug other things in. We just needed to charge our batteries. Movies on TV are auto-repeated over and over and over: Garfield, Napoleon Dynamite, The Punisher, and The Notebook on different channels all day, all night along with other channels, like news and travelogs. ROOM STEWARD: Forgot the name of our room steward, but his name began with a D and he was from Sri Lanka. He was very nice, easy to talk to, accommodating, and discreet. Our rooms were cleaned twice a day when we weren’t there. We always had ice in our bucket and towels/bed were neat as well. The only problem I had was with the beach towels. I wasn’t sure if our room steward replaced our towels or just folded the same ones we were using all week. BARS/ALCOHOL: The bar service needs improvement. Some servers were prompt, some weren’t. One beer I ordered on the deck came back what seemed like almost an hour later and it was warm! The server had already charged it and said he’d come back with a new, cold beer but he never came back! I saw him again the next day and had to remind him of my beer. In another incident, I was at the 3-card poker table and the casino waiter served another guest on the table expired beer. The beer had an August expiration date! The server brought back a new beer for the guest and had the audacity to charge him twice! He had to get the charge removed for the spoiled beer. (My girlfriend later told me she had picked up a yogurt for breakfast but checked the expiration date since this incident and it had a November expiration; but the milk cartons were okay/expired at a later date) FOOD/DINING: The food on the cruise was almost non-stop. Buffets were served at certain times in specific locations. Only the pizza and hamburger/hot dog station were 24 hours and they were below average. The pizza could be better, sometimes the slices were flimsy. The burgers buns seemed too big for the burger; and spicy mustard should be offered with the hot dog instead of the yellow, watery kind. Buffet food was good/okay. There were usually two lines, but both lines didn’t have the same food. Some of the trays were the same, but one line might have another tray the other line didn’t have, and we’d have to get on the second line just to get food from that tray. We ate mainly at the buffets for breakfast and lunch, but we did have wait service for breakfast the last two days and one of the waiters was very sarcastic when I pointed out to him he misheard my order. I had ordered an omelet with bacon, hash brown, and toast, and he came back with a plate of hash brown only. The food at breakfast was probably the best though the eggs benedict tasted microwaved. Dinner was okay as well. The first night I had ordered filet mignon, but I got what looked like a slab of meat that slightly resembled filet mignon. The meat looked very raggedly. My girlfriend had ordered sweet and sour shrimp, which tasted like it was fried in old/overused oil and she loves deep-fried foods! During the cruise, the meals at dinner did start tasting better to us. We ate at the Spirit dining room and sat at table 230. At dinner we sat in a booth that could’ve fit about six to eight people, but only twice were other diners at our table. One couple showed up two different nights so basically we had the booth all to ourselves. Our head waitress was named Ericka and her assistant was named Yanna or Janna. Our maitre d was named Miguel. At the last dinner we had an envelope to tip the maitre d since he wasn’t included in the tip that was automatically charged on our cruise bill. Our waitress insisted she was the maitre d and took the envelope we had for Miguel. We saw Miguel at dinner only once and he wasn’t even there to greet us at our last dinner so we just let Ericka keep the envelope even though she ended up being rude and rushing us to order that last night. ENTERTAINMENT: We only checked out the entertainment spots one night. I thought karaoke would be fun, but people were split up into teams. Throughout the trip actually, scores were being kept for blue, red, and white teams. I think my girlfriend and I were part of the red team, but we don’t recall anyone designating or informing us about teams. I was at the casino mainly and overhead that the crowd on Imagination was not that “lively” anyway. People stayed up late and participated in the activities but it was not an all-nighter crowd. I had an altercation at the casino with the casino employees because my first night I played blackjack. The dealer kept hitting black jacks in a row so I would yell out “bullshit” but then get reprimanded that cursing wasn’t allowed. I was not directing my anger towards anyone, just cursing aloud if I lost or had a lousy hand. I was warned twice and threatened to be banned from the casino so I left. I ended playing 3-card poker the next day anyway and saw near other players who cursed and didn’t get reprimanded. Also, the cruise lacked enough poker tables. Texas Hold’em is the trend now and guests were looking to play that but the cruise were not able to cater to that so most of the casino tables was empty. I was at the 3-card poker during the entire cruise and crowds of people were always hovering the table to watch or play. I boarded the cruise with only $70 in cash, but left with over $300 because I got lucky at poker and roulette. I played roulette only once. I asked my girlfriend her favorite number and she told me 29 because her birthday is on the 29th of April. Originally, I was going to put my bet on number 29, but I saw another player with chips in between numbers. He explained to me you could split your odds between 2 or 4 numbers. Since my birthday is right before my girlfriend’s, I put my bet on the line between 28 and 29. And guess where the ball landed on?! The 28th! My luck was pretty good considering I play tight, but there were these 2 older people who kept getting lucky. One older woman kept getting the best hands (straight flush) on 3-card poker which paid out 40 to 1. Then she hit the slots and won there too! Then another older man was getting high payouts too. He also hit the straight flush on high bets so he was getting paid $2K on one hand. Everyone was trying their luck. Some lost and some won big. PORTS OF CALL: Grand Cayman: We decided to check out the 7-mile beach so we paid $21 per person at the cruise tour desk for tickets for admission, beach chairs, and one complimentary drink. We were told we’d have to pay $4 per person each direction for a taxi ride to the beach. When we got off the boat we saw a bunch of people and taxis asking us where we were going. We saw one guy saying he’d bring us to the 7-mile beach so we went with him who also had other travelers from our cruise. First of all, he brought us to the wrong part of the beach. He brought us to the public section, where we met a cynical beach employee, who was not helpful at all. He told us we were at the wrong part of the beach and that we’d have to pay to use the beach chairs there or take another cab or walk to where we were supposed to be. He and another native insisted we had to walk 2 miles or 45 minutes to the area that would honor our stubs, while I mentioned the 7-mile beach was really 5-mile and that the distance to where we were supposed to be (the Beach Club) was not that far. Anyway, so far our excursion was not going as planned but we ended up running into other Imagination guests who were also dropped off at the wrong spot or were heading to the Beach Club as well. Once we got to the right part of the beach, we were with other Imagination guests and everything went fine until I tried to show my girlfriend a trick with a rock. Good thing I had my sunglasses on to protect my eyes since I ended tossing the rock, which was almost bigger than my head, behind my back and it hit my eye. I got minor scratches on my nose and below my eyebrow. Things got worse. On the way back, we hopped in a cab who was charging $3 per person. We sat in the cab for 10 minutes though and finally asked the driver, who was standing outside the van, why we were delayed. He had an attitude problem and cynically offered our cabfare back since we were being “unruly” to him. He still didn’t respond to us in a civilized manner why we were sitting idle so we left his car and joined other travelers in another van, which was only $2 per person. Ocho Rios: We bought tickets to go on a Bob Marley tour. I thought our excursion started at 10:15am so when we got up around 7:30am, my girlfriend took her time and showered. It was about 8am when she was about to get some breakfast when I was about to jump in the shower. I decided to just look at the tickets again and realized that the tour actually started at 8:15am!!! We didn’t eat and my girlfriend got so mad because she didn’t have time to do her hair or makeup. We ran out and just made it on the bus. People were already drinking beer at 8:15am since it must’ve been noontime somewhere in the world. The host was playing Bob Marley music throughout the bus ride, which was a little over an hour, to the Bob Marley museum. The drive up was crazy. Natives kept approaching the bus trying to sell things or just asking for money from us. Plus we were going up a high and winding mountain. Our tour guide was crazy as well and had this weird laugh. Children nearby were trying to climb the fences and ask for money. Other children were trying to reach over and under the fences to sell other stuff too for money. They even had a menu of what they had to offer. Not only did I buy some stuff, but I also had a beef patty at the café at the Bob Marley museum. Both were disappointing. On the drive back to our port, we stopped at a place called Nightingale’s for free beef patty and that was legit and tasted awesome! Near the port we had lunch that was included in our package. I hate to say it but the jerk chicken was dry and not tasty at all. I was quite disappointed with my consumption of Jamaica this time around compared to my experience 3 years ago when I was at the Breezes resort in Runaway Bay. I was lucky though to bring some souvenirs on board as I found out later at dinner the next night that the friends at our dinner table were not so lucky. They went to the Bob Marley museum on their own in a taxi and on the way back got stopped by the Jamaican police. The girl told us she was bawling her eyes out in front of 200 other passengers standing by as her boyfriend (actually fiancé, he had just proposed to her) was being held and threatened imprisonment. DEBARKATION: On the last morning of the cruise, we ate well. We packed our belongings and discarded the rest. We were paying our Sail & Sign cards by credit card so we didn’t have to really stop at any desk for anything. We filled out our U.S. customs declaration card and just waited for our group to be called out to disembark. We thought the process out would be rough but it was actually easy. We just walked out, no one checked us for anything, and cabs were readily available outside. CONCLUSION: We had a great time, just enjoying time away from work and in the sun. We got tanned and visited the Bob Marley museum. After the cruise we stayed in South Beach for a night and my buddy who lives in Boca Raton visited us. Overall, can’t wait to do it again. Hopefully, the shore excursions are better next time and the cruise will have Texas Hold’em tables.    

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

I was very pleasantly surprised as to how well this cruise turned out to be. Since it was much less expensive than all it's competitors, I was concerned that the ship and it's amenities would be less than 1st class. But, in my opinion, it was 1st class, top-shelf all the way. The Imagination is an ultra-clean and well run cruise ship. While it's not the largest or newest liner on the seas, it has everything a traveler

needs and wants. The staff is very friendly and helpful. They do everything you ask of them and more. I was very surprised that all the tips were added to my bill and no more were necessary. It seemed fair enough, but I tipped the cabin stewardess a little extra for being so sweet and attentive. If you are a food gourmet, this is the cruise for you. I found the food to be excellent every meal and the menus quite varied. The steaks, lobsters, seafood, pork, chicken, pastas, breads, etc. were out of this world. No complaints at all from a fussy New Yorker. And our friendly tablemates from different parts of the country and the world all enjoyed the food too. The waiters were prompt and courteous, and the dining room was very elegant. The only "complaint" I had about the cruise was that it was loaded with kids. We had to find a quiet, secluded spot "for adults onlky< at the rear of the ship to relax in peace and quiet. The families stayed mostly in the main, center area of the ship with the larger pools, water slide and loud entertainment. The back of the ship was quiet and cooler. A good place to get a tan, relax with a drink, and read a book. The entertainment was very professional and we enjoyed it. We found some nice quiet piano bars where we could enjoy a drink, a smoke, good conversation, and enjoyable music. There were plenty of other places to hear loud music and dance too. Of course we frequented the casino which was large enough and had a good variety of games. We visited 2 ports. Grand Cayman Island has little to do except swim with the Sting Rays and snorkel. That was fun and worthwhile for $35. Don't bother booking an excursion from the ship. Go out on the pier and do it yourself. Ocho Rios had more to do. Plenty of "bargain shopping", if you want to buy the junk they sell there and don't mind being constantly hassled by the "shop keeper" to buy something. They don't seem to understand the expression, "No thank you, I'm just browsing". They can be quite annoying and persistent, but you won't feel threatened. Just walk over to the next stand or shop. Otherwise the Jamaicans are quite friendly and at no time did we feel unsafe. I highly recommend taking a Carnival Cruise. It was a fun experience in every way. Well worth the money.

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By Jay_CR

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbeam

What can I say? I had a great time! Thanks Carnival!

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

My husband, two teenage boys and myself decided on a New Year's cruise on Carnival's Imagination after reading about the activities aboard for teens. I would like to categorize our opinions. Embarkation. Long line ups to clear customs in the cruise terminal were rather annoying. However the actual processing of our documents at the Carnival cruise desk went quickly. First impressions. Wow! The ship is big on colour and glitz. Xmas garlands

were around everywhere. However a big Xmas tree in the entrance lobby would have enhanced the holiday effect. Lots of neon lights made everything sparkle especially the staircases Cabins. We were assigned staterooms m132 and m136 on the forward main deck. We found more than enough storage room and the bathrooms were bigger than we expected with lots of amenities such as toothpaste, razors, soaps etc. Each evening we would return to our cabin to find an amusing towel animal waiting for us! It was quiet too which we very much appreciated. Dining. Each evening we would all eat in the Spirit Dining room. Ambiance in this dining room was pleasant if somewhat muted. We sat at an oblong table for eight with a very nice family from Minnesota. Our waiter Augustus was extremely pleasant and helpful. The boys of course wanted nothing to do with the fine dishes offered on the menu! They elected to have pizza or cheeseburgers! Our food was really lovely. From filet mignon to lobster and from cheescake to ice cream everything tasted great. For breakfast and lunch we ate at the Horizon Bar and Grill on the lido deck. Here too the food was excellent. The pizza is fantastic! Entertainment. Apart from the Cruise Director and his helpers it was marvellous! The Imagination singers and dancers put on a great show in the Dynasty Lounge The stage effects involving laser beams fireworks and revolving stage had us all enthralled. Other forms of entertainment included hairy chest contest, balloon and 'T' shirt race, bingo, sing alongs and much more. Deck Space. With over 2000 people aboard this was at a premium. However it wasn't so much finding a deck chair but where to put it! By 11am the pool decks were pretty crowded. Ship Cleanliness. The Imagination was spotless throughout. Shore Excusions. First stop was at Grand Cayman. We had booked a stingray tour only to learn it had been cancelled because of bad weather. Nevertheless we went ashore after a horrendously long wait for a tender and we found a small lagoon where the boys snorkelled. At Ocho Rios it was fun time. We took the Jamaican Queen tour to Dunne's Falls where the boys climbed the falls whilst my husband and I had a leisurely swim in the warm Caribbean. Then it was back onto the Jamaican Queen for an exciting ride back to the ship. Club Carnival. The boys elected not to participate in C C's activities after reading the teen schedule! They wanted to do their own thing!They met many new friends and we rarely saw them on sea days. New Year's Eve Celebrations. How can anyone not enjoy the biggest party off dry land? 2000 mad happy folks screamed, shouted sang and whooped it up for the arrival of 2003! At the stroke of midnight the ship's whistle blew sending everyone into a mini frenzy! Champagne flowed like water way into the small hours. Next morning the pool deck was deserted! Disembarking. As we were on the next to the lowest deck we left the ship last only to line up again to clear customs. Glad we didn't have an early flight as we did not leave the cruise terminal until 1045am In Conclusion. Carnival can be very proud of the Imagination and it's employees. Everyone was so nice and kind. Smiling all the time and nothing was too much trouble. This cruise gets four and a half stars from my family and I.

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

This was our first time on a cruise, so it was a learning experience. Getting to the boat… We had a shuttle pick us up from Ft. Lauderdale airport and bring us to the ship. It seemed unorganized to us, but I guess they knew what they were doing. None of our bags got lost. When we got off the bus, we picked up our carry-on luggage. There was a man standing there with a clipboard telling people their room assignments. Like I said, it seemed very

chaotic because everyone was trying to find their bags, and people were cranky and pushy, and just wanted to get to the boat. We got our room number written on our luggage tags, then headed toward the building. Getting on the boat... Make sure you have everything in your 'blue book' filled out. This makes the line go faster. Also, keep your photo id and birth certificate handy. After you check in at the desk, you'll have to go through a few more stops where you need to show your photo id. Just keep it out until you are physically on the boat. Finally made it aboard around 1:45 p.m. Not too bad. We didn't see our luggage until almost 7:00 that evening. My husband was getting frustrated because he didn't pack anything of his own in a carry-on bag. Our room (R-71) wasn't anything spectacular but it served its purpose. Besides, we didn't come on this cruise to sit in the room. Next time though, we will probably upgrade to a room with a balcony just to say we had a balcony room. Once we dropped off our bags, we started exploring the ship. We went up to Lido deck first. I can't count how many times I heard this question, "You like special drink??" Every time you turned your head there was a bartender trying to sell you the special drink of the day in the souvenir cup. Being that we don't drink, this got quite annoying. We made our way to the famous pizzeria that we had heard so many good things about. We ate so much pizza during our cruise that the thought of eating pizza now makes my stomach turn. That was good stuff. After we got our bellies full, we went back to the room planning on taking a nap. Wrong, they started making announcements for the 'Muster Drill'. That's where you have to suit up with your lifevest and proceed to you muster station. Ours was in the Dynasty Lounge. After sitting there for about 10 minutes, they led us out to our designated lifeboat station. The whole thing took about 30 minutes. A necessary evil. We finally made it back to the room for a nap. We slept through our dinnertime (early 6:15 Pride Dining Room), so we didn't get to meet our tablemates the first night. We woke up and started exploring again. We happened to walk past the Dynasty Lounge and noticed there was something getting ready to start. I am so glad we decided to have a seat. It was sort of a Welcome Aboard party. The cruise director (Maraschalh Stanton), and Dominica and Eric pulled 10 people from the audience to come on stage. It was hilarious what they had to do. I won't tell you what they did, but it was funny to watch. After all that fun, the first comedian of the cruise was scheduled to appear so we stayed for that. It was Adam Ace. He was really good. We found out that the comedians also do a late night act at midnight in the Xanadu Lounge. We went to that too, and it was even funnier. He liked to pick on people in the audience, and was pretty offensive, but it was all in good fun. The people he picked were really good sports. Let me just tell you about the other two comedians while I'm on the subject. Robert Floyd, another very very funny man. Go see him. Again, had the early show and the late show. I recommend both. The third and final act was Kevin King. We saw his early show, it was terrible, so we didn't bother going to his late show. We went to both 'Vegas style' shows. I don't think that is a very good description, but oh well. 'Be Bop' was alright. My husband and I were both groovin' to the tunes. The second one was 'Imagine It'. There was one kinda neat part of this show where they used laser lights and stuff, but other than that it was pretty boring. There was a magic show, same old magic stuff. (Ladies, you'll want to go just to see the magician! He's hot!) One thing I have to recommend if you want to go to these shows and have a good seat, go early. Really early. I know in the brochures it says you are not allowed to save seats, but was it enforced? NO! You don't know how mad I was one night when I tried to sit down 3 times and I had people telling me that I can't sit there because those seats were saved. One couple had practically a whole row saved! There is always something going on to participate in. Games, dancing, karaoke, you name it. The cruise director and his assistants were awesome. They were all very funny. The casino was very tight. We donated quite a bit. The food was good. The second night was formal night. There is a nice mix of how people dress for these things. Some people went all out with the tuxedos and sequined gowns. I opted to wear the simple yet elegant black dress, and my husband wore a sport coat with khaki slacks. There are photographers set up every corner you went around. They post all the pictures by the next day or earlier down by the photo gallery. I recommend buying them right away if you like them, that way you aren't stuck on the last night of the cruise with 100 other people routing through stacks of pictures trying to find yours. We went to the captain's party. It looked like fun for people who could swing dance, and cha cha, etc. We aren't big dancers. So we just watched until dinnertime. All our tablemates were super nice. I was nervous about having to sit with strangers, but once I started talking to everyone, even though we didn't have anything in common, it was nice. The food in the dining room was very fancy. A little too fancy for our taste. We only ate dinner there three times. I thought everything I ordered tasted very good, but my husband is very picky. He was much happier going to the pizza buffet, or getting a cheeseburger. You can also order more than one entrée, dessert, etc. They will be more than happy to bring you whatever you want. Oh, and since we don't drink, we were only interested in sodas. Coffee, tea, and water come with your meal, but if you want soda in the dining room it will cost you $2.88. Which brings me to the Fountain Fun card. This costs $25.00 per card. Just flash this card to any bartender, and you get one soda at a time. A lady was telling us about this at the bar, right in front of the bartender, so we said, "yeah, we want that". So the bartender rang us up two drink cards. $57.46! So we got ripped off there, you can't use that card in the dining room. Really, you only need to get one card and share it with whoever is with you. All you do is flash your card to them; they don't check the name on the back of the card. If you still don't want to spend money for a drink card, the lemonade at the Horizon Bar and Grill is really good. We ate breakfast at the Horizon every day. I liked the sausage. The hashbrowns were okay. I poured a big glass of orange juice one morning and it was nasty! Watered down. Shore excursions… at Grand Cayman, we booked the Stingray City/Snorkel tour. That was kind of misleading. We didn't really get to snorkel, like at a reef or anything. The bus took us to the Turtle Farm, and Hell. Both were boring. Hell was simply a tourist trap. Then came the boat ride to Stingray City. The water in Grand Cayman is gorgeous! The stingrays are very friendly. It was weird at first feeling them swim up against you. There are so many of them! Some were even swimming up onto people, I guess they smelled fishy. I don't know. Anyway, that is where the snorkel part was misleading. You are given a snorkel and goggles to look at the stingrays. That's it. I was so disappointed. I always heard that Grand Cayman has some of the best snorkeling, and we missed out on it. Ochos Rios was fun. As soon as we got off the boat, there were 'cab drivers' standing around, and they were offering to take us wherever we wanted, but also offered us some Bob Marley smoke. Just don’t talk to them and you'll do alright. We did the Dolphin Swim and Dunn's River Falls. I highly recommend swimming with the dolphins at Dolphin Cove. It was awesome! Climbing the falls wasn't as much fun. Some of the tour guides are bossy, and very strict about keeping you in 'their' group. They want your tip at the end, you see. After we made it up the falls, we were ready to get back on the bus. But first you have to go through their little Jamaican marketplace that is set up. Get ready for some heckling. They offer you a free necklace because they respect you, but then they want money for it. And don't tell them your name! Before you know it, they have your name carved in these little wooden heads, and they want $40 each for them. They're crazy! My husband ended up giving one guy $20 for both of them. Personally, I wouldn't have given $10. Just keep walking, and don't talk to any of them and you'll make it out eventually! The bus dropped us off at the marketplace where Margaritaville is, where we ate lunch. That place gets wild! Even at 1:00 in the afternoon! I will end with a few more tidbits about the ship. We never once saw our room steward. Didn't really need him for anything though. He left our towel animals everynight on our turned down beds. One little complaint though, you are supposed to have robes in your room, and beach towels left the night before each port of call. We never had robes, and only got towels left the first night. You can get them at the pool bar though. That is where the towel hut is. We also never saw the maitre'de. But you are expected to tip this person too. I guess they do all the behind the scenes work in the dining room. All other tips are automatically added to your sail and sign card. It breaks down to $10 per person per day. So we paid $100 in tips for the week. We did tip our waiters extra in the dining room on the last night. They were really nice and did an excellent job. All and all, we had a great time. The best vacation we've ever had. I highly recommend the Imagination. We plan on cruising with Carnival again. We will probably try a different ship however, due to ports of call.

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By Kim_CR

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

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 remember her 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 (hubby didn’t have enough to do).

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By Toni_CR

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

First, let me tell you that this cruise was fabulous, and went way beyond our expectations. We flew in the day before our cruise and before we dropped off our rental car on the day of the cruise we thought we might save some time by going to the port first and dropping off our luggage. This was at around 11am. Not a good idea, the port was extremely busy and confusing, so we drove back to the rental car agency and dropped off our car and they drove

us in to the port. We checked in about 12:30pm, and they gave us the keys to our room, Sail & Sign card and let us on board immediately. Once we were on board, we dropped off some of our carry-on in our room and then took off to explore the ship. We stopped off at the info counter first and obtained a 'fountain' card for approx. $25. It's worth it, each pop drink, if you're paying for it at the bar is $2.88 each with gratuities. The drink of the day is being offered everywhere, it's kind of expensive, $6.25, but you get to keep the glass. We used some advice from someone else who wrote a review on this site, and that was - purchase your alcohol on land and transfer it into water bottles, or colored plastic pop bottles. It saves you a bit of money. We also brought our own bottle of wine on board to celebrate our 40th, and they didn't even ask us about it. We decided way too late to book a shore tour, we wanted to go snorkeling and it was sold out by the time we decided we wanted to do it, so my advice to you is to book your shore tours as soon as you get on board. The room was great. Roomy enough for the two of us, the sheets were a little stained when we first walked into the room and we called the cabin steward and asked him to change the sheets. The beds were together, but the sheets and blankets were still made for single beds. He offered to put one fitted sheet and one blanket on the bed for us to make up the bed as one, it was a great idea. Bathroom is a good size, shower is big enough for two. And we were pleasantly surprised to see a large medicine cabinet inside the bathroom for all our toiletries, making the bathroom look a lot less cluttered. Closet space is huge and there was plenty of space for all our stuff. TV. worked fine, but we didn't watch it that much. We had an ocean view room, but heard from our fellow passengers that if you have a interior room a night light is a good idea. There is food everywhere, all the time, you can NEVER starve on this ship. The food in the Horizon Grill was tasty, and there was always a good variety. We had breakfast room service a couple of mornings, we ordered bagels, with salmon and cream cheese, it was excellent. The dining room was way beyond what we expected, there were nights when we would order two appetizers and two entrees. Sometimes just to taste and see what that dish was like. This practice is not only accepted, it's encouraged. And we weren't the only ones doing that, our table mates did it too. And speaking of table mates, we had the BEST, they were great, we laughed and laughed every night, and were always the last to leave from dinner. The lobster dinner was great, everyone at our table all said their lobsters were excellent. We never saw the maitre d', only when at the end of each dinner he spoke to the room, via microphone, and let everyone know what was going on the next day. Our waiter and bus boy were ok, the waiter constantly screwed up our order, like putting in front of you something you didn't order, but he always rectified it. I have one beef about the dining room rules though...in all the Carnival brochures and literature it specifically states that no shorts or tank tops are allowed in the dining room for dinner. Yet on two separate occasions for dinner, at the table next to us, all the men showed up with shorts on, on one night, one of them showed up with shorts and a tank top. When I voiced my displeasure to the assistant maitre d', she said that they can't refuse to sit anyone in the dining room, no matter what they're wearing. Umm, ok, but listen, if you're going to print this 'rule', then enforce it. It's not fair to everyone else in the dining room who has to get dressed up. I know it's fun to get dressed up and go for dinner, but unpleasant to see the people sitting in the table next to you not dressed up at all, and getting away with it. Activities are abound all day, there is always something to do if you choose. Unfortunately, we were too late in getting a Belize tour. We went to the info desk on the ship and they recommended a couple of hotels that we could go to and use their facilities. We went to the Radisson, and they were gracious hosts. The drinks were great and although we didn't have anything to eat, the food looked great, they served whatever meat you ordered with a hot stone and you cooked your meat according to how well or raw you like your meat, an interesting concept. The casino was fun, but my advice to slot machine players, the machines don't pay out. At one time my hubby and I observed for a period of time the slot machine area, and there wasn't any big winners at all. My hubby played the tables, unfortunately he didn't win either, but I think you have better odds at the tables. We were told that this was a training ship for the dealers, so be careful, watch them. More than once we had to correct the dealers. The days at sea are very relaxing. The last cruise my hubby and I went on was a different port every day and it was really busy. This cruise was nice to have a break in-between. My hubby and I are Canadian. And on the morning that you reach Key West we had to be in the Dynasty Lounge at 7am to clear customs. Not fun when you get to sleep at 3:30am the night before. Unfortunately it's a necessary evil. My hubby and I have been to Key West several times. So we just sauntered up and down Duval and hit a few of the popular bars. Sloppy Joes, Fat Tuesday's, Tony's, Hog's Breath Saloon. There's some really good entertainers, even smack dab in the middle of the afternoon. Last night on the ship, you have to have your luggage out outside of your cabin before midnight. We had dinner (we had late seating - 8:30pm) and then went back to our room, changed into shorts and t-shirts, more comfy casual wear, (good enough to wear the next day too) packed what we wore that night to dinner. And placed our bags outside. We just wanted less to carry around the next morning. Next morning, we had a relaxing breakfast and when our tag color was called at around 10am, we took our time and exited the ship. Picking up our bags was not a problem, we grabbed a cab and we were out of there in minutes. We stayed at a friends house in Ft. Lauderdale for a few days after the cruise so it wasn't as much of a downer coming off the cruise ship as it could have been. All in all, we had a great time. We booked our cruise with www.cruiseshopping.com but found cheaper prices at www.cruiserewards.com . Although when I called Cruiseshopping.com they matched the price. I know that if you book this cruise you will enjoy it. Hats off to Carnival, I would not hesitate to book another cruise with them.

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By Dan_CR

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

This was our 4th cruise, having cruised with Princess, Norwegian and Carnival prior. We sailed on the sister ship of the Imagination, the Sensation, a year ago. We were pleasantly surprised at the upgrades the Imagination received as part of its recent refit. I don't care for the Port of Miami, very busy, and God forbid you leave on a day when there are more than 2 ships in port. The traffic is heavy and crazy outside the terminals. Overall the

experience was good, very casual atmosphere. Food and service was good, what I would expect from this class of ship. I was disappointed with the second level seating in the Dynasty Lounge, I would have thought they would have lost the pillars during the refit. The shows were good, well produced. The food in the dining room was pretty good and plentiful. We only ate in the buffet a couple of times. The flow of the buffets was odd; with two serving areas on either side of the entrance both serving different types of food for lunch and dinner. This always guaranteed a line, even breakfast produced lines most of the time. Although the food tasted good, it always seemed cooler than normal. We opted for room service instead of dealing with the lines and packed seating. One nice addition was outside tables on either side of the buffet. The food quality was good, the pizzas were excellent. We ate in the Pride dining room every night. The service was good, food was excellent and plentiful. The chocolate melting cake was to die for. Since we are a family of four, with a boy and a girl, we took advantage of the adjoining ocean view rooms. The rooms were very clean, roomy and comfortable. The refit took out an odd corner unit and replaced it with a useful corner shelf and flat screen TV. The odd thing about the TV stations is that the network feeds were all out of Denver, go figure. The bathrooms were all updated with very roomy showers that include shower gel and shampoo dispensers. No hairdryers are provided, so you'll need to bring your own. The one thing I wish they would've changed in the room refit is the AC control. The AC control is simply a dial in the center of the ceiling that regulates the volume of cool air coming into the room, no temperature control. If you want more AC, you simply increase the volume of air, which can be a little loud if you're a light sleeper. Other than that the rooms were very nice and well maintained. The onboard activities were OK, typical Carnival type stuff (hairy chest competition, ice sculpture, etc). The shows in the Dynasty Lounge were very well done, you need to sit in the lower section if possible. Stay away from the booths with the benches in front. At a popular show, the lounge gets full pretty quick, so get there early if you want a good seat. Camp Carnival was a great option for my 7 year old son. The pool deck and sun deck areas were PACKED during the at sea day. The new Waterworks was fun and a nice alternative to the main pool. I would like to see more informative activities and talks instead of the old fare that we've experienced on previous cruises. This was our third trip to Cozumel, so we really didn't do a whole lot beyond a glass bottom boat tour and shopping. The tour was easy to find and well run. This is a great cruise for first timers. The ship is easy to navigate, and you should get the hang of it pretty quick. A word of warning, since there are a lot of first timers on board, they may have difficulty getting basic cruise and elevator etiquette down pat, so you'll need to be a little understanding. It was actually fun to watch the newbies find their way (reminded me of our first cruise). Over all it was a fun time. Finally disembarkation. Carnival's finally caught on to the "take your bags and go" method that's becoming popular with the other cruise lines. You can leave your luggage out the night before if you're catching a flight, or if you want to get it from the terminal the next day. Otherwise, you can carry it off on your own. Unlike Norwegian where you get off ahead of everyone else if you carry off your own luggage, on this ship you were stuck in the same queue as those folks that were smart and off loaded their gear the night before. All in all, we were off the boat between 930 and 945, with the biggest delay being the parking garage (50 MINUTES TO GET OUT OF THE GARAGE), I HATE MIAMI.

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