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Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival Sensation

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Jan 28, 2017

Review of Carnival Sensation

Lynn Age: 45 Occupation:Receptionist Number of Cruises: 2 Cruise Line: Carnival Ship: Carnival Sensation Sailing Date: 2017-01-19 Itinerary: Miami to nowhere we were scheduled We left port of Miami late to find out 10 MINUTES later we would not be going to Jamaica. Carnival knew the weather but didn't care about their passengers comfort or safety. Mass maritime even delayed their trip to the sea by two days! Captain announced 20 to 30 swells with

passengers and crew member sick. Grand Cayman cancelled also. Instead of Jamaica and grand cayman they brought us to cozumel and freeport. Big difference! I paid for my family x4, to go to islands I didn't choose when I booked this over a year ago. I am very upset with carnival that they didn't give us a choice to go or not. Just an apology! No compensation or responsibility for carnivals bad choice! NEVER AGAIN! Food was a cheap buffet. But a variety of foods. My room was very small. But I did have a full room with four. Only one outlet. Shower was very small and no blow dryer in the room. Mostly trivia so you have to participate to enjoy any entertainment. All three of my excursions were cancelled. Worse vacation I ever experienced!

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By Lynn_CR

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Jan 19, 2017

Miami to nowhere we were scheduled

We left port of Miami late to find out 10 MINUTES later we would not be going to Jamaica. Carnival knew the weather but didn't care about their passengers comfort or safety. Mass maritime even delayed their trip to the sea by two days! Captain announced 20 to 30 swells with passengers and crew member sick. Grand Cayman cancelled also. Instead of Jamaica and grand cayman they brought us to cozumel and freeport. Big difference! I paid for my family

x4, to go to islands I didn't choose when I booked this over a year ago. I am very upset with carnival that they didn't give us a choice to go or not. Just an apology! No compensation or responsibility for carnivals bad choice! NEVER AGAIN! Food was a cheap buffet. But a variety of foods. My room was very small. But I did have a full room with four. Only one outlet. Shower was very small and no blow dryer in the room. Mostly trivia so you have to participate to enjoy any entertainment. All three of my excursions were cancelled. Worse vacation I ever experienced!

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Sep 25, 2015

Bahamas

Great Cruise for the money. Carnival actually understands who is on board. Late 30s to 70s demographic. Royal Caribbean, which we have sailed on many times, is all about Black Culture, Reggae, and their shows reflect this. Carnival Cruises actually play pop/rock music from the 60s thru the 90s in all their public areas and you can dance to the music in the late night bars. Royal Caribbean has DJs from the Islands, and they have no idea about dance

music, and play stuff I have never heard. Great Production shows on Carnival, better than Royal Caribbean. Good comedians. Great cruise for the money, kids activities, lots of families on board. Food available 24 hours! Food was great. Lots of menu choices, even for vegans. Kosher available too! 24 hour food available. And remember newbies, If you don't like something, order something else, It's YOUR trip. the Staff will do everything they can to make it a great experience for you. The only problem I had was when I tried to get room service at around 5 pm. Apparently, no one was answering the phone. (I was on hold for 30 minutes) I eventually gave up. Carnival has the largest rooms for your money in the industry. typical Royal Caribbean room is about 117 sq. ft., Carnival is around 180 sq. ft. Larger bathrooms, very spacious compared to other companies.Stateroom attendant was in and out so quickly, we hardly ever saw him. Great clean room every time we returned. There were a lot of things to do, but we were doing the relaxing thing. This ship has an adults only area at the rear of the ship with 2 hot tubs, and a lot of lounge chairs and beverage service, so you never have to get up to get a drink. No children running around, beautiful view off the stern of the ship. Freeport is the industrial port for the Bahamas, we enjoyed staying on the ship while they were pulverizing coral rock next to the ship with big industrial hammers. The port of Freeport is still considered a no-fly Zone, which means tourists beware. There have been a few unreported incidents which have occurred. Try to grab a taxi and go wherever you need to go, avoid unnecessary walking around the port area. Save your purchasing for Nassau, which is much safer now. Nassau was having crime issues for a few years involving tourists, but now there are police and undercover agents on every street corner. Stay within a mile or so of the port, and when you stop seeing police on the corner, time to turn around. There is plenty to see and buy within a mile of the port. Must see: The Atlantis Hotel and their underground aquarium. Rip off: snorkeling excursion. OK: Dolphin Encounter, Snuba, Sting ray Island Had a good time. Relaxed. Alcoholic Drinks on board are cheaper than other cruise lines, and they actually make good mixed drinks on Carnival. I have had drinks on other cruise lines that I had to send back because they tasted so bad.Great cruise for the money. Great 1st cruise for Newbies. Hint: If you are an early sleeper, try not to book a room above the late night lounges. Enjoy your trip!

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Jan 11, 2015

Port Canaveral to Nassau RT

Review from a vegetarian family of 5 with three kids 6 and under. Our first cruise with kids. Overall, the cruise was mediocre. It worked well for our kids. Dining was mildly disappointing. Food was mediocre, for vegetarians and kids at least. Most of the time I thought to myself, I could make this dish as least as good if not better at home (I'm a some-experienced cook). Our kids did OK food-wise, though it was sometimes tricky to find something

they would eat, even on the lido deck. The one slightly more interesting food option, a wok station, had a 30 min wait almost the entire cruise. Also, we felt mixed about the dining experience interruptions, from the nightly "show" of the wait staff (mostly felt like a disruption) to the occasional rude way that some passengers would talk to the wait staff. We stayed in one cabin with no window and it worked out mostly fine. We got a call a few weeks before departure offering a reasonably priced upgrade and almost took it, but didn't. There were two pull-down beds our twin 6 year olds slept in (they loved it) and a smaller bed that fit in a corner for our 3 year old. It was tight, but we were basically only in the room for sleeping and changing. This was our first experiment with a full family cruise. The kids LOVED their camp experience - that was the best part of the trip. We never had trouble dropping them off (we had two in the 6-8 year olds, and 1 in the 2-5 yr old program). We saw no shows or entertainment because we basically went back to the cabin around 10p because of the kids, so we can't comment on it. The snippets of the comedy shows we did see were pretty raunchy. The entertainment is designed for night owls for sure. We probably won't go back - certainly not on this ship (we had a better experience on the Carnival Pride four years ago), and will likely pay more for the higher end Disney experience next time. I will say the ship staff go out of there way to live up to the "fun" brand identity. If you're looking for a reasonably priced getaway, and aren't worried about the details, go for it.

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By Rose_CR

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Jun 14, 2014

bahamas

This was our first cruise. June 8th 2014 to Bahamas. Chose carnival due to dates, price and duration. Noticed on day 2 water was brownish. Washed my face in the morning and my face broke out. Went ashore and enjoyed the day in Freeport. Came back water was clear. Day 3 noticed maintenance crew working in hallways, toilet in our room flushed on its own twice, Maintenance guy said it was because of his work. Water was brownish orange Looked pretty

bad. Later that night when we went back to our room we noticed that the water was still bad went to guest services where the lady told us it was unsafe to drink and that our bottled water would be comped. We inquired about overall health/safety of other passengers and were informed that any one who had noticed and complained got bottled water free otherwise nothing. No safety message was ever made/published. Afraid to shower due to sewer backed up into water. I saved a sample of the water from the ship and am sending it off to be tested. Good Food! Clean and neat cabin! Ok kinda cheesy shows and entertainment

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By John_CR

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Jun 14, 2014

Bahamas

Carnival is raising prices on cruises and cutting back with food, activities, entertainment. The ship is old and the cabins need to be remodeled from front of ship to back. We were bored. We will not sail again with Carnival until we can see some type of improvement. Again cutting back on food, we had lobster tails and shrimps one night. The lobster tails was so hard it did not taste like seafood. A lot of people do not eat greasy hamburgers

and fries on vacation. All of the staterooms need to be remodeled. This is a very old ship that smells really bad inside the stateroom. We had to use air freshner. Need more activity on the ship. Everyone else had a live show on their ship. The Sensation did not have a live show. The overall trip to Orlando Saturday night staying at the Hampton Inn was very good. Very nice and clear hotel.

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Sep 14, 2013

bahamas

Carnival cruise lines have gone way down. They are cutting corners to save money. Took the five day cruise and they only had one evening show the whole trip. No other activities to enjoy. Old ship with only one small pool for 2500 guest. Food was disgusting!!! Hamburgers and hot dogs EVERYDAY!!! That is so bad. Cruise ship is suppose to serve the finest food. I can get hamburgers and hot dogs anywhere. Breakfast was bad too, same menu with

hardly any choices. Pretty good size. Bed was comfy. Room steward never left any toilet paper. We had to go to public bathrooms to get a roll. Did not care for activities. Same stupid guess game everyday by the pool. Ripe off. To expessive because Carnival takes a cut as well as they vendor. You are better off just taking a cab and going on your own. Disappointed!!!

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Jul 24, 2013

nassau bahamas

My two sons, 19 & 21, one of their girlfriends, age 23, and myself went on the Carnival Sensation out of Port Canaveral, Florida, last Thursday, July 18, for a 3 night Bahamas cruise to Nassau. It was a pretty good cruise but was definitely geared for younger children or teens. The main thing that we really liked about our cruise was our cabin. Since we were all four staying in the same cabin, we were able to get a suite with a large extended balcony.....both

the room & the balcony were great but I'm very glad that we had an extended balcony!! I would never want to take a cruise without that awesome feature!! I paid extra for the "fast to the fun" & that was worth every dime spent!! We were considered "priority" when embarking the ship, we didn't have to wait in the long lines at guest services & there were many more things that "fast to the fun" enabled us to do without having to wait. The food was okay. Breakfast was the best meal of the day to us & our main dinner wasn't as great as I had expected it to be!! Everything we could have wished for and more!!! I can never imagine going down to a smaller room than what we had.......a suite with an extended balcony......the beds were super comfortable, easily slept 4 people, had a large bathroom with a shower & whirlpool tub, a large vanity & plenty of cabinet space. Also, our closet was very nice.....had plenty of shelves, various sizes of hanging cubicles, room for all shoes & a nice-size safe!! There didn't seem like there were many things to do except shop in the 3 very small stores that were on the sensation. We spent the majority of our time at the casino, which was okay. The staff in the casino couldn't have been so much nicer than they were to us. Every other carnival crew member went out of their way to make us feel so welcomed!! Our next cruise will be on a different ship......one that's a little easier to get around without getting lost constantly & one who's décor is a little more up-to-date & not so dark with ugly colors. Also, we will definitely choose a cruise ship that has a larger pool & pool area. The one small pool on the sensation was always crowded!! There is definitely a need for at least one more pool if not two more. If you're looking for a short cruise at a cheap price, this one's for you! I would definitely save my money & take a cruise on a fancier boat that's a little more up to date. We took the 3 night Bahamas cruise & since we're from Georgia, Port Canaveral seemed to be our best option at the time. The main reason for our trip was so that I could spend some much-needed quality time with my sons & that time was great!! Our entire family is thinking about taking a cruise around Christmas this year & I think we will probably look into a Royal Caribbean cruise or another Carnival ship that's nicer than the sensation.

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By Josh_CR

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Feb 7, 2013

Bahamas

Great cruise for the price. All the staff were friendly. The food was average and the sushi bar didn't exist. The deck, pool, water slide, mini golf and hot tubs were crowded with people just like us looking for an affordable weekend cruise. It wasn't luxury but it was an enjoyable weekend that I would book again. The sushi bar is just 2 plates of rolls on the buffet between the cheese and desserts. Clean and well attended cabin.

Something for everyone of all ages was offered with the ship activities. Don't leave the ship. cruise ship passengers are just sheep for the locals to fleece. a beer at senior frogs cost more than it does on the ship.

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Feb 4, 2013

Bahamas

This was my first cruise and it turned out to be the most disappointing vacation ever. My room was right below the kitchen galley and was incredibly loud all night. I was moved to an interior room. The service was terrible unless you were looking for alcohol. The alcohol pushers were plentiful to the point of being annoying. Smoking was allowed almost everywhere on the ship. I was hoping for a more relaxing and enjoyable cruise. This would be great

for a college crowd not looking for comfort or good food, just booze and more booze. The food was mediocre and best. The service was terrible. You had to look for a waiter for more water, but not alcohol! They were there right away for that! State room was the only nice thing about the ship. Th stewards were very friendly. Limited activities. Not on shore long enough to do much. Not likely to go back on a Carnival ship.

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Nov 26, 2012

Nassau

Have you ever gone through a hurricane on a cruise ship like this one? Let me tell you....horrifying but what a sight to see! 30 ft. waves overcame our balcony stateroom last month during Hurricane Sandy, which effected our path and detoured us to Key West, what a treat. This was my 7th cruise, 5th with carnival, and would have been my 6th time to Nassau, but we have only taken shorter cruises, such as this one which should have been 3 days. Instead,

this became a last minute 4 day cruise as our arrival time to get back to Port Canaveral changed from 7 a.m. sunday morning to 9 p.m. sunday night! Overall, with all the panic and last minute changes made, it was an amazing transition and effort made by the crew. An extra unplanned day at see was fun, entertaining, even though we rocked all day. All of our specialty drinks were totally free, and because we did not get back till after dark, carnival let us stay on board an extra night until monday monday morning! We even got an extra day added on to our cruise points which really helps if your looking to build them with Carnival. Overall, GREAT CRUISE with EXCELLENT SERVICE & ACCOMMODATIONS!!! Food was average, nothing too special, never ate in the dining room. Best on the menu for sure is the Chocolate Melting Cake for desert! My stateroom was very clean, love having a balcony, great space in the room for 2 people. The activities were a little boring i must say...the clubs for teens my age were great(wish they were open more often) but for adults the best entertainment was either the adult club or the shows they had to offer. Other than that gambling, relaxing and eating was what everyone did best! In Nassau with my experience, Atlantis is THE PLACE TO BE! Beautiful, clean, expensive, but better than the rest of the island. The port is dirty, yes, but the deals, beaches and the culture down there are great to experience. Key West, was a sight to see, so many cool places to visit on Duval st. and historical places as well. Beaches are to die for, barely feel like your still in America! Just a warning, this particular ship is older, and has a lot of older features which does make it seem like a dirtier or un safe ship but it is kept up nice and is extremely safe! I would recommend this cruise to a small family looking for a weekend get away, singles looking to meet people, a couple wanting to escape, but not for older folk who would rather relax and have quiet!

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Nov 26, 2012

Nassau

Have you ever gone through a hurricane on a cruise ship like this one? Let me tell you....horrifying but what a sight to see! 30 ft. waves overcame our balcony stateroom last month during Hurricane Sandy, which effected our path and detoured us to Key West, what a treat. This was my 7th cruise, 5th with carnival, and would have been my 6th time to Nassau, but we have only taken shorter cruises, such as this one which should have been 3 days. Instead,

this became a last minute 4 day cruise as our arrival time to get back to Port Canaveral changed from 7 a.m. sunday morning to 9 p.m. sunday night! Overall, with all the panic and last minute changes made, it was an amazing transition and effort made by the crew. An extra unplanned day at see was fun, entertaining, even though we rocked all day. All of our specialty drinks were totally free, and because we did not get back till after dark, carnival let us stay on board an extra night until monday monday morning! We even got an extra day added on to our cruise points which really helps if your looking to build them with Carnival. Overall, GREAT CRUISE with EXCELLENT SERVICE & ACCOMMODATIONS!!! Food was average, nothing too special, never ate in the dining room. Best on the menu for sure is the Chocolate Melting Cake for desert! My stateroom was very clean, love having a balcony, great space in the room for 2 people. The activities were a little boring i must say...the clubs for teens my age were great(wish they were open more often) but for adults the best entertainment was either the adult club or the shows they had to offer. Other than that gambling, relaxing and eating was what everyone did best! In Nassau with my experience, Atlantis is THE PLACE TO BE! Beautiful, clean, expensive, but better than the rest of the island. The port is dirty, yes, but the deals, beaches and the culture down there are great to experience. Key West, was a sight to see, so many cool places to visit on Duval st. and historical places as well. Beaches are to die for, barely feel like your still in America! Just a warning, this particular ship is older, and has a lot of older features which does make it seem like a dirtier or un safe ship but it is kept up nice and is extremely safe! I would recommend this cruise to a small family looking for a weekend get away, singles looking to meet people, a couple wanting to escape, but not for older folk who would rather relax and have quiet!

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Jul 1, 2012

Bahamas

Don't take this cruise. Compared to other ships this is a tug boat. Had 1 pool for 2600 people. Shows and activities geared for older crowd. I spent 3 days at poolside bar drinking for lack of anything else to do. Freeport and Nassau big disappointment. No nice beaches for cruisers. Food at buffet not bad, a little overcooked for my taste.Food served in formal dining is for snobs. Real people don"t eat this stuff. Room was midship on

Empress deck. Nice size for 2 people.Had nice view of Ocean. I only saw a soso vegas girlie show and the comedian. both were tolerable. Didn't go to any deck parties or other shows.Not my thing to do. Went parasailing in Nassau which was cut short do to weather. Straw market in Freeport and Nassau same stuff. Bahamian women are real pushie in trying to sell you stuff.Stay away... Most boring vacation I've ever took. Next time( if i go again) will be on Disney ship.

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Mar 21, 2012

bahamas

Don't waste your money on this ship unless you want to waste it on drinking. If you are spending it at the bar they will talk to you. They inform you that they want you to leave extra tips because they work 7 months with no days off and are pathtic. No one told them to sign a contract to be on the boat. Ugh.. You eat the same thing for Lunch and breakfast every single day and it gets old quick. It was terrible. You are not in it so it

did matter..Oh yeah room service good Luck if they don't hang up on you or tell you to hold on and then hang up. Another think they don't understand ENGLISH language.. Boring and no communication at all, The dancers looked like they were in middle school learning. I will never go on Carnival again they lived up to the rumors.

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By Kaye_CR

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Feb 13, 2012

Nassau

Was really looking forward to my first cruise but I'm sorry to say Carnival was so disappointing. Not only were general things such as meals less than desired but we were also robbed by the Carnival staff of $70 worth of our possessions with no way to recover our losses. If you enjoy cafeteria quality food you won't be disappointed in the fare offer on Sensation. If on the other hand you like your hot food served hot and aren't big on lukewarm

burgers and hot dogs every meal you might want to book with a different cruise line. Also be prepared to stand in line a lot for your food as they seem to have trouble getting the food out on the buffet on time. Our cabin was as we expected for an interior room with bunk beds. It was small and cramped but was ok. The mattresses were thin and not comfortable but again as expected. We didn't do many of the onboard activities as they were geared alot to the drinking crowd which we are not. I was disappointed that the gym didn't open up any earlier than 7 am. Keep in mind that we were robbed during our experience with Carnival so our advice is to keep your luggage with you at all times and never leave anything in your stateroom that is valuable since the staff have sticky fingers and Carnival's stance is "too bad so sad we aren't responsible for what our staff goes to you". Be aware that this cruise caters to those who drink alot. There is never a shortage of waiters wanting to sell you drinks any time you sit on deck to enjoy the view. A word of caution about the hot tubs- since so many people crowd into them with drinks in hand and spill their drinks- the pH balance is very high and so its very harsh on your skin. That is if you can even find room in one to try. If you like to have quiet calm time together you may be disappointed because the noise levels are extremely high almost everywhere on the ship. But there are a couple places- the library was nice but was booked for a private party on of the two nights we were out and the serenity deck was very nice until the drinking crowd found it and the hot tubs we talked about earlier. It started off by being 5 1/2 hours late to depart due to the ship's supplies not being loaded on time. Then the luggage we had tagged and given to them to load took a long time to be delivered to our cabin. When it was finally delivered it had been rifled through and $50.00 in cash and medications worth $20.00 were stolen. We filed a report and security searched all of our luggage, had us sign a report and basically closed the file without any further ado. Carnival informed me that in no uncertain terms will they be held responsible for their staffs actions. We enjoyed Nassau but had very little time to explore all the areas we wanted to see as we were so late getting in due to the late departure. The food wasn't as good as I had hoped and standing in line for everything got old fast. There were some good deals in the gift shops which was nice. Debarking was as unorganized as the embarking was. Lots and lots of standing and waiting to get off the ship.

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Nov 18, 2011

Window view

The Bed Bug Cruise Great food Great Service Bed Bug Ridden, stay away from it , they ate me and my friend up!!! Riviera Deck R244!!! Nasty window you can see out of either. Pay more money and get a balcony room or better. Fun fun fun! Stay away from the Straw Market in Nassau, other than that lots of fun. Had lots of fun but overall I am an unhappy customer due to that fact Carnival did nothing about the bedbug

problem going on in our room. Just a "I'm sorry speech. Sorry is not good enough!!!

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Sep 19, 2011

BAHAMAS

Loved it! Cheap vacation with good food, entertainment and relaxation. Clean rooms and friendly staff. Love gambling as the dealers were lots of fun. Definitely recommend this 4 day cruise. EXCELLENT CLEAN, CLEAN & CLEAN. GREAT FOOD. SMALL POOL. THREE SISTERS AND THREE NIECES ON A GIRLS NIGHT OUT.

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Aug 10, 2011

Bahamas

Do not brother to enroll your child in the Circle C Club, the girl that runs this clubs seems very disinterested in children, it was either closed when she was to be there or she was sitting on the floor playing a video game by herself, she could not even stop playing to talk to the parents. Our child felt that this girl had no intertest in doing anything other than video games. The food was very good in the dining room. Our rug in the

stateroom needed some cleaning otherwise very comfortable beds nice linens. There are no clocks so we missed most of the activites since we were late for shows and missed others. The Atlantis excursion is too expensive for what we got, the waterpark is really hyped up it does not live up to the advertisments also you need a credit card to purchase drinks food etc. We were not informed wasted over an hour just trying to purchase a day ticket for a locker. You can purchase a ticket at Atlantis a lot cheaper than the ship offers, just take a taxi back and forth. The only bad experience was Atlantis and the Circle C Club, Food usual cruise food.

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Jul 27, 2011

Bahamas

A floating ashtray of yuck! Crew were unidentifiable from the average scummy passenger rarely a uniform except for a name tag. The pool would have barely been of adequate size for 15 people let alone 2500. It was more of a cesspool than a swimming pool. If you are looking for floating seedy vagrant Vegas experience come aboard but don't forget your cigarettes (the whole boat smelled of smoke), your heavily inked physique, earlobe plugs, belly

ring, inability to hold alcohol and ability to exhibit extreme PDA . Oh yes, and also your wallet because EVERYTHING including a diet coke, and a game of pac man will cost you extra. We should have clued in when upon boarding someone tossed the garnish from their drink onto the deck as they walked by and 2 hours later it still had not been cleaned up... just guessing that this would never happen on Disney. Mediocre Vegas buffet. The ship is not the only thing that is stale, overused and outdated. Every corner you turned they had some oversized bath towel with a creepy landscape scene on it being used for a photo background. Smoking is allowed at the main outside bar. The water slide appealed to those 8 and under. The shows were unremarkable, costumes were torn and worn out. Content was uninteresting. WARNING WARNING WARNING steer clear of the public beach in Freeport ! Do rent scooters in Nassua they turn you loose and you can explore the whole city. We enjoyed hanging out with our family and would have a great time anywhere. The people watching provided us with endless fodder and entertainment far better than ship offerings. Our waiter was nice, and our cabin staff was attentive. Carnival is definately a budget operaration that caters those with a Waffle House pallet. Next time we will definately pay more and go Disney or Silversea.

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Jul 17, 2011

Bahamas

I won't go on another cruise again. Don't ever visit the medical office - I"m a first time cruiser and had no idea they could hold me on the boat for a day when I asked for medicine. I missed the whole excursion with my kids, the medical staff was not caring at all, and to add insult to injury they didn't clear my card so when I disembarked had the embarrassment of bells going off again. As a first time cruiser, I'd hoped they would prepare me, but

you're on your own to figure it out so I thought I'd share this experience on the review site.

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Jul 15, 2011

Freeport and Nassau

Sensation Cruise number 7: "Wow what a great time! We also called this a "recovery cruise", I had eye surgery and my friend had some teeth pulled, right before we cruised (NOTHING will stop us from cruising). We found a few new friends by logging on to the Carnival site forums. Hello to Paracruiser and Sneakerjunkies! This was my 7th cruise and I was with my best and crazy friend, it was her 4th (3rd with me). This was my 3rd time on the Sensation,

2nd time for my friend on the Sensation and 1st time since it was renovated! We cruise every year without the "baggage" (husbands and children). Overall, the ship was great (loved the rehab), we loved the piano in the Touch of Class lounge (photos were taken on the piano), Social host Lewis (such a sweet guy) and Megan a photographer on her first contract. The whole cruise was SMOOTH as glass. Not a bump or a ripple that was felt. The shows were great as usual. The comedy show was hilarious. Kim Harrison was the best. Ronnie Bullard was ok. we didn't go and see his comedy show. They both did a short show one night and then had individual shows. We had an excellent room steward (E1) who kept our room neat and tidy and made a towel animal every night. We had a porthole cabin E 1 which we have had several times and we love the location...Empress deck...easy on and easy off and one deck down from where all the action is at. We found our cabin and parked our suitcases inside and took some photos in the window seat of the porthole window. We discovered our porthole cabin window was going to be the focal point of our trip. Every time we got dressed we would climb in the window and take our self portrait picture! So every morning and every evening we would set the self timer and take our picture. What fun that was! Onboard activities we have done several times before and each time we do them again as if we never had. We love the shows, bingo, and comedians. We even love the silly shows (we do like to earn our "medal" on each cruise). We didn't do an organized excursion this trip, we went to the Atlantis by cab and wandered around there and played in the casino. We went to Senor Frogs and the Straw Market to look around and buy a few things. Day 1: Boarding was SMOOTH! We were in the 10th wave to board, but it was swift on the ship (we were there about 40 minutes). We also took our boarding photo on the Lido deck for lunch! Found our table and atel We connected with Sneakerjunkies, where she came over to meet us. It's so nice to see the face you have been talking to for months! Toured the ship, took some photos, and did the lifeboat drill (mandatory) then we found our seats for the welcome aboard dancing party for the sail away. While waiting we found an old friend, Lewis. He was on board our last ship, Fantasy, as a social host, and here he was again entertaining us for the sail away party. He did remember us. We had a blast last year too and we loved seeing a familiar face. We had early dining and sat at table 222. We were at a table for 7. An older couple Lew, Barb (husband and wife), Audrey (Barb's mom), Catherine, Rosanne (best friends) and Catherine and I (also best friends). Lew entertained us with his stories from when he was a NY transit cop. Audrey was having a good time on her 1st cruise. We connected with Catherine and Rosanne watched the shows with them (on a few nights). Met Paracruiser at the show, she found us, because I always told her we sit in the front row so we can hoot and holler. She was really nice too! So we met our new friends and we were barely out to sea! How lucky can you get? Day 2: Freeport, Bahamas. Went to the gym at 6 am and worked out for 30 minutes. Dressed and ate breakfast. We didn't do much here. We took a cab to the beach where we visited the casino and deposited more money to visit with my other money that was already there. Went to the beach (I did go for a short swim, even though the water was cool) and took more photos. We shopped a little bit and then headed back to the ship where we went to the Serenity Deck (just below the Lido deck, it is for adults only) went to the Jacuzzi and soaked in that for awhile. Went down and took a nap before dinner. We took our picture for dinner in the window¦ Yes, we also took a picture in the window before we went to the beach! Since it was formal night we did dress up. Went and took a few photos at the photo stations. We do like to have a photo taken! Watched the show and went dancing in the disco. Day 3: Nassau, Bahamas. Worked out again at 6 am and then ate breakfast. We decided to take a taxi to Atlantis on our own (we did the tour last time) and took our photos in the King chair and put a few dollars into the casino there. Took another cab to Senor Frogs/Straw Market, just down the road from the port area. Bought my t-shirts for a friend and then went shopping in the straw market for another friend who wanted a wallet. Wandered around for a little bit and then went back to the ship to eat lunch and rest before dinner. Day 4: Sea day. We woke up to leaving Nassau. We didn't work out this morning since we danced so much the night before at the midnight buffet. We didn't do much on the sea day. I did go down the BIG tube slide TWICE and down the little slide twice. Pictures were taken of this since it was the first time I did it! I would have done the tube side more but there were A LOT of steps to the top and I have bad knees LOL. We took another nap and rested before dinner (yes, pictures were taken in the window in the morning and again that evening). Then after dinner watched the show, Curves. Day 5: Leaving the ship took our LAST photo in the porthole window so sorry to leave the ship, but we have plans to go again next year. Maybe the Paradise.

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Jun 20, 2011

Bahamas

Loved every bit of our cruise. Food was great, room was nice and clean. Nice ship. Good entertainment. All around a great experience. Food was good in the buffet areas, ample choices. But the food was fantastic in our assigned dining room. Many choices. We had an interior room on the main deck which was very nice, clean and comfortable. Nice soft bed linens which we loved. Ample storage. Good music, good drinks always something to

do. We went to the Blue Lagoon Private Island...what a dream. The boat ride was about 1/2 hour with music playing the whole time and just sometime to chill and relax and look at the scenery. Crystal clear water, beautiful white sand. Very peaceful and quiet, just what we were looking for. Tons of hammocks, chairs and umbrellas. Besides swimming, we sat in the water for over an hour and just laughed, talked and relaxed. Lunch was included with our package. We were given a nice juicy hamburger, salad, rice and beans bahamian style and bbq chicken with a choice of ice tea, lemonade or fruit punch and for desert orange wedges. Well worth the money. I highly recommend it. . Try it you'll like it. It was just amazing and a long awaited vacation. Many good memories. Nice ship, good service, excellent staff. Can't complain. In fact it's what you make of your vacation.

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Jun 9, 2011

Bahamas

Right on time! The early morning walks around the deck while everyone else slept made us feel like the boat was our own yacht. The staff was warm and pleasant. The pool was too small. Enjoyed Atlantis. Great photography. Liked the variety and availability. Pet peeve: good sheets - They Were! Room was very clean. Plenty to do. Shows were colorful and entertaining. Something for everyone. Depends on what you want to do. We didn't

buy any. We wanted to have the freedom of doing whatever we wanted to do. We experienced Atlantis for $150.00 less than the excursion price - WHAT A BARGAIN! Took a taxi $4.00 there and $4.00 back. Bought a deal from a tour guide for $70.00 for two. Loved it so much we're going again; someplace different; every 6 months.

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Jun 2, 2011

bahamas

What made carnival great was the service people in the dining room and room seward. The food was not that great. one pool for 2000 guests, come on. Too many kids. next time , i would opt for adults only cruise. There was no monitoring of the kids in the pool area. Again, one pool for 2000 guests. Bring walkie talkies. They are a good way to stay in communication on the ship with out using your cell phones, which can be expensive.. We were told we

could bring a case of bottled water on the ship, but when we got there, they would not allow us to bring it on. I found the reservationists could not answer a lot of my questions and when they gave me information, it was incorrect. It was like the hand did not know what the foot was doing. Food was not that great There were too many kids, only one pool, too much misinformation concerning the cruise.

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Apr 5, 2011

Bahamas

My g/f and I consider the Carnival Sensation to be our "home" ship. This past cruise was our 6th on the Sensation. We live near Port Canaveral and are able to cruise quite often, 4-6x per year. Things have changed a bit on the Sensation since our first cruise on her (Oct '07) and not all for the better. Overall we love the Sensation and her crew. We have always received above-average service and the food is good; not spectacular, but good. We

Overall: good to very good. We prefer the dining roon to the buffet restaurant. We enjoy dressing up and having a good meal served to us. The lobster and shrimp dinner on formal night was excellent as was the service in the Fantasy dining room. The food in the Seaview Bar & Grill is good, but we don't like the hassle of buffet-style dining. However, we do have our first day lunch there. And it is good place to get a quick snack, but not during prime dining hours. I seem to always wander in there once or twice a day for a self-serve, soft ice cream cone - yummy! Very clean and well-maintained - we left an extra tip for our stateroom attendant! We generally do our own thing. The comedians were absolutely hilarious this trip! We spent an hour each day in the gym. The shows were not bad - not Vegas quality either. We have now been to Nassau so many times that we plan a self-guided walking tour each trip. The past two cruises we have seen all the forts there and have visited Ardastra Gradens twice. Go see the Flamingos! We may go to Atlantis to play some golf next time. We always have a great time, even if we have to entertain ourselves. One change Carnival has made on he Sesation the we do not like is that they replaced the Rock & Roll band with another act. We used to love dancing in the Michelangelo Lounge until 2 AM every night, but now they have karaoke - yuch! Oh well...

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By O_CR

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Mar 27, 2011

Freeport and Nassau

It was alright, I personally would not sail with Carnival again though. A lot of things disappointed me about the cruise one of which being the price of alcohol. Carnival told us that it was standard bar prices to drink on the ship, which is an utter lie. A beer was 6.00 plus an automatic gratuity of at least a dollar on every drink, so this is putting you at about 7.00 for a domestic beer. Four days of being on ship at these prices really adds up

fast. Also for the shore excursions you dont have enough time to really go out and do more than one activity. Our ships departure time was 6pm but what they don't tell you is that you have to be back on the ship by 430, so that really cuts into the day. Also about the excursions I found that you can book essentially any excursion carnival offers when you get to your port for about half the price as well. I booked a snorkeling adventure in Freeport for 40.00 that came with unlimited alcohol and lunch, it was a great time, carnival wanted around 80 for this same thing minus the booze. There are tons of locals that are willing to make deals to get you to excursions and trust me you can about find anything that carnival offers for much cheaper. The food was really a major disappointment, we were told over the phone that it was comparable to a 4 star restaurant which is NOT the case at all. The formal sit down dinners were an absolute joke, the servings were tiny and the food was just not good, it reminded me of a hospital cafeteria. The buffet that is open for all meals was much better, but still mediocre at best. If you are expecting a few days of exquisite meals and fine dining please, think again because that is not the case.

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Mar 4, 2011

Freeport Nassau

This was my first cruise, I was traveling with you my boyfriend (his 3rd cruise) on a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas. We had a lot of fun, but decided next time we'd try to get friends to go as the people that sat at our dinner table were a bit boring. I would definitely cruise again on the Sensation. Staff was more than friendly, dinner staff was hilarious! The only time the boat felt crowded was when we ate at the Lido deck grill, even then the wait

was only 5-10 minutes. There was ALWAYS someone cleaning SOMETHING, even the walls in the elevator got a wipe down. Public bathrooms were always clean and well stocked, never a line. The food was great, nothing extraordinary. We tried something different for dinner every night. We did however continually miss the lunch buffet but that was our own fault - we took a nap everyday and always woke up too late. When we booked with Carnival we chose the cheapest option possible, even letting Carnival pick our stateroom. We lucked out pretty well because we ended up with a room with two portholes! Well laid out, perfect for two people. Turn down service is offered twice a day. Bed was comfortable, I could barely feel the seam where the two beds had been pushed together. The TV was odd, quite a few channels devoted to cameras around the boat but a lot of channels in Spanish - either Spanish speaking or English with Spanish subtitles. We tried the first of two comics the first night and decided to go hang at the bar where a live band was playing instead, they were great. Didn't really attend anything else. We WERE sad we missed the hairy chest contest on the Lido deck the last day. In Freeport, we opted to take a taxi tour ($30 a person) instead of the bus tour which was WAY more. Eight of us piled into a van and were taken on a 4 hour tour of the island. WELL WORTH THE MONEY. Our driver's name was "Geo" 242-359-4296 taxi #510. He gave us every insight into the culture, laws, and future of Freeport. He took us to the same spots as the tour bus took other visitors but I feel we were given a more intimate tour of the island. In Nassau, we wanted to rent jet skis so we headed over to Paradise Island via ferry boat ($3 per person). We were immediately smothered by locals as we walked onto the beach who wanted to rent out jet skis. My womanly instincts kicked in and I couldn't hold onto my bag tight enough. We tried to get them to leave us alone but they kept pressuring us and following us. We finally found a gentleman along the beach who showed us his license and told us the guys at the top of the beach were big time scam artists. To be honest, we didn't trust any of them and left to go back to the boat 15 min after getting to the beach. Took the ferry back and went to Senor Frogs for lunch - great atmosphere. I'd do it all over, minus the Jet Ski adventure, in a heartbeat! We'd probably also go ahead and spend the $60 per person for the Atlantis day pass.

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Feb 28, 2011

FREEPORT AND NASSAU BAHAMAS

WE TOOK OUR FAMILY 4 PEOPLE ON A CRUISE. THE FOOD WAS FAIR WE NEVER HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO SIT WITH ANYONE DIFFERENT IT WAS ALWAYS A TABLE FOR FOUR. SERVICE WAS GOOD, WAIT STAFF WAS PLEASANT AND FRIENDLY. WE HAD PREPAID OUR TIP BUT EVERYTIME SOMEONE BROUGHT YOU A DRINK THERE WAS TIPS ADDED IN. THEY TOOK YOUR PICTURES CONSTANTLY AND HAD THEM ON EVERY CORNER OF THE SHIPS TRYING TO SELL THEM TO YOU AT PREMIUM PRICES. THE SALE OF THE PHOTOS SOMETIME

MADE IT DIFFICULT TO WALK AROUND THE SHIP THEY HAD LITTLE PHOTO STUDIOS AT EVERY CORNER. THE ENTERTAINMENT WAS AWFUL. THE COMEDIAN WAS A HANDICAPPED PERSON WITH A SPEECH ISSUE, GOD LOVE HIM FOR WORKING, BUT REALLY WE COULDN'T UNDERSTAND A DAMN THING HE SAID. THE MUSICAL ENTERTAINMENT WAS EQUIVALENT TO A HIGH SCHOOL PLAY, IN ALL TRUTH I HAVE SEEN BETTER LOCAL MUSICALS THAN ON THE CRUISE. THE EXCURSIONS WE BOOKED WAS CANCELLED. WE REBOOKED A DIFFERENT ONE A BUS TOUR AND ASK THE CARNIVAL REPS AT THE PICKUP SITE SEVERAL TIMES HOW TO FIND OUR BUS AND THEY KEPT SAYING STAND OVER THERE WELL AFTER 50 MINUTES OF WAITING WE ASKED FOR THE 4TH TIME TO DISCOVER THAT THE BUS LEFT 45 MINUTES AGO LEAVING 11 OF US BEHIND. SO WHAT DID THEY DO THEY HAD THAT BUS PULL OVER AND WAIT WHILE WE GOT ON ANOTHER BUS TO BRING US TO THE ORIGINAL BUS. WE LOST 45 MINUTES OF THE '"TOUR" AND WHEN WE WENT TO COMPLAIN THEY TOLD US AT THE "SERVICE DESK" TO COMPLAIN WHEN WE GOT HOME WE DID AND THEY DIDN'T DO ANYTHING BUT SEND US A FORM LETTER SAYING GIVE US ANOTHER TRY SORRY YOU DIDN'T LIKE OUR CRUISE?@#$% iT WAS GOOD, WARM AND THE SAME MOST EVERY NIGHT. YOU HAD A COUPLE DIFFERENT CHOICES BUT PRETTY MUCH THE SAME EVERY NIGHT. YOU DIDN'T SIT IN DIFFERENT AREAS YOU ALWAYS HAD THE SAME TABLE..BORING NOT A LOT OF OPPORTUNITY TO MEET NEW PEOPLE AWFUL. WE HAD 2 TEENAGERS 18 AND 13 AND 2 ADULTS. THE PULL DOWN BEDS PULLED DOWN OVER THE MAIN BED SO MY HUSBAND AND I FELT LIKE WE HAD DIED AND BEEN PUT IN A COFFIN!!! THEY HAD LOUD MUSIC AND POOLS AND HOT TUBS. A GOLF COURSE THAT WAS OLD AND NEEDED UPGRADES. OTHER THAN THAT YOU ENTERTAINED YOURSELF. DON'T BOTHER TO DO ANY BUS TOURS YOU CAN RENT A TAXI FOR 1/4 THE COST THEY WILL BRING YOU INTO THE STRAW MARKETS AND BACK FOR $20.00 WE PAID 59.95 PER PERSON FOR A BUS RIDE ON A OLD SMELLY BUS, THAT YOU COULDN'T SEE OUT THE WINDOWS SO DIRTY AND A LUNCH THAT WAS NASTY AT BEST. NOT WORTH THE MONEY. SAVE IT FOR SWIMMING WITH THE DOLPHINS IN NASSAUA BEST EXCURSION EVER. FREEPORT IS NASTY DIRTY AND BORING.... OVERALL ON A SCALE OF 1 TO 10 WE GIVE IT A 3 WE HAVE TRAVELED ALL OVER THE US AND EUROPE AND IT SUCKED. SAD PART IS THIS WAS OUR 3RD CRUISE WITH CARNIVAL BUT DEFINATELY OUR LAST WE HAVE SPOKE WITH ALOT OF PEOPLE THAT FEEL THE SAME. CARNIVAL ISN'T THE WAY TO GO!!!!!!

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Feb 3, 2011

nassau

Did not enjoy this cruise. The food was disgusting! Dining room and buffet. My stewart was amazing, always kept the room clean and always had a smile! We loved him! Adult comedy was really good. Never done any excursions. The rudest dealers in the casino! Will probably not sail on Carnival cruiseline again!

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Jan 29, 2011

Bahamas

Food was good. Did the Chef's Table, which was the highlight of the cruise except for the room that we ate in. It was in the library which smelled like smoke! Coffee on the ship was so bad that I got sick from it! Service in the dining room was not the best. The food was good It was ok other than a smell in the bathroom because of a nasty toilet.

By G_CR

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Jan 23, 2011

bahamas

Worse experience ever!!! Food was not good at all Not bad, but too cold Bad expirience! It was our first cruise. We will never go on Carnival cruise again! For the money we spent, we could have great vacation in Mexico. The ship is too old! You won't belive, but the roof in the main lobby was leaking! Air conditioner runing as crasy. We were cold all the time! My wife got sick next day. Food wasn't good too. Enterteiment was poor and

service was bad. Charges too high. No cash - no tips - no service! Most of the stuff doesn't speak english well. They all seasonal employees and no one really cared about service. Do not waste your time and money! Go to all inclusive resort or another cruise

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By LIAM_CR

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Jan 17, 2011

Nassau

Glad I went. Had a real good time because we made it a good time. Spent tons of money on drinks cause the prices are out of control. All in all I'm glad I finally went on a cruise. That said I will not be going on another. Who needs to be stuffing there face 24/7 cause its the only thing that you dont have to pay extra for? Personally would rather spend my vacation at a beach resort without any sea sickness and can bring my own beer and choose my

own schedule. Food amounts were incredible. Food quality was lacking severly. Dinner was horrible. Pizza bar was decent. I think for kids the food is a good deal with endless burgers,pizza, and ice cream. For adults there was alot to be desired. Room was large and well set up. Cheesey Excursions are better off to be booked when you get off the ship on your own. My advice would be to go to Atlantis if you like to gamble and enjoy your day.

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Jan 9, 2011

Nassau

If you're looking for an upscale cruise experience, the Sensation 4-day to Nassau is NOT it. The service staff was fairly friendly, the cabins were as expected - but overall, tacky tacky tacky. The plastic trees around the one very small swimming pool and a deck that wasn't washed once the entire trip gives the first impression. The purple decor, horrible food, and dozens of unsupervised children (probably not enough interesting things for them

to do), tells the rest. The fitness center has old equipment, but high end Life Fitness, so it gets a grade of a B - but the rest completely failed. The comedy entertainment was corny, the casino was just a casino, and the live music was less than average. The hallways had the horrible bathroom stench - I guess meaning that the boat design doesn't do a very good job of ventilating. The water coming out of the bathroom faucet was brown. The room seemed clean (but there were large accumulations of dust in creviices). The TV in the room couldn't be viewed unless you were sitting at a certain height directly in front of it - poor resolution made everything look like negative images. We made the best of it - but we will NEVER do this cruise again. Awful, Awful, Awful. The breakfast potatoes were cold and hard, the bacon tasted like stale bread, the pastries were cold and hard, all of the tables were not wiped after each group of guests ate, the oranges were mushy (as if previously frozen), the fried chicken tasted like wood, the shrimp cocktail was bland, my husband ordered steak for dinner twice (one prime rib and one skirt steak - both were inedible due to being severely over cooked, the salad lettuce leaves were limp and brown, the croutons were store bought and stale. On the plus side, the pizza and deli sandwiches were pretty good; and they also had an Asian noodle/Mongolian barbeque kind of thing that was fairly tasty. But - do not go on this ship for the food. It's overall very gross. The hotdogs tasted like sour milk, the hot dog buns were stale, the lasagne looked good, but when we ate it it was not seasoned well (just a lot of salt and nothing else). Speaking of seasonings - everything was BLAND. Horrible food experience. We had a balcony room - how can you go wrong. The balcony was fine (except didn't appear to have been swept or mopped in years). The balcony chairs were comfortable, it felt private, and the views were incredible. The bathroom/showere were as expected; plenty of closet space; very limited drawer space; the bed was OK; the TV was basically unviewable unless sitting directly in front of it. Heavy accumulation of dust in corners of headboard and other furniture. Boring, Boring, Boring. The comedy shows were corny, the deck party was OK, the live entertainment was not very talented. We did the island tour, which included some historic sites, The Atlantis resort, and some shopping. It took about 2.5 hours - and then we spent the rest of the afternoon in Senor Frogs. It was a fun day. I overheard others talking about their beach excursions and glass bottom boat tours, everyone seemed pleased. Overall it was fun because of the people we were with - but it was not

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By Tran_CR

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Dec 6, 2010

Port Carnaveral

nothing great except the dining, yeah and I lost my luggage. They did not even show any concern. I checked in and had like three tags to make sure they will not loose it, sure enough i didnt find it when I got to the terminal to pick up the bag. They may dump it in the water, the one who picked it up stole it, who know. The dining is great. and the mongolian grill is great also. ok, the guy clean the room was not that helpful. He always forget

to bring the daily schedule and the room service tag to us and sometime even forget to clean our bed nothing are that great at these ports, I like the ports from Royal better There was an anniversary and birthday celebration in our group, they were suppose to do something but it never happened

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Nov 30, 2010

Bahamas

This was my first cruise and it may be my last. The best part of the cruise was the diversity of staff that I met. I was impressed with the good attitudes of the staff. The food was decent at best. In the dining hall, the food was generally crusted over by the time that it arrived at the table, which is a little disgusting. The time between preparation and delivery to the table is much too long. Breakfast was the only meal I was impressed

with, and eating a substantive breakfast on the deck was a great experience. It was very difficult to find anything good to eat closer to midnight. More specifically, there is only one place to get something to eat that late, with only one person preparing the food. Granted, we stayed in a smaller room with no balcony, but we still paid good money for the cruise. I barely slept because of the poor temperature control in the room and the incredible amount of noise throughout the night. Our room was in the far front of the ship and there was a lot of commotion above us all night. Not good for a light sleeper. The air quality in the rooms is despicable and they smell like a cheap hotel. If you have asthma, you're out of luck because someone's smoke kept leaching into our room (adding to the sore throat from the horrible air quality). I drank one can of soda from the room and left the can on the counter. I was charged nine dollars for two drinks (I only drank one). And how do they charge four dollars per can in the room. It's almost criminal. The onboard activities were plentiful. There is a lot of selection. There are clean comedy routines during the day and not-so-clean routines during the late-night hours. As has been stated frequently, prepare to be approached way too often by staff trying to get you to by a certain drink, and be prepared to pay five dollars for a can of beer, plus 15 percent gratuity. A pina coloda will cost a little over nine dollars. The main show was great the first night, but we walked out of the second night's show. (If you want to highlight sensation and partying that is fine, but please don't mock God in the process. It was a little ludicrous, but that is only my opinion.) When you go to Nassau, take a guided tour around the city in a taxi. We paid twenty dollars for the two of us, because we had a full van. The guide was genuine and entertaining. If you go to the free Cabbage Beach, prepared to be harassed non-stop by local vendors. I mean, there was not a minute that went by without them soliciting us. They even did it when we were dozing on the chairs. Also, do not pay for chairs on the beach, walk a little farther down, and there are chairs for free (you pay the workers there tips). One more thing, the water is incredible, crystal clear with a greenish-blue tint; however, the majesty of it is slightly cheapened by the two dozen jet skies and para-sailing boats whose exhaust is like a knife in the nose. I guess for a free beach, this is the price one pays. Also, check out the inside of the Atlantis, its free. The trip was great because it was with the woman I love. Time spent soaking up the sun on the Serenity deck (no kids) was revitalizing. The tour of Nassau was enlightening, although a tad disappointing with all the solicitation going on non-stop. We did no excursions as we ran up an incredible bill on the ship simply buying drinks and getting a spa treatment. The sound during the main shows was amateur, and the dining room entertainment was average at best. If you get this cruise for a good price and you haven't been on a luxury cruise, try it out. If you are used to the finer things in life, this will be a prison sentence. I was happy to get to a condo in Florida, if that tells you anything.

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By C_CR

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Oct 18, 2010

nassau

My trip was a first time cruise with family. Overall I enjoyed the experience. I was under the weather the first two days but I attempted to make the most of it. Getting on board was somewhat a bummer as I never received my luggage and was late for dinner. I went to guest services and they said they were looking for the owner of the bags so they could deliver them. The tags had apparently fell off and they kept them upfront. I was happy that

I was honest because they never asked me for ID and told me to just take it. The ship had some mechanical issues and we did not leave port until 3 hours after we were supposed to. This put us behind schedule but I didn't let that bother me. I felt the food was amazing on this ship. The dinners were very elegant and had a romantic feel to it. We were treated like kings and queens and waited on hand and foot. Whatever we asked for we were able to get it. I was a little disappointed with the lack of seafood available. I am a crawfish and shrimp guy and there was little of that to be found outside of dinner appetizers. The room was nice and much more roomy than I pictured it would be. We had 3 in a room and it did not feel as though we did. The staff were great and kept our room immaculate. Once again whatever we asked for we were able to get it. I enjoyed the onboard activites very much. I didn't get a handle on times of activities until the last day or so. I missed many of the shows but I enjoyed just hanging out by the pool and relaxing. We didn't do excursions just site seeing for the most part. My sister went around Nassau for $25 bucks and she loved the tour guide and had a great time. After things got settled in after a rough start it got better with time. We will definitely be ging again actually we are planning a trip next year on Triumph.

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Sep 2, 2010

Freeport and Nassau

This was our first cruise and we had read some good and bad reviews so we really didn't know what to expect. This cruise exceeded our expectations in all ways. We were celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary and I really wanted things to go well for my wife... EVERYTHING was perfect. We had NO bad experiences at anytime during the cruise. We tried pretty much everything available, and there is plenty to choose from, and did not have one bad experience

with the food. In fact after the cruise was headed over to Orlando and Disney World and was disappointed with the food there as it was not up to the food quality on the Sensation. Our waiter for our dinner meals called us by name, knew after the first night what our likes and dislikes were, and offered excellent suggestions on what to order. The night we had lobster, which was the best I have ever had, I was just finishing my lobster when our waiter, Rafael, tapped my on the shoulder and asked if I wanted another! Bigger than we thought it would be and very comfortable. The staff were constantly making sure everything was clean and perfectly arranged. They also called us by name whenever we met them in the hallway, which was several times a day. You could leave the room for 30 minutes and when you returned they had already been in to clean up. Absolutely the best service we have ever experienced. We really enjoyed all the shows which rival anything in Las Vegas. We took in different shows every day and was amazed at the quality. The Serenity Deck was a nice place to get away for a little romance and the sunsets were picture perfect. We didn't take in any of the Carnival Shore excursions but did take the Taste of Nassau Tour which was very good. We saw all the tourist spots in Nassau and then had lunch in a local restaurant to sample the local food. Also Awesome. Try the conch salad and conch fritters. Since we were celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary we really wanted this trip to be memorable but reading some of the online reviews had a little trepidation. Those negative reviews must either be people posting from other cruise lines to make Carnival seem bad or just people that really did have some issues. We did not have even one negative experience on this 4 day cruise and already looking forward to booking a 7 day cruise in the note too distant future. Carnival, YOU ROCK ! !

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Aug 29, 2010

Bahamas

AUG. Sail Always Do Your Homework!!!!! As A Rule, I Usually Always Plan and Research everything prior to my trip! This time however, with taking a cruise for the very first time I only research the items we were excepted to receive on the ship and the Islands that we were to stop at on the itinerary. The most exciting part at first was boarding the ship. Embarking went smoothly. Had to wait 2 hours however to get in our cabins. That was annoying.

Traveled with children who wanted to hit the waterworks right away and could not due to no luggage. Next time we will have suits on prior to boarding and other families should make their lives easier by doing so and bring towels. As in prior reviews stated the Sensation Ship is very dated!!!!!! Needs a desperate change of style and color!!!! Needs to be kept Cleaner!!! The entire Staff Needs to take a Crash Course in English 101!!!!!! I can count at least 10 staff members who did not speak any English!! How R They Given Jobs I Dont Know???? After 2 hours of still not having our cabin yet, I used a restroom off of and close to our Deck, only to have some Maintenance member actually unlock the door and walk in on me while using the bathroom!!!!! The Lido Deck restaurant was extremely filthy and dirty!!!! Shame on Carnival for Not Upkeeping this Ship!!! Disgusting!!! For the Person who wrote a review Stating that "The Sensation Ship is a "Ghetto Cruise" I could not agree with them more!!!!! I know that this cruise was extremly affordable for anyone to take but I also know it was not free either!!!! There was only 1 show that my children could see on the ship and the "Camp Carnival" That is talked about without end was a Nightmare Place. I checked it out on the second day of the cruise and almost wanted to barf!!!! The room was filthy dirty and sick children were lying all over the place, half of them were only half dressed too!!! The combined all ages between 2-11 in one small Germ-Filled Room!!! Then the parents want to know why everyone gets sick on a ship. The Entire Ship was so Dirty I could not believe my eyes!! Windows, Doors Lido Deck, Pools were Gross Me Out!!! The Only Clean Area was our assigned Dining Room Fantasy. But the service by the waitor was terrible!!!! We were on Our Time Dining and we were Rushed everytime we went into that Dining Room to eat. The waitors do not like it when u r on Your Time Dining because u can eat late and they want to hurry and get their areas ready for the next day and do not want u to hold them up!!1 The only person on the ship who deserved any recognition or tipping was our Statesman attendent. 2 stops for us first Freeport-- DONT Even bother wasting your time at this Island!!! What a joke. The water is the only nice thing there!!! Nassau is the Nicer of the two Islands. Go to Atlantis and stay there as long as you can!!! Truly is Paradise!!! Worth every penny we had to spend there. The workers could use a refresher course also on using Proper English and Being Extra Nice to Americans. They can be Lazy and Very Rude to you. Especially when they know u r on a Cruise Ship and not a Resort Guest!!!! If I take another Carnival Cruise I will make sure Im not on a "Ghetto Cruise" This Time and Definately will be on a Clean and Newer Ship with Employees That Speak English!!!! The Most Disgusting Thing on the Ship was the Foul Smells every time u walked up and down the hallways on the Decks!!!! Finally, It will never cease to amaze me with all of the security measures takened now with getting on the ship that people still manage to bring Drugs on Board!!!! The Cabin right across from ours Reeked of Mariquana so bad that it filled the entire floor of it every night we were on the ship!!!! I know there are many other of my fellow passengers that wanted to express these same thoughts on our ship so I took the opportunity to speak for them as well. SENSATION IS SO DONE!!!!

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Aug 14, 2010

bahamas

Our overall cruise experience was awful. Five of the seven of us who sailed came home very sick. One of the people on the boat went to the medical center to find out the doctor would not be in until 4 pm. Our friend had a sore on his arm. When he was finally able to see the doctor, the doctor gave him some cream and sent him on his way with a very expensive bill. He are was no better the next day. By the time we got home, we had to take him

to the ER. Found out he had MRSA!!!! The other four of us had different types of infections, thankfully, not as serious as his. The food was average. Nothing spectacular. Our room was adequate. Not much room when they put both bunks out. We had to crawl into the lower bed and stand on a counter to get in the other one. The other room had its problems. One evening before dinner, the septic materials came up thru the shower drain. TERRIBLE. It was cleaned but the smell was horrible. The onboard activites were outdated. Dancers were not very good. Bingo was expensive for one game!! The kids all were tattooed. Very expensive and did not stay on 24 hours! The pictures that the crew took were also expensive. Freeport was not very interesting. We went to the tents to shop. Alot of bartering. At Nassau, we took a taxi to the Atlantis Beach. That was beautiful. I would recommend just flying there for the week. Also in Nassau, if you want to shop, do not wait until night. Everything was closed at 8 pm. The tent city was very hot and crowed! The workers were not very attentive nor very helpful, except for the people who were trying to sell the $14 drinks!!

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Aug 3, 2010

Bahamas

Booking No. 77n4z2 Reference No. 806013412B I was a first time cruiser on the Carnival Sensation. I had such a horrible experience that I will never forget this cruise ever. I was practically eaten alive by the ships bed bugs and there was no relief in sight. It's hard to believe that a cruise ship does not have cortisone or anti-itch relief of some sort. This was the longest three days of my life. Not only, was I bitten by bed bugs along w/

a few others I met on the Rivera deck but we also dealt w/ bad odors in our bathrooms and hot cabins w/ poor air circulation. As a means to accommodate my request for assistance Carnival sent a "so called bed bug expert" to my room to inspect the mattress and he told me there was no evidence of bed bugs. Although he had no explanation for the bite marks on my body since I had been in the room the entire evening resting. As a means of some relief, I asked for rubbing alcohol pads and was informed that the clinic was closed at 6:00 pm for some reason or another. In order to get alcohol swabs I would need to pay $20 to open the clinic after hours although my brochure clearly states that the clinic should be open until 8 pm. The only good thing I have to say about the entire experience is the manager that came to my room was very friendly although the nurse was completely rude over the phone. The nurse had the mitigated gal to call my bite marks alleged and insisted on me pay on me paying $20 for alcohol pads. Sorry Carnival, but this was the worst experience imaginable. The food was plain and ordinary, although the dining rooms were a lot better . The process eggs by the pool side shoud sum it up in a nutshell. NA OK Excursions were much cheaper if you dont go through carnival and book them on the island. The beach was the highlight of the trip.

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Jul 7, 2010

Bahamas

Me and my husband went on this cruise with his family on his dad's side. I really injoyed the ship's atmospere and the staff was very helpful. The room that we had was very nice and had a lot of room. The beds were so soft and comfortable that I have no problems falling asleep and staying asleep. There was too much to do and we did not get a chance to particapate in every thing. I loved the food especially the hibachi grill on deck during lunch. Formal

dining was also a good time to get with family and talk about our day. I would recommend this cruise to anyone. I loved the lunch time hibachi grill. There are tons of vegatables and meats that you can choose and about 5 different asian sauces. The meat that you get in the hibachi grill varies from day to day. The first day you could choose from shrimp, chicken and pork. The shrimp was huge. The next day they had clams. I loved it so much that I ate it everyday. There is a buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can also dine in the dining rooms. On the Formal dining night, there was lobster and shrimp, but there was many other dishes to choose from. My husband enjoyed the stuffed mushrooms that were an apetizer. Then there was the midnight buffet that was mexican food themed. I was ok. The room was spacious and comfortable eventhough we were not in it that much. I have a problem sleeping in new places, but I had no problem falling and staying asleep in their soft and comfortable beds. Everything was organized and they had our luggage wanting for us when we arrived. I also live the towel animals. I enjoyed the shows and dancing at the clubs. One night we did Karaoke. Some of the comedicans were a little ranchy for me, but people that like that stuff seemed to enjoy it. We stayed away from the shore excursions because it costed too much. I enjoyed the food "especially hibachi grill" and the comfortable rooms. The shows could have been better, but were good enough to enjoy. The pool was constantly full of children so if you want a romantic time with you spouse, stay in the adult area. The hot tubs in the adult area were too hot so no one was in them. We were very tired at the end of the trip so it shows that there is a lot of activities to enjoy. I loved this cruise.

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Jul 6, 2010

Bahamas

HORRIBLE experience. Did not sleep for 3 days due to the noise in the cabin. We brought our children and had two cabins side by side. After night one of calling guest service all night complaining they called and told us we could switch cabins (evening of day 2). When we asked about 2 side by side cabins we were told they had no clue we had 2 cabins, really??? Called back and said they could downgrade us to a lower deck but upgrade us to oceanview

room although cabins would not be together. Not acceptable, once again traveling with kids! We were pretty much told that is all we have. 3rd day we receive a letter under our door stating that they apologize for the maintenance (noise) problem and gave us a sign and sail credit for 20% of one night (one cabin). When I called and asked why only one night and not the 3 were there they said we tried to fix it and move you but you declined. Once again, really??? We have kids and are responsible parents, guess that is our downfall. Other issues were our dining time was wrong (again we were told they could not fix and we would have to go at that time or go to the buffett), bedding arrangement was wrong on arrival (room steward was AWESOME and said he would fix before turndown and did just that). Went to the dining room only one night and the service was average at best. Entertainment was good. Our 9 year loved the camp carnival. Overall just very disappointed in the lack of eagerness to help and most likely will not take another Carnival cruise :(. This was our 2nd time on Carnival and I have to say the 1st time was wonderful. Average HORRIBLE Fair Did not do any excursions. Walked to the public beach which was perfect and beautiful.

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Jun 21, 2010

bahamas

Very nice cruise! There were plenly of things to do and everyone was so nice. I only have a few complaints. Too many people for one pool and there was a awful stench outside of my room.

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Jun 13, 2010

Bahamas

My husband and I booked this cruise with another couple. Overall we were EXTREMELY disappointed in the cruise. Room service was non existant, the food wasn't anything special -- except for the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake which is Hevan Sent! The entire staff seemed very shy and exhausted the whole cruise. We also found a few charges that we don't recall making, but we didn't try to resolve it. They did however, after the funds had already been

released from my bank to Carnival, place a hold on my account for nearly $1,000 luckily it was removed within 2 days. We crusied with Carnival last year on the Fantasy... it was AMAZING-- staff was plesant, food was outstanding, shows were VERY entertaining, great trip all together. The food was decent, but it seemed like there wasn't much variety this time. It also seemed like everytime I went to the 24 hour pizza station there was a line of about 20 people, and they were constantly running out of food. At dinner, my order was wrong 2 out of 4 nights. In addition, each night we had to ask for bread, and wait a minimum of 20 minutes on starters, and then after everyone at our table was done with starters, another 10-15 on the main dish, and the same for dessert. It also seemed like the lines for the buffets at lunch were very slow moving-- maybe because they too kept running out of food. Our stateroom was clean and nice, but the steward wasn't very friendly. He introduced himself the first day, and never spoke to us again until the morning we got off the ship. Room service also was awful. On multiple occasions, I called to get ice, and it took over 45 minutes for them to come, if they even came at all. After 45 minutes of waiting, I went down the hall and found someone else on the staff and asked them for ice. Same thing with ordering food and drinks through room service-- rediculous wait times-- if it even came at all-- and the food was always wrong, but you didn't want to complain because then it would just take that much longer for them to fix it. PITIFUL! Because it was a short trip, we didn't do many onboard activities other than gambling. We did watch the comedy show, and a little kareoke, but neither was outstanding. In Freeport we had signed up for the Blue Water Snorkling adventure-- about $55 each. Due to bad weather, it was canceled, and we found another excursion on the island. We ended up taking a taxi to Paradise Cove for $16 each, and then renting snorkle gear for $15. We saved almost $50. It was so much fun, and relaxing as well... it wasn't very crowded at all! In Nassau, we rented mopeds -- which was VERY nerve racking-- they drive on the opposite side of the road.... the public beach by the Atlantis was very nice and they offered jet ski rental, banana boat rides, etc.... but pack a lunch if you can... that was very expensive $4.00 for a hot dog and $3 for a 16 oz bottle of Coke :(

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May 26, 2010

bahamas

Overall, food was plentiful and clean. Service by all, yes ALL staff was excellent. Clientelle on this ship was questionable; I witnessed several incidents of lewdness, fighting, and domestic problems on my hall and the pool area. Staff was friendly to everyone and handled these people in an excellent way...not sure how they hold it together. value was incredible. not recommend for families with children, but only d/t what they may witness. Good 1st

time cruise. very good Small, but more space than expected. Very, very clean. bathroom in larger than expected. updates are nice. Adequate-again due to heavy drinking of several guests, safety concerns we did our own thing but wish we had bought wyndam lunch and beach package

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May 25, 2010

idk

The ship was very nice. However, Carnival has EXTREMELY messed up our bill on and off the ship. We tried several times to get this straight with them on the ship to no avail.We also ordered liquor from there on board ship store and it was NEVER delivered to our room. It toke over 20min standing in line at the guest services desk then we were asked to come back in 15min before they could credit back to my account. While we were standing in line many

times to try and get our bill explained to us.We heard other people complaining about there bill being messed up. After I got off the ship I found out my account was charged another 4 times adding up to over 270 dollars. When I called customer services they said that carnival randomly charges holds to your card but could not tell me what the hold were for, Y they were charged on the same days, or how they got these random amounts.The customer service rep was VERY rude and unhelpful.They where also supposed to do something special for our anniversary and they did not. This was our first cruise and I am very unhappy about having to fight with them to get my money back.I will not travel them anymore, I will also let all my friends and family know many who r planning upcoming cruises ,I have also blogged about this The food was good but nothing to wright home about. The state room was always clean and fresh for 2 people it was the perfect size. We were on the 4th fl room R120 and couldnt feel the ship moving at all. There wasn't a lot to do if you are not a drinker. The dancing by the pool was fun. The shows were good. They snorkeling was AWESOME . Bahamas was like a dream. NOT HAPPY with Carnival a all. They where also supposed to do something special cuz it was our anniversary and they never did. Was not a very good 1st time cruise due steady having to go to guest services. Then was made worse by the charges we found out about when we got off the ship.

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Apr 26, 2010

bahamas

The crusie overall was good but not GREAT! The food was good I didn't have any complaints about it. If you want the best food the Ecsasty is the best place to go to eat. They also have 24 hour Pizza and ice cream so it was nice to have food avaiable at all times. My stateroom was great. The beds are soooo comfortable! It was always kept clean. Me and my best friend had the best room steward,he was alawys nice to us and he knew us by our names.

We would wake up early and eat breakfast and 30 min later we'd come back to the room and the beds were made and everything! The onboard activites were okay. They had shows every night they were good,the had a las vegas type show, and 80's show and comedy so they were pretty enjoyable. But other then that i wasnt to impressed with the other stuff the had. Me and my friend wanted to do laser tag, lets just say they were very unorgnized. Me and the group I was with missed one excursion becasue of the weather. We couldnt stop in freeport bc the weather was that bad. But if you are planning to go to nassua and to Atlatis city make sure you get the access pass to the man made beach that is their. I did not get to go to any beach which was a big bummer. If you plan on doing the dolphin excursion its defiantly worth it,it was alot of fun! The trip was good. I wish the weather was more better but that was uncontrollable. On the day it was really nice out it was soooo crowded it was hard to find a place to tan. And if you love to swim and get in the hot tubs...goodluck...its impossible to get in the hottub their was always little kids in their,me and my friend found the hot tub empty one time and as soon as i got in their 10 kids came in,they were nosiy and splashy...where the hell were their parents??? On our first day on the boat it was really rocky everone in my group got pretty sick i took an ambien and was out by 8.It did get better though throughout the rest of he trip. Other than that everything was nice,but if your looking to go on a AMAZING trip that is peacefull without kids running around i wouldnt reccomend this ship but it was enjoyable!!

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By Mary_CR

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Mar 7, 2010

Bahamas

This was my first cruise and my husbands second. I absolutely loved it! He let me book everything so he would not be held liable ha ha. Read the rest of the review as I did buy excursions (way too much $$$) my room was awesome. Other than all the kids, (I didn't want couple only but man, were there lots of kids) I would definitely book Carnival again but not during a school break. We are going to take our daughter for her 21st birthday in two years.

Also, The PEOPLE WHO STAY ON THE ELEVATOR after people get off DO NOT HOLD THE DOORS (read below) The food was good, gourmet..no, but what I expected for the price. We ate in the Fantasy Dining Room and our servers were exceptional, I think we were lucky because "Cool Guy" and Luciano made our meals enjoyable, hopefully all diners were as lucky! The dress coed was less formal than I was led to believe but that was okay, because we didn't want to bring formal attire and didn't. It was much bigger than expected and was a Ocean View with a window, I would do that again or maybe with a private balcony, just not a porthole. It was clean and everything in working order, beds were extremely comfortable and with ocean view rooms you get these wonderful robes AWESOME! We received clean fresh large beach towels every evening for the next day. We were lucky our room steward would make different towel animals and although it was just my husband and I and we are 50, it was fun and enjoyable and we took pictures of them! The shows were good, and the comedy and magic acts. I was bummed that there was such a small space for adults and 2 small jacuzzi's. There should be a large pool for adults only, because we had 640 kids on our cruise and the one small pool was filled with them...also was the jacuzzi over there, at least they did have 2 small jacuzzi s for adults but they needed to be larger. I think the spa (unless you take advantage of the managers special) was way over priced, I did use the managers special but wouldn't have if they didn't have that and I go to a spa once a month at home so I do know the prices. I think there needed to be more adult fun games, not just karaoke and a hairy chest contest! Excursions are too expensive get a cab for Freeport beach and shopping day for $5- definitely not worth the $45. I paid and then they take you at 9:30 and return you at 1:30, we stayed and paid the $5 for a cab because the sun came out at 1. We got back in time by 4:30 a half hour earlier that we were supposed to. Nassau, take the water taxi to Atlantis it is only $12 as opposed to a cab for $24 then you pay your fees to enter etc... the ships was too expensive, same for the beach, cab is expensive, take the water taxis! The PEOPLE WHO STAY ON THE ELEVATOR after people get off DO NOT HOLD THE DOORS so therefore the doors close pretty fast. Middle of the cruise I was tired that 4 elevators passed us by on the ship because as soon as people got off the doors started closing and no on would hold them open. It was 8:30 a.m. we had breakfast and had coffee in our hands along with excursion tickets, well, I stuck my foot in the 5th elevator (the 3 people left on just stood there an watched, never held open the door or tried to open it) and stuck my foot in to hold it, well the doors closed too hard and fast, therefore I HAVE TWO BROKEN TOES. I did not go to the ships medical as you pay out of pocket and then you haggle with your insurance company after your return to get it paid.

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Feb 19, 2010

bahamas- Freeport and Nassau

My husband booked this cruse for me, my son (12), and my daughter (17) because he was working and was not able to take time off. Overall our stay on the carnival Sensation was decent, but nothing spectacular. The ship's decor is very outdated, and everything is disorganized! nothing is connected on the ship, we found ourselves getting lost numerous times. There are not enough elevators to compensate for the amount of people on board, and many of

the elevators do not lead to one place- they stop on the 8th or ninth floor so you find yourself walking down long hallways just to find the center of the ship. Our room was small, it was on the Main Deck, but it was always kept clean and the housekeeping staff were very helpful. What i found to be unpleasant is that there is only ONE pool on the entire ship, for a cruise that was almost filled to maximum capacity of about 2500 people! This pool was tinier than pools that you find at most hotels, and was always occupied by young children, as well as the hot tub. The area around the pool was always crowded as well, so we didn't spend much time there at all. The food was okay- the buffet was nothing to brag about, and there were 1/2 hour lines to get your food. Tables were hard to find. The food on the outdoor lido deck was pretty good, they had hamburgers and chicken. There was also an area where you could choose your own vegetables, meat, and sauce, and the cooks would cook your stir-fry on a stove- similar to bd's mongolian barbeque, if you have ever eaten there. We had dinner at the ecstasy dining room, I have to say that the food at dinner was the best on the entire ship, and the waiters were friendly and helpful- always willing to recommend to you what is best on the menu.. If you didn't like something that you ordered they offered to get you something else. One night they had lobster tail and shrimp on the menu, which was great. There were kids clubs such as Camp Carnival for younger kids, ages 11 and under, Circle C for kids ages 12-14, and a Club 02 for teens 15-17 years old. My son attended Circle C for the days at Sea, since there were many scheduled activities throughout the day. My daughter didn't care much for Club 02 but there were many activities there as well such as battle of the sexes, movie night etc. The cruise staff do not tell you anything though, everything is very secretive, you have to find out for yourself: For example, the staff fails to mention that you can eat at the dining rooms for breakfast and lunch if you don't wish to wait a 1/2 hour for food, or if you want to avoid the crowd etc. When we stopped at Freeport and Nassau in the Bahamas, they don't even give you a map, or any recommendations as to what is there, so you feel like you are on your own in a different country. We took a shore excursion in Freeport, The Bahamas , a deluxe beach break and shopping tour. The beach was nice, they gave you access to the beach and shopping around the Grand Lucaya Resort, however, it was not worth $45 per person. It was very cold, they take you at 9:30 and then leave around 1:00, just when it starts to get warm! We later learned that anyone can have access to this beach and shopping, and that we could have just taken a taxi there, which would have only cost $5 per person each way and we could have stayed longer. In Nassau we went to the Atlantis Resort and that place is HUGE.. we got lost throughout the resort but it was very enjoyable... the wave pool and lazy river was fun, and there were 4 water slides in a place called the power tower.. also a water slide that goes through a shark tank! It was fun but it was not enough time to see the whole thing or enjoy everything there was to offer.. It was a little pricey too. The photographers on the ship were awful, there was not one picture of us where all three of us looked okay, someone either blinked, was looking the other way, or there were random people in the background of the picture..I saw a lot of people taking formal portraits and those seemed to be okay.. they were only $10.00 so a lot of people took advantage of that. The shows on board were okay, but mostly for adults. There were not much things that the three of us could enjoy together, and the boat is so rocky that it is hard to enjoy anything onboard anyway. Overall, it was a nice short cruse for some R & R, but I would never cruise on Carnival again. I have cruised with Royal Caribbean before on the Navigator of the Seas, and it is much much better. Everything is organized, there are much more activities and shows for the family- even the kids clubs are better. At royal Caribbean they give you points cards, so that every time you go, you get points. And at the end of the cruise you can select a prize. There was nothing like this on this ship. The food was much much better, and the staff seemed to care more. There was no waiting in lines, and there were much more restaurants. There were at least 3 or 4 pools and some of those were indoors in case it was cold. You were treated much better and they gave you maps and recommendations about the place that you stopped at- the captain would greet you every morning over the speaker system etc, tell you how the weather was like, etc. He actually showed up to the captain's formal dinner, on the Carnival Sensation, we did not even meet the captain nor did he show up at dinner. Carnival is a big ripoff, as well, with hidden and extraneous fees that were not necessary- I tried to use the internet cafe once to print my boarding passes- it seems as if they purposely made the internet slow just so they could charge you more money. Overall it was ok for a short vacation but there are better options out there.

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Feb 15, 2010

Bahamas

My husband and 4 yr old daughter were on the Carnival Fascination Feb 6-11, 2010. We had an amazing time on this ship, so amazing that we decided to book a back to back cruise while on board the Fascination. We booked our next cruise for the Carnival Sensation for Feb 11-14, 2010. I would like to tell you a little about both of our experiences on the ships. The Carnival Fascination for us was by far the best vacation we have had, the service was

amazing the staff was accommodating, friendly and fun was had by all. The Guest Services staff was very helpful in letting us call Carnival to book our next cruise, our vacation specialist Shaun did all he could do to make sure we were taken care of and the Bar Staff, specifically Pedro and James were amazing servers, which made our vacation incredibly enjoyable. We also must mention camp Carnival on this ship, they were an amazing staff that our daughter loved. We arrived back in Jacksonville Feb 11th and rented a car and drive to Port Canaveral to catch our next cruise, the Sensation. This cruise from the first day was not nearly the experience we had on the Fascination. The staff was very unfriendly, including the bar staff. There was not one waiter which we felt really wanted to serve us. We are EXTREMELY disappointed in the entire Sensation experience, had we cruised on this ship first we would NOT be returning to a Carnival cruise. When we booked this Sensation cruise, we paid almost $200 more for a 3 day trip than we paid for our 5 day cruise on the Fascination, for the extra money we paid, we DID NOT get our moneys worth, There were just 3 people which we felt were helpful on this entire ship, William at guest services, Andy our steward and Camp Carnival was great. Dont expect a 5 diamond restaurant style food, although it was good Comfortable and our Steward was accomodating On this ship there were not enough interactive activities In Nassau we took the Catamaran boat out for snorkeling and it was amazing amazing the staff was accommodating, friendly and fun was had by all. The Guest Services staff was very helpful in letting us call Carnival to book our next cruise, our vacation specialist Shaun did all he could do to make sure we were taken care of and the Bar Staff, specifically Pedro and James were amazing servers, which made our vacation incredibly enjoyable. We also must mention camp Carnival on this ship, they were an amazing staff that our daughter loved. We arrived back in Jacksonville Feb 11th and rented a car and drive to Port Canaveral to catch our next cruise, the Sensation. This cruise from the first day was not nearly the experience we had on the Fascination. The staff was very unfriendly, including the bar staff. There was not one waiter which we felt really wanted to serve us. We are EXTREMELY disappointed in the entire Sensation experience, had we cruised on this ship first we would NOT be returning to a Carnival cruise. When we booked this Sensation cruise, we paid almost $200 more for a 3 day trip than we paid for our 5 day cruise on the Fascination, for the extra money we paid, we DID NOT get our moneys worth, There were just 3 people which we felt were helpful on this entire ship, William at guest services, Andy our steward and Camp Carnival was great.

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Feb 9, 2010

Freeport Nassau Bahamas

Overall experience was sensational! No pun intended. This was my first cruise and I decided I would do it again before this one was even over. My first vacation where I didn't have to do ANYTHING. Service was excellent and I felt free from all obligation to others -- because they were taken care of as well as I was. Two Thumbs Up! Breakfast and Lunch were buffet style. The lines moved pretty quickly and the food was decent. Sometimes seating

was a problem but I chalk that up to being with such a large group of people (16 of us). If going in a smaller group, seating would not be an issue. Did not try the 24 hour pizza (but the kids with us said it was good). However the 24 hour ice cream and yogurt machines was visited often. Yummy little baby cones that were just right. Dinner was my favorite. What a great opportunity to try things you wouldn't necessarily order at a restaurant. The servings were generous -- so much so that I didn't stick around for dessert the first two nights. I learned to adjust though and made sure I had that chocolate melting lava cake and ice cream concoction that was a crowd fave. The one thing I would do differently is select late dining rather than early -- Kinda hard to be hungry at 6 p.m. after eating breakfast and lunch -- at least for me. i was pleasantly surprised by the size of the stateroom -- and I went budget all the way. Inside cabin. However, since I was traveling with a friend, we had two twin beds which made the room very spacious. A couple traveling with us had the same stateroom, but with a large bed and it took up a lot of the floor space. I think even if going with my partner, we would do the twin bed arrangement. Closets were spacious and I unpacked everything immediately upon arriving. Made my stay very easy -- suitcases fit nicely under the bed and voila! Time to have fun. The crew also kept the room absolutely tip-top shape -- trash appeared to magically disappear. The activities were varied. Some I participated in and others not -- but that was the nice thing. I felt free to do what I wanted and not stick to any agenda. I really enjoyed the 80's show, the Trivia, and the Newlywed game. A little disappointed with bingo because it was $10 a card (or 3 for $20) and you only played one game for a $500 win so I chose not to play. Thought that was a little high. However -- I did ride up on the elevator with the eventual winner and he was one happy camper! :) I meant to play mini golf but never found the time. and I meant to do the water slide -- and I meant ... etc. See, no wonder I need to go back again! I did the catamaran / snorkeling / rum punch excursion. First time snorkeling and it was AMAZING. Really glad I did it. However, next time I would skip the rum punch and do the same excursion only with the stop at a beach instead of rum punch. Because my biggest regret out of my trip was never once hitting a beach -- I wanted to bring home sand! We flew into Orlando and boarded at Port Canaveral. The process went very smooth. Ship departed at 4:00 p.m., but we boarded at 12:45 and were immediately greeted with a tropical cocktail of the day in a souvenir glass for $7.50. Um... I drank a quarter of it and was about ready to fall off my bar stool (granted I am not a big drinker, but I had to have one). Passed the remaining cocktail over to my more seasoned friends and bought the $29 unlimited soda pass. Lifesaver!

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Jan 5, 2010

NASSAU

the Sensation does the 3 and 4 day to the bahamas we did the new years cruise this year. The ship does a pretty good job on the party on the lido deck. Band was good and pretty much continuous. Carnival even gave out free champaign thru out the night. The state rooms have been redone and are better laid out . Service in the dining room was adequate however the rules concerning dress are getting lax ie people in shorts and t shirts at dinner.

Which I think contributes to some declines in service and food. Since we have been to Nassau many times we do not use excusions, We did take the local bus out to Cable Beach and used resort facilites there and on the way back stopped at Arawak Cay for a late lunch of local sea food. The bus is 1.25 pp each way. A problem on the short cruises is they use the same entertainment over and over one would think the entertainers could have more than one act to do over and over. All this being said if you are a first time cruiser and need to get a feel for what cruising is like then a 3 or 4 day on the sensation gives you an idea of what to expect on future cruises I would recommend this for first timers was ok and was surprized that they had lobster on a 3 night cruise. deserts were nothing special however if you want something that is not on the menu ask the waiter and you could be surprized the next night if it not available State rooms have been redone but lack a hair dryer (absolutely needed by my wife) sufficent closet and cabinent room for clothes All room have robes which is a nice touch Usual activities while on sea day used the Adults only area which is great (and it was enforced) Nassau has many things that one can do on their own which is what we do. Atlantis has become an attraction but it is expensive to see the aquarium. a typical three night cruise feels like it is over before it starts

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Oct 17, 2009

Bahamas

We were very excited about this vacation my family and I had it planned for 12 months before the date, and everyone was going. We had 9 people in all. My mom and dad drove down from Indiana as well as my boyfriend's mom, brother, and his brother's girlfriend. Then there was me, my boyfriend, and our two children (15 & 13 years old). We drove to Florida a day early and stayed at the days inn coco beach. Upon arriving at the hotel we noticed several

strip clubs which were right around the rooms. We were right on the beach which was nice, and we were able to take a shuttle to the ports. We boarded the shuttle van at 11am and arrived at the ports. There were no lines going through check-in and it was pretty speedy. We set up our sign and sail accounts and boarded the boat. We were told to go to the lido deck where we had to wait with all of our bags until our rooms were ready at 3:30pm. Upon arriving at the Lido Deck we were able to use the buffet and all the services on that deck. We found 2 hot tubs and a pool no bigger than a hotel size pool (this was the only pool on the ship). When we were able to go to our rooms we found a very clean room and there was a decent amount of room; however, we had no daily itinerary or any directions on where things were located on the boat. We had to go through the muster drill which was not informative at all. We were not shown where our life boat was located in case of an emergency nor what number our life boat would be. By the time all of that was completed it was time for dinner. Everyone in our party sat at the same table, because we booked at the same time. The dinner was very nice and the dining room staff were wonderful. The dinner was a bit lengthy as we were not done until around 8pm. We walked around the boat for about 45 minutes and then headed to the room to rest. I was always told that there was something to do all hours long on the ship, but when we awoke at 12:30am and decided to go for a walk we found that everything was closed down (shops, night clubs, and lounges, Lido Buffet & Lido deck, swimming pools and hot tubs, and there were hardly any people around). We went back to our room and ordered room service where we received a cold grilled cheese and soggy BLT sandwiches. We arrived in the Bahamas around 11:30am that afternoon it was very pretty coming into the port. As we headed to the gangway and exited the boat we were rushed with people taking photos we made our way through the mess of people and started the long walk down the dock to the shopping area. We did not plan shore activities ahead of time as there were so many people in our group. We decided to go through the straw market and to the beach. On our journey we and our children were offered to buy drugs, and I felt overwhelmed in the straw market. We made it to the beach where there was garbage all over the place, broken glass in the sand, and garbage in the water. My son was still enjoying the swimming and I had an ok time until a man and lady got into a fight on the beach the man screamed out all kinds of profanities and then threatened to shot the tourists. At that point we gathered our things and headed back to the boat. We enjoyed a little sun on the deck by the pool and then got ready for the captain's dinner. I was told that we would really enjoy this. We all got dressed up and arrived early. We were seated and ordered our food. They offered lobster tail on this night. We were never offered a glass of wine as we were told, nor did the captain ever come out. This night we discovered that most everything closed at 8pm. The lido deck buffet closed at 6pm and the golf was closed at 8pm. The golf was on the top deck outside so when the winds were high or it was raining we could not play. There were no on-board announcements to inform passengers of on-board activities throughout the day. The elevators in the plaza were broken and there fore we had to walk clear across the ship to get to the main plaza and shopping area. There was a duty free shop where you could purchase tobacco products and alcohol. You were not informed that you were only able to carry off one liter of alcohol per person and one carton of smokes. The activities for the kids were not sufficient. The food was good. There were short lines at the buffets, and good hot food. On board activities were not announced. There were two shows each night; one at 7pm and the same one at 8:45pm, and then the adult comedy show at 10:30. These were not kid friendly. The mini golf was outside and could not be played in the rain or high winds. I was pretty disappointed and unimpressed. This was not what others said they experienced on the same cruise. I would like to take another cruise as I enjoyed relaxing with my family, but will research another cruise line and destination next time.

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By Ivy_CR

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Sep 6, 2009

Bahamas

We were really excited about this trip. We were celebrating our 10th anniversary, and our daughters (ages 7 and 5) were coming with us, as well as our friends (who also have kids, ages 10 and 7). We boarded in Port Canaveral. It was raining and the line was out the door. We were herded like cattle and spoken to on auto pilot. I felt that we weren't informed enough. The check-in woman said "You want a cash account, right?" And she set it up before

we said anything. I then realized that we wanted to charge things to our credit card, not put cash up front. She said we had to change it when we got on the ship. We asked if we were sitting together with our friends at dinner, and we received our sign and sail cards, they had different table numbers. That was another thing we had to take care of when we got on the ship. We got on the ship, had lunch and then went to take care of our "issues". We went to the dining room to get our table assignments changed and were treated very rudely. We ended up getting two tables next to each other, which was fine. We had to wait in a long line to get our account changed. That night my friend and I went to the spa and got the head-to-toe treatment. It was not good, and then it ended up in a huge sales pitch for expensive spa items, which I had no intention of buying. Day two was Nassau, Bahamas. We didn't dock until noon and the excursions didn't start until 1:00. We did Blackbeard Beach. We got off the ship and were herded for a long walk through the shops to the boat dock, for a long boat ride to the beach. I was checking my watch because it was already 2:00 when we arrived at the beach, and the boat was leaving at 4:30. We were going to formal night (our anniversary) and it would be a rush to get back and get ready for our 6:00 dinner. The kids enjoyed the beach, but there wasn't much near the beach. I was hoping to go shopping, but there was only a very small gift shop and a puny snack bar with overpriced food. We left at 4:30 and got back on the ship at 5:15 (after waiting in a long line). We did have to rush to get ready. The formal night was good - the food was good. My kids went to Camp Carnival, which they loved. They had a great time. At breakfast on the 3rd day, my husband was asked to remove his hat, which he did. At dinner that night in the dining room, we noticed men wearing shorts, bathing suits and flip flops. One man wore a hat. I was outraged. We dressed nice for dinner and these people just didn't care. And they weren't asked to go change or remove the hat. Kids were running wild around the ship unsupervised. Kids as young as 5 or 6 were running up and down the stairs and playing in the elevators. They took over the hot tubs by the pool and cut in line at the buffet on Lido Deck. Late at night, people were standing outside our cabin, cussing and talking loud and saying rude things. We had kids with us and it wasn't pleasant. I called guest services and they said they would take care of it but never saw anyone come up. At breakfast the next morning in Seaview Grill, the same people were at a table nearby, talking very loudly, cussing and insulting each other. Other people were giving them dirty looks and we complained twice, but nothing was done right away. Finally, after 20 minutes, a security guard wandered over, talked to them for 10 seconds and went away. The people continued their cuss-fest. I know Carnival advertises as being a fun-ship but there should be limits. We liked our stateroom. We had an interior room, but it was fine because we were hardly in the room. We didn't do many activities but we went to the Newlywed/Not so Newlywed game and that was funny. We played Bingo, and hung out in the disco during 70's and 80's night. The casino was a joke - the slot machine ate my $10 and we didn't win anything. We saw the show Curves and I almost fell asleep. My last 2 cruises were on Royal Caribbean, and they were much better than this cruise. RC is more elegant, the food was better and they didn't rush you during dinner. On this cruise, it seemed like the staff was on auto-pilot and was either rude or indifferent. The dining room staff was nice, however, and they were great to the kids. They even cut up their food at lunch and poured their ketchup, which I think is going above and beyond. I would definitely book with Royal Caribbean or another recommended cruise line next time, NOT Carnival.

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Sep 2, 2009

Bahamas

At first the cruise was nice, until I realized that you have to pay for soft drinks. I have been on a ship before and never had to buy soft drinks and they were $2.00 a can. My niece got sick on the ship, she went into a sickle cell crises and I took her to medical to put her on IV fluids. Afterwards, the nurse then told me that thats a charge for that. $177.00! They would not take medical insurance, and the nurse stated that we are in international

wasters after I stated that we are still in the USA America, well the world. And everyone in the world takes medicad and medicare. The nurse was very rude at that time, and kept insisting that I refused to pay. Later on that night, a man fell off the ship, and it took two hours to recover him, and Walt Disney cruise line had to come out to find the passenger because Carnival did not have the proper gear to find the passenger, the little boat they were tempting to put in the water kept sinking, the lights that they had on to locate the passenger were not bright enough. If it had not been for the other ship the passenger would have lost his life. I feel if that Carnival is all about the money, I asked the nurse what if my niece had to be carried off the ship on a gurney, she said they charge for that also and the ambulance. Those two incidences ruined my whole cruise. We could hear the man out at sea hollering for help, and the cruise line could not even retirieve him or find him with the lights. I mainly ate from room service and the seaview buffet, that was the best. The dinning area food was not good, they dress the plates with decoration, to accomodate for the food. I could not eat the decorated food, mainly because it was cold and it took to long to get your food. If you like decorated food and cold and salads without meat, onions, tomatoes and salad dressing then this is the food for you. My stateroom was nice, that was the best thing about my cruise. I had a balcony and my room attendant, Randall, was really there for me. Carnival needs more workers like that. If it wasn't for him I would not have gotten any services for my room. Well my room was not cleaned but one time because my friend stayed in the room a lot and when we did leave for hours at a time the room was still not cleaned but I am not complaing about that because that was my friends fault. I guess the activities were alright, what little I was able to see. The music could have been a little better in the pool area. Stay away from Carnival Sensation please, this is not the cruise for you, instead book Walt Disney, my coworker had just got back from Walt Disney cruise line and she loved it. I know that they have a working rescue boat and working bright enough lights to find a man overboard. I've seen that for my self. I am really not happy about Carnival Cruise Line, I will never spend my money on this ship ever again. My experience with carnival was terrible! Just to get money from ATM was a $6.00 charge, I asked if I can transfer money from my credit debit card to sail away card and the answer was no. This has not been a good experience.

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Apr 17, 2009

Bahamas

We sailed on this ship in June 2007 and again in April 2009. Since the cruise in 2007 the ship had been completely gutted and redone, and it was beautiful . . . albeit the usual somewhat tacky cruise ship decor. The cabins were still small but the storage space had been substantially increased and the bathroom shower was doubled, having sacrificed the vanity in the bath. Everything on this ship was brand new and sparkling clean. We planned this

trip to celebrate our anniversary and had a wonderful overall experience. The food continues to improve on Carnival ships and I was happy to see my favorite dessert, the Chocolate Melting Cake, still on the menu and still as delicious as my tastebuds remember. It was a bit obvious that there are cutbacks due to the economy, but nothing substantial. The stateroom was small but more than ample storage. Love those Carnival beds! My only complaint was that the window was so dirty to the point that our view was obstructed. The evening shows were second-rate, although the dancers and customes were better than on most Carnival cruises. We just did not like the themes of the shows. We did not go to the comedian shows and were told by our table mates that we didn't miss anything. I really would like to see Carnival improve the quality of their evening shows. The other activities were standard. I booked a massage at the spa at Atlantis and it was the worst massage I have ever had and extremely over-priced. I know this is not a cruise-sponsored excursion but just in case anyone else has the idea they want to do this, don't waste your money. My husband played golf through Carnival golf and he and the golf pro were the only ones who played. He had a blast. He usually plays golf when we sail to Nassau. We are Carnival Concierge members and it is so worth taking the number of cruises (10+) to get to this level. Embarkation and Debarkation is a breeze (first on, first off), and the gifts and amenities are wonderful. We enjoyed a free bottle of wine with dinner, free canapes delivered to our cabin, a special Carnival gift, discounts on photos and gift shop purchases, free entry to slot machine tournament, free wash and fold laundry, special stationery, etc. The only negative I continue to see on all Carnival ships, no matter what class, is that the Purser's Desk has the worst customer service, is the least trained on how to handle unusual situations, and do not speak English well-enough to be in a full-time customer facing position.

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Nov 9, 2008

Bahamas

This was a wonderful vacation! The ship was more than I had really expected after reading other reviews. Overall the food on board was outstanding and in great portions!! I did not really enjoy the midnight mexican buffet which ended up making me sick, but that was probably just my taste since everyone else seemed to enjoy this. I took the opportunity to try all the different dishes in the formal dining and only found one that I did not like

at all and that was the spring roll. The stateroom was very comfortable and roomy. The staff did a great job keeping it neat and clean. Lots to do. I do wish they had offered an area for slow dancing at night.

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Oct 19, 2008

Bahamas

I went on the Carnival Sensation with a group of my friends (we're all in our early to mid 20s). This was the first cruise that anyone in our group had been on, so nobody had any expectations. We had a wonderful time, and it definitely hooked us on cruising! We boarded at Port Canaveral without difficulty. We drove from Atlanta that morning and got there and on board with plenty of time to spare. We were able to get into our room fairly quickly.

The life jacket drill took longer than I expected, and we actually started sailing out while we were lined up on the deck. The food was amazing. We usually ate at buffet for breakfast, which was better than any hotel we would have stayed at on a typical vacation! Nothing too exciting, but it was good. The 24 hour pizza/ice cream especially appealed to the guys in our group. We ate some of our meals at weird hours, so it was definitely a convenient thing to have! The absolute best part was the food in the dining room. Our group of 6 had our own table and our waiter (Donny) and his assistant (Murat) were fantastic!! They knew our names and faces within 5 minutes of meeting us and would always stop by and chat if they saw us anywhere on the ship! My favorite items at the dining hall were the lobster, strawberry bisque, and warm chocolate melting cake. We booked 3 interior rooms side by side and ended up with ocean view (the 2 portholes) which was a pleasant surprise. The rooms were small, but suited our needs just fine. Our room was kept clean, and though we rarely saw anyone go in, the beds were always made up in the morning and turned down at night (with the cute towel animals). I'll be honest, I didn't participate in many onboard activities. I went to the karaoke lounge the last night and that was pretty entertaining to watch. The midnight buffet was a little to loud and wild for my taste, but I think a lot of people would enjoy it. Freeport - don't try to walk to the beach yourself... it's too far. We took a taxi to the beach and found a nice area. There were people offering to braid your hair, and jet-skis for rent. We went swimming and laid out (although it was a little cool being December!). We walked around the shops for awhile... there was a huge Christmas tree up... drinks for sale... it was a nice little area. Nassau - we were given directions to a local beach, but it had old tires, broken glass, rocks, and unpleasantness everywhere. We ended up taking a taxi to Paradise Island and found a beach that was wonderful. The water was perfect, there were great waves... and if you paid $10 you could get unlimited refills on your Rum/Fruit punch drink. Haha. We spent a long day there and walked around the Straw Market for a little while as well. The Carnival Sensation may be somewhat old, and the decor somewhat tacky, but I had a great time, and would recommend this cruise to anyone! Be sure to bring a camera - and I would recommend investing in a waterproof digital one. I brought my new one along and took close to 900 pictures! :)

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Oct 18, 2008

Bahamas

The food was good...great selections. The reason I gave it 3 stars was because it did get a little repetitive at times when they served the same things the whole cruise, the service was awesome, cabins were always kept clean, beds were always made..entertainment was great the comedian was hilarious but was for adults only...this ship is the one to go on for family outings...overall you get a lot of bang for your buck. Food was awesome just very

repetitive..they have the same thing everyday, but the formal dining experience was pretty good - awesome waiter with great food. Stateroom was always clean, beds always made...much more room then expected. Good choices for adults and kids..adults could go to the bars and clubs, kids had camp carnival and the pools to keep them occupied. The reason I gave a 1 star rating for this is because we booked two excursions and both were cancelled. I cant really give any input other then pure anger at the cancellations. It was a decent trip..I would definitely tell others to go on this ship but not the trip...Freeport and Nassau were to very dirty places only thing worth go there for is the crystal clear water....the drivers there were maniacs and you couldn't go anywhere without being offered marijuana, but the shops were pretty cool.

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Oct 10, 2008

Bahamas

Overall, our family and friends enjoyed our short cruise on the Carnival Sensation. The food tasted good, although not alot of choices. The staterooms were larger than I expected as was the bathroom. The decor on the boat was cheesy but the casino was much larger than I thought it would be. The entertainment was so-so. Our family ate at the buffet for all but one meal. We did not have a lot of dressy clothing with us so the dining room was only

an option one evening. Buffet:The food at the buffet tasted very good, however the selection was somewhat limited. Hidden away in a corner is 24-hour pizza as well as a bar. I was not impressed with the plates....they were plastic which I thought was cheesy. They were also constantly wet from being fresh from the dishwasher and I got tired of wet dishes. The plates were often a little dirty so I swapped my plate for a different one on more than one occasion. The feel of the buffet was very "cafeteria" and it was odd eating such good food in such a casual setting. The tables and chairs were all aluminum and I would have enjoyed more of a formal dining feel even though it was a buffet. The desserts were plentiful during lunchtime but scarce at dinner which I thought was odd. The cheesecake had no taste but the chocolate cake with the pudding in the middle was to die for. Ecstasy Dining Room:The waitstaff was very attentive and professional. Again, the choices were limited but the food was good. I chose a New York Sirloin and it was flavorful and tender. The stateroom was comfortable enough for two people and larger than our past experience on a different cruise line. The bed was a queen size and the bedding was very comfortable.There was a lot of storage (closets and drawers) in the room as well. The bathroom was a decent size but it needed some cosmetic updates. Our cleaning staff were very nice and attentive. We were greeted each night to a cute towel animal which everyone in our group looked forward to at the end of the day!Overall we were happy with the stateroom. There was always something going on but the activities seemed unorganized. Some examples are:-at one point there was bingo scheduled for 30 minutes. By the time everyone purchased their bingo cards there was only 9 minutes available to actually play bingo. I thought this was a waste of money.-many activities started late. My husband and I showed up on time for several activities but waited ten minutes or more for the activity to get under way which was frustrating-One fun activity held was teaching the guests how to make the towel animals that were left in our stateroom each night. However, the room where the activity was held did not suit the activity. Ideally, each person would have had a small banquet table to spread out the towels. Instead we were cramped in and didn't really have room to spread out. But the idea was good!On the positive side the evening shows with the dancers/singers were very good. The men and women are very talented and the shows were entertaining. In addition, the entertainment director, Paul, was extremely funny. We took a $4 cab ride over to Atlantis which we thought was reasonable (also $4 back but still reasonable). The hotel was beautiful and the grounds were gorgeous but other than gambling there was not a lot to do. There was an aquarium for an extra cost but we chose not to pay for it. We were only in port for a half day so other than Atlantis we just walked around Nassau...not far, just by the port. The area of Nassau where the straw market is very poor and we were not comfortable so we didn't spend much time there. Overrall we had fun but I don't think we will go to Nassau again. Not much to do there and it's dirty. I'm also pretty sure we will try a different boat next time. The Carnival Sensation is not a bad boat by any means but, we would like a slightly more luxurious boat with more bells and whistles and more things to do. By the end of the 3rd day we had exhausted everything the boat had to offer.

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Oct 8, 2008

Bahamas

This was our first cruise. We left the kids at home for our first one. We went with another couple and they had gone on two prior cruises. Everything was great.... The food, the employees, the shows. The last night was rough seas (we were told that the ship goes at a slower speed due to whales being in the area). Highly recommend this ship. Despite the decor (anodized purple) is retro 90's. Very, very good. Great choices. We were on the veranda

floor (10th). Interior room. Very spacious and ample room. great shows If in Freeport, take a cab to the beach area. Nice shopping, and the beach is beautiful.

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Mar 19, 2008

Western Caribbean

Just returned from EXCELLENT weather on a very fun ship! We took our 4 children ages 7,9,11 & 15. This review is geared for travelers with kids trying to save as much money as possible. It cost us 5,000 before we left our home just to get on this ship for 6persons air/sea. A special THANKS for this web site it is the BEST site for cruise information. We found it very useful for our trip. Travel a day ahead. We found a hotel Radisson that

kept our car all week for free. Ask for the Park and Fly. We just spent the night and glad we did. We were only 20 miles from port in the morning. Embarkment was very efficient. We got to the ship 1:30 pm and were on board within an hour. Take the advice of filling out your fun pass ahead of time at www.carnival.com under: BOOKED GUEST. You can fill out your fun pass there. Saves you plenty of time filling out forms. Our ship did not sail till 8:30 pm due to engine problems so the first night was a bust because you couldn't gamble, pool was not yet filled (yes, it is ocean water but the kids loved it). We needed the time anyways to explore the ship, the drinks were flowing and the food in abundance! When you purchase your first drink a souvenir glass ins 6.75, however you can ask for a regular glass for 4.50. I was glad I put a bottle of wine and a liter of Vodka in my suitcase. It saved us dearly. You beer & cocktail drinkers might as well order top shelf because it's all the same price and they make a good drink. If I did this cruise all over again I would get a larger cabin with a window. We were at E28 & E34 inside no window. Pitch dark day or night. Thanks to the people on this site who recommended clocks & a extra power strip. There was only one plug and that took care of the clock!Also pack a jacket and sweats or jeans, it does get chilly at night. We chose NOT to pre plan our activities in Cayman and Cozumel and so glad we did! Since we left 2 hours late we did not arrive in the Cayman Island till 9 am. If you do plan ahead do not plan for a early excursion. This creates too much pressure and does not allow for things like this to happen. In the Cayman we took a Taxi and managed to find a beach for free to swim. We avoided the 5.00 a chair by using the Carnival towels, provided with your cabin. Again, remember we are paying for 6! It was 30.00 for us to go one way anywhere on shore. Don't forget your video camera for the Caymans it is sooo beautiful there! Cozumel is the best place to buy souvenirs although I do not think they gave us enough of a discount as they should have, stay firm and walk away! However you can easily find 5.00 t-shirts that are awesome! The food is awesome, the service is great. Even when it wasn't (yes, that will happen) please understand that these people are on board 6 months a year (away from their families) making 70.00 a MONTH. They do make 15% of whatever they manage to sell you at the bar, photos, store etc. Over all you are treated like royalty..my children were safe to roam anywhere, help was always near by, and the ship, your room will always be spotless! Cut them some slack. Camp Carnival wasn't for my kids, but other enjoyed it and there was still other things for them to do. I would take this cruise again.    

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Jun 2, 2007

Bahamas

My family and I just took our second Carnival cruise and it was absolutely fantastic. I have read poor reviews of Carnival and really have no idea where they come from. On both of our Carnival cruises, this is what we found: Service: The service is always excellent. Cabin stewards, wait staff, bartenders, ships officers, etc. are all quite courteous and helpful. Now given the international nature of the crew, some have better

English than others.  And sometimes cultural differences can be interpreted by some as rudeness. For example, on this last cruise, one of our waiters referred to our 11 year old son as 'the boy'.  However, it was not at all meant to be rude. He was a wonderful waiter, and in fact made sure my son got things like an extra desert. Food: The main formal dining is a pretty good place. Now I live in Dallas and have eaten at Truluck's, Kirby's Steak House, Chamberlains Fish Market, etc.  The food on the ship is about one step below that, but certainly far above a steak and ale or Red Lobster.  Now the buffet food offered is probably on par with an steak and ale or Red Lobster...good but nothing to brag about. Entertainment: What do you want to do? Golf clinics? Dancing? Shore Excursions? Kids Activities? Art Auction? Casino?  There was so much to do I never got around to doing all I had planned.  I had a wonderful time. Drinks: Yes drinks cost money...guess what folks go to any nightclub, restaurant, anywhere and they cost about the same as they do on a ship. In short, my wife and I had an excellent time (again) and plan to sail with Carnival cruises again.   

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Nov 20, 2006

Bahamas

I just happened to look back and notice that there are very few recent reviews on this cruise. I traveled on this trip with my 68 year old disabled father and this trip was for him. We boarded effortlessly and were on the ship within probably 30 minutes from the time we got to port which was great. I also traveled on a RC cruise in May of 2006 and it took much longer to board. We went up to our room and I was very pleased. This

room was so much larger than the RC room that we had and it was well supplied with shampoo, toothpaste and all kinds of other goodies. We went up to the poolside dining area and ate lunch. I personally was not overly impressed with the food but it was fine. For anyone who likes quantity, you will be pleased! The food in the dining room was much better and we had excellent service from the wait staff there. We were placed at a table with about 6 other people and I explained to the Maitre'd that my father has dementia and that it would be so much better for all involved to move us to a private table. He did oblige and moved us to our own table. We went to the shows every night and I was very impressed with the entertainment. The dancers were excellent and the singers were good. My father really enjoyed the shows as well. I also like to hit a few of the slot machines and I did break even which is better than losing!! Since I had just visited the Bahamas in May, we took a taxi straight to Atlantis. We went right into the aquariums- I did not even see an area where you should pay anyone. We walked all through the aquariums. We also ended up on the private beach and we sat in the beach chairs for over an hour and no one told us that we shouldn't be there. I am sure having someone who is disabled helped with this and it is possible that they just felt sorry for us there. We also walked around where the waterslides are and we enjoyed seeing that area. We took a taxi back to the port area and I pushed my dad around Nassau in a wheelchair. This was very hard on me but he enjoyed it. The roads are bumpy there so you should be in pretty good physical shape if you want to push someone in your party in a wheelchair through Nassau. As a whole, this cruise was well worth the money. We did get a military rate and we paid very little to travel on this ship. It is not a luxury cruise and I went into it not expecting it to be a luxury cruise. There is only 1 pool and it was pretty crowded on Sea Day. I liked my Carnival cruise a lot better than our trip on the RC. I enjoyed having a bigger room and the shows were much better than the RC cruise as well. I hope this helps other future cruisers. We are booked to travel again on a Carnival Cruise in July 07 so this should say something for our trip!

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By Tara_CR

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Aug 19, 2006

Bahamas

This was my 3rd cruise, and my 2nd with Carnival. I highly recommend this cruise if you want a short, fun, very casual cruise with a hyper cruise staff. Everything is bare-bones with the Carnival Cruise Line. If you want anything more than the bare minimum you will have to pay. The Sensation is an older outdated boat. It's the old-school 80's look ship. Lots of gold, purple, and tackiness. With that being said, it's a younger crowd

and has more fun activities. If you want to go on a classy all inclusive cruise, go Royal Caribbean. Their staff treats you wonderfully, steps out of the way when you walk down the hall, etc. You'll be treated like you would in a 5-star hotel. As far as food goes, portions are tiny. Nice restaurants don't give you pounds of food. You'll have several courses so it evens out. If you want to gorge yourself, you have plenty of opportunities at the buffet and all night pizzeria. The food is only so-so, and the desserts at the buffet were disgusting. The ports of call were fun. Don't expect the impoverished islands of the Bahamas to be up to our standards. It's laid back. Boats are sinking in the harbor, things are dirty, I even saw rats run down the street. Enjoy the ambiance! We met the nicest people on the islands. We rented a scooter and drove ourselves around (I'd been there before) and people would randomly stop to ask us if we needed directions. So nice! Our scooter broke down, but it was only $55 and happens all the time there. So we (my husband and I) walked back w/ smiles on our faces and were treated to free Bahamian beers. If you don't want to mingle with the locals or soak up the Bahamas spirit, just go on shore excursions. They take you past all the culture and straight to Americanized areas w/ a little culture thrown in. You'll think you're in paradise, it's clean and fun. In Freeport we chose the Sail and Snorkel excursion b/c it's mostly only a port town with little else to do. I highly recommend it. We all fell asleep on the sail back. The shows were pretty ridiculous. If you can laugh and have a good time, they're really funny. Yes, they're cheesy, and the wigs are very cheap. The comics were pretty funny, but the late night comedy was A+. Basically if you want to have a good time on a cruise, especially this one, use common sense. You are paying a very cheap price for this cruise, don't expect perfection. You are going to a very poor country, enjoy the culture and history, don't expect it to be a little America. The formal dining rooms are like a 5 star restaurant, if you don't like using your manners, or eating with more than one fork, don't go. You'll only feel uncomfortable. Be courteous while in the islands. One woman told us she felt she was snubbed by a local, all she talked about though was how crappy everything was. Please be a good ambassador for our country while down there and don't make a bad impression on these people. It's a wonderful place for those who can appreciate and enjoy it.   

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Aug 9, 2006

Bahamas

Overall, we had a very nice time aboard the Sensation. We arrived at about 3pm at the port and had a very smooth embarkation. I traveled with my boyfriend and another couple. All of us are in our mid twenties. Once aboard the boat, we were able to go directly to our rooms. Our luggage arrived minutes later to our door. We stayed in Cabin E-67/E-65 on the Empress Deck. The room was a decent size, a very comfortable king size bed,

large window and good size television. There was more than enough space to fit all of our clothes and we fit the suitcases behind the bed. The rooms were also in a great location! If you can get someplace near these rooms, I strongly recommend it. We were centrally located and just a few steps to just about everything on the cruise. Food- The Food was alright. I wouldn’t come back and rave about it. The portions are pretty small. You can however, order more than one thing off of the menu. I recommend ordering an appetizer, salad, entree and desert. One night I ordered two dinners (I wasn’t sure if I would like the filet) and they gave me no problems about that. We went to the sit down breakfast on our second day and I don’t recommend this. They serve the exact same food as the buffet on the Lido Deck and with the buffet you can pick and choose exactly what you want. We went to the Pizzeria a few nights, the food there tasted better after a few drinks. The Lido Deck almost always has food available. They have salad and fruit bars as well as a sandwich station. Nassau- Nassau is not that nice. When you get off the boat, you are immediately herded into a building and there are many natives trying to sell you something. I found it uncomfortable since I don’t like pushy people. A few of them even followed us and kept shouting. We decided to take a water taxi over to Paradise Island and check out the Atlantis. BEWARE of the water taxis!! They are very very old boats and ours broke down on the way over to the island! We just drifted for about five minutes until a small fisherman boat came and towed us in. A fifteen minute trip turned into almost an hour! However, once there, we thoroughly enjoyed the Atlantis. They told us that we couldn’t use their beaches or pools but we did anyway as there wasn’t anyone checking to see if you were an actual guest. The beach was beautiful and the pools were great. We also used the lazy river. They have tons of aquariums and different areas with marine life to check out. I strongly recommend visiting! We spent for about five hours and then decided to head back to the boat. The night we were in Nassau, we went out to Senior Frogs. It’s in walking distance to the ship and we had a great time. It was packed with younger people and we all danced. The drinks are somewhat expensive. $15.00 for the yard drinks that they serve, they make them pretty strong though. I think we each had two. Drinking- Drinks aboard the boat were about $6-7 a piece. I drink Kettle One and Soda and my boyfriend drinks Stoli and Soda. We actually brought alcohol on board and made great use of that. They say that you can’t, but we did and didn’t have any problems. Just be smart about it. Formal Night- Bring dressy clothes. Everyone was dressed up very nicely and they have all sorts of opportunities to take pictures. Many of the men had on tuxedos and three piece suits. Some of the women had on evening gowns. I wore a cocktail dress. It’s just a nice opportunity to dress up and get pictures taken. Day at Sea – The Day at Sea was great. Very relaxing. We played mini golf up on the top deck and then laid out on the running deck. The pool area gets very crowded. There are a lot of children in the pool as well. We weren’t too interested in going in the pool. I would jump in from time to time to cool off but it’s hard to just relax in there with everyone else. They had waiters walk around the deck and taking drink orders, live music, and different types of contests and events. It was entertaining. We didn’t make it to any of the shows but I heard that they weren’t that great. The couple we ate with said the one show was painful. We did make the comedy act on the first night and had to walk out it was so bad. Kaleidoscope- a dance club we went to was pretty fun. We had the best time in the Sing-A-Long bar called “Touch of Class”. Doug, the piano player was a great guy. Played all of our requests and within an hour the place was packed. He played until way past his cut off time and everyone in there had a great time! I highly recommend stopping in. Debarkation- Fairly easy. They told us that we had to put our luggage outside our door between 8 and midnight the night before you leave. Bring a carry on bag that you can keep all your stuff in that you don’t want to pack up the night before! We got off the boat no problem and our luggage was waiting for us in the designated area. If you don’t want to give your luggage up the night before, they tell you that you have to depart the ship at 7:30a.m. We took our time. Ate breakfast on the Lido Deck and left around 10a.m. I strongly recommend the Sensation for anyone who is looking for a quick, laid back, and fun vacation. If you want to have a good time, you can definitely make it an awesome trip! I’ll definitely cruise again. My boyfriend and I loved the convenience of it and being able to check out the Bahamas without investing a lot of money into it. In the future, I’ll probably look for a more upscale, newer ship with fewer kids.   

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Jun 21, 2006

Bahamas

About ten months ago, my husband and I booked a cruise with the Carnival Fantasy through our Fairfield Timeshare. We are the kind of people who “do their homework” when it comes to vacationing. When we found out that the Fantasy and Sensation had swapped itineraries, we were a little skeptical considering all of the bad reviews that the Sensation received. However, I am also well aware that people often FIND things to complain

about. Usually, things aren’t as bad as what people make them out to be. I guess you could say that I am an optimist. Embarkation (Scheduled for 1:30 pm) We arrived at 12:45 and dropped off our luggage with the porter. Customary tip is $1 per bag, but we saw a sign that said that you don’t have to tip the porters. We tipped him anyway. Then we parked our rental car. It’s $12/day to park your car at Port Canaveral and you pay before you park. We walked to the ship and waited in line to go through security. The wait wasn’t long at all. What holds up the line is the people who leave keys in their pockets and then set off the security system. After we went through security, we went upstairs to wait in another line. This is where you check in. This line wasn’t bad either. Again, it’s important to be organized and prepared. Make sure you have out your passports, boarding pass, and credit card for the sail & sign card. It also makes life easy if you register online beforehand. That way, you won’t have to handwrite the information on your boarding passes. The information that you submit online will already be in their system. The only thing that you have to complete is the Sail & Sign Information. Checking in was a breeze for us. Photo Ops Make sure you take the opportunity to have your picture taken as many times as possible! There is no sitting fee and no obligation to buy. We must have had our pictures taken with six different backgrounds in addition to the pictures taken at the dinner table. We bought a beautiful 16x20 canvas for $70. They also gave us an 8x10 of the same picture for free. These pictures are professional quality and you will have fun modeling every chance you get! Food Excellent! You can’t miss the 24-hour pizzeria, grill, and ice cream on the Lido Deck! We must have had ice cream twice a day! We had the late seating in the Ecstasy Dining Room. Joseph was the Maitre ‘D. He really made you feel at home with his “Supercharged Waiting Staff.” The waiting staff was excellent. They put on a little show for us each night. It was hilarious and a lot of fun! My husband thoroughly enjoyed the lobster tail. Our waiter gave him an extra tail. I also ordered some broccoli on the side with my chicken. It didn’t come with the chicken, but the waiting staff was very good at filling requests. Bathroom Odor I agree that there was an odor in the bathroom. Having read about this in other cruise reviews, I took an air freshener along. It really helped block out the smell. We kept the bathroom door closed and it really didn’t bother us. Nassau Tip – Make sure to take your Sail & Sign card and a Photo ID (drivers license or passport) with you any time you leave the ship. We didn’t do any of the suggested excursions. My husband and I are the type of people who do not like crowds. We like to explore on our own and that is what we did. I would recommend Frommer’s Bahamas travel guide for suggestions. From reading that book, we knew beforehand that it generally costs $4 per person to take a taxi and $1 per person to take a jitney (bus). We took jitney #10 to Cable Beach. The driver dropped us off in front of the Cable Beach Casino. We spent some time (and some money!) in the Casino. Then we went right out to the beach. It was beautiful and not overly crowded. There were places where you could pay to jet ski, parasail, or ride the big banana. While other people on the cruise paid $30-80 per person for excursions, we paid a total of $4 for a beautiful day at the beach! We took the jitney downtown where we had lunch at Senor Frogs. We also bought some things at the straw market next door. Make sure to barter! You can usually buy something for almost half of the original price that they give you! Bahamians love the American dollar! Shows You cannot miss the shows on the ship! They are fabulous! We went to the Vegas-style “Curves” show on the first night. We also went to the 80’s show on the last night. Both shows were top-notch! Lines I read some other reviews where people complained about waiting in lines. My husband hates lines and he did not complain once on the cruise about standing in line for something. We both thought that the wait time for any line was reasonable. We were amazed that we never had a difficult time finding a table or chair anywhere. If we wanted to grab a bite to eat on the Lido Deck, we could easily find a table inside or outside. There were always enough chairs on the sun deck as well. The only thing that seemed to be crowded was the pool, but we found times when it wasn’t crowded like during the main dinner seating. That worked out since we had the late dinner seating. Debarkation Be sure to leave your room keys in your cabin. Debarkation was very smooth! We were off the ship by 9:30 am. We placed our luggage outside our room the night before. In the morning, we got breakfast at the buffet on Lido Deck. Around 8:30, they left self-assist people off first. This is for people who take ALL of their luggage off the ship themselves. After those people are off, they call luggage tags by color. We were one of the first two colors called so we got off the ship early. Be sure to have your Sail & Sign Card out when you leave the ship. Also remember to have your Passport out at Customs. Conclusion As a first time cruiser, I would definitely recommend this cruise to anyone wanting to “test the water.” It’s a great way to “get your feet wet” and familiarize yourselves with cruising. Pardon the puns! Don’t let the other bad reviews scare you off. Enjoy and happy cruising!   

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By John_CR

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May 17, 2006

Bahamas

Despite terrible reviews on the Sensation, my family decided to take a chance on a cruise to the Bahamas. We decided to take the chance mainly because of a very sincere young agent from Carnival who assured us that all the repairs on the Sensation were completed. My family, (wife, son aged 13 and daughter aged 10) truly had the time of our loves on this beautiful ship. I saw no signs of the things I had read about. The boat was extremely

clean, the staff was extremely professional, and every bite of food we ate was excellent. Embarkation was a breeze, get their early because the party starts around 1pm for a cruise that leaves at 430. Now, I am not saying the cruise was perfect. Our bathroom in Riviera 43 did have a slight odor to it that never went away. We simply closed the bathroom door and it wasn't ever noticed. It was Barely noticeable. My least favorite part of the trip was Carnivals Sail and Sign deal, where none of the waitresses want cash, they want you to sign for it so they bill you to a pre destined credit card. That way the waitresses were assured tips. No one on the ship wants cash. The only thing you can drink for free on the entire ship is lemonade or fruit punch. Everything else is billed to you. Those are the bad things Now the good Food- excellent, lido decks hamburgers, pizzas, ice cream. all offered any time of the day or night. the ,meals in the dining room were excellent, do not miss the prime rib or veal parmesan, the waiters were excellent, Sarin especially. Online excursions - we went to pearl island to snorkel with the sting rays, wow just awesome, and the other snorkeling on pearl island, I had read that no one saw any fish, well they had fixed that problem. There were millions of fish , it was simply wonderful and the guides were excellent. I will end this review by letting everyone know that this is a nice, economical cruise. I believe that the sensation is back to what it once was and I would not hesitate to recommend this ship to friends. By the way, the entertainment on the ship is incredible. Wee Willy, cruise director, dude you are the best. We actually watched you on the TV in the room and your 10 funniest things that you had been asked on the cruise this week had us laughing the entire way home. Casinos were adequate, Look for dealers Dassy and Barbara, their smiles light up the room and they actually make you feel like they want you to win, DO NOT HESITATE TO GO ON THIS CRUISE. IT WAS AWESOME, MY KIDS LOVED IT     

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May 13, 2006

Bahamas

First let me start by saying I read the reviews prior to our cruise, and was very concerned. however, what I read was not true. The ship was very clean, staff friendly, no sewer smell, no dirty dishes. I found this cruise to be very nice for our first. I think some of the food could be improved, and a better variety for the midnight meal, overall, this cruise was very pleasant, and i would recommend it for anyone just wanting to get

away for a few days, time went by to fast but we had a great trip, there was 11 in our party. As far as the pictures i think they should take more time, or set up backgrounds where there will not be other people in your picture. And also they should make different sizes available, without having to buy the 8x10 in order to get other sizes of prints. Disembarkment should be slower, we had our 85 yr old mother in our group, and it is just to fast paced and rushing for older people. I think the ship should allow at least till noon to get the people off of the ship. We were off by 9:30. Over all i would recommend carnival, however, next time, i prefer to take at least a 5 day or longer, the 4 day went by so fast., and I would like to try a larger ship. So if you have a cruise planned on the sensation which was switched from fasination, don't worry, just have fun! The cabins was very clean. The formal dinners were ok, however, it took up a lot of time, at least 2 hrs., probably would not go to all of them on next cruise. We sailed out on May 14, 2006!   

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Apr 8, 2006

Bahamas

First off, let me state that I am NOT a chronic complainer and am the type of person who ALWAYS makes lemonade out of lemons. HOWEVER, making the most out of this cruise was one of the hardest things I've ever done. DAY 1- EMBARKATION After receiving a letter from Carnival informing us that we could board beginning at 1:30 pm, we arrived about an hour later and were hollered at by the parking attendant, "They won't let you in yet.

Go get something to eat for an hour." When I called Carnival for an explanation, they said, "That's not our problem, that's homeland security," and were very short with me. We eventually boarded and had to hold our noses as we walked through the hallways, the smell of sewage permeating the walls. Our room was OK, but our shower did not work well and the water alternated between scorching and freezing. Also, the vent above our bed was dirty and leaked black dirt on our white bed the entire time! We tried to get something to eat on the Lido Deck, but the lines weren't moving. Later that night...the weather was not cooperating and the seas were rough. I couldn't stand up long enough to make it through dinner, so I left my bed to make a quick run to the pizza buffet. Half hour line. On the way back to the room I noticed a security guard on the stairs. He looked at me funny, but didn't say a thing. I continued down the stairs and almost stepped in a HUGE puddle of vomit. The security guard seemed amused. Thanks for the warning, buddy. I was still hungry enough to consume my cold pizza. Day 2. Freeport. Did the dolphin excursion. Waas herded like cattle. Probably heard thirty people complaining. Was allowed aboout a minute on a platform with the dolphin. Best day of the cruise, even though it was raining. At dinner, wine glasses and dishes crashed because of the waves. I heard on man exclaim, "This is hell." Day 3. Nassau. 45 mile/hr wind gusts. Went to Pearl Island on a shore excursion where we were promised a free beach barbeque, snorkeling and leisure time on the beach. Well, the beach was twice the size of our living room. A hundred of us were herded there first, where we were charged $5 for a chair! We shivered while we waited to snorkel. When we were herded to the snorkeling part, the three couples in front of us said not to do nit, they saw two fish and a bunch of grass. We didn't listen. They were right. The day couldn't end soon enough. Without our wallets, we were hungry and thirsty, since the bartender wouldn't even give me a cup of ice to wash down my tylenol! Finally, the boat came. Since it was the first return boat, everyone wanted to get on and out of the island! They crammed it way too full, and wouldn't even let some people on! It was awful- elbow-to-elbow for 45 minutes. Not a good day. Day 4- Fun Day at Sea. NOT! Since the weather was actually better we went up to the pool. Standing room only. We had planned on getting in the smaller 6-8 person hot tub until we counted 23!!! kids under the age of ten in there at one time. And they were almost ALL spitting water at each other and whoever walked by. So much for that idea. Waited in line for 45-minutes for the lunch buffet which turned out to be bad food. Since the head chef was from India, all the food was saffron-infused and there were lots of couscous type dishes. The only good food I had the whole time were the sit-down dinners. Day 5- Debarkation! Thank God! Took forever to get off the ship but we found our luggage right away and it was a huge relief to be on solid ground. Had vertigo for 2 days, though. The verdict- I can't knock Carnival because I had a lovely time two years ago on the Paradise in the Eastern Caribbean, but PLEASE don't put yourself through this misery. They should have just let the Hurricane victims have this ship, what a dirty, rotten stinkpit. Would never relive those five days for anything. Feel bad for the crew, because there were some nice people, like the cabin steward Iryna, who have to live there. All in all, it was a nauseating Sensation and will never repeat it.     

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Apr 5, 2006

Bahamas

Booked the Fantasy back in September 2005 for the 4-6-06 cruise. Was informed on 4-2-06 that the cruise ship had changed. Would Never have EVER booked this ship. This was a terrible experience. Right from the beginning, I knew that we had problems. Paint was peeling from cabinets, and doors in my cabin. (M65) A terrible odor like raw sewage came from the ventilation system in the hallways and then crept into your cabin be bedtime each

night making it impossible to rest due to the awful odor. The showers would fill up and run over every time you used them. Dirty dishes sat everywhere making it hard to find a place to eat a meal. I have cruised several times and NEVER have I experienced something like this. CARNIVAL--YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR CUSTOMERS LIKE THIS!!! I WILL NEVER SAIL CARNIVAL AGAIN, AND I PLAN TO WRITE MANY ARTICLES TELLING WHY. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS PLEASE FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME SUZBOND1956 at AOL.COM MY WHOLE FAMILY ARE PAST CRUISERS X 5 ON CARNIVAL--BUT NEVER AGAIN--SHAME ON YOU!!! CARNIVAL     

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By Mark_CR

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Apr 1, 2006

Bahamas

First of all, my wife and I heard on the news approximately 1 month prior to our cruise that the Sensation was used for Hurricane relief (FEMA) this alarmed us so we contacted Carnival Cruise Lines and they assured us that the ship would be 100% ready for our cruise and the ship was refurbished after it left Louisiana. We were still a little nervous and here is the rest of the story…. EMBARKATION We arrived at Port Canaveral and

were dropped off. This went really smooth and we boarded the ship within 35 minutes or so. Upon entering the ship we were handed a piece of paper showing the itinerary change that the ship was not going to Grand Turk. Instead we were stopping at Freeport Bahamas. We were upset because the Grand Turk port was the main reason we booked this cruise. The ship was late leaving that afternoon as the crew frantically made last minute repairs to the ship. Dinner and the entertainment was good and when it came time for bed we tried to use the shower and the water would barely come out of the shower head, so I took it apart and worked on it until water came out. After this, we had water fill up the bathroom and flood the area getting my clothes wet. On top of all this, sewage was coming up through the floor and the smell was horrendous. On top of the shampoo and conditioner dispensers was about a ½ inch of dirt and mold. DAY 1. FREEPORT. We left the ship at 10am and back on the ship at 10:50am. What a joke! This was supposed to take the place of Grand Turk. My wife and kids went to a Tee shirt hut while I sat on a bench listening to numerous complaints from other people. I could have started a mutiny. We decided to spend the day on the ship and let the kids swim and enjoy the water slide. After getting our swim suits on and having lunch we were informed that the pool was not open and the water slide was out of order. I complained to a Carnival crew member and he told me the pump was not working on the slide and he didn’t know about the pool. He told us the ship was trashed in Louisiana and there are a lot of problems wrong with the ship. He told me to complain to the captain. This day was shot, the kids are bored, and the ice cream machine was broke. I never believed my family would feel this way on our first day of or cruise. We found ourselves in the room watching TV then my son and I went to play basketball, but the backboard and rim was damaged. We did enjoy our dinner and the show. Our waiter was very good. DAY 2. NASSAU. We knew going into this day that Nassau was going to be bad based on our friends who went there. We walked around town and did a little shopping and dreamed about going to Atlantis resort instead of this lousy cruise. After about 2 hours we went back to the ship and had all the things happen all over again. Luckily, we met some people from our home town and talked with them for a while. The pool was open, but the water slide still didn’t work. The first thing Carnival shows in the advertisements is the kids sliding down the slide. Sounds like false advertising to me. Once again the dinner and show was good. DAY 3. HALF MOON CAY. This was the high light of the trip. We really enjoyed this day with the nice white sand beaches and the clear water. We booked a snorkeling excursion and we enjoyed every minute of this day (away from the ship). Again, dinner and the show were good. DAY 4. AT SEA. This was a very boring day just laid around, but guesses what? The water slide was working for about 2hrs. Not bad considering we were on the way to dinner when we noticed. We attended the past guest party and all we heard was complaining about the Sensation and the rough condition it was in. DAY 5. BACK AT PORT. We were very excited to get off this nasty cruise ship. Debarkation took about 2 ½ hours. While we were waiting for our ride I was talking to a Carnival Cruise Lines worker. He said this was the 3rd cruise since the ship was used for FEMA and it needs to be dry docked to fix it right. He said Carnival was well aware of the problems, but failed to do anything because it was the busy season and didn’t want to loose the money. I will not recommend Carnival to anyone and we will never use them again. They should be held responsible for intentionally misleading patrons.     

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Mar 27, 2006

TA Promo Night

I agree with the previous review of the Sensation - the conditions were not appropriate for paying customers. The conditions on the boat may have been adequate to house Hurricane Katrina workers but it was not fair to those of us who were expecting a wonderful vacation!   

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Mar 27, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

Spring break in the Bahamas was great. Thank God for plenty of sunshine and friends, it made up for a cruise ship that was a wreck. The ship had problems right from port. The itinerary was changed before we left port. The only reason we selected this ship was because of Grand Turks, otherwise we would have gone on another. After I booked the cruise I found out it was a FEMA ship. Wondered if it would pose a problem, but advertisements

said it was extensively refurbished. After the itinerary change, we boarded the ship to have lunch on the Lido deck. It was so so because we were hungry, I din't pay to much attention to the food that wasn't replenished or the machines running out of juice, lack of cups, or crew to assist by keeping the food area spotless. Right away out at sea it was a rocky start. The boat had more "turbulent" motion that I thought was normal. I wondered if it was due to a sea that was rough or an engine that wasn't working properly. Accordingly, that was why there was an itinerary change. There was a sewage smell in the hallway to the cabin and in the stairs by the Atrium. (Apparantly, sewage lines burst). They tried to remedy the problem by turning the water off in the cabin each night between 1-5am, right after they held late night dance and buffets. It was just in time for me to return to my cabin and not wash my hands before I took my contacts out to retire for the evening, or wash my hands to prevent the "n" virus that affects people on cruise ships. They only offered down blankets which my roommate and I were both allergic to. When I asked for more blankets, I was told the ship was out, I asked to at least have four beach blankets to sleep under for the night. The following night they found more. The swimming pool was missing parts of the ladder rungs, as a result one's foot was exposed to a four inch rusty screw waiting to find a home under the absentee plank. Lucky it didn't find it's way into one's foot. The elevator was faulty, at one point it almost didn't open. Not to be all negative, the dining room food was good, and my waiter was as well. Although, there was a lack of drink options that posed to be a problem throughout the length of the cruise. They ran out of water on Half Moon Cay and the Snorkel Excursion reminded me of the movie OPEN WATER. True story as was the fact that I had to ask five times for equipment and practically beg to put my name on the boat list that I was really on board. We were allowed to snorkel in extremely strong currents and two - three foot waves. I love cruisiing but will not return to Carnival unless they admit they should have never sailed in the first place. After all the preparation and money, I will make sure that I choose a boat that is sea worthy and not in dry dock for six months!   

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Mar 27, 2006

TA Promo Night

The Sensation should be sunk. It is a floating no tell motel. The entire ship is dirty and beat up. I could go on about how bad everything on the ship is but I will only say choose another cruise line. Carnival is the worst cruise line we have been on. I can say that this is the last time we make that mistake.   

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Mar 27, 2006

Bahamas

It was my first cruise and my last with Carnival. It started out at the airport, we had landed at Orlando and as we were waiting for the bus to take us to the cruise we had been waiting for.I was hearing stories of the problems that had happened on the Sensations first cruise out of Port Canaveral. I had a feeling it was going to be the cruise that went bad and it was. We stood in line at the customer service desk only to find out that

they were not giving refunds. Our plan was not to take a chance of a bad cruise and just go back to Orlando and spend the week there on vacation. We went on board and went to the lido deck for lunch, only to find a boat that was dirty, the wash room toilet was not flushing properly, and the drinking fountain was full of dirty water and ashes. Our room was not ready it was actually trashed. We had booked two rooms, which was a good thing because one of the rooms had a broken shower in it so we shared a shower. The shower drain backed up and filled the bathroom with water. We were feeling like kings and Queens at this time! The Grand Turks were Great! Never saw them! Freeport was Great ,never got of the ship ,excursions were canceled! The Food was not what I thought it would be. The boat was dirty, There was a lot of work being done on it, but I really think it should have been done before it set sail. The water system was not working properly or sometimes it was not working at all. I guess to some it up, it was the vacation from hell, and Carnival Cruise line could careless. I feel bad for all the people that set sail on the Sensation. I think everyone deserved more then what Carnival had to offer...   

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Mar 27, 2006

Bahamas

To Whom It May Concern. The following is a list of complaints lodged by me, Katyisha Martin, my fiancé, and a host of other people we became acquainted with on this excursion due to the HORRIFYING experience of using Carnival Cruise lines. Experiences on Carnival Cruise Line "Sensation" 1. Destination changed, after being promised by travel agent and checking to ensure that our party would indeed be taken to Grand Turks Islands.

This did not happen. (I have researched and found that this is common with Carnival Cruise Lines. We requested to go to Grand Turks, and it was the only reason we agreed upon this cruise.) 2. Boarding of the ship was to be early because we were with a wedding party that paid extra, so that we would have ample time to dress and prepare for ceremony. (Did not happen). Wedding scheduled for 1:30 p.m. By the time we boarded we had 20-45 minutes to get make up, hair, dressed etc. Some of us dressed in bathrooms that were not clean, and in hallways with vomit on the floor, because our rooms were not yet ready.) 3. Non-sailing wedding party guests (the bride's mother and friends) were all rushed off the ship without being allowed to take photos with the bride, resulting in a depressed and irritable bride the entire cruise.) 4. Wedding coordinator told us to talk to information desk about any issues we had. (They were VERY rude, and told us there was nothing we / they could do about it, so the best thing to do was try to enjoy ourselves.) 5. Pool was dirty, mildewed, unsanitary and disgusting. 6. Water slide was broken the entire trip. 7. Ice-cream machine was broken. (Which was one of the only things we felt may be safe to eat), being the other food was completely inedible). 8. Nightly buffet closed early, when there was food available. 9. Extra and miscellaneous charges on sign and sail card with no explanation. 10. We were told by staff there was to be a $10 per day gratuity fee. We were also told we could tip as we saw fit. Upon observation of our bill there was a 15% gratuity added for everything that we purchased. Even when the drinks were made incorrectly and returned to the bar, also the bar staff was rude. 11. No beer at Half Moon Cay. (We were told they ran out and although we received someone else’s bill and the wrong ticket, (which we accidentally signed) we were told too bad. 12. Charges on my sign and sail card from a bar that we never were in. (Was told that they had to take care of it on the last day of the cruise. Now I know why they took them off and added them directly to my boyfriend’s card because we shared a cabin.) 13. Freeport was completely disgusting and unacceptable. (To replace this with Grand Turks, which is the only reason we booked this cruise, was never discussed with us or any of the other passengers we came into contact with, and, was an unacceptable presumption by your Cruise Line to think that we would agree to this.) 14. We were told this boat was completely renovated. (Well, that was a lie all in itself, because there was rust and mildew in our windows. The bathroom vents were disgusting, our shower, mirror, and first and foremost OUR linens were dirty. We were told we were the second voyage on this boat. Found from a previous itinerary that this was also a lie and was given another list of different lies as to why we would not be going to our promised destination, and we found out the boat had been used by survivors of Hurricane Katrina for emergency shelter and residency for several months, (information from a news article). 15. We were then asked for additional tips for poor service, and even for asking too many questions on the boat. 16. Shower head was broken and disconnected from wall in shower, only for the hose to beat me excessively in my back and head. 17. I watched a carnival cruise advertisement for 5 days about how my experience would be great. It was not. 18. I even asked previous to our boarding (because things were going so badly already) if there was anyway we could cancel and just stay in Florida. We were told no. 19. The snorkeling excursion. (We should have never gone), the alternator belt broke; all of the life saving devices were cut up and damaged. We were told that when we booked excursions there would trained professionals aboard to ensure that we were safe, not to mention that we tried to book other excursions and they would not accept them, then turned right around and said they were all sold out.) 20. I could go on and on, and upon request I will give further information. But the biggest upset ever, was to find that my boyfriend of 3 years, fiancé of six (6) months had planned to set a wedding date, but after seeing how horrible an experience I was having, he DID NOT; he waited until we got home because he was going to surprise me with A CRUISE!!!!!!!!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME, THIS IS LIKE A HUGE NIGHTMARE! THANKS, CARNIVAL. I do want to recognize that out of 5 days on the HELL SHIP, I had 3 people that were actually polite. At table #158 Martina, our waitress. This lady was as sweet as could she could be. Even though she was apologizing for some kind of mess up every evening about 15 times per table visit, she was sweet and concerned. Another lady at the information desk, the last night of our cruise was very polite. (I will give credit where credit is due) If she documented anything her name will be available (she had long brown hair, and Barry, the guy in the piano bar.) But out of this 5 day horrifying hellish nightmare the only thing I can state is this was totally unacceptable and I will NEVER encourage anyone to use Carnivals services until something has been done to compensate for the Twilight Zone adventure! I work and have worked with the public for many years, and if I received one of these complaints I would no longer be employed and if in charge of operations I would immediately fire anyone who provided such ill service.) As I write this I become upset and will just be reliving this series of incidents on what should have been an enlightening and memorable trip for all involved. I have emailed people from our trip and we all feel and know to be offered some kind of partial credit is completely unacceptable. I hope someone will take the time to look at the overall picture and situations that were forced on all of us. You can look at your books and see how much money we spent in just our cabin alone. I implore you to make this right. All this money to be treated in such a manner and to be starved to boot! This was not a pleasure cruise; it was a floating death sentence! We were just lucky enough to escape. Katyisha Martin   

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Mar 26, 2006

TA Promo Night

Was invited by Carnival to observe the refurbishment done on the Sensation. There was new carpet and a few minor interior replacements. However I expected the Ship to wow me. When I asked one of the regional sales people about what had been refurbed, she pretty much had no answers and excused herslf (she stated they had a meeting) The damage Carnival has done with its Marketing on this premature sailing of the Sensation has probably

cost them more in sales than if they had kept the ship out of commission a few more weeks to get everything done properly. I will not elaborate on all the flaws, becuse not all the problems were do to refurb. The ship just lacked all the importance of details.......just cleanliness to name one. Carnival should be ashamed of its self !!!! I can promise I will never recommmend this cruise line to anyone. I have given Carnival many chances to prove itself.Even a first time cruiser deserves better than this.   

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Mar 23, 2006

Bahamas

This cruise was a NIGHTMARE... read the news article below... The return to service of Carnival Cruise Lines' Sensation superliner hit a snag Thursday when it failed a U.S. Coast Guard inspection, temporarily stranding at least 2,000 passengers at Port Canaveral. Coast Guard officials said an inspection during the day found several "deficiencies," including problems with fire-safety screen doors, fire-station valves and water-tight

doors. It took Carnival officials several hours to fix the glitches. The Sensation is one of three Carnival superliners that underwent multimillion-dollar renovations after they were used as temporary housing during Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Thursday was the Sensation's first day back in service, with a four-day cruise planned to the Bahamas. Petty Officer Bobby Nash, a Coast Guard spokesman, said the agency's marine-safety detachment completed its inspection ahead of the ship's scheduled departure of 4 p.m. But then it was up to cruise-line workers to fix the problems, Nash said. The Coast Guard re-inspected the ship before giving it clearance. Officials and passengers said the ship's departure was initially moved to 6 p.m. and then to 7 p.m. An hour later, however, the ship had only resumed boarding. It finally left port at 10:45 p.m., according to port authorities.     

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By N/A_CR

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Mar 23, 2006

Western Caribbean

It was the cruise from hell. It started with a 10hr wait to get on board because of safety issues. Some of the elevators didn't work and people got trapped in them. The water in the rooms tasted like the yellow color that came out of the faucets. Of course you could Buy water for $3.50 a bottle. Sewage bubbled up in some cabins. The food was terrible, I sent mine back several times. Some people got sick. The crew didn't know anything

about the ship and sent you all around looking for things. Only one spa and pool were operating and covered with children. Being hcpt, and asking for a room where I wouldn't have to walk far, I was given a room at the very rear of the ship, as far away from everything as possible. I spent much of the last several days in my cabin, not being able to walk. I was sent to the wrong location for the shore excursion, and missed that. Half of everything on the ship was under repair and not accessible but things they charged for were of course open for business.   

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By Tim_CR

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Jul 15, 2005

Western Caribbean

We booked with a large group of friends and family that totaled 17 adults and 11 kids ranging in age from 6 to 17. Our projected destinations were Costa Maya, and Cozumel. Prior to sailing, it was obvious that we would not sail to the Yucatan. Hurricane Emily was heading straight for it. We called Carnival and local travel agents. Carnival said that Costa Maya would be canceled but Cozumel was going to be fine. Local travel agent thought

we may be directed other ports after taking off. Embarkation: Seemed to take a long time. Really about an hour and a half. I had two ocean view cabins, on the empress deck. My wife and I had a cabin that was perfect. My mother in law and 3 boy’s had a cabin that was great, except for the air conditioner. It never worked. Efforts were made by maintenance staff, but it only got a little better. Our cabin was pretty close to the atrium, which was nice and convenient . We had a great cabin steward, Brenda. We met were on the third day. Every time we entered the cabin, it was perfect. Food: I expected great, and it was even better than I expected. Great variety on buffets and at dinner. We loved the fresh vegetables and fruit, and there was the spa menu including special diet needs listed. Pizza, deli sandwiches, burgers and fries could have been selected by the younger travelers, but they always seemed to like some of the featured items. My three sons liked trying new things, including squid and escargot at dinner. We almost skipped dinner for the rear deck buffet one night, but our boys would not miss dinner. The midnight buffet, with the ice sculptures is something to see. Some of our group got the soft drink cards, My wife and I drank the tea and other provided beverages. They were fine for us. Entertainment: Not going to port at all made it tough to keep the younger travelers happy. The Camp Carnival schedule was not as age appropriate as it should have been. My 8 year old and his 2 friends from home were not impressed with the activities. Babysitting service was sub par because the kids were forced to lay on the floor and watch 10 year old movies, at a $6/hr charge. There could have been more options. The early dinner seating will probably work better for groups with younger travelers. There were a few activities that our late dinner conflicted with. All of the adults and teenagers in our group liked the shows. The Mambo show was great, the comedian, and the guest talent shows were also great. The Magic show was good for the youngsters. Some really old used up tricks. The orchestra on this ship is incredible. The family karaoke was fun. There was lots of things to do at all times. The music on the pool deck was good. If you want to hear a Jimmy Buffet or similar song, you may need to provide your own singer. The band could play really well. Destinations: This was a special entertaining feature. With passengers having global positioning devices on board, and maps purchased from the ship’s gift store, there were no secrets about where we were at all times. When we were told that Cozumel was not going to happen, we were also told that we would get as close as possible to enhance our experience. We had just made a 270 mile circle and were headed north and continued north until we reached New Orleans. It was a great time to watch people after the announcement was made. Debarkation: We took our time. We really took too long. We were one of the last three families off of the ship. We ate a good breakfast and took our time. Ship director Greg had laid the schedule perfectly. Final Remarks: Our port charges were refunded, and our kids quickly spent the refunds. We will have a discount on our next cruise. We do plan on taking another cruise. As long as we can get off the ship for a change of scenery we will have a better time. We rested and did lots of fun things.     

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Jun 17, 2005

Western Caribbean

This was a multi-family vacation for us, consisting of the wife, daughter, niece, in-laws and me. We had decided to spend the night in New Orleans, in order to see the French Quarter, do a little shopping, and enjoy the food. First day: Hmm, New Orleans pier is going through some growing pains, but it wasn’t too bad. Our hotel checkout time was 11:00, so we got to the pier really early. We still were able to check in early (boarding

doesn’t officially start until 1:30). We were probably one of the first 20 people on the ship. The in-laws were upgraded, and had to go by the purser’s desk to get their sail and sign cards, plus room key. Since the bar was nearby, I got the girls a drink card so they could have all the fountain drinks they could stand, plus took care of my own alcohol needs. It being so early, our rooms weren’t ready yet, so it was off to the Lido deck for lunch. A burger and three (maybe four?) boat-drinks later and all the pre-vacation stress started to slip away and I could finally relax. Somewhere around 2 o’clock I went to check on our cabin, it was not only ready for us, but some of our luggage had arrived already. I met our cabin stewardess; Swrajee (sounds just like it is spelled), and I asked her if we could shove the beds together to make a king. She said for me to give her until dinner and she’d make it happen. The family hung out on the upper decks to enjoy the sight of New Orleans slip by as the ship made its way down the Mississippi. We had the early seating for dinner so we couldn’t stay too long. Dining was in the Ecstasy room where we met Peter, the maitre‘d, Gede (pronounced G’day, like an Aussie would say “good day”) our head waiter, and Eligio (Eh-lee-jous) our team waiter. For the duration of the cruise the meals were all excellent, and anything that I couldn’t decide between, I’d either ask Gede’s advice, or I’d get both. Also a note, if you are not sure what something is, ask. The staff sees this food all the time, and they will tend to figure out what you like and don’t like pretty quickly, provided that you let them. First day at sea: Rain. Not continuous, but off and on throughout the day. My daughter said the slide was really fast after the rain quit. The pools and hot tubs were closed during the times there were threats of lightning. I had plenty of time to chill out and enjoy not being at work. Costa Maya: This is a small shopping center that appears to have been recently carved out of the jungle. It was raining early on, and all the shore excursions were cancelled due to the weather. The rain did stop, but it was kind of dreary, and there were people offering private tours to the nearby ruins and parks. By all appearances, if Dune buggy, 4X4 ATV, horseback, kayak and snorkeling is your thing, this is probably a decent stop. The pier offers a little trolley from the ship to the port entrance, but the walk isn’t unreasonable. There are some dancers in Mayan garb that put on a pretty excellent show, periodically they’ll stop and pose for pictures, then get right back at it. The site has two salt water pools; one is right at the sea wall, and set up for water volleyball. The other is situated between the restaurants. There was plenty of shopping to be done, but I staked out a beach chair under a tiki hut, and sacked out, keeping an ear out for the girls playing in the pool. While the women shopped, I snoozed. Costa Maya has a web site that is pretty informative as to what is offered. I’m curious as to what the place will look like in a few years as the developers come in. Cozumel: Ah, what can I say, over the past 18 years or so Cozumel has grown by leaps and bounds. Many shore tours to choose from (I’ve been to Tulum on a previous cruise on the Conquest, I can recommend it, the cliffs are fantastic). This is the place to shop if that is your passion. Most of the shops along the main drag don’t haggle much, but it can still be done. Get the cab (and you will need one unless the ship moors downtown) to take you to the “Forum Shops”, this is at the far end of the shopping district, which will allow you to walk back as far as you are willing, then take a cab back to the ship. In the middle of town is the restaurant “Las Palmeras”, good food. If you go around behind it, off the main drag, this is some of the best shopping. These folks expect to haggle, so be prepared. Both girls found dresses, jewelry, and had their hair braided. Most of the shops along the main drag have plenty of precious stones (tanzanite, alexandrite, etc.) and silver, silver and more silver. Like I said, this is probably one of the best and most diverse shopping areas there is. Last sea day: Picture perfect, the pool deck on these smaller ships can be crowded, but there is still plenty of space to stretch out and chill. The golf pro (Zack) had his laptop in for rework, so the cool swing computer software was unavailable, so he was offering lessons at half price. He changed my grip and follow through a little, my stance and take-away quite a bit. I haven’t got to see how my game has changed yet, but anything would be an improvement. Debarkation: If you are willing to haul your own luggage off the ship you can get out before anyone else, but you have to take it all, with no help. I elected to not do this, I’m on vacation… We disembarked shortly after the self-service folks. Found our bags, retrieved the cars, and were on I-10 about 20 minutes after walking off the ship. Customs was a non-event (just hand the form to the official as you pass by them). The relaxed debarkation is pretty nice, as long as you are off the boat by 10 AM or so, they don’t care when you leave. The ship: The Sensation was built in ’93, and even though it’s a little dated as far as designs go, she’s still quite a lady. I’ve spent as much for far worse hotel rooms. The shows in the Fantasia lounge were really good; the dancers don’t have as much room on stage as they do on the larger ships, so they take up the stage and come out into the aisles to get the audience involved. Arrive early for the best seats. The ventriloquist show, is not to be missed, truly first rate comedy, I wish I could have stayed up to see his midnight routine. For those with little ones, Camp Carnival is a Godsend. The girls enjoyed most everything they offered. The “Camp” is divided up into age groups, with activities tailored for each group. A five day cruise makes for a nice getaway, without evoking the same withdrawals I suffered after two 7 day cruises. There is plenty of “bang for the buck” here on the Sensation, and if you take this cruise and don’t have fun, well, I think you’d only have yourself to blame.     

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Jun 17, 2005

Western Caribbean

Upon arrival at the terminal my wife and I were sent straight to the Skippers Club and were allowed to go ahead of the rest of the passengers. I loved that. We did have to wait to get the pre cruise picture taken of course. Once on board though we were quite surprised by the ship. The outside of the ship is showing some age and this ship is in need of a good dry-docking. There are some stains on the outside and some rust visible near

the windows in some areas. On the inside, it was nicely decorated and looked pretty good considering it was a 12-year-old ship. I could easily see how some could consider the purple interior tacky or bad, but I didn't think it to terrible. Our room was quite nice. We had a suite with a balcony (V1). The room was nice sized and clean. It did show a bit of wear but if you weren't looking for it, you didn't notice. The bathroom was large and very clean. Our room steward (Ann) was a delight and always had the room in tiptop shape with ice and drinks ready to go if we needed them. She always had a kind word for us when she would see us and often stopped what she was doing to say hi and wish us a good day. The food was good and definitely plentiful. The dining rooms offered a wide variety of choices for dinner. If you want to try some foods you normally wouldn't eat, this is your chance. I tried several different dishes for the first time here. Sometimes the food was very good while at others it was just so so. Our waiter was good and made excellent suggestions. The bar waiter was also good. The breakfast and lunch buffets varied in quality. This usually depended on what was being offered. The deli was excellent. I recommend trying that out immediately. You will not be disappointed. Oh yes, the dinner performances are a nice touch and bring some humor to your meals. The entertainment was very good. The shows were well put together. The main singers were excellent and the dancers were very good. Bring your camera to the shows. You cannot take pictures of the shows themselves but after the first performance on our cruise, you could take photos of the cast. The nonstop singing dancing and changes of clothes will surprise you. Outside of the singing and dancing, there were two comedians as well as a magician during our cruise. The comedians were great while the magician was a little hokey. The "R" rated comedy shows at midnight were a hoot. There are other activities taking place on board all day long. Read the info they provide for you every night. It will give you some ideas on things to do. The pools are small yes but you can find a place to relax on board. I recommend the upper most pool on the back of the ship. That area is actually pretty peaceful compared to the main pool. Some of the areas can get crowded but there are plenty of deck chairs to go around. Our first stop in Costa Maya was disappointing simply because of the rain. All the shore excursions were cancelled. We were allowed to go to shore after the rain let up. There really isn't a lot to do here but shop and grab some food and drink here. Costa Maya is not a largely populated area and is basically for shore excursions and some minimal shopping. Cozumel on the other hand was better. We headed off to the Mayan Ruins of Tulum, which were breathtaking. We were a little disappointed in the way you were taken to a tourist specific area before making it to the ruins. The snack provided was also disappointing (soda and chips). The ruins were worth the trip though. We made it back to Cozumel with plenty of time to do some shopping. The shopping is good on the pier but better in downtown Cozumel itself. Head downtown for some shopping and good drinks (Senor Frogs). There are lots of excursions in both ports so do your research on what you want to do. Book early. Some sell out quickly. I would book through the Carnival web site or book immediately when you get on the ship The vast majority of the staff were very friendly. There was the occasional staff member that seemed to be wishing they were somewhere else but I didn't let it bother me and you should not either. Cruise director Greg and Asst director Shannon are very friendly and good at what they do. They try to appease all the passengers with various forms of entertainment. The Social Hosts also try their best to keep the guests entertained with activities, games, etc. Our experience overall was very good and I would recommend this ship and its cruise to anyone. The service was very good and the little things like the gift basket of toiletries was nice. Some of the shopping is very good. Look for the inch of pearls of $1.00 when in Cozumel (yes, real pearls). Good food and good drinks. Stay away from the plastic bottles though. They were never cold enough. The positives greatly outweighed the negatives and my wife and I are already planning our next trip on the Sensation.     

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Jun 17, 2005

Western Caribbean

This was my husband and I first cruise experience and it was not what we expected. Just to give you some information about us. My husband and I are 23-year-old newlyweds. This was the first out of the country experience that we had. We are very disappointed that we wasted our vacation time and money on this trip. We contacted Carnival Cruise concerning our complaint. The only thing they cared to do was give us a small discount on our next

Carnival Cruise, which I tried to tell them there will not be a next cruise for us with Carnival. Therefore, I decided that I could at least let others know about our experience. Food: We did not care for the buffet dining, it was often bland and not that great. I ended up eating 6 tuna sandwiches in 5 days because I could not find anything else that I liked. We normally love pizza but we did not like the pizza buffet either. Also, the icemakers were broke so everyone had to scoop ice from coolers! Do not expect good tea or juice either. The tea is instant and the juice taste awful. The dining room food was unpredictable. I could not tell from night to night if I was going to be disappointed that I wasted my time going to dinner. Our dining room was the Ecstasy and it is hidden at the back of the ship, so one night we were 30 minutes late to dinner. Staff: All the staff members on board the ship were friendly. We had great room staff and fast room service. It was nice to go back to our cabin in the evening to find mints on the pillow and the bed turned down. They also made cute animal figures out of towels. I forgot to pack my hair conditioner. This ended up being a problem because the staff at the front desk and room staff said they did not have any extra sample packs on the whole ship. They also did not sell any on the ship. Entertainment: The Vegas style show was great. The comedy and magic show was also very entertaining. All the shows that we attended were wonderful. The main pool was always crowded. The other smaller adult pool looked dirty because it needed to be repainted. Room: The room was HOT. Our air conditioner was not working properly the whole trip. They attempted to fix the problem several times but with no avail. After three nights we were finally offered a fan. The room was small but would have been bearable if we were able to breath. We had an ocean view on the Empress deck. Compared to an inside cabin the room is the same size just has a window. Ports: The first port was the beautiful Grand Cayman Islands. When we arrived at port I was a little disappointed because I thought the island was going to be breath taking. No one ever mention that the ports look like construction sites. I understand that this is not Carnivals problem but it just added to my disappointment, although the island and the water are beautiful. We were only there from 8:00 to 1:00. There were long lines down halls to get off the boat. Since we were not experience travelers and knew we had to be back on the ship soon we did not feel comfortable taking a taxi. Therefore, we stayed in walking distances from the port. The shops were nothing special. Conclusion: They main headache we had with our trip was the air conditioning problems and the poor food quality. If you do not like to stay on a schedule I do not recommend taking any cruises. I prefer to come and go at my own pace. Everything on a cruise revolves around a schedule from breakfast, entertainment, porting, etc.     

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By Jera_CR

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Jun 3, 2005

Western Caribbean

Specific Cozumel. This was our 'maiden voyage' taken to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary. We went with two of our best friends and their two most excellent teenagers. [I'll be looking for that check, kids!] Embarkation: Not nearly as bad as expected. Around 45 minutes or so. Great for people watching...and watching...and you get the picture! Went right to our three adjacent cabins which were extremely clean and cozy. I do say

cozy because they were exactly the size expected when we chose them from the online pictures. If we had wanted a suite, we could have booked it. It was perfect for sleeping, showering and changing; we didn't anticipate spending the entire cruise or even a large portion of it in the cabin so what would have been the point?? Our cabin was the 2nd from the front of the Main Deck. The Down-side - perhaps it was my imagination but it sure seems like being this far forward causes any motion of the ship to be much more pronounced. Then again, twenty foot swells (western edge of Arlene!) would make any movement pronounced! Being on a lower deck also allows the noise of whoever was chipping paint below us at really odd hours to transmit right up the hull into the cabin. The Up-side - no kids running back and forth past our cabin at 2 AM!!! Hooray! Our room stewards were incredible! They made us feel very welcome and responded promptly to all our needs. Thank you, Rey and company! Food: Holy Moly! If you're about calorie counting, don't bother cruising! If you're about letting your taste buds run loose for awhile, this is the place for you!! All you want, any time you want is the motto! I want to echo MW's statement about our wait staff: "many, many thanks to our waiter Gus and his assistant Borika," Sure, he may have written our names down at some point early on but his actually remembering how to pronounce my first name earned big marks in my book! (the extra lobsters sure didn't hurt either, Gus!) An event not to be missed is the chefs' exhibition. Food sculptures, ice carvings and much more that will wow your senses. Drinks: Anything you could name, and quite a few you couldn't. Prices were not at all out of line. I would recommend bar management take the liquor bottles off those meters and let the 'mixologists' do what mixologists do! A good bartender knows when a patron desires (and can tolerate) a touch past exactly one ounce. With all the extravagance surrounding you on board this ship, a bar drink is no place to be skimpy. MW's review is right on about the ship's drinking water and any beverage produced with it. Has that certain 'wang' to it that just puts it over the edge of palatable. Although the bottled water seemed a touch pricey, it is still the sensible alternative. Entertainment and Ship's Activities: Something was always happening suitable for all ages. From activities on the decks, to Bingo, to the incredibly funny "Newlywed (and not so newlywed) Game show hosted by our Cruise Director, Mr. Greg Hutson. Slightly frightening but rip-roaring funny, Greg had three of the most unusual 'Chippendale Dancers' you'll ever see...and hopefully their wives will ever endure! If you're reading this, Mr. Otis, "Beep Beep!" Greg, Zoë and the rest of the activities staff were tremendous at keeping things hopping on board. A very special thank you from me to Greg for making our inaugural cruise something we'll treasure. As a musician that performs on a semi-pro level, his convincing me to contribute to the Guest Talent show near the end of the cruise truly made it special. The ship's orchestra was perfection and the 'volunteers' onstage with me were awesome! Most special of all was the opportunity to announce to such a huge audience my appreciation for my wife tolerating my passion for performing rock and roll. (Thanks too, to the light crew for putting her in the perfect spotlight!) Additional thanks to the ship's performing band, "The Dirt Poets" for indulging my passion for just sittin' in! You guys rock! Super-Shopper's show: Great info is available here on shops at your ports of call. Gentlemen, one word of caution: Beware if Jason calls for a 'good sport'! You had better be a good sport indeed and know someone with nail polish remover PRIOR to raising your hand! Finally, the floor shows were truly Vegas class! Incredible and an absolute must-see! Hat's off to every member of the directors, actors, dancers and crew! Staff: From Capt. Fabio Minetti [sp?] to every last crew member, enough cannot be said for their professionalism, enthusiasm and obvious joy they take in doing their jobs. Nothing ever seemed to be taken for granted with this lot. Most impressive of all was how well everyone worked together considering the vast number of nationalities involved! One thing that sticks with me is an occasion I saw our Captain stop in the hallway and simply take time to chat with a handful of youngsters fascinated by the big man in charge of such a big boat. Thank you, sir. They will never forget your kindness and attention. Quality of worn out. Not sure what boat some previous reviewers were referring to but the Sensation is NOT one of those. Immaculately kept up and constantly being cleaned by someone! As for the lively purple interior decor - It's a FUN SHIP!! Destinations: Not being able to dock in Costa Maya due to bad weather really was disappointing but really understandable. One look overboard at the harbor pilot's 30 footer bouncing around as if it were in a bathtub was enough to convince anyone that trying to put to port was going to be a VERY bad idea! The cruise director's crew came to the rescue and soon everyone's mind was occupied with plenty of substitute activities. Good save! Excursions: See MW's review. She was spot on in every detail. Additionally, if you've never tried Snuba, give it a go! Amazing! One word of caution on the shopping in Cozumel: unless you know at least a bit of Spanish and are VERY confident in handling overly forceful salesmanship, I strongly advise against venturing more than one block off the main strip. Treatment can become just a touch hairy back there. Prices are much the same as those on the main strip as is the selection. You might be able to haggle a bit more but stay mindful of your personal safety. As should always be the case, stay very aware of your surroundings and location. Debarkation: No real surprises here. It took no longer than expected with the exception of locating our luggage. It was a bit scattered in the section we found it. Green canvas seems to be a very popular color and material! Having an extra highly visible tag securely attached to the handles helped tremendously. Be prepared to wait in line trying to get out of the garages. No need to be in a hurry here as you'll only be frustrated and spoil the end of a truly fun vacation! Final Remarks: To paraphrase the now infamous Terminator line, "We'll be back!!" When we sat down and added up the total expenses versus all the activities, amenities and 5 star treatment received, the value of cruising became immediately obvious! Finally, thank goodness for SEA BANDS! I laughed at first at the concept of acupressure relieving seasickness, but those little things work! If you have any inkling you'll be ill, get yourself a pair. ....Bon Voyage!     

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By MW_CR

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Jun 3, 2005

Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise. My son’s “senior trip” for high school graduation. Wanted a family vacation. We went out from New Orleans to Costa Maya and Cozumel. Went with my husband, two children (ages 18 and 16), and two friends. My husband & I had a room, my two children shared a room, and our friends shared a room. All of our rooms ended up by each other. Embarkation: This was not too bad. I think we were in line for about 45-50

minutes. The line moved pretty fast and check in was a breeze. We timed it perfectly and we were able to go straight to our cabins. The room was very nice. We had lots of room. Don’t know if we just got lucky or what! Our room was the 3rd from the front of the Main Deck. Our room stewards were very nice and got us anything we needed promptly. Thanks to Rey and his assistant! Food: The food was very good and plentiful! Too much eating! Not used to that much food consumption. Anytime you wanted something to eat, food was available. The fine dining at night was very good and many many thanks to our Waiter Gus and his assistant Borika. Gus remembered every night that my 18 year old son loved to eat and brought him extra and the nights that Caesar Salad was not available, he made a special Caesar Salad for him and brought it out. Remembered our names and was very funny and cordial. Drinks: If you ordered the ‘drink of the day’, which varied from day to day, it was pretty cheap as far as drinking goes - $2.95. Of course the 15% gratuity was added to that. The only thing was that there was not a lot of alcohol in these drinks. Just about every drink needed a little most boost! Most drinks cost about the same as a fine bar in the town you live in. The water did not taste too well. I would advise bringing some bottled water along with you. Theirs was $3.25 a bottle. You can bring a limited (same) amount of drinks, water, soda, etc. Also the iced tea was not good. Tasted like instant. Entertainment: Was really good. The dancers and singers were very good and the shows they put on were Las Vegas quality. One night we had a guy that was a ‘balancing act’ and with the ship rocking, that was pretty interesting. He was good. Also a ventriloquist act. He was also very good. The last night was a passenger talent show and our friend was in that and of course, made the show, for us. Staff: The cruise director, Greg, was very friendly and very good. The other staff members were all very nice and I can’t say enough about the people that work on this boat. It did not look old or worn out, as some reviews mentioned. The colors and theme of this ship were great. My husband’s only complaint was not enough smoking areas. One lounge and the casino was it for smoking areas. Other than outside, of course. Destinations: We arrived at Costa Maya and due to bad weather, we were unable to dock. It was too dangerous and the waves were too rough. That was pretty disappointing, but couldn’t be helped. Our Captain took us on to Cozumel and we got to spend that night in Cozumel and all the next day. Excursions: I strongly advise to book through the ship due to the fact that bad weather may play a role and if you booked an excursion through someone else, you might not get your money back. We had not planned anything for Costa Maya and were just going to explore the island on our own. We shopped the shops at the dock the night we docked in Cozumel and had dinner at Poncho’s. VERY good food and DRINKS! They know how to make a margarita there! The next day we took a sub-view excursion. This was about $45.00 a person. This is a boat that has a ‘sub’ underneath it. You have big windows to look out and see all the sea life and we went to Paradise Coral Reef. This was good and very interesting. When this was over, it was raining and poured rain the rest of the day, so the beach trip didn’t happen (this was not pre-booked, thank goodness). We went downtown to the Forum Shops and shopped until time to board the ship. Prices were pretty good. Had to haggle with the merchants to get the price you wanted though. If you are shopping for jewelry, this is the place. More jewelry stores than anything. Debarkation: We waited for a while to leave our room since there were a lot of people wanting off the boat first. No sense in trying to be the 1st one off the boat unless you have an early flight to catch. This was not too bad. Although we were tired at this point and ready to get off the ship. The only bad thing I can say about this part is that trying to find your entire luggage is not fun. It is squared off into the part of the ship you were on, but if you had a lot of luggage, it is not easy to find it all and of course, it wouldn’t be together. Then you have to try to hail down a Sea Cap to get your luggage out to the bus area. We parked at the Fulton Garage and the bus will take you back there. But once you get to the Fulton Garage, there is only one street for drop off and pick up. That is a nightmare. My husband left us on the curb and went up to get the car and it took him 45 minutes to get through the traffic to pick us up and load the luggage. This has nothing to do with the Carnival Line but just wanted to warn those who park there. Final Remarks: As a first time cruiser, I can say that we all truly enjoyed it and will be going again soon, probably when the next child graduates from high school! Loved it all!     

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May 20, 2005

Western Caribbean

We went on this cruise for our senior trip! It was me and my best friend and my family! It was me and my family's second cruise, but my friends first time! We had a great time and we are going back in July! Embarkation: We live about an hour away from New Olreans so we just drove down there. Parking as usual in New Orleans was terrible! It seemed like it took forever but I think it only took about 30 minutes! Once we got to the terminal

it took about another 30 minutes before we were actually on the ship! After boarding we went straight to our rooms we had 3 rooms all next to each other. When we finally found out rooms all of our luuggage was already there which I was suprised! The rooms were very clean and alot of room compared to other cruise ships! Rooms: Like I said above the rooms were always clean and there was plenty closet space for 2 girls to put all there things and the bathroom was bigger than most on cruise ships there was always hot water and everything! And the room was a good size! We had a window in our room and we looked out of it every now and then but it was so dirty we couldn't see out of it most of the time they should think about cleaning them on the outside! Food: The food was the best part! There was to much! But it was always good and if you didn't like something that you had ordered they would come get it and get you something else! We ate in the dining room every night except one night we ordered room service because we were so tired but it was always good! Entertainment: There was always something to do on board. From games out on Lido deck to games shows in the lounges! I think the best thing we did was going to the shows! They were so awesome! The lead singers were so great! We actually went to the shows twice it was great! Staff: The staff was good. They were usually willing to help every now and then we would get some people who could barley speak English like in the gift shops, it was kind of annoying but oh well! It was a little outdated but nothing that bad! I liked the colors of it and everything. The layout is a little confusing haha (got lost a couple times!) other than that it was great! Costa Maya: We did a jeep tour it was pretty fun but at first we went through the actual city of Costa Maya and it wasn't pretty it was very dirty but once we started getting out of there we had alot of fun! Cozumel: We did the dolphin swim which was really fun! Do it if you get a chance! There is alot of shopping over there to it was alot of fun! Debarkation: Went by pretty fast we carried our luggage off the ship which made it go fast! All in all we had so much fun and like I said we are going back in July and I can't wait! If you ever get a chance go!     

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May 15, 2005

Western Caribbean

The cruise was fantastic. I took my family of 4 kids (18, 11, 10 and 5). The bad: The parking in New Orleans was available...if you could find it. The signage in New Orleans is next to invisible. The good: Food, shore excursions, crew, rooms, cleanliness, shows, etc. This was the best vacation of my life. I have visited over 20 countries during my life. I have been to 48 of the 50 US States. I have been to Disney World 3 times. This

cruise beat all of those. I just can't say enough good stuff about the crew. Our dinner stewards (Raju and Innocenti), our room steward (Oksana), one of the breakfast stewards in the Seaview Grill(Ana) were all SUPER nice! The shore excursion (that was available from the ship) in Cozumel called "Eco Jeep and Snorkel Adventure", was AWESOME. The tour guides (Lorenzo and Alberto) were two extremely friendly and funny guys. The adventure was incredible. The shows. The comedian on the first night was lame. Everything else was great. We went to every show and sat on the second row. The lead singers were terrific. My two younger kids loved Camp Carnival. They kept wanting to go back. We ate most dinners without them...their choice, I promise! We will definitely go again...soon.     

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By Matt_CR

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May 11, 2005

Western Caribbean

Carnival’s Sensation was the third cruise in the past three years for my wife (26) and I (27). We have also been on Carnival Conquest out of New Orleans and Carnival Celebration out of Galveston, Texas. Conquest was a much newer and larger ship that sailed for seven days. Sensation and Celebration were similar in size and had an identical 4-day itinerary to Cozumel. After having a fabulous time on Conquest, our cruising fun was somewhat

lowered on the “older” Celebration. With that in mind, we were a little skeptical about the Sensation. That skepticism went away quickly, however, as we were pleasantly surprised with our latest ship. The Port of New Orleans I believe boarding began around 1 p.m. We showed up at 2 p.m. and there was not a single person in line. We advanced right to the counter showed our birth certificate, license and ticket and were given a Sail and Sign Card and were on our way. We were on the ship less than 15 minutes after getting out of the taxi in front of the pier. First impressions We were warned that some of the ship’s decorations were tacky, but either they changed it or it wasn’t tacky to us. Everything was in great condition. There were no flaws we could find. Everything was clean from the walls, floors and windows. There were neon blue and green lights with two glass elevators going to the six main floors of action. With a small orchestra playing in the background, we were warmly greeted onto the ship by crew members. The room Like most people, we made our way to the room first so we could check it out and put our stuff down. Before we could get the key in the door we were greeted by our room steward Galina, who introduced herself and let us know if we needed anything just to ask. We purchased the balcony suite (V6) only because there were no “regular” balconies available. We had a “regular” balcony on Conquest and assumed the balcony suite on Sensation would be bigger. Well, it wasn’t. No big deal – how much time are you going to spend in the room anyway? The balcony itself was nice, although smaller than Conquest. The room was adequate, although you could see some wear and tear on the furniture. No foul smells or odors like we had experienced on the Celebration. The Ship The rest of the ship was very nice. We could not find a dirty or worn spot anywhere. The layout is also very well done. For the most part, all of the entertainment rooms or lounges are within two floors all around the middle of the ship. We spent many evenings in the Michelangelo Lounge for Rock Music. There was also Karaoke regularly in the Plaza Lounge. There was a Polo Lounge with a big screen full of sports and several other lounges for other interests. The main lounge where all the shows took place was also in great shape and very accommodating. There was one main pool with a waterslide, as well as several hot tubs. There were plenty of decks to lay out and get sun or simply people-watch. You could be right in the middle of the action if you chose, or you could find yourself a cozy corner for privacy. We also spent time in the work out room and the spa, which were both very nice. We won $30 playing Black Jack, but did not spend more than 20 minutes in the Casino during the trip. Too smoky, but that is the case with all casinos. We also spent time in Joe’s Internet Café checking our email from time to time. The Food The food was pretty good. We ate each evening in the Ecstasy Dining Room. Our waiter did not do anything wrong, but didn’t have as much personality or energy as other waiters we observed. Over the four nights we had very good Filet Minot, Shrimp, Turkey, and Salmon among other things. As usual, the waiters will sing and dance for you after the meal is served. We split our lunches between the dining room and the buffet and both had their advantages. We enjoyed both, with the buffet obviously giving you more choices. There are also deli sandwiches, pizza and ice cream available almost all day. You will fill up on food and if you don’t like something, simply ask for or go get something else. The Entertainment We enjoyed all of the shows. There we two performances of dancers and singers which were very entertaining and comparable to a Vegas show. The first night there was a comedy show, and we also had a balancing act and second comedian the third night. All were worth the watch. The music in the lounges was also good. There were also plenty of activities to keep you busy either inside or outside, whatever you fancy. The Excursions Since this was our third time to Cozumel, we decided to take a 40-minue ferry ride to Playa Del Carmen on the main land of Mexico. We went to the XCaret Park which was great. The highlight was floating down a 45-minute underground river which was very fun but relaxing. The park also offered a large beach, dolphin encounters, jaguar island, an aquarium, a butterfly pavilion among many other things. There are also five or six restaurants on site. Well worth a visit. Debarking We were amazed by how easy this process was. We chose the “self-assist” method and when we heard the 8 a.m. call we walked from our room off the ship, past customs and into a cab in no more than 10 minutes. Very simple. Maybe we were lucky this day. This was not the case on Conquest (about an hour) or Celebration (three hours!). Overall summary We had a very good time and were pleasantly surprised after expecting worse after going on a bigger ship in Conquest and a so-so experience on an older and similar sized Celebration. But this worked out perfect. The ship was just the right size, the food was great, service good and the only thing that went wrong was when we were sitting in the main lounge for a show and I had my foot rested in the bottom slot on the movie-theatre style chair in front of me when a large (i.e. 300 pound) man sat down quickly in front of me. I could not move my foot in time and I was too embarrassed (or in too much pain) to ask him to get up, so I sat for the entire show with my foot stuck up this guys’ (rear end) for the better part of an hour. With this said, we still had a great time and would recommend Carnival Sensation to anyone.   

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Apr 22, 2005

Western Caribbean

WHAT A WONDERFUL TIME. This was my second cruise, first cruise was with Royal Caribbean and I was not impressed. I decided to go on another with some friends and had a blast. Getting on board was simply and easy, didn't take much time at all. Entertainment is wonderful if you get involved in everything. Food is horrible. Nothing is good to say about that. The out door grill is the best on the ship. We ate there the entire time. Staff is

wonderful also. Stateroom was big enough and always clean. Ports of call were also wonderful     

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By Dawn_CR

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Mar 17, 2005

Western Caribbean

On this cruise, we got what we paid for. This cruise was far under par for our family. Our group included: My husband (30), myself (25), our son (5) my mother-in-law (52), and my grandmother-in-law (76). We have all cruised before. The cruise starts out in New Orleans, a wonderful city. We arrived two days early so we could visit the city and avoid any travel delays that would cause us to miss our debarkation. We stayed at the Midtown

Inn on Tulane Ave. It is a 7 minute drive from the French Quarter. I would not recommend this hotel unless you are the non discriminate spring breaker type. It is in a seedy neighborhood, things are falling apart and broken, the hotel is filthy, and there is no parking area for your car. You must park it on a side street in this seedy neighborhood. The price is outrageous, a whopping $75.00 a night for this junky hotel. We did visit the French Quarter and there are many things to do there besides drink. We visited Jackson Square, took a carriage ride through the quarter, and ate at a fabulous little place called Rita's. The restaurant was recommended by our carriage driver. She drove us there after our tour and dropped us off at the restaurant. She also told the doorman to give us free dessert, and he did. The food was fantastic! We also toured the Garden District and the Lafayette Cemetary # 1. Our guide was brilliant and new everything you could ever want to know about New Orleans. We begin the first day of our cruise by navigating our way to the cruise terminal which is a little confusing, but manageable. My husband drops us off at the port terminal and goes to find the long term parking garage. The port is very busy! The porters took our luggage and were very courteous and helpful, we tipped them $10.00. We are waiting inside the terminal for my husband to join us after parking the car. He calls to tell me that all the parking lots are full and that he is going to try to park under the freeway. I wasn't all that convinced that was such a great idea, but before I could tell him, the security guard snaps at me about my cell phone usage. I apologize and hang up. I really expected her to be more courteous about it. My husband arrives about ten minutes later to inform me that he found an empty parking place in a lot about a mile away. It is $10.00 a day to park there. Now the fun begins! We stand in line for about 30 minutes and receive our sail and sign cards, then we are led to the waiting area. We waited for an hour in those chairs. I still don't know why. Although the "phone police" were in full force. They were really snapping at people to turn off their phones. I am really starting to feel like this is a cattle call. There is no sense of courtesy at this point. It was worse than being delayed at the airport. I wasn't even allowed to sit by my husband because of their seating arrangement. He had to sit on a different row on the other side of the room. After waiting, we are finally called to start heading for the ship. We go through security and board the ship. It is about 3pm, so we head to our stateroom, E141. Most of our luggage has arrived, so we settle into our room. My mother and grandmother-in-law are in the cabin next to us. The room is decent. The linens are clean and the bathroom is clean. We chose an inside cabin, so they have a curtain hanging up for a mock window. We decide to walk around and take in the sites of the ship. We were definately not impressed. The decor was very bright and busy. It was cheap and had a tawdry Vegas-style look to it. There are mirrors everywhere and bright purple walls. The waiters assault you immediately to purchase drinks. It is quite annoying and they do not let up. I don't know if they get a commission if they sell a certain number of them or what, but they are very pushy. Most of the shops, pool, hot tub, casino, and Camp Carnival (the children's play area), are all closed because we are still in port. We did eat at the Sea view Bar and Grill on the Lido deck. The food is set up buffet style and is comparable to Golden Corral, Luby's, or Barnhill's. The food quality is poor. The pizza is bland and overcooked, the meat is dry, and they hard. lt have any vegetables at all. The fruit was fresh though, and quite good. My husband went back to the room and took a nap. I took my son the register him in the children's Camp Carnival program. This children's program is a nightmare! Beware! You are not allowed to have your children grouped together unless they are the same age. They are really aggressive about this. The 5 year olds are grouped with the babies, so needless to say my son hated it. It did manage to get him into the 6-8 year old group for about and hour. He had fun there, but before I could even return from dinner, they had already checked him out of that room and moved him back to baby room. This completely took me by surprise because their rule is: The parent who signs the child in, is the only one who can sign the child out. No exceptions. Well, I guess they made an exception with him. When I went to pick him up, they did not know where he was. Each counselor pointed me to a different room. The children's camp counselors have the worst attitudes on the ship. They are unfriendly and quite aggressive. We did not return to the kid's camp. My son refused to go back. He is not unruly or a hard to handle child. He's pretty quiet and mild mannered, so it wasn't a behavior issue. I did say we went to dinner. The dinner was alright. The service was fantastic. Our waiter, Denis, was super! The was the best service we had during the entire cruise. The food was comparable to Olive Garden. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't gourmet level either. Here, again, the bar staff comes around and presses you to buy shots, at dinner!! They are betting on you being an alcoholic or turning you into one. The sommelier also came around to offer wine, but we declined. After dinner, (we selected the early seating) we discover that we are just now leaving the port. We are 4 hours late from our original departure date. It doesn't sound so bad, but this means that the captain will have to make up this time by, as you might have guessed, going faster! This poses a larger problem because the speed is regulated along the Mississippi River, so it is going to be well into the wee hours of the morning before he can get it to Gulf of Mexico and speed up the ship. We definately felt this during the night. The ship rocked continuously well into the next day. It is now our first day at sea. The ship is really rocking, and I am not talking about a band. I feel queasy. We decide to eat breakfast at the Sea view Bar and Grill. I ate some fruit and two stale croissants. We decide to try out the pool. This is not a good idea! The pool is about half the size of a public, neighborhood pool. The water slide is open, although I don't know how they justify having it in such a small pool. There a two hot tubs nearby and there are about 30 kids crammed into each one. I am not kidding! It is ridicules looking and not safe. There are so many kids in there, that you couldn't tell if one went under. There are no lifeguards except for the one at the top of the slide, regulating how many kids can go down the slide. So, he's not watching anyone in the hot tubs or pool. They is now way that water was clean in the hot tubs after that. I refused to get in. There was plenty of room to lay out, but the waiters hounded you about drinks again. They are expensive too! It's an amazing $6.00 a drink, but I get to keep the tacky cup it came in. We decided to go to the Fantasia Lounge, which is where we spent most of our time. The had a game of Bingo starting. That was fun. We stayed to watch a funny couples show that took volunteers and made their husbands more adventurous looking. It was a riot! Afterwards, we went back out to the pool deck for line dancing and we watched their skit of Fear Factor. I left for that part. I can handle watching that stuff. My husband liked it though. We went back to the room after that and watched some television. There wasn't much else to do. We all took naps and then got ready for dinner. Dinner was so-so again. After dinner we went to the Fantasia Lounge for the show. It was a Vegas style show and we enjoyed it. The was also a comedian later on and he wasn't very good. We decided to try out his late night activities. We visited the Plaza Lounge where the comedian performed his adult act, but I got tired and went to bed. My husband stayed and then went to the midnight buffet. He said it was alright. Our third day begins in Cozumel! We did not book any excursions through Carnival because they are very pricey. We navigated our own way through town and enjoyed it. We meandered through the shops. Be careful here! The shops are geared toward tourists, so there are not many bargains on many items. We decided to catch a cab to the beach and do some snorkeling. Be sure and arrange your cab fare before you get in the cab. They regularly charge you higher prices if you do not. The driver recommended Playa de San Francisco. It was great! The place was beautiful and clean. The water was crystal clear and the cabanas were all set up. It was not overly crowded. They even had a water trampoline and an inflatable climbing wall that was shaped like an iceberg. We had a lot of fun here! This was the best part of the trip. We snapped some great underwater pictures from snorkeling. We stayed until it was time to board the ship at 4pm. We boarded the ship after waiting quite a while in a very long line. We went back to our room and proceeded to get ready for dinner. I am taking my shower and Bam!! We lose power, water, everything. I am standing in the shower in pitch black, our room is an inside cabin. There was no emergency lighting at all. We stood there for about 15 minutes before the power came back on. There was still no water. Have to finish my shower later. Our stewardess informs us that the water will be on soon and that we should not worry. By the way, she has no personality to speak of. She does her job and that is it. We feel like we are on the S.S. Minnow rather than a cruise ship. We ate dinner. We went to more shows in the Fantasia Lounge. We decided to try out the casino. They did have a variety of games to choose from, but it was so smokey in there, that I could not spend more than 15 minutes. My eyes were starting to burn from the smoke. I went to bed. Day four, thank God we are almost home!! The seas are really rough and we are in the middle of thunderstorms. They captain closes off the pool deck because of rain and high winds. That didn't bother me, but the ship was really swaying a lot! We joined another Bingo game and stayed for some trivia games too. I took my son to the video arcade and he had fun there. We ate lunch and then went back to the room and watched some movies. We ate dinner. We watched the Mambo show. It was great. The performers were having a hard time staying up because they ship was rocking so much. There was a magic act and a comedian that were alright. We went to bed afterward. Our final day! We are ready to debark! We decide to do the early debarkation at 7:45am. Everyone else decided to do the same thing. We stood in the hallway for an hour before the line started to move. There has to be a better way. People from all decks were crammed onto the Empress deck at the same time. It was a mass of people and no organization. We finally get out of there and my husband goes to get the car. He comes back and we hop in and leave! We will never go on Carnival again. I tipped everyone as recommended, but I know I could have spent our vacation money on a different vacation and have had a better experience.     

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Feb 21, 2005

Western Caribbean

I had such a wonderful experience on my cruise. Not only was this my first cruise, but I also went alone. I was impressed at dinner, because you are seated with the same people at dinner every night, and they must profile you with people of similar circumstance, because at my table, there was another girl who went alone, not only that, we had booked the same shore excursions and didn't even know it! Also, there was a mother with her two

daughters who were my age, and another mother and daughter pair my age. We all hit it off so well, we have kept in touch and probably will forever. Thanks Carnival! The only bummer was at embarkation, their online system was down, so they had to do it all the old fashioned way...so that took about 2 hours. But, they did the best they could despite the outage. The ship itself is really nice, yes a little older, but it's had quite a few years of usage. One thing I noticed, was the staff did a great job of keeping her clean the entire trip. I've heard reviews of dirty ships, but they did good for us on this trip. My room was plenty of space for just me, although I was in a middle cabin with no view. I still really liked my room! My steward did a great job of cleaning it at least twice daily. Loved the towel animals! The food was good, dinner was of course always the best. Zorana and Bogdan are the best!! The only thing I would suggest, is to have more variety for the breakfast buffet. Although the food was good, it was the same exact thing every morning. But still yummy! The first day at sea was good...really windy, but sunny. There were plenty of onboard activities to keep us occupied, including "fear factor," which was funny. Or, you can just bask in the sun. Even though there's so many people, I always found a spot. Our first shore stop was Calica. I booked the Tulum/Xel-ha tour, and it was GREAT!! We were underway right on time, and it was weird for me, because in almost all the reviews I read, people said they felt they did not have enough time, or they wish they would have only done one or the other. Both myself and the girl I went with agreed. the times at both were perfect. Tulum was beautiful, and we had plenty of time to explore ALL The ruins, the beautiful picturesque views. And we had about 3-4 hours in Xel-ha, where we snorkeled and lounged in the sun...plenty of time to enjoy the park! It was beautiful as well, although the snorkeling/diving was better in Cozumel. Cozumel was great, I booked the beginners scuba, and loved it! i had never scuba before, and was a little nervous at first, but stuck with it, and am so glad I did. I saw a baby reef shark, it was just a baby and they're not dangerous, so that was awesome. I just missed a sea snake and octopus, apparently there were also lobsters that I missed. But, I saw so many break taking fish!! Even though I booked it through the ship, they used sand dollar sports, they were great! Even gave us free drinks, and snorkel gear after words. Check them out at www.sanddollarsports.com The last day at sea good, except it was so stormy!! But once again, plenty of things onboard to keep us having a great time. The shows we saw were pretty good, the las vegas style shows were fun, and I loved the ventriloquist they had, he was the 1989 world champion! I loved that they had art auctions onboard, at great prices also. There was really something for everyone. I know everyone said drinks are expensive, but if you get the small daily special, it's only 2.95. not bad! My total bill at the end, including gratuities, photos (definitely take advantage of the photos they take everywhere you go, including on the ship. Scuba diving, we turned around, and there was a photographer! i have great quality pic of me now at the bottom of the ocean! they're not that spend, and great quality!) and drinks was only slightly over $100!! And gratuities themselves was $50 (ten dollars per day). I booked my shore excursions online before hand, which I DEFINITELY recommend. The lines for shore excursions on the ship are so long, and they sell out FAST! it's so easy to book them online, and then when you get to your ship, the first night they deliver your tickets to your door--easy!! I believe each vacation is what you make of it. For the price, this was such a great trip! I had such a great time, am already planning my next cruise. Thanks carnival!!     

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By Lori_CR

  • New

Jan 8, 2005

Western Caribbean

The boat is OLD and worn out. The bathrooms horrible....but this was an all girlfriend trip and nothing would have stopped us from having a good time. We spent the extra money for a suite which was a nice size. The closet was very big....again the bathroom was horrible. There was mold on the walls, outdated decor and had a smell. The boat also rocked alot and we had that sick to your stomach feeling most of the trip. Our first excursion

was the Calica "Beach Break". That was the most fun of the trip. The guide was fantastic, friendly, helpful and very handsome. The only problem is it was over too soon. The next day was power snorkel at Cozumel. This was a so-so experience. I would never go on a Cruise again...I do not think I am a cruise kind of girl but I will definately go back to the lovely Mexican Riviera. WOW.     

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By Joe_CR

  • New

Jan 6, 2005

Western Caribbean

I just got back from my first and last cruise. I went on the Carival Cruise lines out New Orleans, a 4 day jaunt, and God forbid it would last another day! We got into New Orleans the night before and partied late in the Quarter, the next day we got to the cruise ship, checked our bag and went to Ugelsich's for lunch, then walked back to the boat (about 1 mile, but worth the trip). We got to the room, no bags, and they did not show

for about more 3 hours so we could not change. The room was clean and the service below the deck was very good for the whole trip. The linens were always clean and service was prompt, good job! The main deck was crowded, the people on the cruise area very similar to a typical Panama City Spring Break crowd, red and rowdy and all ages getting drunk. The next day, we went to the gym for a work out, nice to be able to do so, and the equipment was OK. After a workout, we returned to a cleaned room, showered, changes and went up to the Lido deck around 9 am where the pool was). As soon as we laid out our towels, we were asked if we wanted a drink, not 30 seconds later, another waiter asked if we wanted a drink. We opted not to get one, simply relax.....wrong, not on a cruise ship. Every two minutes or less (I'm not kidding) was another waiter asking what we wanted to drink, fine and dandy if you want to get drunk, but that was not our cause. After a few hours we went to get a bite to eat, buffet style, food was average to below average, served similar to a Ryan's, GOlden Coral, or Barnhill's. When we went up top once more, it was then we noticed empty cups and beer cans all over the place. It seems Carnival is very aggressive to "sell" you a drink, but not pick up after themselves. The bathrooms were disgusting and urine was all over the floor (you can imagine the smell), my girlfriend noticed the same uncleanliness in the women's room. We went down for dinner and seated at a large table for about 10 people, but we were the only ones at the table that night and it felt awkward. The food was not good, similar to a swanson's frozen dinner (I guess it would be good for someone who likes frozen dinners). We went to the after dinner show...lame, then went gambling for a while, however, there were alot of smokers there and it stunk so we did not stay long. The next day, we were in Cozumel, went on the snorkeling trip and then to the beach, kind of nice. Afterward we were back at the ship and had to go though the maze of "ship shops" to get a cab, who sent us to carlos and charlie's (another ship attraction), ate and went back to the cruise ship. The next day, same thing all over again. We ordered a drink around 11 am, and it was strong, every 2-3 minutes, they were trying to sell you another drink, trying to get you drunk, and once again, litter everywhere. The pool was so small, you can forget about swimming, and there were so many kids in the pool anyway, that it was kind of scary just thinking about getting into that "large toilet for kids". We ended up having a few drinks during the day, and as the day progressed, the drinks got weaker and weaker, in fact, several of us complained that the drinks tasted like there was no alcohol in the drinks late in the day (typical of Carnival and how cheap they are). The following morning we got the bill! Holy S***! drinks are $6 plus gratuity!, cokes are $2.50 plus gratuity, and water $3 plus gratuity, in addition, there was an additional $100 of gratuity tacked onto the bill for other crew members (nice touch). The bill, including the snorkeling, drinks, and gratuities came to a shocking $400 of unexpected charges. The worst part is that we hardly had anything to drink. All in all, the trip was a rip off. We felt like we were constantly hounded to buy drinks from them (at $6 a pop) and if we asked for a coke or water, it took twice as long as the other drinks. The ship was nasty, the food was not good, and many of the crew members treated the guests as if they really did not like their jobs much (although mostly European and probably did not understand). The cruise charges for everything, we referred to the card as "the devil". I would recommend taking a flask or bottle with you and getting a fun card (which allows you to get sodas without paying, but costs $25 per card and is not transferable), better yet, don't go. My recommendation is; the cruise is an experience...once. I would have much rather spent $1,500 fling into a similar destination and staying at a resort for about the same amount of money.     

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  • New

Oct 1, 2004

Western Caribbean

Let me start by saying my new wife and I had a wonderful time on our cruise. It was the first time for both of us. Getting to Tampa and to Sensation's port is relatively easy. Print off some directions from Carnival's website just in case. EMBARKATION: Drive your vehicle straight towards the ship and drop your luggage off there, do this BEFORE you try to park in the garage. If you need assistance there are plenty of port employees around.

Have your ID's out and you will go right through the lines, although they seem long, they actually move pretty fast. From the time we dropped off our luggage to getting to our room on the ship was an hour and 15 minutes. DAY 1: As soon as we unpacked and checked out our room, which is a decent size, we went up to the Lido deck to eat lunch. The food was excellent the whole cruise. The only complaint I have is the pizza at the 24 hour pizzeria is not very good, but everything else was. After that, we checked out the ship and went through the life jacket drill. The ship left the dock a few minutes after 4:00 p.m. We ate supper in the Ectasy dining room at our assigned table. The food again was excellent and it has the feel of an elegant restaurant. I believe we did some shopping at the Galleria, sang some Karoake and hit the Casino that night. DAY 2: We were at sea all day and my wife was sea sick all day. The boat was constantly swaying back and forth all day. It was enough to notice and I believe it was affecting a fair amount of people on board. We basically slept in, layed out, had some drinks, and ate supper again at the dining room. It was formal night and everyone was all dressed up. We had lobster tail, which was great. A quick word about the drinks: If you want to drink on this cruise, prepare to pay ALOT for your drinks. First, they are not very big and they charge as much or more than you would pay at your average bar or nightclub. And, of course, the 15% GRATUITY added to the price of every drink makes it even more expensive. For your standard mixed drink you will pay probably $2.00 more on the ship than you would otherwise. Everything is charged to your Sail and Sign card. Which is very convenient, but you can run the total up on those in a hurry. DAY 3: We arrived at Costa Mayo, Mexico. This was changed from Grand Cayman due to the hurricane damage suffered there. We basically did some shopping there and went for a horseback ride along the beach. Costa Mayo basically lives and dies if there is a ship in port. There is not a whole lot there but you can do alot of "bargaining" with the shops there. We went back to the ship that afternoon and saw a Vegas style show that night and a comedy show later which was pretty funny. We didn't eat in the dining room the rest of the cruise. We ate at the buffet at the Seaview bar and grill on the Lido deck. They always changed the menu and everything was good. DAY 4: Cozumel, Mexico. We arrived and were the only ship in port the whole day. After an adventurous taxi ride we made it to our ATV Wild Tour excursion($70 per person if sharing an ATV, $90 for your own). It wasn't the tour through Carnival, we booked it online prior to leaving. It was awesome! It was on the other side of the island away from all the tourist stuff and it was basically a trail weaving in and out of the woods along the beach. If you've never operated an ATV (4-wheeler) I don't recommend this tour unless you are going to ride on the back with someone who has. When they say wild, they mean it! We were supposed to kayak and snorkel on the same excursion, but the water was way too rough. We just rode the ATV's a little more instead. We went back to the ship and cleaned up since we were very dirty from the ATV ride (Oh yeah!!). We went to Chankanaab park and my wife swam with the dolphins. It was $125 but she says it was the experience of a lifetime. She was in the lagoon with 2 dolphins and an instructor. They let her do several different tricks with them. The whole thing lasted about 30 minutes. After that, we did some snorkeling at the same park and had several large drinks at Fat Tuesday's with a great view of the ship all lit up at the pier. This was an AWESOME day! Beware: Cozumel is very touristy and things are not as cheap as you may expect. I was told they can have as many as 20 cruise ships there a day. DAY 4: We were at sea and basically did nothing but rest, relax and read. Although we did catch a very funny newlyweds show. DAY 5: You had to wake up and see the customs people to pay taxes on the alcohol that you bought while away. We were only allowed 1 liter per adult, but we ended up not paying the Tax on the other 2 liters we had because the customs people were only having about every third person in line pay and the rest were turned away. The tax is pretty cheap anyways. Disembarking was a snap and we were off the boat by 9:00 a.m. WORDS OF ADVICE: 1. Have all your proper forms of ID i.e. driver's license and certified copy of birth certificate. No need to pay the $80.00 to get a passport. 2. Prepare to have a pretty large bill on your Sail & Sign card. $10.00 per day per person is automatically taken out for gratuities and then the drinks and shopping on board will add up quickly. 3. When shopping in Mexico always try to make a deal with the vendor, they should come down some anyways. 4. Don't forget to take time and relax. There is so much to do and see you may forget to just get in a chair on the Lido deck and do nothing for a few hours.  

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  • New

Sep 27, 2004

Western Caribbean

Our ship departed one day late due to Hurricane Jeanne. So, unfortunately our cruise was shortld by one day. Our group included 10 family members and we thoroughly enjoyed our trip. We had great weather the entire trip. We only got to visit Cozumel, but it had the prettiest water we have ever seen. Crystal blue and you can see forever! Jewelry was very high priced on the island, but we were able to talk them down somewhat. Some vendors

were more open than others. We also took a carriage ride and enjoyed that very much. The Sensation was very comfortable, best beds than any cruise we have taken. As usual, we were treated very well on the ship and had no complaints. The ship is smaller than our last one, but Carnival provides the same services no matter what ship you are on. Very friendly staff! We will book another trip sometime in the future! We only had four days on the ship and a seven day cruise is the best in my opinion!     

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By Sue_CR

  • New

Aug 29, 2004

Western Caribbean

Just a bit’o background on our group. Girls Only vacation for myself (32), my mother (55), my aunt (53) and a friend (57). We all live in Bradenton/Sarasota area except for my aunt who flew in from Rhode Island for the trip. We are NOT the “let’s swim with the stingrays” type. Our vacation was based on relaxing and not rushing around. I am first time cruiser, so I didn’t really know what to expect. We left on Monday, August

30th to head to Cayman and Cozumel. Our expected return was Saturday, September 4th. Due to Hurricane Frances, we didn’t get back in until the afternoon of Tuesday, September 7th! WOW! Good think I over packed for those unexpected 4 days!! PORT OF TAMPA: We got to the Port Of Tampa (I live in Bradenton/Sarasota and had a family member drive us all to the port) and it was easy as pie getting in. We arrived around noon. You tip $1 per bag when the porter attacks…lol. Say goodbye to your luggage until you get to your room! CHECKING IN: The porter told us where to go and then we just got shuffled through the whole area. Folks were everywhere directing you. We didn’t get passports for the trip… just photo ID and certified birth certificates (you gotta have that raised seal on the birth certificate!). Although we brought marriage licenses as well, nobody asked to see them (according to Orbitz, sometimes they ask and sometimes they don’t). Because we had a suite, we were automatically in the Skippers Club. This meant NO waiting in the long lines (gag!). Loved that since kids bug me and they were all over the place! Lol… When you checked in, this was the time that you gave your credit card to put down on the room for incidentals, show all your paperwork and tickets, get your room keys and your sail and sign card issued. You are able to have two or more people use one persons credit card for incidentals. Or… everyone can put there own down. Quite easy! It was just our group one family getting checked in, so it was great. And it was done! Didn’t have to wait very long before they were calling “Upper Deck” to get on the ship! They take a photo of you to scan into your Sail And Sign card before you board. Apparently the photo is only seen by ship folk when they scan it. Right before you get onto the ship, they do take a picture of your group in some sort of Carnival cut-out situation. The following day, you will see it posted along with everyone else’s in the Walk Of Shame (will tell you about that in the photo section)! Lol… GETTING ON BOARD: Got on the ship and my eyes went buggy with the decor! It’s not called the “Carnival Fun Ship” for nothing! lol… Yet it’s amazing how you get right into that Carnival Spirit! We went to our room right away to see what it looked like but they were still cleaning the rooms. Didn’t want to spoil the first impression so we decided to walk around and get the lay of the land. FIRST STOP: First thing: Scout out all smoking areas. We all smoke except my friend. Didn’t have a map yet (that’s in the room when you get in there). The map does NOT list the smoking areas of the ship. But, all smoking areas will be listed for you in your “Carnival Capers” newsletter that you get each night. We went to the top to check out the pool. There was a nice shaded smoking area with tables and chairs by the bar. Drinks please! A guy walked around serving drinks in Carnival plastic glasses that you got to keep. You gotta get one even though the price kills you! Lol… Watched Port of Tampa go by as we listened to live band. Very nice way to start the trip! THE ROOM: Then we went to our room. Our suite was on the Upper Deck (cabin U84). I don’t have one complaint about the room, so I will just post things about points of interest. Balcony: totally private and large. It has a large door and large window that gives you a great view of the ocean. Had 3 chairs, 1 end table and 1 recliner. The 4 of us were totally comfortable sitting out there together. I even slept out there one night on the recliner because it was so comfy (this is considered my “wild moment” on the trip! Lol… That’s how boring I am! Lol…). The air conditioner blows you out of the joint. We had 3 vents in the room with adjusters, but the girls all liked it cold in there. Lol…. Closet: They had a walk in closet that accommodated four “pack your suitcase til’ it pops” kind of gals…lol. Safe is located in the room for your jewelry, money, etc. We didn’t use the safe. Lots of drawer space that we didn’t even use. Beds: One pull-out couch which my aunt and mother shared and then two twins (which can be smooshed together to form a king if you had wanted to) which my friend and I used. Only have rave reviews regarding comfort level of beds! Steward/Stewardess: Your stewardess (we had Lorraine who was the greatest!) will introduce herself and answer any questions/get you additional items. The rooms are ORIGINALLY set up for 2 people regardless if you booked it for 4 people in the room. Your friendly steward will add the additional amenities to the room AFTER you get there. You get bathrobes, soaps, shampoo, mini-toothpaste, floss, etc. Just the basics. Aunt brought her “hurricane force” hairdryer even though they will send one to you if you ask. Outlet in the bathroom was funky… so we had to use it at the vanity area where it would fit. No biggie though. Mini Bar: Stocked with sodas and water only. No alcohol or edibles. I was bummed about that since I am at old pro at “Mini Bar Raiding” in the wee hours of the night. Fresh ice provided 2ce daily. Not sure why, but my mother got the bill for everything that was taken out of the mini bar. I think since she was the main person that booked the room, they just bill the main person since there isn’t a way of knowing who took what. DINNER: We had the 6:15pm seating in the Fantasy Dining Room. Was great. No complaints. Was worried about what to wear because even though there is ONE official formal night (Tuesday), I had heard that some folks go glam every evening…lol. We didn’t glam it up each night, but we all had nice outfits (suits/dresses/heels). Servers were Subhan (from Bali) and Julija (from Estonia). They were the best! We had a table for 6 all to ourselves! Hooray!! We were hoping we would get our own table! The food was great. I am a “meat and potatoes” kinda gal so I am thrilled they didn’t get overly zealous with the funny stuff…lol. Desserts were great too. Menu is different EACH night. They fortunately keep it a varied menu though. THE BILL: I have my bill in front of me: Examples of prices on drinks Pina Coladas $4.95,, bottle of Miller Lite $4.25, cappuccino $3.25, reg coffee $1, bloody mary $4.25, diet coke $2.50. (Note: I got my coffee at the coffee bar where it isn’t free since I am a major coffee nut. Seems like the coffee bar in the main atrium where the glass elevators are goes unnoticed by many other folks since everyone always asked me where I got my coffee!) (**Remember, you still have to add 15% gratuity to EACH drink). I can’t complain. I didn’t say “no” to anything and spent $233 on beverages for 9 days. Got a bill towards the middle of the trip slid under the door…and then a bill the night before we got off the ship. Note that the last bill under the door that you get will NOT have charges on it that you incur for the remainder of your trip. Internet: They have 8 computers at “Joe’s Café”. Vital to have when you have Hurricane Frances hitting home! Spent $126.00!!! Package plans as follows: 30 minutes for $24….30 minutes for $16.50….or .50 a minute. .50 per page if you want to print stuff out. Totally easy for you sign up: you sit right down in front of a computer and the instructions are right next to it. You will use your Sign And Sail card number to pay for it. You get instant access! Photos: $155.88 (I couldn’t help myself… they all came out so great!) No clue how much they are!). You aren’t charged ANYTHING for letting them take your picture…so go for it! They usually develop the photos by the following day and then post them all on the “Walk Of Shame” (as my mother called it). It’s this long hallway with all of the photos posted from the previous day. You have to search for yours amongst tons of others, and then you have the option to purchase it or destroy it. You can get copies made too! They also have film processing on board. Gratuity: $10 per day Gift shop: $78.00 Ok… in the duty free gift shop they sold 5 cartons of Marlboros for $75 (it was a package deal of “buy 4 get the 5th free”). Now, you are only allowed ONE CARTON per person off the boat! Otherwise, you gotta do the “duty”…lol. Fortunately, my aunt gave one carton to each of us to carry out and smoked the 5th on the ship…lol. Same with booze: 1 liter per person off the ship, or “do the duty”. We didn’t want a hassle of having to go through the “over your limit” jazz, so we were sure to be within the limits. CASINO: Get your Casino card ASAP if you like to play. I wish I had because my aunt ended up getting a polo shirt, a t-shirt and a $230 credit towards her next cruise! Wow! Our game was video poker. The machines near the break-room door were the best (trust me… we tried them all). BREAKFAST: Dining Room: We only did this once since we aren’t big breakfast people (we ordered light stuff from room service). It was fine… just not my style. Didn’t like how they herd you one by one, single file, fill every seat which forces you paste a “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” kinda smile on your face…lol. Now you have to chit-chat with the folks next to you. Some of these folks bring “bibs” from home to wear while eating….okay?!?! lol… Open seating meant they cram you all together. I’m not a morning person anyhoo. This is where you get the choice stuff like eggs benedict, etc. though. So glad we checked it out once at least. Seaview Bar & Grill; Great. More my style when I wanted a hot breakfast. Just an easy going buffet with eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, and then the continental stuff too. Room Service: 24 hours. Again, GREAT! Had “Continental Style” breakfast menu (sorry, no hot stuff). The lunch/dinner consisted of sandwiches and salads. Desserts were cookies, brownies, cakes and ice cream. It’s kosher to tip the room service person. They also give you the tag to hang on your door handle with your breakfast order for the morning. I LOVED how they called your room right before they delivered it too! REMINDER: when filling out that breakfast menu, be SPECIFIC as to how much cream for coffee, condiments, etc. that you want. Just write it in the margin. Money: The ONLY time we needed cash on the ship was for the Casino or tipping the room service guy. They have an ATM on board for cash withdrawals… and for a fee you can get a cash withdrawl at the casino from your credit card. Neato Fact: They post the coordinates of the ship daily so you know where you are at 7am. Was cool emailing the coordinates to family when we were stuck out in the gulf waiting for Frances to pass. They were near the restrooms by elevators near the Polo Lounge (our favorite smoking spot!). So this was my FIRST cruising experience and I gave it a 10 out of 10! I will most certainly go again. I really hope this has some info that you can use! We did lots of fun things on the ship as well…but I will let you find that stuff out for yourself (your nightly Carnival Capers newsletter is a must read!).

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By Jon_CR

  • New

Aug 27, 2004

Western Caribbean

On the boat- Embarkation and Debarkation were very easy. We used the self-assisted debark. Food on board was alright, not outstanding or special. Drinks are expensive (around $5.50 for a smallish margarita)and the "specials" are still $3.50. Beers are about $4. It would be nice if they'd have happy hours. It's not like they don't encourage drinking already. The room (Riviera 89) was very comfortable and cabin service was outstanding.

They come in when you are out and clean, straighten up all your junk, make the beds, restock the ice, etc. a few times each day. Room service food was prompt, good, and included with your cruise. The staff are generally very nice people. We didn't run into anyone on the entire cruise who was rude or unhelpful. On Cozumel- We went on the Catamaran snorkel ($59 PP) The water, boat, and beach were very nice. The crew at Fury was very good. Entertaining and friendly, they take everyone's pictures which are for sale after the beach stop, no high-pressure sales though. Bring your wallet on the Cat! I regretted not bringing mine, theysell the pictures, hats, shirts, food on the beach,(not included)and I would like to have tipped them. They serve Superior beer, which is a decent Mexican beer,as well as margaritas, Teq. shots and Pepsi (unlimited and included) The Catamaran snorkel is a pretty good deal and I'd recommend it. Carlos n' Charlies/ Senor Frog's were both pretty fun but again, the drinks weere more expensive than at bars in the states. We both got "yards".(26 oz) I got beer and mine was $10. My wife got Margarita and it was $14! Whuh? Are you sure we're in Mexico? I can see why Carlos, Charlie, and Senor Frog look so happy on the signs. As I said they're both fun places, but don't go expecting to get the prices you get in the real Mexico, bring the Dollars!     

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By J. _CR

  • New

Aug 20, 2004

Western Caribbean

It has been several months since our cruise but our family of 4 had such a great experience the memories are still vivid. Check in was a breeze – the mass of confused cruisers isn’t as bad as it looks. The porters and security personnel are old hands at this and will point you in the right direction- literally. At every turn, every door, and escalator there was someone to help usher you the right way. Have the porters take your

bags, have your ID ready in the check in line, look for the next port employee to wave the flag at the check in desk to check you in, and then it’s just a matter of waiting for your group to be called to board. We had just begun to settle ourselves in the waiting area behind the check in desk when we were called to board. We were dropped off by the car rental people at the port around 12:45 and were checking out our cabins before 2:00. Our outside cabins were Riviera deck aft. Yes, we did hear engine noise but found it soothing rather than annoying. The cabin was roomy enough with sufficient storage space and the bathroom served its purpose. If you want luxury you probably don’t want a standard cabin. Our cabin steward was very attentive and efficient throughout the cruise. My husband was sick (more about that later) and my 12-year-old daughter needed some down time (we spent time with family in Homosassa, FL prior to the cruise) so my 11-year-old son and I explored the ship. Yes, the ship is 10 years old. Yes, there is a lot of purple. Yes, some carpet and furniture is worn. If you’re looking for exquisite luxury this is not the cruise for you. If you can deal with or even enjoy the Las Vegas style atmosphere this ship is fine. My kids summed this ship up pretty well: “this reminds us of Circus Circus” in Las Vegas. I was recently on the brand new Sapphire Princess and I got the feeling of the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas. Hopefully, this gives you some kind of reference for the atmosphere. My son and I had lunch at the Sea View dining room, the Lido deck buffet. The buffet looked a little overwhelming at the time and not many people had found the pizza counter yet so we had the 1st of many pizzas for lunch. “Pizza and ice cream?” became our family joke throughout the cruise…10am, 3pm, 2am…didn’t matter, 2 of our favorite foods were always available. Try to be on deck when the ship passes under the Sunshine Bridge. I happened to be on the aft Veranda deck talking to my mom on the cell phone (cell coverage is still good within Tampa Bay) when I looked up and the funnel seemed inches from the bridge. The kids and I had dinner most nights in the Ecstasy Dining Room. The kids usually weren’t in the mood for “nice restaurant” food so opted for the kids menu – chicken tenders and pizza. My steak was actually a perfect medium well. The other courses were fine if not very memorable. The wait staff were very friendly, helpful, and attentive throughout the cruise. Our bar waiter even picked up on my daughter’s “12 year old attitude” and played up to it beautifully – even if she and I were starring daggers at each other, he would make her laugh and soften up. We intended to spend the day at sea at the lido pool. After reading reviews about how crowded it can get we staked our claim early. The water slide was too tame for my kids and the pool is just a pool so we ended up going our separate ways to explore the ship. The kids were signed up for the kids club (orientation was that morning) but never ended up doing activities with the groups. My 11 year old was the oldest of the 9-11 year group and my 12 year old was the youngest of the 12-15 year olds. Neither found either group to their taste so ended up roaming the ship with several other 11 and 12 year olds in the same boat so to speak. At first, I was very concerned about them terrorizing adult cruisers but soon realized that most adults we met were actually helping the kids with their games of elevator tag. I still tried to keep them from being too rambunctious. They also played ping-pong, volleyball, and the arcade games. We finally caught up with each other late in the afternoon, yes, for pizza and ice cream. My husband finally went to the medical office to have the doctor look at his ear. We had been snorkeling at Homosassa Springs (with a manatee!) and Crystal Springs prior to the cruise and his ear was pretty painful. We did not buy the medical insurance and the doctor wanted $50 for a bottle of earwax removal drops. My husband passed on this and toughed it out with Tylenol. We booked our shore excursion at Grand Cayman with Carnival. With such a limited time ashore and reading about the tendering, I felt more comfortable paying a little extra. We did the coral reef and stingray city snorkel and had a great time. The “reef” is fairly shallow, some scattered coral on a sandy bottom at about 10-12 feet deep. The people with Kelly Water sports scattered squid to attract many colorful fish and we saw Dory but never found Nemo. There were a lot of people at Stingray City. Several other boats were there with loads of people. It actually didn’t matter because there were plenty of stingrays for everyone to experience feeding if they wanted to. One of the crew took pictures with a digital camera in a waterproof case. We viewed the picture on a laptop and paid $15 for a floppy disc with a copy of the picture. Getting home and printing that picture was well worth the money. Also well worth it were the 35mm waterproof disposable cameras I brought from home. These were for sale on the ship – for $14.95. Buy your own before the cruise. I used 4 of these cameras on this vacation and ended up with some great pictures. Of course, there were also photos of stingray tails, half a stingray, my flipper, my daughter’s snorkel, etc. – most with peoples swim suited rear ends in the background. Back to my husband’s ear problem. The kids and I got in the long but fast moving line for the tender to return to the ship. My husband asked for directions to a drug store and walked couple of blocks to get the eardrops he needed. The ship is not the only source for this sort of thing. Next is Cozumel and Snuba. What an experience. We intended to take a taxi downtown and check out any excursions we were interested in there but ended up booking the Snuba trip with the ship again – long story, never mind. We were met by taxis and had a short drive the Sanddollar Sports where we had a short but thorough orientation. We carried our gear across the street to a beach where we were hooked up to the tanks that would float on the surface while we swam up to 20 feet below. My daughter stayed near the surface at about 10 feet deep because she had trouble clearing her ears. The boys and I were not bothered by this and had an incredible experience – even when my weight belt fell off. The instructor, in scuba gear, was able to keep me from floating away and got my belt back on with no fuss at all. We returned to an almost deserted ship. My son and I had the Veranda pool to ourselves for a couple hours. Most cruisers were in Cozumel while we relaxed on an uncrowded ship. I still feel like I missed out seeing Cozumel but the peace and quiet was great. While sailing from Cozumel late that evening, the seas were pretty rough. I understand that is normal for the area. Several passengers were headed below decks hoping for less rocking motion. My son asked for Dramamine for the first time on the cruise. All in all it wasn’t too bad and the Dramamine worked fine on my son. Just a few more miscellaneous points I wanted to make: We found the shows and casino enjoyable. Browsing through the ship stores was also. Can’t complain about the drink prices since I usually ordered whatever the daily drink special was. One of the highlights for the kids was belly-ing up to the bar to order soda with their unlimited drink card. My daughter even had a favorite bartender who mixed her sodas just right. My son’s favorite nighttime activity was hanging out in the arcade – that opens to the disco – and watching intoxicated people dance. We hung out together more at night after I found this out. All things considered, this was a wonderful cruise and good value for our money. You shouldn’t have expectations for luxury, but you can still have reasonably high expectations for service, amenities, food, entertainment, and value and not be disappointed. We will sail with Carnival again although we would like to experience one of the newer ships.     

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By Matt_CR

  • New

Aug 11, 2004

Western Caribbean

I guess I’ll start at the beginning, there is a flat rate for taxi’s in Tampa so don’t pay more than $20 to or from the airport. we arrived at the pier at 1pm and were on the ship by 1:45. hurricane Charlie was bearing down on us so people were made to disembark and move their cars off the ground level of the parking garage, this didn’t seem to interrupt the boarding of passengers. We went to our state room R203 (in the basement)

and were pleased to see it had been decorated for our sons 13th b-day as requested. The rooms on carnival are supposed to be the largest in the industry but the difference is so small I didn’t notice. The room was clean and closet space ok, unpack and don’t try to live out of your luggage as you might do when staying in a hotel. This was our 1st window room we’ve always had a balcony on other ships. We did discover we can cruise more often if we stay in this class. We went for lunch and to explore the ship. The food was good not great, best meal is on formal night in the dining room ( prim rib or lobster ) we flat refuse to dress up on vacation other than once for the formal wearing a jacket and tie witch is more than acceptable. Do not try to wear a golf shirt this night you’ll stick out and will feel under dressed. We ate at the sea view a lot, food was good and plentiful as was on Disney, and RCCL. The sensation is very clean and comfortable she shows her age if your looking in the right places so don’t go have fun. Activities were fun and there were plenty of them kids activities were ok my son went to many on his own. As we left Tampa hurricane Charlie was less than 24 hours away it was 1st on everyone’s mind. Carnival went out of their way (literally) to ease our minds. The captain had sent a letter to each state room and told us he planned on finding us flat seas and sunny skis for our vacation and he did. We headed due west in the gulf at 21knots all the first night which we kind of felt then south / southeast on mirror flat seas and bright sunshine and no delay arriving in cozumel. Cozumel was beautiful we found our on shore excursion on the internet and we went to the PalMar beach club ( go see cozumelinsider.com ) we also did some shopping if you don’t know how to barter take the shopping tips lecture on the ship or you’ll be taken for a ride. Deck party was ok pool hours are horrible I complained about that. Pools open 8am to dusk only. Why? No pools after dark even for adults and the slide closed at 5pm. All in all the staff was great the ship was very clean the activities were fun the port was beautiful and we had a great time. I would give the sensation 7 out of 10 stars. If I were given a free cruise with the same ports on any of the big 5 cruise lines I would reach for the RCCL ticket. I will sail again on carnival they have the best value. Carnivals crowd appeared to be younger and drunker. This may have been the time of year we normally cruise over thanksgiving break.   

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Aug 7, 2004

Western Caribbean

We were on the Main Deck and our room was comfortable with ample room for our luggage, etc. The room was kept clean and room service prompt. We were never introduced to our room steward/stewardess so I have no idea who they are. The Dining Team of Raymond and Melcior were great. The rest of the crew and staff were acceptable. The food was nice, not outstanding. Bring your own coffee maker because the coffee was awful. I had been warned!

The entertainment was okay. Most of the kids avoided Camp Carnival stating it was boring. Kids loved the 24-hour pizza and deli and the fountain card (good deal). Bring your own books and magazines. Most of the fun is on the Lido Deck. You can play ping-pong and listen to the live music which is awesome. We met some really nice people which was the highlight of the trip. If you are not into drinking and gambling, you will probably be a little bored on sea days unless you can splurge on a manicure/pedicure or massage. The gym is really nice and the steam room and sauna as well and they are free. For those who are into horseback riding on the beach, it is really fun. Unfortunately, you ride past homeless shacks on the beach and the horses are not well taken care of (ribs showing) and it makes you feel guilty riding them. Please don't support Honeysuckle Stables. The beach had trash on it. The best deal in Cozumel is Chankanaab Nat'l Park. The snorkeling was great and the food was fantastic! Pancho's Backyard was a disappointment big time! Someone said it was the best guacamole. It had virtually no spice and was very bland overall. It's what I call Americanized Mexican food. I hope this review helps you as much as it did us. We read these reviews and really feel it was very accurate and informative and we have tried to do the same. Hope it helps.     

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By Mary_CR

  • New

Aug 1, 2004

Western Caribbean

Well, this was the very first cruise for my mother and me and we thought it was fantastic!!! I read a host of reviews about this cruise, some were favourable and many were not. I was a little concerned, but my fears were quickly allayed the very first hour I was on that ship. Our 5-day cruise started with a long trip from Toronto, Canada. We left at 6:40 am in the morning and arrived in Atlanta, Georgia a couple hours later. Then we

had to catch a connecting flight to Tampa Bay, Florida. After meeting with the Carnival greeters, we picked up our luggage and were driven to the port by Mear Transportation. It took about 15 minutes. At this time, it was 12:30 pm. It then took about 45 minutes to an hour to embark. We had to go through Customs, get our Sail & Sign Card, and take pictures for security reasons. The lines were long but they moved quickly and efficiently. We boarded the ship on the Empress Deck. This was where the main lobby was...the Purser’s Information desk, the Tour Desk, a bar and elevators. Luckily, our cabin was also on this deck. We were in E191...close to the back of the ship and close to our Ecstasy Dining Room (2 floors up). We thought that our cabin might be in a heavy traffic area because it was close to the stairs and the elevators, but it was perfectly fine. We hardly saw any one around when we were going and coming and we certainly didn’t hear many people either. We immediately went to our room to check it out and to see if our luggage had arrived, but only one bag was there, so we put away our carry-on bags. The room was a good size and it had a window. The washroom had a toilet, sink and a shower stall. We went upstairs to the Lido Deck to have lunch. It was a buffet. I had some lasagna, bread, salad, chocolate milk. I didn’t like the lasagna much, so I went to the Pizzeria and got a cheese pizza, because I didn’t want to wait for a vegetarian pizza to be made for me. It was nice. I also had some fruits, dessert and frozen yoghurt. We then went on a little tour of the ship to try to find various places. When we stepped onto to the ship, there were some crew members who greeted us with a map of the ship. So we used the map to navigate around. We then went back to our room, picked up the rest of our luggage and hung up our clothes. We changed and then went back out to meet others and get our bearings. With our Carnival Capers in hand we planned the rest of our evening. We would go to Welcome Aboard talk, change for dinner and eat in the Dining Room, and then go to the evening show. The Welcome Aboard talk was very long. It was held by our Cruise Director, Michael Mullhane (from England). He was great...funny, motivating, informative. He told us how to get the most out of our vacation and about the shore tours. If you would rather listen to this talk at your leisure, you can do it in your room. Everything is videotaped and can be viewed in your room, as it is played over and over again. The Ecstasy Dining Room was very lovely. It was nicely decorated and was elegant. Our M’aitre D was Dino from Greece. He was great. It looked like they took great care to seat the guests. Our table seated 11 people, but on the first night, only 8 of us showed up. We were seated with another mom and daughter combo (from South African) and four other ladies (two sisters, their mom and their friend...from Kansas). We were all around the same age (mothers and daughters). We got along great and had great conversations once we broke the ice and got to know each other. Our waiter was Damir. He was from Croatia. He was very nice and treated us very well. I believe I had smoked salmon as a starter. I think it had little dabs of caviar around the sides of the plate. It was good. I can’t remember what I had for my main course. It was probably filet mignon. It was not very tasty. I’ve had filet mignon in Quebec. It was the first time I’d ever had this delectable meal, but it was covered in a red wine sauce. It was scrumptious. This wasn’t as nice, but after adding some salt and pepper, it was all right. Every one else at my table, enjoyed their meals too. Their dishes ranged from seafood, to chicken to beef, to baby back ribs. For dessert I had a delicious baked pear with icecream. For the rest of the cruise I had baked salmon, beef wellington, tommy turkey and chateaubriand. They were good. The appetizers were great. They ranged from a variety of fruit to delicious soups, like roasted tomato, won ton, game consommé, etc. There were garden salads and caesar salad for the next course and then a host of main dishes to choose from ( lobster, chicken, beef, fish choices). Deserts were great, sometimes we had two each. We had baked alaska, soufflé with grand marnier vanilla sauce (yum!), fudge chocolate cake, german chocolate cake, icecream, cheeses, etc. That was washed down with tea, coffee or cappuccino. How lovely was that! We rarely ate at the Seaview Bar & Grill. It was great to stop by there when we were on the Lido deck to get drinks (free)...water, coffee, tea, plus apple juice, fruit drink, iced tea (unsweetened) and pineapple. That was where you could get hamburgers, fries, hotdogs, garden burgers, salads, etc. For lunch and breakfast we ate in the dining room (Fantasia) and were seated with guests we didn’t know. It was a good opportunity to meet others on the cruise. A bit awkward at first but then you made new acquaintances. Breakfasts consisted of everything...omelettes, toast, bagels, fruit, sausages, hash browns, cereals, yoghurt, danishes, croissants, etc. Lunch was delicious. Lots of choices. I had fish and chips, there was ravioli, you name it. You had the same number of courses. I tried a curried mango soup that was chilled. I didn’t realize it would be cold, but it was quite tasty. Needless to say, you won’t go hungry on this cruise. If you don’t like something, you can order something else. If you do like something, you can even have a second. Or you can try two different meals. We were stuffed after every meal. The proportions were just right. Well, the second night of the cruise was the Formal Night. Everyone looked great! People went all out. Most ladies wore short cocktail/summer dresses, some wore gowns (like a prom dress/bridesmaid kind of dress). The men wore suits or shirt and tie with dress pants. It was a great night, because it was the Captain’s cocktail party. This was held in the Fantasia Lounge. There were two times for this party, depending on whether you had dinner at the early or late seating. We received free cocktails and hors d’oeuvres (meatballs, chicken nuggets, and other treats). The captain gave a short speech and then introduced his officers. The captain’s name was Giuseppe (Italian). Most of his crew was Italian too. I think one was from Greece and the Doctor was from England. Then we went to dinner. Every where you looked (on Sensation Blvd.) was filled with places to take your picture. Lots of people took advantage of posing for portraits. It was a great night. At midnight they had viewing of all food carvings and exquisite desserts. There were ice sculptures; birds, flowers made out of fruits and vegetables; cheese sculptures, etc.. They were beautiful. Everyone who visited took lots of pictures and were in awe at the amount of work that went into making each masterpiece. At 12:30 we all went back to eat the artwork. We decided to take the food back to our cabins because we were tired and we also had to get up early to go on our Shore Tour to Grand Cayman. We arrived in Georgetown, Grand Cayman early Wednesday morning. We had to take tender boats from the ship to the dock. We had to go to Deck 3 to leave the ship. You have to remember to take your Sign & Sail Card, as well as photo id to get back on the ship. When we got to the shore, we immediately had our pictures taken in front of Grand Cayman Buoy, and with a pirate. We then looked for our tour (Island Tour and Stingray City). Lots of people were on the pier lined to do many activities. It was exciting. It was a warm (comfortable) morning. We then got on an air-conditioned mini bus, which held about 25 people. Our bus driver was also our tour guide. He told us a little about the history of the island, the population , etc. Our first stop was the Turtle Farm. We had to get green bands to wear on our wrists. There were many large circular pools containing green turtles. They were huge. We got close to one pool and the turtles got excited and splashed us all. It was funny and unexpected. We had to move to another calmer pool because those wouldn’t stop splashing. After that talk we went across the road to see other variety of turtles, a blue iguana (indigenous to this island only), and baby sea turtles. Here we got to hold a smaller sea turtle and take pictures. It was also a good place to go to the washroom. Then our guide gave us 20 minutes to look around. We decided to walk next door to the Tortuga Rum Factory and Bakery. It was a small store. There were t-shirts and souvenirs to buy. There was also an opportunity to taste and buy different rums and rum cakes. Delicious. Our next stop was Hell. It was interesting. It was just a place with rock formations that are a charcoal colour. It’s supposedly what hell would look like. There were t-shirts and souvenirs there also. Some people got their postcards stamped there to send to their relatives and friends back home. We stayed there for about 25 minutes. Then we were off to the Stingray Sandbar. This was the most amazing experience! I loved it so! We boarded a double decker boat (ferry) and took a 20 minute ride to a Sand Bar. Can you believe that out in the lagoon was sand bar that was 3-5 feet high water with teems of stingrays? How cool! There had to have been over 10 boats all in a circle with hundreds of people in the middle of the sandbar. We got off the boat and into the water. There were guides there holding the stingrays. They were very gentle and enjoyed being around all of the people. We went over and got our pictures taken with the stingrays by the photographer on the boat. They also gave us snorkel equipment to use. We didn’t use them. The stingrays felt so soft and velvety. They were beautiful creatures. I wasn’t in the least bit afraid. There were huge ones and little ones. Every where you looked they were swimming around you. Sometimes you’d see someone’s shadow in the water and you’d think it was a stingray. We had some good laughs. Many people were in awe. Some were scared, but they really enjoyed the experience. I was able to get some octopus (I think) pieces out of a bucket and I went to feed one of the stingrays. I asked the guide where to put the food and he said, just put it under the water. As soon as I was close to his mouth he sucked both the food and my fingers in his mouth. They don’t seem to have any teeth. I was more in shock that he was so quick to snap the food out of my fingers. Everyone around me laughed nervously. It was soooooo amazing! When I got back to the boat, I asked one of the guides to take a picture of me holding the stingray. So I went back in the water and she got two great shots. This tour was truly gratifying. We wished we had bought an underwater camera to take pictures when in the salt water. Then we rode back to the pier and get our tender back to the ship. We didn’t have a lot of time to shop so we just went back to the ship, showered, changed and had lunch. The last tender left at 1:15 pm. You had to make sure not to miss it, because the ship was set to sail at 2:00pm. Other people we met went to 7-mile beach or snorkeling. They had a great time as well. It was just too short a time on that island. The next day was spent in Cozumel. Here we spent an entire day. We docked and were able to leave the ship from the bottom deck. We found our tour guide easily. When he collected about 20 of us, we walked to our air-conditioned bus. Our tour was called Cozumel Highlights and Shopping. I can’t remember where our first stop was, but it was at a little shopping market. There was a small, old Catholic church, a small Mayan ruin and some vendors who were eager to sell you their merchandise. They gave us a little talk and then we had time to look around. We were able to use the washrooms there. They were very very clean. We stayed there for about 25 minutes. Then we continued our tour of the island. We drove around the perimeter of the island, along the shoreline. It was beautiful. We went by Punta Sur, where the beach was gorgeous. We stopped a little north of there for 15 minutes and dipped our feet in the ocean. It was starting to get very hot. Then we drove and saw some of the homes of the people. We also saw many other tourists...on horseback, in jeeps, on bikes, etc. on the roads. We were now off to the downtown area of Cozumel, the shopping district. It was busy, colourful and right by the beach. It was a picturesque spot. We got off and were given a couple hours to shop around. There were many jewellery stores. We got to see some tanzanite jewellery....very beautiful and very expensive. We got very good deals on t-shirts. Some t-shirts were 2 for 1, so ended up paying $5 each. Some people chose to eat lunch here too. We decided to wait to eat when we got back on the ship. We all met back at the Museum and headed back to the ship. It was a good and tiring day. The tour was a little longer than 4.5 hours. When we got back to the ship, we ate a late lunch ( it was about 3 o’clock at this time, I think). Then we freshened up and went back out into the hot Mexican sun. There were many stores at the port...all similar to the ones downtown. The prices were pretty much the same. We bought more souvenirs and took a lot more pictures. By around 6:30 pm, we were exhausted and decided to go back on the ship and rest and shower before dinner. It was another super day. The next day was an “at sea” day. It was full with activities and fun. You can’t get bored on this boat as there are just too many things to do. If you do, then you’re just plain boring. Which brings me to my next point...Entertainment. There were lots of choices. Every night we had a big show....Las Vegas style singing and dancing with the Sensation Dancers, Comedy Show, and Magic Show. The last night was a big production by the dancers and singers. The singers aren’t the greatest, but they were entertaining. It was a lot of fun. The comedians were surprisingly funny to me. I don’t usually laugh at comic jokes, but I did my fair share with the two that were on this ship. I don’t remember their names. The magician was just great; he was also very funny. Other entertainment included a ship building contest, survivor, knobby knees contest, hairy chest contest, line dancing, karaoke, tv trivia, who wants to be a millionaire, bingo, an art auction, scaventer hunt, etc. etc. The list just went on and on. There were also lots of prizes for participants. Lots of people won bottles of champagne. The bingo was very popular too. They gave away hundreds of dollars and the final prize was a free cruise for two. If you were on the Lido deck, some competitions mentioned above were found there. There were also the Caribbean singers. They were a band of 4. They sang, played calypso and reggae. They were very good. They also had the casino, which was quite popular, the disco, the piano bar (I heard the pianist was quite good and knew how to play any song you through at him, but we didn’t go, as it was too smoky.) There were also other musicians positioned at different parts of the boat. So you had many choices. Many people were on the Lido deck during the day. Some read books, talked to other cruisers, met new friends, swam, played cards, played dominoes, did crossword puzzles and of course ate and ate and ate. One day, we went for a tour of the galley. We learned a lot about the making of the food and we saw our dinner being made. We also learned how to fold napkins into a variety of designs, put together a black forest cake and make vegetable carvings for decoration on the Sensation Blvd that day. That was terrific! Our cruise was fully booked with over 2600 people. About 800 were kids and 60% were first time cruisers. Every single one of the people I talked to about the cruise was having a great time. They were very happy with their holiday choice. I forgot to mention the crew; they were very nice, polite and talkative. They made a real effort to say good morning or hello to you, even if it was the third time that day. It was interesting to know that they come from over 50 nations. Our room was nice as I said before, but there was a slight sewage smell over the toilet at times. Our room was cleaned twice a day. In the evening, our room steward (Riley from Dominica) turned down our beds, left next day’s Carnival Capers, two chocolates and towel creations (a lizard, an elephant and a rabbit). We saw our room steward all the time, even though we weren’t in our rooms very much. He was very nice, talkative and did his job well. On the last day, among other things, we went to a Debarkation meeting. It was quite informative. We had to pack our things and have them outside of our room between 6pm and 12am that night. We kept our carry-on luggage and the clothes and things we’d need to get ready to go home the next day. We packed most of our things during the day and then packed the last pieces after the last show and had our things out before midnight. Debarkation was an orderly but time-consuming process. Being Canadians, we had to be up at 7 am and at the Kaleidoscope Disco to get back our passports and meet the US customs officers so we could be processed. That took about 25 minutes. Then we had breakfast and then went to the Fantasia Lounge to await debarkation. They first let people off who needed no assistance (you had to be a US citizen, have few luggage, have nothing to declare). There might have been more criteria but I can’t remember. Next they called people by tag colours. (Each colour represented a deck.) The red and yellow tags were asked to go first. Because were were on the Empress Deck (aft), we were in this group. We had yellow tags. Finally after waiting for an hour and half, we were able to debark. It was quick. We went off and saw all of the luggage in this huge coloured coded area. We found our luggage and then showed our id and custom papers to leave. We showed our ticket to the Mear Transportation personnel and got on a bus to go back to airport and back to Toronto. Our very first cruise was over and was extremely memorable. We can’t stop talking about it with our friends and family and we can’t wait to go on another cruise. Thanks Carnival for a great time.     

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By Ally_CR

  • New

Aug 1, 2004

Western Caribbean

We decided to take a family cruise (could be our last before kids marry, grandchildren, etc. ages 17,21,25). We all had a fantastic time. It was much more than I ever expected. The food was FANTASTIC. We ate all of our meals in the dining room except for 2 lunches on the Lido deck. The meals were gourmet with so many choices. It was difficult to choose often so we would order more than one appetizer, entre' or dessert. Service was

unbelievable. They were so accomodating and very nice/friendly. We always had something fun to do. We enjoyed wonderful shows, commedians, majic act, casinos, in room movies, trivia games, tours, etc. We were advised to go off the ship to make our own excursion plans. Great suggestion. We saw as much or more than others for 1/2 to 1/3 what they paid. Plus we were able to control our schedule/times by hiring our own taxi. We rode a boat to go snorkeling and swim with the stingrays on Grand Cayman. Stingray swimming was good, snorkeling, disappointing. Not that much coral or not good fish. However, on Cozumel, the snorkeling (3 sights) was fantastic! Coral and fish were beautiful. After that excursion we got back on the ship, showered, ate lunch and went out again. We hired a taxi for the Mayan ruins (we had him make a stop to buy jewelry)- ruins wasn't much, allow about 1/2 hour- then we went on a beautiful ride along the other side of the island. Nice waves and many surfers-beautiful! NOTE: we were told to not give asking prices--VERY TRUE- we negotiated for all of our tours and got discounts and we also negotiated for sunglasses and jewelry. I had the best vacation of my life. We have traveled extensively-all over US, Canada, Europe, Australia. This was the first vacation that I wasn't ready to come home. I will definitely cruise again. Carnival was wonderful and I highly recommend it. I wonder if other cruise lines are as enjoyable??   

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  • New

Jul 4, 2004

5-day Western Caribbean

This long-winded review is for first-time cruisers. I recently returned from my very first cruise, and I can honestly say that I had a great time. I had read a number of reviews which made me feel a little uneasy, but I was pleasantly surprised with my experience. I traveled with 3 members of my family, along with 25 other people who were friends of the family. We stayed in the aft of the Riviera deck, in one of the very last rooms at

the end of the ship. Embarkation: Embarkation was simpler than I had thought it would be. We flew into TPA airport around 9am and took a taxi to the port. Taxi ride was about 15 minutes and $25. We arrived relatively early, so we saw hoards of people disembarking from the previous week's cruise. We stood in a line outside for about an hour or so before we were able to start the process of embarking. The line wound its way inside the port, where you are greeted by Carnival welcome staff. They give you your boarding passes and group you into a boarding category: 1, 2, or 3, based on the order in which you arrived. We were group 1. Since we arrived so early, we had to wait about an hour or two before we were actually able to get onboard. Once we did, we were greeted by a number of staff, informing us that lunch was being served on the Lido Deck. After we got onboard and ate lunch, we walked around the ship and explored. Despite being 11 years old, she was in very good condition. Everything was clean. The inside looks like a casino, with loud carpet and bright lights. Staff members are located everywhere, and we were always greeted with a smile or a "hello." You should know that Carnival photographers are located all over the ship, trying to get you to pose for a photo. Once you take one, there is no obligation to purchase it. They post all the photos in the photo room on the Empress Deck, and if you like it, you can purchase it. They are pretty expensive, though: the 8X10's are $19.99. At 4pm is the mandatory boat drill, where all cruisers are forced to look ridiculous in bulky orange life jackets. The drill lasts for about 15 minutes and then it’s time to set sail. Rooms: Like I mentioned, we were on the Riviera deck, in R239. The room was expectedly small. It was a tight fit, but bearable for 4 people. Since most people don't spend much time in the rooms anyways, it doesn't even matter. Our steward was Joaod. He was very friendly and courteous. It seemed like our room was cleaned every time we left. I had read previous reviews which mentioned a slight sewage smell in the rooms. During the times which I was in the room, I did not notice this. I would imagine that if there was a smell, it would be slight. Food: Food was better than I thought it was. It was ubiquitous. There is a breakfast buffet, a lunch buffet, a sit-down lunch, a dinner buffet, a sit-down dinner, and a midnight buffet. The food a the sit-down dinner was the best. Our entire group of 29 was served at the Early Seating time in the Ecstasy Dining Room. I'm not used to formal dining, so I thought the food was great. Every night there is a good variety of dishes to choose from, including beef tenderloin, pasta, fish, seafood, and vegetarian dishes. On the Captain's Dinner formal night, we had lobster tails. Our waiters were Park and Bianca and they were excellent. They were extremely warm and friendly, and they did a very good job. Entertainment/Activities: There are a number of activities during the day and night. The comedian our first night was Happy Cole, a former contestant on "Last Comic Standing." After reading some of the previous comic reviews, I wasn't really expecting much, but Happy tore the house down. He was hilarious. His adult show was even better. If you don't like comedy then you can watch one of the many shows they have or go to the casino. There were two shows during our trip, and they were both pretty good. I don't know the names of the singers, but the female singer was excellent. There were also some magic shows, which were pretty good too. Or if you just want to get a tan, you can just go to one of the decks and grab a chair and relax. You should get there before lunch ends, or else they’ll all be taken. Ports of call: On day 3, we visited the Cayman Islands and on day 4, Cozumel. On the day you embark, there are forms for you to book tours through Carnival. If you want one, you have to fill it out the first day or else they will fill up quickly. My family chose the Stingray City and Sandbar tour in CI. The tours are pretty expensive. You can probably get them cheaper once you arrive, but the advantage of booking through Carnival is that their tours make sure you get back to the boat on time. Stingray City was a lot of fun, one of my favorite parts of the cruise. If you've never been to CI and don't know what to do, I would definitely recommend seeing the stingrays. You get to swim with and feed them. They are extremely friendly, as you will see when you arrive. There is more to do in Cozumel. There we took an underwater boat tour. We went to the coral reefs and were able to see a lot of different fish and oceanlife. It was a pretty good tour, although it was easy to get a little seasick. The rest of the day was spent going downtown and shopping and visiting Carlos N’ Charlie’s. Debarkation: Debarkation was relatively simple. Your order of debarkation is based upon the color of your luggage tag. Since there are a multitude of colors, it can take many hours to debark. Luckily, we were the third group, so we didn’t have to wait too long. If you’re one of the later groups, then you’ll just have to sit in your designated waiting area and wait. We didn’t have much to declare, so customs was a breeze. After we got our luggage and made it past customs, it was 10am. Overall: I had a wonderful time. Go to the shows, go to the buffets, go to the parties and don’t forget to relax. Take advantage of everything Carnival provides you, and the experience will well be worth it.   

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Jun 25, 2004

Western Caribbean

Family Orientated: This trip definitely met my expectations for a family trip. Besides my wife, we had 4 children, two 20 year olds, a 15 year old, and a 13 year old. After reading all the reviews prior to the trip I felt that I had general idea of what to expect. There was plenty to do, and with us basically splitting up into 3 groups that was nice. My suggestion towards families is to bring along a set of walkie-talkies, these came real

handy when trying to contact the young ones. Embarkment: This was no problem at all as they have this process down pat. There were plenty of Carnival staff to check your documents and sign you up for the ship's "Sail & Sign" card, this by far was the most organized process. FYI, don't forget about your "Tip" money to the Porters that take your luggage, Carnival will NOT allow you to carry on you luggage, just the small bags can be carried by you. The thing they need to do is change the carpets in the hallways and stairs, as they are long overdue for replacement. If you like Vegas and Purple, you'll like the grand entrance. Tips: Please take my advice and read your bills, they will be charging you $10.00 per day per person for gratuities. Carnival decides how this is to be split up, which we felt was a bit unfair. Since our total came to $300.00 and we certainly didn't feel that the service deserved that much, we went to the Purser's desk to adjust that amount. We did go to the Dembarkment meeting the last day and nowhere did anyone mention that we could adjust the tip amounts, keep in mind these are NOT mandatory they cover themselves by a disclaimer stating that these are "Suggested Gratuities". I don't know about other large families, but we have never tipped a waiter $33.50 for one meal. The Purser's desk was less than helpful and reluctant to give me the adjustment paperwork to decrease the tip amount. We were tipping our waiter and the bartenders cash all week, which was another reason for us to adjust their $300.00 amount. Drinks have an automatic "Suggested Gratuities" of 15%, take note that we didn't see that little disclaimer until the last night and asked if we could cross out the tip amount, again with reluctance the bartender said "Yes" we could but then asked why would we want to do that? People take note for a 5 day cruise we tipped over $300.00…… Dining: Dinners were great, don’t' miss them. Portions were small and the sitting time there at minimum will be approximately 1 1/2 hours with dessert. Sitting down for breakfast didn't work well with us, we had various tastes and demands so the Lido deck breakfast buffet work out great, it's the exact same menu but you have the choice as to how much you want. Lunches were awesome, we never left hungry. Bar Credits: Since my wife and I knew that this was a cashless ship, we prepaid our bar tab by using the order sheet Carnival mailed out to us under "Specialty Items". The bar credits normally are used for friends to buy tickets for the vacationers, but we bought them ourselves. We were on a budget and this helped us from going crazy with the drinks, one coupon equaled $4.95, which includes that darn gratuity. If you have kids get the unlimited soda card for $20.00 per child under 16 years old, ours definitely got their monies worth. Duty Free: Mexico had unbelievable deals on liquor, however: had we known that the limitations for booze was no more than 2 liters per persons of drinking age, we wouldn't have bought 6 bottles. We were over by 2 bottles and as a result on the last day prior to getting off of the ship I had to wait for 1 1/2 hours for customs to read my card and to pay the duty tax. The tax was minor, the long wait wasn't worth it. Excursions: 4 1/2 hours in Grand Cayman was way too short. We took an island tour to the Turtle Farm, Hell post office and back. The tour was 1 1/2 hours an cost $15.00 per person. Doing the short tour allowed us to shop in the stores afterwards. Don't get caught up with the ship's Tour packages, I feel we did just fine planning our own tours and paying for them on shore. Here's what I'm getting at, in Mexico we all went to Paradise Beach, cab fare for a van holding all 6 of us was $26.00. At the beach we ran into some other guests that paid $79.00 per person for the same destination, once we told them that this service was available through the local taxi service they were more than upset. Oh yeah, as for Paradise Beach, Great service can't complain on bit. Snorkeling was free, the beach was free, and they had a water trampoline and a water-climbing float. One of the bartender's was from Canada, her name was Jana and had some great advice regarding Mexico, don't miss this place! Debarkment: This by far was the worst. I didn't understand why we couldn't just stay in our rooms until they called for us? We all had to be on the Lido deck by 8:45 AM, and didn't get off until 10:45 AM. There was plenty other guests quite miffed with this as well. This is something Carnival need to fix as this is the last memory we have of the ship. Well the wife and I are definitely going on another cruise, hope this helps you in your cruise as the prior review     

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Jun 11, 2004

Western Caribbean

This is the first time we have taken a cruise with our kids and our first cruise with Carnival, three others with RCCL. I was amazed at how much bigger the staterooms were compared to RCCL. Our oldest daughter just turned 21. Her and a friend shared a stateroom. My husband, 12-year-old daughter, and I shared a stateroom. I never felt crowded. We all had a wonderful time. Needless to say, we are already planning another cruise with Carnival

on the Destiny for next year. My kids have already said they would rather go on a cruise than do anything else. The only complaint I have is the room service coffee, nasty, nasty stuff. I love having my coffee every morning without having to walk 50 miles to get it. I even ordered a carton of milk the second morning to try to make it taste better, nothing helped. The bright side of this, I was awake in 5 minutes after drinking that stuff. But, really this was no big deal. I will find the solution to this problem before our next cruise, so I can have my coffee and drink it to. (Maybe a small personal coffee maker, I can pack in my suitcase, I’m sure my husband want mind another item added to the suitcase.) Anyway, other than that, the food was good everywhere we ate on the ship, which included the dining room every night, we love dressing up for dinner. Our cabin was kept clean, and everyone was so nice. As far as a lot of kids being on the ship, we went the second week in June, and we really didn’t see tons and tons of kids. There were some of course, and you will see the teens at Kareoke, but I never saw any of them being rude or disgusting, believe me I can handle my own kids, I just have a hard time dealing with other peoples kids. I was really worried about this before we went. I didn’t want someone missing a kid, after I had throne them overboard. Embarkation We drove to Tampa from Charlotte, NC, which is a good 11-hour drive. We drove down on Friday, stayed at the Best Western in Tampa, (Dale Mabry Hwy) not a bad hotel for a night. The next morning, we showered, went to find breakfast, checked out at 11:00. We made a stop at Walmart and then headed for the Port, which was a short drive away. We dropped off our luggage at the loading zone, tipped the baggage handler, and went to park our vehicle in the parking deck, which is across the street. ($50.00 for the week) We made our way inside, got our sign and sail cards, then waited about 30 minutes to be called to board the ship. We boarded the ship, headed to our cabins, dropped off our carry-ons and headed out to explore the ship, and eat. We ate at the Seaview, no long lines, plenty of places to sit, and the food was good. We later went to unpack, our luggage was there in no time at all. I packed extra clothes hangers, they came in handy. We also packed a couple bottles of liquor in our suitcase, I purchased ours in plastic bottles, didn’t have to worry about anything breaking. We later went to dinner in the Fantasy dining room, we had the late 8:30 seating. Our waiter was very nice, and the food was great. Sea Day We pretty much spent the day sunbathing, eating, enjoying the activities on board etc. This is formal night. We went to the cocktail party, then to dinner, had our pictures made. The 8x10’s are $19.95. I can’t remember how much the other’s were. We spent some time in the Casino, no luck there. It was always cold in the Casino, so you might want to bring a light sweater or a sweatshirt. I almost froze to death in there the first night. Watching drunk people sing Kareoke is fun. (Hello to Vern and the Soggy Bottom Boys) The shows we saw throughout the cruise were pretty good, and be sure to catch the comedians, they were funny. Monday, Grand Cayman We tendered to the pier and decided to just take a cab to the beach, you don’t get much time here, all the excursions leave pretty early, and we are not early morning people. The beach was beautiful; fish would swim right beside you. Had a great time just relaxing, swimming. As far as the StingRay excursion, some people liked it, others did not, said it was too crowded. Tuesday, Cozumel We did a little bit of shopping; I really didn’t see a lot of bargains, as far as souvenirs go I really don’t like to spend my vacation shopping anyway. We just picked up a few items for the folks at home. (Yes I’m a female, go figure.) We had a few drinks at Fat Tuesdays, and then headed back to the ship to change for our BIG EXCURSION. We went swimming with the dolphins. I purchased this at home on Shoretrips.com. This is pretty expensive, but worth it. My kids are both animal lovers, so this was an exciting experience for them. We all loved it. After our Dolphin Encounter, we hung out on the beach, until it was time to head back to the ship. We did our usual, had dinner, gambled a little, drank a lot, watched Kareoke etc. Seaday Last day, what a bummer. Sunbathed, ate, drank, sunbathed, ate etc. Went to Bingo, had to talk hubby into going with me. 2 cards cost $20.00, but you get to play 10 games on those same cards, I won $190.00 woo hoo, on the 9th game. I tell you that card sucked up until then, I was about ready to just tear it up. So, yeah that was fun. Had to pack our bags that night, just a tip, do this before you have a few drinks if possible. Disembarkation Sad, sad day, If you were on this ship. I was the lady hanging on to the staircase begging to stay for just a little while longer. We packed our remaining items that morning, showered, and went to eat breakfast. After breakfast, we came back to our cabin, got our carry-ons, and headed to the lido deck for disembarkation, which is just waiting for them to call your baggage tag color. We were the last ones called, about 10:00, didn’t seem like a very long time. We went to pick up our luggage, breezed through customs, and headed to the parking deck, the baggage porter will wheel your luggage over to the parking deck. We had already planned to stay a few days in Florida after our cruise. I booked The Tahitian Hotel on Treasure Island, which is on the beach. We headed there after leaving the port. It was okay; I certainly wouldn’t want to stay a week. Not much to do, I guess maybe that it just couldn’t add up to the cruise. We went to Busch Gardens the next day, again okay, but not great. Not worth the almost $60.00 each. I think I would have rather just headed home after the cruise. All in all, I have to say this has been the best family vacation, we have ever taken. It’s hard not to be depressed a week or so after you get back to the real world, but, hey another 350 days or so and we will be cruising again. Janice Funderburk    

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By N. _CR

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May 30, 2004

Western Caribbean

After reading sooo many reviews I went on the ship expecting a 6 out of 10 trip. It was so much better than that. Several reviews stated how tacky and old the ship was and I think they were just trying to come up with something negative to say. Dining: The formal dining room was the best and you would be cheating yourself by eating anywhere different on the ship for breakfast or dinner. For lunch we (my husband and I) ate at the Seaview

Bar and Grill and the food was decent. The outside buffet serves typical hamburgers and french fries, and inside you will have a little more to choose from. The best thing about the outside buffet is the Veggie Burgers, they were great. Excursions: In the Grand Caymens we did the Stingray and snorkeling trip. The stingray part was great and most everyone would love this. However, the snorkeling wasn't worth very much. There are too many people in one area to enjoy anything. Also, there isn't that much to see. This excursion wasn't anything compared to the catermaran and snorkling safari we took in Cozumel. The snorkling was so much easier here because the water is so salty that you float. There is a slight current so you just glide through the water and look at all the beautiful coral. Afterwards, back on the ship they had an open bar until we made it to a beach. You can play volleyball or just lay out while you are their. We were able to go horse back riding along the water for $20 each. It was great, and again there was also a open bar on the beach. This excursion was totally worth the $65 each. Entertainment: The vegas style shows were okay. The comedian and even the cruise director Jorge were very good. Service: I don't know how they do it. I would be on the phone asking for a hairdryer and before I hung up it was at my door. It was the same way when I called about the balance on my sign and sail card it was pushed under my door before I was off the phone. I couldn't ask for more than they gave. Tip: Have plenty of extra room in your suitcase for the alcohol you plan on buying. My husband and I are not big drinkers but it is so cheap we had to buy some. A large bottle of Grey Goose vodka is only $22!! I could not get over how cheap all the alcohol was. And they allowed us to have 4 liters per person without paying tax. We purchased 11 liters and had to pay less than $3 tax on the additional 3 liters that we claimed. I hope this helps, Good Luck!     

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May 5, 2004

Western Caribbean

This was the first cruise I have been on, but not my last!! Thanks to this website and tons of research on the internet I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I found myself pleasantly surprised that most of the negative things I have read I did not experience and that most of the positive things, I did. I was invited on this 4 day Cozumel cruise by my friend, to join a party of what turned out to be 14 women celebrating Mother's

Day and we had a wonderful time. Embarkation: Smooth and painless. We arrived at Tampa port early, 11:30am. We sat in the terminal while we waited, no picture taking allowed by the way! Time flew as we got to know eachother and anticipated our adventure. We were the 3rd group to be called to board and we were on the ship by 1:30pm. The room: We had an outside cabin, Riviera 48, fit 3 women comfortably. Plenty of closet space! We never used the extra electrical outlet that was recommended in another review. The extra hangers came in handy, but there were plenty already there. My bed was wonderful, very comfortable and I loved the pillows. My friend said the bunk bed wasn’t that great, probably better for kids. The colors were neutral, nothing fancy, comfortable. The bathrooms were decent size, enough room in the shower to move around. There were plenty of towels and hooks to hang things. There was a complimentary basket of sample toiletries and a large medicine cabinet. The outside rooms come with 2 nice terry cloth robes to use. I have never cruised before, so I can’t compare the value of this room with others on higher decks or those rooms in the middle of the ship. I found the location of our room extremely convenient and had no problem getting anywhere on the ship. I do not think I would pay more just for a room on a higher level. I did not hear any disturbing noises and enjoyed the slight rocking of the ship while I slept. After checking out our rooms we changed into our suits and explored the ship and found lounge chairs around the pool on the lido deck and started with a drink of the day, listening to the band playing music with a Carribean beat. Prices for drinks are the same as any restaurant or bar. I found it very convenient having the tip added automatically and I loved the sign and sail card, much more convenient then using cash. There was no water in the pool yet, it gets filled with ocean water the next day, however the hot tub was full, so we cooled off in there. The water was nice, not hot, very refreshing, exactly what we needed as the boat was still docked and we were very hot. As the boat left port I stood in the front of the boat and dolphins were swimming around, what a sight! After our drinks we headed to the Seaview grill, same deck, for a buffet lunch. They served hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, salads, deserts, and drinks on the outer portion. Inside they served hot entrees, two different sides had totally different entrees, so always check out both sides. There is also a salad bar, deli, pizza station and bar. I found the food good all around. At 4, we had the mandatory life jacket drill, we were lucky, ours was in one of the lounges. It went by a lot quicker then I expected. Dining: We had the early dinner, 2nd seating 6:15, in the Fantasy dining room, which worked just fine for our group. The service was very efficient and friendly, the waiters were not as boisterous as I had read in reviews from others. But still very pleasant. The food was wonderful. Everything I ordered, was really good. Not just the presentation of the food, which was fine cuisine, but the taste of it too. Absolutely terrific! Anytime I had a difficult time deciding I just ordered one of each which apparently they are used to. The maitre de was a lot of fun. I enjoyed eating breakfast in the dining room, you can get pretty much whatever is on the buffet, the buffet has a few more items, but the food is hotter in the dining room and you get served, cant beat that. I enjoyed lunches on the lido deck since I did not want to spend any time getting dressed, and again, the food was always good. After dinner a few people went to the welcome show in the lounge, they enjoyed it, said the cruise director was funnier then the comedian, which I found to be true at a different show later in the week. I discovered the piano bar and had such great fun singing along with Daren and the patrons there. I spent some time in there every night. I stayed up for the R rated comedian. The lounge was packed, he was OK, not great, only performed for 30 minutes. There is so much to do if you want. There were several bars with different types of music, the casino, the shows, the shops, plenty to do. We spent the next day soaking in the sun and hanging out on the deck above the lido deck. I did not participate in anything because I just wanted to relax. But they had a lot of things going on, bingo, demonstrations, day at port talk, games, etc. Cozumel: I researched this and what I really wanted to do was take the tour to the Mayan ruins, but I had no other takers there. My friend and a couple of others went on the submarine tour, which they booked prior to the cruise on their own because it was less expensive then what Carnival charged. They enjoyed that. My second option was to go to the much talked about Chakanaab Park. That is where we headed, after a couple of margaritas at Fat Tuesdays which is right at the end of the pier along with a slew of souvenier shops. I did not like haggling with the locals, but did so a couple of times, once for an item I wanted for myself. He started at 25 got him down to 17 for a pair of birds carved out of stone. Then again for a simple shell bracelet that one place wanted $5 for, but it was too small, I had to visit 3 other stands before I could get a vendor to agree to the $5 price for the item, which they sell here for the same price too! There were two shops where the prices were already on the items, I found the prices very reasonable and enjoyed shopping in those stores. Chakanaab park was very nice, everything I read was very accurate. It is now $12 to get in, but worth it, it was quiet and lovely. There was a restaurant, lockers and for an extra charge you can swim with the dolphins or see a sea lion show. No additional charge to walk thru the Mayan ruins replica nature trail where I stumbled upon a giant Iguana..wow. This was my first time snorkeling, it was very nice. Definately suitable for 1st timers, might not be colorful enough for experienced snorkelers. There was a great party happening on the Lido deck that night, but unfortunately I missed it, I was too tired from the activities and Margaritas in Mexico, but the rest of the group had a blast. I won’t miss it next time! 2nd day at sea: Spent pretty much same as first, sitting by the pool, watching the various games and shows at the lido deck. There is a Carnival Caper left in your room each night listing the schedule of all the events, this is very informative, keep it handy so you don’t miss what you are interested in. We went to the liquor tasting and what fun! They were running a special, with a $30 purchase you get a bottle of their house liquor free. Be careful how much liquor you buy, you will have to go thru customs and pay a tax on anything over their allotted amount. But don’t worry, the tax is not much, one lady had like 9 bottles and only had to pay about $10. Just try to get on line early the day of debarkation because everyone buys a lot. Debarkation: Were almost the last group to get off the ship because we have the lowest level rooms and our flights out were later in the day, so they did not rush us off. This was kind of nice, because we didn’t have to rush around and had plenty of time for breakfast and last minute shopping. We were out of our room by 8:30 and off the ship by 11:00. The only places I noticed wear on the ship, was the shower tiles and public restrooms floor tiles. Room for improvement: The deli, they only had one person making sandwiches, the line was long and slow. Breakfast selections remained the same. They did not offer Blueberry pancakes or something different like that. You had the basic pancakes, French toast, etc. In the dining room you could get eggs benedict though. There were not a lot of kids on this cruise, so if you want peace and quiet, the best time to cruise is when the kids are in school. I did not witness any rude or obnoxious behavior, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Overall I was very pleased with Carnival and the Sensation, definitely not as gaudy as others have portrayed it. I found all of their staff friendly and the ship to be very clean and nicely decorated. The cruise was a great value and I would sail her again. Our next trip is already planned, a five day with the family on the Imagination. I can’t wait!!    

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May 5, 2004

Western Caribbean

This is for all of you people hoping to have fun and someone else writing a review out there didn't cover. May is about the best time for teenagers to go. The carnival cruise line is a great cruise to go on for several reasons. It allows family's and senior citizens to have fun and even young children. You will not be disappointed with them. I say May is the best time for teens to go because that is the one i was on and it is when most

senior trips are being held. If you guys are looking for girls, believe me, carnival in may, or in June is just the time for it. That goes for girls too. The food was awesome. The service was great all around. The only complaint i had was leaving the port of new Orleans was kind of shaky. As soon as you hit the gulf of Mexico, its as smooth as silk. We went on a four day cruise to Cozumel and back. This boat was party central. The people knew how to have fun. This was defiantly the best senior trip of my life. It was me and 3 other of my friends. They are 17, 19, and 17. We traveled with my friends mother. I hope this helped you decide on choosing a cruise you would like to go on. By the way....a few tips, 1. Alcohol is hard to sneak on. I would suggest not trying. We saw several people being checked.   

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Apr 3, 2004

Western Caribbean

This was my first cruise that I have ever taken and I took the cruise with my family and my best friend. First of all let me say, this cruise has been one the best five days of my life. I notice that a lot of the reviews are focused around older people, either dads, moms or someone else. The Sensation fun boat is a cruise ship for kids. Now I am not saying that adults cant have fun on it, but it is a great party boat. We got to Tampa on

Saturday and the line looked long when we got there but before we knew it we were touring the ship. Within an hour we had met tons of girls and our next door neighbors were four girls from Atlanta. We ended up spending most of the cruise with them and it ended up being an incredible experience meeting them. The level we stayed on was the Riviera Aft level. Jon and I were the only ones in our room so it was quite comfortable. If you had to have more than 2 in the room it seemed like it was a little cramped considering the girls next door had four people, but like many of the reviews say you are really only in your room to sleep and get ready for dinner and events. Now I know a question on every teenagers mind (maybe not every, but it seemed like every teenager I saw there) was if they were going to be able to sneak alcohol on board. Let me tell you, this was as simple as can be. My friend and I were able to bring two liters of alcohol in our bag with no problem. We were worried until we saw our bags sitting there waiting on us but once we saw them we knew it was sweet relief. The girls next door were more clever and packed all there alcohol in shampoo bottles, spray bottles, and even mouth wash bottles. They went on the more paranoid route but it was girls so it was obvious. Fun days: The first fun day was great, I was so burnt that night and the next day but I was having to much fun to even care about it. I would recommend getting some sun before you go on the ship. We laid out with the girls from Atlanta and went on the slide a few times and drank some during the day. It was a great second day on the cruise ship. That night was also a blast, we went to the Kaleidoscope which was the dance club after 12 for the teenagers. Let me say that I would not go into it sober, but once I was in there with an intoxication I was having a ball. Cozumel: Cozumel was incredible. I know the Grand Cayman islands was on Monday and Cozumel was on Tuesday, but Cozumel was probably the best day of my life. We arrived there and it took us 30 minutes or so to leave the port and get to where the taxis were at. Once we got there we headed off to Mr. Sancho's beach. A lot of the people we were with partying on the boat were going to Playa del Sol or went on the party boat. Im sure I would of had just as good a time there but it was more of a relaxing time at Mr. Sancho's and me and Jon were actually able to bond with the family. (It was also nice because my dad bought us beer all day long). My family left Mr. Sancho's at around 4 and Jon and I got a taxi back around 6 and we were about to get back on the boat when we saw two girls that we had talked to the previous night. They were about to go downtown so we hopped in a taxi with them and headed off to Senor Frogs. If you are a teenager then everyone must make a commitment to go downtown and go to Senor Frogs. It was an incredible time. No checking for ID's, drink as much as you want, dance as much as u want, just be prepared to spend some money. We got back onto the ship and were feeling "gooood". That was probably our earliest night going to bed since we basically passed out at about twelve. Grand Cayman: At Grand Cayman we took the typical swimming with Sting Rays and snorkeling in the reef. There's not much I can really say about it but it was an awesome experience and I am glad that is what we did when we got to Grand Cayman. The water is beautiful out there and the island itself is really interesting. We had a cool bus driver who was basically telling us about the island. Last fun day at sea: The last fun day at sea you are pretty worn out but its good for closure to the trip. The last night was probably one of the most fun because we just lived up the memories of the trip. Recommendations: I was iffy about going on this cruise after reading some of the reviews but if you are a teenager or mom or dad that wants to take your kids on an incredible trip the Sensation is a great boat to go on. I would recommend this boat to any teenager that is looking for a good time.    

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  • New

Mar 29, 2004

Tampa - Grand Cayman - Cozumel

Wow...what a great time. My wife and I went on this cruise to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary and enjoyed every minute of it. We made our cruise arrangements on-line through Travelosity. We made our flight arrangement on-line and the cheapest rate we could find was directly through the airline (Continental). Our shuttle arrangements were also done on-line through Bay Shuttle in Tampa (found on the airport's website). Embarkment

was very well done. Carnival has everything down pat. We got there around 12:00 and were on the ship at 12:35. Your Sign and Sail Card is used like a credit card for all of your spending needs i.e., gambling, drinks...alcoholic or non-alcoholic, purchasing jewelry or liquor on-board, pictures, etc. All tips are also placed on the card when you get your final bill. It is $10.00 per day per person. I think this is very inexpensive for being waited on hand and foot. The ship was a full ship due to the time being spring break but I didn't find it to be crowded. We were hungry so we went in search for food. Lunch was all ready for us on the Lido deck by the pool and in the Seaview Cafe. Pizza and ice cream are available 24/7. Room service is also available at no extra charge. I would highly recommend eating at least all of your dinners in the 2 formal dinning rooms. We were seated with 2 very nice families from Buffalo and Canton. Carnival tries to match you to other families of like ages. It was a lot of fun seeing what other were doing throughout their cruise. Dinners are excellent. Every dinner comes with 4 choices of appetizers, 2 salads, 5 main dishes, and 4 desserts. You must pay for all drinks in the dinning rooms. Iced tea, coffee, and lemonade are free at the buffets on the Lido Deck. Dress for all dinners is casual (no shorts or swimwear)and formal night is suit (dark) and tie. The food presentation was very nice. Overall the food was great and always available. Look to gain about 10 lbs. We had an oceanview stateroom that was very nice. They were very spacious(for a ship). The beds were twin but were made into a king size bed. We could never tell they were twin beds pushed together. The bathroom was nice and the showers were terrific. There was plenty of drawer space for us and the closets had ample room. We never were bothered with any noise or any other annoyances. The Cabin Stewards were excellent. The only time we saw him was when we got up and went into the hall. He always greeted us with a smile and a Goodmornin'. Our room was always clean. If you are into fitness like us...they have a very nice workout area with stairsteppers and treadmills (walking only) and weight equipment. Since I am a runner I chose to run on the olypmic track. Since it is smaller than I am used to I just kept track of my time instead of laps. My wife walked while I ran (there were plenty of walkers). They also have a salon and spa (this is a pay for service). We didn't use it but those that did had good things to say about it. The pools are small just to get wet I suppose. There were at least 4 large whirlpools. There were a lot of children on the ship but they were kept busy by the staff and Camp Carnival. We didn't see a lot of children. Those with children had early seating for dinner. There are ping pong tables and game rooms as well as a casino with slots, poker, blackjack, etc. There is also an ATM on board. There are always contests and activities to do. There is a Karaoke Lounge and Disco. By the way, we had read about some people being bothered by smoking. We didn't have any problems and rarely smelled smoke. The ship has done away with a lot of the public smoking areas and has limited their smoking areas (hooray). The shows and activities are excellent. There are at least 2 Vegas style shows, several commedy acts, and juggling and magic. Our favorite comedian was Happy Cole. He was very funny. I have to admit that the Cruise Director (Jorge) was also VERY funny and made the cruise experience even more fun. I would suggest that you don't miss any of the shows. Photos are taken throughout the cruise and are available to purchase (no pressure). Also a video you can buy at the end of the cruise that is shot throughout the cruise. There are plenty of shore excursions to sign up for. We chose to make our own arrangements on-line prior to the cruise (be careful...Carnival says that they tender off those guests that book excursions through the cruiseship first which I didn't feel was fair and after persistance we were let off first to make our 8:30 Stingray Tour). I would highly recommend snorkeling at Stingray City in Grand Cayman. We also rented a jeep in Cozumel and saw beaches and other sites that others didn't see. The western side of the island was rocky in spots with water shooting up through blow holes it was very picturesque. We walked on white sandy beaches with bluer than blue water with a handful of people ever seen for miles. After our exploring the island we went shopping. Not very many stores had prices on their goods as it is expected to barder. There are good deals to be had. Shopper Lacey on the ship will have talks to help you look for deals and tell you how to shop this was well worth going to the talk. The duty free shop on the ship is very large. Booze is at a BIG discount like Crown Royal for $16.00 a bottle or Tangueray for $12.00 a bottle and many others. Disembarkment...again Carnival has a lot of experience and does it very well. There is a meeting the day before you leave that gives you all of the information. If you have an early flight out just tell the information desk and they take care of it. We had a 2:00 flight out of Tampa which gave us plenty of time. 1:00 would have been pleny of time. On the last moring you are to be out of your stateroom by 8:45 am and are told where your floor is to meet to disembark (according to the color of your bag tags). Once you disembark you go through customs so no sneaking Cuban cigars unless you like living in Tampa for 5-10 years. Overall our experience was great! We came away thnking about our next cruise. I think next time we will get a bunch of friends to go with us. Cruising is all in your frame of mind. You have to be flexible and go with the flow. Just sit back and enjoy and go for the ride of your life. We took the time to write this because the reviews that we read on this site were very helful to us on out cruise. Thank you all who took the time to write us about your expereinces and thank you to CruiseReviews.com If you have any questions feel free to e-mail us. Brent and Maggie Reed    

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By TJ_CR

  • New

Mar 29, 2004

Western Caribbean

Drop off and embarkation were a breeze as both the Port of Tampa and Carnival have made vast improvements in getting people on the boat. We were dropped off by cab right at the front door of the embarkation center, met by a porter, and we were in line in a matter of minutes. After checking documents and getting our sail and sign cards, we entered the ship. Our main level, outside view cabin slept four fairly comfortably, but I don't think

we will be able to get away with one room as my duaghters get older (they are 10, 12 now). We went up to the Lido Deck and had a quick bite to eat and then headed to our cabin for the lifeboat drill. The process seems to take forever, but we were done within 30 minutes and headed back down to the cabin to return our lifejackets as the ship left the mooring right on time at 4pm. Our late seating dinner (8pm Ectasy dining room) was perfect as we never felt rushed and the girls had plenty of time to shower and prepare. We had a table by ourselves stuck in the corner by the kitchen (the same as on the Elation) which makes me believe that they have a "formula" for where they place everyone for dining. We were the only family there with children that age eating at 8pm, so we got our own table I guess! My wife and daughters availed themselves for spa treatments as I checked out the ship. I was surprised that the Sensation was holding up so well. Clean, updated a bit and fairly bright it exceeded my expectations as I had expected the ship to be "showing its age". Tuesday was a day at sea and the water was calm and weather beautiful. We spent the day on deck enjoying the sun. We played cards in the casino at night as the girls either did Camp Carnival or swam/watched in room movies/played in the arcade. I want to relate one funny story. At the return cruiser cocktail party, one couple was awarded a door prise and as they came forward to meet the captain and get their certificate, the cruise director asked them if they liked the Sensation better then the Fantasy. With the captain there, they said they liked the Fantasy because you could smoke!!! I almost died laughing. The cruise director told the couple that all ships have the same smoking policy and designated areas, but you could never have convinced them. That was the biggest surprise. The ship was not smoky! Much better policing and enforcement of the designated areas. We reached Grand Cayman early Wednesday morning and we let the big crush off the boat at 7am and headed off around 8:30am. There was NO LINE to disembark! We took the tender over to the shore and unfortunately my Internet scheduled tour with Captain Crosby to go to Stingray City fell through as he did not show up at the designated locaiton/times. I hooked up with another guy at the pier who promised to get us back to the ship by 1:15pm (last tender). This was almost the biggest mistake of my life as the guy's boat was a piece of junk and he had a motor fail on the way back from the reef. We ended up needing a police (sirens/lights) escort to get back to the ship on time. Hey, what a vacation! Stingray city was awesome. After dodging that bullet, we got back on ship and headed to Cozumel. On Thursday morning again we had little trouble getting off the ship around 9:30am after the initial rush. We shopped downtown and then headed to Nachi Cocum for a snuba/snorkle adventure (www.snubacozumel.com). What a perfect trip that was. We got to go to three different reef areas and spent over 3 hours in the water. Drinks and snacks were provided. I highly recommend Gary and the crew of the Zorro. We got a bit of rain on the way in and reboarded the Sensation around 7pm and dressed for dinner. Friday was a restful day at sea. Debarkation on Saturday morning was slow. We left our cabin for breakfast at 8:25am. We walked off the ship at 11:10am. Go figure why it took so long. My only advice is have a book and snacks for kids as there is no other shortcuts when it comes to getting off the ship. I rated this cruise 4 out of 5 stars. Highlights were itinerary and affordability. Service was excellent. Food was above average. Lowlights were underage drinking and debarkation. You get what you pay for.    

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By Sue_CR

  • New

Mar 25, 2004

Western Caribbean (Cozumel)

The ship was a pleasant surprise -- cleaner, roomier, and more up-to-date than we had anticipated based on what we’d heard about Carnival and other reviews we’d read. Our cabin was excellent. Shows were outstanding. Food was good but not excellent. Shore excursions we did on our own and were wonderful. Ship staff were very eager to please. Overall, we found this cruise to be better than we were expecting and an excellent value for

the price paid. Embarkation procedures took long even though we were there early (12:30), but went smoothly. It pays to fill out all your paperwork ahead of time, especially the Funpass you can complete online ahead of time. We had an outside cabin--same size as an inside cabin but with a large window that was worth the price. There was enough room to push the two twin beds together to form a king, which made sleeping more comfortable. There was enough closet space to actually unpack all our clothes. Although they provide hangers, we had read that it's helpful to bring extras, and we're glad we did. We made a point to meet and tip the room steward at the beginning of the trip, which probably helped insure that we found our cabin tidied and with a fresh supply of towels every time we returned to it. We took all our daytime meals except one in the Seaview Buffet since it was so convenient, fast, and offered lots of variety. You could eat in the dining area, poolside, or at open-air tables looking out the back or sides of the ship. We had read in a prior review that the outdoor buffet line offers the same items as the indoor but without the long lines. How true that was and what a helpful suggestion. (Still not sure why more people didn't figure this out during the cruise.) Dinners in the Ecstacy dining room were good, not quite as gourmet as we've had on Royal. But the wait staff is terrific and eager to please. The 24-hour pizza and deli bar at the back of the Seaview was great for snacking. What impressed us most were the shows. The comedians were great and the Las Vegas type shows were amazing -- great dancing, singing, and costumes. We wondered how the dancers could keep their balance with the rocking motion of the ship. We had high winds and some rough seas during the trip. Weather alternated between clouds and sun, with a few sprinkles and short downpours thrown in. But we still managed to get some sun on deck each day. I experienced some queasiness and bought some pressure-point wristbands in the gift shop which helped some but had to be worn constantly and caused my hands to swell a little. Staying outside on deck helped a lot. Next time I'll try one of the patches that I saw quite a few people wearing behind the ear. The spa staff were delightful, but prices were expensive. They do have specials and sales each day. The indian scalp massage was a bargain. The cruise offers an informative seminar on shopping in Cozumel with maps and info on what's a bargain and what isn't. We found it worthwhile. For our day in Cozumel, we took a cab to Mr. Sancho's Beach ($14 cab each way so find someone to share the ride if possible). There's no cover charge so you can just park yourself at a table under a palapa (thatch umbrella) as long as you order food and/or drinks there. They have great food, (especially the fish), great tropical drinks (especially mango margaritas) that you can opt to have served in a decorated pineapple or coconut, a free drink coupon you can print off their website, buckets of beer, snorkel equipment rental for $5, snorkle tours available, a pool, gift shops, restrooms and showers, and sand volleyball. We loved it. After heading back to the ship to freshen up, we went shopping in the town (San Miguel) - $6 cab each way - and had dinner at La Choza Restaurant (good, reasonable Mexican fare). It took a little extra research to decide what to do in Cozumel, but we enjoyed being on our own time instead of a tour. Ship debarkation took long (ours was the last group called so we had to wait 2 hours) but the process went smoothly and we got off the ship about 10:45 am. For the cost of the cruise, we feel it was an excellent value.    

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By Kim_CR

  • New

Mar 1, 2004

Western Caribbean

Introduction We just got back from our first cruise (Carnival, Sensation: Grand Cayman/Couzmel, 3/1-3/6) and I thought I would share some observations. Our ski trip got cancelled at the last minute and we booked our first cruise without any research, because we had one hour to decide if we wanted the last cabin on the ship. Getting on the Ship/First impressions We left out of Tampa on Monday and from the moment we stepped out of the

cab at 12:30 p.m., everything went quite well. We picked up our paperwork with ease, entered the terminal and went through the boarding process without a hitch. Everyone was quite pleasant. The whole process took less than 90 minutes and we were walking on to the ship at about 2:00 pm. We could have gotten on earlier if we had arrived earlier, but we wanted to sleep in. The décor of the ship was dated, but for the most part the ship was clean and well kept. We were on the Rivera deck, in an inside cabin, in the back of the boat. We were pleasantly surprised with the size of the room for two adults, although I don’t know how the 4 adults next door faired-Yikes! The room was clean, and I know! I always bring cleaning wipes and I couldn’t find much after my wipe down. Booking Shore Excursions We couldn’t figure out why everybody was swarming the excursion desk first thing and since this was our first time on a ship we wanted to check things out, after lunch on the lido deck of course. We lounged on deck as we pulled out of port and eventually got around to seriously researching out shore excursion options. It’s now about 7 p.m. Monday night and we have made our decisions for shore excursions. We walk up to the desk to ask a question, before we drop our request form in the box, only to find out that the one excursion I really wanted to do had 10 slots and was full. Now I know why everybody was swarming the excursion desk at 2:00 p.m. Lesson: do this first thing if you’re going to book through the ship. The Dining Room We were assigned the 8:00 p.m. dinner seating and I made sure I drug my husband there early because I wanted to get a good table. Don’t laugh! So I find out after we stand there for 15 minutes waiting for the dining room to open, that the table is assigned and the table number is on the sign and sail card, Duh! Most people observed the dress code, but of course you always have a few… and they were let in, which surprised me. We sat with some very nice people, but we didn’t really click with them so dinner every night was uneventful. During breakfast and lunch, only one dining room is open and they have open seating, which means you can eat at any time the dining room is open and you sit with different people. We only ate in the other dining room once for breakfast, the last morning of the cruise. We sat with 6 of the coolest people, who actually engaged us in conversation and we couldn’t stop talking about how much we enjoyed our experience. In retrospect, we probably should have spoke with the maitre’d and inquired about being moved after the first night as opposed to just dealing with it. I think we lost out on an opportunity to connect with some people, which really enhance the cruise experience, as I will expand on shortly. We first night we ordered conservatively and by the end of dinner we were still hungry: the portions were small. From then on I always ordered an appetizer, soup, salad, entrée and dessert. Like I said, all of the portions are small. The one formal night we had was the night they served lobster and prime rib, and I ordered both. So did everybody at the table. The food in the dining room for the most part was good, but we never had anything great. Dining staff/Tipping Our waiter and his assistant were very good; we were extremely pleased by their service all week long. I would highly recommend taking the time to talk to some of the staff. I found it very interesting to get a glimpse into their world and what they go through in the same week that I’m being waited on, hand and foot. I mention this because one of the things Carnival does is automatically charge each person a flat fee for tipping, which you can alter (up or down) prior to the end of the cruise. For a 5-night cruise, it was $50 a person, which at first seemed high. Well by the end of the cruise I not only left the $100 on the account, I gave a little extra to the assistant waiter, who makes considerably less than the head waiter. The Other Eating Options If you don’t want to dress for breakfast and lunch you’re going to eat in the Sea View Bar & Grill. The breakfast buffet was the same each day, except one day it would be French toast and the next, pancakes. The eggs were runny and the sausage was microwave; no Bob Evans here. Lunch was better. If you got to the salad bar early it was good, but they didn’t seem to replenish it often enough. Some of the food was good, but most of it was just ok. Lots of it, but just ok. The cold items never seemed to be even cool and the hot items were lukewarm. The hot items I can be a little more flexible on, but I don’t want to drink warm milk. Another irritant was the fact that they would advise you every night what time meals in the Sea View were being served, for example, breakfast 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. and we would get there at 10:15 (because we had slept in late) and everything was gone. That happened a number of times. Room Service The one meal I would have liked to ordered (breakfast) I couldn’t. Well to be fair, if I wanted fruit, cereal or juice I was set. But the thing is, I like eggs benedict, French toast, omelets… none of which is on the room service menu. So needless to say it was a very limited menu and I never ordered room service. What a bummer! Shows We went to the show the first night, where we experienced Jorge the cruise director, who rocked. You talk about one funny man. Job well done Jorge!! Two of the three comedians they had on ship were very funny (Happy Cole and Carl Faulkenberry). The third was brought in at the last minute due to lack of interest in the talent show. They had two Vegas style shows during the cruise. The first one was cancelled 20 minutes into it and we never made it to the second one. There was a juggler/illusionist who was lame and that was the extent of the shows. Because we ate at the late seating we would always have to go to the late shows, but it worked out well because we like to sleep in, so choose accordingly. If you’re an early riser, request the early seating so you can go to the early shows. Non- Smokers Beware There was no restriction on smoking in public areas inside the ship, except for some lounges, at certain times. The first smell I experienced as I stepped on to the ship was smoke from the bar in the atrium. I could smell smoke as I walked to my stateroom many times. A handful of smokers were not aware that the outdoor eating/sitting areas on the starboard side of the ship was designated smoking and would come over to the port side to share with us. The main lounge was always non-smoking, but the plaza lounge would be smoking one minute, then a new show would start and the would actually announce that the lounge was now non-smoking, which brought shouts of joy from most. It wasn’t horrible, but it could have been a lot better. I’m just thankful my cabin didn’t smell like an ashtray. Shopping on the Ship Stay away from the Jewelry store! It attacked my sign and sail account without mercy. Go see Rita from India, she is the most pleasant young woman, who sold me a beautiful tanzanite ring (for a good price) and then sold me a smooth watch for the greatest husband in the world. We checked the price of the watch on the internet when we got home and we could have got it for the same price, except we would have paid shipping and possibly tax. We couldn’t touch it in a store back home for the price we paid. I was hesitant to purchase a ring prior to our ports, but Rita told me that if I saw something in Cozumel I liked better I could return the ring. After shopping at a few jewelry stores in Cozumel, I was so glad I already had a ring I loved. What at pain in the you know what! No Booze Allowed! They have good deals on duty free alcohol in the shops on the ship, but you can’t buy it and take it back to your cabin. If you did they might not nickel and dime you to death on all the drinks. Grand Cayman/Stingray City Tour We were supposed to be in Grand Cayman from 7am until 2 pm, which would give us plenty of time to do a tour and get in an hour or two of shopping and or sightseeing. What they don’t tell you when they are taking your $50 a person, is that the ship could have trouble being cleared by local officials, and that you could wait over an hour in the stairwell to get on the tender, to be rushed to your bus, to be rushed to the boat, to sit out in the middle of the water, to wait 40 minutes to find a place for your large tour boat to park, to spend 35 minutes swimming with stingrays (which was cool) with 300 other people, to be driven back to the dock to wait 40 minutes for a bus to get you back to town, so that you can get there just in time to take the last tender back to the ship! I hope to see Grand Cayman some day! Do one or the other, but things happen, so don’t expect to do both. Cozumel Mexico/Catamaran Snorkel Tour They told us that there would be two exits off the ship, but only 5 of the 2300 people found the rear exit. I had another nice long rest in the stairwell. The great thing was that after waiting for over 45 minutes, there was a ships photographer right at the exit of the ship, to stop people before they could get out of the way of others, and take their picture. Ok, I know someone is saying, roll with the punches, which would be fine if we were not still standing in the ship 5 flights up at 10:05, with two tickets in our pocket for a 10 am catamaran snorkel cruise. No announcement as to the delay, no redirection from any of the 920 crew as to a different exit. Nothing. We did frantically make it to the boat with 5 minutes to spare. This was the Fury Company and the crew was extremely friendly and extremely helpful. We pulled out to head off for our snorkel sight, and five minutes later we were there; approximately 300 yards from our ship, right by the city, close to shore. If you have never snorkeled before it was fine. My husband had never been and enjoyed it. I on the other hand had snorkeled in the Bahamas, off the shore of a truly private island, where there was the most beautiful sea life, etc, in the clearest, warm water. I was very disappointed by the snorkeling. We left there after 35 minutes and headed towards a private beach that this company runs. We had a nice long boat ride there (and from here on out we now have free Mexican beer and margaritas) and back, and the beach and amenities were great. They had volleyball, kayaks, rafts, food, restrooms, a silver jewelry stand and horseback riding for a fee. We were there for an hour and then headed back. By this time a lot of our shipmates were feeling no pain and a conga line started. It was a fun ride back to the pier. We went back to the ship to get cleaned up and eat, and then headed out to shop. Cozumel Shopping/When to call it quits The first store we hit after you exit the duty free mall that you have to walk through was Diamonds International. Long story short, I saw one ring I liked that started out at $950 and by the time I walked out 30 minutes later, they were yelling behind me $299? For people who love to invest a lot of time bantering back and forth, for anything, will absolutely love Cozumel. I bought an $8.00 (us) bag and the young girl was speechless that I didn’t try to chew her down. I just didn’t want to waste me time for .50 cents. The one time I made the conscious decision to commit to a bargain, it took me 20 minutes to get a bracelet down from $120 to $21 (us). The only problem was I didn’t realize silver is stamped, so I think I got taken, but I still like the bracelet. Note: Real silver is stamped (I’m pretty sure w/ .925). Check with Rita in the jewelry store or get up at the crack of dawn to go to Super Shopper Phil’s seminar. The cab ride to the shopping district is something that must be experienced. Be sure to tell them to take you to the Forum shops, which are at the far end of the shopping, and then you can start walking back. Other wise, if you say take to downtown to shop they will take you right to the beginning edge of town. Oh, and when they say they will leave with out you, they are not joking. I hope that girl got home ok! Time to go Home Depending on where you are on the ship dictates where you will be told to meet, to wait to be called to disembark. Makes sense, 2300 people can’t leave at the same time. So they tell you in your daily paper that you absolutely have to be a your assigned station by 8:45 am, and if your not customs will not clear the ship, insinuating that if your not there 2298 people are going to be waiting on you. So we are at the Disco at 8:45 only to stand out there for 35 minutes, while one immigration officer waits for one Canadian couple to check in with him. If it hadn’t been for this one renegade woman passenger, we would still be standing there. She took all she could take and then called the pursers desk, which got us the Canadian couple info, then she stormed the disco from the back entrance and proceeded to give the immigration guy the what for, because he was holding up hundreds of people from coming in to sit down. We finally got in there at 9:30 and by now I was thirsty, so I walked up to the Sea View (that they said was open until 10) to get something to drink, only to find the entire place, drink machines and all, totally closed up. No customs officials ever came to our area to make sure we were all there, so my final hours in Tampa (before I headed back to Chicago) were spent in the disco waiting for people who never came, as opposed to waiting out on deck for my group to be called. Like I said this was my first cruise, and maybe something changed at the last minute and customs decided to clear us downstairs in the warehouse, but I honestly don’t think so. I think we were lied to, to keep up in nice little tidy groups. Our group was called last and we finally got off the ship at 11 am. Final Thoughts Looking back, I’m glad I went on a cruise. It was on my list of things I wanted to do, and despite the many bumps, we had a nice time. We met a lot of nice people and got some rest. I can’t say it was the best vacation I ever took, but with each passing day I understand a little bit more the old adage, “You get what you pay for”. If you’re on a tight budget or like a really good deal and bumps don’t bother you and you can stay away from the bar, Carnival is for you. I will not cruise Carnival again, because I am at the stage in life where the details make the difference and I am willing to pay for them. Next time my trip gets cancelled, I won’t make any hasty decisions! ..    

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Feb 7, 2004

Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise experience and it exceeded our expectations. We have traveled all over, including Hawaii, but this ranks at the top of our list of vacation experiences. The staff on board the ship were all friendly and they always seemed to anticipate our needs. It was nice to go back to our cabin in the evening to find mints on the pillow and the bed turned down. The shows were entertaining and the food in the formal dining room

was very good. There are activities all day long as well as food to eat. We took an island tour on Grand Cayman. The island is small and there is not a lot to do. However, the seven mile beach is beautiful. And, "Hell" is interesting to see. We also booked a snorkeling trip to Stingray City but it was canceled due to rough waters. We hear that Stingray City is something to see. In Cozumel, we would recommend taking the trip to the Mayan Ruins of Tulum. It is also quite interesting. However, you have to take a small boat from Cozumel to Playa Del Carmen to get there; if you have a tendency to get seasick, be prepared on this excursion. The Sensation is the type of cruise ship for people who are looking for an upbeat atmosphere. The ship is called a "fun ship" for a reason. It has a bit of a party atmosphere. If you are someone looking for a stuffy, posh experience, this is not it. Although there were over 300 kids on our ship, we hardly ever saw them thanks to the Camp Carnival program. Overall, a great time.    

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Feb 7, 2004

Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise. Because we live in South Carolina and hubby is afraid of flying, we drove to Tampa (about 9 hours). We are members of AAA and used them as our travel agent. We were very pleased with their help with everything plus we got a discount for being members. They also booked us a hotel for the one night stay in Tampa for $94, near the airport, which is about a $20 taxi ride to the port. The advantage was that they let

us park our car there at the hotel for free during our cruise. Although they wouldn't be responsible if anything happened to it. They have property security and nothing happened to it. If you drive to the port and park your car there it's about 10 bucks a day. So if you want to stay a night in Tampa, check out Courtyard by Marriot on Cypress Rd. and ask them about parking your car. We spent the day at Clearwater beach and took a pirate cruise that evening. It was fun.Ok let's get on with the cruise!We arrived at the pier at about 9:30 am, only because my sister and niece were debarking the exact cruise and itinerary we were about to embark on at 4 pm so we wanted to catch them and get a little inside scoop. At about 10 pm , porters starting taking luggage. I was very paranoid about being one of the folks that loses their luggage, so we tipped the porter $10 hoping he would be careful with it lol. We watched him take it to a designated area. Very shortly after we got there, they were letting people off the ship, little groups at a time. We waited and waited and finally my sister and niece got off. We figured out later at our disembarking that either they let you off in order of what kind of cabin you have or either by the levels of the ship. My sister and niece had a great time. At about 11 am, they started letting people check in. We were in the "skippers club" because we booked a penthouse suite (it was one of the benefits). The skippers club was great because we didn't have to wait in any lines and they took care of everything for us at one spot (check in, sail and sign cards- Carnival uses sail and sign cards as a credit card for EVERYTHING on board, shore excursions, drinks, pictures, shopping, everything. You put a deposit down using a credit card, check card or cash. But know that if you use cash, you have to settle it the night before debarking. If you use a credit or check card, they put a hold on it. I think it started out at about $400 then and once we spent $400, they put a higher hold. At one point we had a $950 hold on the card. We checked at the information desk. But I think we spent more money then the average cruiser on drinks, pictures, shopping, shore excursions etc. On your sail and sign card you will also find your dining time and table #. We had originally booked the early dining, then when I thought about getting up that early for breakfast, I called and requested the late seating. I was told they couldn't promise it at this point but my wish was granted I think because the early seating was more full anyway. Then later found out breakfast was open seating so it didn't really matter but we did enjoy the late dining. After we got checked in and all that stuff squared away, we were told to have a seat and our # would be called (our # was 1..which is another benefit of the penthouse suite "skippers club". You get to board the ship before anyone else). We sat and waited about an hour which put us at about 1 pm when they called our number. As soon as we boarded the ship, we found our room on the upper level to put our carry ons down and check out the room. For the price we paid for a penthouse suite, I was sort of disappointed. There was a funny smell when we walked in. The tile in the bathroom looked like it needed replacing, There was a light covering that was just totally missing on our bed. The room appeared clean but with the smell, I wondered. The king size bed is 2 twin beds put together. I did love the down comforter and the carnival robes. The bed slept great. Our balcony had a great view. Nice bar set up, sodas and water in the room (for about 2 bucks a bottle). My sister and niece had a regular stateroom with a window view and they were happy with it. So I guess it just depends what ya like. I prefer a nice place to sleep when I'm away from home since I don't have to clean it :) Oh and the walk in closet was spacious but the drawers were tiny. This room would sleep 4 people with the pull out couch. Hubby wants to go with a regular balcony room next time but I disagree because I did like the space and the benefits with booking a penthouse suite. Once we checked out our room and put our things down, we went straight out for lunch. The only thing open for lunch on the first day was the Seaview Restauraunt on Lido deck (pool deck). Lines were already long. But don't worry, the only time you have to worry about lines here is on the first day since everyone is hungry at the same time. This restaurant is self serve and was OK for quick eating. The service in this place was horrible, and not just on the first day. Rude actually. They have a variety of food here and every day it's different. Outside of the Seaview by the pool is another buffet where you can find burgers and hot dogs. There is always salad, veggies, meats and desserts here. We never tried the 24 hour pizza but I hear the kids love it. Breakfast here was OK too. The only reason we ate here is because it was quick. Otherwise the main dining room was way better in service and food. We only ate in the main dining room for 3 dinners and 2 lunches. Excellent food and excellent service here. Eat til you're stuffed! The maitre 'd (Terrence- Fantasy Dining room) was a hoot! He always made a point to talk to us. And one day when we ate there for lunch while in port, there was another ship in port we could see out the window. Maybe Royal Caribbean or something. He walked in the dining room and said very loudly in disgrace "Ugh! Look at that ugly ship! Hurry hurry shut the curtains!" while all the waiters pretended to be shutting the curtains. He was kidding of course but it was funny. Our waiter was good. Always trying to make us fatter! Sometimes he would bring us extra entrees we didn't even ask for lol. Formal night was the first at sea day. It was very nice to get dressed up and see everyone else dressed up but the water was very rough this night so picture taking was difficult since it was hard to stand still for a shoot. Lots and lots of photo opportunities! We bought every picture we liked. Now that we've done it once and have started planning our next cruise, we've opted to skip the whole formal night thing, but I do suggest trying it once. If it weren't for having to get dressed for dinner, we would have eaten in the dining room every breakfast, lunch and dinner. But sometimes ya just wanna eat lunch in a bathing suit and flip flops by the pool. You don't have to "dress up" every night for the dining room but shorts, bathing suits are not allowed. After eating lunch on embarkation day, we headed straight to the salon and spa to make our couples massage appointments. We expected it to be pricey but we didn't expect $240 bucks! We splurged and did it anyway because we had been looking so forward to it. We booked the appointment for 4: 30 pm because at 3:30, there was a mandatory safety drill. The salon told us it would take no more than 30 minutes, then we would have 30 minutes to watch the ship leave the pier. So at about 3 pm , they start warning you over the intercom system to go to your assigned areas (located on your stateroom door) WITH your lifejackets ON. This was kinda funny watching everyone trying to find their area in an orange lifejacket lol. They made it short and sweet (about 15 minutes) then dismissed us. Hubby and I then went straight back to our rooms balcony to watch the ship sail. It didn't sail right at 4 pm but shortly after and we were about 5 minutes late for our appointment. The massages were very nice and the girls doing them were nice too. But again, now that we've done it...we probably won't do it again. Next time we'll pay regular price at home before going on our cruise. After our massages, we basically spent the rest of the day exploring the inside of the ship. It was still chilly and windy outside, I guess because we weren't down south enough. We checked out our photos from embarking. The photos are 20 bucks for an 8x10 and about 8 bucks, I think for a 5x7. You also have an option to get wallet sizes but I don't know how much they are. For the whole cruise we spent about 150 bucks on photos! Of course you don't have to buy any.Our next day was an at-sea day. We got up for breakfast, then headed to the pool to get a lounge chair. We've heard it's difficult to get one but we didn't have any problem that early and it didn't seem like it would be a problem later either. There are so many on different decks. Hubby hopped in the Jacuzzi and I started exploring the outside upper decks. That is when I found the jogging track that has a wonderful view at the front of the ship and I found the topless sun deck my hubby had been searching for. There was shuffleboard, volleyball, basketball, huge chess pieces and ping pong. On the topless sun deck I found 2 teenage boys praying lol and that was it. Again we spent most of this day exploring the ship on the outside. We laid out by the pool a lot and we checked out the gift shops and photo shop again. The drink prices were reasonable I thought. Hubby drank Grey Goose for $5.25 plus 15 % gratuity every time. I had Malibu drinks for about $4.25 a piece. Soda was about $2 a pop plus 15 % gratuity. You can go with the soda card which is about $20 for an adult and it's unlimited fountain soda for your whole cruise, but I heard bad reviews on this like the ice melts quick and it's watered down or the bartenders ignore you if you have one (cuz they don't get a tip). At the pool they had random activities like ice sculpting, hairy chest contest, a mixology show etc. They weren't that great but the hairy chest contest was pretty funny. At 3:30 pm we went over to Fantasia Lounge for the "Newlywed and not so newlywed game". We were going to volunteer to play but they didn't ask for volunteers. They picked a real newlywed couple, a couple that had been married 50 years and a couple that had been married 25 years. But we watched and it was a pretty funny show. This was formal night and I had made an appointment at the salon to have my hair done up. So at 6 pm, I went to the salon, no wait, the girl was great and her service was ok for $35 for an up do plus 5 dollar tip. Again, the services in the salon and spa were pricey. After getting my hair done, I went back to our room and we started getting decked out for the formal dinner. For the late seating, they start photos at 7:15. At about 7:30 we headed down for photos. There were so many different photo areas set up on the ship with different photographers and backgrounds. We did them all! The ship was really rocking this night so it was hard to stand still for photos. On formal night the area where our dining room was was very crowded with people waiting to get in. They started seating right at 8:30. Fabulous service and food! Nice couples at our table with us. Every night the waiters and maitre 'd do a little show for ya. After dinner, we went down to have a cigarette. If you're a smoker, there are plenty of smoking areas on the ship. You'll find them easily but the dining rooms are not one of them. At 10:30 , we headed to the fantasia lounge for the vegas style show done by the sensation dancers. I thought the show was very colorful and the dancers were awesome especially considering the rocking on the boat. I started to feel a little queasy but I tried to forget about it and it went away. Neither of us ever got sea sick but if you do they have an infirmerary where you can get some medicine that I hear knocks it right out. At 11:30, we went to see the Gala buffet in the dining room. They do photos only from 11:30-12:15 then open the buffet at 12:30. It was awesome but we were still stuffed from dinner so we didn't eat. At midnight we went to see the R-rated comedian (there are usually 3 shows for the comedian 8:30, 10:30 and midnight-R-rated shows). He was so funny. Our next day was in Grand Cayman. We chose to go to seven mile beach at our own leisure. It's very easy to get a taxi and it's 3 bux per person to and from seven mile beach. You pay $21 per person for the shore excursion and they take you to a beach club that was OK. You get a lounge chair per person and one drink per person. They serve lunch here but we didn't eat. We laid out and then walked the beach, swam a little then decided to head back to the ship. There isn't much time in Grand Cayman. I think it's like 8 am - 2 pm (you have to be back on the ship at 1:30 and the last ferry comes at 1:15). We ate lunch on the ship in the dining room and it was wonderful. We also ate dinner in the dining room again. We went to the midnight R rated comedian, she was not impressive. Seven Mile Beach was beautiful and we left there saying Cozumel is going to have to be really good to beat this. Our next day was port in Cozumel. We took my sister and nieces advice and went with the Xcaret shore excursion. It didn't sound like something we wanted to do but we tried it anyway. The only downfall was that you have to take a 45 minute ferry ride to Playa Del Carmen. The ride was rough and windy and miserable. Then once in Playa Del Carmen, you take a 15 minute bus ride to the park Xcaret. Your tour guide is with you the whole time. There was only about 10 people on this tour. Everything in Mexico seemed so real! Very culturist and just like you would imagine Mexico. It wasn't all made up for tourist. Although there are plenty of shopping opportunities for tourist. Xcaret was simply beautiful. They had animals, an underwater river you could swim, a beautiful beach, swim with the dolphins, snorkeling, scuba diving (all at extra costs), restaurants and much more. We started on the underwater river. It was a bit cold so we got out at the first exit and walked a bit until we found the beach. We parked it there and took lots of photos. It was breathtaking with lounge chairs and hammocks. I highly recommend Xcaret. At 4 pm , we met our tour guide in the parking lot and rode the bus back to our ferry. From the ferry, you can either go back to the ship or they will take you downtown for shopping. We wanted to go shopping downtown (the ship recommends shopping downtown even though there are shops all around the pier where the ship is in port). There was also nice shops where we got on and off the ferry in Playa Del Carmen but they wouldn't let us stop there due to time. In downtown Cozumel, we had a blast shopping. We got beautiful sombreros, souvenirs for the kids, t shirts, jewelry, a hammock for my mom etc. At about 8 pm we decided to start looking for an ATM machine to get cash for our taxi ride back ($6). First we couldn't find an ATM, then when we did, it only gives Pesos and not US dollars. So we had to figure out in a panic how much we needed lol. We finally withdrew 100 pesos..which ended up to be about $9 US lol. We grabbed a taxi which was very easy and headed back. Each $1 = 11 pesos. We gave the taxi driver the $9 and he took us back. Scary Scary he was driving like a maniac lol. We got back so late we missed dinner but we held out for the midnight buffet. They were having a Mexican buffet with tacos and all. We had margaritas and chilled in the Jacuzzi. Our next day was the last and it was an at sea day. We slept in til about 11 am. Then we headed up to the topless deck! Hubby couldn't wait! lol. There was probably about 10 couples or so up there at one time. We laid up there all day long. Hubby got pretty burnt even tho he used sunscreen. AT about 3 pm, I grabbed a bite to eat from Seaview restaurant and carried it back up to eat on the sun deck. It was a neat experience. After sunning, we went to play some bingo in Fantasia lounge. It's 10 bucks for a card or 20 bucks for 3 cards. We had played this a few times. But this time hubby won 170 buck :) Which was really about 50 bux if you look at all the money we spent playing prior to. He enjoyed bingo. And it was ok for me too. We went to the main dining room again tonight and it was wonderful as usual. We exchanged email addresses with our table buddies and said our goodbyes with photos. We tipped the maitre 'd and waiter and said good byes with photos. We were going to go to the 10:30 vegas show again and the midnight comedian but decided we were too tired after the bottle of champagne we had at dinner so we headed back to our cabins. We got a good nights sleep for debarkation. On Debarkation day, you have to meet in a assigned area, and wait for your color to be called. We waited about 45 minutes til they started calling colors and ours was 2nd to be called. Again, I think this had something to do with the room type you book. We proceeded down the stairs and went thru customs. The night before they give you a form to fill out. You have to put down everything you bought tax free and answer a bunch of questions. This is where you turn them in. It took about 15 minutes in the line. It was less of a hassle then I thought. Once out, porters were everywhere and one approached us and helped us find our luggage. He put us by the curb where the taxis come up. Getting a taxi is a little crazy because people are almost about to fight over them! But we got one after about 15 minutes. After all this, I'm sure I left a lot out. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me :) We had a wonderful time and are already planning our next cruise! Bon Voyage!    

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Dec 27, 2003

Tampa - Grand Cayman - Cozumel - Tampa

My wife and I found this website to be tremendously useful before we set sail on the Sensation. In that spirit, here are a few comments that we would like to share. This was our second cruise with Carnival. Our first cruise was a 5-day on the Fantasy. The Fantasy looked exactly like the Sensation. Overall, we concur with most of the information that was provided in previous reviews. We enjoyed our cruise and would recommend it anyone looking

for a "cheap" alternative to vacationing in the Caribbean. Transportation: We flew into Tampa. Completely agree that taking a taxi is the best way to go. The taxi ride cost approximately $20 and was a breeze. Bring some $1's to tip the porters at the pier. They will definitely remind you if you forget! Embarkation: Make sure you register ahead of time (> 2 days) online to receive your Fun Pass. This will save you time when you arrive during registration. We forgot to do this, and it caused us additional delays. We definitely recommend that you arrive as early as possible. We arrived at 12:00 and the lines were very small. As we waited to board, we noticed that the lines became longer and longer as departure time approached. Overall, Carnival did a good job with boarding. pretty good shape. Just like the Fantasy, the ship is ridiculously decorated in the most cheesy 1970's colors that you can imagine. Since both of our cruises have been on essentially the same ship, we don't have a difference in opinion. The layout seems to work well. Most of the activities and bars are located on one deck. The public bathrooms are woefully inadequate for a full ship of passengers. The bathrooms often became "run down" with the high amount of traffic in the evenings. If you want a ship that exudes "elegance" then don't take Carnival. Overall, the ship was clean and met our expectations. Rooms: We stayed in the back of the ship on U deck in U241. Our window actually faced out the rear of the ship. We specifically chose the very back based upon a number of comments that we read regarding the "noise" of kids, etc. running down the hallways. We highly recommend the back! If you don't mind walking, the back was very quiet and we were never disturbed during the trip. The size of the room was good. The room steward did a great job of keeping the room straight. We recommend you bring a clock from home. Carnival does not provide one. Also, there are a limited number of power outlets, so you might consider an adapter that transmits the one outlet to three, or a power strip of some sort. Overall, the room was good. Dining: Kids - go for the early seating. No kids - go for the late seating. We sat at the late seating in the Ecstasy Dining Room and enjoyed it very much. There were hardly any kids, and we had a great time with our dinner guests. Don't worry about the entertainment, Carnival runs shows for both seatings. Overall, the dinners in the main dining rooms were great. We personally didn't care for the buffets served in the Seaview Bar and Grill. The Seaview tended to serve food that we were not familiar with. Most of the time, we opted for a burger and fries by the pool for lunch. The 24 hour pizza was O.K. It was much better on the Fantasy. Room service was good, and always served on time. Cheap Vacation: Yes, a cruise is relatively cheap compared to some to the all-inclusive resorts we have stayed at in the Caribbean. But, one thing the Cruise does do is "nickel and dime" you to death! The only free drinks are water (not bottled), lemonade, apple juice, tea, and coffee. Everything else cost $$$. And, here is the kicker, cost ridiculously more than you should have to pay. $2.50 for 20 ounce Coke. That is twice what a price gouging gas station would charge! $3.25 for a beer. Etc., etc. You get the point. If you are not a person who drinks soda or alcohol, good for you. If you are, make sure your credit card balance has a high limit! You will ring up a tab quicker than you will ever possibly imagine. And, every time you order a drink, you are automatically billed a "recommended" 15% gratuity for the waiter. Ports of Call: Since I am a scuba diver, the ports were excellent. The diving at Grand Cayman and Cozumel was spectacular. I used both of the dive excursions through Carnival instead of trying to do it on my own. Using Carnival's dive excursions cost a little more, but they guarantee that the dive operators will get you back in time before the ship leaves port. The stay in Grand Cayman is too short. Cruise ships in Grand Cayman cannot dock, so you are forced to use a tender to go back and forth. Needless to say, traveling with 2,500 anxious guests makes for some long wait times for the tenders. I waited for over 1 hour in Grand Cayman to board a tender back to the ship! The line is especially busy within about an hour of the ship's departure. So plan accordingly if you don't want to wait. The stay in Cozumel was much better. We had plenty of time for me to dive and still go out and see the area. If you are a diver, Cozumel is a must. The reefs are absolutely spectacular! Time of Year: After reading some reviews, we knew that there would be a lot of kids. And the reviews were correct. If you travel during the holidays when schools are out, expect lots of kids. We would estimate that over 75% of the ship's passengers were families. Overall, the kids were not a problem. Carnival seemed to do a great job with the young ones. We never had a problem with older kids either. But, don't plan on partying at the Disco as the kids took it over from day one. Even though our cruise ship was packed solid, we never felt overly crowded. The top decks do get crowded for sunbathing. But, we never had to wait in long lines for the buffets. For the shows, Carnival runs all of the main entertainment twice for both early and late dining groups. Thus, the shows were never too crowded. As for the weather, the first and last day (sea days) were cool. It probably got into the mid 70's during the day with blustery winds and cooled off into the 60's at night. Bring some warm clothing for these days. The weather in Grand Cayman and Cozumel was gorgeous. We had low 80 to mid 80's both days. Overall, we enjoyed our cruise and would recommend it to someone looking for a good value.    

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Dec 27, 2003

Western Caribbean

EMBARKATION Carry-on luggage has to be extremely small. I especially bought a roll-on that had a cross-section of 11"X17", and I had to check it because Carnival personnel outside the passenger entrance (Tampa Terminal) said it was too large. I noticed that back packs generally made it through with no problems. Before you go into the terminal, have a Carnival employee check your baggage tag with your cabin number on it. He will check your

name off a passenger list and stamp your baggage tag. Then hand your luggage to a porter (tip for each bag) and it will be delivered to security and hours later to your cabin. Fill out your Fun Pass paperwork on-line before you get to the Port of Tampa. My cabin partner didn't do that so we had to wait in a much longer line; make sure your entire party fills out the Fun Pass information and brings the information sheets to the passenger terminal. The next thing will be to show your picture ID and a credit card to a very efficient and friendly Carnival embarkation officer. A Sail and Sign card will then be issued to you showing your name, dining table number in a specific dining room and time of seating. It will show your cabin number, ship name and sailing date. The next thing will be a stop where your photo will be taken and entered into a computer along with your Sail and Sign card. This card is your credit card for on-ship purchases and your pass to leave and return to the ship at the ports of call. We left the Port of Tampa on schedule, and the trip out to the Gulf of Mexico was beautiful. THE SENSATION SHIP It is a huge ship and takes some time to get the layout down. I took the steps (16 between each of the 11 levels) most of the time and got lots of exercise. An important thing to do is look at the ship diagram given to each passenger and take the correct stairway or elevator leading to the part of the deck you want to go to. Passengers can't walk from one end of the ship to the other (bow to stern) on any given level, so you have to walk down the hallway on the level you are on to an elevator that goes to the section of the level you want to go to. Lots of walking is available and usually necessary if you are an active passenger as I was. One suggestion I have for Carnival is to mark the various levels more clearly for passengers who use the stairs. Also name the various levels from bottom to top with names in alphabetical order, A to K; many passengers remarked that the present system was confusing. Take your motion sickness pills; that huge ship moves quite a bit, but doesn't disturb the great experience. CABIN R-164 ON THE RIVIERA DECK, THE LOWEST ONE Our cabin steward, Collin from India, had a genuine friendly smile and manner and made us very welcome. His staff did an excellent job cleaning the cabin and preparing it each day for the night's sleep. The cabin is roomy enough for two, not too cold or noisy if your cabin partner doesn't open the roof top vent too much, and has a very nice toilet, sink, and shower. The shower controls were the best and it had a very nice hand held shower head on flex-tubing. Hot water was plentiful, but the pressure was low. The bed was absolutely wonderful. I slept better there than I do in my king-sized bed at home. I only regret I didn't tear it apart to see what mattress they use. Since we had an inside cabin I thought I would need a flashlight for those trips to the head when the lights were off. There is enough light coming under the door to allow walking with no main cabin light on, then you need to turn on the bath light. GRAND CAYMAN ISLE We anchored close to shore and transferred to the shore on motor launches. It was more fun than just walking down a gang plank. Six huge cruise ships were in the harbor along with us, very interesting. Watch for the left-hand-side drivers there. It's a good place to buy alcoholic beverages at bargain prices. At the good beverage stores they will take your ship name and cabin number and see to it that the goods are delivered to your cabin the night before arrival back at Tampa. You will have no access to the booze before that time. COZUMEL, MEXICO We landed here at a pier, no launches needed, just walk off the ship. There is a very clean, modern shopping area directly adjacent to the port. Take a taxi to town for $6.00 per load for more genuine Mexican shopping and cuisine. We ate at Pancho's, and shopped in the adjacent shop; both were very good. You can do the bargaining thing at most of the other smaller shops; 50% of the first price is where you must start. I liked Cozumel better than Grand Cayman. We didn't do any commercial excursions in either place. I noticed a fairly large gunboat cruising in the harbor, but since it had no obvious flag I didn't know whether it was Mexican or American. I took a picture of it. FUN DAYS AT SEA These actually are not boring at all. There is plenty to do, and it is interesting to just find a quiet place on the ship and watch people or the beautiful sea, and we were filled to capacity (2500 passengers including 600 children and 900 crew). People were well behaved, and to my surprise the percentage of out-of-shape persons was well below that experienced elsewhere, perhaps less than 1%. I have a high cholesterol problem and had a heck of a time keeping to my diet. In fact I dumped the diet for 5 days and loved it. The on-stage entertainment was family oriented and enjoyable. The singing and dancing acts were competent G-rated Las Vegas type shows. I personally liked the magician the best of all the entertainment and would liked to have it greatly expanded to perhaps 1 1/2 hours. FOOD The Ecstasy dining room was beautiful. The waiters were fabulous, and the food was usually very good. Our table companions were very nice people. These were people that in the real world would be numbered among our friends. The formal night was just beautiful, and I was happy they didn't dump overboard those of us who wore a sport coat because we don't own a dark suit. I guess one could have rented a tux, but I gave up uniforms after leaving the Army. The food in the Seaview Bar & Grill was usually excellent also. It was an excellent place to eat breakfast and lunch or snack any time of the day. The vege pizza was good at the Pizzeria. I probably ate 3 times as many calories on that cruise as at home and maybe gained only 1 pound due to the amount of walking and stair climbing. I am glad I didn't have my cholesterol checked at the end of the cruise. Many reviews mentioned the fat-free frozen yogurt. I ate my share, but rate it for quality as follows. The Costco stores have a fat-free yogurt sold in their snack bars that is absolutely the best; it's a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. The Carnival fat-free yogurt is a 3; maybe they can work out a deal with Costco. DEBARKATION This was efficiently handled by Carnival, on time and no problems . BOTTOM LINE I guess I can sum it up by saying that I am homesick for the Sensation ship and crew and will always remember the cruise as a pleasant experience. One of the most important considerations when considering a cruise is to base it on the ports of call and know that the basics on the ship (food and cabin) are top notch.    

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By Russ_CR

  • New

Nov 15, 2003

Western Caribbean

Overall the cruise was AWESOME. We took the Carnival Destiny in May of this year. Destiny is newer and larger but we actually liked the layout of Sensation better. The decor was a bit outrageous but we got used to it. Room: The room was comfortable. Showed a little age with the bed linens but was very comfortable. We had an oceanview on the Empress deck. Compared to an inside cabin the room is the same size just ..... has a window.

Food: We did not care for the buffet dining, it was often cold and not that great. The dining room was always good though. The Pizza is wonderful and 24 hrs a day! You have to wait though for specific pizzas which was fine with me. Entertainment: Well we hung out in the disco every night. Had a blast! The horse race was a must do. Talent show was ok. The "legend" show was fun. They ask for people on the ship to volunteer. The vegas style show was great. They cancelled our last show because the sea was rough. Stability: Well we didn't get ill but the last day/night was pretty rough. They said 10 ft. waves and we definitely felt it! Lots were ill. We heard that she was going into drydock to work on the stabalizers. PORTS: Grand Cayman: We used Native Way Watersports (look them up online). They picked us up where we arrived on the island. Then snorkeling with the stingrays and a small reef. The guides were AWESOME! We saw a morey eel, lobster, and tons of stingrays! Lots of life on the reef. GET THIS: WE ONLY PAID $25 PER PERSON for the tour. The ship charges lots more! Cozumel: Well someone got ill onboard so we had to turn around and go back to Grand Cayman and we arrived on Cozumel 6 hours late. Kind of bad because we only had a few hours of sunlight. We took a cab (which is right when you get thru the shops at the dock) to chakanaab park. Its decent, just snorkel off the beach. $10 to get in. We had our own snorkel gear. We really wanted to go to Tulum but didn't have time. We then went to Carlos and Charlies for a drink. Was fun but no where near as much fun as the Carlos and Charlies in Aruba. OVERALL IT WAS AWESOME. Out of 3 cruises this was the most fun so far! Can't wait to go again. Carnival does such a great job to keep you entertained!    

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By Kim_CR

  • New

Sep 19, 2003

Western Caribbean

This was my first cruise and I found this website to be very helpful to me in setting expectations. I would like to add my 2 cents to on this cruise. Room - We originally booked an ocean view room through Travelocity.com and about 2 weeks prior to sailing, I went back to the website and noticed that the prices were cheaper than we paid. We called Travelocity, and they were really helpful in giving us a few bucks off, so with that, we

decided to upgrade to a suite. Now, by all means, this was not necessary, but I saw the very grim pictures of the staterooms on the internet, and because we had a 2 year old and assumed we would be spending a little more time in the room than the average person, we thought the upgrade was a good idea. This is what I didn't quite understand - in a hotel, if you get an upgraded room, your amenities, or quality of service is usually at a premium as well - on the cruise ship - not the case at all. The actual deck where the suites are located (the only suites on the ship) are mixed in, directly across from the cheapest rooms on the boat - interior upper/lower bunks. So while we expected better cabin stewards, etc, we were 4 feet from the 18 year olds that scraped $250 of allowance to get on the ship – which in not necessarily a bad thing, but when reading about noise in the halls at night, we were concerned. Our cabin steward was very nice, although I am not sure that she was the greatest - there were plenty of things we did not get/see. I never saw any Tums that other reviewers mentioned. We did not have any tags to hang on the door for privacy, to order breakfast, etc. We did not get our luggage until several hours after the ship sailed – this was an issue when I had diapers, sippy cups, etc in the luggage for my toddler. We had a vcr in our suite – which I am not sure if they are in all rooms, or just the “special” ones – either way, I am not sure why they are there. They don’t offer any video rental and they don’t even have videos for the kids, so we didn’t get to utilize it. The first day onboard, I was feeling “under the weather” – FYI – take Dramamine at least 2 hours before getting on the ship. Because of my illness, my husband took my toddler to dinner, while I tried to sleep off the illness. The cabin steward came in while I was sleeping to put our beds together, and because she walked in on me, she didn’t leave the Carnival Capers paper (the very important newsletter of activities going on the next day. Because of this, our first day at sea was a little messed up since we missed a bunch of activities and didn’t really know what was going on. We never received a toddler life vest – we asked 3 times, and on the 3rd day, our cabin steward told us they didn’t have enough onboard. This was really annoying to me, especially since I only counted about 10 toddlers – as a matter of fact, Camp Carnival, the children’s program, told us repeatedly how low the enrollment was, there just weren’t very many children on our cruise. It seems the cruise ship doesn’t care if the little ones drown in the event of an emergency. Food – the food was okay to good– the food in the dining room was the best on the ship, with room service being second (although the only thing you can get from room service is sandwiches – the grilled veggie one is excellent). We chose an early seating, 6:15, and we missed dinner a few times – the children’s program closes during certain hours, and we didn’t want our “terrible two” year old to disturb dinner for a lot of people. I suspect other cruise ships have better food and more options; we only had the buffet, dining room, or room service. I think the food in the buffet is better than the dining room when it comes to breakfast – same French toast, etc, except with smaller portions. The only difference was the eggs benedict – you couldn’t get that at the buffet. Activities - The ship had a lot of activities, there was always something to do. The thing that really confused me the most was the lack of clocks onboard, and the lack of “signs” in front of the lounges, etc. If you did not wear a watch or carry your newsletter with you each day, you would never find anything or know what’s going on. Julie McCoy was not announcing all the activities over the loudspeaker, and if she were, it doesn’t come through in the rooms. I didn’t think it would be unreasonable to have some sort of daily activities posted. If would be nice if as you were passing the showrooms, etc, you could see what was scheduled for the day in that room. We did not even have a clock in our suite – the night we were in Cozumel, my watch stopped unknowingly and we missed dinner and a whole bunch of things before we realized the correct time. The bingo games were a complete rip-off - $20 for 15 minutes of bingo – one game to be exact – and the did this more than once a day – I am sure this is where Carnival makes their money. Excursions – in Grand Cayman, we took the 7-mile beach excursion – basically a trip to the beach at a beach club. Carnival charged us $19 per person – which included a beach chair and a free drink. We got on a bus to get to the Colony beach club – the first thing the driver says is that for those of us that didn’t already buy tickets, here are the options – we did not get any options – only the Colony – he then says it costs $8 to get in – so now I am perplexed at the difference in the price. When we get to the beach club (which is another story), chair rentals are $3.00 and the “drink list” of what we can get for free is crap – we ordered Pepsi, and it took me 20 minutes to get them and I had to order them 3 times before someone got them. So I figured that either my Pepsi was $8 or Carnival made a few bucks on the deal. FYI – don’t go to the Colony if you decide to take an excursion – it’s small and it does not live up to the description Carnival gives you. We also took the beach excursion in Cozumel – to Playa Sol – that place was a thousand times better and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get off the ship and feel like you are staying in a hotel resort while in port. Overall, the cruise was nice and I would definitely go on another – next time I would probably decide to go on a newer, bigger ship that can offer better rooms and more dining options. I would make sure that the boat is equipped to save my child’s life with a preserver, or I would bring my own. I would bring my kid’s videos, I would take my Dramamine early and I would bring a clock, and I will definitely bring a credit card with a lot of credit – the sign and sail card bills really add up quickly – ours was $700 and we don’t drink – at all – I never expected that at all.    

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By T. _CR

  • New

Aug 22, 2003

Grand Cayman and Cozumel

We left from the port of Tampa. The boarding process was not to difficult but my luggage didn't arrive at our room until almost 9 that night. The room was a very nice size with a good view. The first day was a full day at sea. I will talk about the food first. It was mediocre at best. I had 2 fairly good things the whole trip. The lobster tail one night and the

Pumpkin soup. In Grand Cayman we didn't do any of the boat excursions I had booked one online with another company called Capt. Bryan's Snorkel Tours. www.cayman.org/captainbryan  I must say this was a great decision. We walked about 2 blocks to their office from the pier and they took us and the other 10 people to their boat. They had a very nice VW bus to transport us all there on. The boat was beautiful it was a very large Catamaran. We arrived at Stingray Island and I was immediately very satisfied with the fact that we hadn't gone with the boat excursions. There were so many people on the other boats that it could not of been fun. We had individual attention and the guys were so nice. After Stingray City they took us snorkeling not to far away. I had never been before and it was beautiful. I highly recommend this excursion as it was also cheaper than the ones on the boat. That night we watched the juggler perform he was very good. The nightclubs are all right. I think are main complaint was the parents who just let their kids go nuts with no supervision. I mean these were some ill mannered teenagers. The crew was wonderful though everyone we spoke with was so friendly. The boat does shake a bit when the engine is going depending on where your room is. The next day we were in Cozumel. It is a wonderful place for diving and snorkeling. It is also a beautiful place. I must say though the Bahamas are much nicer. If you need a suggestion I would recommend skipping Cozumel. The last day we could of done without we were bored, and tired from the hard bed. The boat was also rocking a bit. Not enough to make you sick just enough to give you a headache.    

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By Norm_CR

  • New

Aug 3, 2003

Cozumel, Grand Cayman

This was the second cruise from my wife and I, and the first for our children. We stayed the night in Tampa so we may arrive to the port as early as allowed. We arrived to the check in area about 11:00 AM (waited maybe 5 minutes). They started the boarding process at 12:00 we were the second group called. So far, I find the staff very helpful and friendly.

By 1:00 we found our room and are having lunch at the Sea view Grill. We attended the Camp Carnival meeting. The meeting was informative and we were able to "check out" a pager used on the ship if the staff needs to contact you. We took our 3 year old (Tommy) down to CC to check it out and of course he didn't want leave. It's a long ride out of Tampa Bay, and to my disappointment we were in the dining room when we passed under the large bridge. Carnival gave us an early seating with another couple that had a 2 1/2 year old. Tommy and Dominic quickly became friends. I must say that the Dining Room staff was nothing short of excellent. Vigor, our head waiter was just awesome. He knew what the kids liked and disliked by the second day, and was very efficient. We never waited or asked twice for anything. I saw my room steward 1 time the entire cruise. I like it that way. We did not order room service at all. A 3 and 11 year old eating in the room is inviting disaster! On Grand Cayman we caught a cab on our own and went to 7 mile beach. Much cheaper then buying the excursion on line. In Cozumel, we went to Chankanaab Park and Beach. Prepare for at least 5 hours there to see everything in the park. For the divers, I walked up to a shack on the beach and for 35.00 I got all the equipment and a dive master for a 1 tank dive off the beach. Nothing fancy, but, just what I needed. This ship DOES rock a little and had some vibration in it (we were Main AFT). I think the Camp Carnival Staff is outstanding. Tommy had a hard time leaving during shutdown times. Cody (our 11 year old) said he wasn't participating in allot of the stuff, but, we caught him doing the dance class and Karaoke. LOL All in all we are pleased with Carnival again. I think the staff greatly made up for the fact that this is a smaller ship (compared to the Destiny) Yes we would sail Carnival again. Most likely on a different ship. Mainly for the fact of seeing other ships.    

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By Tim_CR

  • New

Jul 16, 2003

Western Caribbean

* For first time cruisers (or naïve parents) * If you're looking for a detailed, step-by-step review including embarkation/debarkation, food, etc. click another review - this one is strictly a warning for the parents. I'm a 17 yr old male. What do 17 yr old males think a lot about? Booze and Babes. There are plenty of both on most cruises. Now if you're cool with you 14 year old drinking 50 proof and your 16 year old getting laid,

then all is well, but if you tend to be on the naive side, don't be fooled - it's hilariously easy to get plenty of booze and whatever else you want. Where do we get it? A couple options: * On ship – with 2500 people on board, how can there be enough enforcement? Now, a 16 yr old guy I hung out with got a warning for chuggin a Bud in the club, but that’s the only time I saw any enforcement the whole time. * Ports of call – This is pretty obvious. Anyone, save my 8 year old sister, will be able to get a buzz in foreign ports (this obviously is not the Line’s fault). All I’m saying is to be prepared. Talk to your kid before, and use your head while you’re on the ship (i.e. checking his/her room periodically). They’ll thank you when they’re older.    

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  • New

Jul 11, 2003

Western Caribbean

This cruise was the best! The ship was beautiful and did not look 10 years old. The food was EXCELLENT! The cabins were very spacious. We were only in Grand Cayman from 7am-2pm but by the time you tender over, it is actually from 7:45am-1:15pm. We only had 20 minutes to shop. The ONLY complaint that I had was The Sting Ray Shore Excursion. I thought that we would be taken to a beach area where we could walk out into the water and swim

with the stingrays. NOT THE CASE! We took a 20 minute rise out to the MIDDLE of the ocean where the 3-4 feet of water turned out to be 5-6 feet deep. I could not touch the bottom and the waves were tremendous. I actually thought that I might drown. I grabbed onto my husband and had him take me back to the boat. The boat was rocking furiously and I sat there for 30 minutes with TERRIBLE motion sickness and dry heaves. There were also about 20 other boats there and the fumes were pretty bad. Two other persons in our group also got sick on this excursion. My husband said it reminded him of a scene from "Jaws". I did complain to the Information Desk and they took it off of our bill. Every other aspect of the trip was great. Cozumel was great too. We took a cab to Chakkanaab National Park. The admission was $10 per person and WELL worth it. They have a nice beach area, showers, gift shops, 2 open air restaurants, etc. You could spend an entire day there. Tips: Take bottled water with you and refill it when you need to. Take a travel iron with you, but do not let them see it. In Grand Cayman, do EITHER a shore excursion or shopping. There is NOT time to do both. Relax and have a great time!    

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  • New

Jun 8, 2003

Western Caribbean

There was two of us in a cabin, my sister and I. It was the most awesome trip I have ever been on! The food was excellent (except the rolls at supper) they were hard every night, but everything else was great. Everybody waited on you like you were queens or kings. the rooms were big enough for 2 people. We went to the Cayman Islands (beautiful) and we went

to Cozumel Mexico where we snorkeled and went on the Catamaran sailing then to a beach party. We don't drink and had a wonderful time anyway. There is allot of alcohol on the ship but no one bothered you at all. I would love to go on one without alcohol but I don't know if that's possible. Your waiter and waitress knew what you liked from your first day and would have everything for you before you were ready to eat. The food was great and the desserts also. The bathrooms were large enough and we had no complaints about anything. My sister made our reservations with a travel agency and they have every detail down to the tee! If anyone would like to e-mail me about our cruise I will answer any questions about our trip. My e-mail address is meemaw@nctc.com . I would highly recommend this cruise to anyone with no doubts. I cant tell anyone enough how awesome they treated you. My husband and 2 sons will most definitely go on this cruise with me soon. If you didn't go off the ship it would still be worth it. They also love taking pictures of you and whoever is with you. You can go pick out the ones you want everyday. I spent about $200 dollars on keepsakes and quiet a few pictures. If you drink alcohol then you will spend allot of money on booze. The cokes are as high as the alcohol. They have orange juice, apple juice and coffee all the time to drink. I had 1 coke in a collectors cup and that was 5 bucks but worth it. Hope you take this ship, you won't regret it!    

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  • New

May 30, 2003

Western Caribbean

This was may first cruise and I have mixed feelings about taking a future cruise after this experience. I will review this cruise in the order of events by day. Day One: Embarkment: It took us right at one hour to get from the port gates onto the ship. I found this to be rather quick considering we had to pick up our boarding documents at the will call booth, as we had booked this cruise only one and one half weeks earlier. I found the

embarkment staff to be courteous and helpful. The rest of the day was spent finding our room, attending the mandatory evacuation drill, and exploring the ship. Our room was an interior room on the upper deck, which was a pleasant surprise considering we had booked an interior room on the Rivera deck two floors below. The rooms were more spacious than I had expected and the room service team kept the room spotless the entire cruise. The beds were comfortable though not very spacious. The bathroom was clean and we had hot water the entire cruise. They provide cokes, sprite, and bottled water in your room for a pricey $2.50 per bottle. You can also buy a coke card for unlimited sodas during the cruise. Adults $30 and kids $20. We had read reviews prior to our cruise and knew to bring our own soft drinks. Tea, water, juices, milk, and coffee are free of charge. The ice bucket in our room was always kept full by the staff, which was unexpected and appreciated. There was more than enough shelf space for my wife and I to hang and store our clothing. They also provide, free of charge, toothpaste, soap, razors, and tums. The rooms (cabins) are one area that Carnival has obviously strived to do well in. The evacuation drill lasted about 30 minutes and was no big deal. Remember to take your life jackets with you, as they are in your cabin. The rest on day one was spent walking about the ship and trying out the food. The food was good throughout the cruise. The best tasting food is at the sea view grill where you will find hamburgers, hotdogs, fries, and the like. The 24 hour pizzeria is located in the buffet area behind the grill and was a major disappointment. It tasted like a frozen pizza to me, though a friend who was on the cruise seemed to enjoy it. The buffets were average at best and was no better than your typical Shoneys buffet. We ate in the main dining room on this night and found the food to be average. I ordered the New York strip as my main course and it was pretty good, though fatty on the edges. I quickly learned that if you are not ordering ( and paying ) for alcohol during dinner then you are not a top priority. My wife and I had to ask our servers twice for refills on water. This was in contrast to being told by other past cruisers that the dining room team would be tripping over themselves to keep your glass full. We ended the night by sitting on the upper deck and watching the ocean as we ate ice cream from the buffet room, which was delicious. DAY 2: This was a "fun day at sea". We quickly noticed just how many kids and teenagers were on this cruise. Granted we should have expected it, being school had just let out for the summer, but I was still surprised. My wife spent the day laying in the sun while I hit the casino and lost $100.00 dollars. The casino staff was very nice and helpful. The casino had a nice variety of games, including three card poker which was a pleasant surprise. Other games included craps, roulette, blackjack, let it ride, and the slots. Dinner that night was in the main dining room and was the only formal night on the ship. This was the Captains dinner. I ordered the prime rib and it was very good. My wife ordered lobster but decided it was not for her. I ate it instead and found it to be rather tasty, as I had never ate lobster before. The remainder of the night found me back in the casino and losing another $100 dollars. That would be my last night of gambling. DAY 3: This was the day we visited the Grand Caymans. The ships can not dock on the island so you have to board a boat from the ship and travel to the island. This was not a problem. We arrived on the island at around 8:30am and grabbed a taxi to take us to the beach. We went to seven mile beach and found it quite and beautiful. At about 10:45am we headed back to the port and walked through the various shops in the area. The merchants were rather unpleasant in my opinion and so were the high prices. We took a boat back to the ship at around 12:30pm and felt rather disappointed with the Grand Caymans. We opted not to take an excursion here and were told that Stingray city was great. We departed from the Grand Caymans at about 2:30pm and spent the rest of the day eating and relaxing. A few of the teenagers on the cruise were annoying at times but nothing horrible. If we had only knew that this was a sign of things to come. DAY 4: We arrived at Cozumel around 10:00am. This was the highlight of our cruise. We immediately grabbed a taxi and headed into town. Upon our arrival we found a local who sold snorkeling tours of three hours. We decided to go and he advised it was $35 per person. We quickly got him down to $30 per person and were on our way. We had a great time with this tour. The snorkeling in Cozumel is the best in the world. Our tour guide, who spoke little English, was fantastic and took us to three spots along the east side of the island. The fish were beautiful and some were AS long as I. Afterwards we were given Corona in bottles to drink and the tour guide even let us off within two blocks of our ship, saving us a taxi ride. We then went back to the ship to shower and change clothes. We then went to Ponchos backyard for some authentic Mexican food. The food was great but stay away from the green salsa. It was the hottest I had ever eaten. We then caught a taxi back down town. Taxi rides from the ship to downtown is six dollars one way for up to four people. Very cheap. We then shopped for hours and enjoyed the vendors and their tactics to sell you something. We quickly learned to never take the first price they offer you. We found that most of the vendors will come down at least 40 percent on their goods. The exception to this is the shops on the main strip which pretty well stick to their original prices. Get off the main road and there you will find the deals. We boarded the ship at around 7:30pm and took in a show. It wasn't Vegas style but was rather entertaining for an hour of you time. The comedians on this cruise were hilarious. We never went to the R rated comedy shows but the clean shows were hilarious. The midnight buffet on this night was a Mexican theme and was horrible. It was possibly the worst "Mexican" food I had ever eaten. The ship also moved allot during the night due to a storm at sea. It was hilarious to watch the intoxicated people staggering from side to side down the walkways. The teenagers and college kids got a little rowdy on this night. Some of this was obviously due to the alcohol they had consumed in Cozumel. It did not appear that the bars in Cozumel checked ID's very well. One girl was so drunk that her friends had to bring her onto the ship via a wheelchair! We also played bingo that night, which is a ghastly $20 bucks for three cards. Carnival will "nickel and dime" you to death. They also automatically add about $50 bucks per quest onto your sign and sail card. You can adjust it as you please but the process is rather long and frustrating, which I am sure they plan it to be. DAY 5: The last day was a "fun day at sea". By this time I was ready to get back to Tampa and head for home. This was also the day that things went downhill. The teenagers and college kids were wild. I saw kids jumping down stairways, sliding down the hand rails, screaming, using profanity, and basically being rude and annoying. We ate in the main dining room that night and had an enjoyable dinner. I ordered a beef sirloin with mashed potatoes and gravy. It was delicious. After dinner we listened to a comedian and watched the guest talent show. It was a blast and the comedian was super. We decided to get to bed early that night but I was awaken at 12:30am and 2:30am by kids running and screaming down the hall. I opened my door once and saw a teenager ( he looked to be 17ish) screaming to a group of teenage girls " I smell a bunch of bitches around here!". He then ran towards me and up the hall. This type activity lasted well into the morning. I kept asking myself, where is the security staff I had seen onboard all week? It also appeared that the carnival bartenders had also decided to take kids word that they were 21, as I observed many kids drinking that appeared to be under 21. I can not prove this but it appeared that way to me. All and all a miserable last day to an otherwise decent cruise. DAY 6: We arrived in Tampa during the night and were in the Fantasia lounge for department at 8:30am. Our color was called at 10:20am and we left from the ship. We found our luggage quickly and were outside waiting for shuttle before 11:15am. Overall I would rate this cruise a 6 out of a possible 10. The positives on this cruise were the room service staff, cleanliness of the ship, onboard comedians and activates, and Cozumel. The negatives were the rowdy high school and College kids and the "nickel and dime" techniques used by carnival to get you to spend more money. I would cruise again but not with Carnival. If you have kids then this is the cruise line for you. They seem to cater to families and have plenty of activates for kids to enjoy. Otherwise I would recommend trying another cruise line. Things I learned: 1.Bring your own soft drinks. 2.Take a alarm clock. 3.Take a travel iron but do not let the staff see it ( said you could not take one onboard). 4.Take enough clothes to last the entire cruise ( $12 bucks to get one small bag of laundry cleaned and folded by room service). 5.If you order room service, they expect to get tipped ( food is no extra charge). 6. 15% gratuity automatically added to all alcoholic drinks (non adjustable). 7. Plan on spending double what you expect to on the cruise ship, they will get it from you.    

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By L. _CR

  • New

May 7, 2003

Western Caribbean

I am a single Mom with two children ages 12 and 14.We booked our cruise with Carnival 3 weeks prior to leaving. Not thinking other kids will be in school was a mistake. Not so many kids on board to hang with for my two. But they had a good time anyway. Camp Carnival filled in on a few nights for my 12 yr. old. Really not a whole lot going on with them as there were very few kids. Boarding was very easy and smooth going. I was disappointed

they didn't have a reception area as we got on board to greet everyone as RCCL had. We found our room and it was bigger than I expected. The bathrobes they mention were not offered nor was a blow dryer!! Lucky I brought my own. The hallway carpets were in need of a good scrub but all in all the ship was very clean. The crew was not as friendly as I expected especially our head waiter , "David" . I opted for the buffet after one horrible evening of service with him. The dining room food was okay but not wonderful as was the buffets. The spa was wonderful as were the shows.  Bartenders could have taken a refresher course in being friendly and smiling more. They all seemed to act like they were not wanting to be there which caused me to be uncomfortable at times. The excursion we took was snorkeling without the beach party. It was very nice but sure wish the boat was newer . Besides being bit by baby jelly fish we had a good experience .I never got to meet my room steward as he never bothered to come and introduce himself. RCCL`s crew all introduces themselves and you knew all by the time you left the ship. This one, I new no one but David because he was terrible. And I put a complaint in. It was my kids first cruise and my 3ed. I am planning another in Oct but will not go on the Carnival cruise again in the near future.    

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By Mary_CR

  • New

May 1, 2003

Western Caribbean

First and most important to me was the food. I was told so many times by fellow cruisers that the "cuisine" on any cruise was amazing!! Personally, I cook better than what I ate on this ship, not that it was horrible afterall; it's always nice to have someone else cook once in a while. Everyone told me that you could have anything you wanted anytime, not true in this case. Room service was hard to get thru to and usually never came when

it was ordered, example.... coffee by 7:30, if and when it did come it was after we left the room, tired of waiting for it. Yes you could get continental breakfast (whoop de do da) but anytime we called no one even answered, so we ended up eating the same exact breakfast and lunch every day. The dinners were ok I guess, but still, I cook better than what I ate, and my husband agreed. The rooms were kept clean and beds were made and put down at night with a cute little something or other made out of towels. No real complaints there except they never replaced the water or ice. Excursions were wonderful although Grand Cayman was only about 6 or 7 hours, that was very disappointing. Cozumel was a whole day from 10am to 10pm which was better but I've been to Mexico numerous times and it usually always the same in each town. They should make the beautiful town of St. George a longer stay over. The ship itself being about 13 years old wasn't horrible, it just reminded me of older Las Vegas, you know, the disco kind of colors and shimmers. Over all I would do another cruise maybe, hopefully on a new ship this time.  

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Apr 5, 2003

Western Caribbean

This was my 6th cruise, second on Carnival. It was a Spring Break treat for my girls, ages 9 and 13. Embarking We got to the ship at 11:30, waited in line for 15 minutes and were told to wait in holding area until #4 group was called. We followed couple in front of us, gave the fellow our info and he pointed us toward sail and sign machine, where we got pics and cards. Then, the lady asked , "which wedding party are you with?" OOPS!

We were in the wrong area, LOL. She told us to sit tight and they'd call us- very nice people here! After wedding party got on board, general boarding was started at 12:30 and guess who got on first?? LOL! The new LINDA method for early boarding! Still laughing. Riviera deck inside cabin. It was fine. Leonardo kept it clean, complete with towel animals nightly. Carnival supplies toothpaste, shampoo, razors, tums gratis. Nice touch! Ship This is the ugliest ship, alas. Purple walls, halls decorated in various shades of purple, fuschia, mauve, orange and green. Orange cabins. There is a sewage smell in rooms and in halls. Later, we find that that smell is masked by cigarette smoke in the halls, in front of elevators and all through Sensation Boulevard. I could barely use the internet cafe because it was surrounded by smoky bars. People even smoked in the non-smoking sections of this ship. I had lung problems by the second day which still are present the second day home. It was an older ship, showing the wear, but it was kept clean constantly. The exercise room had 7 treadmills and signs disallowing running on them. What's a runner to do? NEVER have seen this. There was a "jogging track" above that, but unless you're a hamster would go crazy doing some 22 laps to a mile. There were free weights, but we were crowded together trying to use them. Machines were Keiser resistance-types and I didn't like them. Pool area was busy first day at sea, and we never got a chair. Second sea day was better. The 2 bars couldn't handle drink orders- only 2 bartenders and it took 25 minutes to get a vodka/tonic. I went to inside bar and took my drink to pool. We loved the ice carving display and enjoyed the "Hairy Chest" contest, because of some good-natured types who took the fun ship attitude to heart. The staff was wonderful in getting people to participate. We enjoyed the reggae band around the pool- not great musicians, but good entertainers with lots of energy. Dining We were assigned late seating, but had it changed on second day. George "The Greek" was the most enjoyable Maitre'D I've seen! We shared a table with a couple from GA with a 5 yr old son, her mother and aunt.Lovely people. We all compared dishes and honest opinions. Our waiters were Vigor from Phillipines and the lovely Laura from Latvia. They were excellent! Food was disappointing. Lobster was done very well, but other fish dishes were overcooked. I rarely eat meat, but had beef twice as it was the best-prepared meat. The Beef Wellington was a bit tough, but the sliced sirloin was tasty. Kids had Tom Turkey which was quite good. Soups were good- especially the Minestrone and Gumbo. A little different than the originals, but at least had some flavor. The food overall was very bland.The singing waiters were fun for the kids. The dining room has a metallic ceiling with neon bulbs and colored background lights. It seemed quite garish to me. The Seaview Bar and Grill (buffet) was also metal walls, ceilings and metal chairs which at times were COLD. I didn't like the atmosphere at all. We ate outside one morning, but people were smoking on non-smoking side and it was blowing in our faces and nobody would stop them. The food here was standard- pizza 24 hrs, ice cream plus a salad bar and 2 buffet lines. Hamburgers , hot dogs and french fries by pool. The salad bar had only one lo-fat dressing all week. No variety per se- salads mayonnaise-based. Vegetarian dish one day was Pasta Alfredo- NOT a healthy choice. Only one day did they have a vegetable curry, which was good. Omelets were available at breakfast, but no salsa for eggs or cottage cheese or stewed prunes as they offer on RCCL. They need to add at least one bean/grain dish for vegetarians. I thought the Jubilee had better food, surprisingly. Entertainment I can't review this thoroughly, as my kids were with me and I didn't club it much. They used a lot of "midi" (pre-recorded tracks) in piano bar and in one show room. The piano bar was filled with college kids; I had no desire to go in anyway. We enjoyed the swing band at Captain's party- this is where Carnival does it right! They walked around with drinks and hors d'oeuvres and we enjoyed hearing from the Captain and Cruise director- who did splendid jobs. We went to both shows in the Fantasia Lounge;" Hey Mambo" and the "Party" show. We enjoyed both very much. I'm a musician, so I tend to be critical. One thing, I heard a male solo voice, but never saw him. Was it pre-recorded? It was difficult to see from almost anywhere in the balcony. Very poorly designed.The lead female was very good- she covered a variety of songs. We went to the "Feud Game" and the game shows and enjoyed them. Jen, one of the entertainment directors, was darling. My kids insisted on Bingo, and though I'd rather spend money elsewhere, I obliged. It was a bit of fun! We enjoyed the magician and the comedians as well. Ports: Grand Cayman. We went to Coral Gardens and Stingray City on 2-hr 8:30 am tour with Capt. Marvin's (my second time). We barely made it , as the ship was late running tenders. Get down there early! Once again, they were superb. Only 14 people on the boat- much better than ship's "sardine-boat" excursion. Kids loved the rays; especially loved snorkeling where they saw eels, mantas, barracuda and assorted fish and coral. I made them wear a life vest, and am glad I did..they didn't get tired and I didn't have to watch them constantly, which is tough while snorkeling. Cozumel. We took the ferry to Playa del Carmen and taxi to XCaret on our own. What a great time we had! Spent over 8 hours here and wanted more! We swam in the underground river, which wasn't nearly as cold as reported. I'm a swimmer and I can tell you temperatures within 2-3 degrees accuracy! They said 62 degrees, but it was at least 70. My kids loved it. Try not to follow a group, but get in by yourselves for a relaxing float. The butterfly farm, the aviary, and all the other attractions were so entertaining for my little nature lovers. The paths are quite shady and tropical-we didn't get overheated, though we walked at least 5 miles. We enjoyed the cove for swimming and playing in tubes. Very calm water- good for any age. I managed a good swim here. The snorkeling isn't much- some rocks, not much reef. A few fish. We saw a few "ruins" and enjoyed seeing the village where they displayed folk arts and crafts and wove fabrics, ground corn, etc. I really enjoyed the buffet lunch ($19) at their largest restaurant...it was tasty and spicy! Delicious..I was craving some flavor. We didn't get back to the ship till 8 o'clock- glad I had a big lunch because I couldn't find one thing on the buffet that was good. Debarking We had brown tags, and were called at around 9:30. We filed down steps from Lido Deck with LOTS of people smoking at every level- literally blowing it in our faces. The man behind me said, "this is worse than a bowling alley!" I coughed for 15 minutes. Sped through luggage area and customs and headed back to lovely Tampa airport , the most efficient place in the USA. Wish more ships could cruise from here. Summary We knew there would be lots of kids and expected good and bad. Many of them were running wild through the halls screaming at 2, 4 am. It disrupted my sleep. Parents? Security? There were quite a few mullets, tattoos, Nascar shirts and beer bellies. Not quite your ballet and opera crowd, LOL. However, we met lots of nice people on the ship. Except for some kids and some very rude smokers, most people were polite and well-mannered. Most observed the dress code, but there were some in shorts in dining room nightly. The staff and crew on the ship were excellent. Our weather was perfect- we only felt movement on last night, and it wasn't bad. If I ever cruise with Carnival again, it will be on the smoke-free Paradise or maybe one of the brand new ships. My experience with Royal Caribbean has been better- but I admit, I'm spoiled by the mega ships. I would hesitate to recommend this ship to some people, yet I had a good time. I have been as honest and thorough in this review as possible. If anyone has questions, feel free to write me at LLindaC@aol.com.    

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By Jay_CR

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Mar 31, 2003

Western Caribbean

My wife and I are from the Chicago area, are in our mid-40s, with daughters 15 & 12. This being our first cruise, we wanted preferably a value and a 5 day, which is why we picked the Sensation. Embarking: At the port of Tampa, we arrived at 11AM for a 4PM sail, and we were none too early, unless you wanted to wait forever in lines. We had made sure we had all the proper paperwork filled out beforehand, which speeded things up. When

we arrived, the Sensation had JUST docked (4 hrs late) after fighting headwinds up the Gulf, and someone said that a lot of the crew and passengers had gotten seasick. Great, just what I wanted to hear. Anyway, by noon we were through the line & in a large holding area, and by 1:30 we were on the ship. Immediately we went to the Lido Deck to the Seaview Bar & Grill to the buffet, which was comparable to a fair Vegas buffet. We were hungry however, and were satisfied. At 430PM, just before sailing, they had the lifeboat drill, a mandatory thing that took about 30 minutes, and Carnival really has their stuff together there. In fact, the whole Carnival staff was very organized and upbeat throughout. We had basically a day & a half at sea before arriving in the Caymans, and we certainly felt the residuals of the winds the previous cruise had felt in the Gulf of Mexico. The boat rocked quite a bit, but it seemed to me that by our cabin being on the Riviera deck, the lowest on the ship, we didn't rock & roll as much. Up on the Lido deck, getting food or coffee or whatever, it was swaying a lot. Our cabin was fine--we had read that Carnival gives great value & size on their rooms, and we were not disappointed. For four of us, as long as we kept organized with dirty laundry and such, it was fine. The bathroom was larger than expected, medicine cabinet large--great for holding 4 people's 'stuff'--, shower fine, BUT the towels I thought were substandard. Come on, give us non-sandpaper towels, please. Ship food: The sit-down dining consists of oval and round tables of 8 or 12, and we got to meet some nice people, and get their perspective on the ship. In fact, a couple with a 3 year old girl said that although there were parts of this cruise that drove them up the wall, the Camp Carnival thing for young kids was stellar & fantastic. We wouldn't have known that otherwise. Breakfasts are only fair, same menu every day, one would probably get just as well at the buffet up on the Lido deck. Lunches were better, and dinners were a notch above that. Now, I don't really know what I was expecting going in, but rating the quality of the food, especially dinners, I would liken it to a good banquet/wedding reception meal. Good food, certainly not world-class. Soups were very good, salads a bit wilted, and entrees tasty but not hot enough for me. One night I had rack of lamb, then beef wellington, then tilapia, the seafood newburg. They had the maddening habit of bringing ALL the courses out at once and serving you one at a time, so you could basically see your entree (with a plastic top on it, to try and keep the heat in) sitting there while you're having the first two courses. That drove me nuts, but maybe it's just me. The coffee was chicory-laced in the dining room and bitter, but great up on the Lido deck, where coffee, soft-serve ice cream & nonfat frozen yogurt (VERY good), and pizza was available 24 hours a day. Go figure. Grand Cayman: Very disappointing. we had scheduled an online stingray tour, but because of the winds our ship arrived two hours late, so we missed it and in fact the ship-sponsored stingray tours were cancelled as well. So, for the 4 hours we had, we waited and took a 15-minute tender to the pier (Cayman has no docking facilities for cruise ships) and got off. We walked around a little, and forget shopping--VERY high prices. We found a little cafe and had fish & chips and shrimp & chips, which were tasty but at $10-12 apiece we weren't in Kansas anymore, we were on a British island where everything was going to cost bucks. Then we took a cab to Seven-mile beach, and paid $8 apiece at this crowded 'beach club' to sit there for about 90 minutes and swim a little. Then we took a cab back to the tender pier--they said you had to be back on the ship at 1:15 for a 2PM sail, so we got back to the pier at 12:30--there must have been 300 people in line, and we finally got back on board right at 2:00. At this point we're wondering what everyone sees in cruises. Cozumel: Phenomenal. I had done some research online, and found that Mr. Sancho's Beach Club, about 10 km down the beach road, was clean, nice and not too crowded, as opposed to paying fees at Chankanaab and other closer beaches. So we took a cab there & arrived at about 11AM. We walked in and immediately a waiter leads us to a table with umbrella and chairs right by the crystal-clear blue water, right in front of the thatch-roof, swing-chaired bar. We sat, had him bring a bucket of beer and some appetizers, and RELAXED finally. It was beautiful, drinking Sol beer, hearing nice Mexican music in the background, watching the girls get their hair braided and kayak around in front of us. For an order of ribs, potatoes, chips & salsa, guacamole, and 8 beers the bill was $36. I considered that a steal. After about 4 hours there, we showered inside their bathhouse (inside but not private), then took a cab into the main town, San Miguel. The Cozumel cabbies are nice, the rates are posted and regulated I think, but they drive like maniacs, mostly with broken speedometers. 115 km/hr is fast on a 2-lane road, right? So we had the cabbie drop us at La Choza, a restaurant I had read about. But it was still early, so we did some shopping. It was the typical tourist fare, lots of tee-shirts and aggressive (but not mean) storekeepers. I bought a bottle of anejo (aged) tequila at one of the few stores that sold booze, but he said that because alcohol prices are nationalized they could not negotiate--oh well, paid $45 for a bottle that would cost me $80 in the US. Then we ate at La Choza, which at 6PM was nice, quiet, open-air, and served up great fajitas and chicken in mole sauce. Not super cheap, but we weren't expecting that--it was about $10 per entree. Even the mariachis came over and played Sabor A Mi, my favorite traditional Mexican standard. From there we shopped a little more and went back to the ship. This day was truly a highlight of the cruise. That was Thursday night. Friday was a day at sea again, but it was beautiful weather, and much of it was spent outside by the pool. Oh by the way, unless you're between the ages of 10 and 16, don't even think of using the one small pool this ship has. It was rowdy--many children in there. But I was content for the most part sitting in the shade drinking good pina coladas and playing gin with my daughter. The other good thing that happened was the casino. I hadn't expected a dice table on the Sensation, but there it was, $5 minimum which was fine. Only thing was, out of 2400+ people, I'll bet only 20 people played craps at all--most of the time the table was empty. But when I played, I did not lose often and ended up banking about $450, and had some of the best runs I've ever had. Oh also, the Internet Cafe they had allowed me to keep up via EMail with family and friends at home and work--for 2 hours online I spent $48--not bad. at all Debarkation: We had an early plane back to Chicago (8AM docking and a 1230PM flight) and Carnival allowed for this, but saying that anyone whose flight was before 1PM could debark first. That was VERY nice and we were on our way to the Tampa airport by 9:30. Overall, I would take a cruise again, but maybe I'd spend more money per person (paid $525/person this time) to get a little higher class of everything. And now that the kids are older, my patience level for small children and teenagers that roam the ship unaccompanied is low.    

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Mar 3, 2003

Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise ever; actually it was our first time flying too. I went on this cruise for spring break with a friend of mine. Some things turned out as expected and others did not. We read numerous reviews before we went and now I would like to share our experience with others. Embarkation We set sail from Tampa, FL on Monday, March 3, 2003. We arrived at the port around 1:30 – 2:00. Getting onto the ship was a breeze.

There were a lot of people there, but the lines moved pretty fast. I suggest having the information in the booklet Carnival sends you filled out before you go on your trip. This will save you a lot of standing in line once you get there. Once we got on the ship, there was a guy standing right in the doorway telling us where to find our room. Piece of Cake! Rooms The rooms were pretty much what we had expected; small and a little out-of-date. However, they were clean!!! Our room was on Riviera deck # 207. This means we were at the very back of the ship on the very last level. This is not a good place to be. Whenever the boat docked or the propellers started/stopped turning, we heard loud noises. From 4:00am till 6:00am on the way back to Tampa, we heard awful noises that were impossible to sleep through. Food/Beverages There is definitely no shortage of food on a cruise and this was no exception. You can eat at any time of the day or night if you would like. The thing that surprised us the most is that carnival is interested in quantity, not quality! The food, though there was plenty of it, was tasteless and cool when it was supposed to be hot, and warm when it was supposed to be cold. Even the food in the dining room was not at all what we were expecting. Alcoholic beverages on the ship were expensive, but they didn’t skimp on the alcohol and they were good sized so it all evened out. The ship specials (there is a new one everyday) were usually what we went with and were always happy with them. Bottled pop is somewhat expensive, but you can drink fountain pop for free in the Seaview Bar and Grill so we just always did that. You could purchase a pop card for around $30, but we didn’t think it was worth it when you could have fountain pop and juice for free. Entertainment The shows on the ship are great! Go to the comedians and be sure to check out at least one late show, they are definitely worth it! They also have Bingo several times throughout the day/night. There was a comedian/magician one night that was excellent. I wish I could remember his name cause he would be worth seeing again! Grand Cayman This is a very beautiful island, but you are not there long enough to even begin to be able to see the things you want to see. We were only on the island for about 3 hours by the time you tender into port and back to the ship. I would suggest just sitting at a beach and doing a little shopping. If you book a stingray tour, you may not be able to do anything else except that. Some people’s tours were cancelled because of a mix up between Carnival and the booking place. You would think they would have tours pretty uniformed for all the years they have been in business. Cozumel This is where I would suggest doing the majority of your shopping. Things are cheap and there is a hug variety to choose from! You are on this island almost all day so don’t worry about not getting time to do things; you have plenty of time. Debarkation We got back into Tampa around 7:00am. Our group was to meet in the Kaleidoscope room and we were to be the 8th group to get off the ship. We switched rooms because we were hoping to get an early flight home. We went to the room that was getting off first and got right off the ship. We had all of our luggage and were off the ship in about 3 ½ minutes. Piece of cake again!!! Odds and Ends The “Fun Days at Sea” are not exactly fun by Friday. You get bored of sitting in the sun and listening to talks from your ship director. We were very ready to go home after we knew we were not going to be stopping at any more islands. The sun is totally different in that part of the world than anywhere else. Be sure to wear sunscreen even if you are a person who doesn’t burn a lot. Also, drink lots of water. That is all the motherly advice I have. The pop that is in your room the first day you get there is not free. If you do not want to pay for it, do not drink it. Be sure to check the sheet that displays the activity on your sail-and-sign card. Mine had an extra shore excursion charged to it that was not mine. All you have to do it take it down to the information desk and they will straighten it out for you. Tips Bring hangers, wrinkle release, air freshener, underwater camera, good walking shoes, something to read, CD player, lots of sunscreen (including the spray stuff for your scalp), and leave a little extra room in your luggage for the stuff you will bring home.    

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Mar 3, 2003

Western Caribbean

First I need to start by saying that I felt obligated to write this because this site and others reviews helped me immensely! This site made my first vacation go very smoothly. Embarkation: We arrived at the port at 11:30 am (perfect time). The lines were very small and you are able to get a seat. Our boarding number was group 3. They started boarding at 12:30 and we were on the ship by 12:50. As I have read in other reviews, locate

your room, be sure to have a change of clothes with you in your carry bag. The next thing to do is find your way to the Lido deck and dig in to what will be your first of many wonderful buffets. I know your thinking as I was; I want to explore this beautiful ship but trust me there will be time for that. There were no lines at the buffet and a wonderful table on the deck. As you walk out on to the deck it all begins. There is like 7 servers with trays of tropical drinks in a souvenir glass. Rooms: Our room was located on the main deck. We had a room with a window, which was perfect. I wouldn’t recommend any thing less and no need for anything more. The rooms were very spacious and so was the bathroom (surprisingly enough). Our room steward, Pat, was awesome. She was very helpful, in and out of the room like the wind. Oh and the towel animals were cute to see each night. The beds were extremely comfortable and the climate control in the room was great. Dinner: We opted to have dinner in the dining room (Ecstasy, late seating) which was fun. I especially loved the formal night; everyone dressed to a tee! We didn’t care for our assigned table and met up with a group of ladies, changed to their table and had a blast. The food was very elegantly prepared and not nearly as tasteless as others have reported. It is not 5 star, but close to 4 star meals. The menu changes nightly with a nice variety of foods. You can have as much as you want. If you ask your waiter nicely they can more then likely bring you an entrée served the night before (if for some reason you don’t find that night’s menu appealing). Lunch: We ate at the Seaview lounge on the lido deck for lunch. It was buffet style and the only real waiting there was if you wanted a burger. It didn’t make much sense to waste any part of a beautiful day sitting in the dining room eating lunch. The staple food each day was burgers, hotdogs and french fries. The other dishes changed from chicken parmesan, to beef stroganoff and a variety of salads. The desserts were very elegant as well, blueberry cheesecake, key lime pie, fruit tarts and banana cream pie are just some of the selections. Drinks: The drinks were very moderately priced. A mixed drink is $3.50, $6.25 if served in a souvenir glass. And, no they are not watered down you can taste the alcohol in them. The 15% gratuity was added to each drink. At first I was a little unsure about this but the servers and the bartenders were all great and deserved that and more. The wine selection at dinner is impressive, there must have been like 200 different selections in all price ranges. Grand Cayman: We decided to go snorkeling with the stingrays at Stingray City. We opted for the 10:15 excursion. After a little confusion as to where we were suppose to meet to take this excursion. Once we finally located our group we walked to a group of buses, then boarded and were off. When we arrived, the boat that was to take us to the sandbar was about 15 minutes late. Once it finally arrived an ambulance pulled up and a lady was taken from the boat. Apparently she had accidentally stepped on stingray and had gotten its stinger in the foot. Well this scared a lot of the our group me including but it stopped no one from getting into the crystal clear blue water. Cozumel: We did this stop all wrong. We decided to go into town and do some shopping and then just explore. After some time the haggling got to be old and we were tired with half the day left. Hint: When you dock go through the duty free shopping area on the dock. It will give you an idea of what you will find to buy from the shops with the right price! We then ate at the Crazy Pelican and called it a day. All in all it was great. To do again we would choose to just explore Grand Cayman, because of the time limit. In Cozumel we would do an excursion and then shopping. Debarkation: It was as if the ship didn’t want us to leave. They send you color tags when you get your tickets. Ours was red but it turns out they should have been pink. No big deal, until they call color tags to get off the ship and pink is the first, red was the last! Other then that no real problem getting off. The whole process was only an hour and a half and very understandable. Carnival gets 2 thumbs WAY up. We will be trying out the funship Imagination next year. Hope this review has helped.    

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Feb 22, 2003

Western Caribbean

A wonderful time overall for a family of 5. Background Let me introduce myself so you’ll get some perspective on where I’m coming from as you read this review. I’m a 44 yr. old male living in Wisconsin working as a customer service manager. This was my third cruise. The first with a family of 5. My wife is my age and my children are 7, 9 and 15. I borrowed the format of this review from another review on the ship so thanks to

that lovely lady for making this easier for me. Arrival in Tampa, February 21 We decided to arrive in Tampa the day before so we would be rested and ready to go. This turned out to be a good idea as the weather on the East Coast was terrible and a number of people were delayed getting to the ship. Our departure from Tampa was almost 3 hours late due to the need to wait for passengers still coming in from around the country. While I planned our trip well in advance I found Tampa to be quite expensive in hotel prices. Even rooms in lower level hotel/motels were around $100 a night. The upper tier properties were averaging around $200. Being on a budget this was an important cost for us. I did find that most Days Inn properties offered free shuttles to and from the airport and cruise port. This saved us around $100 in taxi costs. I’m still not sure this savings made up for the poor rooms the two properties we stayed at offered. Embarkation at Port of Tampa, February 22 We arrived a the terminal a little before 2 p.m. and really had no problem with boarding. Remember to fill out the documents Carnival sends you before hand. The first floor of the terminal was full of people completing the forms prior to being let upstairs for check-in. I also found out that there is a difference between an original birth certificate and a certified copy. I did manage to get on board with my certified copies, but the lady checking us in made a bit of a fuss that I only had certified copies. Check-in is when you get you Sail and Sign card. My first idea was to pay cash (no surprise bills later), but on board Carnival allows no cash (except gambling). Everything is put on your Sail and Sign card which is linked to one of your credit cards. They do offer a cash deposit option, but I am not sure of the specifics on that program. See my comments on debarkation for more about the Sail and Sign card (not good). Our cabin was E40 which was quite an upgrade from our original purchase of a cabin on the lowest deck. When I booked the cruise I went with the guarantee option. This basically means you don’t pick your room at time of booking. Carnival assigns you a room just prior to sailing. I was told by the Carnival rep who I booked the cruise with that “usually” Carnival will upgrade early bookers to better cabins still open and then sell the lower priced cabins at last minute discounts to ensure a full ship. They would rather give a better room to a full paying guest than one shopping for last minute discounts. You are guaranteed a room at least on your original floor, but you have a chance to be upgraded. The gamble worked for us very well. Since I was at the lowest level/price room I had no where to go, but up. And up we did 5 floors. A nice surpise. The cabin seemed small even though I was expecting as much, but we all fit in well with out any bumping into each other. My wife and I had our beds put together to make one big one. My two little ones slept on beds that folded down from the wall and my oldest son had a roll away. If you are to spend a lot of time in the cabin this may be too little for too long. However for us we only used the cabin to sleep, shower and change clothes. After checking out our cabin, we headed up to the Lido Deck where lunch was offered for boarding passengers in the Seaview Bar & Grill. The food was what you would expect. It had the basic hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, etc… During lunch hours they also served two other entrée options of a little more substance. The Seaview Bar & Grill also offers pizza 24 hours a day. While there was always some sort of line it went quickly. My kids loved this option as well as the 24 hour ice cream. It took almost a full day to get used to the layout of the ship. Once we did, however, it was pretty easy to get around. I’ve read reviews that tore apart the décor of the ship. I personally didn’t see the problem. Yes it is loud (colorful) in places and yes the main atrium is a bit tacky, but this is a cruise ship not a Four Seasons hotel. It is meant to be fun, loud and exciting. The Ship I’ve also read that the Sensation showing its age a bit at nearly ten years old. I also didn’t find this to be true. I don’t recall seeing any trash at all in the public places. I got up each morning for sunrise and each time the entire ship was being scrubbed from top to bottom by an army of cleaning staff. For a ship that has probably seen more than 1.5 million people come through its doors I think it is in remarkable shape. Being with kids I didn’t have a problem, like others have mentioned, with the number of children on the cruise. There were quite a few children on board, but the Lido deck was patrolled by a couple of nice security men who reminded people not to run or not to bring glass near the pool. Camp Carnival This is a program offered to kids aged 2 to 15. To be honest my kids weren’t too interested in attending full time. They went to certain programs that catered to their likes (arts and crafts) and sense of adventure (treasure hunt). I know the counselors were great every time we stopped in. They were very friendly and helpful. My kids just preferred to spend their time in the pool or with us participating in shipboard activities. Food, Glorious Food We ate most of our meals in our assigned dining room. We figured we could get a buffet anytime, anywhere. We wanted to let our waiter pamper us for the full five days. Some of the food was outstanding, especially the soups and deserts. Some of the food was good, most main courses. Some of the food was just ok, salads, but none of the food was bad. Every meal offered at least something to truly enjoy. My teenager tried a variety of foods from escargot to mussels to soufflé. The wait staff was great. He made a note of every request our first night and we didn’t have to ask for “special” items ever again. He knew what type ice cream to bring for the kids, how I liked my ice tea and when to bring coffee for my wife. If there was anything on the ship that merits 4 stars the dining room service does. Service Our cabin steward did a great job. His name was Aneesh. The ice bucket was filled twice a day, and our beds were turned down in the evening with a chocolate on the pillow. Every night when we came in he had made a different towel animal. The first night it was a cobra. On the last day we asked him to stop by and teach my daughter how to make a towel animal. He did so graciously and this was one of the highlights of the trip for her. Activities The Cruise Director, Lenny Halliday, was upbeat and energetic. Part of it was his dry, British delivery that made simple things sound funny. Everything he was involved in was very funny especially one night when he had to fill in for a comedian. He told a story with a great deal of audience participation that had people literally rolling in the aisles. We attended 2 evening shows in the Fantasy Lounge and thought that “Hey Mambo!” was the best. I was very surprised to see how much production they were able to put into a “cruise ship” show. The house band at the shows was outstanding. They were able to perform everything from Sinatra standards to modern Latin jazz effortlessly. There was also a magic act with was just ok and a midnight “R” rated comedian that I thought was more “X” rated. I am not usually put off by things like this, but there was something unnecessary about his language and subject matter. Maybe it was the fact there was plenty of early teens in the audience of maybe he just wasn’t good enough to pull it off, but this comedian seemed to be pushing to far. We watched and participated in a number of other activities such as bingo, the casino, a game show, trivia contests. I even won first place in the hairy chest contest. I still don’t know if the medal and bottle of champagne was worth the humiliation of my shirtless dance in front of a hundred plus people, but I can’t say it wasn’t a little bit fun. The staff photographers got to be too much after a while. Once coming out of dinner there was a long line to exit. It turned out one by one we had to pose with a "show girl" as we left the restaurant. Leaving the ship in Cozumel we had 5 photos to take. I finally just wouldn't stop anymore. But, I will recommend the photo lab on the ship the cost for 24 exposure was $8 for same day developing and the developing was as good as professional camera shops I usually go to. I tried the ship developing once to ensure some pictures came out and decided to let them to all the work from then on rather than carry my undeveloped film through airport screening. Ports of Call Our first stop in Grand Cayman was canceled due to high waves. The tenders couldn’t get in to shuttle us to and from the island. I guess this happens quite a bit so I am not sure what Carnival keeps in on its itinerary. Could it be because we are all trapped onboard for another day which means more bar bills, casino play and shopping? Carnival was nice enough to credit $25 per person for the missed port so we ended up with $125 credit. Cozumel was beautiful as I expected. We were there all day (7 a.m. to 9 p.m.). We spent the morning at Chankanaab Park snorkeling and exploring. This was the best. The water was great and full of fish that come right up to you. The park is full of iguanas. On a walking tour through the jungle which was full of examples of Mayan ruins we came across a older man and woman who were making tortillas in a replica of a Mayan house. They shared these with us explaining their nine children were all grown so now they volunteer at the park so they can show their culture to visitors. We went back to the ship for late lunch and a break from the sun. That evening we hit downtown Cozumel for some shopping and a beer at the town center (La Plaza). One down note would be that Cozumel seemed to be the drinking stop for most people. That night returning to the ship and on the ship we saw more drunken behavior than I can describe fully. Again I am not a easily offended, but the language and obnoxious behavior (fights, crying, groping and throwing up) was too much. It was embarrassing because the shop keepers at the dock watch it all and this is not the kind of impression I like for others to have of the U.S. Debarkation We got our copy of our Sail and Sign bill on the last night. I was very disappointed to see several incorrect charges on it. While it was relatively easy to get corrected it was still disturbing. When you use your card they don’t swipe it they simply right down the number. On a busy ship like this there is way too much chance for error and that held true. We probably had $40 in incorrect charges on our bill, including a charge for soda in our room that we didn’t touch. Like I said the purser’s desk took the charges right off, at least I hope so since I haven’t seen my charge card bill, but the fact there was incorrect charges was disheartening. From the looks of the line full of people holding bills I don’t think I was the only person with this trouble. I had a relatively small bill and every charge is itemized so it was easy for me to spot a problem. I can’t imagine how some of the big drinkers with 5 or more pages of charges were able to decipher it all. Debarkation was orderly. You are assigned a color code and then a waiting area. When your color is called off you go. We picked up our color-coded bags in the terminal and turned in our declarations to Customs. Customs asked no questions and didn’t seem too interested in our debarkation. It took all of 5 minutes to get off the ship once we were called. All in all this was a great cruise. My kids want to go back immediately.    

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Feb 3, 2003

Western Caribbean

Cruise Line: Carnival Sailing Date: February 3rd, 2003 Tampa Terminal- Plenty of porters curbside to whisk luggage away the moment it's unloaded from auto. Overnight parking in multi-story parking garage short walk from terminal for $50 prepaid. Embarkation process- Very much resembled herding turtles. Multiple security and identity checks. Once through the check-in process, boarding is accomplished by number. Riviera deck was number

9. Entire process took 2-2.5 hours. Lifeboat drill- This mandatory drill is uncomfortable to say the least after enduring the embarkation process. But, we donned our life vests and climbed 6 flights of stairs (no elevators during drill) to the Lido deck for 45 minutes of instruction and sweating in that vest. Accommodations- We had an ocean view stateroom on the Riviera Deck. Found room very spacious and cabin stewards and staff extremely helpful and efficient. Still don't know how they managed to get in the room several times a day to clean and turn beds down without ever disturbing us. Only complaint, bathroom had terrible odor and door had to be kept closed. Same problem all rooms. This was not a cleanliness issue as the room was impeccable. Dining- We preferred the food selection in the main dining room. Great selections for all three meals. Service was exceptional and food quality very good. Dress casual except formal for Captains dinner. Shore excursions- We took glass-bottomed boat in Grand Cayman and found it very reasonable ($29) and enjoyable. Don't leave Cayman Island without trying Tortuga Rum cakes. Took tour to Mayan ruins at Tulum ($79) in Cozumel. This was an unforgettable experience but not for the individual who dislikes structured tours. In Cozumel, you take a ferry to mainland Playa Del Carmen. Then bus to Tulum via a jewelry factory tour. Entire trip about 8 hours but still time to shop and sightsee in Cozumel on return. Debarkation process- Again, very long due to heightened security alert. Ship docked about 6AM but Customs did not allow debarkation to begin until after 10AM. Overall- Loved the cruise. Days at sea was our favorite. Weather was cool out of Tampa but upon waking second day after steaming south all night the weather was utterly fantastic. Carnival gets kudos for putting together such a happy, friendly and enjoyable crew. They made the trip unforgettable.  

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Jan 21, 2003

Western Caribbean

Rain, rain and more rain. That pretty much sums up our 4-day cruise. My sister and I sailed on Carnival’s Sensation from Tampa to Cozumel Dec. 5-9, 2002. We are probably the only 2 people on record who’ve gone on a Caribbean cruise and never put on a bathing suit! But at least we didn’t have to deal with the Norwalk virus. And the rain didn’t stop us from eating and playing bingo. Background Let me introduce myself so

you’ll get some perspective on where I’m coming from as you read this review. I’m a 50 yr. old female living in Tennessee and working as an urban planner. This was my second cruise, my first being a 7-day Alaskan cruise on Holland America. My 45 yr. old sister, who’s a restaurant owner in Virginia, accompanied me. It was her first cruise. This itinerary and this cruise line would not have been my first choice. But you can’t beat the old group rate! I belong to a traveling walking club that sponsored the trip. There were 35 of us onboard. You may be asking yourself what cruising has to do with walking. As originally planned, the itinerary included a day in Key West. We were going to do a 10 kilometer walk around Key West that included the southernmost point in the continental US. Our tour director was notified a few months before we sailed that Carnival was changing the itinerary (still don’t know why) and our only port would be Cozumel. We had the option of canceling but we all said “what the heck” and went anyway. As I explained to my sister, there are worse things that can happen to you besides having to spend an extra day on a cruise ship. Arrival in Tampa, December 4 We decided to arrive in Tampa the day before so we would be rested and ready to go. Dec. 4 turned out to be a terrible day in terms of weather, and an omen of what was in store for us during the entire cruise. An early winter storm was making its way thru Tennessee and then on to Virginia and North Carolina. Forecasts showed freezing rain in Tennessee during the morning rush hour and over 6 inches of snow in Virginia later that afternoon. My sister and I both had to go to Plan B. She got up at 3 AM and drove to her local airport and was able to go standby on an earlier flight to Dulles in Washington, D.C.. I got up at 4 AM, called my friend (and driver), and headed out to the airport. The ice never materialized in Tennessee but if the temperature had gone 1 or 2 degrees lower, the interstate would have been a skating rink. My sister beat the snowstorm that hit Virginia and was waiting for me in Tampa when I got there. Travel Tip – To avoid hassles at the airport security check-in, make sure you put all of your “implements of mass destruction”, such as tweezers, nail clippers, manicure scissors, razor, etc. in your checked baggage. We checked into our motel early and visited a new upscale mall in Tampa called International Plaza and ate dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. December 4 would be our last day of sunlight. Embarkation from Port of Tampa, December 5 We took a cab to the cruise terminal at Pier 2. Our motel was near the airport and the cab fare, including tip, came to $15. The Sensation is an imposing sight as you approach the pier. A porter was there to take our bags and he directed us inside the terminal. We arrived a little before noon and ended up in boarding group #4. The lines to process were long (the Sensation’s passenger capacity is over 2,000) but moved fast. The Carnival employees working at the counter were friendly and helpful. We picked up our Sail and Sign cards and room keys and then waited for our boarding group to be called. Travel Tip – Pack pants, shorts, and dresses with pockets, as you’ll need to carry your Sail and Sign cards and room key with you everywhere you go. As we sat waiting, I checked out our fellow passengers. What an eclectic group of people! All different ages and backgrounds. Given that it wasn’t school break time, I was surprised at the number of school age children. The cruise terminal itself is basically a warehouse. In an attempt to make it look more nautical, they sprayed the overhead girders with some type of substance to try to make it look like barnacles. Pretty strange. Once onboard, we found our cabin, #238 on Empress Deck aft (back). If it were anymore aft, we would have been in the water! We were tucked in a corner, which worked out fine in terms of no one disturbing us, and there was hardly any foot traffic. Our cabin was a Category 6 Oceanview stateroom, which meant we had a window, not just a porthole. My sister pointed out to me that according to the Carnival cruise brochure, we were in the highest category of outside cabins, not counting suites. Our tour director told us the “upgrade fairy” had visited us. A week or two before sailing, the cruise line offers unsold cabins at bargain rates so they can fill the ship. They give the bargain cruisers the inside cabins on the bottom decks and then push everyone else up. Travel Tip – You may want to bring extra clothes hangers with you, since I found them to be in short supply. There were no hangers with clips to hold pants and skirts. Don’t take up space in your suitcase with a bathrobe. Carnival supplied us with white terry robes. After checking out our cabin, we headed up to the Lido Deck where lunch was offered for boarding passengers in the Seaview Bar & Grill. This would be the only time we ate a meal in the Seaview. The food was what you would expect at a buffet-type venue. I tried a slice of pizza from the 24-hr. pizzeria and thought it was tasty, especially the crust. The pizzeria is handy if you need a snack between meals, especially if you have the late dinner seating. They also had soft-serve ice available most of the day, and hot off the grill hot dogs and burgers. We didn’t try the burgers but people who did said they were good. And you could always get tea and coffee. After lunch on the Lido Deck, we explored the other decks and familiarized ourselves with the layout of the ship. The system of staircases and elevators can be confusing and the first day or so I kept hitting dead ends, sort of like the game Chutes and Ladders. I found myself walking from end of the ship to the other, trying to figure out a way to get to the deck I wanted. It was good exercise, if nothing else. We were supposed to leave the pier and have our Sail Away Party at 4 PM. We were out on deck and ready to go when a fog bank rolled into the channel. The harbormaster radioed our captain and said that we couldn’t sail until the fog lifted. We finally left the pier at 10 PM. I was looking forward to sailing under the bridge and out into the Gulf of Mexico but it was too dark and too late. During the time that we were stuck in Tampa, the casinos and duty free shops had to stay closed. They weren’t allowed to open until we were 7 miles outside of Tampa. The Ship The Sensation is nearly ten years old and in my opinion, in good shape. Both the interior and exterior were constantly being cleaned, swept, scrubbed, polished, and painted throughout our cruise. I expected the ship to be rather “glitzy”, but some of the decorating and color schemes left my sister and I a bit perplexed. For instance, the trim in our cabin was a metallic red, but the carpet, bedspreads, and chair coverings were a muted pastel pattern of pinks, oranges, and blues. There was a corner light that was so ugly my sister refused to let me turn it on! The atrium was attractive (sort of a neon blue, purple, and pink Las Vegas style) but the Christmas garlands, featuring red and green plaid bows, clashed with the overall theme. I missed having a continuous outside, covered wooden deck that was unobstructed for walking. There was a small track on the Sports deck but it was generally too windy up there to walk for any extended amount of time. We were also surprised at how small the swimming pools were and that as big as the Sensation is, there were no retractable covers so you could use the pools during inclement weather. Then there was the problem of children monopolizing the hot tubs. Do parents not understand that a hot tub isn’t a kiddy pool? Food, Glorious Food As I mentioned, we only ate once on the Lido Deck. Since my sister owns a restaurant and has to wait on people for a living, we decided to take all our meals in the Ecstasy Dining Room and be the ones getting waited on. After all, that’s part of what you’re paying for. Even though Carnival is thought of as a “budget” cruise line, I was favorably impressed and gave the food an “A” rating. It was every bit as good as what I was served on Holland America, both in terms of quality and presentation. Some of the dishes that stood out included: West Indian roasted pumpkin soup (sounds weird but was absolutely yummy), broiled tilapia, rack of lamb, broiled lobster tail (formal night), and grilled black tiger jumbo shrimps. One day at lunch, we ordered fried calamari as an appetizer. It was the most tender, tastiest calamari I’ve ever eaten. No small feat when you consider how many people they’re cooking for at one time. My sister had a Mongolian Beef salad that she said was the best thing she ate on the entire cruise. And let’s not forget dessert. Everything I had, from something as simple as lime sherbet to chocolate layer cake, was scrumptious. One night we shared a Grand Marnier soufflé. That was a new treat for me and how they do individual soufflés for hundreds of people is beyond me. I couldn’t make a soufflé for one! The Eggs Benedict at breakfast were a special treat. The poached eggs were cooked but soft. Again, not easy when you’re serving so many people. The head chef on the Sensation is Indian and it was interesting how he wove some of the spices and flavorings from that cuisine into the dishes, without it being overpowering. Service Our cabin steward did a great job but we never did get his name. The ice bucket was filled twice a day, and our beds were turned down in the evening with a chocolate on the pillow. Every night when we came in he had made a different towel animal. The first night it was a cobra. Our dining room server was Marko from Croatia. Service was spotty. A big part of the problem appeared to be his assistant server (from Slovakia), who was still in training, and the cocktail server (Romanian), who didn’t have enough proficiency with English to be waiting on people. Marko ended up being frazzled because he had to do their work as well as his. They seemed to be a hindrance rather than a help. I was almost expecting a mini Balkan war! The Cruise Director, Lenny Halliday, was upbeat and energetic. Part of it was his dry, British delivery that made simple things sound funny. I caught the end of the Newly Wed and Not So Newlywed game and he did a great job as moderator. Activities I attended 2 evening shows in the Fantasy Lounge and thought that “Hey Mambo!” was the best. Good singing and dancing. Sort of a Las Vegas revue, with thong-clad dancers wearing big headdresses and high heels. Played bingo 4 times (didn’t win anything) and my sister hit the casino a few times. Enjoyed the Caribbean band on the Lido Deck. My sister opened an account at the Internet Café so that she could stay in touch with her restaurant manager. Every day there were 2 movies that were shown continuously on our cabin TV. One day we watched “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. The shops carried a wide range of merchandise. There was a lot of jewelry. I bought myself a Fossil watch. Compared to the Holland America ship I sailed on to Alaska, the Sensation has a lot more space devoted to bars, discos, and shopping, but that’s why Carnival calls them “fun ships”. It got kind of crowded in some of the public areas. But it’s amazing how you can be on a ship with over 2,000 passengers, plus the crew, and still find a quiet nook or cranny. One night my sister couldn’t sleep, so she roamed the ship for a couple of hours and came back without me knowing she had even left. If you were in a strange city and couldn’t sleep, you wouldn’t get up and go out by yourself at night. But you can safely do that on a cruise ship, and meet other insomniacs (and a few drunks) in the process. Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, December 7 My sister had visited Cozumel and Playa del Carmen before so instead of signing up for a shore excursion, we decided to sightsee on our own. We had big plans – the Mayan ruins at Tulum, Chankanaab National Park, maybe some snorkeling. The walk from the cruise ship pier to the taxi stand was cold, windy, and wet. As a veteran of many soggy walks, I had packed a rain poncho. My sister had to rely on her sweatshirt jacket. The taxi took us into downtown Cozumel to catch the ferry to the mainland. My stomach was feeling a little queasy to start with and the rough ride over was no walk on the beach. I kept it together but other people ended up using the barf bags. The first thing we did when we got to Playa del Carmen was go to a McDonald’s for American coffee so we could warm up. I also had my first encounter with a Mexican toilet. We decided to give the rain a chance to blow over before taking the bus out to Tulum. It never did stop raining. Not just rain but torrential rain. The streets became rivers that you couldn’t walk in. At one store, a man offered to sell my sister the rain slicker he was wearing and she took him up on his offer! We saw some creative examples of tourist rainwear. One man took a garment bag and cut armholes in it for his son. Then there was the couple wearing dry cleaning bags. My sister was really disappointed that I didn’t get the real Mexican experience, with tourists and natives filling the streets and people sitting outside eating, drinking, and just taking in the sites. Around 2:00 we stopped for lunch. I had shrimp tacos and a margarita and my sister had chicken enchiladas suiza. Ditto on the margarita. Plus we shared flan (yum!) for dessert. We visited quite a few shops and bought some native crafts to use as future Christmas gifts. My favorites were the miniature bottles of tequila with a travel-size worm! Due to the stormy weather, the ferry schedule was out of whack and we ended up waiting in the cold for nearly 2 hours. The boat ride back to Cozumel was even rougher than the one earlier in the day and more people got sick. I was glad I only had a few sips of the margarita at lunch. The street where we caught a taxi back to the pier was a virtual river. Back onboard and in dry clothes (finally!), we found out that with the exception of the bus trip to Tulum, all other shore excursions were cancelled. As it turns out, we could have made it to Tulum. According to people who went, the rain let up once you got further inland. On port days, not many onboard activities are planned. And just like when we were stuck in Tampa, Carnival couldn’t open the duty free shops and casinos while we were docked at Cozumel. From a financial standpoint, the whole weather thing ended up being bad for the local merchants and bad for Carnival. Last Day at Sea By this time we are running out of clothes. We needed more pants, long sleeve shirts, and rain gear. In other words, the stuff I packed for Alaska. There were a few hours of sunlight in the afternoon after morning showers. I didn’t put on my bathing suit, but did go out in a t-shirt and shorts and caught a few rays. It got windy around mid-afternoon and then started to rain again. Travel Tip – Pack a few things you think you won’t need. They may turn out to be the things you use or wear the most, like my lightweight fleece sweater. If it’s the dry season, pack a rain poncho and/or umbrella anyway. Debarkation, December 9 We were in the last group to get off the ship and had a rather long wait in the Fantasy Lounge. Debarkation was orderly. We picked up our color-coded bags in the terminal and turned in our declarations to Customs. Then it was outside to cold, pouring rain. Caught a shuttle out to the airport to pick up our rental car. Our original plans were to either drive up to Tarpon Springs or visit Ybor City (old Cuban part of Tampa). That day Tampa got a record 5 inches of rain. I don’t like driving in my hometown in that kind of weather, let alone in a city I’m not familiar with. We got headed in the wrong direction on the interstate and saw the sign telling us we were going over a long bridge and to make sure we had enough gas. Yikes! We were driving across Tampa Bay to St. Petersburg. Made it across in blinding rain and then got off at the exit for the dog track and turned back around. Decided to go back to the cruise ship pier in downtown Tampa and take in the Florida Aquarium. Kind of pathetic isn’t it, when you’re been on a Caribbean cruise that features an island known for its snorkeling, and you have to look at indoor tanks in order to see some tropical fish? The aquarium was fun and I would recommend it if you need indoor recreation. Leaving Tampa, December 10 We loaded up the car in the pouring rain (so what else was new?), dropped the car off, and took a shuttle to the airport. Our flights back were uneventful. General Conclusions and Observations My sister said she enjoyed her first cruise and would consider taking another one. I’m getting a complex because this was my second cruise and on both of them, it rained incessantly. We both thought Carnival is a good value and we got a lot for our money. Carnival is a completely different cruise line and cruise experience than Holland America. I enjoyed both cruises but for different reasons. I wouldn’t hesitate to sail either one again. For those of you who’ve never cruised, Carnival’s 4-day itineraries are “Cruising 101” or “Introduction to Cruising”. A good way to stick your toe in the water without making a big commitment in terms of time and/or money.

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Dec 14, 2002

Eastern Caribbean

We did not enjoy this cruise at all. The food was awful. The people were not friendly. paint smell leaked into the room and got into out babies clothes and into the food. They would not change our room. The room was extremely small and it was very dirty. The ship did not dock in Grand Cayman and all we got was $25 for it. I would not recommend this cruise, the Destiny was a lot better. We were also see sick and they would not give us

any medicine or treat us for it. My wife and I hated this cruise and therefore we are not sailing with Carnival ever again

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Nov 30, 2002

Western Caribbean

This is a little long winded and I apologize in advance but since I found so many of these to be helpful I’ve made this as detailed as I possibly could. Embarkation Was a breeze….we arrived at the airport at 1:35 pm Eastern Time. We headed to the port by way of Taxi for only 18 dollars. Do not buy the carnival transfers as they are 23 PP round trip. On the way back we caught a taxi van with 6 other people which only cost 12 bucks…quite

a difference over the 46$ Carnival wanted. They also make you wait until the bus is full so that is another advantage over their transfer service. We experienced no long lines during embarkation just a lot of herding from station to station. We were on the ship by 2:30 and after dropping our carryon bags in the room we headed for a late lunch. Food The buffets are pretty much standard out by the pool…burgers and dogs everyday. This is nice but it would be great if they would have grilled chicken breasts as pizza and burgers get old after 5 days. The pizza station is aft near the seaview bar and grill. The pizza is great and I ate quite a bit of it over the course of the cruise. It was generally very fresh and the lines were never obscenely long. There is another buffet which serves a different menu everyday for lunch and dinner in the seaview bar and grill. I tried most everything but was generally unimpressed with the quality and presentation of that stuff. They also switched from serve yourself style to cafeteria style which we didn’t really like. You don’t get to choose your portions and sometimes we had trouble either getting their attention or communicating with the staff as most have English as a second language. We really enjoyed eating on the back deck outside the Seaview but found out on the 2nd to last day that we were on the non smoking side so we kind of felt bad about smoking the whole trip on that side. Oops! Nobody really complained as it’s outside anyway and we aren’t chain smokers by any means. The breakfasts were the same everyday but they were very good…the French toast and pancakes were very good. The eggs were a little runny but there were fresh made to order omletes available on request. I pretty much ate pizza and one or two other things while there for breakfast. We never ate in the dining room for breakfast or lunch but our tablemates said it’s pretty much exactly what they have on the buffets but much fresher and hotter. We never really wanted to go through the hassle and adjusted our gratuities since we only used their service for 4 of the 5 dinners. Our table waiter was great, and the food was generally very good. I wouldn’t say it was spectacular by any means but I was happy with the choices they had and usually ordered one or two appetizers and at least 2-3 entrees per night. The portions are generally small so it’s not that big a deal. They are more than happy to bring you out several courses. My only real complaint about dinner service is drink service. Our cocktail waitress either didn’t understand English very well or was just a real pain in the butt. We ordered drinks several nights and she usually brought out some premium liquor or upgraded wine even though we asked for the most affordable choices. After we got the bills she would apologize very condescendingly and feign concern but go on about her business screwing other people. We just stopped ordering drinks from her and bringing them in from the bar before dinner. It worked out a lot better and we never had to wait for anything that way. Desserts were very good but as I am not big on sweets I usually only tried a little of everything. The entertainment was ok in there and our Maitre’d was very entertaining and usually got the crowd riled up. He was of Greek origin and had an interesting accent. Something like that of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog…which my girlfriend and I love so we got a pretty big kick out of that. We were very pleased with the table assignment we had and enjoyed our tablemates company but kind of felt obligated to hang out with them whenever we saw them outside of dinner. This was ok but got to be a little tiresome towards the end of the trip. Never used room service so can’t really comment on that. Days at Sea We pretty much relaxed those days and enjoyed hanging out by the pool and watching other people participate in the games they have. It was mildly entertaining but a little long. I was fine with just putting on the headphones and laying in the sun. They have a lot to do if you aren’t a sun person so everybody can find something that suits them. They have an art auction, trivia contests, a live band during lunch….etc. The band was WAY too loud especially if you were sitting right in front of the pool. We tried to eat there but just couldn’t stand it so we moved to the back upper deck which was less crowded but much windier. We never had a problem with not finding deck chairs and found that there was very little saving of chairs. It seems that their system of providing towels makes it look that way. Sometimes people use the towels, gather their things, then move along their way leaving the towels there making it seem like somebody’s sitting there. We just threw them aside when that happened and nobody ever complained that we took their seats. There is a big lack of ashtrays out on the deck which made it difficult to dispose of used butts. I hated to leave or put them out on deck but was necessary from time to time. Also, the Jacuzzis were pretty much full all of the time (usually by kids) and broken the other times. On the upper deck one was bubbling but cold, the other intermittently bubbling but hot. We complained about 3-4 times and after about 45 minutes it started working. I have a 5 year old boy and would have no problem bringing him in with me as long as he sat still and behaved. The kids in there kept splashing and bothering us when we really wanted some special alone time. Bar service I found the service at the back bar on the sports deck to be the best. I bought a soda card (and my own alcohol) to drink during the days. We purchased drinks at night from the bars which kept our sign and sail account down to a minimum. Including 100 dollars in tips it was 426$ for two people for 5 days. Not too bad but could have been better, I’ll explain why later…. Anyway, I brought my own cup for those days, a big 32 ounce mug so I wouldn’t have to run back and forth every time I drank a soda. Most of the bartenders would not fill up my cup and served me only one drink and watched as I poured it in my cup and walked to the next bar to fill up with another. The bartender in the back knew exactly what I wanted and would take care of me accordingly. I would have liked to tipped him extra but was unable due to their bar gratiuity policy. They automatically add 15 percent on all drinks purchased from the bar which I totally disagree with. I used to be a bartender and know how hard they generally work but on this ship most were very uninterested in helping you. The gratuities are unable to be adjusted which the bartenders know and keeps them from providing better than average service. If I was bartending I doubt I’d work much harder either considering I’m going to make the same amount of money. When I worked as a bartender people would expect a fun atmosphere and a little conversation and tip accordingly most of the time. I can understand how most people, (especially on vacation) don’t want to tip every time they get a drink. I feel that you should be able to choose the level of gratuity from 7.5 – 10 – 15% or higher depending on service. This would give them some incentive to increase their level of service. This also added about 45 bucks to my sign and sail account which, I feel seemed a little excessive. They have buckets of domestics for 10.50$ which is generally a pretty good deal while on the ship. However, if you get an imported Fosters Oil can which 25 ounces it’s only 5.75$ and evens out to pretty much the same price and you don’t have to carry around so many beers at one time. After figuring this out that’s pretty much all I drank. Ports of Call Grand Cayman: one word to describe this: CLUSTERF#@K! We had booked an excursion through the internet which asked us to meet at their place of business 4-5 blocks away from the ship at 8:30. Since Grand Cayman is so shallow and they have no docks you have to take Tender boats to and from the shore. This is quite a pain in the ass. As the time in this port is very short everybody is pushing to get off the boat as soon as possible and scrambles to get back on when it’s time to leave. They also have some very small vessels which made my girlfriend seasick since it was a high wind day which made the waves VERY big and tossed us around a bit. The cruise director (Lenny) came over the intercom and informed us we were way off schedule and that it was the fault of the port authority of Grand Cayman which took way too long to “clear” the boat for debarkation. Some of the trips started at 7:30 or 8 and the ones booked by Carnival took precedence over everybody else. We got in line for a tender boat and heard the Asst. Director say that anybody waiting for an early tour should get in line now. I talked with one staff member who referred us to the Asst. Director. After giving us an “ugh” look she approved of us getting in line for the early tender. We waited in line for 40 or so minutes before getting to the boat and some jerk wouldn’t allow us on since, “all these people bought excursions from us and have priority” Just because we don’t want to overpay for the same thing doesn’t mean we should be punished we thought. However, we should have just paid the extra money and I’ll tell you why. We had booked the stingray and snorkeling tour in advance for 28$ pp. We finally got off the ship and hoped they would know we were delayed and wait for us. After walking 4-5 blocks we found the place to be padlocked up with a for sale sign in the front. Oops! So we hurried back to the port and found 2 dealers offering 30$ pp stingray and snorkeling tours. One guy had a sign that was stenciled on a piece of laminated cardboard and the lady had a nicely lettered yellow sign. We opted for the guy as he was not as busy and thought that we might not get into the 10:00 tour with the lady as she was a little busy it seemed. We paid the money and got on the bus. We pulled up to a vacant lot where I thought we were to be robbed and left for dead. There were a few guys waiting there next to one of the crappiest boats I’ve ever seen. This was a 30 year old fishing boat made for 3-5 people. They had at least 20 people on there sitting on the upper deck, lower deck, and around the cabin underneath. We sat up front which wasn’t too bad except for the waves which were crashing into us soaked us while wearing our street clothes. It was also very windy so it became very cool very fast. This boat was super slow and it took 50 minutes to reach the stingray city. Once we got there they handed out very crappy snorkel gear and it was very disorganized. I jumped in off the boat without a lifejacket as I’m pretty good at swimming and was waiting there for a good deal of time for the guide. Well, he jumps in also with a grocery sack full of squid. The captain yelled at him to come back and help move the vessel as we were drifting towards another boat. He handed me the sack and asked me to hold on to it for a while. I agreed and was immediately swarmed by stingrays all over me. I had to hold the bag over the water and tread water at the same time which became very tiresome. The waves were so big I could only stand for a second at a time and it sucked really bad. I finally handed the bag to another gentleman on our tour and was able to rest a minute. I don’t know about everyone else but after about 10 minutes I’d had enough of the stingrays. The guide got back in the water and showed us a few interesting things but after 45 minutes we were READY to go. We get back on the boat and the damn thing breaks down in the middle of the ocean. We sat there rolling with the waves while they fixed it and everybody started getting sick and throwing up. At least 6 or 7 people out of 20 got sick and it was really disgusting. After about 45 minutes they finally got it working again but there was black smoke rolling out of the boat the whole way back which was practically unbearable. We had to skip the snorkeling part of the tour because it was 12:15 and the last tender supposedly left at 1:15. We hurried back and got to the port at 1:20 but found a huge line to get the tender back. We just sat around and waited until the line had died down completely just to relax. If you’re going to buy liquor while on the trip, buy it here! Only 8$ for Absolut, Stoli, and most all other premium brands of liquor. This was not a relazing tour at all but maybe the bigger “Carnival” tour which is more expensive is a better and more relaxing experience. Myself personally have had enough of stingrays to last me a lifetime. Cozumel By far the best time we had on the trip. We considered renting a jeep or a scooter but reconsidered after thinking about how much we’d probably drink while there and not wanting to see the inside of a Mexican jail. We took a cab with some other people to the downtown area which was only 2 bucks per person. It’s a few miles away and well worth taking a taxi. The storekeepers are a little pushy but I understand this is the way they make their money. We bought a few things here and there and were generally able to bargain with most everybody we dealt with. If they were unwilling we moved to the next store and usually found the same things at most all stores. We were able to get better deals off the main drag about a block in but it became a little scarier the further you move away from there. We never felt threatened or anything but kept pretty close anyway. This is the place to get cigarettes. I got a carton of Marlboros for 15$US. Here that would easily cost 35-38 dollars. We got out of there spending only about 80$ between the two of us and got some nice souvenirs for my son and my girlfriends Mother. As I said…don’t spend too much time going from shop to shop as they pretty much ALL have the same stuff. How many hammocks can I buy? We shopped for about 2 hours which was more than enough. Make sure not to wear sandals but comfortable walking shoes as it involves quite a bit of time on your feet. At about 12:30 we stopped for a drink at the Hard Rock Café….this was a waste of time and money. It was 12$ for 2 margaritas. OUCH! We decided to head on to our excursion we had booked (through Carnival) to the Playa Sol beach resort. This included beach access and all drinks for 18 dollars pp and well worth it. We probably had about 40 drinks between the two of us and would have cost us a fortune anywhere else. The beach was very nice and had very comfortable sand chairs. They weren’t too good for laying on your front as they are molded to the lounge position but if you move it aside you can just lay on the sand. I had the best nap of my life like that! They also have an inflatable trampoline and an inflated iceberg which you can climb to the top and slide down which was kinda fun! We hung out there with our tablemates from dinner and had a great time. Around 5:30 or 6 we headed to Carlos and Charlies. This was very fun but also very expensive. We got 2 large margaritas, an appetizer and an entrée and it was 50 bucks! They also bring the bill in pesos and undivided so we had to figure out what they ate and drank and what we all owed. We all got pretty wasted and all seemed to have a good time. We took a horse carriage back to the boat which seemed like a good idea at the time and was VERY affordable (20 bucks American) for 2 couples to go about 2-3 miles. After about ½ hour we were ready to get off the damn thing as it took so long to get back. (about an hour). We went to Fat Tuesday’s at the pier for a final drink and I got another big frozen drink called the 190 octane. This is made with grain alcohol and pretty much blew whatever brain cells I had out of my head. We walked back to the ship and everybody waiting in line to get on was in good spirits and singing. We overheard a foreigners complaining about drunk, rude, Americans but we found pretty much all the foreigners we ran into to be very rude and discourteous. We just know how to have a good time and let loose while on vacation! We were docked right next to the Carnival Paradise and I was shocked to find that it’s no bigger than our ship even though it was 8 years newer. Maybe the Triumph or Victory are bigger but this really surprised me. It was off to bed for us as the heat, sun, and alcohol had taken it’s toll on us. Entertainment We had a very good time while on the ship as far as entertainment goes. We listened to the trivia during lunch but it was at times hard to hear and understand as the person had an accent and was a little distorted by the speakers. At night they have shows which we didn’t particularly care for except for the one night they had a magic show which was very entertaining. The Captain’s cocktail party wasn’t anything special…they hand you a few chicken nuggets and a meatball and 1 or 2 drinks. There isn’t any other bar service so it was a little underwhelming. We had a great time in the ugly “touch of class” bar with all the hands. This is the piano bar where you can request songs and sing along. We enjoyed our time there but found it empty several times when we would have like to hear that kind of music. We went into Michelangelo’s bar once or twice and they had a horrible band in there so that time was kept short. The cocktail waitress I mentioned before also worked in there after dinner so I steered clear of her before I started mouthing off to her. We had a very good time in the Kaleidescope bar and never really found it to be full of teenagers as reported in other reviews I’ve read. It was a fun crowd of people and lots were dancing, the music was generally very good and we enjoyed our time there. The Plaza lounge in the very back of the ship is where they had the late night comedians who were all very funny. We only missed one of those shows as we were too tired to continue. We never made it to the buffet except for the last night which wasn’t the big gala event a few night previously. Even then we didn’t eat as we’d had quite enough at dinner and throughout the day. I think only the people who have the early dinner seating could truly enjoy the late night buffet. I did see that they had some sushi on there the last night and I would have liked to try that but I had no appetite at that time. The casino was ok…we lost a total of about 60 bucks between the two of us which was just right. A lot of these older people go on there and spend the entire day at the slot machine. Why not just go to Vegas or a local casino boat to throw away your money? Neither of us are big gamblers but got plenty of entertainment out of about 1.5 – 2 hours throughout the cruise. I would have liked to not lost but had a good time anyway. Debarkation Generally very easy but as we apparently didn’t listen very well we went to our appropriate spot. (the Kaleidescope dance club) and waited for our color to be called. I guess we were supposed to change our tags prior to leaving (from orange to brown) and left when orange was called. One of the first they called. Some people grumbled toward us as we were the only ones leaving the dance club but since we were unaware and eager to get off the ship we walked right into line and were off the ship and had our bags within 10 minutes of being called. I put some red ribbon on my luggage which helped me to locate it very quickly. We walked outside and the port authority officers really push you to get out of there quickly. We found a large taxi van and only paid 12 bucks to get back to the airport. Since we had a later flight we wanted to walk around downtown but were unable since we had so many bags and didn’t want to hassle with it. We took the cab back to the airport and were able to check them in even though we were 4 hours early. They took them and we took a free shuttle to the big International Mall whichis only a few miles away and runs on the ½ hour. We weren’t really in the mood to buy anything but it was better than sitting in an airport. It is a very nice mall with a large selection of good stores and restaurants but a little expensive. Good way to kill a few hours though. We ate at the Cheesecake factory which was was very good but served ridiculously large portions. A simple lunch ran us 31 bucks but it was nice to sit outside and enjoy the weather for a few more hours. Anyway, we headed back to the plane and on our way home! A few things Carnival needs to work on. Bar service: don’t automatically tip the bar staff as it REALLY hurts service when they know they don’t have to work for it. Lunch: mix it up a little bit and offer a grilled chicken breast every other day, I know it’s a little more expensive but I don’t know anybody that doesn’t like grilled chicken sandwiches. Excursions: make the time in Grand Cayman a little longer so you don’t feel so rushed and hurried about. Also, don’t be judgemental when someone wants to save a few dollars and book a more affordable excursion. Although we took the wrong one the other lady offering the tour may have been a good deal. Miscellanous: Pictures are ridiculously expensive. In order to buy a 5x7 of one print you have to buy the 8x10 of the same print. They are good pictures but become very costly if you want several. We opted to not buy any at all as they didn’t lower the price on the last day. What a waste!! Make the upper pool with the 2 jacuzzis adults only. There were tons of kids splashing around in the hot tub when the adults were only trying to relax. I love kids and have one of my own but want to be able to pick and choose when I’m around them. We enjoyed the cruise but are most likely to try Royal Caribbean next time or just head straight to an all inclusive resort to avoid being hurried and hassled. Our tablemates said the service is like night and day between Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Obviously they were in favor of the latter. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed the cruise and paid a very reasonable amount for it but found it to be a little “low-rent”. I really want to experience the Adventure of the Seas with the rock climbing wall, rollerblade track, and ice skating rink. How cool! Sorry to have been so long winded, I just wanted to give back since so many of you shared your stories and experiences and it really prepared me for my trip. Few last minute things: Bring large cups/mugs with you. The ones they give you are very small and require getting up a lot. Also good for if you bring your own liquor. It’s no problem at all to bring this stuff on board in your luggage (not carry ons) in plastic bottles. Most of the stuff nowadays come in plastic bottles. You could also buy a few handfuls of those little airplane liquors for around a buck apiece. to save a few bucks here and there. And, if you drink soda, buy the card from the bar. It was 21 dollars and well worth it. I probably drank 50 over the cruise and that would have cost me 2.50$ apiece. Bring an alarm clock and an extension cord. We also brought extra hangars, febreeze, downy wrinkle releaser and found them to be very helpful. Hope this helps..if you have any questions I may be able to answer feel free to ask at fernandesmike@hotmail.com. There is a gallery of pictures from our cruise at : http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?m=50675158403.59064630703&n=398011993 You can give them a fake email address to be able to view these. There are some good pictures of the ship on there! Have fun!

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Aug 17, 2002

Tampa, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and New Orleans

We had a wonderful time on the Aug. 18, 02, seven-day cruise from Tampa to Grand Cayman, Cozumel and New Orleans. The Sensation is now being switched to 5 and 4 day trips, dropping New Orleans, but it wasn't clear why this was taking place. [The newer Inspiration will take over her 7-day cruises – Editor’s Note] Using Hotwire for hotels and Southwest for cross country travel, saved us a lot of dinero. We had a cabin for three,

and it would have been nice for my son to have a bed rather than a cot on the floor, though. In Cozumel, we went to Playa Del Sol via cab; brought our own gear for snorkeling; water was great. In Grand Cayman, we did the Cockatoo catamaran stingray tour; expensive but you got to do it. Research this and you can probably save bucks booking a tour directly off the ship. In New Orleans, we took a great air conditioned bus trip tour. Our cabin steward and waiter were both great. Sixto and Mel. I had one complaint about the band being late one night and not making a scheduled appearance another. It turned out the schedule was wrong. I called the purser to let them know about this. The Cruise Director was kind enough to call me back. I really appreciated his call back. I told him the late seating passengers get the short end of the stick in terms of entertainment and if the band starts late there is not much time to enjoy the music. Probably this is not a big deal, but I am a jazz fan living in a rural area. I don't get many chances to hear live music and this band on the Sensation was worth listening to. The rock band was also great. Watch Beatlemania if you are a Beatles fan. After the cruise, the same day as we disembarked, we all went to Busch Gardens and had a great time, though it was expensive. We dropped off our son at Adventure Island the last day of our trip; I rested and went to a movie. My wife shopped. Overall, this was a great trip. Thank you Carnival. Larry and Denine Dawson  

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Aug 3, 2002

Western Caribbean

When we arrived in Tampa, we were so excited and we got on the ship in 2 hours! The Ship was AWESOME! Everything was so huge, pretty and cool! The days at sea were fun and relaxing! We went on the water slide, danced, I won the talent show, and got to sing in one of the Vegas productions!!!!!!!! It's So fun! Grand Cayman wasn't that great. It's tiny, and expensive, and VERY boring! HeHe! Well Cozumel was EXCELLENT! Great shopping and many

things to do and places to go!!!!!! It was GREAT! New Orleans was also very fun! We walked around and looked all around Bourbon Street, and all the fun places, but were so tired so we went back on the ship. The ship never rocked until the last night! IT WAS SO ROUGH. Our 855 foot ship was fighting 20 foot waves in the Gulf of Mexico!!! The food was great, and so were the drinks. Overall, Carnival lives up to the "Fun Ship" saying. It's a BLAST! Well any questions??? Email me!!!!!

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May 18, 2002

7 Day Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise. It was great! We live in North Florida about 3 ½ hours from Tampa. We have two kids, a daughter 13 and a son 10. We drove down on Saturday, May 18th and stayed at the Tampa Marriott Waterside. This hotel is next door to the Channelside Terminal where the Sensation sails from. We stayed there at a rate of $65 for the one night stay. We got that rate via Priceline.com. Not bad for a 4 star hotel. There was an additional

$12 a day for valet parking. When I got up on Sunday, May 19th I could see the ship was already docked at 6:15 a.m. It was pouring down rain. Embarkation We arrived at the port at 11:00 a.m. There were plenty of porters waiting to take your bags for $1 per bag. We each had a carry-on bag containing a change of clothes, Bathing suits, cosmetics, medications, camera, etc. After parking the car in the covered parking garage ($70) I joined the rest of my family in line. Security checked our cruise papers, picture ID and birth certificates and then let us into the terminal. We went through metal detectors and our carry-on luggage was processed through a x-ray machine. I had a small 3 ½ inch pocketknife that I carry everywhere. They took it because it had a serrated blade. They said that if it had a flat edged blade I could have kept it. They gave me a receipt and I picked it up after my trip from security. (During the cruise whenever we had steak they gave us a much larger serrated edge steak knife. I guess that if you are eating a steak you are not as likely to use it as a weapon - go figure - everyone seems to have gone way overboard on precautions since 9/11). We were then moved to another zigzagging line to be processed for our sail and sign cards. This line moved pretty fast. After this we picked up our room keys and our sail and sign cards. We were given a boarding number of "4" and told to have a seat in the waiting area until called to board. We sat down it was 11:55 a.m. So as you see this process was very quick. At 12:35 p.m. they made an announcement that the ship was not ready to board and suggested that everyone go to the aquarium or the coffee shop outside the terminal. We had planned on eating as soon as we boarded the ship so we had not brought any snacks and after this announcement the lines at the two vending machines became quite long. I would recommend a small soft-sided cooler with a couple of drinks and snacks for this type of delay. At 1:40 p.m. they began boarding the ship. We, "Group 4," began at about 1:55 p.m. As you board they take a security picture of you and match it to your sail and sign card. Then they take a group picture of your party for you to purchase later. We were on board at 2:05 p.m. We went directly to our room and changed into swimsuits and headed for the Seaview Bar and Grill on the Lido Deck. As we exited our room we were greeted by our room steward "Marantu" and he was delivering our checked luggage. After getting our luggage in our room we sat down and enjoyed a great lunch outdoors on the back of Lido Deck. The kids went for pizza and burgers and my wife and I enjoyed the buffet. After lunch we explored the ship and returned to our cabin and unpacked and awaited the lifeboat drill. This was called at 4:00 p.m. and lasted about 40 minutes. Then the ship set sail and the vacation began. About 3 hours into the trip the ship began circling awaiting a Coast Guard Helicopter to come airlift a passenger off the ship who had had a heart attack in the Fantasy Dining Room. After a couple of hours of circling the Coast Guard lifted the family off in a basket attached to a cable and we were once again on our way. Our Cabin We were in E162. This was an inside cabin toward the rear of the ship on the Empress Deck. The cabin was a lot bigger than what I expected. The bathroom was very large. I am 6'3" and close to 400 pounds. I was concerned that the shower would be too small. It was not. It was very roomy and I never felt cramped. Our TV was terrible as everything had a Green tint. We reported it and it was changed out but the technician said all the TV's on that deck were like that and he thought the problem was with the amplifier and he would continue to work on it. It never was fixed and we never heard from the technician again. I checked other rooms as well as the TV's in the lobby areas and they had a perfect picture. In addition to showing movies the ship has it's own closed circuit channel in which they air the various ship activities from the day before. They also broadcast shore tips for the next day's port of call in case you missed the shore talk held in the Fantasy Lounge. Our cabin had a very strong odor coming from the carpet. Apparently someone from the previous cruise had gotten really sick there. We went through a whole bottle of Fabreaze Carpet freshener and lots of air freshener but never could get the smell to leave. We even had the cabin steward try to alleviate the smell to no avail. The hallway also had a strong sour smell that never seemed to go away. When you get to your room you will find a copy of Carnival Capers and a Brochure of all the Shore Tours available. You will get a new Carnival Capers each afternoon in your cabin. Carry this with you as it has everything you want to know about what time things happen on board. I always had a highlighter and would highlight the times of various activities that I didn't want to miss. This worked really well for us. Days at Sea There is plenty to do on the days at sea. There were ship versions of various game shows. The Cruise Directors staff, in particular Skippy and Jose were extremely funny and talented. Be sure and see all the shows, as they were great. The Dancers were very good and all the comedians were hilarious. We went to all the Midnight "R" rated comic shows and they were also great and not too dirty. Don't miss the shore talks. Grand Cayman - Tuesday, May 21st When we arrived in Grand Cayman it was raining very hard with high winds. The water was not very rough though. One Shore Excursion (The Cockatoo Sailing & Stingray Tour) was cancelled. We were signed up for the Stingray Sandbar Tour at $39 each. In Grand Cayman the water is not deep enough for the ship to dock at the pier so they ferry you off on small boats called "tenders." This makes it a little slower getting on and off the ship and because of this and the short time in Grand Cayman plan on doing your shore tour and shopping in one trip. We were scheduled for a 7:00 a.m. tour but they didn't start letting anyone off the ship until after 8:00 a.m. So all tours were late starting. After we got to shore we gathered in an area marked for our tour. We then were lead down the street and around the corner to waiting buses. We took about a 20 minute ride to the cove were the Double Decker Catamaran "Sundancer" was waiting. On the way to the boat the driver kept us amused by pointing out various items of interest along the way and telling jokes. After we boarded the Sundancer we took about a 30-minute ride out to the sandbar. Don't forget your Waterproof cameras. This experience was the greatest I have ever felt. The stingrays are like giant puppy dogs. You can buy cups of squid to feed them for $4 a cup. I bought 2 cups and had plenty for the 4 of us. The Captain will take a picture of you holding one of the stingrays. You can purchase the picture on a computer disc for $10. The crew stays in the water with you making sure to help everyone have a good experience with this encounter. They worked really hard with any small children or anyone who might have been scared of the stingrays. This tour is not to be missed. After about an 1 ½ hours we returned to our waiting busses and were taken back to town. We attempted to do some shopping but the weather would not cooperate so we returned to the ship and dry clothes and went to lunch. The last tender to the ship was scheduled for 12:30 p.m. but because of the delay it was actually 1:30 p.m. Sometime after 2:00 p.m. we left Grand Cayman only to return because of a medical emergency. Someone had fallen and broken their arm on the Lido Deck. He was taken to shore for treatment and had to arrange transportation to meet up with the ship in Cozumel. Cozumel - Wednesday, May 22nd When I woke up at 6:00 a.m. we were already docked in Cozumel. Here you are right at the pier and you exit the ship right on the pier. This makes getting on and off the ship a breeze. We ate breakfast in the Seaview and then left the ship at 8:45 a.m. We didn't rent a Shore Excursion here as I had put together my own tour and for the money was a wise decision. We caught a Taxi at the end of the pier to take us to Chankanaab Lagoon National Park. This cost $10 total each way for the 4 of us. It cost $10 each ($40 Total) for admittance to the park. There is a lot to do at this park. There are Lifeguards, Botanical Gardens, Mayan Ruins as well as Bars and Restaurants. The sea is strewn with Coral Reefs, Ruins, Statues, Anchors, Cannons, and Boat Wrecks. Diving Plateaus or steps allow access to the water. They have a sea-lion show and a dolphin encounter. We even saw wild iguanas roaming the park. We went into the park and found a nice shady area under a palm tree over looking the beautiful crystal clear Mayan waters. My wife is not much into snorkeling so she relaxed reading and napping under the shade tree. The kids and I hit the water and spent the next 5 hours there. This was great for teaching them about snorkeling. We took underwater pictures of each other and of the fish. We had a blast. We left there and went back to the ship, showered, changed clothes, ate lunch and went back to shore for shopping. We were back from shopping at about 7:30 p.m. and the ship left port at around 10:00 p.m. New Orleans - Friday, May 24th At about 8:00 a.m. I went up on the Sports Deck and observed the ship cruising up the muddy Mississippi River. Great view! I didn't realize how far up river Nawlins' was. At around 11:00 a.m. we were docked. We received the clear to go ashore at around 12:00 p.m. We went and ate lunch in the Fantasy Dining Room and then left the ship at about 12:30 p.m. You have to pass through a large shopping mall to get to the outside. It is about another 30-minute walk to Jackson Square. We walked around the square and Rented a private Mule and Buggy ride through the French Quarter for $50. Well worth it. Our Driver pointed out points of interest and told us all about the history of the various buildings. He even had my son driving the buggy for a while. Don't miss out on the Beignets at Cafe' Du Monde they are great! We picked up some masks, beads and feather boas from some of the shops as we walked back to the ship for the Mardi Gras Party later on board. We had to be back by 6:15 p.m. so we could join our Tablemates celebrating their 50 Wedding Anniversary. The Ship left the port at 10:00 p.m. Food We never had a bad meal anywhere on the ship. Whether it was Pizza, Hamburgers or various buffets on the Lido Deck or 5 star elegance in the Formal Dinning Room. The service in the Formal Dinning Room was great. Our Waitress "Ina" and our Assistant Waiter "Juan" were great! We really enjoyed the company of our Tablemates, "Tom and Peggy." I even tried the escargot (snails) it was great! Drinks We had bought the kids a Fountain Card for $19.95 each and ours were $29.95 each. This was well worth the money. I never experienced a problem getting service from the various bar waiters and waitresses. In fact after a day or two they remembered what we wanted and would bring it without asking. Coffee, Iced Tea, Lemonade, and Fruit Punch were available 24 hours a day on the Lido Deck. Camp Carnival Both my kids were old enough to check themselves in and out of Camp Carnival and they both took part in various activities. They enjoyed it. They each met several friends on board and had a really good time. We let them have free run of the ship. We all had a FRS/GMRS Radio and I required frequent check-ins. This seemed to work well and we were never out of touch with each other. Pictures The ship's photographers never miss an opportunity to take your picture. Let them. There is no obligation to buy but we bought most of them and we cherish them as some of our best souvenirs. They also have areas on the ship set up for pictures with formal backdrops. Take advantage of these. Great way of getting a nice family portrait without sitting fees. Room Service Service was quick. Whether it was cookies, brownies and milk to sandwiches they were delivered within 10 minutes of ordering. Tip the person delivering $1 per Tray. The food delivered was fresh and good. We even had them deliver a pitcher of coffee it was great! Debarkation On the night before you arrive in Tampa you have to have all your bags (except carry-ons) packed and in the hall outside your cabin by 1:00 a.m. You must be out of your cabin and in your designated waiting area by 8:45 a.m. We were back in our car with all our luggage leaving Tampa at 11:00 a.m. So as you see debarkation was pretty quick. There seemed to be a lot of "medical emergencies" on this cruise. I think there were about 5 that I was aware off. Be sure and take out the insurance when you purchase your cruise. I understand that it cost the one man $1800 dollars to get his arm set in Grand Cayman and then being transported to Cozumel to meet up with the ship. If you have the insurance at least you can get reimbursed for that expense. I hope this review helps some of you with your planning as much as the reviews helped me. Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions.

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May 18, 2002

7 Day Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise. It was great! We live in North Florida about 3 ½ hours from Tampa. We have two kids, a daughter 13 and a son 10. We drove down on Saturday, May 18th and stayed at the Tampa Marriott Waterside. This hotel is next door to the Channelside Terminal where the Sensation sails from. We stayed there at a rate of $65 for the one night stay. We

got that rate via Priceline.com. Not bad for a 4 star hotel. There was an additional $12 a day for valet parking. When I got up on Sunday, May 19th I could see the ship was already docked at 6:15 a.m. It was pouring down rain. Embarkation We arrived at the port at 11:00 a.m. There were plenty of porters waiting to take our bags for $1 per bag. We each had a carry-on bag containing a change of clothes, Bathing suits, cosmetics, medications, camera, etc. After parking the car in the covered parking garage ($70) I joined the rest of my family in line. Security checked our cruise papers, picture ID and birth certificates and then let us into the terminal. We went through metal detectors and our carry-on luggage was processed through a x-ray machine. I had a small 3 ½ inch pocketknife that I carry everywhere. They took it because it had a serrated blade. They said that if it had a flat edged blade I could have kept it. They gave me a receipt and I picked it up after my trip from security. (During the cruise whenever we had steak they gave us a much larger serrated edge steak knife. I guess that if you are eating a steak you are not as likely to use it as a weapon - go figure - everyone seems to have gone way overboard on precautions since 911). We were then moved to another zigzagging line to be processed for our sail and sign cards. This line moved pretty fast. After this we picked up our room keys and our sail and sign cards. We were given a boarding number of "4" and told to have a seat in the waiting area until called to board. When we sat down it was 11:55 a.m. So as you see this process was very quick. At 12:35 p.m. they made an announcement that the ship was not ready to board and suggested that everyone go to the aquarium or the coffee shop outside the terminal. We had planned on eating as soon as we boarded the ship so we had not brought any snacks, and after this announcement the lines at the two vending machines became quite long. I would recommend a small soft-sided cooler with a couple of drinks and snacks for this type of delay. At 1:40 p.m. they began boarding the ship. We, "Group 4," began at about 1:55 p.m. As you board they take a security picture of you and match it to your sail and sign card. Then they take a group picture of your party for you to purchase later. We were on board at 2:05 p.m. We went directly to our room and changed into swimsuits and headed for the Seaview Bar and Grill on the Lido Deck. As we exited our room we were greeted by our room steward "Marantu" and he was delivering our checked luggage. After getting our luggage in our room we sat down and enjoyed a great lunch outdoors on the back of Lido Deck. The kids went for pizza and burgers and my wife and I enjoyed the buffet. After lunch we explored the ship and returned to our cabin and unpacked and awaited the lifeboat drill. This was called at 4:00 p.m. and lasted about 40 minutes. Then the ship set sail and the vacation began. About 3 hours into the trip the ship began circling awaiting a Coast Guard Helicopter to come air lift a passenger off the ship who had had a heart attack in the Fantasy Dining Room. After a couple of hours of circling the Coast Guard lifted the family off in a basket attached to a cable and we were once again on our way. Our Cabin We were in E162. This was an inside cabin toward the rear of the ship on the Empress Deck. The cabin was a lot bigger than what I expected. The bathroom was very large. I am 6'3" and close to 400 pounds. I was concerned that the shower would be too small. It was not. It was very roomy and I never felt cramped Our TV was terrible as everything had a Green tint. We reported it and it was changed out but the technician said all the TV's on that deck were like that and he thought the problem was with the amplifier and he would continue to work on it. It never was fixed and we never heard from the technician again. I checked other rooms as well as the TV's in the lobby areas and they had a perfect picture. In addition to showing movies the ship has it's own closed circuit channel in which they air the various ship activities from the day before. They also broadcast shore tips for the next day's port of call in case you missed the shore talk held in the Fantasy Lounge. Our cabin had a very strong odor coming from the carpet. Apparently someone from the previous cruise had gotten really sick there. We went through a whole bottle of Fabreaze Carpet freshener and lots of air freshener but never could get the smell to leave. We even had the cabin steward try to alleviate the smell to no avail. The hallway also had a strong sour smell that never seemed to go away. When you get to your room you will find a copy of Carnival Capers and a Brochure of all the Shore Tours available. You will get a new Carnival Capers each afternoon in your cabin. Carry this with you as it has everything you want to know about what time things happen on board. I always had a highlighter and would highlight the times of various activities that I didn't want to miss. This worked really well for us. Days at Sea There is plenty to do on the days at sea. There were ship versions of various game shows. The Cruise Directors staff, in particular Skippy and Jose were extremely funny and talented. Be sure and see all the shows, as they were great. The Dancers were very good and all the comedians were hilarious. We went to all the Midnight "R" rated comic shows and they were also great and not too dirty. Don't miss the shore talks. Grand Cayman - Tuesday, May 21st When we arrived in Grand Cayman it was raining very hard with high winds. The water was not very rough though. One Shore Excursion (The Cockatoo Sailing & Stingray Tour) was cancelled. We were signed up for the Stingray Sandbar Tour at $39 each. In Grand Cayman the water is not deep enough for the ship to dock at the pier so they ferry you off on small boats called "tenders." This makes it a little slower getting on and off the ship and because of this and the short time in Grand Cayman, plan on doing your shore tour and shopping in one trip. We were scheduled for a 7:00 a.m. tour but they didn't start letting anyone off the ship until after 8:00 a.m. So all tours were late starting. After we got to shore we gathered in an area marked for our tour. We then were lead down the street and around the corner to waiting buses. We took about a 20 minute ride to the cove were the Double Decker Catamaran "Sundancer" was waiting. On the way to the boat the driver kept us amused by pointing out various items of interest along the way and telling jokes. After we boarded the Sundancer we took about a 30-minute ride out to the sandbar. Don't forget your Waterproof cameras. This experience was the greatest I have ever felt. The stingrays are like giant puppy dogs. You can buy cups of squid to feed them for $4 a cup. I bought 2 cups and had plenty for the 4 of us. The Captain will take a picture of you holding one of the stingrays. You can purchase the picture on a computer disc for $10. The crew stays in the water with you making sure to help everyone have a good experience with this encounter. They worked really hard with any small children or anyone who might have been scared of the stingrays. This tour is not to be missed. After about an 1 ½ hours we returned to our waiting busses and were taken back to town. We attempted to do some shopping but the weather would not cooperate so we returned to the ship and dry clothes and went to lunch. The last tender to the ship was scheduled for 12:30 p.m. but because of the delay it was actually 1:30 p.m. Sometime after 2:00 p.m. we left Grand Cayman only to return because of a medical emergency. Someone had fallen and broken their arm on the Lido Deck. He was taken to shore for treatment and had to arrange transportation to meet up with the ship in Cozumel. Cozumel - Wednesday, May 22nd When I woke up at 6:00 a.m. we were already docked in Cozumel. Here you are right at the pier and you exit the ship right on the pier. This makes getting on and off the ship a breeze. We ate breakfast in the Seaview and then left the ship at 8:45 a.m. We didn't book a Shore Excursion here as I had put together my own tour and for the money was a wise decision. We caught a Taxi at the end of the pier to take us to Chankanaab Lagoon National Park. This cost $10 total each way for the 4 of us. It cost $10 each ($40 Total) for admittance to the park. There is a lot to do at this park. There are Lifeguards, Botanical Gardens, Mayan Ruins as well as Bars and Restaurants. The sea is strewn with Coral Reefs, Ruins, Statues, Anchors, Cannons, and Boat Wrecks. Diving Plateaus or steps allow access to the water. They have a sea-lion show and a dolphin encounter. We even saw wild iguanas roaming the park. We went into the park and found a nice shady area under a palm tree overlooking the beautiful crystal clear Mayan waters. My wife is not much into snorkeling so she relaxed by reading and napping under the shade tree. The kids and I hit the water and spent the next 5 hours there. This was great for teaching them about snorkeling. We took underwater pictures of each other and of the fish. We had a blast. We left there and went back to the ship, showered, changed clothes, ate lunch and went back to shore for shopping. We were back from shopping at about 7:30 p.m. and the ship left port at around 10:00 p.m. New Orleans - Friday, May 24th At about 8:00 a.m. I went up on the Sports Deck and observed the ship cruising up the muddy Mississippi River. Great view! I didn't realize how far up the river Nawlins' was. At around 11:00 a.m. we were docked. We received the clear to go ashore at around 12:00 p.m. We went and ate lunch in the Fantasy Dining Room and then left the ship at about 12:30 p.m. You have to pass through a large shopping mall to get to the outside. It is about another 30-minute walk to Jackson Square. We walked around the square and Rented a private Mule and Buggy ride through the French Quarter for $50. Well worth it. Our Driver pointed out points of interest and told us all about the history of the various buildings. He even had my son driving the buggy for a while. Don't miss out on the Beignets at Cafe' Du Monde they are great! We picked up some masks, beads and feather boas from some of the shops as we walked back to the ship for the Mardi Gras Party later on board. We had to be back by 6:15 p.m. so we could join our Tablemates celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary. The Ship departed at 10:00 p.m. Food We never had a bad meal anywhere on the ship. Whether it was Pizza, Hamburgers or various buffets on the Lido Deck or 5 star elegance in the Formal Dinning Room. The service in the Formal Dinning Room was great. Our Waitress "Ina" and our Assistant Waiter "Juan" were great! We really enjoyed the company of our Tablemates, "Tom and Peggy." I even tried the escargot (snails). It was great! Drinks We had bought the kids a Fountain Card for $19.95 each and ours were $29.95 each. This was well worth the money. I never experienced a problem getting service from the various bar waiters and waitresses. In fact after a day or two they remembered what we wanted and would bring it without asking. Coffee, Iced Tea, Lemonade, and Fruit Punch were available 24 hours a day on the Lido Deck. Camp Carnival Both my kids were old enough to check themselves in and out of Camp Carnival and they both took part in various activities. They enjoyed it. They each met several friends on board and had a really good time. We let them have free run of the ship. We all had a FRS/GMRS Radio and I required frequent check-ins. This seemed to work well and we were never out of touch with each other. Pictures The ship's photographers never miss an opportunity to take your picture. Let them. There is no obligation to buy but we bought most of them and we cherish them as some of our best souvenirs. They also have areas on the ship set up for pictures with formal backdrops. Take advantage of these. Great way of getting a nice family portrait without sitting fees. Room Service Service was quick. Whether it was cookies, brownies and milk to sandwiches they were delivered within 10 minutes of ordering. Tip the person delivering $1 per Tray. The food delivered was fresh and good. We even had them deliver a pitcher of coffee. It was great! Debarkation On the night before you arrive in Tampa you have to have all your bags (except carry-ons) packed and in the hall outside your cabin by 1:00 a.m. You must be out of your cabin and in your designated waiting area by 8:45 a.m. We were back in our car with all our luggage leaving Tampa at 11:00 a.m. So as you see debarkation was pretty quick. There seemed to be a lot of "medical emergencies" on this cruise. I think there were about 5 that I was aware off. Be sure and take out the insurance when you purchase your cruise. I understand that it cost the one man $1800 dollars to get his arm set in Grand Cayman and then being transported to Cozumel to meet up with the ship. If you have the insurance at least you can get reimbursed for that expense. I hope this review helps some of you with your planning as much as the reviews helped me. Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions. (callahan@fdn.com )    

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Apr 20, 2002

Grand Cayman, Cozumel, New Orleans

We were on the Upper deck room U224. This was the very last room on the side(aft oceanview). There was quite a bit of movement and It rocked me to sleep every night! Our only complaint for the entire trip was they were working on the outside of the Seaview bar above the children’s wading pool and woke us up drilling, sanding and scraping 2 separate mornings. Not nice after a late night!! Our cabin was nice sized and the showers were always hot with

a lot of pressure. Our steward was Kanikorn (really). He was kind of like the wind. We didn't see him much but you could always tell he had been there. Nice towel animals, mints on the pillows and always plenty of towels. Dining room and THE FOOD!! We ate in the dining room every night. We had the late seating and ended up getting a booth for 4 with the other couple we were cruising with. Our waiter was Surya from Indonesia and asst. waiter Stefan from Romania. They were both wonderful and made a great team. By the end of the week they knew exactly what you liked to drink, which bread and dressing everything! Everything we had to eat was fantastic. My husband tried everything new he could escargot, duck, lamb chops and he loved them all. My personal favorite was the West India Pumpkin soup (awesome!!) There were a couple of nights he couldnt make up his mind so Surya brought him two separate entrees. We really felt special at dinner. The formal nights were a lot of fun. There were a lot of beautiful dresses and gowns. I wore a nice cocktail dress for both and my husband wore a nice suit and felt comfortable. Anyone who cruises show take full advantage of eating in the dining room. It feels great to get dressed up, have great service and wonderful food. This was definitely a highlight of every day! We only ate breakfast in the dining room a couple of mornings. We decided the food was about the same at the seaview and you didn’t have to wait. We ate lunch mostly at the Seaview also. It was nice to have the choice, they always served burgers and fries on the pool side and inside they have a different menu daily. Nice variety! We also took advantage of the pizzeria and ate lunch and a couple of LATE night snacks there. Their Caesar salad and pizza was great. My husband liked the anchovy pizza a lot!! We also called room service a couple nights around 4am. This was AWESOME!! Everyone should take full advantage of this also. We had coffee delivered every morning nice touch! Overall the food for the entire cruise was great. We didn’t get to participate in the late night buffets very much because we were still full from dinner but made up for it in the middle of the night!! Entertainment: We saw both R rated comedians, Thomas Brown and Tim Harkleroad. They were both very funny!! We caught the Sensation dancers in the Fantasia lounge on the 2nd formal night. This was a great show, very entertaining! We really liked the piano bar with Mike Stone. He could play and sing just about everything you requested and if he didn’t know it, he knew something close. This is a neat little bar and he makes you feel like part of the show! We stopped in the disco one night, a little too much bumping and grinding and hip-hop for my husband but it was usually packed late at night. We went to see TGIF two nights in the Michelangelo lounge. They were great. I was even on the stage singing "Mustang Sally" LOTS OF FUN!! We also enjoyed Music Unlimited. They played in the Plaza lounge several nights. They played a good variety of music. We also played bingo a few times (no luck) and paid a few salaries in the casino. There was always something going on if you wanted to join! Don't miss the galley tour. They only have one the whole cruise and it was very interesting. After the tour, they have several demonstrations on Sensation Blvd.: napkin folding, towel animals, food carving and cake decorating. They also sell a set of their cookbooks for $25. We bought ours from our waiter Surya and he had it signed by the all of our dining room staff including the chef! Grand Cayman: They were about 1/2 hour late letting us get off the ship and you have to tender to the island. (Lots of waiting to get off and back on, bummer!) We signed up for the Stingray sandbar tour. This was wonderful. Make sure you buy your underwater camera at home for around $10, they were selling them on the tour for $20. There were lots of other boats but plenty of room for you to enjoy them and take lots of pictures. They sell a cup of dead squid for $4 and you can feed them. Definitely do this, it was a once in a lifetime experience. There wasn’t much time to do anything else on the island because you have to be back on the ship by 12:30. We did send our postcards at the post office here and we beat them home by about a week! Cozumel: This was definitely our favorite port! We started off with the Fury catamaran sail and snorkel!! Wonderful Time!!!! Worth every penny! They pick you up right at the pier and take you to a reef about 20 mins away. On the way, they explain exactly how to snorkel and set you up with masks, snorkel and fins. The reef is about 25 ft deep (you have to wear a small life jacket) and you snorkel for about 45 mins. We saw lots of fish and coral. Then you board the boat and they start the margaritas and beer flowing. They take you to a nice private beach with kayaks, floats, hammocks and volleyball, There is open bar while you’re there and they are selling burgers. This was a blast and the beach was absolutely beautiful. The tour last about 3 hrs and was the highlight of our entire trip! Highly recommended!! There are bathrooms on the boat and there were also kids having a great time. We went back to the ship and changed and ate at the seaview and headed back out. We shopped right by the pier (not too pushy) and I got my hair braided $2 a braid. We them grabbed a taxi $6 one way to Carlos and Charlies. This was a blast!! We were dancing on the stage and drinking yards of margaritas. I could have stayed there all night!! But we had to be back by 5:30. That night they had a party on the Lido deck and a Mexican buffet! FUN FUN New Orleans: We didn’t sign up for a tour but opted to do our own thing. I found the Cajun Cooking school on the internet that has a cooking class from 10 to 12 for $15 a person ($5 off coupon on line) that was located right in the mall. We did this which included your lunch. It was great! After the class she gave you 10% at the store. Then we walked up to the French Quarter and Jackson Square (lots to see!) We ate appetizers at Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville (very good) and then walked to Bourbon Street to get our beads and boas for the party on the ship. The parties were just beginning. We stopped at the Acme Oyster house and my husband sucked down a dozen (he loved 'em). We had to be back on the ship by 6. They had a Mardi Gras Party in the Plaza lounge with a costume contest. This was a lot of fun and they made the finalist lip sync. TOO funny!! Also a cajun buffet at midnight! Overall we had a wonderful time, the itinerary was great, the service wonderful, and like they say a cruise is what you make of it and we were determined to have a GREAT TIME and we did!!!! Any questions feel free to email me Olmac@concentric.net  

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Feb 10, 2002

Tampa, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, New Orleans

This was our first cruise. We were invited to go with some friends of ours who had been on one before. I was skeptical of being trapped on a ship for a week so I read a bunch of reviews before we agreed to go. In general I found the reviews to be accurate and helpful. I will try to avoid duplicating the same commentary everyone seems to give, but give some detail where I think it is needed. Embarkation We arrived in Tampa

around noon and made our way quickly to the pier. Unless you are traveling alone, I would recommend taking a cab from the airport to the pier since this will be cheaper and faster than the Carnival bus. When we got to the pier we had to stand in line for about 2-2 ½ hours. I’m not sure how other reviewers got on board so fast because it seemed like there was no end to the waiting. Also, you stand in big lines – no sitting. Keep in mind that your luggage may not arrive at your room until later that night (although ours was delivered immediately) so keep some things with you. Rooms Our room was on upper deck (front). It was very nice and more spacious than I had expected. Our bathroom worked fine and neither my wife nor I had any complaints about this. Our room steward was great, but she didn’t knock that loudly so you may want to keep your door bolted while you are in the room unless you like having strangers pop in while you’re changing. Food and drink Both my friends and wife drink a lot of pop so they all opted for the all you can drink soda card. This worked out ok for them, but they all had two complaints about this: 1. The pop is always poured into plastic cups with ice and it always seemed flat. 2. Bartenders seemed to ignore you at times unless you wanted alcohol. The alcohol prices are steep, but not unbearable. We had wine with dinner every night and I thought it was reasonable. The beer prices are between 3-5 dollars each with %15 tacked on to every purchase so if you want to drink a lot be prepared to pay for it. They don’t allow you to bring your own liquor on board either. We all thought the food was very good. We ate up top for breakfasts and lunches and in the dining room for diner. We tried eating breakfast in the dining room once, but none of us enjoyed the experience. Two main reasons: 1. The food is almost the same as that being served upstairs, but you must be waited on. I enjoy being able to walk up and get my own coffee and grapefruit whenever I want. 2. You get seated – always at a table with some strangers who never seem to be in a very talkative mood. We noticed the same thing for the midnight buffets. Had we sat next to friendly folk in the mood for conversation I would probably be touting this policy as a great idea. Our waiter and assistant (Florin and Werner) were very good - friendly, helpful and generally on top of things. The food was good, but not great. I give them high marks for presentation, but the food could have been more flavorful. And while we certainly didn’t have any bad meals, nothing really knocked our socks off either. Although I finally got to try escargot and I really liked it! The one downside of our dining experience was that we always felt rushed. It seemed like they were always pushing us to finish and get the next thing on the table. This is understandable considering the number of courses they have and the timeframe available. I should also note that my wife and I tend to stretch out dinner quite a bit more than most people I know so others may not notice or object to this. In fact, no one else seemed to notice it. Ports We stopped in Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and New Orleans. If you plan on getting a tan by the pool, do it between Cayman and Cozumel, the rest of the trip is in a cooler climate. This didn’t bother us too much since we still sat outside in shorts most of the time, but we weren’t sure what to expect. The stop in Cayman was too short to really do anything. We walked over to Eden Rock and snorkeled, which was great. We rented our snorkel gear from the boat, but I don’t think I would do this again. Everywhere you can snorkel on your stops will rent snorkel gear cheaper and you don’t have to carry it around with you. If you put a deposit down on something try to collect it before you HAVE to go because there might not be anyone working the desk when you need them there (Cayman). Cozumel was beautiful. We wanted to go sailing, but not on the big catamaran with everyone else so we set out in search of a boat downtown. There is an outfit called Sail Cozumel or something like that (run by a guy named Dan) (keep asking people about sailing until they answer correctly) and they took us out for a couple of hours on a small sailboat. It was perfect for us. New Orleans. My wife and I have been here about a half dozen times so we like it. My only regret is that the ship doesn’t stick around for any nightlife and doesn’t navigate the Mississippi during daylight (which would be cool to observe). If you’re looking for things to do – check out the French Market which is just past Jackson Square, grab a muffaletta sandwich at Frank’s, Hefe Weizen at Crescent City Brewhouse, and at least visit the cigar shop on Decatur where they make the cigars in front of you. Debarking It can take a while to get off the ship. Don’t make your travel plans out of Tampa before 12:30 or 1:00 because you might have some problem making it. We didn’t know this and had a 12:30 flight, which we made without any problem. Considering the wait to get in and the general herding of folks on this last morning, the actual process is quite fast and efficient. That is it.

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Jan 27, 2002

Western Caribbean-7 days

This was our second cruise in just six months. Our first cruise was on RCCL 3- days to the Bahamas, and we had such a great time, that we couldn’t wait to cruise again. We weren’t sure how Carnival would compare, but in the long run, we found most aspects of this cruise to compare favorably, or better, to our first trip on Royal Caribbean. After this wonderful 7 day cruise, I would never go on a cruise that was less than 7 days again. This trip

was so much more enjoyable. We were constantly on the go on the first cruise, which was nice, but we didn’t ever have time to relax at all, and this cruise provides time to explore the ports, but also several “at sea” days to just take it easy, and enjoy the sea and the sunshine, and the activities on board the ship. Embarkation was not quite as smooth as on our first cruise, and it took a bit longer, but it wasn’t unbearable, and we had a place to sit and wait, so weren’t left standing. Debarkation went pretty well. You have to expect some delays, and just be prepared to be patient. Cabins- our cabin was actually quite roomy, compared to the cabins on RCCL, and our shower worked a lot better. We had no complaints about the room, even on the bottom (Riviera deck), and we didn’t even have a porthole this time. That just allowed us to sleep in longer! The cabin steward was excellent. Dining- this was the only real disappointment. The food in the main dining room (Fantasy) did not even begin to compare to the superb meals served in the dining room on RCCL. The meat was tough, and so was the lobster. I think we had only one really good meal in there all week. However, the midnight buffets were excellent, and the Seaview Grill was not bad. And the 24 hour pizza was a plus too. So, that almost made up for the main dining room. On the previous cruise, the only good meals were in the dining room, which was the opposite of this cruise. Ship Entertainment- We found a lot more variety on this cruise than the previous cruise. And the people seemed to enjoy themselves more, and stay up later. We met a lot of friendly people. The layout around the pool deck was very nice, and the upper deck provided more privacy, and was very relaxing, especially with the drink special of the day! Much nicer than the previous cruise. The band also played more variety , and it was not always the same old Macarena, and Electric Slide, which we appreciated greatly. The shows in the lounge were very elaborate, and the comedians were all quite funny! We enjoyed the at sea days as much as the days in port, and we didn’t expect that. The hot tubs were not usually crowded, which was great. It was important to get to the shows in the Fantasia lounge early though, because the seats in the balcony do not provide a good view of the stage at all, unless you are in the front row. It’s just poorly designed. My one complaint about the entertainment on the ship is that they advertised a Mardi Gras costume contest, and parade, and encouraged the passengers to buy masks and beads in New Orleans, but for some reason, they skipped over this activity completely, and many were disappointed. I still can’t figure out what went wrong with that? But I can’t say enough good things about the Bingo, since we won a Cruise!!! Wow!!! That sure helped with our post cruise let down!, and made it a lot easier to get off the ship with a smile! We really had a wonderful time, so that was just the icing on the cake! Photographs- We enjoyed purchasing our photographs on the ship. We posed for every camera we saw, and only bought the best ones. We never had to wait in line for them to take our photos, because we always got there as soon as they began photographing. We enjoyed the formal nights during the at sea days, which was much better than having a formal night after a day in port, like we had on our first cruise, which just made us even more crunched for time. Ports and Tours- Grand Cayman- Many people find their day in Grand Cayman to be too short. However, we got a really early start, and were headed to the Cockatoo Catamaran tour to the Stingray Sandbar by 7:00 A.M. I’ve heard this is the best stingray location, and also the best time to go. The ride on the Catamaran was lovely!, and a bit of an adventure! I was a little unsure about getting out and playing with the stingrays, but I got over my fear quickly. The water was unusually rough that day, but it was still great, and I’m not a swimmer. They give you an inflatable vest, and mask to use. You don’t really need to snorkel though, because the stingrays can be seen easily from above the water, and you can hold them, and feed them. My snorkeling mask just got in the way. I found snorkeling better in the Bahamas. But this is the best place for the stingrays. I wished we could have seen the turtles, and the more of the city, but that was another tour, and they missed out on the Catamaran sail boat experience, so you have to make that choice. We did have some time to shop briefly afterwards, and buy a rum cake, and rubber stingrays for the kids, who we left at home! If you take the later tour, you might not have time to shop. I recommend the earlier tour, so you can take advantage of the short port call. They also made a video with music on the Catamaran ride, and of all of us swimming with the stingrays. It’s a little pricey, at $40, but a great souvenir! Cozumel- Lots of people seem to like the shopping here, but unless you want diamonds, silver, or T-shirts, it’s pretty much the same old thing, after the first three shops. I got a bottle of vanilla, and some almond flavored tequila. The shops are interesting for an hour or two, but the tours are better. Also they told us not to eat or drink at this port, although I think a lot of people go to Carlos N Charlies, so that must be the one place to go where it’s safe and clean. We just went without lunch, since we took a tour at noon on the Fiesta Party boat. That was a good time, since it allowed us to have the morning free for shopping. We had heard that the Fiesta Party boat was fun, and it was, but you have to be willing to remember you’re on vacation, and to let yourself go! The main party is on the lower deck of the triple decker party boat, and really gets going on the way back. It’s pretty tame on the way to the Playa Sol (Sun Beach). We bought maracas on the boat, and they served “free” rum punch and margaritas, from paper cups. The “open bar” on the beach is more of the same, served on a board, set up in the sand! But they have restrooms there for changing, and the beach is colorful, if not as beautiful as the beaches in the Bahamas. The hammocks were plentiful, and empty, and they had a giant land Trampoline for the adventuresome, and also water trampolines, and paddle boats, and rafts, and a climbing water mountain. There was no extra charge for any of this, except the land trampoline. I’m not sure about the banana boat rides, but they looked like a lot of fun!! No crowds at all when we were there, either. We had less then 2 hours on the beach, but it was sufficient. We also had our picture taken with some Colorful parrots, and paid the guy $5 for three shots, with our own camera. More rum punch, margaritas, and Tequila, on the ride back on the Fiesta Party Boat. There was a live band, and it got a little crazy, with contests, the limbo, hokey pokey, the macarena, a pinata game full of candy, etc., etc., but we loosened up, and had fun. I’m not so sure about the few that stayed on the top deck. This tour is for the fun lovers. I know we had more fun than most of the other tours, for sure!! New Orleans- This was our first time there, and it was the beginning of the Super Bowl week-end, but it wasn’t too crowded in the daytime. Unfortunately, we had to be back on the ship by early evening, so missed most of the madness. We didn’t take a tour, but opted for the horse and buggy ride. I wish we had asked for a longer ride, but it was nice, and we only paid $10 each. The private horse and buggies are $50. The driver points out sights of interest, and our driver dropped us off in the French Quarter. It was a cool day, after the Caribbean sunshine, so we were glad we had heavy sweaters. Be prepared if you go in the winter!! The weather varies a lot. The beignets and the cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde warmed us up, and tasted great. We didn’t explore Bourbon street enough, but we did watch several street performers, and we shopped in the French Market for better deals on beads, and such. We sampled the pralines, and ate a sausage po boy with gravy at the Gumbo shop (near Pat O’Briens, which was closed for a private party that day. I heard it was the place to go for Hurricanes, but we were looking for a meal, and only the bar was open.) The sausage po boy was great, and recommended by a friend from New Orleans. We also bought Sandwiches at the deli, with the olive salad. We walked around and saw the Riverboats, and Super Bowl preparations. The Riverwalk Mall is nice, especially the Mardi Gras Madness store, and Auntie Anne’s pretzel shop sold us a Mardi Gras pretzel!, with purple and green icing, and sprinkles. Pretty cool! It’s nice to dress up for Mardi Gras pictures on the ship, even if they do forget to have the parade!!! We posed for the photographers in masks, boas, and beads, and that is our favorite pose of the trip! Also you can finally call home Cheap in this port!!, if you are worried about the kids....or the babysitter!! An interesting city, with lots of charm. We just wish they would extend this tour into the later evening hours. We didn’t think this cruise would be as special as our first one, but it was even more special in some ways. Carnival really impressed us, and I give them high marks in all areas, except the main dining room, which could use some improvement. All in all, a great experience! Can’t wait to cruise again!!  

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Dec 9, 2001

Western Caribbean

Introduction: This was my second cruise (my first was on the Premier’s Oceanic in 1991) and first time on Carnival. I went onboard expecting many things not to be perfect but knew no matter what the conditions I wouldn’t let it ruin my long awaited vacation. This was my first “real” vacation on over two years and a belated fortieth birthday present to myself. . (I turned 41 on the cruise!) I don’t feel I had to overlook many things

and came away delighted and ready to go again. This cruise is value packed for those who are budget conscious!! Muster Drill: On my first cruise ten years ago, the muster drill wasn’t a long event. The staff told us that the drill would only last fourteen minutes. This muster drill lasted over an hour. I still have no idea why it lasted so long. My short neck and those life jackets didn’t get along well, but a very small price to pay to begin having fun! Embarkation: We arrived at the port about 11:20 a.m. and were surprised to find a line already winding around the building. The doors were opened to begin checking people in at 11:30 a.m. By 12:00 we were through the line, checked in, had our sign and sail cards, room keys and given a boarding group number. At 12:15, the first boarding group was called to board the ship. We were in the forth group and onboard before 1 pm, which is the listed embarkation time. Overall, I would say the embarkation was much faster than I expected. I would give the agents that day high marks for keeping the line moving. The Cabin: Our cabin, E-51 was an outside starboard cabin. We found it spacious and loads of storage space. The cabin was clean and ready for it’s new occupants. I opened the bathroom door expecting a “funky” smell to come wafting out. Much to my surprise it smelled fresh and clean. I flopped down on my new bed. I was shocked how HARD it was and though I do like a firm bed - this is really HARD. I slept like a baby on that firm bed and wished my bed at home was that firm!! After dumping the carryon on the bed, it was off to the spa! (The spa deserves it’s own space later) Our luggage was outside our door by 3pm. (The over the door shoe organizer with clear plastic pockets was a life saver!!) The Lido Lunch: We found NO lines for lunch. I was one step ahead thanks to the tips I had received from the site. The buffet lunch had carved turkey (one of my personal favorite meats). I expected it to be dry and tasteless, but found it moist and sweet. What a nice surprise!! By 1:30, we had lunch and were fairly relaxed. I admit I was smiling watching others walking around clueless while we were enjoying the sites, smells and beautiful weather. The The Sensation might be nine years old, but is well maintained. All of the public areas were clean and sparkling and crewmembers were cleaning and shining at all hours of the day. The upholstery in the show lounges appeared almost brand new. The carpets in the public areas were in good shape. The main color of the public areas is a bright royal purple, which didn’t bother me. As I child, I loved “grape” so my senses weren’t offended. The layout of the ship is easy to find your way around. Most entertainment and food is found on 3 decks that are all just above the main “Empress” deck. I was amazed how much walking I accomplished!! By the end of the cruise, my knees were screaming, “Take the elevators, PLEASE!” The Casino: Prior to this cruise I had zero experience with gambling and casinos. I wasn’t sure what to expect or what the standards are in this area. I found I liked playing on “their” money much more than my own of course!!! My third quarter in the quarter slots, produced me 120 quarters, which I used to play on for a long time!! Needless to say this was “beginners” luck and by the second or third night, I found out I didn’t like playing on “my” money! The last sea day of the cruise, I discovered “Video Poker” and by the time I played my fourth hand, I was given 64 quarters to “play” with. I played for a very long time on those quarters. I know I played well over two hours with winning and losing. Of course in the end, the house wins but I liked playing for the most part on their money and only losing $40 for the week. I never did pay to play bingo, but I did enter the slot tournament in the casino (where the only skill you have to have is to push the button as fast as you can!) I found out my fingers and luck just isn’t good enough. I wanted to try black jack, craps and roulette, but found out I don’t have the stomach to lose $5 or more a “pop.” Maybe next time! The Spa and Beauty Salon: These were lovely areas, but very over priced as compared to “land” prices. For my  birthday I treated myself to a pedicure to the tune of $50. I didn’t find anything “special” about the pedicure but it was fun to do it aboard the ship. Warning, the day after you have a treatment, it will be on sale ‘Nuff said. Captains Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party: Imagine having read about these parties and expecting minimal service, poor drinks and no appetizers. I arrived to find waiters almost tripping over themselves to serve you both hot and cold appetizers AND the biggest shock that you could order any drink you wanted. From what I have read of other reviews, Carnival had been lacking in this area in the past, they certainly made a great come back from what I can see. (Our cruise director told us on the debarkation talk the last morning of the cruise that our sailing had already consumed for liquor than last years New Years Cruise with still ONE more day to go!) I must comment here that despite a lot of drinking that was obviously going on, I didn’t see anyone falling down drunk, fighting drunk or getting sick in public places drunk as I had read on previous reviews. Everyone seemed to be responsible adults. (I did say “seemed” there are sure to have been those I didn’t see!) Formal Night: After having read lots of reviews, this too surprised me pleasantly. Almost every man I saw was either in a suit or a tux AND I would say out of ten men I saw four were probably in tuxes. The women were dressed EVERY night of the cruise from what I saw. I did see sequins, long and short dresses every night aboard and nice silks. Even on casual nights, many were still dressed up. We had two formal nights onboard this cruise. The second night was treated as formally as the first one by the passengers. This made dinner such a nice experience! Shipboard Activities: The amount of activities was great the first few days of the cruise, but the last “fun” day at sea activities were very sparse. I retreated to the casino and “discovered” video poker. I would have like to have seen more “free” adult activities. Evening Shows/Entertainment: Overall the evening shows were pretty good, but I have do admit I enjoyed the comedians most of all. Thomas Brown is a “MUST” see!! (Warning: material in the midnight show is strictly for adults!! If you aren’t easily offended, you have GOT to see him at midnight!) I really enjoyed the sounds of “TGIF” in Michelangelo’s lots of good classic rock mix. The Plaza Lounge has “Music Unlimited” playing nightly and I will say, you have to both hear and see these guys to believe it! I won’t say more, just trust me it is a must see and hear especially the Grease Mega Mix. The first production show “Hey Mambo” was good but the second one “Party Time” seemed to get my hands clapping more easily. The Ports: Grand Cayman: What a wonderful place!! Too short of a time, especially considering you have to tender ashore. We did a 10 am highlight tour and enjoyed it immensely. I even had time to shop before the tour began. You have to be back upon the ship by 12:30 that cuts your time down a bit more too. I hope that one day they will make this port a longer stay. Seven-mile beach is beautiful!! (Despite the commercialization) The turtle farm was badly damaged during Hurricane Michelle but was up and running. Those turtles are amazing creatures. I was very impressed to find the Governor of Grand Caymans home so unlike here not all fenced in and heavily guarded. Once you have been to “Hell” you will understand exactly where the name comes from. One of my favorite stops was the Tortuga Rum Cake Factory. You might not think they sound yummy but they are soooo very delicious!! For those of you who can’t visit Grand Cayman they have a website to order from (www.tortugarums.com). Cozumel: The beauty of the water in Cozumel was the most incredible blue. No pictures do it justice. I had been to Mexico previously and I didn’t take any tours, as this was where I had come to SHOP! I was on the “prowl” for silver earrings and pure vanilla. I enjoyed bargaining with shopkeepers. When you read, if they are selling on the street you can bargain with them, but if they are in a shop you cannot. Well I found out very quickly they ALL bargain. All the prices were in American Dollars, which was sad. I miss the old days of the prices in pesos. Much more fun to bargain then! The gold prices were a total joke. You can find much cheaper prices here in the states if you follow any sale advertisements. I ended up paying more than I wanted for my silver earrings but I did like the ones I bought, so I was happy. The Mexican blankets were easily found 3 for $12. The duty free shopping right on the pier seemed to have the great prices for liquor (best deals for liquor were onboard the ship) and a few other items. I could still kick myself for not getting an onyx chess set again! Even though I do not play chess, they are beautiful and would have been an excellent gift (large ones about $20). New Orleans: The city of New Orleans has one of the best marketing ploys I have ever seen. You MUST walk through a mall to get to the “outside” world. They have a very well developed waterfront with the Aquarium and Harrah’s across the street from the mall. I hope Tampa will develop as well in time. One very big contrast you will immediately notice in Nawlins is the very muddy Mississippi River. It literally looks like chocolate milk with things that resemble big Oreo cookies floating in it. The walk to Bourbon Street is a 30-minute walk. It was wonderful to sit outside in the brisk air at the Café Du Monde and have Café Au Lait and Beignets. As we were sitting there a jazz sax/trumpet player set up his “shop” in front of our table and began to play. It was wonderful sipping the café au lait, hearing the jazz music and then looking across the street to see the horse drawn carriages. Ah, that is living! Be warned in Nawlins even reading bottle labels on hot sauce can make someone “blush.” For example, one had the label that called it “Butt Twister” and that was a one of the tamest labels I saw! Bourbon Street isn’t an area for kids daylight or dark. I have never seen so many homeless as what I saw in Nawlins. It seemed everywhere I looked there was a homeless person either sleeping, leaning or crouched down. Rusty Wallace/Nascar Events: The Nascar driver-host of this cruise had many events that were planned for his fans. The first event registration was a full and total disaster! We stood in line over two hours to pick up our registration kits. This seemed to affect the muster drill that ended up lasting over one hour. I do think having that life vest on for an hour might have stretched my short neck! It was fun to see Rusty and his all over the ship everyday doing tourist things without being constantly hassled. The Wallaces ate in the main dining room just like any other passenger. Right after boarding if you recall earlier, I said I had headed to the spa. I had the most comical experience in the spa unknowingly tapping Rusty’s wife on the shoulder and asking her where she got her Rusty Wallace Events card. You can imagine my expression when another passenger who had over heard my inquiry quietly called me over and explained that was Rusty’s wife. I got a big chuckle out of that, as did the lady who had witnessed it. Dining: We had requested late seating and did receive the 8 pm seating in the Ecstasy Dining room. Our waiter was eager to get us whatever we wanted even if it was three main entrees, which many of the men did have, and two or three appetizers. The beef was always cooked to order and tasted wonderful. The lobster tail I had wasn’t good and ordered a replacement dish. The lobster tasted rubbery and like bleach to me. Everyone else said their lobster was wonderful and asked for second and thirds. We were seated at a table by a window, which I loved!! At breakfast and dinner, I was usually there alone as the others opted for Lido deck dining and I enjoyed the gorgeous window view. Open seating for lunch is the pits!! I avoided the dining room on open seating meals after that one bad experience. Imagine being seated with nine people who are complaining about every bite of food. Their plates were full and they are eating, but still complaining. That experience ruined me for open seating meals. Tipping: This was a very funny experience. The waiter and assistant waiter seemed shocked we tipped them and were very gracious. We never saw the Head Waiter or Maitre d’ to give them their tips. We even tried hunting them down. I tried to find our cabin steward the last night to give him his tip and was unsuccessful. I found him right before we headed to our debarkation station. Maybe most leave the tips in their cabins now days. I like handing it to them personally and thanking them for all their hard work. Debarkation: We reported to the Fantasia lounge at the appointed 8:45 am time and waited. This was our longest wait (outside of the Rusty Wallace registration fiasco) on the entire cruise. We were off the ship and home by 11 a.m. I figure we were one of the first aboard the ship and being the last off the ship wasn’t a bad thing. Who wants to leave anyway?! Summary: My travel agent, Angie Nolan was the best too!! Would I sail on Carnival again? You bet! Did I have fun? You bet! What would be the five things I would change about this cruise if I could? 1. The length of time in Grand Cayman 2. No “open seating” for lunch/breakfast 3. Better smoke filters for all the public places. 4. More “At Sea” activities for adults who don’t gamble. 5. A digital picture system that uses your cabin number and you can view your pictures on your cabin TV screen and either choose to buy or click to delete them. (I know dream on, but I am dreaming of the next cruise already!)  

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Oct 27, 2001

Western Caribbean

This was our 2nd Cruise; My Husband and I are middle-aged, and we took our children 8 and 22. The itinerary was Tampa, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, N. Orleans, Tampa. October 28, 2001 Embarkation: Embarkation was scheduled for 12:30 - 3:30 p.m. We arrived at 11:30 and hordes of porters were there to take our luggage to the ship's loading area for a whatever we paid them. They were very helpful. Lines were long but it was to be expected

since you have 2000 people getting on board, but we made the best of the situation. Meals: Lunches and dinners in the dinner were okay, We only ate in the Dining room one evening because we preferred the food on the lido deck we actually knew what we were eating and the food was pretty bland in the dining room ,but you have to be considerate of the waiters, because this is how they make their money. The alternative buffet breakfasts, lunches, and dinners in the Seaview Bar and Grill (no dress code) were good. Breakfast ran as late as 10:30, lunch went until 2:30, and dinner closed at 9:30 p.m. The breakfast buffet was the best to me they had such a large variety pancakes, French Toast, scrambled eggs, cooked to order omelets, bacon, sausage cream of wheat which to me taste just like grits, and being I am a southern girl I really enjoyed that. white and choc milk ,cereal juices ( apple and orange) and pastries. Lunch was beef burgers, Hot Dog steak fries, just everyday you would or could possibly enjoy. Dinner were a choice of 2 or 3 decent things, changed every day, But Delicious. The 24 hour pizzeria was great. I thought my 8 year old was going to be sick he ate so much pizza. The late night buffet was not worth staying up for they were quite pretty but short on content, fine if you were hungry. Entertainment: Did not make it to the Mr. Mambo show heard it was pretty good though. The comedians were okay (have heard better)Through out the day and evening there are non stop activities every hour bingo, aerobics, sing a-longs, karaoke, deck parties, scavenger hunts. the pool band was good, called Versatile, they were good but all Caribbean beats sound the same to me. Grand Cayman: Nice we rode down to the 7 mile beach and walked all the way back. It was very nice the weather their was the not best very cloudy so we did not see much fish. Not a lot of shopping was done. The rain was coming down pretty hard so we went back to the boat very early. Cozumel: All I could say about this port is PARTY!!!!!!! This was the best port the people there were truly trying to get your money. But seeing the effort is well worth it. This is were you want to do most of your souvenir shopping the prices are very good, blankets (throw) you can get 3 for $12.00 some really good deals were found in Cozumel. Now back to the PARTY!!!!!!!!! Carlos and Charlie's is the place to go if you really want to have fun once you enter they are in their own little third world . We laughed so hard and played Limbo and as you go around they are pretty some Tequila in your mouth. you have to be careful though you have so much fun until you will lose track of time and miss your boat.. Please if you are ever in Cozumel please visit Carlos and Charlie's. New Orleans: Bourbon Street is nice that is were we spent most of our time and it is every thing I had imagined.  

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Sep 1, 2001

Western Caribbean

We had a wonderful trip on the Sensation to Grand Cayman, Cozumel and New Orleans.  We read previous reviews and felt the travel tips were great.  We want to add to them for other travelers. The Sensation was a great ship.  Large enough to have plenty of privacy if you wanted it (considering there were 2,000 passengers and 900 crew members on board) but not so large that you didn't get to know people bump into them from

time to time.  Most of the wait staff is from Croatia, Romania, Indonesia.  All of the Cruise Director staff has English or Australian accents except one.  And all the ship's navigational and engineering staff, including the Captain, are Italian. Best Deals - Definitely take a taxi to and from the Tampa airport -- it is way cheaper and much faster than the cruise line's transport.  We shared the ride with another couple we met at baggage claim in Tampa!  Hi Lisa and Mike!  Total for the 4 of us going was $20 and returning $25 because we took a taxi mini van.  Carnival's transport charges $28 round trip per passenger.  - Carnival does not advertise their adult soda cards --- a great savings and convenience.  A coke (soda or pop -- depending on where you come from) costs $3 each.  With an adult soda card all you do is show your card to get all the soda you want.  The card costs $30 for an adult for a 7 day cruise.  We drank on average of 4 club sodas a day each, so we saved about $100!  There are cards for kids, too, at a lower price. - On Grand Cayman we took the Cockatoo Catamaran to Stingray City, a sand bar where you swim and snorkel with the sting rays!  This is the only place in the world you can touch them (all very very tame from years of tourists).  It is a fabulous experience to have them come up to you, rub against you, eat out of your hand, and for the brave of heart let you hold and kiss them!  A very unique and exciting experience.  There are many excursions that go to Stingray City, but this gorgeous catamaran (60 people max) is the nicest, especially compared to the two-deck party barges with up to 150 people. - In Cozumel, the best way to get around is to rent a car ($40-70) and tour the island.  Chatanaab is a national park that is great for snorkelling, swimming, swimming with dolphins, sitting under a palm shelter and drinking pina colada's out of pineapples!  There are many beaches all around the island that are quite gorgeous.  The Horseback Riding tour is a big favorite, with part of the ride going to Mayan ruins.  The downtown area of Cozumel is very crowded and lively.  Go easy on the tequila at Carlos and Charlies, a famous bar/restaurant in town.  The big drinks are really enormous and pack about 1/4 bottle of 180 proof tequila each. - In New Orleans, people reported they enjoyed the various tours, but we chose just to walk Bourbon Street all afternoon, which at 12N on a Friday was already starting to crank up.  We had the first jello shots of our lives (hey, we're late bloomers) at the Court bar next to the Court of Two Sisters Restaurant.  $2 each using Everclear.  Whoo-e-e-e-!  Lots of music, dancing, great food and beads.  We had to be back on ship by 9:30pm so didn't get to see the town when things really got lively.  It feels like you are in some other country here, everyone needs to see Bourbon St in New Orleans at least once.  On the Ship - At lunch in the Seaview Restaurant each day there is a special table you can order from -- Carnival doesn't advertise this.  They had dimsum one day and the last day they were making fresh caesar salad with salmon which was very good. - Our cabin (Riviera 92) was clean, spacious, and nice, with two great terry cloth robes you get to wear til day 6.  They were so nice George bought one to take home.  Can't see why anyone would pay more than this class of room with a window (6A) as it is plenty big and you're not there that often.  - Long lines form inside Seaview for lunch and breakfast.  Walk 50 feet to the outside buffet (same food) and the wait is no more than a minute, if that. - The most romantic view on the ship is out the stern from the 10 small tables on the back of the Seaview restaurant (either side).  Just go out the glass doors.  It was never crowded here, which amazed us. - The Casino is like every other casino.  If you play, you only have to choose how much you lose and how fast! Other reviews hinted that the slots are easier going out of port, but we didn't find that to be a factor.  Do play the Free Cruise raffle on the last night - and you have to be present to win, so plan to stay up.  Play Bingo late in the week on Friday and Saturday when the prizes double or triple.  They have Scratch-off Lotto cards for a buck.  Carnival makes a mint on these.  You're no more likely to win at sea than if you are playing back home (assuming you live in a Lotto state).  And the max prize is only $1000. - The 24/7 pizza and ice cream was a universal hit on board.  They also served calzones (not to mention caesar salad -plain or with chicken) but you have to ask for them.  We even had pizza for breakfast one morning with an ice cream after.  Makes you feel like a kid!  This is a great addition to cruising since we last cruised. - We didn't attend any of the big "Vegas-Style" shows but heard that the Mambo show on Monday night bombed and the second show on Thursday was pretty good.  The really funny shows were put on by the very funny and affable Cruise Director, Greg Kneale.  Be sure to see "Bedtime Story" and the "Mr. and Mrs. Show."  - The house band, Music Unlimited, is really pretty good.  They put on a good show night after night.  When the Asian guys in the band start singing Louis Armstrong (and doing it WELL), that's a hoot! - Tips:  Plan on taking $9 per person per day for tipping your waiter, asst waiter, and cabin steward.  Optional (but clearly expected) tipping includes the headwaiter (ours did nothing but occasional small talk) and the maitre'd (who was moderately entertaining) Not So Great  - It took us 2 long hours to get through the lines at embarkation.  That was the worst wait of the trip.  Be sure to complete all your paperwork Carnival sends you before arriving a port to save time.  Disembarkation went fast compared to what we had heard.  We were told to be at our locations at 8:45am and we were off the ship by 9:45am.  Not bad and no hassles.   - The cabin bathroom, as mentioned in many other Carnival reviews, did smell slightly.  he low-water toilets just don't flush as well as most people have at home.  We'll carry a small Airwick next time.    - The coffee is not the best.  It's not the staff's fault.  It's the desalinized water, which is pretty flat. - We went on the sunset cruise excursion in Cozumel.  It was way more party boat then sunset cruise --- the drinks kept on flowing and there was very loud music and dancing.  Get people drunk enough (which they did) and they'll enjoy just about anything (which they did, including a pretty awful lariat-wielding gaucho act on the top deck). Not romantic like many other sunset cruises at all, which is what were were expecting. - The comedians (there will be 2-4 per cruise) are hit and miss.  We saw two out of three ad both were not very funny. - The traditional Captain's Welcome has been modified.  You don't get your picture with him or shake his hand anymore.  Our Captain was particularly humorless and flat.   - The Photo staff is in your face a lot the first few days but after a while they are less aggressive. Finally, For anyone like us who has trouble getting their land legs back (we don't get seasick, we get dizzy once we hit land again!) you can try this:  order vitamins called lipoflavanoids from your drugstore and start taking them two weeks before you leave on your cruise and for a week after.  Also, ask your Dr. for a prescription for antivert and take one each night for the last two nights of your cruise and then 1 twice a day for your first week on land.  We seem to be having success so far.  We are only slightly experiencing vertigo and it is our first day back on land.  Worth a try!

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Jul 14, 2001

Tampa, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, New Orleans, Tampa

After having used this site to plan our vacation, I felt an obligation to send a review to help others. For my husband and me this was our 2nd cruise with Carnival. On the first, we went alone, however this time, we took our children (ages 11 and 9). We flew into Tampa from Pittsburgh. Upon arrival at the baggage claim in Tampa, we found Carnival employees at the base of the escalator to direct us. They’re extremely helpful as

our previous cruise was out of Miami where we were not met by anyone from Carnival. Miami just didn’t have the “customer-orientation” that we found in Tampa. We quickly retrieved our luggage and looked for a cab. (This is an important travel tip.) Carnival offers using their bus as a round trip to and from the ship, however, the cab service is cheaper and more efficient. They take you directly to the cruise ship. As you exit the baggage claim area, on the pillar outside there is a button that calls a cab waiting in their own special area. Push it and a cab magically appears. (We waited several minutes wondering where all the cabs were until my daughter noticed the button.) The cost is approx. $18.00. Carnival will bus you over to the port for $13.00 per person one way. (Do the math: 4 persons by cab = $18 plus tip. The return would be the same. Carnival bus at 4 persons x $13 = $52 then the same on the return. You’d spend $104 and have to wait on everyone else to load and unload!) We had no problems with the cab at all. We also gave our luggage to the porter at the cruise ship directly from the cab. Of course we generously tipped the porter and had applied the Carnival luggage tags at this point. Embarkation was efficient even though it was the longest wait of the week. We were in line 30 minutes. Our children didn’t appreciate the time in line, but we told them that part was “built-in” to teach them patience. So they endured without too much whining. A woman’s perspective: Take time to spruce yourself up in the restroom before boarding the boat as they’ll take your family’s picture as you board. I regret not doing this every time I look at our picture. This is the first of many opportunities that you’ll experience where someone is trying to “extort” money from you by taking your picture for you to purchase later. Get used to it. Take extra money for these. They make real nice momentos, email filler, and screen savers. Once on board we found our cabin. We were in R70. It was on the lowest level, but near the elevators. We loved this location. We had a window and could quickly walk the stairs to the upper levels. We never saw a reason to upgrade. We preferred to use that money for shore excursions and shopping. The kids never once complained. Besides, it was very close to the ramp to exit the boat in some of the ports, which made for quick access. Since my husband and myself had cruised on the Imagination just 2 years ago, we knew our way around the ship. We mused about how everything is in the same location as on the previous ship just with different names. Dining Basically, you have 3 choices for dining. The casual Seaview Restaurant on the Lido pool level, the 24-hour pizza oven, or the dining room. We ate breakfast and lunch every day in the Seaview area. It was informal, near the pool and was always different. My children loved the pizza and the ice cream, which are available 24/7. My kids had ice cream for breakfast, lots of it. They will still count this perk as among their favorite included in “cruising”. I personally thought the various cold salad selections on the lido deck were delicious. Freshly grilled salmon on lettuce, spinach salad with shrimp, green leaf lettuce with pears and pecans. I thought I died and went to heaven! We ate dinner in the main dining room every night at sea. The food in the dining room was wonderful. If you’re served a dish that just isn’t what you expected, you can ask for something else. Even if you want to try the Prime Rib AND the Salmon one evening, you can ask for the second one after you have the first. They will get it for you without a hassle. During your meal, the dining room wait staff provided lively entertainment every night, each night with a different theme. This is a great time for taking your video camera. We had a little problem upon boarding with our dining “time” assignment. We had requested to be assigned to the late seating and we were given the “early”. This matters depending on your preference on time to leave the fun in the sun and return to your room to shower and prepare for dinner. They do have a means to change your dining time by speaking with the maitre D’. While my husband went to hear the cruise director talk on Cayman Islands and shore excursions, I went to attempt changing our dining schedule times. You enter a room, take a number and wait. It took about 30 minutes to be seen. They only promise is that they will look into your request. It made me a little mad as we had booked this cruise 6 months in advance. We had to eat at the early time for the first night and wait on the change. In the whole scope of life, it was far from catastrophic. Still, it took perseverance. I would recommend if you need to alter your dining time, go see the maitre D’ on the first night of the cruise. My husband went and explained our problem and he placed an asterisk by our name on the request list. The old adage, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar”, should be followed. A calm and respectful approach goes a long, long way to win someone’s consideration. We had our time changed to our preference the next night. It’s not rocket science. Shore Excursions Pre-planning is crucial to getting the specific shore excursion you want. You’ll have the opportunity to sign-up for them when you board the boat. This would allow you to get first crack at the ones you want. Some have a limited space available. After boarding is completed, they close the shore excursion information desk temporarily, so that they can organize the mandatory emergency “muster” station drill. Every passenger must attend the drill, in the unlikely event of another Titanic episode. When that drill is over, they offer a presentation by the cruise director on the various shore excursions that will be available. My husband attended that. Surprisingly, only 150-200 people attended. They open the registrations back up for the shore excursions after this presentation. This is where we signed-up for the Cockatoo Catamaran Stingray tour as it has a limit. Admittedly, this is a busy time just after boarding with a lot going on. Knowing to expect this chaos and still realizing your need to get someone in your party there can be key to getting what you want. Cayman Islands Not enough time in port! (this is the universal complaint) It’s just enough that they can tempt you onto the cruise and tease you with paradise but too short to take much of it in. Shopping is expensive. Go to the Stringray City Tour. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The water is shallow for your non-swimmer types. It is one of the shore excursions at Cayman. My husband and my son chose the “Cockatoo Catamaran Tour to Sting Ray City”. The Cockatoo Catamaran is a different sting ray tour than the regular sting ray tour. Both include time spent with tame stingrays in their natural habitat and the option to snorkel if you want. They also provide squid to feed the stingrays while there. The stingrays do not “sting” and they are very interesting. They feel like a wet chamois cloth that swims all around you. The difference is the Cockatoo Catamaran is a much nicer boat with a smaller group and a more personalized tour. It is only slightly more expensive than the regular stingray tour, but well worth the difference. They had an underwater videographer on board who is part of the crew. They offer a high-quality video of your specific tour with all of the people that were there. They coach everybody to make it fun and they dub “island” music into the video to make it a delight to watch. As you can tell, we bought a video ($40) and consider it a real nice capture of the memories of that special time. Cozumel, Mexico We went on the jeep excursion to Passion Island, both on our first cruise (2 years ago), and this time. It was relaxing and fun to ride in the jeep through the jungle. My 11 year old son loved it. They feed you great food. You also get 2 hours on a beautiful beach. My daughter had her hair braided for $30 while I lay in the sun. Be prepared, the tour guides are not bashful to tell you how they make their living from the tips provided by you and me. $5 to $10 per couple or family seemed customary. We then returned to the boat, we showered and went back into town for shopping. Skip the free diamond earring scam, unless you own a microscope so you can see if there really are diamonds in there. Our take on that advice is that the jewelry stores and the ship’s cruise director must have some arrangement. He recommends you go to certain jewelry stores for free diamond earrings, and the jeweler must reciprocate somehow. As you can discern, I went for the free earrings and would suggest you save your effort. I ended up feeling silly for asking and like I needed a shower after taking them and leaving the store without listening to their sales pitches. To preserve your dignity, you wouldn’t give these earrings to anyone anyway. They’re a joke. Carlos and Charlie’s bar is famous and very lively. We did that when we went to Cozumel on our first cruise without our kids. From our experience and that of others who went this time, it is still NOT a place for kids. Mexican blankets are cheapest in the duty free shop directly off the boat. They make very nice gifts at 3 for $12. The street vendors will negotiate from their asking price. NEVER pay their asking price. My husband was able to negotiate them down to less than half of their asking price in almost all instances. If the souvenir is inside a store and off of the street, the prices are firm, except for cigars. My husband was able to negotiate a store manager down on a Cuban cigar from his asking price (which is not printed anywhere...) We ate at Palmero’s right along the main drag in Cozumel on both of our cruises. It seems safe, relatively clean, and of course, has authentic Mexican food! New Orleans We rode a horse drawn carriage with a tour guide around the city. It cost $10 per person, but was well worth it. These are available just by walking up to them along the street near Jackson Square and the Café DuMonde. You do not need to book these in advance where I believe they were offered but more expensive. We also went to the Café DuMonde for their famous beniets and café ole’. Very, very enjoyable. We ate dinner at Pat O’Reillys. Cajun food and all. If you don’t realize it already, Bourbon Street, even during the day, is exemplary of the pit of Hell, as we can imagine it. If you have children, a daylight stroll down Bourbon Street (presumably safe) still has displays of the typical, but also decadent Mardi Gras necklaces including the likenesses of aroused genitals and worse. Signs, shirts, bumper stickers etc. with any and all remarks are on display and for sale. These go way beyond what you see in your hometown or local mall. One place has strippers whose large photos are displayed in the picture window nude from the waist up. Bottom line: Bourbon Street is NOT for kids anytime. TIP: Big Mardi Gras party back on ship. Either take masks, beads and boas, or buy them in New Orleans. I wish I had packed items I knew I had at home. I hated to have to buy them again. A lot of folks take this party on the ship real serious and go all out. Suit yourself. Many simply stood by as curious observers. Plenty of drink, loud music, noise, dancing, and contests. Since this was our last port and having planned in advance, we took a duffel bag packed with dirty clothes, unneeded items, and some basic souvenirs and found a UPS shipping point near the cruise port. We shipped this back home so we didn’t have to carry it back on the plane etc.. There is a UPS shipper real close to the ship dock that we found despite the apparent cluelessness of the cab drivers. Anyone we asked when we got off the boat had no awareness of where to find a UPS shipper. Long story shorter, we found a place called, “The Wooden Box” about two blocks from the Mall just off the ship. They’re a bonafide UPS place. If you ask a cab driver, they seem to want to direct you to the downtown area as the closest shipping point. Hmmm. Misc. Tips Pack important stuff in your “carry-on” bag, i.e. toothbrush, bathing suit etc. Your suitcases may NOT arrive at your cabin until as late as 8:00 p.m. and you may have been on the boat since 1:00 p.m.! Ours were delivered in a stagger and the last ones didn’t arrive until about 8:00 p.m.. If you don’t have a bathing suit & sandals, sunscreen, toothbrush, etc., you’ll be quite limited on what you can do for the bulk of your first day. Of course, you can walk around the boat and go to dinner in your clothes that you traveled in during the day. ‘Nuff said. Need an Iron? – There are no irons provided in the cabins, nor will they provide one on request. There are two locations on the boat to do laundry and there are a couple irons there to be used while in the laundry area only. Consider a travel iron. Coke Cards - $20 each for the kids. Provides endless fountain drinks all week just by showing their card. Good value for us. Adults may be interested, especially if you don’t drink alcohol, otherwise it may not be practical. Vegas type shows - good for kids. They really liked them even though initially they did not want to go. Magician - excellent for kids Comedian - family friendly in the main lounge area. Later night shows were definitely adult only. Camp Carnival - My kids tried, but the staff was pretty apathetic and lacked genuine enthusiasm. Kind of a: “We don’t care if you come in or not!” attitude. Pictures - If you ever wanted a picture of yourselves without the sitting fee, this is your chance. No obligation and plenty of opportunities. Actual cost of the photo is reasonable. My kids loved finding themselves in the picture hall. They offered two different nights to have a picture taken while dressed formally. This turned out really nice for our family. Solitude and quiet- believe me you will want it eventually. Find your way to the back of the boat during the days and the piano bar at night. In the pool area on the Lido Deck, it was “in-your-face” noisy and action all during the day, which is fine if you want activity and music blaring. The Calypso bands were entertaining but loud. If you want mostly quiet “R&R”, the back of the boat is the place. Kid safety- I let my kids have run of the boat with frequent check ins. They knew where we were at all times. My children know how to act in public and that running is not acceptable and unsafe too. We never had a problem. Lastly, Put your bathing suit on immediately after you board, go to lunch, and find a chair. It is fun to watch all the confused and unplanned people looking around while you have already started your vacation. With the opportunity to read these types of reviews, in advance, you will be leaps ahead of the majority of people on the ship who were not as smart as you!

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Sep 23, 2000

Tampa, Grand Caymen, Cozumel, New Orleans

Sailing Date: September 24th, 2000 This was our very 1st cruise & before we left we had carefully looked over all the cruise reviews, read books on the Ports of Call and talked to some people who had cruised before.  We picked this itinerary because we were interested in going to New Orleans & we also got a good deal on the price. Never having cruised before, we were prepared for anything.  One thing that we had

read a lot about were the lines everywhere, so we packed some cards & were prepared to wait in long line-ups.  Much to our surprise, other than one on-board line-up, line-ups were not a problem.  The ship was booked to capacity at 2,600 people.  We were originally in Riviera deck & got upgraded to Upper deck.  We were in an inside cabin, U6, which was aft (in the front of the ship).  The only difference between an inside & an outside cabin was that you got a window & robes in the outside cabin.  With outside cabins, you can also look outside to see what the weather's like. Embarkation: From Tampa airport, we took a taxi to the Port of Tampa.  Cost here was around $20.  We had read that you should not give your bags to a porter because they are not Carnival employees.  So, we lugged our luggage into the terminal & it was crowded.  We were a bit confused at this point & went up to the counter & they told us to find a porter & have our bags checked.  So, we went outside again to get a porter to take our bags.  Tipping is 50c a bag.  Since we were there in plenty of time, we decided to walk around Tampa a bit & take some pics of the cruise ship in port.  We also hoped that all the people would be gone by the time we got back.  After taking some pics, we proceeded back to the terminal & there was now a more orderly line-up which we joined.  We went up some stairs and then into another line-up and waited for a Carnival rep to look over our Sign & Sail cards, etc. and gave us a call number (this is how you'll board the ship).  After that, we got our room key, passed through a photo opportunity and got on board.  It was quite fast.  We then proceeded to our cabin, left our bags and proceeded to the Seaview Bistro on the Lido deck for some lunch. Rather than going into a lengthy review, I will just touch on some items that other 1st time cruisers should know: Drinks You can get the "drink of the day" in souvenir glasses for $5.75 each.  However, these are only available on the lido deck.  If you miss the souvenir glass for that day (they change everyday), you can still purchase them at the Lido deck bar for $2.50 each.  The best value for beer (any kind you want) is a bucket of beer available on the Lido deck only-- 4 beers for $10.50 vs. $3.50 for 1 beer.  Bring coca-cola from home, as bottled coke is $2.50 each.  We eventually bought some cans of Coke in Grand Cayman for $1 each, and just kept them in our room.  You can purchase a soft drink card for teens, but you have to be under 21.  There is a free juice bar in the Seaview dining area which serves orange juice, grapefruit juice, apple juice, fruit punch, lemonade and tomato juice (breakfast).  There are many opportunities for "free alcoholic drinks".  The 1st Art Auction offers free champagne; the Captain's Cocktail party, which offers a variety of mixed drinks and appetizers; the rum swizzle party at the Casino opening; and there is a champagne picture night where you get your pic taken holding champagne glasses filled with champagne & then you get to drink the champagne.  Coffee & tea are served 24 hrs. in the Seaview Dining Lounge. Towels We knew that towels were supplied for the pool area, but weren't sure if you had to bring your own towels from home for the shore excursions.  Don't worry about bringing any.  You get these delivered to your room the night before your shore excursion and as long as you bring them back, they're free to use.  If you don't bring them back, they charge you $22.  You can also purchase these in the gift shops. Shore Excursions We had heard that if you don't book your excursions right away, that they fill up fast.  You can access all the excusions from your in-room tv and your tickets will be delivered to your room.  So, on the 1st night, we booked the Stingray Tour for Grand Caymen $68 for 2 people; & the Island Snorkel Tour in Cozumel $62 for 2.  However, there are many opportunities to win some shore excusions through the "lucky losers" bingo & horserace draws & shore talks.  The shore tours that were being raffled off were Tulum Mayan tours (a few of these) & Paradise Island (day on the beach type day).  The day we were going to do the early Stingray City tour, the debarkation process was VERY slow as we were being tendered (brought by a smaller boat) to Grand Cayman.  By the time we got ashore, the tour had left without us (& several other people).  We could have taken the later tour, but we wanted to do some shopping.  We did receive a full refund for this.  After talking to some other people, we heard that the Island See & Sea tour was really good, which included a tour of a turtle farm, a stop in Hell (a town) and a tour of Rackham's rum facility where they make rum & rum cakes. In Cozumel, we signed up for the early Island snorkel tour which was wonderful.  You just walk right off the ship, so there are no delays taking a tender.  They supply your snorkel equipment, you can even get your pic taken underwater by one of Carnival's photographers.  We saw lots of fish -- it was really good & we highly recommend it.  Afterwards, we went back to the ship, took a shower and took a taxi to San Miguel (set price of $5).  In New Orleans, we didn't sign up for a tour because no one could tell us if the City Tour or French Quarter Walking Tour actually went into a cemetary.  Again, you just walk right off the shop, but have to go down several flights of stairs.  We went to the Tourist Info in New Orleans 529 St. Ann St. in the French Quarter) & booked our own tour, which was a City Tour for $3 pp less than it would have cost through the ship.  We visited the Louis III cemetary.  We later found out that if you want to go on the Voodoo/cemetary tours, they are normally at night, but some are offered during the day.  We were too late to get a tour on these. Shore Shopping & Activities Attend the Shore Talk for Grand Cayman & Cozumel.  Not only will you find out where you can get a free sample of coral, free diamond earrrings & free gem stone, you can also get in on some raffles & win some prizes.  For each shore excursion, free maps are provided.  The shore talks mainly emphasis shops that pay a fee to the cruise lines for mentioning their names, but it's a good indicator for where to go for shopping.  Normally, the recommended shops are set prices (even in Cozumel), but you get some raffle tickets for purchasing items here, which are then entered into an on-board raffle draw for prizes.  In Grand Cayman, make sure you go to Tortuga's.  Their rum cakes are wonderful.  A small one costs $3.95 & there are free samples.  If you go on the Island Tour, you stop at Captain Rackham's which also sells rum cakes.  In Cozumel, we bought some nailpolish which is one colour inside and another in the sun, in a shop called Del Sol (these were for our teenage daughters).  We also got a great deal on t-shirts, 5 for $20 at a little store along the main street.  In these stores you can haggle with the owner to try to get a better deal on some of the prices.  We also noticed that in the duty free shop near the pier, that Tortuga rum sold for $7.95, & we had paid $8.95 in Grand Cayman.  The rum cakes, however, were more.  In New Orleans, I had invested in Frommer's New Orleans, so had a bit better knowledge of what I wanted.  For some New Orleans food places, you have to stop at Cafe du Monde for their beignets (an icing sugar coated fried donut, but without the hole) in the Riverview Mall or 813 Decatur St. in the French Quarter; at Central Grocery for the muffeletta (an Italian deli meat sandwich on round bread with olive salad mixture) at 923 Decatur St; and of course the famous hurricane drink (rum & passion fruit) at Pat O'Brien's, 718 St. Peter St.; and of course, the wonderful pralines (pecans & caramel) from Aunt Sally's (near the Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter), at 810 Decatur St.  We never had an opportunity to eat dinner in New Orleans because our tour came back late and it was Friday night traffic, so we were even later.  Make sure you pick up your Mardi Gras mask & beads at one of the many shops that sell them.  Best deals are from the Mardi Gras annex, $2 for a doz. Mardi Gras beads, some places sell these for $3 for one string of beads, so shop around. On-Board Dining There are basically 2 areas in which to eat.  The Seaview Bistro (alternative dining), which is a cafeteria-style area, and one of the dining rooms (which is pre-selected for you), the Fantasy or Ecstacy Dining rooms.  We ate all breakfast and lunches at the Seaview on the Lido deck because we were always off doing things.  Breakfast normally consisted of scrambled eggs, crisp bacon, ham, sausage, pancakes, french toast, hash browns, made-to-order omelettes, white & brown bread to toast, bagels to toast, danishes and croissants.  This was the hot buffet area.  There was also cereal, grapefruit, peeled orange and grapefruit sections, cantaloupe & bananas, ham & cheese trays.  Lunch was made up of hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza (24 hrs), salad bar  specials of the day, such as Shepherd's pie, fish, rice, and a carving station, etc.  There is also an ice cream and frozen yogourt bar. We always ate dinner in the dining room.  The only nights you have to dress up are the Captain's Dinner and the other formal night on board.  he other nights you just can't wear shorts, & everything goes.  Food was okay, but not gourmet standard.  The only complaint I have here is that everything is drenched in sauce.  I quickly learned to ask for things "on the side", such as salad dressing, gravy, etc.  More fruit & vegetable servings would have been nice.  There were usually 4 choices for dessert & they were all pretty good.  Every night the waiters & asst. waiters performed or sang or danced & entertained you.  It was fun! Art Auction We are not rich, but do like art, so we went to 2 art auctions just to see what they were like.  If you register before the auctions and stay until the end, you get a free poster or small lithograph just for attending.  There is normally a flyer announcing this in your on-board newspaper, so bring it with you.  We did buy one pic for $70 (unframed), which they ship to you by UPS.  There are a whole range of pics you can bid on, and even if you don't bid on any, you can get your free poster, etc. Casino We are not gamblers, so didn't spend a lot of time in the casino.  Murray did however, enter the 2 blackjack tournaments, which is a deal for $10.  You get $1,000 worth of chips, play 7 hands with a group of people, the top person from that group goes to the finals.  You can win $250 plus t-shirts, etc.  Not bad for $10.  There is a similar slots tournament for $10. Money The Sensation operates as a "cashless society".  You use your Sign & Sail card to pay for everything, except the bingos & horseracing.  This can get quite dangerous because you can't access your account to see how much you've spent.  Your bill is slid under your room door on Friday & another is slid under on Sat.  Compare your bill with the chits that are given to you for your purchases.  If there are any discrepancies, get them straightened out right away. Photos The on-board photographers are ready & willing to take your pic anytime & anywhere.  Take advantage of this.  You don't have to purchase any of these pics, but may want to purchase some good ones.  8x10 cost $19.95; 5x7 $8.  You can also get reprints of a pic in a smaller size once you purchase the original. I'm not sure what more I can tell anyone other than to check your "Carnival Capers" daily & get involved.  We really liked the activities that the Asst. Cruise Directors would host, such as Hairy Chest contest, etc.  Even if you don't participate, they are fun to watch.  We also went to the dance classes, such as Ballroom Dancing.  Went on the galley tour, which was quite interesting, but packed.  Here you can purchase a set of cookbooks for $25 & get a free set of dinner menus (you can't get the dinner menus anywhere else). I would definitely go on another cruise with Carnival.  They really live up to their name of the "Fun Ships".  Next cruise we hope to go on RCI's Voyageur of the Seas with our family.  Have fun!  

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Sep 16, 2000

Western Caribbean

The room was filthy, but the sheets and towels clean.  We decided to chalk this up to the quick turn around and to be thankful we were on this end of the storm Trying to make the best of the difficult start, we headed to dinner where we were greeted by  a gracious waiter and a wonderful meal.  Things seemed to  be looking up. (Our luggage arrived after our 8:00 seating for dinner).  We sailed during dinner and it was

a beautiful sight.  When returned to our room we discovered the ice bucket for the champagne we had been sent to celebrate our anniversary had a leak and our beds were soaked and we had water all over our hand carried bags and in them.  So we used the towels and a blow dryer as the stewards seemed to be genuinely busy and we wanted to do our part to make this go well. This was now 10 p.m. on Monday.  We found any experience with the front desk to be handled rudely except for the time we returned to our cabin to find two tickets for scuba diving ($250. worth) on our bed which should have been for the cabin below and we returned them.  They appreciated that.  Unfortunately the tickets we were to receive didn't show up and we had to fight for them.  We found the crew to be exhausted from their prior experience and lack of opportunity to relax on Sunday afternoon and that effect carried over during our entire cruise. There was an edgeness and curtness to the "service" in general.  While we tried to understand this, we also had paid a fair and reasonable price to be given service, which was far below our expectation.  We experienced mechanical problems on the shows at night.  Unprepared performers at another.  On the last day of our cruise, we discovered that our anniversary gift package was to have included drink and photo coupons, which after double checking our package, we had not.  We went to the front desk and inquired about.  We were very rudely told that was not their problem and we should check with the dining room staff.  We did so at lunch and were treated as if we were thieves.  After most of our lunch (which was wonderful) was eaten the captain returned meekly with our coupons and a brief apology.  He also was insistant that he keep the "greeting memo" that was sent with the package and was quite rude when my wife asked to save it as a memoir, not an inappropriate request since the gift commemorated a special occasion.  He then wrote in huge letters "Items received in full" and initialed and dated it. Because morale was so low for the crew the "dinner" parades and entertainment we had heard so much about was virtually non existent.  In fact during the midnight buffet we were treated so rudely, we ended up leaving our plates on a buffet rather than continue to be treated in such a manner.  We were not alone.  While the food was consistently fabulous, the remainder of the experience left a great deal to be desired.  One couple at our dinner table told us this was their 10th cruise on Carnival and they had never seen anything like it.  We did fill out our surveys reflecting our concerns and extreme dissatisfaction and sitting in the lounge waiting to clear customs, it was quite clear we were not alone.  We subsequently sent a letter to the president of the cruise line.  That was four months ago and we have heard nothing.  We did copy our travel agent as well.  In January we were sent a generic survey to fill out and be entered in a contest to win a free cruise.  We filled out the survey, but declined to be entered in the free cruise drawing as vacation time is precious and we have heard similar experiences from several places.  We heard nothing back after our second survey was returned relating our experience. We are looking forward to a second cruise in November on Celebrity with our children, my wife's parents, siblings and their children.  All have been on cruises prior and their was not much consideration given to Carnival after the previous experiences and more importantly the total lack of willingness to acknowledge or address our experiences.  Thank you for the opportunity to share our experience and hopefully save some one else from wasting precious dollars and more importantly time on this cruise.  

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Jul 8, 2000

Tampa/Grand Cayman/Cozumel/New Orleans/Tamps

We are a family of 4, 2 teachers, almost 14 year-old girl and 11 year-old boy. Embarkation: Don’t worry about getting to the ship early. Our plane did not get into to Tampa until 1:30 p.m. and we had plenty of time. We were all settled on board by 3:30 and had time for a late lunch. There were almost no waits at the terminal except for the first of the picture lines. Only downside was that lunch in the Seaview was kind

of picked over. Also if you have main seating, 6:00 dinner, better bring/wear clothes for the dining room. Our bags didn’t get delivered until after 6 which was fine since we went for the late seating at 8:15. Although the ship was overbooked, 2600 passengers, we seldom felt it was overcrowded. There is plenty of out of the way spaces. Main problems were not enough deck chairs by the pools and big crowds for the tours. Meal Tips: Pros and Cons for dinner seating. We liked the late seating since we are not morning people and wanted to take our time in the a.m. plus on vacation we rarely eat before 8 because we want to cram as much in to each day and still take time to clean up and have nice dinner. If at all possible, eat in the dining room. Meal service is almost as fast for breakfast and lunch in the dining room, especially if you choose the express breakfast choice. Food is similar, but much better in the dining room. Don’t bother with Seaview unless you don’t want to change out of your bathing suit. Food is so-so and it is always crowded and noisy. Sometimes there are no seats and tables are not bussed fast enough. Dining room food was always exceptional and where else will you get such service! One disadvantage with late seating is that we were never hungry for the midnight buffets. They are great. Check what is coming up and save room. Wednesday was a Mexican theme and was very There is a pasta buffet, dessert, oriental one. Cajun and Mexican buffets on deck. Thursday’s was the best, the gala buffet in the dining rooms. If you have young kids and want to eat with them, choose the 6:00 seating. Or instead choose the 8:15 seating, feed the kids in the Seaview when the Camp Carnival staff is taking a break and then take the kids back to the kids’ room and enjoy the luxury of adult dining alone. Early seating has the advantage of either 8:30 or 10:30 showtimes and other activities in early evening. Late seating folks get the pool, spa, running track and hot tubs almost to themselves when many people go get ready for dinner. Waiters really pamper the children and sincerely seem to enjoy them. Don’t be afraid to order two appetizers, two entrees or desserts. The evening lobster was served our waiter urged me to order another entree because he said the lobster was small. I thought it was a nice size. Everything is tasty but the beef is outstanding. There is a deluxe beef dish every night. Our waiters learned our preferences the first day and quickly served us our favorites. For a change of pace, go to high tea at 3:30 one day. Little sandwiches and pastries, very elegant and you meet some lovely people too. Dress Never having been on a cruise we really balked at having to bring dress up clothes. However, we should have brought more. We didn’t wear all our casual clothes because we were in our swim suits for a couple of the days and we could have used a few more dress up items because we really loved dinner in the dining room. Women, bring a sweater or something long sleeved to wear onboard. It is freezing in the bars and lounges, especially the Fantasia Lounge where many of the shows and games are held. Cabins: Contrary to what we read, there is a nice basket of toiletries provided in the room, shampoo, body wash, deodorant, sample Tylenol p.m. Kleenex is provided in the bathroom. I brought several small packages just in case and didn’t need them. Bring pens, pencils and paper because there is none supplied in rooms and you may need to leave notes for your family or make notes on activities. We booked two cabins, one for parents, one for kids and it was well worth money. Although cabins are nice-sized, it was great to have 2 bathrooms, 2 TVs, etc. and some actual privacy. I think we might have gotten a little stir crazy with 4 in cabin with a rollaway bed which was our original reservation. Our steward left a lot to be desired. He forgot to put glasses and beach towels in our rooms. We order the room service coffee in our room the first night and the next morning it arrived late One evening at 6:30 I needed ice and got no response to his page and finally had to call room service so it took an hour. We did get clean towels twice a day. We didn’t always get mints each night and only one of our kids got left a Carnival pin. The only time I saw him in our hallway was the last night when tips were handed out. Drinks: Also contrary to what I read, drinks were not pushed on us. The drinks of the day were not cheap at because they mostly were pushed with souvenir glasses. I think perhaps you can request them without the glass for a big savings. We were also pleasantly surprised that many areas of the ship are smoke-free including dining rooms and Fantasia Lounge were many events and shows are held. Only a few times were we annoyed by smoke. As you might expect, the worst area is by the casino and bars and discos on Sensation Blvd. Our main complaint is the number of photo opportunities with the staff that slowed things down considerably, especially when getting off the boat for tours. It also was a nuisance around the ship at meal times. Don’t feel rushed into purchasing first pictures you see. There will be plenty of others taken and you will find the pictures from previous days displayed, even if the staff tells you that you may not. Make sure to buy $18 unlimited soda pop card for kids under 18. Will save lots of money and is very convenient. Activities/Tours: Don’t worry if you miss some of the presentations on tours, advice, passenger game shows, etc. Most are repeated several times on the close-circuit TV channels shown in the room. Don’t miss the shows however. Although the Las Vegas style ones are nice we like the magicians, comics and juggler the best. The comic Philadelphia is a scream, especially his midnight show on Friday night. You must go to the shows a half hour early to get good seats. All the bingo before every event got to be annoying to us because we aren’t gamblers. We tried the slots in the casino but they didn’t seem to pay as well as Vegas and so we gave up pretty quickly. Grand Cayman tip: Definitely go on the Stingray City tour. If you opt for the later tour time, go into town early and do your shopping first because there will not be time to shop when you get back from the tour. Mayan Ruins at Tulum tour tip: Wear your bathing suit under your clothes and bring beach towel. There is a lovely small beach below the ruins and it is very, very hot in summer. We really envied the people jumping into the surf. We would suggest to see if is possible to go on the Mayan tour and then stay at the beach in Playa del Carmen and get a later ferry back to Cozumel. The beach and hotels looked lovely and very few people were there. There is even quite a nice small shopping area with some nice looking restaurants. New Orleans tip: if you have kids and it is hot, (96 the day we were there) go on the bus tour or better yet the bayou boat tour. They will only complain if you drag them walking around the French quarter. Do buy masks and attend Mardi Gras party on board that night or if you plan ahead bring a costume. Don’t miss the sting ray tour in Grand Cayman but if you select the late morning one do your shopping first because there won’t be time when you get back to town. Camp Carnival Our almost 14 year old thought it was OK. She met a couple of girls to pal around with but didn’t go to the teen room much. There were mostly very younger looking boys there. Our 11 year old didn’t want to participate in the 9-12 group because most of them were younger girls. At the air hockey tournament on the third day he finally met a couple of guys his age and then had a great time. I think the activities sounded like a lot of fun but he felt too old. Probably Camp Carnival is more successful with the younger kids. Gift shop tips On board there is a small selection of souvenirs from each location in the gift shops. Cozumel shopping we thought was so-so, overpriced and way too hot in July. If you aren’t really fussy about sizes, color, etc.., wait to buy souvenirs in the ship gift shops until the last few days. Many items go on sale some as much as 50 %. Same with the spa services. Discounts are available toward the end of the week although appointment times may not be ideal. Don’t get talked into a lot of overpriced beauty products either.

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Jul 1, 2000

Grand Cayman, Cozumel, New Orleans

Being that this was our first cruise, I’ve spent the past several months online reading all of the reviews and trying to gather as much information as possible. I already knew I was hooked before I even set foot aboard. Part of the fun for me starts the moment I wake up for a trip. This trip was no different. I had pretty much finished packing a few days earlier, while my husband, once again, waited until the last minute despite

my constant reminders. We had a 7am flight from Newark to Tampa on Sunday morning. We live just 10 minutes from the airport, so no real rush there. I am still amazed at how smoothly this flight went. I’ve never had a flight where we took off right on time and landed 20 minutes early, but I did today. When we reached the baggage area, within a minute the carousel started to turn and our luggage was up in about 2 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. I’m used to waiting forever for my luggage to appear. I’m feeling at this point that things are going so well, it must be a sign of things to come. We catch a cab to the pier and are at the terminal within 15 minutes. As the sight of the funnel of the Sensation comes into view, my excitement builds. This is actually my first time seeing a cruise ship up close and personal. From this point though, realization sets in. That perfect trip I envisioned is not to be. As we start the check in process, sprits are high. We walk right in, fill out the necessary forms and head to the check in line. There were only about 5 people in front of us. I’m thinking, could this go any smoother? Then, as I’m pulling out my passport and my husband’s, whose passport “I” packed, I ask him to get out his green card. He’s not a U.S. citizen, rather a permanent resident alien. To my horror, he’s standing there searching his wallet, saying he doesn’t think he has it. While trying to hold down my panic I ask him how could he not have it? To make a long story short, he didn’t really realize that he would be traveling internationally, being that we were just flying to Tampa, and didn’t think to bring it. I thought he carried it in his wallet everywhere, but he explained due to his fear or losing it, he keeps it at home unless he’s traveling. Suffice it to say, this problem has been resolved and will NEVER occur again. We go to one of the staff there and explain our situation and they tell us with a grim face that we may not be able to board and that we had to wait about an hour and a half to speak with an immigration officer. So, while more and more people arrive, joyously awaiting their cruise, we’re sitting there looking like we just lost our best friend, our dog and our jobs at the same time. It took a lot of self control for me to keep my mouth shut, but I did, because I realized at that moment, we could very easily be treading DIVORCE ground. To sum it all up, we were told to expect the worst and we fear our hopes for our first cruise are dashed. Thank the Almighty God, He came through for us. A very nice immigration agent named Judy informed us that thanks to the very good documentation in my husband’s passport, they were able to check a computer and get his status and green card #. The only thing is, that when we clear customs in New Orleans, we might have to pay a $170 fine for not having it with us. At this point, we’re so happy to be getting on the ship, we’ll pay anything. So, now we resume our previous feeling of happiness and excitement and go get our boarding number and take our first real look at the Sensation! From this point, I’ll try to make it quick. We board the ship and head right for our cabin U106, an inside cabin on Upper Deck. When we find it, I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s quite clean, and wasn’t gaudy as I expected from the pictures in the brochure. Although, I’m thinking, if Carnival cabins are supposed to be 50% larger than most other lines, what can THEY look like? This was no Taj Mahal by any means. We start off our exploration of the ship. I’m impressed by its cleanliness and beauty. It’s also quite large and I needed my deck plan for a couple of days to find my way around. We then have lunch in the Seaview Bistro on the Lido deck, which I enjoyed. We set sail at 5:00. At 6:00 I had a planned meeting in Micelangelo’s Lounge with another couple whom I met online. We shared a drink and wished each other a great cruise. We had late seating in the Fantasy Dining room, with a seating for 6. We met our tablemates, 2 other couples. I enjoyed my dinner immensely. Everything from the appetizers to the dessert was delicious during the entire cruise. I especially enjoyed the lobster on formal night. It practically melted in my mouth. Our waiter, Ari, and ass’t waiter, Jean, were friendly and quite efficient. The only thing that I can complain about during our dining experience was one of the couples at our table. From the moment we arrived, they couldn’t keep their hands off of each other. They were cuddling and cooing throughout the entire trip. It was sickening. They practically shared one chair. He was always whispering in her ear and nuzzling noses. At one point I was tempted to tell them to take it to their room. The other couple and us figured no way can they be married.  We were right. I spent quite a bit of time in the casino. Never had any trouble finding a seat at the BJ table. I did become quite fond of a game called Sensation Fun 21 which is a variation of Blackjack. On sea days they set up a table outside on the Veranda deck and I played there while listening to the pool music and enjoying the ocean air. I recommend this if you’re a fan of blackjack. The shows throughout the week were ok, but Las Vegas style shows aren’t my thing. The comedians were ok, but even the R rated shows, I didn’t find waiting up til 12 to go see them necessary. The comedian on the final night named Philadelphia was excellent. Also the juggler was great. So glad I decided to go that night. We participated in bingo that last night, for a chance at a free cruise. I was so close. When someone finally yelled out BINGO!, I only had 2 more spaces left on my card. One tip though, always bring a sweater to the showlounge. It’s like a freezer in there. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay awake and party the night away, I usually felt so tired after dinner I would retire for the evening. But hey, it was a vacation and I guess I needed the rest. In Grand Cayman, we went on our own to 7 mile Beach. I was disappointed because this beach has been described as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but there were a lot of rocks underneath the water. Very uncomfortable. I had the best time in Cozumel. We hired a taxi driver to take us on an island tour and had a great time. We rode around the island, stopped and did some shopping. We also stopped at a little place called Nicho Cocon. They had a big, beautiful pool and beach. I thought this was a hotel, but it wasn’t. They had food and a bar. I wish we could have stayed there longer. This beach was very nice. Next time we’re here, I think we’ll rent a car and spend more time here. Wasn’t too thrilled with New Orleans. It was so hot, we didn’t feel like doing much walking. We took the trolley to Jackson Square and walked down Bourbon St. some, but didn’t see much to get excited about. Shopped in the mall and checked my email from an internet access site there. All in all we had a great time. The ship is beautiful and I think it’s a great value for the money. Would recommend it. If anyone has questions, I’d be happy to answer. Just email me.

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Jun 24, 2000

Grand Cayman, Cozumel Mexico, New Orleans

My husband and I just returned from our very first cruising experience.  There were some good and some bad things, but overall a rather nice trip. First, it was very helpful to read other cruise reviews.  This helped us to prepare for some of the things we could expect.  Others who had not done this prior to cruising were disappointed by a few things. We recommend that if you have to fly to get to the ship to go ahead

and purchase the package that includes airline tickets and transportation to the port with your package.  It was well worth it for us and eliminated the need to drive in busy traffic at the Tampa airport and the need to park at the port in Tampa.  Our only complaint with the transportation is that our particular bus did not have the air conditioning on and we almost melted, but from what I heard we were the exception.  We also recommend requesting a flight that will make you arrive at the ship around 11:00.  (The early bird gets the worm.)  By doing so you avoid long lines and get to get on the ship and explore it and eat lunch before the crowd arrives. If you get there later, as we did, you will have to wait in long lines to board.  (Hang in there though, you will make it.) Once on board the ship, you will want to first locate your room, make sure your key works, and powder your nose.  After that, you will immediately want to head up to the Seaview bar and grill by the pool and grab a quick bite of lunch.  (The lines here will be long, but they move quickly.  Also you need to tell yourself at this point that the lines will not be like this on other nights.  The only reason lines are long this time is everyone is hungry at the same time and heading to the only open food place.)  If you have a little time left after eating you can just go to the pool area and enjoy the band (great music, it really puts you in the mood for relaxation and vacation) or go out on a deck and take in the view. A little while later everyone is called to go to their room and get their life jackets and report to their muster station for a required life boat drill.  This does not make a good ending for such a hectic morning, but is worth it to know where to go if there is an emergency. (So just bear with it.) After that, the crowds seperate and go their own way and vacation begins.  Your luggage will arrive in your room within 1-2 hours after you arrive on the ship so carry on anything you will need prior to that (except the fancy dinner clothes because dinner is casual).  After receiving your luggage, immediately hang up your formal clothing and anything you do not want wrinkled.  Lines for the ironing board are usually long. We had the early seating for meals in the dining room.  This was a little early for breakfast, but the 12:00 lunch and the 6:00 dinner work out better for getting good seating for all shows and for spreading the meals out.  (It also enables you to enjoy the midnight buffets if you are night owls.)  The food in the dining room was OK.  We expected food more the equivalent of a fine restaurant.  It looked nice on the plate, and was edible, but lacked that melt in your mouth taste we were expecting.  The bread and salads were good and the meat choice is recommended for dinners.  Beware, we least enjoyed the dishes with creamy sauces or mixtures of foods in them.  They often left us asking, what was this yesterday? Don't wait until the last night as we did to enjoy the room service.  It was tasty and served in your room which helps to avoid lines and people.  The pizza is another good option.  Some of the best we have ever eaten. We also hardly ever got asked if we wanted anything to drink other than water in the dining room.  So if you want a drink, you will have to request it immediately upon sitting down at the table or you may just not get one.  Although, you will not have this problem anywhere else on the ship as the bartenders are johnny on the spot to get you a drink (by the way, 15% tips are automatically figured in for all drinks.) Our waiter, AB, appeared to be the best in the dining room.  He was entertaining, prompt, and never ceased to amaze us with his talents which included singing, dancing, and balancing trays. His service was well worth the recommended tip. The Maitre D was also very amusing.  It may appear that he does nothing for you other than visit your table and ask how things are, but just remember his awesome responsibility prior to and after your arrival.  The head waiter on the other hand, who was this person?  We could not believe that it was recommended that we tip this person we never saw. After dinner, you will want to head immediately to the theater for a good seat for the shows.  All the shows were great and are not to be missed.  There were 2 Las Vegas style shows that were great.  (My husband particularly like the skimpy costumes. Although this show is still ok for children and adults.)  There were also 2 magicians, a couple of comedians, a juggler, singing, and a guest talent show.  The talent show is very impressive.  You will be amazed at the talents of others on the ship with you.  (If you do not enjoy audience participation, I recommend not sitting close to the front during the comedians although the shows in the theater are for the most part rated PG.) There are a couple of midnight comedy shows.  Beware, you may be picked on, made fun of, and entertained.  Make sure that you enjoy PG13 or R rated comedy before going to these.  We enjoyed them as the language was not too bad. Drinks are kind of expensive on the ship.  You have to pay for most all drinks, including sodas and mixed drinks.  If you want to save money, buy some soda at the first port of call and keep them stored in your room.  (We did not do this but most people did.)  We did not think our drink bill was too outrageous for 2 people. Sunning was fun.  We got to sun next to someone famous, (we do not know who he was), but teenagers were interviewing him with the family camcorders and taking his picture.  He was wearing a ring, so we suppose he played some sort of sport.  The pools are almost always crowded and overrun with kids.  We thought that at least one pool and one hot tub should have been designated as adults only, (but what would a cruise for a child be without swimming?)  Much to our surprise the "hot tubs" were not very hot.  We went out one evening in a sprinkle to soak and avoid a crowd and almost froze.  The jets did however relieve our tired muscles. The ports of call were the best thing about the whole trip. However make sure you book any shore excursions the first night to avoid sold out trips and disappointment.  The stay at Grand Cayman was not long enough, but I guess there is a reason for that.  Make sure you purchase a shore excursion for here and save the shopping for later.  We went on the Stingray sandbar tour on the double decker catamaran.  It was the highlight of our trip.  You sail out about 30 minutes and wade or snorkle in waist deep water while feeding the sting rays.  I was a little scared at first, but soon realized that there was nothing to worry about.  Seeing these awesome creatures in the wild is an experience we will never forget.  Don't forget your underwater disposable camera.  The next port of call we went to was Cozumel.  This is different.  First we went on the Mermaid submerged boat tour.  This is kind of like being on a submarine without going too deep.  We got to see a plane sunken for a movie, lots of beautiful fish, several divers, and the coral reefs.  There are lots of options for excursions on Cozumel that sound like fun, so pick whichever you like.  Next, we went shopping.  All I can say is take a few extra dollars to shop here.  The store salespersons will drive you crazy trying to get you to come into their stores, but after you choose a couple and go in you will be amazed.  We bought a leather purse that sales for 190.00 in the US for 20.00 and a leather carry on bag for 50.00.  Remember too, never purchase for the first price you are quoted.  It is a fun experience to make a deal with a store clerk and get the price reduced even more. Lastly we went to New Orleans.  Here we started with a swamp boat tour.  This was fun if you like seeing alligators, birds, and the swamp while enjoying a leisurely ride.  After that we just walked around on our own.  We toured the french quarter, walked down Bourbon Street (which is a little much for small children to see after about 5:00, ate in a Cajun restaurant (which was good), went in Harrah's Casino to blow our pocket change, and walked around the mall located near the ship.  Buying a package here is not really necessary as you can entertain yourself for hours. Save the shopping in the on ship gift stores for the end of the week.  Prices have a way of getting cheaper as the week goes on. The rooms on the ship were very adequate to meet our needs.  I heard by others who have cruised before that they are larger that most other cruise lines.  Our room steward also did a great job.  The cute little towel animals and creative ways to fold down a bed were very amusing.  He also kept the room well stocked with towels, bottled water, and ice.  He is worth the requested tip also, as you will not have to lift a finger all week. You may want to avoid doing your laundry on the ship.  I did not do this, but saw several people wait in lines for hours to use washers and dryers.  Take an extra day after you return home to do this.  It is not worth a day of your vacation to wait this long. Take advantage of the ship photographers, especially on formal night.  Although the pictures are a little expensive, you do not have to buy every one.  Besides, where else can you go and have as many pictures as you like taken and turn them all down if you want.  We bought 2 of the best.  (But get there early to avoid lines again.) A word about motion sickness.  I usually get bad sick when traveling, but the size of this ship really made a difference.  Several people had to wear a patch for motion sickness, but still seemed to enjoy the activities.  It is not too bad. Disembarkation was not fun.  Take a deck of cards for the adults and a toy or two for the children.  You will have to wait in a lounge anywhere from 30 minutes to almost 2 hours to get off.  The kids around us were very bored and began picking at each other. After getting off the ship, there are again more lines to wait in. One to get your luggage, back on a bus, a line at the airport.  You will be glad to get back into your own car with 2 feet on the ground.  Besides, other than getting off the ship to enjoy the ports of call, you will be on this floating resort for 7 days straight. All in all we rated the whole experience a B.    Will we ever cruise again?  Yes, but will try another cruise line (just for variety) and another itenerary.  If you have never cruised before, I say give it a try.  You will be glad you did.  

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Jun 10, 2000

New Orleans

This was my Third Carnival Cruise and Third Carnival Ship. Unfortunately the most disappointing. Although the Ship itself was beautiful, I was overall disappointed with the restaurant service (Assistant waiter was great). The waiter himself never said two words to my husband and I. Ditto for the Maitre'D and Head Waiter. I believe Carnival needs to concentrate more on the quality of their food rather than Quantity.. Of course

there were several hundred "Human Hoovers" who vacuumed almost every morsel insight regardless of taste, but we do not take a cruise to eat fifteen times a day. I prefer meals of quality, which I believe this particular ship is lacking. Cold formal dinners, with the overall cooking terrible. The cabin steward was great, the cabin was great. Ships activitie's while underway - too few. More fun please. Bar staff great. Tour to Stingray Sandbar - a rip off, only ten minutes in the water for $33.00 a pop. The whole of our tour group complained to the ship, we received 1/2 refund, without the ship taking responsibility and it clearly being the ships fault for not getting the first tour group off the ship in time and delaying our group for 1 1/2 hours before we started. Once there though, those Stingrays were really something. Mexico - Fiesta Party Boat - the Best. Overall experience c-, I'm checking around for another cruise line for the next trip.

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Apr 15, 2000

Western Caribbean

BOARDING My wife and I took the cruise as a last minute special. We spent under $1000. for the trip for both of us. As we live an hour away it was easy to get there. After my brother dropped us off, we faced a long wait to embark. The process was not efficient. A porter HAD to take my bags which I disliked. As a veteran cruiser my newest trick is to bring A LOT of wine to soften the horrid costs of getting toasty onboard. I was nervous

about how they would survive (the wine bottles). The port in Tampa was not real appealing, but I believe the nearby shopping center is complete now. The views leaving are nothing like Miami. THE SHIP The outside rooms with full sized windows were quite nice and roomy for a cruise boat. The ship and atrium is splendid (in a glitzy Miami style). My previous cruise was in a Royal "of the seas" class boat. This ship is it's equal. It is NOT as well maintained. The partying Carnival is rightly famous for takes it's toll. Stains, wear and tear were more evident then it should have been on a 7 year old ship. Overall the room and ship was above expectation. FOOD This is the area of distinction between Royal/Princess class and Carnival. Plenty and served with a smile. Just nowhere near the same caliber. Less Lobster, filet & shelled seafood. Our servers tried hard to please and earn the tips. The waiter's "shows" where they sang was formulistic but fun. No knock to Carnival, but this is where the price difference of the cruise is obvious. AT SEA The ship is smooth but the Gulf of Mexico is an easy body of water for a cruise liner. One warning-get a lounge chair early! The on board activity is a blast. I competed in the hairy chest contest and ping pong tournament. My wife did the Tarzan and Jane contest with new friends. A day of organized mayhem. Perfect. PORTS OF CALL The shopping is not what it is cranked up to be. Duty free means retails are 8-15% less in the ports then at home. Discounts on the competitive US retail scene are greater. Take the time to enjoy Caymen's GREAT beaches and Cozumel's GREAT reefs. We rented a scooter for a negotiated price of $20 on Cozumel. This includes gas! What a way to get around. DO IT. New Orleans was great. I've been there many times. I was prepared to take my wife to the typical Bourbon street haunts when I found out the Jazz festival was there! We had to leave before Greg Allman finished... darn.  The "big easy" is a great place to party away an afternoon. OVERALL Above expectations. People were all friendly. The average was in our 40ish area. Some younger, very few much older. The few seniors knew what boat they were on and were party animals too. We had a great time. I would suggest a tamer ship for the CPA types out there. For all of us that refuse to grow up... YAHOO!!!!  

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Apr 15, 2000

Tampa, Grand Caymen, Cozumel Mexico, New

This was our honeymoon cruise, The 2nd cruise for me and the first for my new wife.  Upon arrival at the Tampa airport, we were met by representatives of Carnival Cruise Lines and directed to the buses for the transfers. I strongly recommend a transfer from the airport to the ship, at $13.00 ea. it was a bargain. Once our luggage was loaded on the bus, we didn't worry about it anymore.  The next time we saw it, it was at our cabin aboard

ship. Upon arrival at the dock, we were directed to the correct terminal where we found a rather long line waiting to be processed and then give our sign & sail info. Although the line was quite long, it moved rather quickly and the mood of the people waiting in line was one of expectation rather than being bored or angry. Once through this line, we moved toward the gangway where we were photographed for a souviner photo that could be purchased for $6.00 at the photo gallery on board ship. Upon boarding, we were met by a porter who told us exactly how to find our cabins and to answer any questions that we had. After finding our cabin and getting settled in, we went up to the Lido deck where we had lunch consisting of hamburgers and french fries. These we found to be quite tasty and very much enjoyed. At 5:00 PM our departure was announced by a blast on the ships horn and a rendition of "Anchors Aweigh" over the PA system. During the next hour we went through the mandatory lifeboat drill which took approximately 20 minutes. Here you were shown how to put on your lifevest properly and where to assemble to board your lifeboat in case of an emergency. The rest of the day and evening was spent exploring the ship. We elected not to eat in the formal dining room that evening but instead had steaks in the Seaview Bar & Grill. These were well prepared and delicious. You also had a choice of a number of other dishes as well as salads and desserts. Monday was our first full day at sea and was spent leisurely. Sunning on the deck was how the day started. Here is a bit of advice, if you want a lounge chair be sure to get up there early otherwise they are all taken. Even though you are not suppose to save chairs people do it anyway. We tried out the casino also. This is something we enjoyed the whole cruise. Understand though that the casinos on ships are not regulated to pay out a certain percentage so set a limit on how much your willing to gamble and stick with it. All the games are fun and the dealers are helpful, say hi to Rose she's one of the best. This was also the first of two formal nights. You will find in the Atrium photographers set up to take formal portraits before you enter the dining room. Do this! You are not obligated to buy any pictures taken by the ship's photographers but I will tell you they are good and very professional. Our portrait was great! We also attended the show featuring a very good comedian in the Fantasia Lounge. Get there at least a half hour before the show starts to get a good seat. When we retired to our cabin that evening we found it totally cleaned, ice bucket full, a cute little animal folded from a towel (you'll get a different one every night *grin*), beds turned down and a chocolate on our pillows. Herminio, our cabin steward, outdid himself the entire week, my wife wanted to take him home, but we couldn't fit him in a suitcase. He was so efficient in his duties, we tipped him above the recommended amount. Tuesday was our first stop...Grand Cayman. You are given plenty of opportunity to book your shore excursions for each port, whether through your cabin tv or at the information desk. You will also find in your cabin Carnival beach towels that can be taken ashore at Grand Cayman and Cozumel, just don't forget them when returning to the ship or you will be charged for them. We chose the Stingray City Sandbar Tour (the early one, 7:00 am). This tour was great! The ship anchors just off the island and then tenders are run back and forth. Once onshore we boarded a bus and were taken to the dock where boats await for the various tours. The day was clear and warm, the 1/2 hour boat ride to the sandbar smooth. Approaching the sandbar the water is a clear crystal blue green color and you can see many, many stingrays heading the same way. Once there you climb down a short ladder into very cool water and the stingrays will swim around you, nudging and brushing up against you much like a cat does. Don't be afraid and listen to what your tour guides tell you. The stingrays are very tame and will eat squid right out of your hand. The only complaint here is that you had to buy the squid to feed the stingrays, we chose not to do this and still had a wonderful experience. Also be sure to purchase an underwater camera BEFORE you board the ship, the one's they sell are $20.00 each. Once you are through with the tour, you are returned to the dock to either go explore on your own or to return back to the ship.  Just remember, the last tender back to the ship is at 11:30 am and the ship leaves at 12:00 pm with or without you.  If you are left at any port, it is at your expense to catch back up with the ship at the next port of call. The rest of the day and night are at sea enroute to Cozumel Mexico. Wednesday. .. Cozumel is a bargain hunters dream. Never, never pay the asking price for anything you find here. Haggle is the name of the game. You will have from 10:00 am until 5:30 pm to find that special gift. The taxi ride into town from the dock is $5.00 U.S. dollars no matter how many share the ride. We rode with another couple and spent $2.50 as opposed to the entire cost.  My wife successfully bargained for several pieces of silver jewelry well below the asking price. On one particular bracelet, the asking price was $137.00 U.S. dollars. By the time we left, she had paid $50.00 for the bracelet, well below what it would have cost in the states. Whatever you decide to do, it is well worth your effort to make time to visit Carlos & Charlies. Here you can get drinks, lunch, or both. The food is excellent with fair prices, and you won't be sorry at all of the things going on in there. If you can, try and get there by 11:30 am to avoid the long lines that form trying to get in around 12:00 pm It's truly a memorable experience. After leaving here, it was back to the bargain hunting again. We finished our day about $250.00 lighter, but we left with 15 t-shirts for friends & relatives, 3 beautiful bracelets, 1 gold chain, 2 liters of Tequila, and 2 bottles of pure vanilla. In our opinion, worth every cent. Remember, the ship leaves this port at 6:00 pm, so be back on board by 5:30 pm or you will have to do as 2 young men found out. Shell out about $200.00 for a tender to radio that you were left and carry you out to the ship where you will find a very PO'd Captain waiting for you. The rest of the evening and next day you are at sea enroute to New Orleans. Friday.. .Around 9:30 am you are let off the ship in New Orleans at Riverwalk Mall. Here you will walk through an array of shops before reaching the outside and then you can be on your way to many of the various tours the ship offered or just do your own thing. You're greeted by a jazz band and someone handing out maps of the city and mardis gras beads. We set out on our own to explore the French Quarter and it's famous Bourbon Street. From the dock it's about a 25 to 30 minute walk but well worth it. Your senses are filled with the sights, sounds and smells of the city. We wandered through the entire quarter, had lunch at a nice little restaurant called "The Old Coffee Pot". And then set off to visit The Voodoo Museum, where you will learn the truth about Voodoo and the legendary Marie Laveau. If you choose to visit this place please have respect for the proprieters and their beliefs, and never, never touch one of the altars that they have set up. The people in the museum are very nice and pleasant and more than willing to answer your questions. Other things to do in New Orleans (you actually need more than one day to enjoy it all)...try beignets, they are a delicious pastry sprinkled with powdered sugar and you can get them at Cafe' Du Monde. Also, make sure to pick up a box of pralines, this is the most wonderful candy, my box never made it back home. You may want to try your luck at Harrah's Casino, which is right near the dock. Be back on ship by 5:30 and enjoy the trip back down the Mississippi River to the Gulf. The rest of the cruise was spent at sea enroute back to Tampa. I've only hit on the main highlights of our trip. We only dined in the formal dining room 3 nights but the food was wonderful. The 24-hour pizzeria made excellent pizzas. Menu selection anywhere you ate was extraordinary. The poolside band played a variety of enjoyable music. Brett Alans, the cruise director, kept plenty of activities going. All in all we had a great time. Being Easter break there were alot of children onboard and sometimes they ran up and down the halls, but other than that they were pretty much well behaved. Some tips for you: bring your own soft drinks if you want to drink any, they cost $2.75 on the ship. A multi-outlet plug will be needed to run more than one appliance, such as hair dryer and curling iron. There are washers and dryers located in the laundrette on the Riviera Deck across from cabin 156, they cost $1.00 each and there is a laundry detergent dispenser that costs 50 cents for each box (I'd take my own detergent and dryer sheets next time). But the best tip of all...just sit back, relax and have the time of your life. We did and we plan on cruising with Carnival again. If you have any specific questions you want answered feel free to e-mail me.

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Feb 20, 2000

Tampa-Grand Cayman-Cozumel-New Orleans-Tampa

A pair of multi-time cruisers, my wife and I were on the Carnival Sensation trip which left Tampa on February 20, 2000.  The itinerary is a sea day, Grand Cayman, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, a sea day, New Orleans and another sea day returning to Tampa.  The only bad thing at all about this cruise is getting on and off the ship in Tampa.  There are too many people trying to go the same place at the same time.  Carnival has

it down to a refined science, and it still takes way too long to process everyone.  The only way I can think of to improve the process would be if everyone did not show up at the same time.  Our flight got into Tampa around 10am.  By 11am, we were on the transfer bus and they started boarding the ship early…around noon.  Nevertheless, it was still 1pm before we reached our stateroom.  I will say luggage delivery is unbelievable.  I estimate they handle about 10,000 pieces of luggage each trip, and keep in mind, our stateroom number was changed in the upgrade process.  But they still found us with all four of our bags within two hours of boarding…not all at once, mind you, but all the bags got to the right room.  Cabin steward Earl was on the spot throughout the trip from the first moment getting the air conditioner to work to arranging a last minute little extra for me.  I was very pleased with his service, attitude and work ethic. The Sensation is a very exciting ship in many ways.  She is colorful, rides well, is easy to get around, very logically organized, and full of choices and amenities which make it almost impossible to do it all, or to be bored.  There are so many bars and lounges it is always possible to find one to fit your mood.  There are place where you can get away from it all and just relax and read…important on a ship with over 2000 passenger and 900 crew members.   There is plenty of deck space, and like the lounges, various parts of the deck have different atmospheres ranging from the always active and noisy main pool area to the very private top-optional stack deck.  The rear pool is a particular favorite, much quieter than the main pool.  The sports deck area overlooking the main pool is also great for sunning.  The main criticism here is that the little kids have their own pool and their own play area, yet many parents insist on having them with them at the two main adult pools.  I like kids, until they take up all the hot tub time when I’d like to use it!  Unsupervised teens and pre-teens are the only real downside to most Carnival cruises, no matter which ship you take. I found the cabins to be very much as advertised by other cruisers and reviewers.  They are much larger than you think they are going to be, and the standard is very comfortable for any couple.  We probably spend a little more time in our cabin resting and watching some TV than most other cruisers.  Yet we opted for the lower cost inside cabins and never felt crowed, claustrophobic nor uncomfortable.  In particular, I think the beds are very comfortable and the towels very nice.  I love shipboard showers with their soft water and soft sprinkler shower heads.  When you get right down to it, for a week, the most important thing is that everything be functional and work.  The Sensation had a very good week in that respect. The shipboard entertainment on the Sensation on this particular cruise was sub-par.  I think they often do better.  The first night show was really pretty bad, but the 2nd show later in the week was actually much better.  Not quite up to Vegas standards, but working on it.  I didn’t see cruise director Brett Alans perform, but judging the other things I did see him do, I think he is a pretty competent entertainer.  He is a VERY competent cruise director.  I would think Carnival must consider him one of their better company men…he sells the Carnival point of view with conviction, and actually makes the experience of being sold shore tours and shopping kickbacks relatively enjoyable.  I think he is a real pro, the kind of front man any organization would love to have. I’m a food and drink-a-holic, so what happens in the dining room is always the most important part of the trip for me.  I hear Carnival has improved its food.  Well, I thought it pretty darn good on this trip, so I’m not too sure how bad it could have been in the first place.  You have to have realistic expectations:  You’re not going to get a perfectly grilled filet minion on a cruise ship if for no other reason than the fact it has to sit under warming lights waiting for your waiter to pick it up.  But for items which are not bothered by the service structure…roasts, stews, sauces, steamed items, etc., it would be hard to do much better at home than the cooks and waiters do on the Sensation.  In particular, I think presentation is up to the standards set by contemporary fine restaurants, and portion is size is very appropriate for a setting where you can order 6-7-8 dishes at a sitting.  Our dining room service was excellent, with one minor major cocktail glitch, and everything else pretty much perfect.  I thought the matre’d was entertaining and informative, and if our waiters were not exactly overwhelmingly friendly, neither were they ever inattentive or unwilling to serve.  I enjoyed chatting with Ricardo, a native of Jamaica whose family now lives in the Los Angeles area as did I for 10 years.  I wish the line had wine stewards, but I think I understand why Carnival no longer places as much emphasis on wine and does not have high tea in the afternoons…there just aren’t as many people on Carnival cruises interested in these things as I am. The best way I can deal with this is to say that I got just about everything I wanted when I wanted it.  I got a very good hamburger the first afternoon before we sailed.  I got excellent rack of lamb in the dining room that night.  I got early coffee and continental breakfast every day when I got up between 5 and 6 am.  I got a second cooked breakfast in the dining on the days we were at sea.  I alternated lunches in the dining room, onshore, or in the Lido as the spirit moved me, and I felt each evening’s dinner was the special occasion of the day it was supposed to be…I think anyone disappointed in the Sensation’s food simply has unreal expectations.  We had excellent fish, excellent pastas, some very good appetizers, some soups that were better than others, and so on.  I think you just have to realize it is more likely you’ll get good beef Wellington or prime rib on a ship than that you’ll get a great rare filet steak. I thought in many ways the best two parts of the trip were at opposite ends from each other.  I greatly enjoyed the sea days.  I timed this trip because I wanted sun and a break from the winter in which I live.  I got 7 great days and 1 almost great day.  Not bad.  I found laying around in the sun, hitting the Jacuzzi, reading my books, and sipping the occasional beverage were just what I needed.  On the other hand, the three ports offered a nice variety of things to do, very different atmospheres from one another.  Grand Cayman of course has great water activities…you can’t go wrong with the Stingray City stuff, but other beach and snorkeling tours also got good reviews from fellow passengers.  Playa del Carmen is a horrible slum, but you are soon out of it and on to Tulum…another worthwhile shore excursion.  Cozumel was excellent for shopping and a variety lunch choice.  Then there’s New Orleans…totally different and luckily, the first day of Mardi Gras parades.   Needless to say, we spent the day in the French Quarter with lunch in the popular and historic Court of the Two Sisters.  Jazz, sidewalk art, shopping, girls trying to earn their beads, Harrahs casino…a busy day. Brett Alans spent a lot of time telling us how Carnival wants to exceed our expectations.  I think in many ways, the Sensation did so.  I expected a mid-level cruise experience aimed at families and singles.  I think I got a high end mid-level cruise which was a great value for just about anyone in any cruise market segment.  I think the line can spend some time reviewing and improving it embarkation and debarkation processes, although getting off the ship was not really the problem; it was getting on one of the buses to get back to the airport, almost as though once you walked out of the terminal, Carnival’s responsibility was over and you were back on your own.  In summary, we got at least what we paid for and probably a whole lot more.  This cruise would certainly get me to go back to Carnival again.  

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Dec 19, 1999

Tampa-Grand Cayman, Cozumel, New Orleans

Introduction - This was my second cruise within a 6-month period. The cruise was during Christmas, December 19-26 on Carnival’s Sensation. Ports were Grand Cayman, Cozumel and New Orleans. This cruise included my immediate family – husband and two daughters, ages 13 and 15. On my first cruise on the Norwegian Sea in July, we did the family-get-together type cruise which included my parents, 2 brothers, wives and kids. I mention this difference

in cruise companions since I enjoyed the large family group experience more than the just the 4 of us. Anyway, on with the review – I’ll compare the two cruises at the end. Embarkation - We live in Ft. Worth, TX and decided to book airfare ourselves. As it turned out, we’d gotten an $800 air voucher on American Airlines 2 months earlier for giving up seats to Las Vegas. The tickets ended up costing about $260 each with 3 tickets paid fully by the voucher and one paid partially. So, we spent about $250 of our own money for 4 tickets – pretty good deal. Also, we arrived a day early (didn’t want any snow delays ruining our trip). The flight there was uneventful and we arrived at the Tampa Bay Doubletree Suites hotel on Saturday afternoon. The hotel was nice – it overlooked Tampa Bay and we got a suite for $89.95/night. The only drawback was that was about 30 minutes from the Tampa port. On Sunday morning at 10:00 our van came to take us to the port. The cost for the 4 of us was $20, including tip. Beats Carnivals price of $20/person for round-trip transportation from airport to port. We pulled up to the door around 10:45 and went up to check in. It was uncrowded at that time and we were checked in by 11:00. The crowds came later – probably because they believed Carnival when they said check-in time started at noon. Don’t believe them – they probably check in people as early as 9 or 10. However, you do have to sit in a big waiting area until about 1:15 – then they start letting groups of people (by a boarding # system) get on the boat. We got on the ship about 1:20 and found our cabins pretty easily. Even with 2600 passengers on this Christmas cruise, embarkation was smooth and easy. Cabin - We had 2 cabins on the Upper Deck (deck 3 of 4 main passenger decks with the Empress deck being the 4th/uppermost passenger deck). Our cabin was an outside cabin in about the middle/starboard (right) of the ship and the girls got a special cheapo inside bunk-bed cabin, also in the middle of the ship. Our cabin with port charges was $990 each and the girls was $679 each – both booked 6 months in advance. The cabins were good-sized, even the bunk-bed cabins. Ours was about 185 sq. ft. and the girls’ cabin was probably 165 sq. ft. The showers were roomy and each cabin had a chair, vanity, small table and table with light at the end of one of the beds. Each bed had its own reading light and we pushed our beds together in our cabin. The girls’ upper bed was actually more of a box that could swing up and be stored against the wall. The bunk beds were configured in an L with the upper bunk perpendicular to the lower bunk. Both cabins had TV with a pretty good selection of cable/satellite channels, including the ever-popular channels which replay ship events. All the cabins were decorated in fairly hideous color combinations of burnt orange, white and some other colors thrown in. Drawer storage didn’t amount to much but closet storage made up for it with 2 pretty roomy closets. Since I brought many of my clothes in a garment bag on my own hangers, we had enough hangers. However, we would have been short just using their hangers. Another nice touch, each cabin included two big white robes for use during the cruise – you could buy them for about $50 each. All of our bags were in the room by 4pm. This was a great relief since we’d waited until 6pm and 8pm for bags on the previous cruise. Finally, the view from our room was through a large but rather dirty window. It was nice to have the window, but the view was definitely not improved by the dirt and water streaks. Clothing-We had brought nice clothes for the two formal nights, pants and some dresses for the other nights. I found dress to be fairly casual, even on Formal nights – men could wear jackets and ties – a very few even wore tuxes, but my husband wore a jacket and polo shirt on one Formal night and really didn’t look out of place. I didn’t wear many of the clothes I’d brought because I usually didn’t change out of the pants and polo shirts I’d worn during the day. December is not that warm a time in Tampa and New Orleans – even in Cozumel and Cancun, the temperature was low 80s. Coming from Texas, this wasn’t real warm weather for us. So, I didn’t wear some of the nicer pants and skirt outfits I’d brought for dinner. Since there’s nothing I hate worse than overpacking, I’ll remember in the future to bring less clothes on a winter cruise. Passengers - Since this was a Christmas cruise, there were lots of children and families on the ship. We heard several times that the count was 2600. The passengers were mostly American and mostly from up North. So, while I found the temperatures to be pretty chilly, lots of people absolutely loved the break from the cold and the snow. Children/Teen Programs - I had my two teenagers and the 13-year-old thoroughly enjoyed the teen program. The 15-year-old said, “Why should I get to know a bunch of people I’m never going to see after this week?” So, she was more of our constant companion. Also, she found it harder to keep up with us since we were in a different cabin.  The 13-year-old went to lots of activities and get-togethers and found this program to be better than the one on the Norwegian Sea program. So, Carnival does to a good job on teen programs. I’m not sure how good their programs are with younger kids. Service - We enjoyed our waiter, busboy and room steward. Most of room stewards were Jamaican but the food servers were more mixed nationalities – Romanian, Taiwanese, Indian – the whole range. I’ll state this again because it’s shocking and may make a difference in how you tip - service crew members typically make $50/month. They literally live off the tips you give them. Also, I talked with our busboy about one of his workdays – he was up at 6am serving breakfast, probably got about an hour break before lunch, served lunch (maybe a break in the afternoon, but who knows), served dinner at 6 and 8 and then helped prepare the midnight buffet. He got to bed around 2am and had to be up again at 6am to serve breakfast.  So, that’s the typical 12-16 hour day on $50/month. They do get occasional time off in ports (a few hours) and food servers get time off in Tampa (a few hours again). Moral to the story: if you enjoy your servers, tip them – they work very hard. I ended up tipping most of our servers the recommended amount per person – this ended up being pretty expensive with 4 of us - $220 total for the room steward, waiter, busboy and maitre ‘d. I only tipped the maitre’d  $10, not the recommended $1.50/day/person – we rarely saw him and he seemed to have no personality. So, I wasn’t going to leave him $42 just because Carnival said we should tip him that much. Food - There were two dinning rooms: the Fantasy and Ecstasy, with main or late seating. We were assigned main seating in the Ecstasy at a nice table next to a window at the back of the dining room. Of the two dining rooms, I liked ours the best – it was at the rear of the ship rather than in the middle and congestion at meal times didn’t seem to be nearly as great as that in front of the Fantasy. I have a theory that people in higher grade cabins get window seats and people in cheaper cabins get inside tables. It may not be true, but we had fairly high category cabins on both cruises and got nice window tables. We also booked early (4 months on one and 6 months on the other), so maybe that’s why we had window tables at mealtimes. The food was very good and the waiters were very generous if you wanted additional appetizers, entrees or desserts. I had a few times that I didn’t like an item – they immediately got me a different one. Also, once, when I didn’t fill up on one entrée, they brought me another right away. Finally, I came in late to dinner one night (7pm) and they shot me a menu, had my appetizers and entrée brought right out and soon I was caught up with everyone else. We ate in the dining room for most of our meals, except breakfast where we usually ate in the Seaview Bar and Grill. We also got some late-night pizza there but sometimes gave up on snacks because of long lines. We also faced some pretty good lines there for breakfast. As for purchasing drinks, I really don’t like spending lots of money for liquor. Paying almost $7 for a fruity drink in a souvenir plastic glass irks me. However, I did it once so that I could then make my own drinks in that glass and have them look semi-legitimate. We brought a bottle of rum in our bags and two 2-liter bottles of Coke and Sprite and used them to make our own drinks through the entire cruise. I also brought some plastic cups for drinks in the room. Finally, I purchased $30 in alcohol vouchers from Carnival’s Ship/shore program (or something like that). Basically, it’s the brochure you get with your cruise documents where you can purchase stuff ahead of time like flowers for the room, chocolates, etc. The drink vouchers saved us a little on buying bottles of wine at the table. They’re supposed to work better on buying individual drinks (4 for $15). Although some bartenders will tell you that you can only buy certain drinks with them, others will let you buy anything. We also bought a $15 photo voucher which saved us a little money on 5X7 pictures. Activities/Shows - Shows were the weakest part of the cruise – mostly because of bad sightlines and lack of seating for big crowds. Also, they tended to stack show after show together – one at 5, another at 6 and a big show at 7:30. This meant people just stayed in the good seats for hours leaving only bad seats for anyone getting to a show 30 minutes before. My daughter and I got to one show 10 minutes early – we were stuck sitting on the 2nd floor balcony on the back row with a pole between us and the show far below and still had to ask someone to move down one seat so that we sit together. The show was lame – silly songs and dance numbers and a mediocre magician. Neither of us was impressed. Later that week, we went to the Christmas show and got there about 20 minutes late – there was no seating available, and we couldn’t even see the show from behind the people standing at the back. We gave up and left. I would imagine that on a less crowded cruise, seating wouldn’t be so bad for shows, but that still doesn’t help the bad sightlines and mediocre shows. We played Bingo a few times but felt that it was a huge rip-off and didn’t play again. I love to gamble, so I spent a lot of time in the casino. They had about 15 blackjack tables, all at a $5 minimum, a couple of Caribbean Stud tables, some weird Spanish Blackjack tables, two Roulette tables and one Craps table. There were about 250 slot machines. The casino was never extremely crowded and even had a night where they served free drinks for a couple of hours. They had some fun contests – blackjack tournaments, slot tournaments, etc. and I played those a few times. They also sold raffle tickets to win a free cruise at a drawing on the last night. Unfortunately, I didn’t win. On the last day of the cruise, we went to the Art Auction. I learned on my last cruise not to waste time on auctions during the first few days – everything is marked way down by the last day. I was impressed by their offerings of cartoon cels (Disney and Warner Brothers), paintings from Peter Max and limited prints by Salvador Dali. This last-day auction was different in that they had all the paintings that hadn’t been purchased previously and told us to just go pick out what we liked, bring it to the front and they would auction each piece of art at rock-bottom prices – rock-bottom being their term – I found that their version of rock-bottom and mine were quite different. So, we picked out several Dali prints, some cartoon cels and a Peter Max painting. We ended up purchasing an original Pink Panther cel for $300 (supposedly worth $600) and a Dali print for $400 (again, supposedly worth $1175). The Peter Max paintings started at $1500 and went up to $2500. No one purchased them at those prices so they just took them back with them for the next cruise.  Again, only buy what you really love – don’t buy stuff based on their glowing reviews of artists and possible investment values. Even if you only spend $200 for an original piece of art, you may get it home and wonder what in the world you were thinking. Then, you might also have to frame it, adding another $150-$200 to the purchase cost. Buy what you absolutely love – leave the rest for those other cruise suckers. Shore Leave and Excursions - We planned on doing a shore excursion in Grand Cayman and doing our own thing in Cozumel and New Orleans. I think with a little planning, you could organize your own shore excursions anywhere, but we sometimes like to leave the more complicated ones to the cruise lines. Grand Cayman - We took the $38/person shore excursion to “swim with the stingrays.” We decided to do the 7am excursion instead of the 10am one since we had such a short time in Grand Cayman – 7am to 1pm. So, we took the short tender ride to shore, waited about 10 minutes then were led to a bus which took about 20 minutes to get to a 2-story catamaran boat. We then took a 30-minute boat ride out to the sand shoals where the stingrays were. We got there before anyone else and got into the 3-4 foot water with about 50-60 tame stingrays. They are really quite an experience. I had spent $3 to buy some squid to feed them. The feeding technique is to insert the squid into your closed fist with the it sticking out the top. The stingrays will then come by in the water and suck the squid out of your fist like a monster vacuum cleaner. My first feeding resulted in a chomped index finger  – the stingray’s teeth-plate didn’t cut my finger but indented it enough to hurt. Then, when I held out my 2nd squid, I must’ve gotten squid juice on my arm because the next stingray sucked a big hickey on it. This caused me to toss the rest of the squid into the water and decide I’d had enough fun feeding the stingrays. We stayed in the water about an hour – the first 30 minutes we had the stingrays all to ourselves. Then, a small boat came up and some of the stingrays left. Then bigger boat came and more stingrays left. I would imagine that taking the 10pm Stingray trip could be quite crowded with boats. I was glad we’d come early (except for having to get up early) and we even had enough time to go back to the boat, change, come back into town and shop. The shopping by the tender dock is not much – unless of course, you adore looking at lots of jewelry stores. That was about all they had there within walking distance. Do your power shopping in Cozumel – there’s lots of selection and great bargains. However, buy your rum cakes in the Grand Caymans – they’re cheaper there because that’s where they make them. Cozumel - At Cozumel, the ship docked at the International Terminal with a short walk to the International Duty-Free shops at the terminal. We got out around 9am and the 4 of us took a short taxi ride ($5) to the La Ceiba hotel (right next to the International Terminal), where it cost us $5 per person for use of the hotel’s private beach, two pools, large (but not very hot) whirlpool and snorkeling area. This is where they sunk an airplane for the 1960’s Jame Bond Thunderball move. We rented masks/snorkels right there at the hotel for $3 each. The day was overcast with occasional sun and we stayed until about noon. Then, we walked back to the ship for lunch. After lunch, the girls and I took a taxi into town ($5 each way) and shopped. I bought some more cheap t-shirts and shorts at the Forum shop ($6.50 for selected t-shirts, shorts, bathing suit covers). Then we took another $5 taxi back to the terminal. I ended up purchasing 4 bottles of vanilla there for about $4 each and two bottles of rum ($8 each). They promptly took my rum from me on the ship and I got it back Saturday night. However, transporting back 6 bottles of liquid can be frightening – they did give us cardboard sleeves for the vanilla, but I still had nightmares about opening up a vanilla-soaked suitcase when I got home. Luckily, nothing broke, so we survived the multi-glass transport. New Orleans - Due to a medical emergency on board, we didn’t disembark at New Orleans until noon, instead of the scheduled 9am. We also didn’t leave New Orleans until 9pm that night, instead of 6pm. Now, normally I wouldn’t complain about having to spend extra evening time in New Orleans – however, it was Christmas Eve, many stores and restaurants were closed and believe me, that city was pretty well shut down by 5pm. Anyway, we took a taxi to the French quarter, shopped, ate lunch, shopped and around 5:30pm, headed back to the ship for dinner. I took a detour to Harrah’s casino, which is very large and very expensive – for table games, anyway. I couldn’t find any $5 minimum tables – t hey were all $10 and up. They told me that’s because it was a Friday night – well, it was a dead Christmas Eve Friday night. Anyway, I got back to the boat about 7pm, 1 hour after dinner had started, went directly to our table and they brought me a menu and quickly had me caught up with my family. Disembarkation - We got off the ship fairly quickly (by 9:30am) but I had to really walk a long way to find a taxi since they were doing all kinds of construction at the Tampa Terminal and wouldn’t let taxis come to the door. Our taxi driver brought his cart all the way back to terminal, loaded our 500 bags on it (OK, 11 bags) and then pushed/pulled it to his taxi about a ¼ mile away. Hopefully, they’ve improved the parking, taxi-dropoff situation at Tampa by now. Again, our taxi ride to the airport cost $20, making round-trip costs for us about $40. Overall – I enjoyed the cruise but I didn’t enjoy a Christmas cruise. It never felt like Christmas and even on Christmas Eve, I saw tons of un-escorted children (anywhere from 8 to 15-years-old) at 11 and 12 at night. I think I’d like a New Year’s cruise better. Then, you’re expected to party. Also, I found that for me, cruising twice within 6 months was too much. I think once every year or two would be better. Comparisons between Carnival and Norwegian - Norwegian is definitely the classier of the two cruise lines. Also, the Norwegian cruise didn’t seem nearly as crowded as the Carnival cruise even though the Norwegian cruise was also fully booked with 1800 people on a 42,000 ton ship. I thought Carnival’s interior decorations were pretty cheesy, maybe because I’m not a fan of burnt orange and metallic purple and those were the presiding color schemes everywhere on the Sensation. However, I really liked the larger ship – 73,500 tons offers lots of options and things to do. Of course, it also means Carnival can cram lots more people on it. Carnival’s cabins were much roomier than the cabins on the Norwegian Sea – both inside and outside cabins. Final comparison is price: the Carnival cruise was much cheaper than our Norwegian cruise. On Carnival, it was $970/person for the outside Category 8 cabin, $680/person for the upper/lower Category 2 cabin – including port charges. The Norwegian Sea Category 6 outside cabin was $1233/person with $500 extra for each additional person in the cabin. I’ve since compared prices on other Norwegian and Carnival cruises and Carnival is definitely cheaper. But then, I guess we knew that. Overall, I would like to try other cruise lines and continue my comparisons. I’m certainly not loyal yet to Carnival or Norwegian. Our next cruise is this Christmas on RCL's Monarch. We'll see how it goes - I'm looking forward to it!  

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Aug 28, 1999

Tampa, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, N. Orleans,

on the purchase receipt to the sig on your Sail and Sign card application, plus another sample sig they take at the time of the complaint. So it's important to sign for everything in the same way so they can tell what isn't yours. Our errors were corrected by Saturday. FANTASIA LOUNGE SEATING - to get a good view of the floor shows and acts, sit on the main floor (not behind a pillar), or on the front row of the balcony, or

in any of the balcony love seats. Don't sit in the circular seating behind the loveseats or in the balcony row seating behind the first row, or you'll be looking into the back of someone's head. To get one of these seats you have to get there about a half hour early. DINING ROOM SHOTS - take a camera to dinner to get shots of the waiter's 'shows'. One night they do the macarena, another they do the conga, another is an flaming procession, it's quite a hoot. BE COOL AT THE POOL - it's hot on the deck loungers at the pool, at least this time of year. At pool level there is no breeze, and the shady areas at the side of the deck are for tables. Above on the deck overlooking the pool thre is more breeze if the wind is right, but otherwise it's very hot. But there are 2 great spots where you can slip your lounger in and out of the sun, have a view of the pool, and hear the band. It's the deck area above and in front of the pool, on either side of a blackjack table (which is never used for blackjack :-) You'll need to bring chairs from the side of the deck, about 20 feet away and down a very short ramp, because the staff don't set up any chairs here. How much shade you have depends on which way the ship is pointing. There is also shade up the side of the deck between the 2 pools, but the lifeboats obstruct your view. And there is shade in fron of the funnel, but the engine intake vents are behind you and it's noisy, even drowns out the band. BOOZE - if you plan on getting a nice buzz on at the free rum swizzle party at the casino, forget it. We and our friends had 3 quick swizzles which did nothing but send us to the bathroom. Same thing at the pool bars, the daily specials as well as the regular drinks were weak. But the free drinks were very good at the Captain's Reception/Cocktail party before the first formal dinner, Monday at 5 and again at 7:15. If you get there in the first 15-20 minutes he'll still be greeting people and giving you a photo op. To bring your own booze on board you have to hide it, because if security sees it when they x-ray your carry on (every port) they take it until the end of the cruise. We got ours aboard in Tampa in our checked luggage, placed there before arriving at the pier. The only way we could see someone getting it on board in ports would be in the beach towels, since they didn't ask to x-ray an armful of towels. The drinking glasses in the cabins are too small, so get glasses from the free juice bars in the Seaview Bar and Grill. Your cabin steward will keep your ice bucket full ... get him to fill it before he goes off shift at noon, he's not back till 4:00. We also brought some pop and mix in our suitcases, but you could get that in the ports. QUIET AREAS - yes there are a few. The Polo lounge has a big screen TV tuned to sports events. The card room and the library are nice and quiet. The Plaza lounge asa live easy listening band. And for a beautiful quiet breakfast or lunch on deck, get away from the bustle of the Seaview and take your plates out the sliding doors at either side out the back of the Seaview. Here you'll find 7 or 8 tables with an unobstructed view beside and behind the ship, and it's shaded by the overhead deck. Get the furthest table and you'll feel suspended over the ocean. This must be what it's like to eat on a yatch. THE BEST PARTY There are several evening parties on the pool deck, but the one not to miss is the Mardi Gras party on the way down old Miss after departing Nawlins. As the ship pulls out at 10pm get up on the deck above the pool, facing back towards the funnel, and you can see the city lights as you pull out, as well as the party getting going down on the pool deck. About 10:30 the lights are gone and you can join the party. The band plays rocking Cajun tunes, and everyone wears masks, beads, and boas they brought from home or bought in Nawlins. You can buy a wild mask and beads easily for $10 total at any shop. Everyone is nuts, and the Cajun buffet is good, try the seafood gumbo. Then the social staff gets a Mardi Gras parade going all around the pool deck, with couples together so they can pick finalists for the Mardi Gras king and queen award. With the band going nuts, everyone takes a turn around the deck, hooting and drinking and dancing, taking turns getting pictures and acting crazy. The best 10-20 costumes were amazing. The social staff picked 6 finalists and took them up on the raised pool dance floor to be judged by show of applause. To get good shots of this get around to the port side of the dance floor (no one is allowed up on it), facing the finalists. Get there as soon as they announce the judging or it will be jammed. You'll easily go through a roll of film and bottle of booze at this party. And you can save your outfits for Hallowe'en ... you'll look just like a tart and a sleazball. PHOTO ALBUM - we thought the photo album in the photo gallery for $15 was worth it, 24 of the kind of pics you can't take yourself. CUSTOMS FOR NON-USERS If you are a non-US resident you are told to line up at the Immigration office on ship at 9am with your kids to get your ID back and pass customs. There is no need to drag them out of bed at 9, the lineup ran way down the deck, and if you get there at 10 the line will be shorter. And when the line is gone they page anyone who hasn't shown up anyway. SAIL & SIGN KIDS The kids all get Sail and Sign cards whether or not you authorize it, allowing them to charge things to your bill. Tuck them away if you don't want any nasty surprises. ELECTRICAL Take an octopus to plug in the desk outlet, so you can run several things like a hair dryer, curling iron, clock, CD player etc without unplugging them each time to switch. The outlet in the bathroom is low amps and will only run a shaver. PRALINES The south is famous for pralines (creamy fudge with pecans), a treat for the gods, and these are for sale everywhere, usually with free samples. The quality varies quite a bit, judging by the samples, and the cheaper boxes are a few bucks less than the good stuff. But it's worth the extra bucks for the good stuff. We had samples here and there all day, and the best ones for the price were sold right in the Riverwalk Mall where the ship docks. The brand is Creole Delicacies, in the store just before the down escalator to the lower level, in the white and red boxes, $11.95 for 14 oz. Try a sample first, and try their dip samples, we got some of those too.

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Jul 13, 1999

Eastern Caribbean

Let me start by saying if your thinking of taking a Carnival cruise..." Just do it". We had a ball, we're a young couple (28,29) how has traveled every few months the last 10 years, and this by far was our favorite trip of them all. First the staff, they were great, very polite and professional. The food was pretty good, selection was good too, the pizza is great, drinks are not watered down. The ship is really clean and easy to navigate

around. We did not take our kid's who are 8 and 11, but we plan to this winter on our 2nd cruise in January. I'm telling you you will not be sorry it was more then we expected. See ya on the boat. R.B.

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Jan 19, 1999

Western Caribbean

I sailed on Carnival’s Sensation last January with a group of ten people, including two 50 year old adults, 4 adults in their upper 20's, 3 adults in their lower 20's and one 3 year old child. Despite the large generation gaps, everyone had a wonderful time. The whole check-in process flew by and was very easy. The one thing that bothered us was that on the ship you can't spend ANY cash. As you board you put a credit card down on your

room. You are then given a 'Sail and Sign Card' that you purchase everything with. The whole problem is that you spend a lot more money than you probably should! The ships staff was absolutly magnificent. They took the time to talk to us, get to know us, and even remembered our names! We ordered a bottle of wine at our first dinner and every night they had the same type of wine chilling on the table when we arrived at dinner. In the dining room we had two servers and they would sit and talk to us at dinner and at the end of dinner they would perform either a song or dance (they made us get up and do a congo line with them and the Macarena). They always wanted to make sure you were enjoying yourself. The bartenders on the pool decks were great too, they remembered everyone’s names and their favorite drinks and were always there when you needed a refill (of course they were probably anxious for that mandatory tip that is added onto your sail and sign card). Our room steward was great too, he completely cleaned our room (he would even fold your clothes up and put them away) and then he would leave us fresh towels that were folded up into animals and crazy shapes. He would also leave extra mints for my 3 year old niece. There really wasn't an abundance of activities on the ship. In fact unless you were drinking or playing slot machines there wasn't anything to do during the day since all the shows were at night and none of the dance clubs or gambling tables opened until 8 or 9 P.M. I think there may have been a few Bingo tournaments during the day. They also did one talent show and possibly a few other activities, but we were too busy laying in the sun and listening to the steel drum band (they were wonderful)! The best part about cruises is the fact that you get to see a few different cites (and countries!) all in one week. Our ports of call were Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico; and New Orleans, Louisiana and we sailed from Tampa, Florida. We all went our different ways on the shore tours. In the Caymans, a few of us went to Stingray City (a must-see), some of us went snorkeling, and some of us went scuba diving. If you are an avid scuba diver, I recommend finding your own dive charter before you travel, because the dive place that Carnival goes through (Parrot's Landing) was not very good. They took us to terrible sites, even though there are some world class spots right in the area, and they had terrible customer service. We are cruising with Carnival again this December and are in the process of finding another dive shop. In Cozumel there is tons to do. The diving is great, shopping is cheap and they Ruins of Tulum look wonderful (I'd like to go back and see them). If you are looking to just go out and enjoy the sun and drink a little go on one of the snorkel party boats (we jokingly called them the drunken snorkel tours), the name explains it all.   In New Orleans, the best thing to do is just explore and shop in the French Quarter on your own, you can take a street car for $2-3. We went on a Swamp Tour and saw nothing! It turned out that alligators are usually only seen during the summer (hmmm....I wish I had known that BEFORE I spent $35). We spent the last 5 hours we were there browsing around stores and people watching (there are some VERY strange people in New Orleans). Make sure you get a Hurricane drink though, they are great. If you leave from Tampa, make sure you hit Busch Gardens. We flew down a day early to see it and it was a blast, but you really need two days to see it (2nd day admission is $10 off). They have everything from Dolphin shows to world class roller coasters to ice skating. Its like a zoo and a theme park intertwined. There is an Embassy Suites right behind the park that is a very nice hotel.

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Nov 30, -0001

Bahamas

We were pleasantly surprised at how far Carnival has come in their food, entertainment and overall good value. We had VIP embarkation which at Port Canaveral was the best. The terminal is clean and very well organized. We got there early (10 am) and we were the second couple to board the ship at 10:45 am. The food was fantastic. Most of the time if you didn't want to eat in the main dining room most of the entrees were available on the Lido

Deck at the buffet. I loved the fact that they had my chocolate milk at the buffet. They also had hot chocolate, coffee, tea, ice tea, lemondade our all the time. Our wait staff was the best. During the lobster dinner my hubby didn't want to order two lobsters and look like a pig. After everyone at our table finished our lobsters our waiter asked if anyone wanted another. When most said yes he produced them immediately, I guess we looked hungry. We had a cat 11 suite cabin number V17. This was our first balcony and we absolutely loved it. We would order juice and coffee from room service in the morning and sit on the balcony, Suite has recently been renovated so it was all brand new. The bathroom was a good size especially the shower. There was not any counter space in the bathroom to put anything down but we managed just fine. The bed was heaven. We both did not have any problem falling or staying asleep. I wanted to pack the bed in my luggage! There was always something going on at any given time. We only went to the main shows which were like Las Vegas style shows. The singers were fantastic and the dancing way past par to what you would expect on a ship. We did see some poolside activities but since the ship was overbooked it was very crowded it was hard to get a vantage point to see everything. Since we were only in Nassau from noon to 6 am the next morning we did not participate in any shore excursions. There really wasn't enough time since it was also the formal dinner night. The day after Christmas (the day we were in Nassau) was a holiday in the Bahamas so most of the stores were closed which was disappointing since we like to shop and browse around. Even the famous straw market was only about 1/4 open. Going on a cruise during Christmas time is a very unique experience. We were greeted with glasses of champagne and they kept coming all afternoon. The ship was decorated but not overly so just tastefully so. We has a wonderful time and would definitely do it again.

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By Dan_CR

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Nov 30, -0001

Nassau

We just returned yesterday from a three-day cruise to Nassau in the Bahamas. It was the first cruise for my wife and I and our two children, ages 3 and 9. My wife's parents accompanied us, enjoying some time with the four of us. To summarize the cruise, embarkation was very quick, the rooms (we had three ocean view cabins for the six of us) were more spacious feeling than expected, tight, but entirely functional. The food was good in the Seaview

restaurant (casual, buffet-style dining), and exceptional in the Fantasy dining room. The service was similarly extraordinary. Our day in Nassau was an experience to be remembered. The ship was stable, rocking no more than 2-3 degrees in my estimation. The stewards were very quick and personable. The highlight of the ship was the water park, which our son took to with gusto. The food was great overall. Archie, our waiter, and I Made, his runner, seemed to always be at hand. During our first evening's dinner service, another waiter dropped a full tray of entrees perhaps ten feet from us, and directly behind my three year old daughter. She wasn't injured, but was scared by the noise. The assistant Maitre D folded an origami crane for her to play with. We missed the formal dinner (see excursions below), but on the next evening, Archie made a bunny out of a napkin for her. The perspective I would like to provide is that, in the course of less than 64 total hours, and total interaction time of maybe 4 hours, our waiter Archie and our steward Melinda both made a great impression - enough to be remembered fondly. I did notice on a few occasions that the buffet offerings in the Seaview restaurant didn't keep up with demand, especially when it was only half-populated during dinner hours. That is, the port and starboard sides of the room are almost mirror images during breakfast and lunch, but only one side is used when most are in the main dining rooms. As noted above, our stateroom smelled strongly of smoke on our arrival. Melinda, our steward, put an ionizer in the room, washed down the walls, and replaced the sheets and towels in almost no time at all. Still, I wonder about the wisdom of disallowing irons, candles, etc, yet allowing people to smoke in staterooms. Our stateroom was small, but functional. I don't actually know what the maximum official occupancy is, with two twin beds there was enough room left over for 6 family members to wiggle around each other as needed. We arranged things so our kids stayed with my wife's parents, one with each, and that worked out quite well. It afforded them bonding time they usually don't get. I would suggest that, with bunk beds (which I believe they have in some staterooms), as many as four could share a room. The highlight of the trip was the waterpark. Please note that the large waterslide has a 42" minimum height for riders - if your children are under that height, don't get their hopes up. That said, the hardest part for us was keeping our son from running to his next slide down. I think he expects all cruise ships to have such a park now. The ship allows smoking to the extent where some areas can be a concern to asthma sufferers such as my wife. Personally, I'd love to find a nonsmoking cruise. The shows were good, and a worthy diversion, but not quite broadway material. Unsurprising, given the relatively cramped stage. The performers were good, for sure. Our day in Nassau was highlighted by a visit to Dolphin Cay, a 'swim with dolphins' experience at the Atlantis resort. Note here that we eschewed the Carnival arranged excursion in favor of doing it ourselves, for well under 75% the price of Carnival's similar option. We left the ship at roughly 1:00, with plenty of time (in theory) to catch a water taxi over to Paradise Island, then catch a shuttle bus there. We were intercepted by a local who was gathering people for the water taxi. We paid for our tickets, and followed him as he weaved through a local marketplace to the pier. Arriving at the pier in question, he directed us along an 8" wide ledge along the water-side of a concrete barrier for perhaps 200 feet. Picture, if you will, myself carrying our three year old, our 9 year old son behind, my wife behind him, and her parents last, walking this tightrope with a 10+ foot drop to greet a misstep. We arrived at the water taxi... and it was full to capacity... or so it appeared with what looked like 80 people on a 70 person vessel. The local guy hollered and hollered for people to squeeze in, and demonstrated to us his understanding of family dynamics by then having our son get on, obligating us to follow. I sat on one side, with one of my kids on each knee; my wife and mother-in-law were on the other side, and my father-in-law with the captain. The boat sat very low at the stern, with maybe 1 foot between the deck and the water; I advised my son at this point that if the boat capsized, he was to swim away as quickly as possible while I saved his sister. Somehow, we made it to Paradise Island in one piece, and started searching for Dolphin Cay. This is my big suggestion for anyone doing this themselves: know where you're going, and how you're going to get there. We wandered about for a while, seeing shuttle buses going where we wanted to go, but being told they could not pick us up. We ultimately walked most of a mile to another hotel (Coral Towers or something like that), where we waited at least 45 minutes for a shuttle, which then took us back past where we had just walked from to get to Atlantis. We arrived about 25 minutes late, but thankfully they allowed us to join the next group. I highly recommend Dolphin Cay's shallow water experience (and presume the deep water experience would only be better still). Two notes here: if someone in your group wants to just stay dry and take pictures, there's an area available for that quite a distance away. It costs an additional $50 to get access to the beach and get within 50 feet of the action. Secondly, pictures of the experience are roughly $50 for a few shots, or roughly $150 for a few more plus a CD with all your shots on it. Selecting the pictures to have printed, etc, takes a notable amount of time - be sure to factor that in. We hopped another shuttle bus back, discovering that it stopped at another hotel first. I recognized where we were, and that we could choose to stay on it, again pass where we would pick up the water taxi, and then walk back about 1/2 mile, or we could just walk an almost identical distance from where we were. We did that instead, got on a non-overloaded water taxi this time, and got back to the ship at about 5:30. That didn't afford enough time to get ready for the formal dinner at 6, so we again ate at the casual dining in the Seaview restaurant. Our trip overall was memorable, and has pretty much sold us on the idea of cruising. I am one of those who would never have considered it, but now I understand the allure.

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Nov 30, -0001

Bahamas

Our overall cruise experience was wonderful. We cant wait to go again this summer on an 8 day eastern carribean cruise with our kids and 4 of our friends. I would recommend a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas to anyone. Especially first timers. You really CAN'T go wrong. The food was wonderful. My husband is a very picky eater and he found plenty to eat. It is for sure that you won't get hungry on a Carnival cruise. From lobster and steak to mexican

midnight buffet and 24 hour pizzeria. At the main dinner seating, don't think twice about ordering 2 of your favorite desserts or even 2 new york strips if 1 doesn't do it. I heard horror stories about how small the rooms are,and that you can't move around in them. That isn't the case. We had plenty of room. And we walked right out the door and there was the elevator to take us straight to whichever floor we chose in 2 minutes. So request a room close to the elevator and as close to the middle of the ship as possible. There is so much to do on the boat. We stayed so busy in our 4 days, that on the last night, we decided we wanted to go to the back of the boat and check it out. To our surprise we found another pool we didn't know about and thought the back was really cool. There is always a fun show, bingo, gameshow, or something entertaining to do. You can always go to the casino, minigolf, or pool. Or just sit by the pool and listen to the fun bands and participate in the resortfulness poolside games and contests they do. It is loads of fun. The fitness room was awesome. I run every morning and watched out the huge window over the captain as we arrived in the bahamas each day. It was very exciting to see how my day was beginning, as I was running on the treadmill and looking at the blue Carribean waters in front of me. Refreshing. There was so much more I wanted to check out and didn't have time. Hopefully on this 8 day, I will be able to see all that Carnival has to offer me and much more. If you go to Nassau, dont miss the Atlantis hotel. Just take a taxi for a small fee to the Atlantis and go thru the free aquarium and check out the pools and beach there at night. During the day we took a boat to Pearl Island to snorkle. The island was beautiful and my husband and friends totally enjoyed the snorkeling. I really enjoyed the trip to Pearl Island just as much. It was fun listening to the reggae music as we rode past the pristine homes of the stars and famous people that we knew. Totally great for all ages. We went to Grand Bahama (Freeport) and had a total blast at Junkanoo Beach Party. The water was too cool (in March) to get in, but it was beautiful and relaxing to have a drink and lay on my chair with my husband and friends. We walked on the beach and got awesome pictures. My husband and I went on this trip for our 10 year wedding anniversary. We went with 2 friends of ours, and had we taken our kids (it might not have been as relaxing or one on one) but it would've been the most fun vacation ever had they been there.

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