Trip Report on the Carnival Sensation

Apr 1st, 2002, 11:34 AM
  #1  
Becca
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Trip Report on the Carnival Sensation

Part 1Carnival Sensation, March 17 – 24, 2002

Before I start, I should tell you a little bit about us. I went on this cruise with my best friend. I’m 22 and a senior in college and she is 21 and works full-time. Neither of us had cruised before and we chose this date and itinerary because it worked with my spring break and the price was right. The whole package for our airfare from Milwaukee to Tampa and the entire cruise was about 900 per person, so for us that sealed it with us. My perspective will concentrate on the first-time young cruiser. I thought I would write because I got so much great and helpful information from all of you!

We started on Saturday night where we stayed at the Four Points Sheraton hotel in Milwaukee. It was a great deal – $100 for the room, which included a $20 gift certificate for dinner and then we were also allowed to keep our car there for free while we were gone. The shuttle service was great – they got us there and picked us up with no problems. I would highly recommend this hotel for this purpose.

Our flight to Tampa left from Milwaukee at 5:50 in the morning, so we were up and gone quite early. When we got to the airport, it was quite chaotic. There were several other early morning flights at about the same time and the lines to check-in were long and very unorganized. After not moving for about 45 minutes, there finally came some direction from some of the Northwest employees and things were smooth sailing after that. We had a stopover in Detroit and there were no problems. Once we got off the plane in Tampa, there were Carnival personnel waiting for us right by the luggage collection area. We got our bags and went straight to the waiting buses that took us to the port.

Embarkation took awhile, but I was expecting it. We didn’t get through all of the lines and security and walk onto the ship until 3:30 in the afternoon. I was hoping it wouldn’t take quite so long, but there wasn’t anything that could be done. We went to our room right away, dropped off our carry-on luggage and made it straight to the lido deck for food. They had hamburgers and hot dogs and the like available. Truthfully, I wasn’t too impressed with it and didn’t really use that Seaview lounge much after that.


 
Apr 1st, 2002, 11:35 AM
  #2  
Becca
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Part 2

We then had our muster drill at about 4:00. It only took about 45 minutes, which was long enough for me. I know it’s important, but by that time I had already been up for 12 hours and I was hot and sticky and was looking forward to a shower and some clean clothes. By the time we got back from eating and the muster drill, all of our baggage was outside our cabin door.

Dinner: All I can say is WOW! Everything about it was just wonderful. Our waiter and asst. waiter were so great and friendly. Plus, the people that we were placed with were great too – six other spring breakers from two different colleges. We ended up hanging out together quite a bit. It was really considerate of Carnival to try to place similar people together.

Formal Nights: They were my favorite dinners of the cruise. On the night of the first formal night there is also the Captain’s cocktail party which should not be missed. Besides the free drinks and appetizers, the cruise director introduces the captain and his whole staff, which is neat. Also, it was fun to see all of the couples dancing on stage.

Food: It was so great. As a college kid, I’m used to macaroni and cheese and frozen pizzas, so to have quail, lobster, filet mignon, fresh breads and wonderful desserts every night was a major treat. My favorite foods were the chicken tortilla appetizer, the filet mignon and the desserts. We had chocolate and vanilla soufflés, cherry jubilee and then of course, the ice cream. I had strawberry ice cream everyday at lunch AND dinner. After the first few days, the waiter knew to just bring it to me along with whatever other dessert I wanted. Yes, I managed to gain a few pounds, but I figure I have the rest of my life to spend on the cross-trainer!

Drinks: Well, I bought the soda card for 30 bucks and I am really glad I did. All of the drinks are so expensive and I think it ended up saving me some money. Sometimes I would just get a free soda instead of ordering a mixed drink just because they were so much. Margaritas were $5.50 and the featured drink of the day was always $6.25, but you do get to keep the (cheap plastic) glass. I know that some people bought the bucket of beer, which I guess is the best deal on the ship, for those that are interested. Also, 4 of the nights, we had a bottle of wine with dinner, which was great. I don’t know so much about wine and our waiter was really helpful with suggestions. We got bottle that usually were about 25 bucks and they were more than tasty for us. Sometimes we had some left over and they would keep it for you for the next night, which is really cool.
 
Apr 1st, 2002, 11:37 AM
  #3  
Becca
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Part 3Photos: My best friend and I had a lot taken. Some turned out really cool and others didn’t, but since we weren’t under any obligation to buy them, we just picked out the best ones. They are pricey though, so be warned. Also, I thought one of the best deals on the ship was the film developing. It was $8.88 for double prints and that included a little Carnival photo album. Plus, the turnaround on the film was always less than 24 hours. I thought it was pretty convenient and also not too expensive. They develop underwater cameras and 35mm film, but do not do Advantix/APS film.

Our Room: We were on the Riveria deck, room R124. It was more than fine for us. It did have a window, two twin beds and a decent sized closet and bathroom. It was better than my freshman dorm room, so I’m not complaining. I would recommend some sort of window, whether it is a regular one or a porthole. The rest of my dinner mates didn’t have a window and they said it was hard to know what time it was or wake up in the morning because it was always so dark.

Grand Cayman: At this port we decided that we would swim with stingrays at Stingray City. It was really awesome! We ordered the tour through Carnival and we had no complaints. The people that ran the tour were more than nice and it was a really neat thing that I wouldn’t ever have the opportunity to do otherwise. Besides the tour, we did a little bit of shopping: some Tortuga rum and rum cakes. You don’t actually get that much time on the island – I believe you could start taking the tenders at 8:00 am and we left port at 12:30, so the tour and some shopping were all that we had time for.

 
Apr 1st, 2002, 11:38 AM
  #4  
Becca
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Cozumel: When we were here, I was pretty sick, so I didn’t do much at all. I had been suffering from a cold all week and Wednesday when we were in Mexico, I felt the worse. My friend, however, did the catamaran snorkel tour and thought it was excellent. I had already purchased my ticket and when I asked if I could get a refund, they were really nice about it – I only lost 25% of the tour price. They take you out on this boat where you can snorkel for awhile with the fish and then they bring you over to a beach where they serve you food and rum punch and margaritas and you get to hang out. The whole tour was about three hours and she had a great time. Afterward, she came back to the port and we had some food in our room and then I ventured out with her. We stuck close to the port and did a little bit of shopping and that was really all I was up for. I found a Mexican blanket for $5 (he wouldn’t budge on the price, even though at the cruise talk they said I could most likely get three blankets for $11). The coolest thing I found though was an onyx chess set. It was black and white and the playing pieces looked like they were hand cut. I bought a mini-sized one and it was $10 and the large ones were $20. The two girls at my table went on the Tulum tour and absolutely LOVED it. The guys at my table took a taxi and went downtown and out to the beach and they said it was really nice too.

New Orleans: This was my favorite port of the trip. In the morning we took a city tour bus arranged through Carnival. It was ok – some parts were interesting, but the things that they decided to point out were strange to me: public schools and the state facility for free dental appointments? We made one stop where we got off the bus and looked at above ground cemeteries and another a few minutes later for a bathroom/snack break. They also showed us the superdome and a lot of the old town ports. My friends at our table did the walking tour of the French Quarter and raved about it. I was glad that I took the city bus tour, but if I had to do it again, I think I would have preferred to just do the French Quarter tour or explored on my own. After the tour, we took the trolley down to the French Quarter and walked our way back through the shops and into the RiverWalk mall. The weather was chilly – I had pants on and would have preferred a sweatshirt too. The bus driver remarked that it isn’t even that cold at Christmas, so that was unusual. I had never been to Louisiana and I was pleasantly surprised and I would even like to go back again someday.
 
Apr 1st, 2002, 11:40 AM
  #5  
Becca
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On board activities: I didn’t participate in any of the games, but I watched a few and they were really funny! The newlywed/married games was the funniest thing of the week: The oldest couple was married for 63 years and they were so precious – one of the questions was rate your first kiss and the wife gave it a negative one! I also went to both shows, however I do not know why. I actually love musicals/dancing/theatre and I thought the Mambo show and the other one were both tacky as anything and actually embarrassing to the people who were in them. Diane LaSalla has a nice a voice, but when they have her dress up as Mrs. Claus and sing “Santa Baby” with a HORRIBLE New York accent, it takes away from her talent. They were only 45 minutes and I have no desire to ever see any of those shows again. My friend did see one of the midnight comedians and said it was ok and funny.

Spa: I just loved it. Again, I’m used to the poor college student life, so this was a major treat for me. I had the “cruise combo” which is a half hour back massage and then a half hour facial and it was wonderful. I had it done the day we were in Grand Cayman, so it was a little bit cheaper than an ‘at sea day’ would be. I also ended up buying one product, the tea tree oil spray, which I actually like a lot.

Well, I think that about sums up my cruise. I had a lovely time and I think I would cruise again. If anyone has any questions, feel free to email me at [email protected].

I hope this helps! THE END.
 
Apr 1st, 2002, 12:19 PM
  #6  
xxxxx
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How being under 25 did you mange to book this trip. We are told by the all seeing all knowing Paul Therault that you have to be 25 to book a cruise. Was he wrong? Oh no!
 
Apr 1st, 2002, 01:22 PM
  #7  
Becca
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On Carnival, a person only has to be 21 to book a cruise. It wasn't something special for us - there were lots of other college aged kids. My TA did check though, just to make sure it was ok because other cruise lines have higher age limits. The TA also said that a person could be younger than 21, but above 18 and book a reservation if they were having a honeymoon.
 
Apr 1st, 2002, 03:24 PM
  #8  
xxx
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Great trip report.
 
Apr 1st, 2002, 11:01 PM
  #9  
Paul Therault
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To xxx ......again.

Carnival has a strict minimum age policy. It is written ..... one in a stateroom must be 25 or older.

Young people get away with underage in a cabin if they are traveling with those over 25 and they mix-and-match staterooms.

Exception is, as stated above, you can be under 21 and married. Also if one is in a group of 8 cabins or more ..... one adult chaperone per 10 students.

Carnival asks for a birthdate at time of booking and a birth certificate must be shown when boarding.

And since you disagree with me, as you always do, simply call Carnival yourself.

Paul
 
Apr 2nd, 2002, 01:50 PM
  #10  
Becca
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Paul,
It seems like that doesn't make so much sense. Neither my friend or I were over 25 and we didn't hide it. They had birthdays and nothing was ever said. Likewise, all of the other spring breakers weren't that old either.....
 
Apr 3rd, 2002, 12:15 AM
  #11  
Paul Therault
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You're right Becca, it doesn't make sense. I called Carnival again after I read your post to see if they had a new policy and I received the same answer as I posted above. In any event ... great review.

Paul
 
Apr 3rd, 2002, 02:46 AM
  #12  
Chris
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$6.50 for the drink of the day? Is that typical? We have just been on a cruise and the drink of the day was $3.50 and the ordinary drinks $4.00, and if had drinks off the ship we paid $7.00-$9.00 for two.
 
Apr 3rd, 2002, 04:51 AM
  #13  
lisa
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I also thaught the price for the drink of the day was rather high that Becca posted, $6.50? Those cute little drink coupons they try to sell you when you book would not go very far, there is 4 coupons for about $20.00. So are they actually worth buying? Is this the average price for "special" drinks and if so I can now see why people sneak liquor on the ships.
 
Apr 3rd, 2002, 11:06 AM
  #14  
Becca
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I think I should clarify a little bit: The margarita was 5.50 for the large, which was about the size of a glass that a malt/shake would come in at a restaurant. Likewise, the 6.25 for the drink of the day was the large one that included the free glass. You could order small sized drinks (not in a free cup)and I think those were in the 3.50 range and of course, the prices included the tip.

 
Apr 3rd, 2002, 12:33 PM
  #15  
april
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Becca, enjoyed reading your trip report. Have booked the Sensation for next spring break. Am wondering if you thought the ship was in need of updating (carpets, bedspread, etc), and whether you thought it was too loud and obnoxious. My parents might come and I don't know if they would enjoy lots of noise. Also, was there anything for teens to do (ages 16 & 17)? Any special dance club for that age group? Thanks for the info!
 
Apr 3rd, 2002, 01:23 PM
  #16  
Cousin Oliver
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Hopefully, I can clear the age thing up a bit. On Carnival, both passengers must be at least 21 years of age. If one person is UNDER 21, then the other one MUST be 25. This of course does not count for minor married guests or student groups.
 
Apr 3rd, 2002, 01:24 PM
  #17  
Becca
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Hi April,

You should have a great time! I didn't think the ship looked bad at all. The carpets seemed more than fine with me. I was in the lowest class, Riveria and I did notice that the bed spreads and such were dated - lots of orange and peach colors. However, in all of the open areas, things seemed fine.

For colors, they used a lot of purple and other dark colors. In the middle atrium thing, they have this really weird art thing. I read in the house magazine that it is supposed to represent laser light, as that was a big thing in 1993 when the ship first set sail. To me, though, it just looks weird....

About the noise, at night in some of the bars like Michaellangello(sp) and Kaledioscope, were more noisy, but it could easily be avoided if someone wanted a quieter time. Especially out on the deck - it was always so peaceful. My favorite spot was on the lido deck beyond pizza and seaview cafe out through the glass doors.

For the kids, yes there were things. Lots of teen/pop music in one of the "bars" and then they had special times for teen karoke. I'm not sure of all of the details, as I'm a little bit older than that, but I know they had stuff available.

Hope this helped and have FUN!
 
Apr 3rd, 2002, 11:10 PM
  #18  
Paul Therault
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Thanks Cousin Oliver. I called Carnival again and demanded to know the exact minimum ages. A supervisor stated any two passengers that are over 21 can sail. It is definitely not printed anywhere.

Paul
 
Apr 3rd, 2002, 11:22 PM
  #19  
Paul Therault
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I sailed the Sensation twice since I love the itinerary and the camaradarie of the staff. The passengers are a bit loud but that is part of having a good time. It's not like church you know. And as Becca wrote there are plenty of quite areas.

Also the passenger age ratio is majority seniors since Tampa is a retirement area. You can't really count them, of course, but if you go to the past-passenger cocktail party you will see them all.

Paul
 
Apr 4th, 2002, 07:47 AM
  #20  
Cousin Oliver
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The back of the brochure states: "Guests under the age of 21 years must be accompanied by a parent, grandparent or guardian 25 years or older in the same stateroom." Kind of confusing I know.
 

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