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Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival Imagination

  • Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival Imagination Review

Introduced in 1995, the fifth ship in Carnival’s eight-ship Fantasy-class is Carnival Imagination.Like other Fantasy-class ship, she has received numerous upgrades throughout her tenure and features a secluded adults-only Serenity Deck, but there is no word at this writing on whether the ship will be updated to add Carnival’s "Fun Ship 2.0" upgrades. After embarkation in Miami, passengers on Carnival Imagination sail on three-night cruises to the Bahamas or four-night cruises to the Western Caribbean, including a stop in Key West, Florida, on some sailings.

Bathed in fiber-optic light, glitzy Fantasy-class interiors added expansive six-deck atriums and a new dimension to the original superliner concept. To keep the fun going, these ships offer an almost wearying assortment of places to have a good time. As times and tastes have changed, the ships have evolved as well, with new lobby bars, dedicated club spaces for teens and tweens, miniature golf, and Internet centers. Even newer are Carnival’s WaterWorks water park and the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat, which increase the appeal of the older Fantasy-class vessels.

Only one level below the Lido deck, the indoor promenade connects major public rooms on a single deck, with only formal dining rooms, shops, and other small spaces one deck below. Large in size and ideal for a short itinerary, these ships have sprawling outdoor pool and sunning areas, but they can feel cramped when sailing at maximum capacity. Cabins provide calm oases from sensory overload. With the exception of Carnival Sensation, Carnival Fascination, and Carnival Ecstasy, to which balconies were added to existing cabins, you'll have to book a suite if you want the solitude of a private balcony.

The world's largest cruise line originated the Fun Ship concept in 1972 with the relaunch of an aging ocean liner, which got stuck on a sandbar during its maiden voyage. In true entrepreneurial spirit, founder Ted Arison shrugged off an inauspicious beginning to introduce superliners a decade later. Sporting red-white-and-blue flared funnels, which are easily recognized from afar, new ships are continuously added to the fleet and rarely deviate from a successful pattern. If you find something you like on one vessel, you're likely to find something similar on another.

Each vessel features themed public rooms, ranging from ancient Egypt to futuristic motifs, although many of those elements are being replaced with a more tropical decor as older ships are upgraded. Carnival is also introducing features either branded by the line itself, such as the poolside Blue Iguana Tequila Bar with an adjacent burrito cantina and the Red Frog Rum Bar that also serves Carnival’s own brand of Thirsty Frog Red beer, or in partnership with well known brands, such as EA SPORTS to create EA SPORTS Bars at sea and Guy’s Burger Joint, in partnership with Food Network star Guy Fieri. Implementation of the new features is scheduled for completion in 2015.

What You Should Know


  • Central atriums are stunning when sunlight streams in through skylights
  • Surprisingly large libraries are ideal retreats for reading or playing board games
  • Freshly made pizza and calzones are available around the clock


  • Despite upgrades, the decor is still pretty gaudy
  • These are ships designed for partying, so quiet spots can be difficult to find
  • Sushi bars earn high marks for their complimentary creations, but sake costs extra
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 920
  • Entered Service 1995
  • Gross Tons 70,367
  • Length 855 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,028
  • Passenger Capacity 2,056 (2,610 max)
  • Width 103 feet

By Mary_CR

  • New

May 23, 2014

Mexican Riviera

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

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

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  • New

Feb 21, 2014


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

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

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  • New

Jan 18, 2014


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

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

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  • New

Aug 14, 2013

Key west and Cozumel Mexico

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

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

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  • New

Nov 14, 2012


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

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

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