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Age: 34


Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Imagination

Sailing Date: 2010-08-20

Itinerary: Cozumel

As a veteran cruiser on Royal Caribbean, I was excited to try another cruise line. My girlfriend raved about the excitement and fun to be found aboard Carnival. I will say that RCCL and CCL are very similar experiences as far as the ships, destinations, and opulence goes. I would say that Carnival had better food. RCCL’s food always seems on the cold/bland side, so tasting something with zing aboard a cruise ship was a welcome change. However, Carnival’s service was sub-par compared to RCCL. The stateroom attendant never introduced himself, which has never been the case when sailing with RCCL. Yes, the room was always clean and tidy, but I like placing a name with a face. The ship was kept clean, and looked very modern for being 15 years old. The dining room staff was attentive, and catered to our needs, promptly. Being a Floridian who has been to the Keys several times, Key West was fun, and I did some shopping at Express. If you’re not from the area, I assume you would seek out more adventure than shopping the sales rack at stores on Duval Street. Cozumel was a great port with plenty of water sports and adventure. I recommend Fly High zip lines. The staff was friendly and worth the $89. I would do Carnival again, but I will always choose Royal Caribbean for my future cruising needs.

Carnival’s food was always the proper temperature, the choices were plenty, and none of the food I tried was bland. Royal Caribbean has some very bland offerings. Carnival’s offerings included flat iron steaks, chicken in various sauces, many types of fish, and the deserts were very well done. I highly recommend the melted chocolate cake. Mixed with vanilla ice cream, this cake is the stuff of legends. At Carnival’s coffee stand, they have an apple strudel that is incredible. Also, RCCL no longer serves lobster on their shorter trips. Not so with Carnival. I had two lobster tails, and enjoyed every bite. Lastly, Carnival had a wonderful sushi bar, which was a perfect mid-day snack. My only gripe about Carnival’s food was their waffles. They are rubbery, and lack any crunch.

As stated before, the stateroom attendant never introduced him/herself to us, so I honestly never knew who cleaned our room. Some may regard this as a trivial complaint, but I see it as a lack of hospitality. This has never been an issue on any Royal Caribbean cruise I have been on. Usually, I barely close the stateroom door, and the attendant is knocking to introduce himself and to offer his services. To me, that’s a nice personal touch, and it allows me to know who to ask if I need anything. Besides this, the room was always cleaned, and in order. It may be me, but the stateroom bathrooms on this boat seemed a touch larger than the ones on Majesty of the Seas. Having a window room was a nice luxury. The closet was roomy, but hangars were few. I’m a light packer, so I had no issues. Lastly, Carnival has better water pressure in their showers.

Unlike RCCL’s onboard activities, I felt Carnival had more to offer. The bean bag toss, hairy chest contest, and deck Olympics were a way to break up the monotony of a lazy day at sea. The pool deck’s music is always pumping, and it’s a much livelier atmosphere compared to Royal Caribbean. We did book a class at the gym, and it was cancelled. Beyond the class, the gym was nice, and never packed during the entire voyage.

Key West has a ton of different avenues to explore. Avoid the beaches in Key West. They’re rocky, and have nasty water. The Hemingway house, Duval St, offshore water sports are a great option. Also, renting a scooter is a fun way to see the island.

Cozumel is a great port, and it’s a pretty safe environment. The shopping is fun, and downtown offers many items for various tastes. We opted for the Fly-high zip lines. I would recommend it as a, “must do”. Soaring 100’ above the ground is fun, and the staff was super friendly. I would do it again. After the zip lines we went to Mr. Sancho’s beach resort. The water was great, and the resort was free. For $12 each, you can swim and play in their water inflatable playground. This was a fun time, and you can negotiate the entrance fee cost if you have a few people with you. We capped off our day with margaritas at Fat Tuesdays. For $36 we received one yard of margaritas, one small cup of margaritas, and a large plate of chicken/loaded nachos.

Overall, it was a good cruise. I’m more partial to Royal Caribbean’s style, but I would definitely try Carnival again. In fact, I booked another Carnival cruise trip in October for 8 nights. It will be during Halloween, so it should be a great experience. The only other thing I noticed is that on RCCL, return customers get onboard coupons and preferred services. Return customers get none of these amenities on Carnival. Also, RCCL pushed their crown and anchor society which helps in $ savings for future trips. They even gave room credits for booking future cruises during the trip. Future booking offers were never mentioned or advertised on this cruise with Carnival. Try both companies, because each one has something good to offer.

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