Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Imagination
Sailing Date: January 11th, 2003
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
This was our first time on a cruise, so it was a learning experience. Getting to the boat… We had a shuttle pick us up from Ft. Lauderdale airport and bring us to the ship. It seemed unorganized to us, but I guess they knew what they were doing. None of our bags got lost. When we got off the bus, we picked up our carry-on luggage. There was a man standing there with a clipboard telling people their room assignments. Like I said, it seemed very chaotic because everyone was trying to find their bags, and people were cranky and pushy, and just wanted to get to the boat. We got our room number written on our luggage tags, then headed toward the building. Getting on the boat... Make sure you have everything in your 'blue book' filled out. This makes the line go faster. Also, keep your photo id and birth certificate handy. After you check in at the desk, you'll have to go through a few more stops where you need to show your photo id. Just keep it out until you are physically on the boat. Finally made it aboard around 1:45 p.m. Not too bad. We didn't see our luggage until almost 7:00 that evening. My husband was getting frustrated because he didn't pack anything of his own in a carry-on bag. Our room (R-71) wasn't anything spectacular but it served its purpose. Besides, we didn't come on this cruise to sit in the room. Next time though, we will probably upgrade to a room with a balcony just to say we had a balcony room. Once we dropped off our bags, we started exploring the ship. We went up to Lido deck first. I can't count how many times I heard this question, "You like special drink??" Every time you turned your head there was a bartender trying to sell you the special drink of the day in the souvenir cup. Being that we don't drink, this got quite annoying. We made our way to the famous pizzeria that we had heard so many good things about. We ate so much pizza during our cruise that the thought of eating pizza now makes my stomach turn. That was good stuff. After we got our bellies full, we went back to the room planning on taking a nap. Wrong, they started making announcements for the 'Muster Drill'. That's where you have to suit up with your lifevest and proceed to you muster station. Ours was in the Dynasty Lounge. After sitting there for about 10 minutes, they led us out to our designated lifeboat station. The whole thing took about 30 minutes. A necessary evil. We finally made it back to the room for a nap. We slept through our dinnertime (early 6:15 Pride Dining Room), so we didn't get to meet our tablemates the first night. We woke up and started exploring again. We happened to walk past the Dynasty Lounge and noticed there was something getting ready to start. I am so glad we decided to have a seat. It was sort of a Welcome Aboard party. The cruise director (Maraschalh Stanton), and Dominica and Eric pulled 10 people from the audience to come on stage. It was hilarious what they had to do. I won't tell you what they did, but it was funny to watch. After all that fun, the first comedian of the cruise was scheduled to appear so we stayed for that. It was Adam Ace. He was really good. We found out that the comedians also do a late night act at midnight in the Xanadu Lounge. We went to that too, and it was even funnier. He liked to pick on people in the audience, and was pretty offensive, but it was all in good fun. The people he picked were really good sports. Let me just tell you about the other two comedians while I'm on the subject. Robert Floyd, another very very funny man. Go see him. Again, had the early show and the late show. I recommend both. The third and final act was Kevin King. We saw his early show, it was terrible, so we didn't bother going to his late show. We went to both 'Vegas style' shows. I don't think that is a very good description, but oh well. 'Be Bop' was alright. My husband and I were both groovin' to the tunes. The second one was 'Imagine It'. There was one kinda neat part of this show where they used laser lights and stuff, but other than that it was pretty boring. There was a magic show, same old magic stuff. (Ladies, you'll want to go just to see the magician! He's hot!) One thing I have to recommend if you want to go to these shows and have a good seat, go early. Really early. I know in the brochures it says you are not allowed to save seats, but was it enforced? NO! You don't know how mad I was one night when I tried to sit down 3 times and I had people telling me that I can't sit there because those seats were saved. One couple had practically a whole row saved! There is always something going on to participate in. Games, dancing, karaoke, you name it. The cruise director and his assistants were awesome. They were all very funny. The casino was very tight. We donated quite a bit. The food was good. The second night was formal night. There is a nice mix of how people dress for these things. Some people went all out with the tuxedos and sequined gowns. I opted to wear the simple yet elegant black dress, and my husband wore a sport coat with khaki slacks. There are photographers set up every corner you went around. They post all the pictures by the next day or earlier down by the photo gallery. I recommend buying them right away if you like them, that way you aren't stuck on the last night of the cruise with 100 other people routing through stacks of pictures trying to find yours. We went to the captain's party. It looked like fun for people who could swing dance, and cha cha, etc. We aren't big dancers. So we just watched until dinnertime. All our tablemates were super nice. I was nervous about having to sit with strangers, but once I started talking to everyone, even though we didn't have anything in common, it was nice. The food in the dining room was very fancy. A little too fancy for our taste. We only ate dinner there three times. I thought everything I ordered tasted very good, but my husband is very picky. He was much happier going to the pizza buffet, or getting a cheeseburger. You can also order more than one entrée, dessert, etc. They will be more than happy to bring you whatever you want. Oh, and since we don't drink, we were only interested in sodas. Coffee, tea, and water come with your meal, but if you want soda in the dining room it will cost you $2.88. Which brings me to the Fountain Fun card. This costs $25.00 per card. Just flash this card to any bartender, and you get one soda at a time. A lady was telling us about this at the bar, right in front of the bartender, so we said, "yeah, we want that". So the bartender rang us up two drink cards. $57.46! So we got ripped off there, you can't use that card in the dining room. Really, you only need to get one card and share it with whoever is with you. All you do is flash your card to them; they don't check the name on the back of the card. If you still don't want to spend money for a drink card, the lemonade at the Horizon Bar and Grill is really good. We ate breakfast at the Horizon every day. I liked the sausage. The hashbrowns were okay. I poured a big glass of orange juice one morning and it was nasty! Watered down. Shore excursions… at Grand Cayman, we booked the Stingray City/Snorkel tour. That was kind of misleading. We didn't really get to snorkel, like at a reef or anything. The bus took us to the Turtle Farm, and Hell. Both were boring. Hell was simply a tourist trap. Then came the boat ride to Stingray City. The water in Grand Cayman is gorgeous! The stingrays are very friendly. It was weird at first feeling them swim up against you. There are so many of them! Some were even swimming up onto people, I guess they smelled fishy. I don't know. Anyway, that is where the snorkel part was misleading. You are given a snorkel and goggles to look at the stingrays. That's it. I was so disappointed. I always heard that Grand Cayman has some of the best snorkeling, and we missed out on it. Ochos Rios was fun. As soon as we got off the boat, there were 'cab drivers' standing around, and they were offering to take us wherever we wanted, but also offered us some Bob Marley smoke. Just don’t talk to them and you'll do alright. We did the Dolphin Swim and Dunn's River Falls. I highly recommend swimming with the dolphins at Dolphin Cove. It was awesome! Climbing the falls wasn't as much fun. Some of the tour guides are bossy, and very strict about keeping you in 'their' group. They want your tip at the end, you see. After we made it up the falls, we were ready to get back on the bus. But first you have to go through their little Jamaican marketplace that is set up. Get ready for some heckling. They offer you a free necklace because they respect you, but then they want money for it. And don't tell them your name! Before you know it, they have your name carved in these little wooden heads, and they want $40 each for them. They're crazy! My husband ended up giving one guy $20 for both of them. Personally, I wouldn't have given $10. Just keep walking, and don't talk to any of them and you'll make it out eventually! The bus dropped us off at the marketplace where Margaritaville is, where we ate lunch. That place gets wild! Even at 1:00 in the afternoon! I will end with a few more tidbits about the ship. We never once saw our room steward. Didn't really need him for anything though. He left our towel animals everynight on our turned down beds. One little complaint though, you are supposed to have robes in your room, and beach towels left the night before each port of call. We never had robes, and only got towels left the first night. You can get them at the pool bar though. That is where the towel hut is. We also never saw the maitre'de. But you are expected to tip this person too. I guess they do all the behind the scenes work in the dining room. All other tips are automatically added to your sail and sign card. It breaks down to $10 per person per day. So we paid $100 in tips for the week. We did tip our waiters extra in the dining room on the last night. They were really nice and did an excellent job. All and all, we had a great time. The best vacation we've ever had. I highly recommend the Imagination. We plan on cruising with Carnival again. We will probably try a different ship however, due to ports of call.