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Bill and Kandy

Age: 37

Occupation:Power Plant Operator

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Imagination

Sailing Date: December 14th,2002

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Airport and Arrival:
We found that we saved a lot of money in air fare by flying in to the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood airport. There is a Carnival “Meet and Greet” set up to provide transportation to/from the terminal which takes about 25 minutes at a cost of $30/person round trip. Buses depart the airport beginning at 11:30 am and everyone is on the way quickly. A good deal, especially when the bus driver chats about Miami points of interest along the way. It was very convenient – highly recommended.

Tip: When in the Miami terminal with your boarding pass, OBSERVE which of the two lines is for the ROOM KEY, and get in it first. The other line is to get onto the ship – but you need your room key first

Total time from bus to our room: 45 minutes.

Once on board, immediately drop your bags in your room and go eat at the buffet on the Lido Deck. HINT: No one will knock on your door to find you for the 4:30 lifeboat drill. Do check for your room’s life vests, and make sure you can find your life boat station.

Meals and Room Service:
Always attend the dinners; they are the highlight of the cruise. Great quality of food, and don’t be shy about getting multiple entrees as your waiter will be happy to get anything you want. Breakfast and lunch are easier to get on the buffet, and about the same quality.

Use Room Service often, especially if you are not a “midnight buffet” type of person. My wife and I ordered every night just before bedtime (I recommend the roast beef on baguette with Swiss cheese) and get plenty of juice. Room service is free, but don’t forget to tip the person.

Ports:
We visited Jamaica, which was unremarkable. We went into town and bartered with a cool tour guy to take us to the “major” sites for $40. Boring, and the shopping is poor. The best part was after the tour, we had him drop us off at Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville” which was fun. Excellent (i.e. potent) margaritas. Most locals will offer you drugs/weed very cheap.

Our port of call to Grand Cayman was cancelled due to rough water. In Grand Cayman, the ship anchors off shore (as opposed to Jamaica, where you pull into a port) and must use boats to get you ashore, but the conditions were unsafe so we left toward Jamaica. We received a $25/person credit for the inconvenience.

This was our 3rd Carnival cruise; we feel that the actual ports are secondary to the excellent meals and hospitality.

Rooms:
This was the first cruise that we spent extra money to upgrade to a “picture window” – it was definitely worth it. The beds are lumpy, but I still slept pretty well.

NOTE: My wife began to feel sea sick, and we purchased Dramamine from the ship’s store. It didn’t help, so she bought the “wrist bands” that put pressure on each wrist – and all her symptoms disappeared! She wore them the whole trip, and we heard from others that they are very effective for morning sickness, too.

Tips (Important):
I heard some guests complaining about the end-of-cruise tips. Realize that it is expected to tip your assigned personnel at the end of the cruise (about $10/day per guest total). Something new: This is now added to your Sail ‘n Sign Card on the last day (instead of putting cash in an envelope, as before). Adjustments can be made to the amounts if you wish, but it is inconvenient to do so. Just leave it as written – they deserve every penny for their huge efforts!

Summary
We had a great time; Carnival is very good at providing a fun vacation at a very reasonable price. Get on the Carnival email list! We were emailed of this cruise via email by Jose Docal for a great last-minute rate ($249 each, $329 each to upgrade to the picture window). Don’t forget to fly into Ft. Lauderdale Airport to save $$$, preferable about 10:30 am on the day of the cruise.



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