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James Milligan

Age: 30

Occupation:Cellular Network Technician

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Imagination

Sailing Date: December 9th, 2002

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This is a short review of my recent cruise on the Imagination. It was a 5 day cruise with only two ports, Belize and Key West. I chose this itinerary because we like more sea days than ports.

Boarding:
We arrived a day early and stayed at the Doubletree Club Miami. Nice hotel, had a restaurant and the room was large and clean (and we got a pretty good deal on the rate from a well known internet site). The hotel provided a free shuttle from the airport.

We wanted to get to the port early to avoid the crowds, so we hopped in a limo ($25 all together for 2 people) and arrived at about 11. Check in was a breeze, the only drawback was they wouldn't let us board early so we had to wait until 1230 and board with everyone (we heard the ship was being inspected by the CDC, but that may just have been a rumor). Even though we didn't get to board early, I think it was worth it to avoid the crowds while checking in.

Cabin:
We had an outside cabin on the Riviera deck (R123). The cabin was surprisingly large with ample storage and a good size bathroom. On our last cruise with NCL we had a balcony. While we would prefer to have a balcony, we felt that the low end Carnival room was still larger than the suite we had with NCL. At no point did we feel any rocking, even though the water was sometimes pretty choppy.

I felt the ship was in great shape. The Grand Atrium was cool, and everything was either on the Promenade deck or close to it making for easy navigation.

Food:
The food was awesome. We had late seating in the Pride dining room and our server, Gede, was the best.

Even when we didn't make it to dinner the buffets were pretty good too. Pizza was ok and the room service was prompt (though I thought the menu could be a little larger).

Staff:
I was amazed at the staff. From our room steward Stanley (who is the best) to the servers, most were incredible.

The one glaring spot that needs to be improved is the CD and his assistants. The CD Andrew 'AJ' Jones was horrible. Never saw him in the common areas talking to passengers, and when he was on stage he came off as a little rude and pushy. His assistants were boring and kept repeating the same unfunny lines over and over and over and over again. The games were fun despite their efforts though.

Casino:
Don't get me started lost a little bit there.

I actually won a little in blackjack (and promptly gave it back), but mom wasn't doing to well on the slots.

One word of caution here: WATCH THE DEALERS!

There was one blackjack dealer, Damian, who we caught like 3 times taking somebody's cards and chips as if they had busted when they had not.

Entertainment:
Was a little disappointed here. The shows were ok, but there was only 1 'production' type show, B-Bop. B-Bop was good, and you should try to catch it if you can.
There is a really cool pianist/singer in the Mirage Bar on the Atlantic deck (I think). I requested 'Thunder Road' which he played ,badly, but it was a good time.

The comedians were pretty funny with the exception of Kevin King. The only thing that kept me from walking out early was the hope that the stupidity of his show was just a ruse and that it would get better. Well, read too much into that one. In order to get the exact same experience without attending the show, stand in front of a mirror, say the f word a few hundred times, call the people who don't laugh b*tches, take somebody's cigarettes, shove two up your nose, put them back in the pack and give them to the owner.

Ports:
As mentioned above, the ports were Belize and Key West.
We did the Altun-Ha/Belize City tour and had a great time. The ruins were amazing. A lot of people thought the Belize tour was a little depressing. Heard the Altun-Ha/River Wallace tour was cool, along with the ever popular cave tubing.

We just kind of poked around Key West, went to Margarittaville, etc. We overslept a little and didn't get off the ship till like noon, so didn't have enough time for parasailing

Debarkation:
Saddest part of the cruise. Said goodbye to all the people we met, staff, etc. Debarkation went smoothly. Grabbed some breakfast at the late seating in the Pride dining room then hung out at the Dynasty lounge until our tag was called. Our color was called at 1000, and we were off the ship and getting a cab at 1010. Very impressive.

We stayed overnight in Miami and basically just vegged out, slept, and watched TV.

My flight was at 0724 and moms was 0930. We left for the airport at 0515 and I had just enough time to get on the plane. Miami is the worst airport I have ever seen, hands down.

I did curbside check in, but they only checked the bag....I still needed to wait in the long lines at the united counter to get a boarding pass (no E-ticket check in like at most airports). After waiting in line forever, somebody said that if your bags are checked you could go to another counter to check in. This was a little better as the lines weren't nearly as long. After that I figured I was pretty much set.....wrong.

In order to get to the gate, mine was F, you need to go up an escalator in order to go through security. The problem is that the area at the top of the escalator is not very large so there was a huge line of people waiting to for the chance to get up an escalator so they could wait some more. Very poorly planned and designed. Took a long time to get to the escalator, then even longer to wade through the line to go through security. Not sure how much of this can be attributed to the Holidays, but it was a frustrating mess. Anyway, bottom line is to leave yourself plenty of time. They wouldn't let my mom go with me to the checkpoint (she was ticketed on a different airline). I told the lady that she wasn't going through security to the gate, but just was going to hang out with me while I waited. Mom thought I was going to get in trouble for congratulating her on getting a GED, mentioned how proud of her parents must be, then calling her a minimum wage trained monkey. Dance monkey, dance.

I'm normally not like that, but I was hungry, tired, and frustrated.

All in all the cruise was incredible and we had an awesome time (even after we saw the Sail and Sign bill ). We filled out the comment card and told CCL what we liked and didn't like. We are definitely sailing Carnival again!

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