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Age: n/a


Number of Cruises: First Cruise

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Imagination

Sailing Date: August 24th, 2002

Itinerary: Grand Cayman, Jamaica

We'll probably never cruise again. It felt like a cheap, tacky version of Las Vegas and certainly not the "something for every taste" that their brochure promised (e.g. 3 orchestras/ dance classes, classical music). Even the boat itself looked like a tacky '70s disco with gaudy neon lights everywhere and a generally smoky, dismal ambience to it.

Probably we should have done more research but we were in a hurry to book a vacation and everyone we met assured us that cruising would be something that we'd love. If you don't drink much, gambol, enjoy comedy/magic/"Vegas" style entertainment, disco, shop or hang out at fitness and beauty parlors then you will hate this experience. The pools aren't inviting with 3000 people trying to use tiny little pool spaces and were too deep for my kids to feel confident in. Yes, we could read books but then I don't need to spend 3 grand for that. Actually, we would have done better staying home, finding our own entertainment, babysitting and restaurants.

I know I should have appreciated the free child care but my kids didn't like it that much and when we did sign them up it always felt like we had to always be somewhere at some time and never relaxing (most of our 'alone' time we seemed to be rushing round doing errands or standing in the information line etc; or getting ready for dinner before our seating time was over. I hate having to be at the right place at the right time on vacation and much prefer a relaxed ambience where we choose when to eat, where to go and what to do. This vacation felt too much like hard work. The only time I finally got to read my book was on the return flight.

I do have to admit that we did have a sick child with us at the time but even despite that I don't think we'd have enjoyed it much more had just my husband and I been there by ourselves.

Having read other people's reviews I also dislike the tipping part. First, we only found out about it a couple of weeks before our trip and did feel that paying an extra $50 a day should have been mentioned at the time of booking. But the other thing I noticed was that there were hardly any Americans on the staff - at least the lower paid service staff. That did disturb me somewhat and make me wonder if Carnival doesn't enforce a semi-slave labor which most Americans wouldn't tolerate. I had to wonder how comfortable the restaurant staff were when made to sing God Bless America when some came from nations not particularly in love with the USA. Anyway, we didn't reduce our suggested automatic tip because we felt the crew and staff did try to be as pleasant and amenable as possible and didn't get much pay for it. However, at the final breakfast, our waitress seemed openly hostile and didn't even bother to make sure we had what we needed or ordered as though we'd let her down by not increasing her tip. Is this another convention I don't know about?

In terms of past travel experience we have rented cottages in England, spent romantic, lazy days on the Mexican Riviera, visited Australia, Morocco, France, Holland, camped at Yellowstone and rented cabins at Mammoth Cave National park. We like classical music, Broadway, *good* comedy acts, interesting shows, opera, ballet, ballroom dancing, biking, hiking (as much as 3 kids will allow!) and visiting beautiful and historically significant places. I'm 36, my husband is 44 and we have 3 kids, 5, 7 and 11.

Of all the vacations we've ever taken this is by far the worst experience we've ever

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