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Pat Schlette

Age: 50

Occupation:Admin Assistant

Number of Cruises: First Cruise

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Imagination

Sailing Date: June 25th, 2001

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

We left St. Louis early for our first cruise - with great expectations. The flight was great and we noticed Carnival reps right away at the baggage claim in Miami. We then had to carry our bags a LONG way in the heat down a narrow path to some waiting buses. We watched our luggage being heaved into a truck. The bus ride to the ship was pretty quick, but through a “colorful” neighborhood. The lines at embarkation were horrendous. We were crowded like cattle while the line weaved back and forth for an about an hour. Then all of a sudden we were on the ship - with no one to help. As this was our first cruise, we had no idea where we were. We finally found our cabin - which was very, very small, dingy, dirty and dark. We could not believe it. When booking the trip, we had asked for two cabins as we were a party of five traveling together. We were assured, over and over by Carnival reps, that they had the largest rooms and not to worry - there would be room. Well, that was the first of many misrepresentations. The room was tiny. The shower drained so s l o w l y that there was constantly an inch of water in the bathroom. Our safe did not work. Someone came to "fix" it quickly when we first complained, but it never worked the whole trip.

The life boat drill was long, annoying and stupid. We were starving and soon found ourselves at the Horizon Grill. Again, now I know why the name is Carnival Cruise LINES. There was a line everyday, everywhere we went. We noticed a very foul odor in the Horizon Grill immediately. That smell was so thick, you could not eat in there. It smelled as if every "rag" the help used to "clean" the tables had been soaked in sour milk and then placed in the sun to dry. We were not the only ones to notice this smell. It was sickening. The food was mediocre at the Horizon.

I purchased a soda drink card - which was a joke. I asked repeatedly for a bottle of diet coke, but they would only give me a glass of soda. And you had to go to a "bar" to get it. After one day, the bartenders remember who have the soda cards and ignore them. More than once, I felt like going behind the bar and getting my own drink.

I had heard and read so much about the popularity of the 24 hours pizza service with garlic rolls and Caesar salad. Don't believe it. There was a line always at the pizza bar, but usually no one there to serve you. Pre-baked pizzas sat on trays. When it was my turn, I would try to point to a certain pizza, and the waiter shook his head and gave me a slice of the pizza he had in front of him. I asked repeatedly where the garlic rolls were, or the salad and was answered with blank stares. Communication was a real problem.

The pool area was horrible. Absolutely crowded, with every chair and chaise lounge taken. No way to get to the pool.

Little kids were everywhere. They were particularly annoying at the elevators where they found pushing every button on every floor fascinating.

The exercise room was nice and had lots of equipment. However, two of the treadmills were not working, and one of the bikes was not working.

The Spa was fabulous, but expensive. At least I could understand the languages, accents of the staff there. Found myself and family booking several services for 20% off, or free this or that. But, when the bill came, you couldn't tell how much you were getting 20% off of. I had a haircut and a bag full of products for over $100. I told them I didn't all want the products - how much was one or two of them? They never would tell me how much the shampoo was, etc. They try to fast talk you. So be careful, the spa services were great, but watch the prices.

The stops were great. We went to Grand Cayman and took the Stingray tour. Absolutely, fabulous. Would do it again in a minute. Wish I had purchased the video of the trip (too pricey at $40 – they would have sold lots of them at $20) Wish I had bought a tape of the island music playing on the boat. It was a great tour. Liked shopping at Grand Cayman too. It was very, very hot though and we were carting around five wet, heavy beach towels. Made shopping difficult.

The next stop was unplanned. Something happened so we couldn’t go to Calica and went to Cozumel instead. Am very glad we did. It was quite hot but something to see. We just went into town to shop and it was very interesting. Be careful though, know what you want to spend and be careful. Bargain with the clerks. They will come way down (to what the stuff is really worth). The "expensive" jewelry stores are annoying - will not take no for an answer. They can be insulting too. While filling out a prize entry coupon in a "fancy" jewelry store, a clerk slapped an expensive ($1,900) diamond tennis bracelet on my arm. I explained it was beautiful, but I wasn't interested. They would not take it off. I had to pretend I was going to leave the store with it on my arm before they finally took it off. But mostly enjoyed the day there. Should have gone to a beach first, and then shopped. Will do that next time. Getting back on the ship, tired, carrying lots of stuff, was annoying. AGAIN, lots of lines, lots of unpleasant workers who don't speak English checking ID, etc. When my 16 year old son handed his card to the worker, a picture of some 75 year old man came up on the screen. Of course, we were then delayed while they checked that out.

Dinners were a huge disappointment. We were very happy with the other family at our table, but the service was horrible. Two of the five nights, we were not even asked what we wanted for dessert. We were brought what was left over. Mushy, runny cherries jubilee was horrible. The steaks were bad, baked I guess. The shrimp were tasteless and the lobster mushy. We get better seafood at Red Lobster in St. Louis. The food was very pretty though - great presentation, but that doesn't make up for bad service and cold, left over food. Never saw the maitre d’. Heard some announcements and old jokes, but that's all.

Lunch was - you guessed it - long lines for pre-cooked hamburgers and bland salads. Dessert was warm soft serve ice cream. Blah.

Breakfast was more lines, powdered eggs, long ago cooked pancakes, sausage swimming in who knows what, raw bacon and no toast. You could toast your own small, tasteless frozen bagel if you wanted breakfast bread. They did serve omelets, but I always seemed to find myself in line behind some frazzled mother who would tell the omelet maker - I need five omelets, one cheese, etc. and proceeded to tie up the already slow line for 20 minutes.

Ice tea and coffee were free - but the only place to get some was in the Horizon (Odor) Grill. Three mornings when I arrived around 8:00 am - the coffee carafes were empty. The ice tea did not taste like any ice tea I have ever had. The drinks on board are expensive. $4 for a beer? This is crazy. We thought drinks would be more reasonable.

Disembarking was bad too. We were told to wait until our color luggage tag was called. Well, the color was not the same for all of us. Sort of a tan, goldish color, faded on some tags. I went to the pursers to ask what color I had. It was pink! Of course, we were the last color called. What a mess. Thousands of black suitcases everywhere, in a huge pile, and you had to find your own. Then out to the dock to try to find your bus. Carnival had us flying out of Ft. Lauderdale instead of Miami for some reason. We got to the Ft. Lauderdale airport at 11:00 am for a 5:30 pm flight. We tried to get an earlier flight with no luck. Then our flight took off an hour late. AHH TWA strikes again.

I've talked to lots of people lately and all tell me that too bad we took Carnival for a first cruise. We'll definitely cruise again, but look for a better, cleaner ship.

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