Jeff & Diane
Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Imagination
Sailing Date: December 22nd, 2003
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
This was our second cruise for our 30th anniversary. Our first cruise was 10 years ago on The Big Red Boat our of Port Canaveral, so this is the only cruise to compare with. That cruise was far superior and enjoyable.
We stayed on the Riviera deck (bottom floor of cabins) in a middle outside room. Nice big window.
Room and bathroom were large enough for the two of us with plenty of closet/storage space. Food was good, especially the dinner meal in the seated restaurant with a great selection of entrees. We were at a table for six and there was a family of four who were Indian and after the second dinner, the staff prepared special Indian meals for them. The waiters were great, always filling beverages, replacing empty plates with rolls, etc. The room steward always did a great job cleaning up each day and preparing for night. The on-board staff were friendly and helpful.
This next comment could be a positive or a negative, depending on your point-of-view. The cruise line automatically bills you a flat $9.75/day/person as gratuity for the room steward, table waiters, and other food staff. At first I didn't think much of this, but it was handy and was about what we would have given as tips anyway. You may provide your room steward or main waiters more if you feel the need.
Our travel agent told them this cruise was for our 30th anniversary. When we got on board, we checked with the restaurant to see if we could change our seating time. The person on duty, not the Matre D, immediately said "happy anniversary". So we knew our travel agent sent this info. When announcements on our anniversary night were made, the Matre D said nothing. The only envelopes for a gratuity is for the Matre D -- which he got nothing.
The only time the ship was stable was when at port or anchored off Belize. It constantly rocked, even though the sea was calm. The Big Red Boat rocked the first night, due to a stabilizer problem, but then the next day the boat was as if we were on land for the rest of the cruise. The Imagination is about three times larger, so I don't know what the problem was.
The first port was Belize City. What a rip-off. It has a tourist town, still under construction, which is probably funded by the cruise lines. A "shopping expert" told us about the "great deals" and where to shop in this tourist town. No deals to be found, unless you are not a shopper by nature. My wife loves to shop and knows all the great deals at home and knows that the prices are better at home -- especially when there is a sale. We didn't do any of the tours since that would have given us only an hour to shop. Plus, the info about the tours said travel time would be at least an hour one way, need sun screen, insect repellant, and walk some. So we figure we could rent a video on the Mayan ruins -- even though we would have liked to have seen them. The "deals" on ship were no better than normal store sales.
Next port was Key West. This was the biggest disappointment of all. Everyone was delayed three hours because there were about eight people who refused, even after threats of fines, that they must report to Immigration before anyone could leave the ship. About noon we could leave the ship, wait an hour to catch a trolley to get to town, and then have only three hours to roam, since the last trolley left at 4:15 and the ship would leave at 5. All we got was a pitiful apology for the delays -- no explanation or compensation. You would think they could have given a $100 credit/person on the next cruise (which we will never take with them) or a $50/person gift certificate to shop in their on-board shops. Nothing! Very poor public relations! It was just like being at work in school with an administrator constantly threatening students what would happen. On a personal note, I am tired of society catering to people who can't follow rules while the rest of us who do follow rules must suffer. Who takes responsibility -- not this cruise line!
As Tom and Mary Milao said, the entertainment was pitiful. Our small high school has put on better productions.
The last night my wife finished playing the slots and had enough points to get a mug, which was the third highest gift. They were out of mugs, so instead of offering the next higher valued gift, they offered the next lower gift, a T-shirt, but were out of them (even though the gift shops had plenty of mugs and T-shirts available). She ended up with a deck of cards, the entry level point prize. She talked to the manager of the casino but got no respect or consideration from him.
The only food service available 24 hours is for pizza.
Finally, the debarkation was fair, but a latch on one of my hardcase suitcase got broken. Luckily the other latch was holding along with the supplemental latches. How this could have happened is a mystery. It didn't get broken while arriving on-board or ever had a problem in airline terminals.
The Port of Miami is a mess. They must be repaving or something since it was muddy and getting around was a hassle. The walk from the parking garage to the ship was not a short one. The Port of Canaveral was a much better experience. There were a lot of people to assist, but were uncooperative.
We will NEVER cruise with Carnival or leave from Miami again. We live near Jacksonville, Florida and they have just begun cruises from Mayport. I'll be looking into them. A few friends have already sailed from there and had a very pleasant experience.