Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Imagination
Sailing Date: January 17th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Let me just start my review off with WOW. After sailing on the Holiday, we were not sure we would ever try Carnival again. However, my husband found this cruise and we decided to give it another shot. The crew on the Imagination for this cruise absolutely stunned me. On our previous cruise, we felt almost as if the crew really wished we would just hurry up and leave. On this cruise, we felt as if the entire crew was totally focused and committed to seeing the cruisers have the time of their lives.! There are some negatives here, but those have more to do with Carnival as a company then the ship ‘Imagination’.
Jeff B, the cruise director, and his staff - This crew will do everything within their power to help you enjoy your cruise. Up to and including helping folks get out of their shells and join in on good fun. I always was able to spot Jeff or one of his staff as we ventured around the ship, either dancing, having a contest, sending people on scavenger hunts, raising havoc in the pool with ‘Survivor’ (I never found out who got voted off the ship).
Ivan, Sigit, Chomommand, Our ‘Wait Team’ in the Spirit dining room, late seating. I’ll repeat, WOW. Chomommand, who handled drinks, asked us the first night about what we drank. From that point on, each night we arrived at the table, our drinks were waiting for us. Ivan, our head waiter, was consistently charming, funny, speedy, and informative. Sigit was much more quiet, and plain old wonderful. These guys got involved in the waiters and waitresses all dancing and singing and REALLY got involved. No fake smiles and half hearted attempt. A lot of credit must go to Miguel, the Maitre’d in our dining room, who constantly circulated and spoke with the guests. The food was excellent, and heaven knows, there is plenty of it. If you find your entrée is just not big enough, order another one. Eat often, eat free, an unofficial Carnival Motto.
Casino Staff- My husband and I enjoy blackjack, and spent quite some time in the casino during our cruise. What a fun loving staff we found there. Ferenc (Absolute best dealer, ever, anywhere) , Cristina, Andy, Sonia, Steven to name a few. It’s amazing, really, how much fun we had in this casino. Nights where we laughed so hard at the table we had to stop playing for a moment to catch up.
Food- We found the formal dining room food to be superb, each and every night. The buffet generally was good, nothing to do cartwheels about, but certainly enough for everyone to find something they enjoyed. The Horizon Grill, Burgers and Fries was nice. The Pizza is awesome on this ship, I recommend you trying it.
Jamaica was very enjoyable, much more so then Mexico. We chose not to book any tours on ship, and simply hopped a cab to the places we wanted to go. Dunns River Falls is a great place to visit, climb the falls, play on the beach, ride jet skis, etc. Mahogany Beach is a free public beach with the most amazing massage therapy available. The islanders are VERY aggressive about trying to sell you their services and or wares, but also incredibly friendly. Get the words No Thank You ready before you leave the ship.
We went to an art auction, lots of fun as we had never been to one before. The staff there was friendly, engaging, and seemed to have a good grasp of art. The Vegas style show was entertaining. They also held a ‘previous cruiser’ party for past guests which was also enjoyable. There is a coffee shop (Starbucks Style) on board with very reasonable prices. When we first saw their desserts, etc, we figured they would be very expensive, and were surprised at the prices. The most wonderful chocolate covered strawberries were 5 for 3$. Lovely chocolate crusted fruit tarts 2$. It’s a nice place to stop while on board.
Cons- Our ship was scheduled to stop in Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios Jamaica. We awoke the first morning on our cruise to the Captain telling us we had to turn around and go to the Florida Keys (We left from Miami) due to a crew medical emergency. It was stressed that this was a ‘dire’ emergency, ‘critical’ etc What no one understood was, why, after turning a cruise ship of 2000 people around, did a helicopter meet us as we sat off the shore of the Florida Keys. Our group, really, was not overly upset when we found out that this meant that we would be missing the port in Grand Cayman. We realized that a medical emergency was unavoidable, and focused, instead, on Jamaica. However, the way that Carnival decided to rectify the situation was abysmal at best. We were refunded (Note: costs included in our ticket) 25$ Port fees. That’s that. (Our first cruise left port 8 hours late, and we were all credited with 50$ on our ship board accounts) There were several couples who had planned to get married in the Caymans, which obviously, did not happen. I cannot imagine how much more frustrated I would have felt had I had my entire wedding party on board and had my wedding canceled. This is one area I do feel Carnival completely failed to exceed expectations. Upon our return home, we contacted our cruise specialist, only to be told she no longer worked there. My husband was handed off to our new specialist, only to tell me that we will definitely change specialists if we ever cruise with carnival again. He did not care at all for her attitude, and the fact that she seemed entirely unconcerned with the issues we had over the whole Caymans fiasco. The couple traveling with us went as a ‘Once In A Lifetime’ type cruise, for them, it was the vacation of their lives, and they simply lost a portion of it.
All in all, the Imagination was staffed with a truly wonderful group of people. As with most cruise ships, they are staffed with an International crew. We only ran into 2 American crew members, and found them to be the ONLY crew members who had very little concern for good customer service. I would definitely recommend this cruise to others, as the chance of another medical emergency is slim.