Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Imagination
Sailing Date: May 23rd, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Traveling with my wife, age 43,
son, age 15, and daughter, age 13. This was the first cruise for the children,
but the second for my wife and me. Our expectations going into this cruise was
to spend the time at sea relaxing, and to enjoy family time on the excursions
seeing the sights and meeting local people.
This particular cruise seemed to be populated by mostly younger to middle age couples, few with children. There were events planned for the teenagers, but when my son and I checked them out, fewer than 10 teenagers were present. We chalked this up to the time of year; most children are still in school. Next cruise, we will bring a friend for our son. (Our daughter was perfectly content to spend her time with my wife and me). Most of the activities for the adults were aimed at the younger crowd; much drinking, loud announcers, etc. If this isn’t what you’re into, there are places to go where you can find peace and quiet. Just don’t plan on having much of that when you are by the pool. This is the center of activity and tends to be a very loud and busy place. My wife and I really have enough noise and commotion in our day-to-day lives, our vacation desire was for a bit more peace and quiet.
The food was very good, and very plentiful. Plan on bringing loose fitting clothes for the last couple of days as you will gain weight! The buffet menu was a step above typical buffet food, with lots of selections for salads, vegetables, etc. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chili and French fries were available daily by the pool for lunch. Sushi was available in the early evening, but usually had a line to wait in to get some. Pizza and ice cream were available 24 hours a day (the kids loved this!). The sit down dinner was good, but not fantastic. I would equate it with dinner at a moderately priced restaurant. My wife and daughter enjoyed the opportunity to dress up for dinner. Our son was appalled, but complied when faced with hunger as an option. The meals had several choices and everyone was able to find something they liked. One time our son could not find anything to his liking and our waiter brought him a cheeseburger and fries.
The shore excursions were good for first time visitors to these locales, or those with less-than-adventurous spirits. One note about Grand Cayman; there is still much destruction left from hurricane Ivan in 2004. Many, many buildings still have damaged roofs, or missing roofs, trees are down everywhere, and repairs are ongoing. This didn’t impact our tours, but it has impacted the beauty of the islands. In Grand Cayman we did the island tour with our tour guide Milton. He was great, and patient and did a good job in telling us about the history of the island and the various sights. To be honest, the turtle farm was interesting, but being typical US citizens, we are not used to seeing the treatment of food animals in foreign countries. Our sensitivities were a bit affected. Tortuga Rum factory was great, but overall the best part of this tour was Milton! My son and I did the beginner scuba while my wife and daughter did the snorkeling. Scuba was great! Our instructor, Pauli was very good and very patient. She took special time with my son on the dive to make sure he interacted with some of the sea life. This was the highlight of his trip. When you go on the actual dive, you have one instructor per every four students. I have dive experience, but my son had none. We are both strong swimmers, but others in our class were not. Everyone in the class said they had a wonderful time. I would highly recommend this excursion if you desire to see the sea life up close. My wife and daughter enjoyed the snorkeling, and found the instruction adequate. In Jamaica we took the Chukka Cove horseback swim and ride excursion, and rested on the beach. Jamaica was beautiful and lush. Our horseback guide was Vernal, and he was great. He paid special attention to our children and told us much about the lives of the locals and about the beauty of the island. The ocean swim was fun, but I probably would not do it again. When going through public areas in Jamaica, be prepared to be approached by aggressive vendors, who are not always polite. I found that if I was firm and polite, most responded well. I never felt unsafe, nor were we every approached to buy drugs.
The staff on the ship was, for my money, the highlight of the ship. Marian, our waiter from Romania, was a great person, who paid special attention to the needs and desires of the children at our table. We had three teenage girls at our table, and he managed to get them all participating in the dances with the staff at the meals. We enjoyed getting to visit with him and getting to know him and his wife. Our room steward, Justina, from Croatia was a joy as well. She kept our room impeccably clean, and always brought us whatever we needed. Justina also took time each day to ask us how our day was, and how we enjoyed our shore excursions. She made the obligatory towel animals, which the family enjoyed discovering every evening, and never complained about our constant use of towels. She took our children to heart and was really a great person to spend some time getting to know. The cruise director was fun, and made the normal briefings a funny activity. Overall, I found the staff on this ship to be second to none. I never felt that any of our requests were a burden, nor were we an inconvenience to them. Even when they were busy, they never forgot to smile and say “can I help you”.
Overall, the family voted that they would do a cruise again, if our son could bring a friend. With options such as all inclusive vacations available now, cruises have to compete as never before. I don’t know that this ship is the best for teenage cruisers, but I think if you’re a younger couple who enjoys whooping it up, this is a great ship to go on.