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Lori

Age: 31

Occupation:Marketing Manager / Creative Director

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Imagination

Sailing Date: May 4th, 2006

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Ugh. I was pretty disappointed in this cruise. This was my first cruise on Carnival, and for sure my last. This cruise was a gift to me from my company, and I appreciate the sentiment, but I was very let down at nearly every level, starting with the girl who greeted us at the Miami airport. She was so unenthusiastic about being there and looked visibly bothered when my friend and I inquired about what we were supposed to do next. Not a great first impression.

The bus driver from the airport was funny and he delivered us to the port safely. The check-in process was easy and quick-- we arrived pretty early. I was VERY disappointed to not receive any instructions, itenerary or map upon checkin... I felt like a fish out of water and didn't know where anything was. When we located the Information Desk, I was again disappointed to receive a crappy black and white copy of the ship... it had obviously been printed two-up on an 8.5 x 14 sheet of paper, and then sloppily cut with scissors. How much did my company pay for the cruise? Surely enough to have a professionally printed full-color map of the ship.

We checked out our room and went up to Lido to have lunch. The buffet food didn't look good... there was, like, a home-cooking side and then an "international" variety side. Neither contained anything appealing, but after reading countless reviews about the great pizza, we quickly found out and I have to agree-- it was the best pizza I've ever had, and we enjoyed it every day for lunch (we tried the buffet a few days first, but quickly ditched that food for the de chevre or margarita pizzas).

The casino took all of my money... I can't really blame that on the ship, but it did make the whole trip less enjoyable. :) The casino had lots of slot machines, blackjack tables, Let It Ride tables and craps. I thought it was funny that they had penny slot machines, but those weren't actually activated until the last day of the cruise.

I was disappointed on the first night that there were no parties or anything. My friend and I walked the empty deck, confused... this was the party ship? So where were all the people?

Dinner was awful, both nights we ate in the Spirit dining room. And believe what you hear about not being able to find that dining room. It's like the Bermuda Triangle... so confusing. The first night I had the Spa cuisine fish... no flavor whatsoever. Assuming it must just be because it was the low-cal meal, I got two entrees the other night we had dinner to test those... one was some prawn and scallop dish with lobster sauce, and it was sooooo buttery that it was gross. The other was the fettucini alfredo, which I'm pretty sure had been sitting under a heat lamp for at least a day. We didn't get to choose our dessert the last night, but it was souffle and actually was okay. I lost a pound on the cruise-- that should speak for itself.

The events were ho-hum... it seemed like stuff for older people, stuff for married people, and stuff for kids. I'm not a fan of dance clubs, so that pretty much was all that was planned for single 30-somethings (you know, other than getting drunk, and that gets old fast).

Our stateroom was clean, but my fitted sheet didn't even cover the whole bed... which was pretty annoying. I thought that's just how things were done, but on the last night when I asked my friend if hers did that, too, I realized it was just weirdness reserved only for me. Agus was our stateroom person, and he was so sweet and polite and called me by name.

One plus: THE SPA!! I loved it. Camy from South Africa was my masseuse, and it was the best massage I've ever had. She gave me thoughtful recommendations to relieve stress, which I thoroughly appreciated. If you go, request her. I asked for a relatively deep massage, and there were times I thought I might cry in pain, but it was just what I needed to get some knots out.

Room service was much better than the dining room food. Best tuna sandwich ever. :) The cookies were stale, but I really didn't need them anyway.

The stop to Key West was, frankly, too early. We were there from 7:30 to 2:00... it would have been cool to stay 'til sunset, because there's apparently a great performance that happens every night at sunset. The Key West Winery was one place I really wanted to go to, but it didn't open until 10am, so that put a kink in the trip, although we did manage to go back before we had to get back on the ship around 1pm. Nice, fruity wines, if you're interested, but the woman working there was about as unpleasant as the Carnival employee that greeted us at the airport. Maybe she was just having the worst day of her life.

Calica/Playa del Carmen (I still don't know exactly where we were) was hot... the "pier" seemed make-shift and we all had to take buses or taxis to get anywhere. We chose to see the Mayan Ruins of Tulum... interesting, but a big racket, if you ask me. Just wanted to sell me things. The scenery was beautiful and our tour guide, Angel, taught us a lot... the bus had TVs which would have been great had they been used to support Angel's visual aids that he brought along, but instead, we were all straining our eyes to see the 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper he was holding up from the front of the bus. I learned a lot about Mayan culture and really do appreciate the Mayans a lot more now that I know more. Very cool civilization. If you go to this place, find the "Mexican Restaurant" and have some guacamole. So freakin' good. Oh, and take lots and lots of water, it's hot.

The day at sea was boring if you didn't want to lay out, and I didn't since I was a little burned from Tulum.

My other cruise was on Royal Caribbean... I recommend them over Carnival any day. Not great.

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