Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Imagination
Sailing Date: March 3rd, 2007
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
This was my first cruise, but have heard
rave reviews from my wife who has been on several, and her sister who is a
travel agent. I will start by saying that I was moderately disappointed in the
entire cruise. Maybe my expectations were too high, but the entire experience
fell far below.
We boarded the Imagination at 1:00 pm on Saturday March 3, 2007. This process actually went smoother than I expected and before we knew it we were in our stateroom. Our stateroom was nice, a little dated on the décor, but nice nonetheless. Our cabin steward promptly introduced himself and we proceeded to the Lido deck for lunch. We went to the buffet where we had a fairly normal cheeseburger and fries. I was not expecting much, but little did I know that this was going to be the menu for the buffet for the next 5 days. Following the dreaded lifeboat drill, we explored the ship finding the décor very 1970’s neon and mirrors.
We selected the late dinner seating and were thrilled with our two waiters. These two gentlemen actually saved the cruise for us. We however were not happy with the dinner as a whole. First, we were told in our cruise documents and were constantly reminded that a business casual dress code would be enforced for dinner. Apparently my definition of business casual and Carnivals is vastly different. People were showing up in sweatpants and undershirts, camouflage shorts and t-shirts, and one person actually showed up in her swimsuit. All of this was allowed past the Maitre D who was standing at the entrance to the dinning room. The food was less than inspiring and actually could have been cooked in my own kitchen. Throughout our entire stay, the lack of truly extraordinary food was obvious. There was no dessert bar, the midnight buffet bar was truly unexciting, and we found the buffets would even close at random times during the day. My wife and I tried to eat lunch at approximately 3 pm one afternoon only to find that the buffet was closed.
It was at this time that we began to notice a large number of college-aged people on the boat. Unbeknownst to us we were lucky enough to have booked during the spring break for many large institutions. I will say that I was mildly concerned at the outset, but most of these students were fine. I think that the cruise line should have informed passengers of this, as there were many families that were forced to mingle with insanely drunk passengers.
Our first stop was in Grand Cayman, which is a truly wonderful island. My complaint at this stop is that the excursion we signed up for did not start until 9:15 pm, and we were not permitted to leave the ship before that. By the time that we returned from our snorkeling trip, which was listed as only 4 hours but turned into almost 6, we had only about 30 minutes to shop and then had to be in line to board the tender boats. I was disappointed in this, but was still optimistic that the trip would get better.
Then we arrived at Ocho Rios Jamaica. I cannot say this sternly enough; I will never set food in Jamaica again. From the time we left the boat, until we boarded again, we were accosted by the locals to purchase their trinkets, have our hair braided, or buy their pot.
These people would sell your own arm to you if you let them. I understand that this is not something that Carnival can control, but they can give some heads up. We selected the Bamboo Beach Club and Dunn’s River Falls excursion, and were happy with most of it. It is a little disconcerting when you arrive at your private beach only to find that you are separated by the locals using a barbed wire fence. Does not say much for setting that relaxing ambiance. The employees of the club were great however, and got us whatever we wanted. Climbing the falls was an adventure, something enjoyed by all in our party, but one word of advice, do not go into the bazaar at the falls unless you want to be assaulted by salesmen like you never have seen. We picked up our things at the club and were back aboard ship 2 hours early.
The rest of the cruise was uneventful. While I was able to relax to my hearts content, nothing about this vacation will stand out in my mind as positive. I cannot stress enough that the food was boring, the ship was dated, and the experience rated a C at best. I am sure that this is my last cruise aboard a Carnival ship, and that is a shame because most of the employees were knowledgable and helpful, but the problem that we witnessed stem from a corporate level. It is obvious that corners are being cut to make more money, and it is going to cause the company to lose money. It is our understanding that the Imagination is set to be dry docked, but that does not make our experience any better. I believe that our experience would have been relatively the same no matter what ship we would have been on.