Number of Cruises: First Cruise
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Sensation
Sailing Date: June 22nd, 2006
About ten months ago, my husband and I booked a cruise with
the Carnival Fantasy through our Fairfield Timeshare. We are the kind of people
who “do their homework” when it comes to vacationing. When we found out that the
Fantasy and Sensation had swapped itineraries, we were a little skeptical
considering all of the bad reviews that the Sensation received. However, I am
also well aware that people often FIND things to complain about. Usually, things
aren’t as bad as what people make them out to be. I guess you could say that I
am an optimist.
Embarkation (Scheduled for 1:30 pm)
We arrived at 12:45 and dropped off our luggage with the porter. Customary tip is $1 per bag, but we saw a sign that said that you don’t have to tip the porters. We tipped him anyway. Then we parked our rental car. It’s $12/day to park your car at Port Canaveral and you pay before you park. We walked to the ship and waited in line to go through security. The wait wasn’t long at all. What holds up the line is the people who leave keys in their pockets and then set off the security system. After we went through security, we went upstairs to wait in another line. This is where you check in. This line wasn’t bad either. Again, it’s important to be organized and prepared. Make sure you have out your passports, boarding pass, and credit card for the sail & sign card. It also makes life easy if you register online beforehand. That way, you won’t have to handwrite the information on your boarding passes. The information that you submit online will already be in their system. The only thing that you have to complete is the Sail & Sign Information. Checking in was a breeze for us.
Make sure you take the opportunity to have your picture taken as many times as possible! There is no sitting fee and no obligation to buy. We must have had our pictures taken with six different backgrounds in addition to the pictures taken at the dinner table. We bought a beautiful 16x20 canvas for $70. They also gave us an 8x10 of the same picture for free. These pictures are professional quality and you will have fun modeling every chance you get!
Excellent! You can’t miss the 24-hour pizzeria, grill, and ice cream on the Lido Deck! We must have had ice cream twice a day! We had the late seating in the Ecstasy Dining Room. Joseph was the Maitre ‘D. He really made you feel at home with his “Supercharged Waiting Staff.” The waiting staff was excellent. They put on a little show for us each night. It was hilarious and a lot of fun! My husband thoroughly enjoyed the lobster tail. Our waiter gave him an extra tail. I also ordered some broccoli on the side with my chicken. It didn’t come with the chicken, but the waiting staff was very good at filling requests.
I agree that there was an odor in the bathroom. Having read about this in other cruise reviews, I took an air freshener along. It really helped block out the smell. We kept the bathroom door closed and it really didn’t bother us.
Tip – Make sure to take your Sail & Sign card and a Photo ID (drivers license or passport) with you any time you leave the ship. We didn’t do any of the suggested excursions. My husband and I are the type of people who do not like crowds. We like to explore on our own and that is what we did. I would recommend Frommer’s Bahamas travel guide for suggestions. From reading that book, we knew beforehand that it generally costs $4 per person to take a taxi and $1 per person to take a jitney (bus). We took jitney #10 to Cable Beach. The driver dropped us off in front of the Cable Beach Casino. We spent some time (and some money!) in the Casino. Then we went right out to the beach. It was beautiful and not overly crowded. There were places where you could pay to jet ski, parasail, or ride the big banana. While other people on the cruise paid $30-80 per person for excursions, we paid a total of $4 for a beautiful day at the beach! We took the jitney downtown where we had lunch at Senor Frogs. We also bought some things at the straw market next door. Make sure to barter! You can usually buy something for almost half of the original price that they give you! Bahamians love the American dollar!
You cannot miss the shows on the ship! They are fabulous! We went to the Vegas-style “Curves” show on the first night. We also went to the 80’s show on the last night. Both shows were top-notch!
I read some other reviews where people complained about waiting in lines. My husband hates lines and he did not complain once on the cruise about standing in line for something. We both thought that the wait time for any line was reasonable. We were amazed that we never had a difficult time finding a table or chair anywhere. If we wanted to grab a bite to eat on the Lido Deck, we could easily find a table inside or outside. There were always enough chairs on the sun deck as well. The only thing that seemed to be crowded was the pool, but we found times when it wasn’t crowded like during the main dinner seating. That worked out since we had the late dinner seating.
Be sure to leave your room keys in your cabin. Debarkation was very smooth! We were off the ship by 9:30 am. We placed our luggage outside our room the night before. In the morning, we got breakfast at the buffet on Lido Deck. Around 8:30, they left self-assist people off first. This is for people who take ALL of their luggage off the ship themselves. After those people are off, they call luggage tags by color. We were one of the first two colors called so we got off the ship early. Be sure to have your Sail & Sign Card out when you leave the ship. Also remember to have your Passport out at Customs.
As a first time cruiser, I would definitely recommend this cruise to anyone wanting to “test the water.” It’s a great way to “get your feet wet” and familiarize yourselves with cruising. Pardon the puns! Don’t let the other bad reviews scare you off. Enjoy and happy cruising!