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Rick Ellis

Age: 36

Occupation:Mobile DJ

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Imagination

Sailing Date: November 12th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Hello all,

I just returned from the Carnival Imagination 11/12/05 – 11/17/05. I was part of the East Coast DJ Cruise. There were 100 professional Disc Jockeys from around the country gathered on the Imagination.

Airport & Embarkation – The Carnival Cruise Lines representatives were easy to find in the Miami airport. You charge your shuttle bus ticket to your Sign & Sail account. For $24 round trip, not a bad deal. Once you arrive at the port and drop your bags off with the loading crew you enter the terminal to begin the embarkation process. You will go through the TSA security checkpoints and please be patient. If you are going to try to take alcohol on board, put it in your checked luggage. I saw many people pulled aside during the screening and their bottles taken from them. You go through the lines and present your documentation and set up your Sign & Sail. I got to the port between 12:30 – 1:00 PM and this initial part took roughly 20 minutes. You then head upstairs to get your room key, another 10-15 minutes in line. You take one final escalator and you are heading across the gangplank to your cruise ship!

Ship Orientation and Muster Drill – The ship is very easy to move around. The Internet Café is right where you enter the ship and very easy to use. I had my own laptop and had no problems using the Carnival network. It was $16.95 for 30 minutes + $3.95 activation fee. The Information & Shore Excursion Desks are in plain sight. I set up my cash account for the Sign & Sail card and was off to find my room. I will discuss the room in a moment. Within an hour of being on the ship I had my bearings and could quickly find any location. The ship décor is like a Las Vegas resort. Lots of neon and other accents. The ship was very clean and the crew was very friendly. I got a Funship Special and waited for the infamous Muster Drill. It is a necessary evil and was fairly quick and painless. I was surprised that we set sail during the drill. A little different routine from my first cruise on the Sovereign of the Seas.

Room- I was on the Empress Deck Aft, Cabin E215. I was sailing solo and the room was the perfect size for 2 people. My Cabin Steward was Boonsam. He was great! My ice bucket was always full and the towel animals he made were great! I didn’t see him very often, but I also didn’t need him for anything out of the ordinary.

Day 1 Miami – After sailing I met up with the other DJ’s in the Shangri-La Room for our welcoming party. The party was in full swing. We headed out to the Spirit Dining room for the late dinner seating. I was seated with one of the Keynote speakers for our convention and his family. Our waiter Julian (Youlian), and his assistant Cristina, were both from Romania. Fantastic is the only word I can use to describe this team. After dinner, I went to see about the Sail Away specials on liquor. My fellow DJ, Dana, joined me in sampling the different rums, vodkas and liqueurs. Marko made sure we had multiple samples to help us make up our mind. A word of advice, you will start feeling the effects quickly. I must have had 20 mini shots and Dana was right there with me. I kept telling others about how good the Mango Rum was that Marko said I had to stick around, I was his best salesman! Dana and I then headed up to the Xanadu lounge for karaoke. Kirsten was the host and she was great. She had NO IDEA what she was in for on this cruise though. The first night about 75-100 people showed up for karaoke. We took over having all kinds of fun dancing along with the singers and providing some comic relief. The crowd loved it and over the next few nights, Karaoke became standing room only. Word spread around the ship about how much fun it was to watch the DJ’s do their thing at Karaoke. I was stopped several times by other passengers asking if we were going to be at Karaoke that night.

Day 2 At Sea – Woke up in time for a bite to eat and them off to seminars during the morning and afternoon. I never did make it into the pools or hot tub, my loss. I stopped by the Sushi Bar and it was incredible!!! No charge for the sushi, sake was $1.00 per glass or $4.00 for a carafe. Our formal dinner was that night. Lobster and Prime Rib. I had the Lobster and was in heaven. Then it was back to Karaoke and another night of rock and roll! Kirsten announced the Carnival Legends show would be the final night of our cruise and she needed singers. I volunteered to do Elton John. More on this later.

Day 3 Grand Cayman – I caught the tender into Grand Cayman. The tour companies and taxis are all over the place. I was just going to explore the town on my own. I looked around the Hard Rock Café souvenir shop. I stopped in a Tortuga Rum cake bakery. I got a Jamaican meat pie and a large bottle of water. The town is safe, as long as you use common sense and good judgment. I had lunch at Señor Frog’s, the waitresses are fantastic! They were very nice to this lonely solo traveler. A margarita and barbecue chicken sandwich lunch plate was about $18.00 American. The gratuity was included. I found another Tortuga Rum store and ended up sampling more rums than I could ever imagine! Try the Vanilla rum, you will not regret it! I bought a bottle and a shot glass. They deliver the alcohol to the ship; you cannot take it with you. I headed back to the ships tender and once on board decided to go work out. The gym was better than I had pictured. The machines were modern and well kept. The steam room was off and I didn’t want to wait for it after I finished working out. I went back to the room for a quick nap. I skipped the dining room and opted for the Lido buffet with some of the other DJ’s. We opened up a shortened Karaoke (1 ½ hrs) with “Rock & Roll All Night” complete with inflatable guitars, maracas, Mardi Gras beads and glow sticks that we threw into the crowd. By this time my voice was starting to go hoarse so I opted to end the night as soon as karaoke ended.

Day 4 Ocho Rios Jamaica – Well, it was supposed to be Jamaica. The seas were too rough for the ship to dock in Ocho Rios. I was very disappointed as I had planned a Canopy Rainforest Zipline Tour. I met up with the other DJ’s to figure out what our plans would be. Ryan, our convention director, informed us that there were 5 weddings on boards that were supposed to have taken place in Jamaica. The Carnival reps were scrambling, trying to figure out what to do with these wedding parties. Ryan volunteered our services as professional DJ’s to help out with the receptions free of charge. Several of us, myself included, had our music libraries with us and could provide the entertainment. We really wanted to do this to help out our fellow passengers. Ultimately, Carnival decided not to take us up on our offer. We spent the day relaxing and having informal networking sessions in the piano bar. Dinner was in the Lido Buffet again. We had 35 foot swells reported that night and several of us went to bed early.

Day 5 At Sea – Yet another seminar in the morning. At noon I had to go to rehearse for the “Carnival Legends” show that night. I was paired up with one of the Imagination dancers, Michelle, who would help guide me through the show process. Michelle was amazing to work with. She was so kind and helpful in guiding me through the process of finding my mark on stage and helping me do the things that the director needed me to do as Elton John on stage. After rehearsal I had a bite to eat in the Lido buffet. The DJ’s had one more event, “Game Show Mania” which was a lot of fun. After the final dinner it was time to get ready for the “Carnival Legends” show. The backstage crew was so much fun and eager to help us out. I think we had more fun backstage than the audience did! After the show Carnival treated all the performers to a champagne after party. I had fun at the party but still had to get my luggage out for the porters.

Day 6 Debarkation – The worst part of a cruise is having to get off. I woke early and had a bite to eat. Stepped outside to look at Miami and call my son. I said good bye to all my DJ friends and waited for the general debarkation call. A call that never came. Once the self debarkation was done, Carnival just started letting people off quietly. There was no mad rush for the gangway. Michelle, my Imagination dancer spotted me in line so we were able to say our farewell and get a picture together. I stepped off the ship and back into the real world. One thing I didn’t know is that you cannot use your cell phone in the terminal when you are leaving. This is a Dept. of Homeland Security regulation. Not a big deal, but some people in line got upset with the agents announcing that your phone would be confiscated if you were on it in that particular area. Miami airport was quick and painless. If you take your laptop with you, it has to be screened separate from your bag. Be prepared for this. My luggage made it all the way back to Orlando before a bottle I was bringing back was broken in my suitcase. I figured it would be ok in the cardboard box with clothes packed around it, oh well, live and learn. I just had to do lots of laundry right away and have my tux dry cleaned.

All in all, I was very happy with the Imagination. The service was fantastic. The food ranged from great to good. The cabin was perfect for my needs, even the bathroom. Not a huge problem with lines in any area of the ship. I would go on the Imagination again in a heartbeat!

Please feel free to email me if you have any specific questions.

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