Well then, you might want to consider the Harley tour offered at Nassau. It isn't cheap, but you get to ride in a group across the island looking at the sites. I normally don't recommend that Americans rent cars/scooters/motorcycles in the islands, but the tour is supervised so it has a safety factor built in.
You should love the Carnival Sensation. Tell the husband he'll have plenty to do. There is always something going on. Often times I can't decide what to do with so much to choose from. I know that sounds like a Kathy Lee commercial, but it's true.
Look here for a sample Carnival Capers (the daily news and activity paper).
I too enjoy going to Vegas. But let me tell you that I enjoy cruising more so. Tell him that the casino is always available on "at sea days" so he can always fall back on that if he doesn't find something fun to do at night but I tend to go to the shows and have fun until the shows are over and then head to the casino for a couple of hours. The shows that are available are usually really good and they will have a Vegas style dance review at least once per cruise and then they have comedians and other variety acts.
Dave and Dwayne have already given you great advice. I promise that if he tries cruising he will have a great time. You might even find a cheaper alternative that going to Vegas since you live within very close drives of many ships that offer great shows, great FREE food and a great casino action. (Just be warned that they don't comp all the drinks like they do in Vegas.)
What are some essentials we should take besides the obvious...camera, clothing, passport, etc?
What about tipping?
Inside or outside room? Best location on the ship?
Getting on and off the ship? Does it take a long time?
Early or late seating?
I would highly recommend you find a Cruise Travel Agent in your area to help you with your cruise. October 14th is World's Largest Cruise Night and many cruise lines are having some specials to celebrate. Since Florida has so many large cruise agencies they may be having some good specials, or have group space with amenities. They can help you with all your questions, and may have a pamphlet for first time cruisers.
A 4-nt cruise is good for your first cruise because it's not too long, not too short. I would get an outside cabin. Inside cabins are very dark and can be claustrophobic. A midship cabin is most desired. Personally, I have been in front, aft, and midship, and don't notice any difference.
The Sensation has three choices for dining. Early, late, or open dining from 5:45-9:30PM. Open will give you flexibility and choice to eat with others or dine alone. The early and late will be a fixed time, table, and same table mates every night. Your waitstaff will be the same also. The shows and activities on board are scheduled to accommodate both the fixed dining times. Some people like the fixed so they can establish a relationship with the same waitstaff and table mates. I choose early dining because I eat early at home and don't like eating so late in the night. Others like late dining so they can relax before dinner with a drink. The open dining gives you choice to eat whenever and around different schedules. Your gratuities for your waiter, assistant waiter, cabin steward, and Head waiter will automatically be posted to your on board spending account. It is $10 per day per person. So for the 4-nt cruise it would be $40 for each of you to cover those four people. The gratuities may be adjusted up or down. You may give any crew member additional and it is always appreciated as they work long hard hours. There is a 15% gratuity added automatically to any coke or alcohol drink.
Getting off and on the ship can vary. When you first get in port customs must clear the ship. Lines can be long right after the ship is cleared as everyone is anxious to get off the ship and in port. If you book a shore excursion through the ship they will either escort you off as a group or you have a designated meet point on the pier. Getting off the ship on the last morning is different. Once the ship is cleared they will have an open hour for anyone that can carry their own luggage to disembark. If you have more luggage you set it outside your cabin the night before with a colored luggage tag. Then the next morning you disembark when your color tag is called. In most cases on the last morning everyone is off the ship by 9:30-10:00AM.
Everything may sound confusing now, but it is all quite simple. Your TA can help explain a lot. When on the ship you will receive a daily bulletin called Carnival Capers, and the majority of things I've discussed will all be explained in the Carnival Capers you receive each day.
Hi hdhawg1340, welcome to Cruise-Chat! How lucky you are to be living in Florida. You're close to the magnificent deals in cruising out of Tampa, Port Canaveral, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami. I have a feeling that once you've gone, you'll be hooked. It is the best dollar value vacation one can take.
I love Vegas, too. But I'll take a cruise any day over Vegas. You can do as much or as little as you like, the food is great, really good entertainment, fun activities, pools, hot tubs, gym and spa, beauty salon, shops, and fantastic crew members to try and make your wishes come true.
I haven't been to Freeport in years. It was once my favorite Bahamian island. I have heard it has gone downhill, but I bet Lucaya is still nice. There were some beautiful beaches there, too. If you do the Harley tour in Nassau, it is really worth going to see the Atlantis on Paradise Island. It is an amazing resort with a huge casino. There is a free beach adjacent to the property (Cabbage Beach) that is really nice.
We hope you will let us know how it goes when you return. I am betting that you'll be booking another before you get off the ship
My wife and I have cruised on Sensation twice. It was a wonderful vacation each time. We're returning to the Bahamas in January on a cruise. As mentioned so many times, cruising is an incredible vacation value. We did a 4-night for our first cruise in 2004 and were instantly addicted.
In Freeport we get out to a beach away from town. In Nassau we've done so many things. I didn't notice the Harley excursion. We may have to look at that next time. We each just celebrated our 50th's with Carnival vacations (mine was 2 years ago on the Fantasy, hers last month on Glory).
Thanks to all for the suggestions & advice. We are looking forward to our 1st cruise.
It sounds as if we'll really enjoy it, I'll let you all know.
If you all think of anything else we should know please tell me.