My husband & I are considering a cruise for his 57th birthday at the end of January. Carnival seems to have the most choices in Florida. Our closest port is Tampa but it appears Port Canaveral has a larger choice of departure dates. We have narrowed it down to the Sensation, 4 day cruise to the Bahamas leaving Jan 24.
Any and all suggestions would be appreciated.
BTW-We usually go to Vegas for his birthday.
As we often tell members, it is hard to say you will like a particular cruise line without knowing you. Shorter cruises (3 and 4 night) tend to attract a younger crowd more concerned with packing a lot into a few days, as opposed to the more relaxed nature of a longer cruise. However, Carnival caters to a broad demographic and especially in late January you will probably find fewer kids and families, and more couples. 57 is definitely not old for Carnival.
Sensation is one of several mostly identical Fantasy-class ships. For a first cruise you will most likely be wowed by any ship you board since you have nothing to compare it to. Carnival's Fantasy-class ships, such as the Sensation, are often described as having "loud" decors in a Las Vegas style so you might find it familiar.
The important thing is to have your expectations properly set and not expect more than what Carnival can deliver. Do not expect 5-star cuisine and waiters parading into the dining room carrying platters of huge lobsters, ala Love Boat. It simply isn't so. Do expect very good food, and often excellent, served by a gracious and well-trained staff who will bend over backwards to make your cruise memorable. Carnival has excellent buffet restaurants with 24 hour pizza (very good), a NY style deli with excellent sandwiches, usually an oriental station, and of course the usual buffet fare. All in all, I'd say it is at least comparable to Vegas food.
You can do as much or as little as you want on a cruise. The daily schedule will be packed with things to do...and to be honest a lot of them are focused on extracting money from you. You need to realize that sodas, liquor, bingo, the shops, the casino, etc., all cost extra. It is often true that your onboard account total will equal or exceed the price you paid for the basic cruise.
My husband is afraid there's not enough to do on the ship. From what I've read there seems to be quite a bit going on all the time.
He likes his cocktails and seems to think that's all he's going to be able to do in the evenings. I think he's wrong but I need some back-up.
First off, you have dinner which will take up around 90 minutes of the evening. This is always a high point for experienced cruisers - not solely for the food but for the rapport you establish with your dining room staff and the other guests at your table. I've lost count of the wonderful nights we've spent meeting others at our table. Important note here: requesting a large table is best. A table for 4 can be an invitation to hell if you are not compatible with the other two people. In that case, see the maitre'd ASAP and get changed to another table.
Beyond dinner, every night is filled with shows, bands, karaoke, comedy shows, etc. Not all of it every night, but a good mix.
You'll also be overnighting in Nassau so you'll find many passengers staying ashore that evening and visiting the casinos and nightlife there. Shops and ship's casinos are usually closed while in port, but I "think" Carnival has a deal to allow the ship's casino to open later at night if the ship is going to be there overnight.
Honestly, I don't like Freeport and look at it as a bonus day on the ship (I prefer the ship). In Nassau going over to Atlantis is worthwhile, although you need to watch the prices. It is most definitely not a cheap place.
What do you like or want to do? Are you water people? Just want to driver around and see the sites? I recommend doing a dolphin swim at Nassau but that isn't everyone's cup of tea.