4 Night Cruise to the Western Caribbean January 2001
Let me say that I did enjoy my cruise but I went with no expectations and therefore had no hopes dashed. This ship and cruise is for the party hearty crowd and not for the seasoned cruiser looking for a quiet/upscale cruise experience.
Embarkation: AAn efficient and easy embarkation placed me in my cabin 45 minutes after arriving at the pier. One note: make sure you have all your documentation filled out before arriving at the check-in area. Boarding begins at approximately 12:30PM.
Cabin: B+I booked a category 1A guarantee and, as the ship was full, ended up with a category 1A on Upper Deck. I was surprised at the size of the cabin and how nice it actually was with good lighting as well. The cabin was just slightly smaller than the category 4 inside cabins and had a horizontal layout making it feel even roomier. For a single cabin, it was perfect, though it might be a bit tight for two.
The cabin had Fun Vision, Carnival's interactive TV system as well as a nice bathroom (though the drains were clogged and the bathroom flooded with every shower).
Cabin Steward: C-This is the first cruise where I never met my cabin steward. When I boarded I paged him because I needed some items pressed and never heard from him. My cabin was made up daily but I never knew by whom. I actually had to ask a neighboring cabin steward to take my laundry, and he did. I think I just got a bad cabin steward, the others in my group raved about theirs.
Crew: CI felt the crew was tired of the crowds of people, the party atmosphere and being on the four day run. Not that they were rude, they just never smiled or said hello or showed that they cared if you had a nice cruise or not.
Our waiter and busboy were the only pleasant people I came in contact with during the cruise. They were very nice and provided for a "Fun" dinning experience
The Ship: BThe ship was built in 1995/6 and I am sure has been freshened now and then. In general she was in good condition for a ship with so much traffic. The carpets on the stairs were worn, but other than some heavy wear on the elevators and on some edges the ship was in good condition.
The decor was wild and it worked in some places and failed in others. The main lounge, casino, stairwells and the atrium and dining rooms were all pleasant, but I did not like the Horizon Grill, or the casual lido restaurant. Having grown up in New York City, it reminded me of being in the subway with the room's exposed girders and dark decor. Even in the bright sun the room was dark and a dreary place to start the day.
The Food: B+The food in the dining room was better than I had expected. I thought the appetizers and the entrées were very good with the salads and desserts falling to just poor (except for the soufflés on the last night - they were very good).
There is a new Team Waiter system on the Carnival ships - a head team waiter and two assistant team waiters. This is fine but you lose the ability of your waiter and busboy knowing your likes and dislikes. This resulted for us in inconsistent service. Our team really tried but it seemed overwhelming for all three of them. For instance, I like to have tea after dinner and had some on the first night, but each following night we had a different rotated team player doing dessert for our table. This resulted in having to state all over every night that I did not want coffee, but tea. Nothing major, but it was noticed.
The Ports: B+The ports on this trip were Key West and Cozumel. In Key West we walked the length of Duval Street and enjoyed the sun. It's a pleasant island and a great one for the short period of time the ship spends in port. We were in port with the Jubilee. Cozumel was fine except that it was cold and rainy. Leaving Key West the Imagination met up with a nasty cold front and the seas were a bit choppy - cool rainy weather for the remainder of the cruise.
The Entertainment: B+Carnival focuses on the ship entertainment, and it shows. Every night, so much was going on. The large production shows were the usual fare, but with a slight edge over other ships I've been on. More dancers, some interlaced headliners and overall a bit tighter than some of the other shows I've seen in the past. They were "Fun!"
Overall Cruise Experience: BWould I do a world cruise on the Imagination? Well, no, but that's not what this ship is here to do. If I wanted to inexpensively get out to sea and party a bit in the evening, I would go back on any of the Carnival Fun Ships. You just have to know what to expect and what not to expect. Go with an open mind and limited expectations and you'll have a fine time.
General Comments:On the first night about 8PM a woman walked into my cabin and stated that it was hers. I showed her my Sign and Sail card and she gave up and left. The ship was full, but I was concerned with someone giving out incorrect cabins keys. I thought it interesting that it took till eight for this woman to get to her cabin!
I thought Carnival did a sloppy job in the service department. I have to think that these shorter cruises somehow suffer and this is hopefully not true on the seven-day and longer vacations.
PHOTOS courtesy of Andy Newman, Carnival Cruise Lines
James Tagliani lives in San Francisco and is a veteran of over 30 cruises on most of the major cruise lines. Currently, James is working in real estate for a large retail company. His next cruise will be in March 2001 on the Regal Princess. James may be reached at: James_Tagliani@gap.com.
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