Hey all My sister (22) and I (23) are planning a cruise for this month! Neither of us has ever cruised before, and I have spent the better part of this last week (starting from scratch). We have finally decided on Carnival's Imagination out of Miami (5 day to grand cayman and jamaica) on the 24th..our only complaint is the 9 hours of driving it will take to get to the ship! SO, couple of questions for you experienced travelers...
1) How early should we arrive in miami for a departure of 4PM ?
2) Has anyone else traveled far by car to reach their emabarkation point, and were you completely worn out after doing so?
3) How about an estimate of the automatic "tipping" per day (excluding service in the bars)
4) Is the imagination really as dingy as some have said?? I mean, are we talking Motel 6, Holiday Inn, or what?
5) How long approximately will it take from arrival back in port to getting back to our car (if we dock at 7 AM, will we be rolling out of Miami at 10 AM or later??
6) Are there any other 20 somethings out there taking this same cruise?
7) Any other valuable insight you have to offer to complete novices would be GREATLY appreciated!
I will try to answer your questions:
1) The latest I have ever boarded a ship for a 4pm sailing is 2pm and we felt rushed.
I suggest you arrive around 1200 and take advantage of the buffet lunch offered.
2) I have always flown to my ports of embarkation. I can't imagine driving 9 hours
and not being completely worn out. May I suggest you drive there the day before
the cruise leaves or if that is not possible, fly in as early in the day as you can.
Also, most ports charge about $10.00 per day for parking. If you decide to drive in
a day early, there are some hotels that allow you to park in their lots for free. Use
the www to search for such things.
3) Tipping per day. Each cruise line is a little different. Suggest amounts are from
$9.50-10.00 per day per passenger. The tip is automatically added to the bar bill.
On Carnival you can have the standard tip amount for the week added to your
Sail and Sign card. Then you can add or delete the amount at the end of the week.
4) I have not been on the Imagination, but have sailed on her sister ships, Fascination
and Paradise. I will be cruising on another of her sister ships the Sensation in
the fall. I would hope that Carnival would keep up the appearance of all their
ships. You can post a question if anyone has cruised the Imagination lately and
ask how she looks. Also, check out the cruisemates members reviews of the
5) I have found that Carnival likes to have the debarkation process fininshed by 10am,
if possible. If you need to take a taxi, they will be waiting at the port. I believe
parking at the port is just steps from the door. ( no different from the shopping mall)
If you want to leave the ship early, contact the Pursers Desk ( in atrium) and let them
know you have a 9 hour drive and need to debark as early as possible. Be sure
to have a nice breakfast before you leave the ship. Remember, you paid for it.
6) To find out about ages of cruisers, just post it in the Carnival and chit-chat message
boards. I'm sure you will get a response. You can also check the area that tells
who is leaving on a cruise within the next week.
7) Other info: Try the dining room for your evening meal. With the exception of
formal night, you can wear nice slacks or a simple sun dress with sandals. And
speaking of formal night, dress up, enjoy the free drinks/eats at the Captains Party,
and great meal in the dining room. Have your picture taken all dressed up. You
don't have to buy them if you don't want to. You don't have to pay a lot for a dress
either. Borrow, buy clearance, or pull something (long or short or inbetween) from
the back of your closet. And finally, KUKI has posted a 3 part piece on what first
time cruisers should expect.
8) Use my email if I can answer any more questions.
Happy Sailing and have a wonderful cruise.
If departure is 4:00 I would suggest you get to the ship by 12:00. You will be able to board with no problems and be able to learn the ship before you leave and have a great lunch.
I traveled from Philly to Miami for my last cruise and yes I was exhausted. The good thing is that we arrived a day early so we could be at the dock first thing in the morning and be refreshed and ready to go.
Tipping will be about $10 per day per person.
I was on the Fascination 2 years ago which I believe is the sister ship of the Imagination. I found her to be in good enough condition. Sure it is not a brand spanking new or remodeled ship but it sure is no Motel 6.
How fast you get off the ship has alot to do with what cabins you are in and whether or not you have a flight to catch.
My best advice is once you get on board, ask questions to what you don't know. You will find a ton of cruisers who are pros and if not, ask the crew. Relax, enjoy, and have the time of your life.
Bermuda.... Crown Dynasty 6/2000
Cozumel.... Carnival Fascination 2/2002
Bermuda....Celebrity Horizon 5/2004
Looking forward to my next cruise.... 6/2005
try priceline to get a hotel room the night before your cruise
Try 40-45 for a 3 star in downtown miami
drive down the day before and go to dinner at bayside(bubba gumps is fun)
you can get to the port by 11 and you will be raring to go
rather than just getting out of a car after a 9 hour drive leaving at 3 AM YUK
Congrats on your first cruise! 9 hr drive, wow that's a long drive, yes you will be exhausted. As suggested try to come in the night before so you will be well rested, some of the hotels let you park free and they will shutlle you to the pier. Have you thought about maybe another form of transportation? Train, Bus, have you looked into discount airlines like Southwestern and Jet Blue?
Try to plan to get to the cruise terminal around noon for a 4pm sailing.
Tipping- around $10.00 per person per day - this includes the tips for your room steward and your wait team in the restaurant) you can adjust it or have it removed from your sign and sail card and tip at the end of the cruise. Tips are automatically added to your bar bill.
If you got back to the home page you will see the article for first-timers.
Anything else we can help you with just ask, we love to help newbies!
If you're driving 9 hours, I suggest you do it the day before, then find a hotel where you can park your car for the week. Most will likely have shuttles to the pier - this will make embarkation easier. I agree -get there early on the day of. I think we arrived about 10:30 or so, and it took about one hour to get onboard. By 12:30, we had already been to our cabin, briefly explored the lido deck, and were having lunch. That way, you almost get an extra half day on the ship. I was also a first time cruiser and had many of the same questions as you do, especially about the tipping. For lack of a better phrase, they really make things "idiot proof." Don't worry about the details, just listen to onboard announcements and read your daily ship paper- you'll get the answers to your questions. If you don't, then just ask someone (ie.purser's desk) - staff were very helpful and friendly. if you need something in your cabin, ask your steward. In terms of tips, carnival adds $9.95 per person per day onto your sail & sign card. This covers everyone for tips except the maitre'd (who we didn't tip anyway cause he didn't do anything for us - we never saw him!), room service (tip $1-2 each time you use them), and bar servers (tips added to the cost of drinks). So, if you leave that $9.95 per day on your account, you've covered everyone. We had exceptional service from several people, so we tipped them extra on top of their share of the $9.95. If you don't want the automatic tips, you can have carnival take it off and then you have to tip everyone separately. In terms of what the ships will look like, I've only been on the Paradise, and yes, there were some stains on the carpet, but in general, the ship was beautiful and the cruise was perfect. It depends on how you look at things - if you're expecting a pristine perfect trip with no glitches, you might be disappointed. If you're realistic about things (ie. don't sweat the small stuff), then you'll have a great time. Wish I was going again, but alas, now that the non-smoking Paradise is becoming a regular smoking ship, I think my cruising days are over (severe smoke allergies). But it was a wonderful experience! Good luck and don't worry.
Thanks! Looks like you put some time into that reply!! Unfortunately, we aren't able to fly down the day before b/c the day before my godchild is being baptized (in the evening) so we'll roll out of Charleston around 11. My sis will be along, so we're splitting the drive! Flying out of charleston the same day, even if they had a flight, would be ridiculously expensive...anything coming out of here is!! Thank you for all your advice!
It sounds as though you can't drive down the day before (we also had an 8-9 hour drive, but the day before), but believe me, all your weariness will disappear when you drive into the pier parking lot and see the ship!! You'll have days to get some good rest, although don't count on that, either!
We suffered from a lack of sleep for the whole cruise, but by choice. We figured we could sleep at home -didn't want to miss anything!
Have a great cruise and yes, you will see plenty of 20 somethings oboard.
CarnivalSensation February 2015
Carnival Dream November 2015
Carnival Fascination April 2014
Carnival Elation March 2011
Carnival Imagination Sept 2007
Carnival Sensation Dec 2006
RCI Sovereign of the Seas Sept 2006
Carnival Miracle Sept 2005
Carnival Glory Sept 2004
Carnival Fantasy Jan 2004
Go to the instructions on message board tricks at the bottom of the page. Make sure you are logged on. It took me several attempts, but it finally worked when I made sure I was logged in. Copy and paste the example and just change the date to the date of your cruise.
We are hooked, but not booked Can't wait to cruise again!