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Old January 27th, 2008, 04:47 PM
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Default John Heald and Paul Motter on Carnival Imagination this Week

Now that the first official Blogger's cruise has ended, Carnival is sending John Heald over to the Carnival Imagination to write on his blog about the improvements Carnival is committing to the Fantasy class of ships.

I am going to be on that cruise as well, and I hope to be sending pictures back to you. Watch this message board under this topic. Also, check John's Blog at: http://johnhealdsblog.com/

Then check this thread for more about whatever John decides to write about. John will be telling you about all of the cool news things coming. And I will be posting pictures and factual updates about all of the great new things he mentions to us.

Looking forward to showing everyone what Carnival has planned for these affordable ships that sail on generally shorter (3 to 5-nights) cruises from ports thorughout the country.

Look for great new waterparks with waterslides that are better than what you see on any even the mega-ships. Look for adult-only areas like "Serenity", look for great pools areas with tile beachs, balinese-style sub beds, covered hot tubs....

There will be new food onboard, a new coffee bar, upgrades to all of ther public rooms, and new lights & sounds in all the rooms. Also look for great prices on these newly refurbished ships.

Carnival has a greeat thing going here!

These ships are going to feel like brand new small ships on affordable cruises. What could be better than that? We are really looking forward to it.

The Fantasy'class ships are Carnival Fantasy, Fascination, Imagination, Inspiration, Ecstasy, Elation, Paradise, Sensation,
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Old January 27th, 2008, 05:42 PM
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Default Re: John Heald and Paul Motter on Carnival Imagination this

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter
Now that the first official Blogger's cruise has ended, Carnival is sending John Heald over to the Carnival Imagination to write on his blog about the improvements Carnival is committing to the Fantasy class of ships.

I am going to be on that cruise as well, and I hope to be sending pictures back to you. Watch this message board under this topic. Also, check John's Blog at: http://johnhealdsblog.com/

Then check this thread for more about whatever John decides to write about. John will be telling you about all of the cool news things coming. And I will be posting pictures and factual updates about all of the great new things he mentions to us.

Looking forward to showing everyone what Carnival has planned for these affordable ships that sail on generally shorter (3 to 5-nights) cruises from ports thorughout the country.

Look for great new waterparks with waterslides that are better than what you see on any even the mega-ships. Look for adult-only areas like "Serenity", look for great pools areas with tile beachs, balinese-style sub beds, covered hot tubs....

There will be new food onboard, a new coffee bar, upgrades to all of ther public rooms, and new lights & sounds in all the rooms. Also look for great prices on these newly refurbished ships.

Carnival has a greeat thing going here!

These ships are going to feel like brand new small ships on affordable cruises. What could be better than that? We are really looking forward to it.

The Fantasy'class ships are Carnival Fantasy, Fascination, Imagination, Inspiration, Ecstasy, Elation, Paradise, Sensation,

Look forward to hearing more about this since all the hub bub about 2009 on the Fantasy with John.

One question tho....why "factual updates" ? In the words of Jack Nicholson are there any other kinds?

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Old January 27th, 2008, 06:53 PM
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This is exciting for those booked on Imagination/Inspiration! I'm looking forward to seeing his blog. Now I understand this is only temporary, correct? I'm not sailing on IM until August but it would have been a nice surprise if John were the CD.
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Old January 27th, 2008, 10:46 PM
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updates packed with information and details! factual or not!
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Old January 28th, 2008, 08:19 AM
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I am looking forward to your report and photo's, we have to wait until April to see the ship for ourselves!
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Old January 28th, 2008, 02:35 PM
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Default Great News

Cant wait to read blogs...we sail on her May 5-10, 2008
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Old January 28th, 2008, 03:58 PM
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Paul - I can't wait to hear about the new and improved Imagination; she is one of my favorites...
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Old January 28th, 2008, 06:40 PM
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Hey Paul,

Looking forward to your reports on the new innovations, particularly since they'll be repeating them on the Fantasy before next year's Bloggers 2 cruise.

Give John a hug for me when you see him. CHECK that.. say hi to John, give Heidi a HUG for me
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Old January 28th, 2008, 07:15 PM
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Hi all from Imagination.

I just got on board today, and as yet have not seen John Heald. I did manage to walk around the ship and get pictures of all the upgrades. Now, this ship (Imagination) does have all of the upgrades in places, as does Inspiration. Carnival just announced that the next ship to be fully completed with be Carnival Fantasy. That ship is largely done, but I believe they are still working on the water park.

Without a doubt, the water park is the most exciting thing about the upgrades. These water parks will rival (or at least emulate) what is on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, currently the world's largest cruise ship and twice the size of this one.








There is also the 9-hole minigolf course





Carnival has widely noticed that this is a popular attraction, and has decided to put one on each of the ships of this class (Fantasy) which means Carnival: Fantasy, Fascination, Imagination, Inspiration, Paradise, Sensation, Ecstasy and .... (one more, someone help me out here).

The difference is, these are bargain ships with cruises selling as low as $229 per person, whereas the RC ships will be at least $700 (on average) per person.

There are a LOT of kids on this ships, even though it s not a vacation from school week. I guess word has caught on. This is also a young cruise! most people, couple and families, are in their 30-40s, plus they have brought their kids!

The upgrades we see here are just a general cleaning up of the entire ship. The carpets are brand new and all the paint and sidings are neat & trim.

There is a Sushi Bar


And a new Coffee Bar




The Spas is thoroughly renovated and the fitness center has new equipment.






Everywhere you look you see new flat panel TVs, in different rooms for different reasons. One shows ESPN in the fitness center, while another near the children's facility shows a ship's schedule.

I just watched the children's center introduction. They have some 14 kid's hosts on board this cruise! and this is NOT a vacation season cruise. That means this will very much be a family ship once the season hits.



There is a new bar in the atrium, and the pianist was just warming up. There is also a new art gallery.





The cabins are probably;y the least changed. Though I cannot say I remember exactly how they were before... (it's been 12 years since I sailed this class of ship).

The furniture is still austere and simple. The bed abuts the connecting door (not sure why they didn't turn it the other way. Only the closets are permanently anchored, and there is a LOT of storage space. No mini-fridge, though there are drinks available.









See the complete (for now) photo gallery here:

http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/view.php?id=4232

There will be more later, plus an update on the progress of these upgrades across all the ships as time goes by...
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Old January 28th, 2008, 07:47 PM
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Elation is the one you could not think of
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Old January 29th, 2008, 11:22 AM
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Thanks Paul, It look great, looking forward to your review, this was one of my favorite ships back in the day with John, I wished I could have been with John and Kuki last week, but could not.

Have fun
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Old January 29th, 2008, 11:27 AM
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Paul is the Imaganation going to be based out of Miami or FLL?
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Old January 29th, 2008, 06:46 PM
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Imagination should be based out of Miami, unless I hear differently.

I am goingto meet with John Heald now. Will have more tonight.

By they way, I uploaded more pictures to the gallery today.
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Old January 30th, 2008, 09:04 AM
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Nice to see the older ships getting a makeover..she looks good!...
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Old January 30th, 2008, 11:39 AM
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Upgrading the Carnival Fantasy Class

By PAUL MOTTER


With the entire cruise industry on the cusp of a far reaching cycle to introduce new and bigger ships next year, now is the perfect time for Carnival Cruise Lines like to upgrade their older Fantasy-class of ships make them more in keeping with what you'll get when you book a brand new ship.

We are sailing on Carnival Imagination this week to get a firsthand sneak peak of the improvements that are scheduled for every ship in this class of smaller and older Carnival vessels. Carnival Imagination and Inspiration are the first to be completed, with Fantasy scheduled to be finished next. All eight of the ships should be finished by the end of 2009, but be sure to keep checking CruiseMates cruise ship reviews to know whether the ship you are booking has all of the improvements completed or not.

What kind of improvements are we seeing? The most exciting thing for kids is the new waterpark, set to rival anything at sea. The waterpark on this ship has a water slide that is 300 feet long and four stories high. It has twists and turns and finishes with the slider skidding through a big splash pool at the end to slow down. There is also a separate double water slide, side by side, for racing, and there are sprayers and water jets and other fun things to do to keep you cool in the hot Caribbean sun.
But the fun for the kids does not stop at the water park.



The 02 Club for teens (developed with Coca Cola) has been upgraded with a new DJ booth, dance floor and sound system and lighting, plus PSP ands Wii game consoles in a separate room. "Tweens" of the ages 12 to 14 have their own private area where they also have gaming consoles and other games to play.

There is a huge video arcade for kids of all ages, with everything from Ms PacMan to motocycle racing and guitar hero.

The youngest kids looked the happiest however -- there are a surprising number of kids on this cruise who were obviously taken out of school for this vacation. With their bubble-making machine working overtime, we passed through just as their counselors were about to set off a baking soda volcano that would put Mt Etna to shame. They have teddy bear-making kits, interactive games, play areas and a kid's pool. Carnival says they are the only cruise line that will actually change diapers. Talk about a vacation for mom! What could better?



Kids of all ages love the new nine-hole miniature golf course. There is also a golf driving cage in the middle of it. The resident golf pro onboard not only gives lectures, but also live demonstrations and even one on one training - for adults of course.

Just below the water park, on the rear deck which once had the old children's pool, is a new adults-only area called sinply "Serenity." This all new area has all-teak decking, two hot tubs, and over 100 soft and cushioned reclining loungers, some even double sized for couples.



This area is away from all the noise and activity and has sunny and shady spots. It's the perfect spot to get completely relaxed and enjoy to gentle sway of the ocean.

All of the cabins are upgraded with new bedding. Each has the Carnival "Comfortbed System" with new mattresses, duvets and fluffy feather pillows. They are so comfortable the line is actually selling tons of them online. The accompanying furniture is all new, and although a little sparse it makes the room feel bigger. The bathrooms are some of the most conveient we have seen on a ship. Plenty of space for the shower, sink and toilet area (big enough for three close friends). My bathroom sparkles and I especially appreciate the firm rubber floor padding which is soft and completely non-skid. There are no over-flowing shower problems on this ship.

Every cabin now comes with amenities for the bathroom, but still no hair dryer! However, the room stewardess can get you one if you happen to forget yours. All the colors of paint and paneling are new. The televisions are now flat-screened models, and the desks have rounded corners so the room feels more comfortable and inviting.

The restaurants are all new. The Spirit and Pride dining rooms have had the booths removed so there is much more space around all of the tables. Many tables for two have been added. The marble floors and carpeting are all new, and windows sit on granite ledges.

The new coffee cafe has special coffees and free pastries - look scrumptious:





The spa area has also been fully upgraded - gutted to bare walls. It now has a serene new room for people waiting for their massages with cool or hot teas, lemon water, soft and cushy sofas, quiet music and everything else you need to get ready for your massage. There are steam and hot sauna rooms (separate) for the men and ladies. The fitness center has all brand new equipment and flat panel televisions on the walls and built-in to many of the fitness machines.

In fact the are new flat paneled televisions on walls throughout the ship. They add a level of information everywhere you go. Some bars have ESPN, others will show CNN, others will be running the ship's schedule for the day, and others may be showing our ship's position. It brings a level of high tech to the cruise to remind you are on a state of the art vessel.
Well, I am enjoying my Fantasy-class cruise on Carnival Imagination, and I am sure you would, too. Especially since these ships generally sail anywhere from three to seven-day cruises at bargain rates. This cruise I am currently on sells for as low as $299 per person. That is a smoking hot deal for what you get.
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Old January 30th, 2008, 03:30 PM
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It looks Great for familty and Kids of all ages.
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Old January 30th, 2008, 08:26 PM
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Great report and photos. Looks great for families.

Since this new improvement in the water park, is the other pool now an 'adult' only pool? Just curious.

Thanks for the updates.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 04:03 PM
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Yesterday I spent a lot of time walking around the ship and trying out the new evolutions of fun upgrades.

I had the Mongolian Barbecue, which was delicious. For people who gets nuts about wanting their restaurant food delivered HOT, this is the hottest meal I have ever had on a cruise ship, and I don'’ just mean the triple pepper Thai barbecue sauce. This food is stir-fried while you wait and dished right up. It was hot, nutritious and delicious.

I spent a lot of time at the new water park. I have plenty of new pictures to upload. The 300-foot waterslide is a ton of fun. It isn’t just a slide, there is a river of water pushing you all the way through top to bottom. You pick up a lot of speed, as my pictures will show you once I get them online, and you end up body surfing into a splash pool at the end. The double side-by-side water slide looks like a blast, too.

Today we went to Half Moon Cay, which is a private island now shared by Carnival and Holland America, though not on the same days.

I was there with a Holland America ship about six months ago, and back today on a Carnival Cruise.

I have to tell you, I like the way Carnival does it a lot better. Why? Holland America offered the same beach, food and shore excursions. But Carnival had a ton of free activities that I thought were as much fun as the ones you pay for. For example, the sand castle contest, to be judged by this cruise’s Cruise Director Jorge. There were all kinds of sand sculptures, and not just castles.

There were cruise ship sculptures, models of the famous Carnival winged smokestacks, replicas of the Sphinx, castles, people, volcanoes, a bulldozer. Go to John Heald’s blog to see pictures. (He should have them up there, he was taking pictures).

Another thing they do is a “Survivor? game where contestants (split into two teams) get a list of clues for things they have to figure out, find and retrieve. They then face endurance tests and other challenges, just like the TV show.

This to me is what cruising is all about – interacting with new people and just having fun. This cruise is full of really nice people from all over the country. Everyone is extremely nice and this may be a short cruise on an older ship – which essentially means it is a bargain. But I am having as much fun as I have had on any cruise for a long time. It’s hard to believe you can buy a cruise like this for as low as $299 per person.

John Heald has been onboard and what a great person he is – so nice to everyone. People make the difference on a cruise, and I have been on older ships where I had the feeling the crew just felt like management was no longer paying attention and so their attitude didn’t matter. Not here, this is Carnival and they understand how important the attitude of the staff is to the overall experience for the passenger.

Some of you know I was recently on another ship were I was not so pleased with the service, especially in the dining room. They were late with our dessert coffee, and still charged us for it. We had a table of 12 and we ordered two bottles of wine (on this other ship) and they had no sommeliers, no ice buckets, and they would take the bottle of wine away between pours (WHY? I still don’t know).

Not here on Carnival. You can get a cappuccino or espresso immediately in the dining room. And the wine stays on the table, white wine in ICE BUCKETS as it should be.

Overall, even though this is a shorter cruise on an older ship, as far as service and crew attitude goes, you would not know you were not on the newest ship in the fleet. That is quality in my book.

As soon as I get a chance to upload my new pictures I will be back to let you know. Bye for now!
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Old January 31st, 2008, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snoozeman

Since this new improvement in the water park, is the other pool now an 'adult' only pool? Just curious.
no, but there is no reason for the young pups to go to the main pool. I have to saym, though, there are a lot of kids onboard, obviously missing school. I wish my parents had been like that!
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Old February 1st, 2008, 07:59 AM
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Great information!

I will be on the Imagination the week of Aug. 25th. I was on her back in 2000, so I can't wait to see the changes.

Quick questions:

The cabin pictures you posted, which cabin was that? We are booked on the Empress Deck, connecting cabins E39 and E43.

With the room layout, is it possible to have the beds together (shifted to the opposite wall - under the TV, and the door open - or do the beds need to be separate - one by the window and one opposite the desk (I guess)? My daughter and MIL will be in the cabin next to ours - and we were hoping to be able to leave the door open all the time so we have more space.

Thanks

Ed
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Old February 1st, 2008, 06:37 PM
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Yesterday I spent a lot of time walking around the ship and trying out the new evolutions of fun upgrades.

I had the Mongolian Barbecue, which was delicious. For people who gets nuts about wanting their restaurant food delivered HOT, this is the hottest meal I have ever had on a cruise ship, and I don'’ just mean the triple pepper Thai barbecue sauce. This food is stir-fried while you wait and dished right up. It was hot, nutritious and delicious.



I spent a lot of time at the new water park. I have plenty of new pictures to upload. The 300-foot waterslide is a ton of fun. It isn’t just a slide, there is a river of water pushing you all the way through top to bottom.



You pick up a lot of speed, as my pictures will show you once I get them online, and you end up body surfing into a splash pool at the end.



The double side-by-side water slide looks like a blast, too.



Today we went to Half Moon Cay, which is a private island now shared by Carnival and Holland America, though not on the same days.

I was there with a Holland America ship about six months ago, and back today on a Carnival Cruise.

I have to tell you, I like the way Carnival does it a lot better. Why? Holland America offered the same beach, food and shore excursions. But Carnival had a ton of free activities that I thought were as much fun as the ones you pay for. For example, the sand castle contest, to be judged by this cruise’s Cruise Director Jorge. There were all kinds of sand sculptures, and not just castles.

There were cruise ship sculptures, models of the famous Carnival winged smokestacks, replicas of the Sphinx, castles, people, volcanoes, a bulldozer. Go to John Heald’s blog to see pictures. (He should have them up there, he was taking pictures).

Another thing they do is a “Survivor? game where contestants (split into two teams) get a list of clues for things they have to figure out, find and retrieve. They then face endurance tests and other challenges, just like the TV show.

This to me is what cruising is all about – interacting with new people and just having fun. This cruise is full of really nice people from all over the country. Everyone is extremely nice and this may be a short cruise on an older ship – which essentially means it is a bargain. But I am having as much fun as I have had on any cruise for a long time. It’s hard to believe you can buy a cruise like this for as low as $299 per person.

John Heald has been onboard and what a great person he is – so nice to everyone. People make the difference on a cruise, and I have been on older ships where I had the feeling the crew just felt like management was no longer paying attention and so their attitude didn’t matter. Not here, this is Carnival and they understand how important the attitude of the staff is to the overall experience for the passenger.

Some of you know I was recently on another ship were I was not so pleased with the service, especially in the dining room. They were late with our dessert coffee, and still charged us for it. We had a table of 12 and we ordered two bottles of wine (on this other ship) and they had no sommeliers, no ice buckets, and they would take the bottle of wine away between pours (WHY? I still don’t know).

Not here on Carnival. You can get a cappuccino or espresso immediately in the dining room. And the wine stays on the table, white wine in ICE BUCKETS as it should be.

Overall, even though this is a shorter cruise on an older ship, as far as service and crew attitude goes, you would not know you were not on the newest ship in the fleet. That is quality in my book.

As soon as I get a chance to upload my new pictures I will be back to let you know. Bye for now!


Next Day

Okay… a few of us tried the Lido Buffet dinner last night instead of going to the dining room. Not a top recommendation, unfortunately. The truth is, I didn’t see anyone getting turned away in the dining room on this cruise no matter how they were dressed – and we did see jeans, shorts and t-shirts. Were these people who didn’t feel like dressing up but still wanted a good dinner? On most ships, you go to the Lido to eat in most cases, but on this ship the Lido food just wasn’t very good, unfortunately.

On many ships they dress the Lido (buffet) restaurant up at night with table-clothes, waiters and bar service. All they had on this ship was an open buffet. No table-clothes, no special lighting, etc. They had a server carving freshly baked pork roast, but the side dishes were ziti, French fries, rice, a few steamed vegetables, overcook (dried out) fish, etc. It was like a very bad lunch buffet, there was a salad bar but we missed it because it was hidden away from the rest of the food. Some people asked for wineglasses and were given plastic cups.

What to do instead? The hamburger/hot dog bar stays open until 6:00, and the new Sushi Bar down on promenade deck is open from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m. (No extra charge, this is a great deal). The pizza is available 24-hours/day, and they have many varieties.

This is a nice itinerary for people who like water sports. Each stop is essentially a Bahamian island. Turks & Caicos is pretty far south, almost to St Thomas, but it is still essentially in the Bahamas chain. It is a small but very clean island. Great shopping, especially for duty-free goods. I don’t smoke, but I was tempted to buy the Marlboros at only $35 for two cartons. That is extremely cheap.



Yesterday was the private island, and today is Nassau. I made a visit to Atlantis because I had not been there in years and we get a lot of questions about it.

They have a tremendous water park. They charge $105 per adult and $75 per child for full access to all the water activities. This is more than enough to keep you busy all day. It’s expensive for adults, but they can get walking access (no swimming) for $32 per person and watch the kids all day. Food is extra. Expect to pay $4 per person for a taxi to get there.

The $32 access pass gets you into the two aquariums, which have an amazing collection of salt-water fish including the biggest moray eels, manta sting rays and live sharks as I have ever seen in my life. One of the manta rays appears to be almost 10 feet wide, tip to tip of its fins. It has an odd-shaped wing-like head that looks like the front of a 1960s Cadillac with winged headlights.

For water fun they have several water slides including one that is about a 120-degree angle, almost like a straight drop down. Another one is about 90-degrees and is long enough that you pick up a lot of speed. They others where you get an innertube to sail down a steep slope and then sail along a long lazy “river? through caves, etc. One of the innertube rides takes you through a Plexiglas tunnel through an aquarium with live sharks.

There are all kinds of water related things to do, including swimming pools and live natural beaches right on the premises. For additional charges you can swim with and feed live sharks or have a dolphin experience where you can swim in the same bay with them, feed, pet and even (says the brochure) kiss them.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 07:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snoozeman

Since this new improvement in the water park, is the other pool now an 'adult' only pool? Just curious.
no, but there is no reason for the young pups to go to the main pool. I have to saym, though, there are a lot of kids onboard, obviously missing school. I wish my parents had been like that!
Tell me about it!

My parents would rarely let me miss school even if I was sick. Mom would dose me up with medicine and off I would go, like it or not. I can't even imagine being allowed to miss school for a vacation.

Yeah, I sure wish my parents would have pulled me out of school for a cruise. Fat chance.

Blue skies ...

--rita
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Old February 4th, 2008, 04:35 PM
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THe Imagination looks very impressive. Paul or anyone else, is there any type of basketball court on there too. FRom the pictures it does not look like it and I'm sure the waterpark takes up alot of space.

Those waterslides and mini golf are wonderful.
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Old February 4th, 2008, 04:46 PM
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Yes, there is a basketball court up by the smokestack - half court.
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Old February 4th, 2008, 05:15 PM
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thanks
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Old February 5th, 2008, 09:47 AM
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The only upgrade the Fantasy has so far is the golf course and the coffee bar. When it goes in for its upgrade in Sept it will get:
300 foot waterslide
mini-slide
Upgrade to the main pool
Upgrade to the Serenty area
Enlargement of the Forum Lounge
Owner's suites removed and Camp Carnival put in its place
All rooms are to be refurbished
Other enhancements as necessary.

The thing I find funny is that Carnival's Read My Valentine promotion is giving away a 4-night cruise on the Imagination or Inspiration in the Owner's Suite. The problem is the Owner's Suites were removed from these two ships when they were upgraded and Camp Carnival put in its place. These were the two large suites (Cabin S1 & S2) most people are not aware of on the Verandah deck south of the Atrium.

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