Transportation- We flew out on Friday morning from Indianapolis to Fort Lauderdale. We had to change planes in Detroit. Everything went really well even though it was spring break. I noticed more of the spring breakers in the airport than the actual ship. We arrive at the FLL airport at 2:00pm and we make our way down to the luggage area. I had previously read about the Tri-Rail so we decided since we had time we would venture out and try to save money. Our intentions were to go to the hotel outside of the Miami airport, drop off the luggage and get back on the Tri-Rail and take the Metro-Rail into downtown Miami so we could go to Bayside. With two hours of sleep from the night before, we jump on the free shuttle bus (outside of the FLL airport) which takes us to the Tri-Rail station. We make it there a few minutes after 3pm and we get in line to buy tickets and here comes the 2pm train and there goes the 2pm train. We had to wait another hour but they have benches and a wide open area. Our tickets were very cheap. $3 for my husband and $1.50 for me (I’m a student) and $1.50 for the boys. After 4pm the Tri-rail runs every 30 minutes. The ride takes about 30-40 minutes and we arrive at the train station for MIA. We take a free bus over to the MIA and call for our hotel shuttle.
Hotel-It takes over an hour for our hotel shuttle to pick us up after two phones calls. We stayed at the Staybridge Suites (owned by Holiday Inn) in Doral. Doral is 20 or so minutes west of the airport. Too far!!! Nice hotel but to darn far away. Very nice breakfast buffet for free though. WE took the hotel shuttle back to MIA the next day and catch a taxi. We happen to get the best taxi driver ever. He turned a 25-30 minute ride from MIA to the Port of Miami to a 15 minute ride including a ticket!!! Can you believe it?
The Cruise-There was a group of eighteen of us but we all arrived at different times and locations. We fly into FLL, some friends fly into MIA Friday day and night and two other groups arrive the day of the cruise into MIA. Don’t do it!!!! I was more scared for them than they were. Both groups almost missed their connecting flights in Cincinnati and Texas. Just don’t do it, it’s not worth it. They didn’t have insurance.
Out of six cruises, the Valor is still my favorite but the Imagination is very nice. There are things I liked about it and things I didn’t so this is just my opinion.
People-The cruise director is Noonan (spelling?) He’s a riot. I liked him. I don’t think we’ve had a bad cruise director though. We talked a lot with a girl in the jewelry sales department. She is very sweet and helpful. She’s from Slovakia and we gave her rave reviews. Our cabin steward was OK. He didn’t talk to us a lot but he did start saying hello. I noticed all of the cabin stewards say Hello all the time. That’s very nice. Our dining room head waiter and assistant were ChillyWillie and Madonna. They chose the names. They were great. They remembered out names as of the second day so this was a nice personal extra. Our drink guy can find another career though. He was very slow and didn’t look very enthused. Never had any problems with the purser’s desk or anyone else. We didn’t go to the Art Auction this time so I don’t know anything about them. Didn’t go to the Spa or gym either.
Activities-Our teenagers enjoyed the Club O2. Our friends have 12 year old twins and they didn’t have the room ready yet for that age but I think they met somewhere else. One of the kids didn’t go at all the other one went on the last night and had a ball and met some kids. I think he wished he would have gone from the beginning. I wanted to go down the blue racing slides but they were closed at the time I went so my friends urged me to go down the big yellow slide. I was scared climbing the spiral stairs but I was more afraid of bruising my elbows (which I’ve done at a different water park). I went down very smooth and it didn’t even hurt. The kid’s area looks very nice. I walked through the adult area and it looked nice also. For some reason I thought it was hot tubs and a pool but it’s just two hot tubs and lots of chairs. But it’s quiet. Go outside the door of the lido restaurant (behind the pizza area) and down the stairs and its right there. Right above the lido restaurant is the kid’s slide and pool area. Miniature gold is also fun. Our boys went at the beginning and it was windy. We went the next day and it’s wasn’t windy. There are nine holes and there’s a golf simulator area too. This is located at the front of the ship. The Dynasty Lounge is the big lounge. We watched all the shows and they were pretty good. OF course I had to make an idiot of myself on the Game Show Mania. My other friend went on the match game.
Tips-Definitely sign up for all the free raffle give aways. Jewelry shop, Travel talk, Spa, Etc.
The Food-I didn’t really like most of the food. I’ve had better. There were some very good foods but I didn’t like the food as much this time. I have always liked their hamburgers and just couldn’t get a good burger this time. I had the steak twice at dinner and my husband and some of the kids had it and I usually order medium well. The first night it was very hard to cut and chew. The second time I order it medium and it’s still cooked the same way. The soups are good and the appetizers. I like the ribs (don’t know the official name). The only desserts I enjoyed were the chocolate melting cake. That is the dessert I ordered every night. I can’t speak for the cherries jubilee but I just don’t get into it but it looked good if I would have liked it. I had asked about the baked Alaska and they served it the last night but it wasn’t as good as I’ve had before but it was still pretty good. In the lido buffet I didn’t eat very many desserts accept for the swirl ice cream and became addicted to the ice cream machine. The other two things I would recommend is the Sandwich place in the back. Very good turkey and cheese on sub rolls. You can order them hot or cold grilled on a panini type machine. Carnival must have the best breakfast buffet ever. I love their pancakes and French toast. You can’t ask for a better breakfast. Our teenagers would of course argue with me about the food since they ordered 3 appetizers, 3 entrees and 3 desserts. Every time we looked they were eating pizza. I took pictures of the gala buffet but didn’t eat it because I was too tired.
They had the formal night on the second night (sea day) and the gala buffet was on the second or third night I think. I think they should have had this on the fourth night since the next day was a sea day.
Grand Cayman-Beautiful, I’ve been here before (two years ago). This time we did the Stingray swim and Rum Point Beach. Last time we did the Stingray swim, Hell, and the Turtle Farm.
Jamaica-Absolutely Beautiful. I was very leery because I’ve read many things about being hassled but my family was not. We had four groups of us that went into Jamaica and two groups were not hassled, one group was asked a bunch of times about braiding hair and the other group (two people) were harassed a lot. We did the Canopy Tour and had a ball. I loved going up the mountain in a shuttle van looking at the fruit trees and seeing the school children in the uniforms. I love the exotic places. There’s just something so beautiful about them. That’s why I loved Honduras and Belize. It’s so untouched.
Don’t want to go too much into the ports unless someone has questions. Sorry this was so long but there’s so much to tell.
IF you have any questions, just let me know. I have lots to tell.
I didn't get a chance to go to the nightclubs this time. Before the cruise, my family went through the whole flu and sinus infections which took me out and made me really tired. I wanted to go but sometimes when I went by there it seemed there was a wedding party going on or a kids party. The art auction and karoke took place in the back lounge. I walked in there to look and it looked like a really nice lounge. On my other cruises the comedy shows took place back there but this time all the comedy shows were in the big Dynasty Lounge. Many of the shows were in this lounge. I'm sorry but this time I didn't really hit any of the nighclubs or the piano bar. This ship may be smaller but all the new additions and new bedding really makes this ship very nice. YOu will have a great time.
Oh, one more thing, we hit bingo!!! Don't play bingo or go to the spa the first couple of days. The best deals are on the last couple nights of the cruise. We hit bingo for $900 and we never win anything!!
Thanks for the posts. Will be traveling in June on the Imagination...can't wait! We traveled on this ship 2 years ago before the renovations. The ship was older and needed a face lift. I hope that spending the $250 million was evident.